Tag Archives: reality

You Are More Than A Page

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Hello, and welcome to Wednesday!  Are you having a nice week so far?

In theory, social media is a wonderful thing.  Facebook, Twitter and more allow us to stay in touch with people all over the planet, and to record the highlights of our lives through photographs and videos.  We can share our favourite music with our friends, read up about current affairs and amuse ourselves with any number of personality quizzes.

The bizarre thing about social media is that it has sort of overtaken our real lives.  If we post a great photo we are offended when people don’t “like” it, and when we get a response from a celebrity on Twitter it makes our day.  This is true to lesser or greater extents for each of us, but there is no denying that writing a funny status has become a kind of status symbol.

Why do we feel so validated by computer clicks?  What is it about our virtual presence that we prize as much as (or in some cases, more than) our physical presence?  I think that there are a couple of potential reasons: firstly, social media is quantifiable.  I check the statistics of how many people read my blog each day – thank you for reading this by the way, you lovely thing – and it literally measures how many people choose to read my ridiculous words.  When it comes to our online effectiveness, there are always facts and figures to tell us where we stand.

Secondly, having a Facebook page or an Instagram account is like having an encyclopaedia of yourself.  Over the months and years we build up a lot of information about our lives and our friendships, including our moments of triumphs and the photos we actually like of ourselves.  The information is complete and adjustable.  If I want to know the name of that comedian my brother and I discovered in 2008, all I have to do is look back through our friendship.  If we want to sound as sophisticated and intelligent as possible, we can edit our posts.  If we are up for an important job we can get rid of the digital evidence of our unemployable silliness.

We’ve all heard (and probably made) arguments for real human contact over use of social media, and in general I tend to agree with them.  It is better to see someone you love in real life, and no amount of filtering can make a beautiful image more moving.  I do believe that social media is useful and a miracle of the technological age we live in, but I think that it’s a mistake to assume that what we say and do online is as important as who we are in reality.

Put very simply, a nice picture of you on Facebook is a marvellous thing, but it will never be as good as seeing your actual face.  Have a glorious day.  Remember to use plenty of sun cream.

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What Do You Need?

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Good morning, lovely reader.  Can you believe it’s Wednesday already?  I know.  Where does the time go?

My flat mate and I get a lot of stick from our friends because apparently the northern end of the Piccadilly line doesn’t count as “really” living in London.  (It definitely does, by the way.  Zone 4 is still a zone.)  That having been said, we have a lot of house guests from all four corners of the capital city, and we both love having our friends round for cheese, diet coke and ridiculous conversations.

One of our friends came over yesterday for a rehearsal, and she ended up staying late into the evening, which was lovely.  When she left she sent us both a message thanking us for the day, and she said some very sweet things about how spending time with us makes her feel better about life in general.  As two very maternal girls of Irish descent who pride themselves on looking after people, this was the greatest compliment we could have received.

When someone needs a break from reality, a good laugh or just access to an excessive cheese board, they know to come to our flat.  I absolutely love that.  As a friend, the best feeling in the world is knowing that something about you is helpful to the people you love.

We all need different things from different people, and that’s fine.  It’s good to have a friend who is good at distracting you from your problems, a friend who is an excellent listener and a friend who will always be up for blowing off some steam.  It’s also totally fine to sometimes need a good cry, sometimes need a big night out and occasionally just need a massive rant with no input beyond a few sympathetic noises.

Different times call for different measures, and you are absolutely allowed to need people when life throws something weird at you.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, a chat, or just a cuddle.  Your friends want to be there for you just as much as you want to feel better.  Even if talking about a problem isn’t necessarily going to make it go away, it’s important to let the people who love you try to help.  In fact, the most important time to reach out to people is when you feel totally lost and helpless.  It’s the difference between standing alone on a battlefield saying “This is shit.  What am I going to do?” and standing beside someone who loves you, who will turn to you and say, “Yes, this is shit.  What can I do to help?”

Don’t just have a Wednesday.  Have a Marks and Spencer’s Wednesday.

The Tinder Tantrum

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Good morning, dearest and darlingest reader.  How’s the world with you?

Yesterday was a lovely day for me, partly because so many of my close friends had lots of good news to share, but also because I got to spend most of the afternoon on Skype to my friend Steven, who is currently teaching dramatic stuff to bambinos in Italy.  Steven is a very good friend to have for many reasons, but mainly because he is just as good at silly voices/inane chatter as he is at serious and intellectual discussions.

In a slightly odd mixture of the two, yesterday our conversation wandered into Tinder territory, and the conundrum of online dating in general.  I should make two things very clear before I continue:

1) I have absolutely no problem with people who go in for online dating,  nor would I judge anyone for the origins of their relationship.  One of my friends is now blissfully happy with (and engaged to) a guy who got hideously drunk on their first date and behaved like an idiot, so it clearly doesn’t matter how things start out.

2) Having said that, I fear and mistrust online dating with an extremity of feeling that I usually reserve for my hatred of Keira Knightley.

If the good people at match.com are to be believed, a quarter of relationships now start online.  This is all very well and good: modern life is very busy, stressful and it flings us into all sorts of faraway geographical locations and bizarre schedules.  In times and places like these, it makes sense to engage with your dating life through a convenient and easy to navigate service.  I think that there’s something quite sweet about talking to someone for a bit before you meet them to gauge how well you get on, and obviously it’s handy to be able to pick and choose the photos that go onto your profile.  Best face forward and all that.

However, there are some very practical issues to consider when dipping one’s toe into the man-made reservoir of online dating: firstly, the safety issue.  It’s a well-worn topic, but you can pretend to be anyone you like online, and that’s just creepy.  Watch an episode of Catfish and you’ll see where I’m going with this.  In addition, real life doesn’t work like that: you don’t get to re-write conversations half way through because you’ve realised that the sentence you’re about to say doesn’t come across very well, or re-style your hair to look more like that photo of you from so-and-so’s wedding when you looked really nice.  It’s just not possible, unless one of you has got hold of Bernard’s Watch, in which case we should probably be putting it to better use than manipulating dating situations to your advantage.

If you’re particularly busy and/or attached to the idea of smartphone apps, then Tinder is the online dating forum for you.  Call me naive, but the idea of simply swiping through reams of potential partners makes my skin crawl.  According to Steven, the guy who invented Tinder said in an interview that he doesn’t understand why people have a problem with the app’s format, because it’s simply a digital translation of what we do when we are out in bars, clubs, etc.  We scope out the talent, if you’ll excuse that hideous turn of phrase.  It’s a valid point, but we are evolved to look for potential partners when we’re around other human beings: we’re trying to continue a species, here.  Smartphone apps and technology in general are supposed to be making our conscious processes better, not bolstering our innate instincts.  Educational podcasts, tools for early learning, apps for locating the nearest pub showing the Arsenal match and more are all there to challenge our brain power and help us to see as much of this amazing world as possible.  (With the possible exception of the football/pub app, which I realise is just something I find very handy on a Saturday afternoon.)  Why do we need apps and websites to help us do something that we can do perfectly well on our own in the real world?  We’re hard-wired to find each other attractive and then do something about it.  There’s no need to bring Apple into this.

My main problem with online dating is that it takes all the fun out of meeting someone and finding that you share a spark.  This conversation happens between the women in my social circle quite a lot:

“I really like *insert guy’s name*.”
“Aw, that’s great!”
“No it isn’t.  He gives me butterflies, for Christ’s sake.”
“Oh dear.”
“Exactly.”

My friends and I don’t like liking people.  It makes us feel vulnerable and girly and, as you can see, a bit grumpy.  But I would so much rather get cross about being emotionally exposed than go about my love life in the same way I go about banking or applying for jobs.  Ok, the butterflies are a pain, but they’re also pretty important, and you don’t get them with an app.  How can someone give you butterflies when you’ve never seen them smile at you?

I think the crux of the matter is that underneath many, many, many layers of sarcasm and a predisposition to sneer at lovey-dovey stuff, I am actually a bit of a romantic.  Urgh.  How embarrassing.  As I said, I don’t have a problem with online dating per se, but I hope that it never overtakes the joy of meeting someone for the first time and feeling like your insides have become the London Butterfly House.

Have a truly joyous Tuesday.  Make sure you drink plenty of water.