Your Cheating Heart

The national side progressed easily into the last sixteen of the World Cup last night, but they didn’t do it properly. There were no magnificent scenes of victory. Nobody punched the air, except the Belgiums. A newspaper this morning calls this a ‘basic misreading of hypotheticals’ like that phrase means anything to begin with. A manager, for the first time ever, looked at the game after the one they’d be playing and made decisions based on a long-term outlook. Football fans can’t look past the next game, we all know that. If you’re not living in the moment, you’re dead inside.

There is a fundamental problem here that needs to be addressed.

I had a conversation with my daughter on the way to school this morning about how the fine art of thinking about shit is being lost. In the clamour to be noticed in a World that increasingly values the cheap gag or the funny meme above actual facts and logic, a valuable resource is being squandered. My opinion on last night’s game is valid, but as I am not Gareth Southgate how the fuck do I know what his plan is? I have no right to question his tactical decision making now, I don’t get paid to be England manager, yet millions of fans like me feel they somehow now have a voice, because Social media gives them a stage. We stop thinking, and start ranting, and then everything goes Pete Tong.

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Some would argue it is just easier to get other people to think for you. That’s why we have websites like comparethemeerkat.com, who use SCIENCE to tell you that you can save money and feel awesome (no hang on, that’s the other lot). Except, if all you do is compare figures and don’t look at the ethical backgrounds of companies, is this saving worth the effort? So what if I can recoup £1000 a year? There are far better financial decisions to be made than this that most people don’t want to think about because they won’t consider their own unique circumstances. Having a website tell you to save is all well and good, listening to an ‘expert’ pontificate on what’s best is great… but what if that advice is potentially more harmful than good…?

I didn’t know the possible consequences of a Keto diet when I began it, until my gallbladder finally gave up the ghost and I was forced into surgery to remove it. When I watch people expound on my Social media of the benefits of fat bombs, there’s still a chill that runs through me. My body could have given up at any point, but had I taken better steps to read through possible consequences, a lot of fear and heartache might yet have been avoided. When someone else tells you X has changed their life, just blindly copying them may have its own consequences to shoulder. Thinking through options remains a better bet than simply chopping and changing when someone else tells you ‘this is a good idea.’

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As less people think and just do whatever the fuck they want, the danger of disaster becomes all the more apparent. Handing over decision making to automation will not give us an easier life if our ability to think independently and critically is compromised. Giving people platforms to pronounce opinion has always been fraught with potential disaster, but if these people simply spew hate and anger from LEFT AND RIGHT, nobody wins. Sure, you can get angry, but if you let your hatred colour and pollute everything? There will be consequences.

It is then that we all need someone to cut through the bullshit and say the things we’re all too scared to speak aloud.

Lots of you people genuinely frighten me. If you don’t think Piers Morgan’s a twat, it’s also highly unlikely we’ll have much to say of any value to each other.

The exit is that way —>

Games People Play

A lot of my time online of late is filled with people criticising each other for being themselves. The understanding, when you invite a bunch of individuals into a timeline to be your ‘friends’ is that there’ll never be a cross word and everyone will simply exist in a loving, caring environment that nurtures positivity. That’s pretty unlikely, all told: tolerance isn’t the Internet’s strong point on a good day. Then, there are the moments which I’ve come to identify as the ‘functioning member of society’ tests: do you tick the boxes where, if asked to be an adult for extended periods of time, that’s something you’re both willing and happy to do?

A worrying number of times, people I expect to be at least willing to open their hearts to change would far rather close them for the sake of a quiet life.

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This is happening with increasing frequency: someone makes a comment that is neither a) contentious or b) inflammatory and yet the person it is directed at immediately takes it as both and then posts a rebuttal, often making their own shortcomings all the more apparent. The subject matter, lets be honest, is completely irrelevant. A part of my brain might identify this purely as an attention seeking, need to create drama for personal satisfaction moment, but that’s very rarely the case. If I’m a barometer for this, a need to vent is just that: you hit a nerve, so there has to be a response to give me time to think.

Except, of course, you shouldn’t be doing this kind of thing on the Internet to begin with, but on your own, or with someone who needs to hear that same revelation, or even with a therapist who can help you deal with the issues within. There is the possibility by confronting the person via whichever medium you are communicating with that you could get closure, but the chances of this are so slim… effort will most certainly not equal reward. The whole ‘anonymity allows you to express things you might not do elsewhere’ thing is great, but only if you then solve the problem.

Too often, the Internet is becoming the place where you don’t make things better, but worse.

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If the alt-right fanboys can ruin this for everybody, who’s gonna notice if I make a mess? I can act in a way that would be impossible to pull of in the Real World, because to exist there there needs to be a level of civility and fundamental acceptance of others… except, of course, that’s now changing too. Woe betide those who think they can get away with being morons when there’s a smartphone camera and the opportunity for 15 seconds of fame. More and more, the power of instant reaction is being highlighted for all manner of brilliant (and disturbing) ends.

This woman’s actions are now making national news thousands of miles from the event. A decade ago this kind of viral awareness would have been impossible, but now news organisations understand only too well the significance of being ‘a functional member of society.’ Watching people, every day, do stuff that is no different from this, makes me wonder at what point the whole fabric of society effectively rips, or whether if enough of this stuff will finally be a catalyst to affect real, lasting change. It isn’t the fault of other people, in a great many cases, that this stuff happens to begin with.

EVERYBODY IS THE PROBLEM.

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If you’re using Social media, you are contributing to its demise. Walking away makes things worse. Blocking and muting people acknowledges the problem, but indicates an unwillingness to address the issues, because if you don’t really ‘know’ your ‘friends’ in the first place, how on Earth will you alter their perceptions of what matters? That’s the key to all of this, of course: that is not your job. Feel free to continue to say and do whatever you like, and it is up to other people to decide whether or not to listen… except that solves nothing if your outlook is damaged by personal circumstance.

The truth, of course, inevitably lies at some point between these two extremes.

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As a writer, it is becoming apparent that if I wish to tread a particular path, I am going to kop some flack. It is already beginning to happen in certain quarters, and the reintroduction of mutes to Social media’s an early warning sign that maybe the time has come to cut back on what I consider as noise from people unwilling to help themselves and focus on those who have embraced a desire to change. It is hard to maintain a level of positivity when surrounded by those for whom have not as yet reached that stage in their personal journey.

Yes, you can suffer from depression and still function in society, but your coping strategies will vary.

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If you’re not prepared to accept the rules when you live in a society, there will be consequences. The Internet has rules too, and not just those who you consider the ‘bad guys’ have to live by them. Everybody does. That means not flying off the handle when someone disagrees with you. It means not making assumptions that people don’t understand the peculiarity of your situation. It all means we are all part of a problem that will only get better once both sides of the fence accept the other’s grass is never greener if the resultant fight over that statement hurts someone in the process.

Everybody is the problem, and accepting this is the biggest issue of all.

Dangerous Game

If the National Football Team progress pass the group stages in the World Cup, I can already see a reckoning coming. Those of us who accommodate the interests of others, without getting upset or judgemental, will find themselves watching others fight over passion. It is already beginning: the polite reminders that ‘not everybody is the same’ and ‘perhaps what I’m watching is more interesting than your mob mentality entertainment’ will undoubtedly escalate to mutes and petty spats, followed by arguments over what people can stick on their own timelines.

I’m going to support my National Side (as I have every four years) and that is not going to change. Those paying attention on my feed will grasp my love of football, despite the fact I don’t follow a team. I love listening to games on the radio, which is as much (normally) as can be coped with. Watching England on TV is roughly akin to torture. When the winning goal went in last night, I was in the bathroom. It was too stressful to be anywhere else.

What Twitter does best, and that has always been the case, is link people together whilst watching events. Whether this is a football game or a niche music band, it allows a shared, participative experience to take place when one is alone. You can feel part of a collective whole whilst stuck in the bathroom. It gives those of us who have issues with large groups or social situations where you can’t trust yourself the vital ability to experience that moment, and it to be valid whilst doing so.

On the flip-side, it makes everybody capable of not only having an opinion over that same experience, but the confidence to challenge validity of others’ participation. Of course, that opinion doesn’t need to be shared, but if you’ve spent all day wading through people’s terror at their own existence, being buffeted by horror over child internment camps and the subjugation of minorities wondering how they’ll survive the rest of the year… there are going to be flash-points.

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Eventually, you’re going to disagree with someone. How that works out isn’t all about you, either, but if the other person matters and you’re smart enough to grasp you could make things worse by pointing out more contention? You don’t do it. That’s the key, and that’s why last night I made a generic, non-specific point. The people I could have targeted should now know what to expect from me: it can be their choice as to how they react to this. I know certain people will mute and come back, some will leave, and for a couple this love of football will become a great way to pick a fight.

Except, I’m not playing that game any more. If you’d like a fair, adult discussion on football, or how ‘sportsball’ is a pejorative term, I’m utterly there. If I make disapproving noises over things I don’t like, then there is an acceptance that by doing so there will be consequences. If you wonder why I stopped talking about certain subjects, it has nothing to do with ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and everything around knowing which people will accommodate reasoned discussion, and who should be left well alone. As a wise computer once typed: the only way to win is not to play.

Sometimes, you make things better by doing nothing.

Have Fun

I’m not feeling great today so this will be my only foray into Online Reality as a result.

There’s a disturbing trend of late, amongst ‘high profile’ people that I follow: by that, people with high four or low five-figure follower counts. It’s become fashionable to bash Social media when people try to use it for good. Some also seem to love to highlight the bad stuff you can find online without grasping any kind of flipside. It is disappointing to watch this happen, especially from those who I respect or admire. What the process does is further devalue positivity that does exist in places such as Twitter. Ignoring the good to further personal agendas, whether unconsciously or otherwise, is not a great idea; ultimately things only get worse as a result.

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Some of you may baulk at ‘artificial motivation’ or ‘false positivity’ that gets thrown around too but really, truthfully, that shit actually works for those of us who often have to fake it for the cameras. You might shudder at pages of stuff for meditation or relaxation online, or wonder how anyone could learn stuff from the Internet that is of any use but people do and are. The bad stuff is simpler to highlight because that’s more profit for other people to report and make money from. Cute stories only make you feel good to a point, and often they won’t get the kind of reaction certain Social media users are angling for.

I see you people. You’re smart and intelligent human beings but can’t help jumping on a bandwaggon which, ultimately, drags all of us further down into oblivion. It goes back to the posts I’ve written in the week: sometimes saying nothing is far preferable to diving in and contributing. Let people enjoy their stuff without holding it up for ridicule, however well-meaning you may believe that to be. Sometimes, being stupid and pointless has a point. Sometimes, by pointing out what appears to be stupidity, you become part of the problem.

[See: Vegan Ice Cream Girl]

Shut Up

This is effectively the same rant I had on Wednesday on the Warcraft blog. There’s no point doing it a third time because if after three years people still aren’t listening, nothing is going to change.

In the vain hope someone might get it if I’m simple and honest:

  • We began as ‘friends’ but you invested far too much into the assumption,
  • You then said something that was selfish, unreasonable and made me feel uncomfortable,
  • I asked you not to do that again:
  • You did it again;
  • I stopped talking to you.

No passive-aggressive shit here, people. Just the facts.

Normal Service resumes tomorrow.

The Pleasure Principle

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For a long time, there was a belief that everything I did had to be justified. Then, as time has gone on, a realisation has dawned that actually, that’s not true. A good friend sent me a piece yesterday which sums this up in four lines better than I am ever likely to do in several thousand words:

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I’ve spent a lot of time feeling as if thought processes need justification, but in the end, they don’t. The actions I take are not random or unpredictable: if people look back at events, the reasons why things take place is, undoubtedly, because of their behaviour. Whether it was the ill-thought out comment that is only regretted after the fact, an NSFW picture that shouldn’t have been posted or the DM sent that really, truthfully, shouldn’t have been said… these details are irrelevant.

I’ve stopped reacting in real time to stupidity when it’s abundantly apparent it won’t listen, or can’t hear. This is an even bigger waste of time than spending hours agonising over what people think of me, or complaining about events so far out of my control as to be pointless to concern myself about. All my time and effort now is dedicated to changing what I can, organising positive action and making good on my own promises.

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Of course, there are the moments when those you have developed affection for leave without giving reasons. I have, in the past, written to people who left suddenly or blocked me asking why this took place. It doesn’t happen anymore, because of what I learnt in those first instances: when someone else sees the World in a way that you don’t, that viewpoint is inevitably considered as harmful, and to be avoided.

That’s not how reality works, and it’s taken a long time to grasp that fact. Others won’t blame themselves for their negative actions. That’s what anonymous Internet relationships are becoming the most use for: shifting emotional baggage that you have run out of places to dump in real life. It’s easier to blame the random person who you upset instead and just move on.

That won’t solve the bigger issue.

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Right now, all of my issues are a world away from the Internet. When I return there to try and relax, what is found is often frightening beyond belief. The number of harmful opinions, the people who seem to think they are some kind of arbiter for my actions, that certain thought processes are unacceptable and harmful… and the number of people who will not consider principle… that bothers me the most.

The trick, of course, is to remember that I don’t owe these people a modicum of validation. I have meaningful, reciprocal relationships that matter more. Those who tell me we’re friends without putting in the work are living under a delusion. Those who keep me on their friends’ list because of some misplaced belief I wouldn’t be here without them… and the list goes on. I know who really cares. They show me.

I am no longer interested in your Stupid.

American Idiot

There’s a massive VW Camper van stuck outside our house. When I say stuck, I mean it is effectively wedged under the eves of the garage we call ours, mostly because it came within six inches of taking out my car, which was parked on the drive. My car is now sitting on my neighbour’s drive, and husband is outside waiting to see how these idiots intent to extricate themselves from the mess that has been made. All of this is because we have an area of grass outside that random people periodically get themselves trapped on and (inevitably) we end up towing them off. It is a consequence of being slightly away from the beaten track, and other people being totally incapable of driving. All this was relayed to me last night via my son on his mobile, whilst I attempted to enjoy a meal out.

Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

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The ultimate irony in all of this is that, in two hours, I’m off to trade in my car for a new one. It will be considerably smaller, cheaper (because petrol and less tax) and the issues experienced with the old one will become someone else’s problem to deal with. It has been something of an accident magnet in the last six months… I don’t know why people have decided to try and hit me, wedge themselves between it and hedges or take out the garage instead of hitting it… but this latest incident makes this three, and we all know how Cosmic Bad Luck works. So, let that be the end of this vehicle, and be done with everything.

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All of this is due to the fact a major gas main’s being relaid just around the corner, and everybody thinks our dead-end road is a shortcut, which it never has been and never will be. It is a demonstration of how dumb some people can be when driving, that certain people should never be allowed behind the wheel of large vehicles, and that however hard to try to avoid reality… sometimes, it just finds you. Whatever happens, we have insurance and stuff to cover all of this so it won’t end up as anything other than an inconvenience. However, I won’t forget the weekend, and (as was the case with the girl who wedged herself between my car and the bush outside the house) undoubtedly passes into Family Lore as ‘you remember that time we were trading in your car and someone almost took it out?’

If I’m honest, I’d like less drama.