Sunday, 28 November 2010

Epic Fail(book)

Since I quit facebook a few months ago, a few people have asked me why and I've always felt I've been a little dishonest with them; largely due to my inherent laziness but also because the answer would contain a bit more detail than they were probably looking for. But hey! That's what blogs are for, right? So take my hand, friend, and follow me into the murky world of my thoughts on facebook. As you'll have notice, in a classic heel turn since all this, I've went back hat in hand to that very place. Though it was for a good cause, I felt- pimping the blog. And now here we are with this entry, which is talking about why I left it in the first place. Layered, yo.

I knew that turning off my account was going to happen sooner or later, I was just waiting for some impetuous to finally make the move. When it happened I didn't regret it for a second, but then started to ask myself why I didn't. I'd found it so useful and often more enjoyable than I'd care to admit. In the time between now and then 'The Social Network' has been and gone and I think Mark Zuckerberg's description of what he wanted from facebook sums up exactly why I love it and hate it. I'm paraphrasing here, but the core of his idea was distilling the college (or university) experience and putting it online. You remember, college, right? All good times, all the time, yeah? Of course it wasn't. Christ, it was horrible at times. Exactly the way facebook can be horrible at times. The way things can flair up out of nothing and how an innocent joke or comment can have unforeseen repercussions or leave hurt feelings. The big difference is that the things you write on facebook will often be there for days, weeks, months or years. Yeah, you can delete them; but writing, even in digital form, tends to last a lot longer than something you've said. That's not even to mention the things that go unsaid.

For me, the minefield that is socialising in 'real' life was more than enough. When I go home, I want to escape that minefield, not immediately leap into another one. It's so DAMN compelling you can't help yourself, though. You want to know what's happened to your friends. You want to know what that change in relationship status means. Have they split up? Why? Who was that person they were with in that photo they posted? What did that status update REALLY mean? People love to gossip and they love to know what’s going on with their friends especially. It's like Heat magazine except all your mates are in it. The pictures tend to be at least slightly less sexy though. Most of the time. Deny it all you like, you've done it too. An innocent look at an interesting photograph has led to a half hour of facebook trawling (or stalking in some cases) for the vast majority of users, I guarantee. This is what facebook has made us. A generation of social voyeurs. And I wanted out. So I got out, but they pulled me back in. For now.

I'm sure people will tell me not too take it so seriously or the like, but I think you'd be missing the point. For better or for worse, facebook is such a major part of most of our lives now, even for those who haven't signed up. It's a cornerstone of our digital and our real lives. Too many of us rely on it in ways we don't even really think about. It's an insidious beast, for sure.

I know that a lot of this has been said before (and far more elegantly, I'm sure), but I've been mulling about how we're being affected by facebook and online networking in general for a long time now. I don't think I like it and I don't think I like how it effects us. At the very least, it's not a good fit for me, social retard that I am. I do love technology though and they're becoming increasingly difficult to separate, so I guess I'm just going to have to get used to it. I wonder if this is a sign that I'm getting old? My hands do seem to be becoming increasingly hairy, which must be another of the early warning signs. To either old age or lycanthropy, I guess.

Hey, I am excited about the way things are progressing mostly, though. The iPad and the iPhone genuinely blow me away. We're getting increasingly closer to the Star Trek style future I'd always hoped I'd live to see. At least the original series, anyway. Have you seen those sliding doors at Tesco's? Woah.

*Yeah, I couldn't find an image I liked to go with this article, so I just posted a picture of some bunnies in cups. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Fashion consultant

In my line on work ('teaching', in case you don't know), acting amazed at the banal is something you need to get used to in your day to day bizniz. It's far from all banal, truth be told, often my students conversations are considerably more enlightening and enjoyable than those I have with most adults. I guess it's the way they think, unburdened by the boot on the throat that life so inevitably presses against you as you get older. Enjoy it kids!

Daily, my younger students often show me the item of clothing they're sporting, with an expectant look, as if asking me to turn my critical eye to their new outfits. Either that or they just point at their new shorts and go 'Teacher! Look!'. Clearly they recognise someone with a high sense of fashion. In turn, I respond with 'Holy Shit, your Winnie the Pooh socks are amazing' or 'Dude, your Snoopy shirt has just blown my mind.' and the like. It keeps them happy and if they're happy, their parents are happy and if their parents are happy, my boss is happy and I get to keep my job. So it's all good.

Which leads me to the most recent case of this. One of my students turned round to me, grin on her face to point out the words on her socks- 'Hot Biscuits'. Now, how to react to a child wearing an item of clothing saying 'Hot Biscuits'? Intense laughter? Well, that's what I did, anyway, so let's hope I got it right. I love the idea that someone, somewhere thought that 'Hot Biscuits' was an appropriate name for a children’s clothing line.

I don't know what the point of all this was. Anyway, I'd like to end this post with two requests- one for someone to point me in the direction of some adult sized 'Hot Biscuits' socks and the second to ask if anyone wants to be in my new band of the same name. Socks will be provided.  

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Diplomatic Immunity

The worst bit about arriving in another country is that as soon as you land you've got to stand in a big damn queue for immigration. I'm not the worlds most patient person, and when I'm tired and smelly, even less so. It's a cruel thing to do to people. Obviously, you've got to be careful with the whole terrorism thing and blah de blah, but do I look like a terrorist? More to say, do I still look like a terrorist, with my new streamlined look? If you'll allow me to so gratuitously abuse the definition of the word 'streamlined'.

My passport photo doesn't exactly do a great job of detailing my non-terrorist qualities with the 'look' I seem to be going for in it, so I have to reluctantly stand there, waiting my turn. So, like any normal person I pass the time casually looking over shoulders in the immigration queue at other peoples passport photos and, of course, judging them. Everyone of the photos, certainly with all the asian folks at least, was amazing. Each of them was like an actors head shot. You know, like the kind I send instead of a CV, with the words 'That's right. You are seeing this.' written on back. No email of course- I figure once they see the photo they'll make the effort to track me down.

But I digress- 'Don't smile' they tell you back home in the instructions for the photos required for passport, driving license etc, etc and I dutifully oblige. So why the hell can they get away with it over here? They photoshop their passport photos. They smile and fucking glow for that matter. These are the photos they use for their legal documents! They usually bear a passing resemblance to the owner at best. Which is probably the only thing they have in common with my photos, only on the reaction scale I'm more on the 'Jesus CHRIST.' end of things as opposed to their 'Why, hello there'.

What fresh madness is this? Also- how do I get in on the action? Like I really needed more evidence to convince me to defect to the Asian cause. Yes, it's official, I'm removing the 'Cauc' from my Caucasian. I'm a race traitor and proud. My application form is in, I just have to pass a few tests- advanced chop stick skillz, beating Street Fighter 2 on hard and doing a whole mess of math problems. I am so in.