The Medium

I’m following Joe Haldeman on Livejournal.You may know him as the guy who wrote “The Forever War” – one of the finest SF novels of the last century. Also, it’s one of science fiction’s many allegories for contemporary war- with the caveat that that this feels wholly real. Haldeman is a Vietnam vet, so he has a thing or two to say about the futility of war, the economics and politics of conflict. And you believe him.

But on Livejournal, he just writes about what he gets up to. What he watches on TV and reads. he posts watercolour paintings and vacation updates. he has nothing to sell you and no ideology to sling. It’s refreshing, like having a very smart Grandpa in your Facebook feed. I love the opportunity social media has given me to glimpse into his world.

That delight, of discovering your heroes are real, it’s not universal, by the way.

Ringo Starr recently took to Twitter. A huge Beatles fan, I started following immediately. And stopped following soon after. The banal mix of tour promotion, product placement and Californian lifestyle (gym, sun and meals made with seeds and fruit) was too much. I want to think of Ringo forever black and white, sitting on that podium in Shea Stadium like a bowl-cut metronome. Not posting photos of light switches.

The learning? -Social media is not the message. The message is the message.

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