Day: 24/06/2014

Are You On Facebook?

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If I had to pick one question that sums up the past six years of society on Planet Earth, this would be it.  I am asked it on a weekly basis by various people, sometimes by the same people who asked me the same question the previous month!

In fact, I’m not actually sure how I should take this repeated questioning?  Is it out of pure fucking amazement that I’m one of the few remaining who does not have a Facebook account, or is it more a spiteful sarcasm that sails clearly over my head?  Who knows… who gives a shit?

Facebook – the mind controlling, all-seeing, all-knowing, self-inflicted lifestyle choice that George Orwell didn’t get around to explaining.  CCTV and Big Brother, Room 101 and the Ministry of Truth… all this stuff is puppy-dog tails and Julie Andrews singing on top of a big mountain when compared to the hypnotic gait and consuming addiction Facebook has to offer.

I don’t like it.  All these people updating every fucking second of their life to an audience of people who they last saw in infant school.  Or even worse, updating every second of their life in order to inform the same people these clueless shit-wits work with eight hours a day – and the family and friends they see for the rest of the time.  Why bother?

Ok, ok I know what you’re thinking – this is all a bit rich coming from a man who runs a website, writes for a dozen more, and forces his twaddle down your throat.  While I may not like the association, it’s a fair point to make.   My only saving grace is that I don’t fucking care what you think.  You need to go searching for my crap, and even if you stumble upon it, you have a choice to ignore it… furthermore, judging by the number of hits I get each month, there seems to be plenty of disturbed individuals with clearly nothing better to do than trawl though this rhubarb – so stick that in your friends list and smoke it!

What’s your Facebook status?  What’s the point?  I can’t be the only one who finds little messages telling everyone how happy they are in love, or how they just managed to buy a really expensive dress, or how they got Rohypnoled (again) last night, completely banal and the folly of teenage girls with too much free time on their hands… am I?

JIM99 is really looking forward to a party this weekend, and FatDud was so pleased to see KathyWoodenSpoon in the pub last night, and Paulfuckingboredwiththisshit is about to buy a machete.

Do I have a Facebook account?  Yes, I do.  A few years ago, and under the cover of darkness, I stealthily opened an account.  I told no one of this seeming reversal of attitude and duly entered all my details like a snuffling, two-faced, little troll boy.

Names of schools attended, names of jobs sacked from, names of pets owned, names of school pets that got jobs, names of jobs that got pets then went to school, I entered the lot.  I didn’t want too, but it was all in the name of science and proving my own twisted little point.

Two weeks later, I received a telephone call from my younger sister.  In between bouts of family shit and other things, she uttered, “You’re finally on Facebook then?”  Whilst my sister is capable of many things, I have no reason to believe she is a witch – how did she know I was on there?  It took two weeks, for fucks sake!

I was going to leave it for a month, but this prompted me to take a look at the account earlier than I had anticipated.  Sure enough, there was my sister asking to be my friend (the fact she has been my sister for forty-two years is by the by and fucking worthless in the world of Facebook!), and she wasn’t the only one on there.

I had a friend request from a girl I last saw over thirty-five years ago.  How in the name of God’s glorious piss did she find me?  Has everyone turned into part-time psychic detectives, who constantly search for everyone they have ever known, so they can write on their wall about how fucking happy they are that Sharon Awful has got through to boot camp on X-Factor?

There were others on there, two of which I knew, the others I had absolutely no recollection of.  It’s fair to say that many years of smoking copious amounts of weed has held my memory back a little, but I haven’t quite given up the ghost yet.  I had no idea who these people were.  I find this particularly creepy and one of the reasons why I can’t get on with this Facebook cult.

Two people who I don’t know, and who may or may not know me, requesting they be my friends – if these fuckers really knew me (and how prickly and snarky I usually am), then I wouldn’t get the friend request in the first place, would I?

And now to pull the pin and clear the room of all these fevered egos – I’ll argue with anyone who fails to accept their real need for Facebook – to nose around other people’s lives, to check that someone isn’t doing better than you, and to collect as many people on your Friends List as possible as a means of looking popular and relevant.  Seriously, if collecting stuff is your thing then buy some fucking Pokémon cards!

Surely in a world plagued with online dating horror stories with sex pests and pedophiles around every corner (according to the Daily Mail), isn’t there something dreadfully wrong with this picture?  However, in order to wrap this shit up and by way of an example, I had two people in particular who requested me on Facebook – one of them is my own sister who I already have more than enough contact with thank you, and a girl I once sat next too when I was 7 years old.  Talk about opposite sides of the cyber scales!

So, did this little exercise convert me to Facebookism?  Have I dumped that ill-informed sniffy opinion towards its millions of users?  Not a fucking chance.  I’ve still got the same shitty attitude towards both it, and its more desperate users.

In short, Facebook is a place where you are defined, in seconds, by the worst choices you have made and the worst aspects of your character.  The ‘piling on’ of communal scrutiny and instantaneous opinion is vile – add to that a squeeze of public shaming and it becomes obscene and monstrous.  It’s the realization of a self-appointed lynch-mob, borne from friends and acquaintances you have collected in the name of popularity.

Sometimes a single photo tagged within a page of meaningless and harmless nonsense can result in the worst fucking forms of judgment, aggression, bullying and general disassociation towards the human behind the Facebook account.

Ok, so Facebook may just be the technological progression that is diametrically linked to the pace of our modern culture, the crazy velocity of communiqué, and the strength in our ability to crave, syphon, and reassemble information.  However, it’s equally the result of our obsession with titillation, public self-destruction, moral liquidation and a Daily Mail idiot conviction that has become a fucking petri dish for the worst aspects of communal misjudgment – all purveyed and farmed by anyone with a smartphone.

Not for nothing, public humiliation and public shaming was outlawed as a formal, state-sanctioned reprimand during the 19th century.  It was banned, and was considered by the law-makers at that time as a cruel and unusual punishment to bestow.  My word… look how far we have come.

With all this said, and if I’m being completely honest with you, dear reader, I’m also scared of Facebook.  I’ve not been back to the account since this incident; and I’m genuinely worried about who will crawl out of the woodwork next, who might be looking for me, who wants to be my special friend – here’s hoping that guy who touched my front bottom when I was six doesn’t have an account!

Paul Millard 2014

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There’s Snow Love like Frozen Love

People of a religious persuasion call it enlightenment, drunks call it a moment of clarity; but on a Sunday morning a few months ago, in a packed cinema, I had what I’m going to call the potential start date of my mid-life crisis.

Over the weekend I took my 4 year-old to the cinema to catch a movie.  My wife wanted us out of the house for whatever reason and it was too early to take the kid to the bar.  I considered the local ‘dirt’ park (the name I use to describe the disused shithole park close to our house that seems filled with climbing frames designed to kill children, and packs of drug-addicts trying to dismount the see-saws without sustaining concussions), but I wasn’t in the mood to stand around that place in the rain, and my son hadn’t had a tetanus shot for a while.  So with pick ‘n’ mix selected, bottles of water at the ready, and our stupidly priced tickets collected, we were ready to settle down in a giant-ass room full of screaming kids, to watch Disney’s latest offering, Frozen.

By the way, the cost of movie tickets is on my shit-list, I’m not finished with that topic by a long stretch.  Two tickets, a few bottles of water and some sweets racks up to £30.00 – are you fucking kidding me, that’s almost the same price the kids pay for a few hits of hillbilly heroin at the aforementioned ‘dirt’ park.  Anyway, that’s for another time.

So, the film starts… and it’s excruciating.  Talk about so sweet you’re giving me tooth-ache, within ten minutes my teeth had been extracted and replaced with a wooden set.  Disney know how to play an audience, no shit, they are fucking masters at it.  I’m not sure how many heart-strings we have, but they were giving a virtuoso performance with this movie.  The setting, the cutesy dialogue, the songs, the lovable snowman, this thing was taking no prisoners and was not going to stop until every man, woman and child in the place was crying little Disney-hallmarked tears for the big sentimental ending.

I’m forty-two, and pretty jaded on this shit.  I’ve been watching movies for a long time, and I’ve given my half-assed opinion on them in a ton of ways.   Yes, I handed over some loot for a prized Monsters University baseball cap on a recent hike to Disneyworld, but that movie had Billy Crystal, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi in it – Billy is a god, and the other two frequently appear in Coen Brothers films.  For all intent and purpose, I could be watching a weird Barton Fink’esque film based on a dream some kid has about monsters in their closet.  No shame in that.

Anyway, I’m sat in my chair and about half-way through the movie.  My kid is loving it, laughing at the right moments, and is already talking about the best bits.  I’m listening to his chatter and playing with my phone, checking IMDB to see how long this movie goes on for, and in relation to the amount of time I’ve already served.  Then it happens…

A princess by the name of Elsa gets thrown out of the kingdom or something, heads to a mountain and builds a huge ice palace – I’m guessing without any prior planning permission or local council involvement.  The fucking singing starts once again about how free she feels and stuff, and I look up from my phone just as this computer generated character loosens her alluring blonde hair, sweeps her perfectly-formed head, and with the most wondrous eyes, stares at the camera.  She stares at me!

It’s at this point I suddenly become more interested in this film than pretty much anything else I have ever been cognitively aware of… ever.  My kid could have wandered off and started eating popcorn from the fucking floor whilst taking a piss against the old woman in row H, I would never have noticed.  I was mesmerized by the goddess on the screen.

From this moment my eyes did not leave the screen.  Fuck, I don’t even remember blinking.  The plot, the singing, the snow shit, all of that dissolved and my complete being was now hopelessly linked to the possibility of her next scene stealing appearance.  She was the Princess Elsa, and I was now wrapped within complete devotion.

The film ends, and we leave the place.  I go home and my wife asks about the movie.  My son gives it the full low-down and rants on the finer details of the snow monster fight and how the Princess punches the baddie and knocks him into the water – for the record, that guy is a real fucking asshole, and clearly has no understanding on how to treat a princess.

Anyway, when my wife asks me about the flick, all I can muster is that the animation was very good.  That’s all I had.  Why – because to explain my new romance with Princess Elsa felt wrong, forbidden, alarmingly creepy and probably grounds for committal to the local cuckoo hatch.  How is it possible?  In the space of one hour and forty minutes my love has somehow waned for my long-suffering partner, and defected to something that was drawn by a fucking twenty year-old Disney intern, and only exists on a hard-drive in Hollywood!

Since then I have pretty much Googled the words ‘Princess Elsa’ every day, I’ve downloaded some jpegs of her to keep in my wallet, and have managed to persuade a few friends to watch the movie – for the sole purpose of checking out the blonde hottie wearing the long dress in the ice palace scene, who I will eventually marry in a ceremony probably attended by Pluto, Mary Poppins and a whole fucking team of psychiatrists.

In other words, the kaleidoscope of women I fantasize about has just included the most unobtainable of the species… those that don’t actually fucking exist.

Paul Millard 2014

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