Spamtastic? Get the spam out of here!

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When I was younger Spam meant to me a disgusting processed meat product that came out of a tin and would occasionally, much to my disgust. find it’s way into our sandwiches. (Spam was clearly disgusting and a world apart from corned beef, which was a delicious processed meat product that come out of a tin and was best enjoyed with cheese in a toasted sandwich) Spam! It not only sounded like someone just threw it up but it was also very close to the commonly used, if wholly politically incorrect, insult kids would throw at each other on the playground (Spaz).

So spam never had great connotations and maybe that’s why the name applied to junk mail you used to get through your post but now more commonly and in greater quantities get through the inbox or in your blog comments.

When I first started blogging I didn’t get much spam and I would carefully sift through the comments WordPress decided were better off in Spam hoping to find some dedicated followers that inadvertently got rejected by the electronic bouncers of the blog platform entrance. Maybe I’d find some gems hidden in the junk.

I’m partly proud of the fact I now get more spam because I assume it means that my blog is featuring a bit more prominently on search engines or my readership now makes spammers think there may be some merit in targeting my blog or whatever. (If the actual reason is simply about getting their website links on as many sites as possible and has nothing to do with my slightly increasing blog popularity then please don’t ruin the illusion for me!)

Spam for me seems to fall into four categories: obvious junk, delusional confidence-boosters, soliciting advice and downright insulting.

Obvious junk

This is the easiest to deal with, it’s the spam that doesn’t really pretend to be anything other than what it is, pushing you to buy miracle cures from dodgy websites, etc. It might include long comments about weight loss miracles or a generic ‘site is good’ with a not overly well hidden link to a website selling dodgy weight loss miracle pills.

 Delusional confidence-boosters

These are the spam comments that are more craftily put together hoping you’ll accept the comment and publish the links hidden behind some ego stoking sentences about how marvelous your website is and how your blog definitely deserves global recognition. These, you might find yourself nodding along in agreement ‘why, yes, my blog is marvelous, how kind of you to notice’ before you realize that something is a little off.

It might be the link to the website selling the weight loss miracle pills or it might be the fact the comment is telling you how useful our advice was and how it’s saved their marriage and you realize the comment is attached to a post about your cat being chased by a dog and try as you might you can’t find any subconscious, reading-between-the-lines, advice you have inadvertently given anywhere that might help repair someone’s marriage.

Soliciting advice

The cleverer spam posts are ones that ask a plausible looking question to try to get you to respond, they might ask for your help with something or raise a technical question about the website. This taps into the psychology that if you want to get someone on side ask them a favour, this appeals to a person’s ego by acknowledging their expertise in something.

Whilst I find the uncovering of these ‘potential fan’ comments as ‘spam’ invariably disappointing, I can’t help but admire the tactics that have gone into these and I almost want to accept the comments in recognition of their attempts at clever game play.

Downright insulting

The final category of spam is undoubtedly the most insidious and most likely to work (on me anyway). It’s put together well, it includes references in the comment to the actual post and on first glance appears genuine. What really hooks you into these kind of posts, though, are the insults. Again, it’s clever psychology of combining compliments with comedowns to shake the insecurity of the author and elicit a desire to engage.

Here’s an example:

Everything published made a great deal of sense.
But, consider this, what if you composed a catchier plst title?
I am not saying your content isn’t solid, however suppose you added something that grabbed a person’s attention? I mean L’escalade part 2 | Fear of the reaper is
a little boring. You could glance at Yahoo’s front page and note how they creae post headlines to get viewers to click.
You might add a video or a pic or two to grab people interested about everything’ve written. In my
opinion, it would bring your posts a little bit more interesting.

It starts off well, first sentence is a solid ego boost (everything made sense) and then it comes with a confidence wobble (suggesting room for improvement), followed by a quick blow to the head (your title is boring), what looks like a hand being offered to pick you up (maybe look at Yahoo or try this) followed by a knockout punch (your post is currently boring).

I’m going to be honest this spam really bothers me. And even though I know it’s spam and not actually targeting me personally, most notably because I already have pictures and things on my website so the advice doesn’t match my content, nonetheless I can’t help but feel offended to be told my blog is boring and it puts me in defensive mode. I want to approve it so I can comment and point out the error of the spammers ways, but I know this would just be playing into their hands and giving their weblinks (yup those miracle weight loss pills again!) the prominence they are seeking.

Of course I’m secretly hoping this post will invite some dedicated spam comments telling me how great/boring I am and how this information is exactly the information they were looking for on this subject (albeit without enough pictures). I shall wrangle my hands in glee at the irony and do my level best not to engage with the spam further than that.

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Happy Bloggaversary to me!

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Apparently I’ve been at this blogging game for a whole year now, so it’s time for a little reflection. Please imagine a suitably reminiscingy tune (doo de doo doo, doo de doo do…) and maybe a hazy wavering of blog imagery back in time, one whole year ago…

I started all this with the idea that one day I might want to write a book but that probably wouldn’t happen if I didn’t practice writing on a more regular basis and, so, this blog was born. What I hadn’t expected was how much I’d enjoy blogging for blogging’s sake. At first I found it pretty scary to put myself out there thinking why would anyone be interested? What if people hate what I have to say? What if I get laughed out of the blogosphere, blocked from using the internet and ridiculed in person by those who happen to know me in the flesh?

Fortunately my fears were unfounded and people responded pretty well to this, not only friends and family, who probably feel a bit obliged to be kind, but so many other great people I’ve met throught blogging, that this time a year ago I had no idea existed. Because of this initial support I think I now to be able to keep going in the face of any hostility I might attrat in the future (should this thing ever become popular enough, or I ever become controversial enough, to attract trolly types).

I set myself the challenge of blogging once a week, which I pretty much stuck to, and a few months ago tried to up this to twice a week. At times I’ve found it hard to meet my self-imposed blogging deadlines and on more than one occasion I’ve forced myself to sit at the PC and write with absolutely no idea of what I’m going to blog about. Often, even when I’ve an idea of what I want to post, I’ve no idea how it’s going to finish and sometimes the results have surprised myself.

I’ve tried a bit of fiction and a bit of poetry here and there and I’ve uncovered a previously unrealised talent for computer art (just need to skim a few of my posts to see what I’m talking about!.

But, best of all I’ve realised that this blog isn’t actually as much about me as I’ve thought it would be. I’ve discovered countless awesome bloggers and blogs that I’ve really enjoyed reading and engaging with. I’ve had 181 bloggers (not related to me) deliberately sign up to follow my blog. I’ve had friends and family telling me they enjoy my ramblings and encouraging me to keep at it.

So I’d like to take the opportunity to thank each and everyone of you who have decided to follow me, like a post, make a comment, respond to comments I’ve left on other blogs, reblog me and recommend me to others in one way or another. Every interaction has motivated me to keep going even when there may have been times when I just wanted to give up on this demanding monster I’d created. But because of all of you I’ve kept at this for a year and hope to continue for many more years to come.

To borrow a line from ‘Lock, stock & two smoking barrels’…(to be read in gravelly Vinnie Jones voice)…it’s been emotional!

Ten reasons to be impulsive

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1. Thinking things through gets in the way of actually doing stuff, avoid the problem and skip the thinking part!

2. The sooner you impulsively commit to something the more likely you are to follow your instincts and go through with this. For example you could think I’d like to travel more so randomly apply to an internship in Cambodia and then when the email offer comes through immediately respond that you are in and tell everyone. Its so much harder to back out when you force others to become collaborators of your impulsive ways!

3. You can be impulsive in some areas of life but still remain resolutely steadfast in others. I like to be impulsive about the small things such as committing to take up a new sport by buying all the equipment before even trying the game, which career to pursue or whether to move country. However, I remain wholly restrained when it comes to more serious things like deciding not to go out for a spontaneous afterwork drink when I’ve been looking forward to an evening of some sort of Netflix fix and binge eating with the cats for company and judgment.

4. Being impulsive makes for much more interesting and also more succinct story telling process. Guess which is the impulsive version from below?

  • ‘I applied for a job in Switzerland without thinking about it, was offered the job and then decided to move’
  • ‘I carefully considered whether or not to apply for a job in Switzerland, I weighed up all the pros and cons and sensibly thought through all potential ramifications of undertaking such a step, eventually I concluded that such a notion was ridiculously ill-thought out and I therefore decided to stay here in a predictable job I ceased to enjoy some time ago.’

5. Being impulsive gives you an air of mystery, where people are never too sure what you are going to commit to next. Maybe you’ll simply buy a life-size elephant soap dispenser on your next Ikea trip, maybe you’ll have moved to Timbuktu before you got round to telling anyone, maybe you’ll do nothing impulsive for long enough people will think you’ve got over these crazy tendencies then BANG! You can surprise them with the next adventure!

6. Impulsive behaviour is just another way of following your gut-instincts. These aren’t the instincts your gut has to avoid cheese wrapped around butter encased in clotted cream but that inner feeling within you that tells you if a particular course of action is right or wrong. All too often we suppress our gut instinct and agree to things like attending a seminar on how to optimise seminar attendance when we really should have listened to that inner voice telling us we don’t want to do that.

7. Being impulsive is a characteristic often associated with children, this doesn’t mean it’s bad for adults but means it will help you access your inner, and frankly much more fun, child. It means you can enjoy running through the rain, cartwheeling across the park/in the office and climbing trees without worrying about getting wet, making a fool out of yourself or how you’ll get down again.

8. Being impulsive means you can face your fears and learn to overcome these. I was pretty terrified of teenagers, particularly en masse, so when I saw a volunteering opportunity (whilst studying part-time and working full-time) to work with groups of 16 and 17 year olds in the spare time I really didn’t have I signed up without thinking it through AT ALL. Having impusively committed myself to something where others were relying on me, I was compelled to continue and actually quite enjoyed the experience, learning that young adults aren’t nearly so terrifying as I had initially expected!

9. Whilst being impulsive may occasionally get you into some foolhardy situations, the stories that occur as a result are usually worth any traumatic experiences at the time. For example an impulsive desire might lead to your clambouring on top of the fridge (so you can stare down at others) and then realising that the washing machine you used as a staging pad has since been turned on (and is now whirring so much it’s truly terrifying) that now you can’t get down without some serious help you desperately need but are really reluctant to accept. Traumatic? Yes. But probably worth it for the stories you can later share with friends of how great it was to be able to stare down at that mean cat you don’t like and leave them guessing abut how you got to be so high up (this may have been an example of my cat’s behaviour rather than mine).

10. Impulsive behaviour led me to writing this blog, I bought a domain name before I knew if or what I was going to write and then before I knew it I was happily blogging away like a trooper and connecting with all sorts of cool other bloggers.

Liebster Award

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So  a week or two back, I’m not so great of keeping track of time these days (must be the old age kicking in). Niina, over at Northern Chapters, was wonderfully kind enough to nominate me for the Liebster Award (sorry it took me a bit longer to respond than planned).

I know that some people like these awards and some don’t but as I’m far from the point of Award saturation, I feel pretty darn chuffed at the idea that someone likes my blog enough to want to recognise that. Plus, most of the new blogs I discover are through recommendations/links from other blogs so I think it’s a good way to broaden the old blogging horizons.

Also Niina came up with some really cool questions that I’d like to answer. I do so love a quiz, particularly those buzzfeed type know-thyself kind where they try to guess what kind of Disney Princess you are (would love to think of myself as a Mulan but I’m clearly more of a Belle, bit of a geek, do love a good book and have a tendency to take pity on sad lonely creatures; which is why I feel no love for ants, they have way too many chums for me to feel bad for them). I digress anywhere here goes:

Anyway here are dem rules:

  • Once you are nominated, make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated you.
  • Include the Liebster Award sticker in the post too.
  • Nominate some other bloggers who you feel are worthy of this award. Let them know they have been nominated by commenting on one of their posts. You can also nominate the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the ten questions asked to you by the person who nominated you
  • Make ten questions of your own for your nominees.
  • Lastly, COPY these rules in the post.
  • ALL THE NOMINEES ARE FREE TO ACCEPT OR REJECT THE NOMINATION

1. How many books have you read so far this year?

I can actually answer this one to the letter, whilst I am not cool enough for a Goodreads style online recording of my literary adventures, I am gloriously old-fashioned and delight in keeping a proper, would-burn-in-a-fire-paper-kind of book journal. This is primarily so I can recall what I’ve read, memory, goldfish, what? It’s also so I can smugly flick through and count up how many books I’ve read. Wow, what a long-winded way of answering: 20.

2. What’s your favorite holiday?

Has to be Christmas. I’ve been lucky enough the past few years to work places where pretty much the entire operation shuts down between Christmas Eve and the New Year and I really love having so much time off at a time when other people also take lots of time off so you don’t have that mad rush you get with holiday taken during the rest of the year, where you work your pants off before you go on holidays and then you work little buns off (pants already lost in pre-holiday work) when you come back catching up on everything. Last Christmas was also the most relaxed I’ve been in a long time, as the fella and I stayed in Geneva had a couple of days with chums and then the rest of the time doing diddly-squat, without feeling remotely guilty. Wouldn’t want to do that every year but was pretty nice this.

3. If you could only recommend one book, what would it be?

This is a tough question, I have books I adore but am quite reluctant to recommend to others, because if they don’t like them I’ll take it really personally so I tend to only recommend things I quite like, but won’t be devastated if not everyone feels the same way. So I’ll cheat and just answer with the last book I recommended to someone, which was ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ by Moshin Hamid. I liked how the book was written as a one-sided conversation with a shadowy stranger, the throw away comments that leave you wondering what’s really going on and just the really interesting approach of how a Pakistani in America fell out of love with the country he had longed to be a part of. I won’t say any more but it’s well worth a read and if you find the narrative style annoying at first (I did) keep going, it’ll completely draw you in eventually.

4. Congratulations, you just won the jackpot in a lottery! First thing you do?

Book a holiday somewhere beautiful by a beach and enjoy looking out at the sea whiling away my time as I calculate, to the digit, exactly how to spend the rest of it!

5. Would you rather go 200 years into the past or into the future and why?

Well the future scares me and I think going into the future and finding out how the world and your destiny ends up is probably going to be pretty unhealthy. If you go back in time, you can really connect with history and look super clued up, with loads of smart ideas you could pass of as you’re own. Having said all that, I’d go into the future, at a run, so as not to really think about it, the danger factor of the unknown would be too exciting to miss.

6. If you could choose one person (alive or dead), who would you want to meet?

I want to cheat again. If someone dead, I’d pick Siegfried Sassoon (First World War poet, novelist and king of the pointless rebellions), he undertook a protest against the war, which resulted in his being sent away to a mental hospital and taken about as seriously as the ribbon of the medal he tried to throw in the river and sadly just bobbed about on the surface. I like the standing-up-for-what’s-right-even-if-you-get-dismissed-as-a-nutter attitude and I’m currently reading a great biography about him. If someone alive, I’d pick Simon Pegg, have been a fan since Spaced and love the cornetto trilogy movies. I just think he’d be a great person to have a pint with.

7. When was the last time you were excited about something?

I get excited pretty easily about a lot of things, but most recent was riding my new (second-hand) bike to work last Wednesday. My old bike’s saddle couldn’t be adjusted and was far too low so riding had ceased to become pleasurable and was taking it’s toll on my knees. Being able to whizz down that hill on the way to work again, and manage to get back up without too much trouble on the way home, was awesome!

8. Describe yourself in three words!

Normally I’d be lost but did a whole blog post on this recently. I aspirationally went for ‘Counselor, Polymath and Humanist’, you can check out why I came up with those here.

9. At what time of day are you usually most creative?

Regrettably between the hours of 10pm and 2am. This is not conducive to a 9-6 Monday-Friday job. I really wish I was a morning person.

10. What’s your next blogging related goal?

To plan more. My posts are usually a bit slapdash, inspired by an occurrence of the day before in order to meet my self-imposed, if loosely interpreted deadlines. Would be great if I could produce a little stockpile of pieces I could wheel out for rainy days.


 

Blogs I nominate are all ones I’ve discovered relatively recently, don’t think I’ve nominated before, and really enjoy for one reason or another so I’d recommend you check out:

  • Would you rather be a zombie or vampire?
  • Do you prefer cats or dogs and if you pick dogs do you think that’s because you just don’t really get cats?
  • Why did you decide to write a blog?
  • Which Disney Princess would you be?
  • How early in the day would you a drink a mojito/screwdriver/other cocktail of your choice?
  • If you were helping to tidy out a colleague’s desk and you spotted a winning lottery ticket they had clearly forgotten about would you tell them or keep it and pretend it was yours?
  • Would you rather go to jail for a crime you didn’t commit or have someone else go to jail for a crime you committed but they were blamed for?
  • If you could go any place in the world right now, where would you go?
  • Who is your favourite author?
  • If you could change history, would you do it and what would you change?

Well that’s a really long blog post (so many words…) so thanks to everyone who managed to read the end of it!

Ten reasons blogging is bad for your health

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1. Everyone knows only narcissistic types that give too much importance to their own views write blogs. So if you write a blog that must mean you are one of those people and if you tell people you write a blog then that means they know that you are one of those people too.

2. You might think you are being original but actually when you are staring at a blank computer screen you’ll find yourself skimming through thousands of other seemingly original blogs to either outright steal their ideas or at least use them as a trampoline to your own inspired ramblings. For example: this post is ripped-off from inspired by AOpinionatedMan’s ‘why my blog sucks’.

3. It’s easy to treat blogging as an online journal type thing, except the beauty of old-fashioned book type journals is that no-one else reads them. On a blog you might accidentally let slip all sorts of secrets and weird aspects of your personality, such as strange zombie imaginings, for anyone to see.

4. There are already so many great ways to waste your time (like reading, watching tv, endlessly Facebook stalking old school friends) blogging is just another excuse to go to bed later than you should do and to waste free time that could be spent on more productive things (like cultivating understand through literature, catching up on relevant popular culture through visual medium and investing time in becoming reacquainted with the lives of old friends).

5. Most bloggers aspire to have a popular blog read by more people than their mum, and want to feel the ego boost of being loved and admired far and wide. However if your blog does actually become popular then you can become a target for jealous angry types (who I understand have brightly coloured hair and live under bridges) who might tell you you aren’t as wonderful as you think and may even use mean words to try and hurt your feelings.

6. Blogging is the ultimate delusion. We’ve all heard stories of people who started blogs and now get millions of pounds a year on the back of their humorous wit and whatnot, but thinking this might happen to you is as unrealistic as dreaming that you are distantly related to a rich prince of a made up country like Liechtenstein, who will die and leave their country, castle and ridiculous wealth to you, because somehow they like you more than any other distant family member (maybe they are a fan of your blog).

7. Blogs give you a platform to talk about anything you want, but some things you don’t need to talk about. Seriously who wants to read about when you are feeling sick, worrying about getting old and the fact you like to eat weird shit?

8. Starting a blog is a bit like buying a pony on a whim. You think blogging will be a fun diversion from stresses and strains of everyday living but before you know it you are devoting more time and energy than you have to spare to this thing you have created and find yourself regularly questioning whether you shouldn’t have thought the whole idea through before just jumping in.

9. It’s easy to blog, so easy that there are millions of us doing this. So many in fact (of the probable-but-in-no-way-substantiated-by-actual-evidence kind of fact), that if you asked every blogger to hold hands there’d be enough of you to circle the globe 300 times over.

10. There is so much blogging advice out there (you shouldn’t write lists, lists are popular, you should only write posts of less than 300 words, if your blog isn’t at least 2000 words no-one will read it, you should post at least every day, you shouldn’t post more than twice a week, etc. and contradictory etc.) that if you try to follow all this you will develop mental health problems.

The Daydreamer Award

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I have been nominated for the Daydreamer award by the lovely Edwina of EdwinasEpisodes. This is an award for blogs that are inspiring, creative or funny.
Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Complete the challenge they set you.
3. Select a blog or blogs that you want to give the award to.
4. Tell them about it and set them a challenge.
(Please include the rules in your post).

 

1. Thanks Edwina for nominating me, I’ve really enjoyed reading and engaging with your blog and witty episodes on the world around us.

I’m really really pleased you nominated me for this. As a blogger it’s nice to know that anyone out there is reading what I’m writing and even better that someone (particularly someone whose writing I enjoy so much) actually likes the words I’m committing to screen. Being nominated as a blog you find inspiring means a lot to me.

This award is a bit like a chain letter of the blogging world but as the aim is to recognise good blogs and spread the love of other good blogs, rather than enticing people into financially-dodgy pyramid schemes I don’t see anything not to like about this.

 

2. The challenge I was given was to describe my dream destination.

I spent several months in Cambodia in 2013 and loved everything about the people and their beautiful country, even if there are deep-rooted human rights and political issues that led me there in the first place and despite my few months of activism are still ongoing (surprising I know, that I couldn’t change a country’s fate in just a handful of weeks!). Nonetheless I would endorse Cambodia as a place to visit with all my heart and find it hard to imagine a better holiday destination than that. But as I’ve already been there it’s not currently in my dream destination list of contention

Not Japan but CambodiaI love Cambodia, and have a fondness for Thailand, so am firmly convinced that I love Southeast Asia. Although I’ve only discovered a small part of it to date I hope to get round to exploring the rest of it someday.

So, still hung up on that part of the world, but unsure how to pick my next top choice from the enticing options available in that region, I’ll go a little less South and a little more East and pick Japan as my dream destination for now. My fascination with Japan has been growing through an onslaught of arts and literature pushing me in that direction.

Whilst in Cambodia I finally got around to reading my first Haruki Murakami book, “Kafka on the shore”, which seemed so magical and wonderful I knew that I’d discovered a new favourite author from this book alone. Since then I have been desperately trying to resist the temptation to read up everything he’s ever written immediately. It’s nicer to know there are still a lot of his works out there yet to be savoured than to panic that I’ve almost exhausted his library.

On the plane back from Cambodia I watched a great Japanese film by Kiyoshi Kurasawa called “Real”, which, more-or-less, tells the tale of a young man trying to connect with his comatose girlfriend through meeting her in a dream reality. If you get a chance to see it I’d definitely recommend it, unless you don’t like science fiction, films that make your head want to explode or foreign films as a matter of some weird principle.

Shortly after I returned from Cambodia (“before Cambodia”, “in Cambodia” and “post Cambodia” is apparently my new concept of time) I read “The Garden of Evening Mists” by Tan Twan Eng and although set in Malaysia a large part of the story focuses on a Japanese gardener and the gardens he creates.

Anyway, these creative types have stirred up a dormant longing to go to Japan, which has yet to be satiated. You may note that I am quite impressionable and think it odd that it’s words on a page or shots from a film rather than anything more substantial that draws me to Japan, but hey-ho. The idea of Japan as seen through these worlds is enough to instil a huge passion for me to go there.

The country is also appealing for being a land of contrasts: it has huge modern cities, an astonishingly rich history, beautiful beaches, temples with mountain gardens and the magic of cherry blossom. Japan may be nothing like I imagine it to be but I want to go and find out.

In an ideal world it’d be my honeymoon destination of choice for when me and the bearded one finally get hitched. However, as we haven’t currently got money for the wedding, let alone the honeymoon, that might be a trip to be taken a little further down the line, when I stop making financially irresponsible choices like fleeing to Switzerland or constantly starting one expensive course after another.

Oh and Japan also has a Cat Island, where strays outnumber the population, for that reason alone it has to be worth a visit.

Cat Island

 

 3. The blogs I’d like to nominate are:

Cecilia in the Rain Swedish lass stranded in Scotland

Confuzzledom Brit in Germany, although now moving to Switzerlabd

Just a Blog Rambling On Entertaining rambles to be found here

Inventing Real Life Talking to herself in a crowded room, amusing the rest of us along the way

Blunderdad Full time husband, dad and tree-trimmer

Most of these are blogs I’ve discovered fairly recently and they are a varied bunch but all really enjoyable and worth investigating. The last three I discovered through one of Opinionated Man’s Meet and Greets for bloggers that he holds on a pretty regular basis, if you haven’t already discovered his blog it’s worth checking out but be warned he has opinions and he’s not afraid to voice them.

 

 4. The challenge I’d like to set to you all is to describe your perfect rainy day.

The virtual unreality?

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“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Albert Einstein.

A friend referred me to an article about a woman who spent three months convincing her friends and family that she was backpacking around Asia, when in fact she never actually left her apartment. She said that “My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality. I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media.”

What’s interesting about the story is not so much the deception of it all but the lack of shock that she could actually pull something like that off. How she did it seems pretty straightforward, why is perhaps another matter.

We all choose to present ourselves in a certain way and make umpteen decisions on how we do this on a daily basis without even thinking about it. For example, we choose what clothes we want to wear when we meet certain people, we retell an event a bit more vividly than we actually remember it or we engage in certain conversations to make a better connection with others. It’s not that we are necessarily misrepresenting ourselves so much as presenting one version of the reality that is us to an audience.

In the same way we might answer ‘I’m fine’ to the question ‘how are you?’ or smile for a photograph we know is being taken even when having a truly awful day. At these times we are more consciously presenting a slightly less genuine version of ourselves. So the idea that we twist the perception of the reality we present to others isn’t new. What is new is how much easier it is to do this on a much larger scale with the multitude of social media options available to us.

If you only took everyone at face value of their facebook pages you’d be led to believe that everyone is constantly experiencing a wealth of fantastic things from amazing parties to random items in supermarkets to adorable pet moments to amazing adventures.

What you don’t always get is that contrary to the smiling party pictures the happy-go-lucky attendee pictured were wishing she’d stayed at home to catch up on the latest Doctor Who. That the fascinatingly shaped carrot amongst the vegetables was the amusing perk of a long and tiring day and an hour trudging around the shops looking, and unable to find, the right kind of flour. That two seconds after the lovely cat photo was posted the owner then spent 40 minutes chasing said cat round the house to get it to give up the half dead mouse it had just brought in. That the amazing adventure mentioned is contrary to all those less than amazing non-adventures, that haven’t been shared as status posts, sat at home in front of the tv.

Not that I meant to say every happy image presented is a lie and secretly we all lead very miserable lives with no real joy to be found anywhere, my point is more that the moments we choose to share have been selected by us to present a certain impression. Not necessarily a happy impression, there’s many a ‘worst day ever’ tweet, but a somewhat distorted image of our reality.

Although most of us don’t go as far as faking an epic adventure abroad over a period of several months. Or do they…? Perhaps I never left London at all and am just hiding out in my Greenwich flat taking pictures of cows pretending they are special Swiss cows and photoshopping myself into pictures with mountains in the background hoping no-one has the geographical ability to identify the mountains pictured as Himalayas rather than Swiss Alps?

Swiss cows or just cows?

Swiss cows or just cows?

If we all know that social media is to be taken with a pinch of salt then it doesn’t really matter if we want to use it as an opportunity to present the kind of person we want everyone to think we are. If we accept that online updates are more qualified than absolute then there’s no real risk provided we make the time to scratch beneath the surface for those we really want to know. The problem is when we get lazy and become content with clicking a like button here and retweeting there without making a real effort to engage with those we care about.

I was talking to my other half the other night about the perils of social media. My argument was that as technology gets ever cleverer and makes our lives easier by doing so much for us including human interaction it may start taking away the humanity from us; in that the easier it becomes to communicate online the harder it is to do so off-line. He was proving my point somewhat, by flicking through various web pages on his tablet whilst trying to dispute this, but argued that social media and online communications were our reality now.

He gave several examples of real friendships he’d forged and maintained in the virtual universe that he was unlikely to have made otherwise, He also pointed out that when living away from many friends and family it’s pretty great that you can still feel connected to them and know what’s going on in people’s lives without having to always try and find time for a lengthy phone call. He also mentioned that without the wonders of modern day technology my blog wouldn’t exist.

I grudgingly had to admit he may have a point. Certainly, without the cyber-sphere my blog would be nothing more than an unread journal or an annoying round robin novel issued once a year at Christmas. So I guess the way we communicate and present ourselves online is a reality. Or at least a very persistent illusion.