Tag Archives: technology

Gratitude Attitude

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Happy Friday, you lovely thing!  How’s your week been?

My friend Tamsin recently nominated me for that “list three things you’re grateful for” thingy on Facebook.  While I am whole-heartedly supportive of such a positive, life-affirming use of social media, I am going to cheat and do it my way.  This is for three reasons:

1) I post blogs and articles and silly statuses on Facebook all the time.  If I did this thing properly (i.e. once a day for ten days – thirty things to be grateful for, all told), the message of gratitude would get drowned out by the sound of everyone frantically removing me from their news feeds.
2) I can assimilate the point of this exercise in one bite-sized, easy to digest blog post, which is what I’m about to do.
3) I’m a contrary little so-and-so.

So, here is my take on the gratitude exercise: ten categories, three examples per category, thirty things to be grateful for.  (So yeah, I am cheating, but technically I’ve done the exercise.)

Friends

  • The ones who can always make you laugh
  • The ones who are still friends after being miles and/or months apart
  • The ones with whom you have excellent eyebrow semaphore.

Jokes

  • In-jokes whose origins are lost in the mists of time, but which still make you laugh
  • Christmas cracker jokes
  • A joke you tell that makes EVERYONE laugh – no better feeling in the world, is there?

Family

  • The ones who looked after you when you couldn’t look after yourself
  • The ones who remember your most embarrassing moments but don’t bring them up in front of people
  • The ones who become real friends.

Experiences

  • Life-changing, unforgettable ones
  • Horrendous, lesson-learned-please-God-don’t-ever-let-that-happen-again ones
  • Ones that make for rocking anecdotes.

Strangers

  • Ones who inspire/amuse you without ever knowing
  • The ones who show you compassion when you’re lost/stuck/in trouble
  • The ones who have taught their children how to behave in public.

Aspects of Nature

  • Landscape awesomeness, e.g. sunsets
  • Biology, which proves that deep down we’re all the same
  • Penguins.  Who does not love penguins?

Bands/Musicians

  • Ones that always make you feel good
  • Ones that remind you of happy times and/or good friends
  • Guilty pleasures (did somebody say Hanson?)

Technological Wonderments

  • Television
  • Skype
  • The animatronics behind Ann Robinson’s face

Gut Reactions

  • “This isn’t right.”
  • “This is amazing!”
  • “I love you.”

Cheese

  • Retro, cringy pop music
  • Mushy, sentimental conversations
  • ACTUAL CHEESE
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Cliché Corrections

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Hello, lovely reader!  How are you?  Gosh, it’s been ages, hasn’t it?

I would like to apologise on behalf of myself and my erstwhile laptop for the radio silence this week.  On Friday, Calcifer unceremoniously died on me, and had to be taken to a computer repair place.  And yes, I did name my computer after a character from Howl’s Moving Castle.  He is back in action once more, thank goodness, so I can carry on talking to you lovely people.

Today’s blog is about clichés.  We use them all the time, perhaps without even noticing how frequently we drop them into conversation, and we rely upon them to make our meanings clear.  Clichés can be annoying, trite or even offensive, but they are also a tried-and-tested method of expressing ideas in a way that everybody understands.

Having said that, some clichés now seem to be a bit outdated or irrelevant to modern life.  We still understand their meanings, but honestly, how often do any of us have any birds at all, let alone ones in bushes?  With this in mind, I have decided to tweak a few famous phrases to better suit our needs.

Hell hath no fury like a woman whose best friend has been scorned

It’s true that scorned women tend to be pretty angry, but their friends’ wrath is usually much scarier.  The last time I found myself in a somewhat scorned state, my beloved flat mate Ash was livid, and she doesn’t really “do” anger very often.  Potential scorners, beware: women are of the (absolutely correct) opinion that their best friends are beautiful, fascinating and lovable human beings – hence the friendship – and if you mess things up, they will come down on you like a furious ton of bricks.

A watched phone never beeps

I admit that I sometimes stand and watch a pot of water, getting cross because it just won’t boil.  However, that invariably turns out to be because I forgot to switch the hob on, rather than my feverish anticipation affecting the laws of physics.  In this day and age, communication technology has become the pot, and texts, Tweets and Facebook notifications are the bubbles we wait for.  Particularly when we are interested in someone or we are waiting to hear about a job interview, we just can’t tear our eyes away from our screens.  Well, it sucks but it’s true: waiting for something won’t make it happen.  Put your phone down and make yourself a cup of tea.

Plenty more fish on the dating website

Those of you have read this blog about Tinder will recall that I’m not a huge fan of internet dating, but I completely understand why so many people are.  I find the original cliché about there being an abundance of fish in the sea silly for two reasons: firstly, talking about fish either makes me want to watching Finding Nemo or eat smoked salmon, so I tend to get distracted from the task of finding said fish.  Secondly, the unanimous response to “plenty more fish in the sea” is “I don’t WANT another fish, I want THAT fish!” Or boy, or girl, I guess.  If you’re actually attracted to fish then we’re probably focussing on the wrong issue, here.
Anyway, the point is that finding new potential partners is daunting after a heartbreak.  Even though I’d never use it myself, I think it’s kind of nice that people can browse internet dating sites to ease themselves back into romance and all that jazz.

When life gives you lemons, go and find the tequila

Who among us actually knows how to make lemonade out of lemons?  Not me, that’s for sure.  I do know how to do a tequila shot, though.  I’m being flippant about some fairly sound advice, here: when bad things happen, find a way to make them work to your advantage.  I totally agree with this idea, but I also think that sometimes all you can do is switch off.  I’m not condoning binge drinking as a solution to life’s woes, but I do think that we should relax and enjoy ourselves when we can.  Sometimes there just isn’t a way to get a positive outcome from a negative situation, and at those times all we can do is try to have some fun.

Well, it’s lovely to be back with you, dear reader.  Have a fantastic day, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

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.