Tag Archives: social media

The afterwank

When I was young, back when this was all fields, I vowed that I would never be one of those people who stopped caring about things.

Old people would tell us we really couldn’t change a damn thing, but we knew our generation was different. We walked down streets wearing wristbands that said ‘Make Poverty History’ and just knew we’d save the world. All we needed was a few people richer than us to give up their money first, then we’d maybe start chipping in too, once the student loans were paid off and we’d had a nice holiday and a couple of kids, and obviously they’ll need money for a house and to be honest these people should probably be helping themselves before they come to us for handouts but the point is we cared.

Old people just gave up, but we’d never do that. And I can honestly say I have the same politics as I did in 2005. I don’t squint warily at brown people and my investment portfolio stretches no further than the two cans of Guinness I left unswallowed in the fridge last night. I want more than anything to leave, but the last thing I want is to Leave.

And yet, with the tragic inevitability of the toast landing jam-side-down, the old people were right.

Continue reading The afterwank

No Way Fam

It’s often tempting to peer back into the mists and wonder what our ancestors would make of us now.

I wonder what Agincourt’s Henry V would have made of the British Army’s bold new ‘Belonging’ campaign, where it’s made clear the forces are happy to take on even the spongiest cupcake because literally anyone can be a human shield in the age of equality. “What if I get emotional?” asks one potential recruit in the ad campaign. “The king received an axe blow to the head, which knocked off a piece of the crown that formed part of his helmet”, says Wikipedia. Score draw.

Back then it was turnip for dinner. Now it’s ‘elevated toast’, and you have to take a picture of it or it’s not really there. Back then, frostbite was a blessing as it took the edge off the gangrene. Now, the NHS is bankrupted by people taking colds to A&E. Back then, grooming involved the local hag hacking your locks off with the same rusty knife she used to bone poor Uncle Jacob when the typhoid finally won out over the dysentery.

Now, people inject animal fat into their lips.

Continue reading No Way Fam

Here’s looking at me, kid

Sometime in the late 70s I remember watching Alien at a West End cinema. A space crew receives a distress call, and as they sit down to eat their no doubt well-earned grub they’re unexpectedly joined by a testy little monster bursting out of John Hurt’s chest.

The shit really rains down when the Facehuggers show up. Prising them off someone’s face just delays the inevitable and the only sensible solution, as Ripley so eloquently put it, was to the nuke the shit out of planet LV-426, just to be sure, and by Alien version 2, 4 or 81 they did. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation’s ‘perfect creation’ was lost.

Only it wasn’t, at least not to Earth. Facehuggers are everywhere. Digital Facehuggers.

Continue reading Here’s looking at me, kid

Cappuccino and bile

Well, it’s finally happened. Inauguration Day just squelched straight in and kicked its muddy boots off right on the hearth rug, leaving Donald John Trump as the official, no bullshit, bona fide President of the United States. Given the endless mosaic of hysterical and, let’s be honest, completely unhinged rhetoric flashing across my computer screen at the moment, I’d half expected none of us would wake up at all the following morning.

And yet, here we all are. That’s one more for reality, and another big fat zero for cyberspace.

Continue reading Cappuccino and bile

Cavalcade of trite

When I die – which, given the state of my stress levels, may be sooner than you think – if anyone describes me in terms of my family relationships (“daughter, niece, girlfriend, wife”), or my job, or some banal string of characteristics that people think sound nice, I will be furious. I won’t of course, I’ll be dead and completely oblivious to everything, but I want you to know that you’ll have started the process of whitewashing my memory.

Let me tell a story about my uncle’s funeral – wait, I’m going somewhere with this. Dead at 65 from lymphoma, the eulogy given by the random minister assigned by the crematorium was a travesty. Nothing about his hopes, dreams, loves, hates; anything that made him who he was. His only natural child died young and that didn’t get a mention, but there was time to list every single fucking street he’d ever lived in. This isn’t the minister’s fault, he could only work with what was given to him by the family. And afterwards people were speaking to each other in hushed tones about what a lovely service it had been. Except it was a terrible service, with barely any indication of who the human being in the box had been.

And so: Paris. There’s a Twitter account, @ParisVictims, tweeting short bits of information about the people who died on 13 November. I’m struggling to find anything on there that’s not bland or platitudinous. “Friend, brother, son” reads one. “Daughter, sister” reads another. Well, yes. We all tend to be at least one of these things. One man is described as “efficient”. Shit the bed. This guy has died, horribly. Is this the best that can be said about him? What about his desires, his achievements, his plans for the future? If you want to show the world what has been cruelly cut down, please try and do the dead the honour of representing them properly.

This is largely the fault of social media, where being first is considered better than being thorough. @ParisVictims is the Twitter version of a Mashable project which is clearly scouring news sources and people’s social media accounts to gather tiny snippets of information to share with the world. But, to me, this isn’t respect. It’s rubbernecking. After 9/11, the New York Times went out and did a proper obituary for everyone who died. It took a while, but you get a real sense of who they were as people.

Are we happy with this cavalcade of trite? I think we must be. Because ‘we’ tweet and Facebook ‘RIP’ as a reflex when someone dies, even though RIP belongs to a time when we all believed in an afterlife, a hell and a resurrection. It’s now such a reflex that it’s meaningless, just a way of showing to the world that you care. Even if you don’t.

Appearance is all; you can get torn to shreds for not wearing a poppy, even if you think it’s appalling that a charity has to exist at all to take care of those who the government has sent off to die and be injured; even if you’d happily pay more taxes to replace the Royal British Legion with proper, state-funded care; even if you went on that Stop the War march before Iraq that changed absolutely nothing and you feel sick at the thought of the carnage that happened ‘in your name’. Wear the poppy, change your Facebook profile to a Tricolor; otherwise how will people know you care? Other than, maybe, a genuine, thoughtful statement?

Or even better, say nothing at all instead of something shallow and stupid.

The detached nonchalance of 140 characters

You’re most likely reading this in a last ditch attempt to kill some time, a quick bathe in the comforting light of the screen in order to escape the irksome drudgery of whatever task it is you’re supposed to be performing. This moment we share in time through the medium of these words will undoubtedly not make it into your autobiography. It won’t burn forever in the forefront of your mind as a constant beacon reminding of you the joys of life.

The reason: life is, for large periods of time, quite dull and these words won’t alter that fact. Unless you’re the love child of Charlie Sheen and Bear Grylls, who’s been possessed by the spirit of Steve Irwin, chances are not every second of your life is exhilarating. My life clearly can’t be or I wouldn’t be writing this in bed with a watery beer that’s past the expiry date, which is almost on a par with going to the cinema on your own.

This is where social media steps in to not only add your own beautifully unique snowflakes of expression to the world, but conversely to erase those large chunks of life which are as interesting to the rest of the world as the length of your nostril hair is to the average African elephant. I cannot speak for Asian elephants.

Life is no longer the pursuit of happiness, but the skilful weaving of a digital version of your life and consequently the constant bombardment of everyone else’s moments of brilliance. Every day the Facebook newsfeed is a constant source of salt rubbed gleefully into the festering wound of day-to-day life. If someone’s not getting sewn to the hip of their partner in the eyes of some god, then they’re busy uploading pictures of the little bundle of mewling flesh they’ve just squeezed out of themselves and are thinking up names for it via some online survey. As you sip your instant coffee in the bleary light of morning, some loose acquaintance is shoving their success down your throat as they reach another milestone of life in some other time zone – probably a selfie on a mountain ridge or they’re instagramming their gourmet meal instead of eating it.

The medium of social media allows us to perfectly filter our lives and to give off the impression that we’re all photogenic, fun-loving, witticism-spouting professionals that enjoy a life of success, excess and unimpeded joy. We all help spin the yarn that blinds us to the truth of the matter, with all the detached nonchalance of 140 characters. Every day of my life is just unbeatably hilarious, just look at it! Look at me! Validate me!
The illusion doesn’t stop, everyone thinking everyone else is leading a phenomenal existence sustained through likes and shares alone, as the toxic tendrils of social media unfurl across almost every aspect of life.

Yet while we may feel like we’re information demi-gods with access to news of events as they happen in real-time, in the flurry of tweeting thumbs the issue of trust is called into question. Opinions are presented as fact, conjecture as evidence and the entire message blurs into a perniciously ubiquitous noise, spreading faster than gonorrhoea at a stag party. The self-styled image of ourselves that we present to others, at work, to family, is amplified and accelerated through social media, where a slight waver of the voice cannot be heard and every image of you has been carefully filtered, edited and approved for the online representation of your life.

Lemme just snap this bona fide polystyrene cup. Why? Because I’m a cunt.

Social media makes liars and fools out of all of us, whether it’s being exposed as the person who sincerely asked when World War 3 happened or something more subtle, such as not agreeing to be tagged in photos so their positive online reputation isn’t besmirched. It’s a lie we all buy into. We all know how it works. At least we don’t forget people’s birthdays and look like dicks as a result.

We hope that all of this mindless chatter and constant posing can be converted into something tangible. Perhaps if you pester your friends with pictures of you doing brilliant things, say reminding the world that you’re packing for that all-expenses-paid holiday and cannot wait to hit the beach, then they will start to think of you in that way, as that version of you. What may have been a moment in time (or a complete fabrication) can become the lasting image of you in someone else’s mind, as they build up a loosely collected assortment of informative titbits from your online updates.

Whether this picture is reflective of reality doesn’t matter so much, because it will be believed; it harks back to the old adage of whether you would rather sleep with a goat and nobody found out, or not stuff the barnyard animal but have the whole world believing that’s just how Saturday nights work for you.

Meanwhile you’re sat there trawling through Facebook or Twitter in the tiny toilet cubicle at work, desperately failing to comprehend how it could be possible to see so many awesome people, with all their unique experiences and untroubled jet-set lives, in quaint restaurants that they probably drove to in some fucking sports car powered on cocaine and champagne – of course it’s a fucking convertible, indubitably Jeeves had taken the Bentley to the garage at the time so they just had to take the Porsche. Good old Jeeves, all of that after having already served up a lobster soufflé that will have doubtlessly infected your newsfeed earlier with the smug air of a self-congratulating food pornographer. Even the fucking lobster has a sense of self-worth and entitlement to it for having been cooked in such a rich, buttery sauce that it knows will convey to a couple of digital thumbs being turned up in rancid applause.

Well when you see this tidal wave of smugness and wonder about how you know all of these people, you probably don’t. It’s the illusion that we’re all happy, young go-getters whose every waking moment is spent living it up like a sordid Pitbull music video. In reality, people are all just walking meatsicles propped up by roughly similar structures and mechanisms as you or me, all bleeding the same blood when we get run over crossing the road whilst gawping at an iPad. How could our real selves ever possibly match up to these brilliantly crafted, happy, beautiful imitators?

No matter how good that #naturalselfie might look online or how many mouth-watering meals are instagrammed, at some point that person will still bow before the gods of digestion, drop trou and scrunch that beautiful face up in excruciating agony as they squat, shaking and doused in sweat, forcing out the faecal equivalent of a dead cat in a soggy carrier bag atop a ceramic shit-throne. This is a moment of life that everyone experiences, regardless of how many followers they have, and yet people restrain themselves from photographing it for the enjoyment of the online thumb-twiddlers, which is one reason to be thankful for the illusion that social media projects. Nobody wants the shit stains of reality seeping through their carefully constructed online profile, just as much as nobody wants to see someone else’s #excretionselfie.

A first-class sheriff’s badge

LMAO, CBA, FML, ROFL, LOL, OMG. The list is endless, but please, just stop. You! Yes YOU! I want to talk, not ‘chat’ or ‘natter’, I mean talk.

The art of a good conversation is dead; not dying, dead. It seems the reaction is not to improve vocabulary or express opinions on how to make it better, but to abbreviate and minimise all effort in conversation.

Have you ever spoken to someone and they use an abbreviation of a word or words that are as simple to just say correctly? For example I asked for directions the other day and the response was ‘I don’t know teebeeaitch’. TBH? It stumped me. Obviously I know now, but at the time I asked someone what this meant and they pulled a face like I’d broken into their house on Christmas Day and pissed on their roast potatoes.

I honestly didn’t realise that we’d reached a point in evolution where ‘to be honest’ was too much vocabulary for the human brain to push out. Such an ask! I know my generation is to blame, social media and all that, and I feel like I’m being a bit of an old man about this, but where do we draw the line?

In 10 years when I ask my children how school was, am I even going to understand their response? The answer will no doubt be full of grammatical rape. Just do me one favour, the next time you are in a conversation with someone (grandmother, sister, friend, anyone) and they use any sort of lazy communication as though they think you don’t deserve a full reply, just look at them straight in the face and say: ‘I am terminating our association’.

You do not need these people in your life. Or am I just being pedantic?

Am I fuck. The worst thing about these grammar crimes is that they’re not new words; no, we’re way too lazy for that as a species. They are words we already have but boiled down for the stupid and the people who think they sound ‘on trend’. You don’t sound on trend, you sound like a first class sheriff’s badge.

Is it really too much to ask to use our energy in a more productive way, and hunt these people down? We could even start with the type of people who especially have no business using these so called words. Obviously nobody should use them, but the young and stupid are naturally going to follow trends. I’m talking about the older generation using it to sound like they’re still young and reckless while spreading Flora on their toast to lower their cholesterol.

I even heard a politician use one once, can you believe that? Are they not supposed to be running the country instead of pissing me off with shit like this? Those fuckers can definitely be dealt with first. Action must be taken to let the correctly spoken rule again, and hit the grammar criminals with one massive great FU.

A new type of monster

Picture the scene: it’s the summer holidays, in the centre of town. Teenagers are laughing and joking with each other, high-fiving and smacking each other on the back to show appreciation of their shared humour. They sit, sharing a bag of chips and a can of coke, pushing the limits of their curfew before running to get the last bus home. They shake hands, or hug, planning to meet again the following evening – they have to plan ahead, as none of them have any way to contact each other apart from when they’re out together.

Sound familiar? Unless you’re old enough to remember the eighties and early nineties, probably not.

Fast forward to 2014, and it’s a whole different ball game. In fact, forget ball games – unless we’re talking about FIFA 15, it’s unlikely that kids these days actually realise that there’s such a thing as an actual, physical ball that teens of the past used to kick around crowded playing fields.

Thanks to the invention of social media, which is available on almost every device we own (who the fuck needs Facebook on their TV anyway?) we don’t have to see real people any more. We can chat all day and night if we want to, without having to leave our chair. We don’t have to live great, exciting lives, because all we have to do is post a status saying how great our lives are and everyone believes it. How easy is that?

When social media was born, people saw it as a fantastic way to stay in touch with long lost friends and relatives. What they didn’t realise is that some people are better off ‘long lost’. What about that ex best friend who’s now married to the ex love-of-your-life? Do you really need that rubbing against your face? That favourite primary school teacher who turns out to be a bit of a creep, and posts photos that barely cover his modesty after a few beers on a weeknight. Remember your Auntie Mary, who you saw once a year? How old is she now, 80? Are you enjoying seeing her flirt shamelessly and openly with your friends? When did it become okay to communicate like buddies with people a quarter of your age who’ve you’ve never met?

And social media has created whole new breeds of human: the keyboard warriors and the over-sharers. These are the types of people who post things without engaging their brains (man have keyboard, man no need brain) and then end up posting again complaining about how their first post was received. Not well, usually.

Keyboard warriors will complain about anything and everything. Fallen out with a friend? Facebook needs to know about it. Had a shit day? Facebook needs to know about it. And the best thing is, if you fancy a bit of attention, all you have to do is post “SO FUCKING ANNOYED!!!!!!!!” and you’re sure to get messages asking what’s up. Sometimes from people you don’t even know.

But fear not – you can be cool about this. Keep your dignity intact. Simply reply, “nothing, I’m fine”, oh man of mystery. Seriously, why post in the first place if you’re going to do that?

And nothing can start an argument better than an ambiguous status. I was once on the receiving end of this after posting a “so annoyed” status (my toaster had broken – yep, that’s all). A girl actually sent me a message asking whether my status was about her. I hadn’t spoken to her since 1993. She got quite upset about it, and ended up blocking and deleting me. She was a social-media-born drama queen so it was probably no bad thing, though I do find myself wondering what she’s having for dinner from time to time.

The over-sharers. Oh, sweet night, the over-sharers. When I was a child, if I’d wanted to show 900 people what I was having for dinner, the stamps would have set me back a bob or two. But social media has unleashed a new type of monster. Showing people your plate (they usually look shit) now takes a split second, as does showing people your new car, new hair, new boobs. Oh good.

We don’t need to know how much you’re studying, when you’re going to the gym (typing it does not mean you’re ‘ripped’, guys), when you’re using the bathroom or how often you wank. Some things are better kept private, for the good of us all.

Fair enough, social networking has its benefits. If I want to tell everyone that someone’s a twat, it’s much easier. But, in turn, does that make me a twat? Does that make me just as bad as them? Am I ‘one-of-them’? Please no. I’m getting out while I still can, while my reputation and sanity is, on the whole, intact.

That broken toaster was really fucking annoying though.

Drowning the golden goose

The ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’. What a load of bollocks. So many shades of stupid I don’t know where to start.

Risk hypothermia and donate to charity at the same time. Riiight. Even drug dealers know it’s not the best idea to risk drowning the golden goose in freezing water, because, let’s face it, that’s what Joe Public is to charities. Especially the ones with ickle-wickle puppikins, or teeny-tiny starving black babies, that can tug at our collective heartstrings and make us feel oh-so-guilty for being human and white, like we had any fucking say in the matter. Freezing water + human body = bad idea.

Waste God knows how many gallons of water ‘for charity’, when there are charities crying out for money to provide water to places where people are actually fucking dying because they have to drink the same water their livestock piss and shit in.

Completely obliterate the whole concept that giving to charity is ‘altruistic’ by getting your ugly mug all over social-fucking-media, ensuring you get to be Little Mr. or Ms. Popular for a few seconds. Most people haven’t the faintest fucking clue what the cause is they’re getting cold and wet for.

Continuing the popularity theme, the Ice Bucket Challenge reinforces the whole hideous, return-to-high-school awfulness of “how many friends have you got?” with the fact that you have to be nominated to take part (this, apparently, is all part of the social media circus of the thing). People actually have to remember that you exist in order for you to be asked to be a complete prat. Either people have forgotten I exist, or they’re aware that I exist but have enough brain cells left to remember that I can be a bastard when I’m angry. And that extremes of temperature make me really fucking angry.

Basically, along with the ‘No Makeup Selfie’ craze, the Ice Bucket Challenge is something started and promoted by vacuous Z-List ‘celebrities’ who’ve run out of marriages and divorces to get them attention, and are frustrated by the wait for the arrival of their next brat for social media to fawn over. These people are followed mindlessly by zombies who haven’t realised that they should actually be killing people in order to get brains, or are perfectly content to carry on without them.

This may come as news to people, but it is entirely possible to give to charity without making a song and dance about it, making a spectacle of yourself, or doing something completely asinine. Although, to be fair, a donkey would have more sense than allow someone to throw freezing water over it.

If you want to experience ice-cold water, get on a plane, go to Sweden, and jump through the ice of a frozen lake, after having had a very, very hot sauna – that’s an experience. And one that you’ll actually be able to look back on, for years to come, and remember fondly, without thinking “Wasn’t I an utter pillock to do that?”

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s commendable to give to charity – but only if you’re doing it for the right reasons. And being part of a social media craze, proving how popular and cool a person you are, is not the right reason.

Cords, a bowl cut and a terrible jumper

Social media apps: I can find a point to most of them, if I bend it to my own will. Facebook I can use to keep up with certain obscure hobbies, Twitter I can use to mock breaking news on rioters, Pinterest I can use to store pictures to study (not cupcakes or bent penises before you ask). Blogs have their point – I can say fuck and soapy tit wank, and the whole world can read it if they’ve nothing better to do.

But there’s one app I absolutely despise with a passion usually reserved for the films of Eli Roth. Fucking Instagram.

In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house. In the dark, dark house was a dark, dark room. And in the dark, dark room there was a pillock with a camera wafting a Polaroid image in the vague hope it would turn into a masterpiece of photography. Instead it’s an orange and brown out of focus shot of you and your sibling sat in your brown and orange living room, probably with a chocolate gateau, or cheese and pineapple on a stick. You’ll probably have cords, a bowl cut and a terrible jumper that Noel Edmonds would happily kill you for.

Seventies photography was shit. No-one looks at seventies photos with happiness. All you remember is the flash bulb that blinded you for 20 minutes or the memory of that dirty basement where Uncle Pete told you to get changed into your swimming costume. So why would anyone invent a heaving pile of app dung that takes clear images and turns them into a brown seventies mush?

Hipsters. Hipsters with social media followers they have never met. About a year ago some cock I know started posting Instagram pictures on his news feed every two hours. Of beer. Or a glass of wine. Selfies in a bar. I’m of an age that I know what a glass of beer looks like, and I can even remember how it looked in the seventies: pretty much the same. This grainy, distorted image is not clever or arty – it is fucking brown. Coffee, chestnut, sepia, sienna, copper, rust, BROWN.

Fifty shades of the fucking thing does not make something attractive. You’ve basically put a filter on to make it look old and shit. You might as well wear flares, nylon and waltz about drinking Babycham.

Still the pictures flood my news feed. “Here we are at a party, doesn’t it look great all smudgey.” Nope, ‘fraid not, you look like wankers. “Oooh look we’re in the countryside; don’t these leaves look great in sepia?” Wait for Autumn you bellend. The Instagram app seems to make these clowns feel they’re artistically retro, and yet current. It is zeitgeist.

Pass the sick bowl.

And above all, it’s the choice of subjects – so incredibly boring. Who the hell wants to see a grainy picture of your cat, some food you’ve paid too much for in a restaurant, or your mates attempting to do impressions of Kanye West?

No-one with half an ounce of sanity. But I’ll say this: it has one use. I now use it as a way to cull my Facebook friends, so separate the multi-coloured wheat from the brown, brown chaff. If you use Instagram, you’re clearly past the point of no return and deserve a good culling, among other things.