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Life

Drama Queens

It’s Sunday afternoon, and the sun is shining. I expect the rest of the family will expect me to wander out into the back garden soon and start the barbecue. I’m wondering where the weekend went.

I’ve recently found myself thinking about this whole blogging escapade again. I’ve been writing at WordPress for years, and cross-posting into Tumblr. While doing so, WordPress has been slowly pivoting towards becoming a publishing platform – great for running a company website, but perhaps not quite so good at being a personal journal. If I’m right, Automattic’s acquisition of Tumblr makes a lot of sense.

The social internet itself is changing too (if indeed it ever was social).

The internet has become a lot less open and accepting than it once was. Cancel culture has to shoulder much of the blame for that. Rather than embrace differences, and celebrate diversity of thought and opinion, too many people have joined forces in a weaponised rampage of destruction – racing to the bottom as fast as they can. It’s a shame.

I’m reminded of a ridiculous comedy movie many years ago where the staff of a factory repeatedly downed tools and went on strike for the most innocuous of reasons – if transposed into the social internet, it’s the same as somebody noticing a slight perceived injustice while wandering along a street, setting up a soap-box, attracting a crowd, and handing out sub-machine-guns to anybody that might want to join in the “take down”.

The distortion of “Black Lives Matter” has proven that a militant minority will attach itself to any populist cause in order to quietly further their real aim, or bring down the cause they are pretending to support.

This got a bit deep, didn’t it.

Shall we just agree that on the whole, people are great – but also that a small number of people ruin everything for everybody else. I think the Celestine Prophecy described it in terms of energy transactions – where some would create dramas to draw energy from others. Drama queens. The world needs a few less drama queens.

Shall we also agree that I need to stop thinking so much ?

Categories
Life

Frustrated

I’m stepping away from the social internet for a while.

Everywhere I look, all I see is keyboard warriors writing at length about politics, social injustice, gender bias, racism, and any other thing that has triggered them on a particular day.

Here’s the thing – social networks surround people with those that share similar views – so all they are doing is preaching to the choir. Here’s another thing – most people don’t want to start a conversation – they just want to promote their often badly informed views and opinions as widely as possible.

If those expounding at length about the injustices surrounding them invested anywhere near as much effort in actually doing anything, they might succeed in moving the dial a little, rather than just making a lot of noise about where it’s pointing.

Of course the internet isn’t entirely full of soap-box activists. There’s a quiet army of regular people, just trying to get from one day to the next without being called out, or drawn into anything too horrendous.  That doesn’t mean they don’t care.

If you see me posting about flying pretend aeroplanes, exploring imaginary planets, or adventuring through sewers as a mad Italian plumber over the coming weeks, you’ll know why.

Categories
Life

Lunchtime Thoughts

It’s Monday lunchtime, and you find me sitting in the junk room at home. I’ve been here on weekdays since the middle of March. Nearly four months now. The only places I have visited in town during that time have been the grocery store, and the pharmacy. I’ve been on a few long walks (even with a broken toe), which we have dubbed “mental health walks”.

This weekend we visited a national trust property called “Basildon Park”, and wandered around the grounds of the estate for a few hours. We took a picnic, and met my in-laws there. While walking, we viewed any and all strangers with suspicion.

Work has slowed down ever-so-slightly this week. Owing to shortened working hours, and various co-workers being furloughed, I’ve found my days pretty full. Busy is good though. Busy stops you looking at the world around you too much and being horrified at the ignorance, division, and idiocy going on seemingly everywhere.

I’ve quickly learned that it’s best not to have balanced opinions about anything at the moment – there’s a strong sense from the most vocal on social media platforms that if you’re not with them, you are against them – there is no middle ground. Facts, opinions, truth, and lies have been stirred into a toxic stew that is fashioned into whatever narrative people wish to subscribe to or promote. It doesn’t help that “defence of self” is such a strong instinct in the wilfully ignorant.

Anyway.

I’m listening to the “Mellow Morning” playlist on Spotify, complete with adverts every few minutes. Music has been one of the huge benefits of working from home – filling the room with an endless stream of songs and stories. I tent to pick playlists completely at random – and rarely know the names of any of the bands, artists, or tracks. If one of the kids were to walk in and ask after a track (which they will not, because it’s Dad music), I typically wouldn’t be able to tell them.

Time for another coffee perhaps.

p.s. I cut all my hair off again.

Categories
Life

Out of the Loop

It’s Sunday afternoon, and you find me holed up in the junk room at home, forcing myself to empty my head into the keyboard. The broken toe is slowly healing – doing as little as possible throughout the last week has helped a lot. Fingers crossed, I’ll be back running again by mid August.

It’s incredibly frustrating – my fitness was at about the 5K mark when the accident happened. I imagine it will take a few weeks to get any sort of stamina back after doing nothing for so long. I have started to wonder about doing some upper body workouts in the meantime. It’s all about actually *doing* it though, isn’t it.

Did I write about losing weight? Throughout the lockdown I have cut out snacks and alcohol. To begin with it was to support my eldest daughter who is trying to lose weight, but then the cat ended up in hospital, and now we don’t have enough money for snacks or alcohol – so that kind of solved itself. In the space of a month, I have lost a stone (14 pounds). If I carry on at the current trajectory, by the time I start running again, I’ll be about the same weight I was 20 years ago.

Anyway. I titled this post “Out of the Loop”, because it describes the way I feel at the moment pretty accurately. It feels like I’m slowly falling away from everything I have clung on to for the last however many years. Last week I removed the vast majority of those I had connected with through Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook over the years. I guess the noise just got too much.

I really don’t like the polarisation that’s going on at the moment. Too many people seem to be standing on soapboxes and declaring that if you’re not with them, you’re against them. The easiest way to deal with it is of course to silence it – which you can do with the click of a mouse – and I have.

My email in-box has never been so quiet. I like it.

This evening I’m hoping to sit down with my family and watch the Eurovision movie on Netflix. I watched a clip from it earlier, and became unexpectedly emotional. Oh – completely forgot – I watched a wonderful movie earlier in the week, starring Morgan Freeman as a retired writer living for the summer in a friend’s house, and begrudgingly befriending the family next door. I love quiet movies about ordinary people. It’s called “Once More” – look it up.

Categories
Life

Friday

For those that don’t know, I very rarely write blog posts straight into the WordPress editor interface – I used to write everything in a text editor, save it into a neat and tidy folder structure, and copy it into WordPress. In recent months (since lockdown, I suppose), I have written in Google Docs, copied the text across.

Why am I writing about it?

Because I’ve had this post sitting on the screen all day – with no more than the title at the top – “Friday”. I typically give all posts the same title when I start writing, and then re-name them when a title presents itself. Quite often the title only relates to the final paragraph.

I don’t really have anything to report. My toe is still broken, the cat still has half his hair shaved off after his most recent hospital adventure, and I find myself becoming increasingly distant from “social” media.

I’m not sure that I’ve given up on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on – so much as re-framed what they’re useful for. Or at least, what I find them useful for. I used to see “the social internet” as a way to reach out to the wider world – a way to discover interesting people, make friends, and share a little of each other’s lives. Somewhere along the way that all became somewhat poisonous though – Twitter became a place to stand on soapboxes and shout louder than the next person, Facebook became a place to have bitter disagreements with acquaintances, and Instagram became a place to show off.

I will admit to thinking quite a bit about shutting my blog down, and just reverting to a personal journal. I’ve thought about it before – I’ve DONE it before – but it doesn’t seem to be so much about me changing any more – it’s more about the world changing around me – becoming a little less friendly, a little more abrasive, and a little less welcoming.

I get it. Blogging has ALWAYS been a bit of an odd pursuit – sharing the guts of your day with a nameless audience. It’s just always been something I’ve done though – for twenty years now. I qualify it by telling myself that it helps keep me sane – and yet I filter perhaps half of the words I might share – all the most interesting stuff. The anger, the frustration, the gossip, the scandal, the unpopular opinions – the good stuff.

In other news, I weighed myself this morning. I’ve lost about 18 pounds since lockdown began. It’s not something I’ve done intentionally – we just haven’t bought any junk food for some time. It was mostly about saving money. If I lose another few pounds, I’ll be the same weight I was twenty years ago. Go me (sarcasm intended). I keep telling myself that I feel better for it, but I could murder a chocolate bar.

Categories
Life

Unfollowing Drama Queens

I’m sitting at the dining table this morning, opposite our youngest daughter who is getting on with school work. My other half is in the junk room, working. I have the day off. So far I have thrown a couple of loads through the washing machine, cleared the washing up, been for a cycle around town, and had a shower.

The cycling thing is my master-plan to “fix” my right knee. It’s been hurting for the last week when I run on it – I imagine because I’m nowhere near as fit as I was three months ago, and have probably put on weight while at home. It seems to be working so far. Thankfully the “Couch to 5K” running plan doesn’t really ramp up for another couple of weeks, so we’ll see.

Cycling around town was… interesting. If not for gale-force-winds, it would probably have been really enjoyable. As it was, it turned into a serious workout – but miraculously my knee was fine. I only stayed out for twenty minutes, and covered about 6 kilometres. I saw nobody throughout the ride, other than a car that got stuck behind me on an uphill stretch of the route. I imagine they were pretty furious – given that I didn’t see any more cars anywhere in town – and they got stuck behind the only cyclist they probably saw all morning.

One up-side to the wind? It’s making short work of drying the washing on the line.

This is what my life has been reduced to – washing clothes and dishes, running and cycling to avoid becoming enormously fat, and minding children to make sure they get their homework done. I’m starting to identify really strongly with the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day”. At least I’m working tomorrow – even if that does mean sitting in the junk room, instead of the lounge.

Following the Prime Minister outlining plans for the beginning of the UK lifting itself out of lock-down last night, Facebook erupted with a torrent of ignorance, misinformation, fear, and uncertainty. I swear – some people love nothing better than to set fire to the ground beneath their own feet, before climbing atop a soapbox of their own construction, and attracting as much attention as possible. For a change I think the government are doing a pretty damn good job in impossible circumstances – and now is not the time to start pointing fingers, blaming, or whatever else. How quickly people forget what it means to be British, and instead start whispering “but what about me though?”.

I blame the social internet, and the ability for people to foster their own insular bubbles filled with self-obsessed attention seeking idiocy. And yes, I realise there is a certain amount of irony involved here – given that blogs are of course insular bubbles filled with personal content – but they tend to describe life in a fairly even handed manner (or at least the good ones do) – not complain, shout, scream, and wallow. Bloggers tend to be highly introspective and reflective – rarely finger pointers or blamers.

I had to un-follow several people last night – if only to protect my own mental health.

Anyway. Here’s to you and yours, and another day in lock-down. I’m here all day.