Tag Archives: generation

4 Things We Shouldn’t Photograph

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Good morning, lovely reader!  How was your weekend?

One of my favourite things about my generation is that in twenty (ish) years, we will be able to tell our children anything they want to know about what our lives were like when we were their age.  Social media has become a sort of personal encyclopaedia of each user’s life: all of our memories, friendships, photographs and Buzzfeed quiz results are mere clicks away.

I particularly love being able to share photographs on social media, but for some reason I cannot get on with apps like Instagram – I just want a photo.  Why must everything be square and made sepia?  Photography really propels people around social media sites, catching people’s attention and storing their significant moments.  This is a marvellous and brilliant thing (although if I see any more images of flipping meals, which are always captioned with something horrendous like “baked beans for dinner lol I well love this particular type of phaseolus vulgaris innit #bakedbeans #Heinz4lyf #yolo”, I will probably scream).  Having said that, I think that there are some moments in life which are better left unphotographed – amazing, beautiful moments, but moments which should be allowed to go unrecorded.

1) Gigs
Let’s get this one out of the way nice and early: why do people record videos and take photos all the way through concerts?  LISTEN TO THE FLIPPING MUSIC OR GO HOME AND PUT ON THE ALBUM.  Of course it’s nice to have something to remember the gig by, but the photographs never come out how you want them to, and the videos are always rubbish.  Put your smartphone away and just enjoy the experience.  Maybe have a bit of a boogie as well.

2) Pyrotechnics
I was at a friend’s birthday party this weekend, which was a mini camping trip in a beautiful woodland half an hour outside South London.  We had bunting, a barbecue and a flipping great time.  We also had a camp fire, which is one of my favourite things in the world.  Although when you look around a camp fire or a firework display the faces of your companions seem warmly lit, photos of these joyful communal experiences never show as much clarity or illumination as you remember from the moment itself.  Best just to sit back and join in with the “ooh”s and “aah”s, then.

3) Split Seconds
Don’t you just love it when something hilarious or ridiculous happens without any warning?  Moments of sheer joy between friends, loved ones and strangers can be lifelong fond memories.  It would be great if we could relive them over and over again in HD quality, but inevitably we find ourselves saying “Oh, I wish I had recorded that!” and being left with just our memory of the event.  It does seem a shame, but then if we went around recording everything all the time, just in case something funny happened, we wouldn’t be properly engaging with the world around us.  Bizarrely, we would end up looking so hard for these moments that we’d end up missing them completely.

4) Anticipation
You can photograph a moment of happiness, or love, or success.  But we all know that sometimes the anticipation is even better than the event we are waiting for, and you can’t capture anticipation in an image.  You can’t visually explain that second just before you kiss someone for the first time, or the moment just before your team scores a winning goal.  Anticipation is very visceral as an experience: we feel it in strange physiological (as well as cognitive) ways, and it’s something that we should definitely just experience without trying to catch forever.  By its nature, after all, anticipation is fleeting (and hopefully followed by awesomeness).

Have a genuinely stupendous Monday.

Hey, Where Are You?

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Happy Friday, you gorgeous thing!  The weekend is almost upon us!

Do you remember the other day when I said that our lives are personalised Monopoly boards?  Well, it turns out that in life we are playing all sorts of board games.  The world of dating demands a Battleships-type strategy, venturing onto the London Underground during planned engineering works is essentially one big Risk, and when someone’s lunch goes missing from the staff room kitchen, you’re probably going to get stuck in a bizarre version of workplace Cluedo.

This is because we all develop different techniques for thriving and surviving different periods of our lives, and although we may think that being the same age as someone puts us on a level playing field with them, that is hardly ever the case.  For instance, my friend Andy is a few months younger than I am.  He is in a very long-term couple; I am not.  He is about to buy a house with his lovely girlfriend; I am renting a flat with my insane (but brilliant) best friend, which is known by our most frequent guests as Bag End.  Andy is essentially being a grown-up, and I am not.

I am absolutely fine with that.  Andy’s position in life (i.e. on the verge of house-purchasing) is a wonderful thing, because he and his girlfriend have been looking forward to this moment for ages, they’ve worked hard to save up the money for a deposit, and they’re very much in love.

If a friend your age is getting married, it has absolutely no reflection on your love life.  If a university peer gets promoted, it doesn’t impact negatively on your career.  We need to stop looking at the people in our age bracket and thinking that what happens to them “must” happen to us immediately too, because what’s right for one person might be hideously badly timed for another.  Case in point: I am not ready for Andy’s life.  I am not ready to live with a partner, I am not ready to commit to a mortgage, and I’m definitely not ready to settle down in one geographical area.   I’ve never even been to Blackpool, for crying out loud.

I’m sure that when we’re with the right person all of the house-marriage-kids stuff will fall into place, just as I’m sure that our careers will have their turning points at the opportune moment.  These things will happen to us when we’re actually ready for them.  Not only that, but they will probably happen because we’re actually ready for them.  Why would you want someone else’s life now, when you get to have yours in the future?  Why does where they are matter more than where you are?

Have something very delicious for lunch today.  You deserve it.

Twenty-Four Going on Sixteen

Hello and welcome to Wednesday!  I hope your week is treating you extremely well so far.

Last night two actor friends of mine came round for the first rehearsal of a short play that we’re performing in Camden in April.  The piece is about two people whose friendship is on the rocks, because they’re no longer sure what they want from each other.  The rehearsal went really well and we had a lot of fun (especially a certain unnamed actor who got a very serious case of the giggles), but we also had a very interesting discussion about relationships, friendships and how our feelings make us behave.

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As you can see, we took the rehearsal very seriously.  Anyway, as those of you who read yesterday’s blog will already know, my friends and I are not fond of fancying people.  It’s difficult and stressful and it makes us feel unnecessarily girly (and yes, that includes my male friends).  Apart from the obvious vulnerability that goes with having feelings for someone, I think that one of the problems my generation has with the entire dating thing is that it makes us feel like we’re still sixteen.  Even in our mid-twenties, when we have  a fair amount of emotional experience under our belts, we’re still not entirely sure what we’re doing or what the other person is thinking.  That’s hard to process.  How can we not have conquered this in a decade?

We as a generation have been programmed to aim high: we’re fighting against a tidal wave of economic uncertainty, we have to fight hard to get jobs (and even interviews) in a way that not many generations have had to do before, and we are annually told that our excellent A Level grades don’t mean anything.  Of course the exams are getting easier; why would we be getting cleverer or more conscientious?  It’s not like we’re trying to succeed at life or anything.  OH NO WAIT.

If we are so good at working hard for professional success, why are we so bad at coping with our personal lives?  When we were discussing this last night, one of my actors made a very good point: to a certain extent, we have control over our professional progress.  We might not always get the jobs or the opportunities that we want or think we deserve, but to a degree fate favours the people who put the hours in.  When it comes to relationships, friendships and other people in general, we have absolutely no control over how they feel about us.  Sure, we can dress nicely, smile a lot and be the best possible version of ourselves, but there’s no equity involved: being as awesome as you can be doesn’t guarantee that someone will like you.  Unfair, but true.

The bizarrely reassuring thing about this whole situation is that it gives us all a level playing field: nobody feels completely sorted when it comes to this stuff, and even the highest-flying executive can be baffled by a crush.  We have learned a lot since we were teenagers, but no one has yet conclusively proved how feelings work, so at least we’re not alone in our confusion.

Have a wonderful day, and make sure you have something delicious for dinner.

You and Your (not) Stupid Fear

There is a very specific tendency among my generation to find parallels in the events of our lives with episodes of Friends.  Many times I have been explaining a situation to a friend, whether it be a work issue or a love life conundrum, and as soon as I say the magic words “It’s like that bit in Friends when…” the other person immediately understands exactly what I mean.  It’s a bit bizarre to use a sitcom as a semiotic conversational feature, but there’s no denying that it definitely works (with people who are currently aged between 20 and 30, anyway).

My current situation is no exception: I am now unemployed.  I am excited by the possibilities that my new freedom holds, but also very scared.  It’s like that bit in Friends (told you) when Chandler convinces Rachel to give up her job, and when she starts to panic about her decision and he tells her not to give in to ‘the fear’, she cries “You and your stupid fear!”  That’s how I feel at the moment.

I think that fear is a double-edged sword (quick side note – where on earth did that phrase come from? Surely ALL swords are double-edged; a single-edged sword is a butter knife!  Anyway): it can be an excellent source of motivation, but it can also demobilise you.  If you can be afraid of something and use that negative response to fuel an active stand against it, that’s wonderful.  But how many situations in life do we really and truly respond to with that kind of maturity?  For starters, it’s a lot harder than it looks.

The writer and lecturer Marianne Williamson said “Love is what we were born with.  Fear is what we learned here.”  I agree with that idea in principle, i.e. that being afraid is definitely a response that human beings develop over time, but surely as a species we have evolved to have fairly appropriate responses to circumstances by now?  The fight or flight response still applies to a lot of occasions in modern day life.  The original “Oh-God-it’s-a-sabre-tooth-tiger-should-I-run-away-or-should-I-throw-my-spear-at-it?” issue is not so likely to be the stimulus these days; in modern times it could be the split second before a car accident, or the moment you realise that a shady character is following you home late at night.   But the actual response, regardless of the stimulus, is pretty much the same as it was when we first wandered out of the caves and started making kitchen utensils out of rocks. If the response has endured, is that because we need it?

Lots of people (including me) endorse pro-active responses to all kinds of negative emotions: anger, hatred, fear and even regret (which I wrote a blog post about for Empty Photo not that long ago – you can read it here if you fancy) can be used for the greater good in your life.  But the aspect of fear that separates it from the other typical negative motivators is that it deals with the unknown: if you are angry, you know why; if you regret something, you know what you regret; if you feel hatred, it is definitely towards a specific thing or person.  Fear, on the other hand, can be as vague and wishy-washy as it pleases.  And it can be very difficult to be firmly and confidently pro-active in the face of something that’s so flipping nebulous.

So fear is a learned behaviour that we probably do need as a motivator, but actually motivating yourself with it is a tad tricky.  I’m sure that everyone has different ways of dealing with fear and approaching its possible solutions, and I count myself very lucky to know so many freelancers (in the ARTS, no less!) who I’m sure will have very inspirational and encouraging tales to tell.  That’s not to say that they are all perfectly fine and dandy all of the time, thank you very much, but I know that they are all braver, stronger and more ambitious people because of their experiences with employment uncertainty.  I hope that they will share their wisdom with me, and that even if we never entirely rid ourselves of it, that we can all learn to use our fear.

Have a marvellous Wednesday!