Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A Whole New World

Guys! I have some amazing news!

Well, it's not really amazing, but it is at least news!... Actually, it's not even news, or even anything of any remote interest to anyone.

I handed my dissertation in this morning, and then instantly regretted it, as I realised I had committed the biggest oversight in University history; I forgot to take a picture of it and share it all with you.

Which is why I've decided to tell you on here, so that you can sleep soundly in your beds tonight knowing that I not only have written my dissertation, but also handed it in! Can you imagine! Just imagine that! Literally, imagine it now- there I was, in flip flops and some swimming shorts I was given at work (in Wales in April- what am I like?!), with a bag over my shoulder containing my dissertation and some books I needed to hand in to the library, and off I plodded, iPod in my ears, listening to David Bowie's latest album, and handed it in! I even saw somebody I knew from the Rugby League Society, and said 'Hi!' to him, and it is vital you know this, and just handed in my dissertation! I wish I could have shared the whole experience with you! But alas! I blew my chance, and only realised when it was too late to offer you a visual aid to this incredible story.

But thanks to social networking, you CAN experience this incredible story, thanks to my just describing it to you. In fact, thanks to social networking, you can poke your head over the considerably high garden fence separating your world from mine (which I personally had erected, because I hate you) and look down in wonder at every moment of my life which I decide to share over the Internet.

The Internet is a whole new world our predecessors never had, and by discovering a new bit of it every day, we are the pioneers of our time. But it is a gift and a curse to civilisation. A gift in the sense that it provides us with videos of cats dressed as sharks chasing ducks on hoovers, instant information, a chance to connect with loved ones distant from us, but a curse in that it is becoming impossible to escape the banalities of everybody's everyday life. Just look down your own timeline now, and imagine saying it all out loud to my face. Now move to the next friend on your list (if it's alphabetical, it'll probably be somebody with the surname "Brown", but if it's proportional to our friendship, I'm probably somewhere between Abu Hamza and Max Clifford), and say exactly the same thing out loud to their face. And the next friend, and the next one...

Hopefully, if you've done as I asked (and I hope you have, because we're friends, right?), you will have realised, by about friend 87, that this is an expensive and actually quite a soul-searching journey where you physically see everybody on your Facebook friend list. So deeply touching, in fact, that you decide to tell everybody about it, face to face, one by one... and the cycle continues...

Looking at 3 carefully selected friends on my list, I can see that one is in Stevenage, one is in Portsmouth, and one is in Stuttgart. Only 1 of those places is actually a desirable destination, but unfortunately it is too expensive to go to, so it looks like I'll be on my way to Stevenage to show my cousin a picture of the coffee I was just about to put up on Instagram. When I (very naively) joined the site, I thought it would be the hub of all excellent photography and a collection of some of the most fascinating pictures witness through the eyes of some incredibly interesting people would surely emerge. Instead, the first 5 pictures I see on Instagram contain some food, a sunset, and 3 pictures of dogs, with a dodgy filter on them all to make them look like they were taken on a camera from the 1920s, but really they were taken on state-of-the-art iPhones. Whoever works in the camera department of a phone company must wonder why they bother making a photograph so crystal clear, when they know full well some halfwit is going to change it so it looks like it's been printed on sandpaper and dropped in a puddle. 

Luckily, photographs don't have to be around forever, especially on Snapchat: an app where you take a photograph or video of yourself and send it to somebody to appreciate for 10 seconds or less, then it is wiped from memory. Unfortunately, the fact it that is IS wiped straight away has lent itself to perverts and "exciting" couples alike, who cheekily send their friends pictures of their most intimate parts of the anatomy, safe in the knowledge that in 11 seconds' time, nobody will ever see it again. This is all well and jolly good fun, until the owner of Snapchat transpires to be a pervert who is hoarding every photograph taken of your genitals and intending to use it against you as blackmail, something which I wish I'd thought a bit more about before downloading the app and 'hilariously' sending pictures of the best 4 inches (on a good day) of me to everyone on my contact list. 

Twitter is probably the closest I have been to trying to start a conversation with my toothbrush, babbling on about sporting occasions and whatever's in the news at that particular moment in time, to no response. Twitter, I find, is very similar to sex; firstly, I always find whatever I have to offer ridiculously short-lived and incredibly underwhelming for everybody involved, and I'm mostly doing it on my own with nobody responding, so it's all a little bit tragic. Secondly, bloody teenagers are doing it a lot more than I am, and doing it a lot better than I could ever hope to, every which-way, in their rooms, in Starbucks, in parks, yet they're the sort of people who should have it taken away from them, because they can't be responsible with it. I think I just do it out of habit now, and when I do it's never any good... Tweet that is.

The whole of University life can be lived on your computer or phone now. Gone are the days when a girl would emerge from a gentleman's house in the early hours of the morn to do a "walk of shame" straight into a Kodak store to get the pictures of last night developed, or taking a picture of your food took so long for the shutter to move you could actually see mould developing on your sandwich. Gone are the days when you had to walk into campus for a lecture, take notes, because most lecturers- in a bid to look as if they're competent with a computer- put all their notes up online afterwards, meaning you can learn just as much sitting in your week old underwear in bed compared to sitting in your week old underwear and stinking of Lynx in a lecture hall.

Maybe I'm just an analogue clock in a digital world, and the hands of time are simply ticking away behind me, mercilessly moving at an hour per hour. The old me (by which I mean the young me) would never have stood for this, this pixelation of a canvas. I wish I could justify myself to the younger me; tell him times have changed, it's the best way to speak to friends, and show him a video of somebody eating a tablespoon of cinnamon powder. Maybe then he would realise, life isn't so bad!

But maybe that's the difference between the old me and, er, older me. The old, younger me would be out there, living his life, forgetting about his GCSEs, but instead feeling the soft grass beneath his feet while he sneaks off for a quick cigarette with that girl he likes from yesteryear, wishing the sun could shine for another moment as it vanishes on the horizon (wow, this would be perfect for Instagram!). But the new, old me is stuck online, the umbilical cord between him and cyberspace too strong to sever. Now the newly old, new old new me (still with me?) is here, on your little screen, sitting right next you, laughing at us both. Laughing at how addicted we both are to the Internet. Neither of us can turn away, like a staring contest between two goldfish, gormlessly bopping our mouths at one another. At least then we could forget this ever happened in 10 seconds.

Unfortunately, the other option is destroying the Internet, and indeed all technology, returning to the medieval ages, full of disease and squalor. But luckily, we've moved on since then. Well, I say moved on- except the measles... and the general squalor; we still have that. Actually, don't go outside- you WILL catch something.

Maybe it is best to lock your doors and stay online after all.

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