Tag Archives: social

Really Odd Compliments

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Hello, you lovely creature.  How’s everything going with you?

In case you haven’t seen it already, the Daily Odd Compliment account on Tumblr is one of the greatest things that the internet has to offer.  It expresses genuine emotion through very weird ideas which, if we’re honest with ourselves, is often the most accurate way to do so.  Love is many things, but socially acceptable is not one of them.

In honour of this bizarre but brilliant concept, and as a sort-of sequel to this post about awesome attributes we all have, I would like to add a few of my own weird compliments.  Trust me, at least one of these applies to you.  Yes, you with the face.  These compliments will be things that your friends and loved ones definitely think about you, and hopefully things that you think about them, too.

  • You are the first person I call when I’ve embarrassed myself in public, partly because I know that you’ll make me feel better about it, but mainly because I like to make you laugh.
  • You are my first choice of wingman for crazy adventures.  I could call you and say “let’s go swing dancing!” and your response would probably be “Cool.  Flats or heels?”  I don’t know why you go along with my ridiculous schemes, but I’m glad that you do.
  • You are really witty on Facebook.
  • Your ability to text while walking baffles me, but it’s also pretty impressive.
  • You are way too good at coping with hangovers.  Seriously, I don’t understand how you didn’t get a letter from Hogwarts with a magical ability like that.
  • Your ability to psychically know when I need junk food has saved us both a lot of time over the years.
  • When the zombie apocalypse hits, I will let you be in charge of the plan.  Even if the plan involves holing up at the Winchester with your mum and your ex.
  • You remember my stupidly complex coffee order, and you don’t mock me for it.
  • The worst thing I can imagine is you not liking me anymore.  I genuinely feel a bit sick just thinking about it.
  • You being as weird as I am makes us both look more normal to other people.  That’s a huge source of validation.
  • I start missing you about ten minutes before you leave.
  • Whenever you’re sad, I get a really strong impulse to go and hunt down your favourite celebrity and get them to give you a hug.  One day I want to be able to call you and say “hey, cheer up, Benedict Cumberbatch is on his way over for a cuddle”.
  • You wear pyjamas with panache.  That is not easy to do, and I respect that.
  • You are very sympathetic when I get upset about spelling errors.  I know that you don’t get why it’s such a big deal to me, but you’re very nice about it nonetheless.
  • You make tea correctly.

Bookworm Woes

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Good morning, and welcome to what I hope will be the most marvellous Thursday of your life so far!

Today I would like to talk about a subject very close to my heart: reading.  Specifically, reading in public.  Here are some of the most irritating and troublesome aspects of being a public bookworm:

  • Who are you looking at?  Sometimes when you’ve been reading for a while, you look up from the page to go over a moment in your head or work something out about the storyline.  If you are sitting in public and you look up to make accidental eye contact with a stranger, they tend to look a bit confused.  Unfortunately, it’s not socially acceptable to say “I’m not looking at you, I’m reading.  Go back to your life.”
  • Unnecessary baggage: If you’re about to leave the house and you’ve only got a few pages left in a book, you have to take a spare one with you, don’t you?  It doesn’t really matter where we’re going:  we must always, always have a good chunk of book available to read.  If this means that we sometimes end up taking large handbags to nightclubs, so be it.
  • Anti-social issues: When meeting friends, we tend to arrive a bit early so that we can get some extra reading in.  Woe betide the friend who turns up in the middle of a chapter, and God help the poor soul who arrives expecting conversation from us when we’ve only got two pages of a thriller novel left.
  • What the heck is going on?  This one is especially true if you’re on public transport: reading can be an all-consuming activity, and if you’re not careful you can miss your bus stop without even noticing.  If you’re sitting on a park bench it can start to get dark or rain without you realising, and in some cases it takes physical prodding from a loved one to bring you back to reality.
  • I’m not crazy; I’m a bookworm.  Sometimes you are reading a book that is so surprising and engaging that you genuinely have to react verbally (potentially by swearing), or so funny that you laugh out loud.  Apparently in public situations this kind of behaviour is a little disconcerting for strangers.  Well, strangers, you’ll just have to deal with it.  I’m reading an awesome story over here.

Well, I’m off to finish The Subtle Knife.  Have a glorious day.

 

Phone Off for Friday

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Good morning!  It’s finally Friday!  And it’s sunny!  What did we do to deserve such good fortune?  I don’t know.  Let’s just enjoy it.

I have decided to turn my phone off for 24 hours, as of 9am today.  On the one hand, this is a pretty big decision that will have an impact on my ability to contact people, check the time and look up travel plans, but on the other hand, it’s just a phone and it’s not going to kill me.  Let me walk you through this seemingly random decision, and then see whether you might want to do the same thing:

Distraction
My friend Andy told me recently that I seem to be really, really busy for someone who doesn’t go to work.  And he’s right.  (Let’s brush over the fact that I tend to work in my pyjamas, ok?)  The point is that I genuinely do have stuff to get on with, and having my phone on my desk is just a distraction.  You’re a  busy person with a lot of stuff to do too, aren’t you?  Exactly.  Imagine how much more efficiently you could work without your phone in the corner of your eye.

Responsibilities
Speaking of work, lots of my friends have several email, Twitter and Facebook accounts synced on their phones (because of all the theatre company stuff we get up to, you see), so whenever anything happens on one of those, we feel the need to respond immediately. However, I have made a life-changing discovery: we don’t have to do that.
If your work comes down to email messaging (i.e. you’re not a doctor, fire fighter, etc.), then it’s really not that urgent.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to work at the same speed as technology all of the time.  You don’t have to stop walking in the middle of the street to reply to a message, or halt a pleasant conversation to check your emails.

Social Skills
Which leads me neatly on to the next problem I have with phones: what the crap have they done to our social skills?  It has now become acceptable to get out your phone and tinker with it if you are in a large group conversation, feeling a bit shy or just bored while your friend is talking to you.  (I have a friend who does that quite a lot, and I won’t name and shame, but you know who you are.  Stop doing that.)

Rejection
There’s a bit in the first Bridget Jones book where she complains about the passive-aggressive role of the telephone in dating, i.e. that getting home to find messages on your machine means that you are loved, beautiful and popular, whereas having no messages means that you will die alone and be eaten by Alsations.
Sometimes we have the same problem with mobiles, don’t we?  The immediate response thing is an emotional issue as well as a work one: when our friends and beloveds don’t reply to texts straight away we feel wounded and wronged.  Let’s take a day off from that.

Rebellion
I’ve just started reading the His Dark Materials trilogy, and it strikes me that we tend to see our mobile phones the same way the characters in the novels see their daemons: embodiments of our souls which we cannot emotionally or physically bear to be parted from.  They’re not.  They’re just phones.
I know that mobile technology makes life a lot easier, but I also know that I was perfectly fine for fourteen years before I even heard of mobile phones.  Our phones do not rule our lives or define who we are.  We exist without our phones, and we are actually far more interesting without our faces glued to them.

Have a record-breakingly good Friday.

Tech: No Logic

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Good morning, you lovely thing.  How’s Tuesday treating you so far?

It’s a sleepy, chilled out kind of morning at Bag End.  (Bag End is what Ash and I named our flat, by the way.  We don’t actually live in a hobbit hole.  Which is kind of sad, actually.)  As I write this, my friend Rob is lounging around on the sofa in our living room.  He stayed over after a group of us went to the pub quiz last night.  Ash is lying in bed with her laptop, probably browsing Pinterest  and Facebook messaging people.  I am sitting at my desk (in pyjamas, but still – at least I’m sort-of vertical) talking to you, dear reader.

Bearing in mind that our flat is roughly the size of a shoe box, it seems bizarre to communicate with one another via social media, and yet a few moments ago I found myself offering Rob a cup of tea via Facebook.  It’s not even a laziness issue, because obviously I then had to stand up and make the cup of tea and take it to him, so why did I bother?

Using social media to talk to people who are in the same room (or teeny tiny flat) is one of the weirdest little bonuses of technology, and was parodied in an excellent episode of The IT Crowd called Friendface.  I have a few ideas as to why we behave in this strange and illogical manner:

  • Novelty value: we are still at a point where using social media unnecessarily makes us feel raffish, kooky and hilarious.  This is because we are all gleeful little children deep down, and that’s ok.
  • Illusion: social media and Skype allow us to talk to people all over the world, which is amazing.  When your friends have bogged off to far-flung countries, the technology makes it seem as though they could be right next to you, so using it when they actually are right next to you puts the whole thing on a level playing field.  Basically, it makes it easier to cope when the person you’re talking to actually is in Italy or what have you.
  • Posterity: we are the first generation who will be able to look back at their youth and see our entire lives documented, photographed, liked and retweeted.  Having real conversations is obviously an excellent thing, but we like to keep birthday cards, notes passed in lectures and other bits of memorabilia, don’t we?  We like having a record.

I’m not sure that mine and Rob’s little messaging interchange about a cup of tea will be my most prized memory aide in forty years, but it’s nice to have just the same.  I might go and have an actual conversation with him now.  Have a spectacular day.

We Could Totally Go on Countdown

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Hello, dear reader!  Are you having a nice Sunday?

My birthday party was yesterday, and it was marvellous.  Lots of friends, Cards Against Humanity and an unholy amount of cake at my house followed by taking over a pub garden for the evening make for a pretty perfect Saturday.  On the trip from my house to the pub we were definitely “those people” on the tube who were being a bit too noisy, but we were also handing out cake to strangers, so I like to think that we balanced ourselves out in terms of transport karma.

One of my favourite things about my wider social circle is that pretty much all of my friends get along with each other, regardless of external factors.  My siblings get on with my uni friends, and my friends from school get on with the person who stole my tricycle at nursery school (and has somehow become one of my closest friends in just twenty-two years).  Last night I sat in a pub garden and looked at my friends chatting, drinking, and climbing on the garden furniture, and I realised how lucky I am to have so many people in my life who like each other (and me, hopefully).

Something else occurred to me about my friends last night: none of us are where we thought we would be at this age.  Geographically we are all pretty much where we expected to find ourselves (i.e. in London), but in terms of career stuff and personal lives I think our mid-twenties have caught us entirely by surprise.  That’s not a bad thing, but it’s interesting to look at our trajectories since university (for example) and see how far we’ve strayed from our original ambitions.  We are, like Moss caught up in the dark underworld of Countdown, not exactly who or where we thought we would be.

I think that that’s amazing, particularly because so many of my nearest and dearest are drama types who could feasibly have been forced to abandon their dreams because of discouragement, money and other nasty things.  Thankfully none of us have, and if anything we are more enthusiastic about our dreams now that we’ve lived in the real world for a bit.  We know more about how we’re going to get where we want to be.

Now, how does one go about being on Countdown?…

I hope you have the kind of Sunday dinner that would make Gordon Ramsey weep with joy.