Lately I’ve been wondering how on earth we would explain or justify many of the things we know as part of our modern lives and have come to embrace to someone who had never come across our society before (or social networking). An alien for example. With 5 eyes and a lot of questions…
I recently had a bizarre conversation with a friend who was just getting into Twitter. She was confused by this odd webspace place that we just accept as being completely normal, where we all spout our (very short) opinions in one angsty conga line of politics, bad jokes and song lyrics that goes on forever. ‘But what IS a Retweet?’ she asked, wide eyed and perhaps understandably baffled. I had no idea what to say. Come on, neither do you. How does one explain this? ‘Er…it’s like forwarding an e-mail…except everyone in the world can see it.’ My friend left even more confused than when she started, and I wondered exactly when we came to know exactly what something was even though we had no idea how to begin to explain it’s concept.
Cast your mind back a decade or two. We’ve been tossing the abbreviation ‘LOL’ around since our first ever chat room conversation. It’s such a part of the modern vernacular now that it’s a wonder we aren’t actually walking around parroting ‘Lol. Lol. Lol.’ at everyone we meet and for no reason whatsoever. But who can remember where it actually came from? Or why we chose ‘laugh out loud’ to express all our greatest pleasures rather than something a little more…straightforward. ‘Haha’ for example. Something that doesn’t sound utterly ridiculous when we say it out loud.
Okay, we know it’s there. But we aren’t sure where. It’s doing a marvelous job of storing all my photos and videos and transferring them to every electronic device I own without me asking, wherever it may be hiding. Cue another recent conversation with some friends:-
‘But what IS the iCloud?’
‘I don’t know…it’s just…the iCloud innit?’
*We glance wildly around for 30 seconds, as if the iCloud might suddenly appear before us and perform a small miracle.*
‘Let me call my friend. He’s a techie.’
And she did. His name was Ian. We hoped he would provide the answer we needed, and explain what we could not. His response was ‘it’s just…the iCloud, innit.’
So, there’s 8 young people in a dirty house. One of them has impossibly bright hair. They get phone calls from a strict woman named Anna, who sends them out to work, which involves them all going out and getting so drunk they can’t see, except to throw the occasional cupboard at one another when in a mood. The next morning, they wake up and magically do not have hangovers. They proceed to live exactly the same day over again. None of them get liver disease. Sometimes they have sex, but mostly not. We are led to believe this is very entertaining television. And actually, it is, because none of us can bring ourselves to look away. Yes, this is a real thing. No, I’m not having you on. No, I absolutely cannot explain to you what ‘tashing’ is. I think I may have reached my limit on this subject. Don’t even get me started on TOWIE or Made in Chelsea.
You know what? Let’s skip over this one completely (explaining Geordie Shore was a stretch for gawd’s sake) and move directly on to…
Ah. Now this one I CAN explain to an otherworldly being. Largely because I suspect that Justin Bieber might be from another planet. He was once all cute and sweet, with side-sweepy hair and a squeaky voice, and now he’s all grown up, has anger management issues and a pet monkey. We all know who he is, who he used to be and let’s face it, we can probably predict where he’s headed (rehab? Jail? A Nobel Prize awards ceremony?). But who remembers exactly where he came from? And be honest – how many of his songs can you ACTUALLY name? He just appeared one day. And then he was just…HERE. Being all famous and stuff. Explain that one away if you can, but I firmly believe the boy was born on Jupiter.
World of Warcraft (etc)
At this point, the alien looks puzzled, and wonders why so many of us would rather sit in front of a screen pretending to be a wizard than going out and learning a practical skill, like driving a lorry or herding a flock of sheep to victory in the final of the English National Sheepdog Trials 2013 (19-21 July in Devon, in case you wondered). I try to explain that wizards are WELL COOL and escapism can be a valuable and enjoyable tool for dealing with the modern world, and that video games can be an incredibly positive thing. But the alien, having learned the word ‘geek’, has lost interest completely.
The ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ concept
Let’s expand this to ‘all dating’. Dating is ridiculous in this day and age. Think of all the minefields you can feasibly fall into that didn’t happen 25 years ago. The person you’re convinced you’re going to marry could, at any one time, be messaging other men/women on Facebook, texting other men/women after you’ve gone to bed, or just lying to you about where they’re going, in which case they will be foiled the second they forget what they lied about and post a photo of where they ACTUALLY are on Instagram. Well done, fool. Busted.
Basically, it’s just not like the old days. Dating in 2013 can and will drive an otherwise balanced single person to the brink of batsh*t insanity. And then, to make matters worse, someone went and wrote a book (and made a film) called He’s Just Not That Into You and now none of us can sleep for worrying about whether that person we don’t stop thinking about is thinking about us, and second guessing every single move they make.
The real question that’s difficult to answer here is the one I would ask if I had just touched down from a different planet (or maybe from 1955) and was trying to get my head around this. ‘But why does it have to be so complicated?’
Go on. I dare you to come up with a simple answer to that.
I am a great believer in the ‘Selfie’. This is because a.) I am incredibly vain and b.) I like to prove that I exist. A lot. Cue a lot of taking-photos-of-myself-in-mirrors-and-posting-them-online. If I had to explain my reasons for posting Selfies everywhere, I’d put a lot of emphasis on point b.) and try to ignore point a.) completely. So actually, it’s very good that most of us on this planet seem to understand the Selfie without explanation. We just….get it, and the seven deadly sin type reasons behind it go mostly unspoken.
You’re really not going to let this one drop are you? Okay. Sit comfortably. This is going to take a few hours. Right, here we go.
Once upon a time, there was a stern woman with very pouffy hair…quite a lot of us weren’t entirely sure she was living on the same planet as us…hey perhaps you know her?
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