the Fitzroy Flasher

art and ideas: photos and words: mainly and sometimes.

Be Like

January 23, 2016

To follow my speculative post at new years, let’s talk about toxic people in modern times. The kind of people who have an opinion about everything you say or do, and usually, it is a critical one. The people who feel it is acceptable to tell you they hate your friends, or find your partner’s habits tiresome. Once upon a time you could walk away from these arseholes and feel thankful you dodged a bullet. You just scratched their name out of your address book and that was that. Have a nice life fuck-face. You may have seen them at a friends wedding or at the Dan O’Connell, but you would just ignore them or have a polite, short conversation about what you have been up to. Life was relatively safe once you decided to dump someone from your life.

This is not so easy in 2016, because everyone you know, knew once, and have not known yet, is at your fingertip. Literally, at the interface of your digits and a touchpad. If they are not at your own fingertip, you see them at the hand of several other people that you know. You might live 10 suburbs away but you know they met Simon at Mario’s for coffee yesterday and loved the new Star Wars. You know that they find cyclists irritating because Paula liked their ‘don’t be like Terry’ post last week.

It is very hard to turn off the constantly dripping tap of social contact now. We know so much about the activities of so many, and give so few shits about it. I am sure Churchill could have said it better, but we really do live in a time where so many, have so much to say, with so little authority, about so many other peoples lives. Where do they get off judging everyone else around them, measuring them to impossibly unattainable, narrow standards?

Whether that is good or bad, people have a lot to say about everyone around them now. How to make room for this reality whilst managing to protect our own sense of self, is certainly a new dilemma. Being new, it is an unchartered ocean full of sharks and crashing waves. It is nauseating.

We really are the pioneers of sorts, navigating a new world. We are on the edge of learning how to distance ourselves from an endless stream of advice and suggestions about how to be, and how not to be. Don’t be like Jill, Jill is a dick. Be like Fran, Fran is cool. Drink more wine, be friends with people who drink more wine.

So being the pioneers of the new frontier, obviously we need to find away to settle, safely and intact. Getting back to that toxic person, the one who judges you and never gives you unconditional positivity – how do we ditch the bitch? If it was 1995, I would say don’t answer their calls: ‘let it go to answering machine I am not calling that prick back’.Given this is clearly no longer an option, how do you extract yourself?

Here is what I have surmised. You need to unfollow their Instagram account, unfriend them on Facebook, avoid social events created by your 12 mutual friends, cease posting any photographs anywhere, that they might see. And lay low. For a long time. Be too busy to see that film, too poor to attend that event. You have to become a social hermit and hope that nobody judges you. For you see now, it is not only the toxic people judging your actions, it’s everyone. You are completely visible all of the time, and the masses will tell you: Don’t let negativity into your soul, say only positive things. Do one thing each day that makes you amazing.

Meme, meme, schmeme it goes on relentlessly. I honestly do not know if I am supposed to wake up, do a yoga stretch and eat a vegan slice, or stand naked in front of a mirror with a fag in my mouth saying fuck yeah! to rebellion. There is someone telling you every second of the day which way to turn. John doesn’t post about his girlfriend, be like John.

Yes, again, back to that toxic person. Once you have awoken one day to the realisation that someone is a complete tool, and you have taken those first steps towards eliminating them, how do you then feel okay about letting go? It should be easy right? I mean, look at all those memes telling us to let fucktards go. Be yourself. Be free. Don’t give a fuck. Do give a fuck. Be together, be alone. Do not be lonely. Be afraid. Do not fear a thing. Confusing, yes?

The second thing that I have surmised is this. It might be time for us to do the unheard of and actually give direct face to face verbal feedback to these people we can no longer quietly let go of. Lets face it, if you are going to let that toxic person loose, they are going to know about it. So maybe, you might need to say something to them. Not in a judgie ‘I am so much better than you’ way. In a clear, respectful way. Like: ‘Jason, I am struggling with the time we spend together because I walk away feeling judged, so I am going to take a break from following you on Facebook’, or ‘Darren, I feel the need to create some distance between us, as I find myself feeling angry when I read your posts, and that is no good for either of us’.

I don’t know if this is good or bad advice. Take it with a grain of salt. Maybe Dr Phil needs to intervene. Maybe a true relationship guru needs to offer sage advice. When Dr Phil said, of your teenagers, ‘learn their currency’, he was onto something. Now he just needs to opine on the present relationship dilemma’s.

I am not going to be one of those 40 something Gen X twats who lecture about the good old days when you drank from a garden hose and ran under sprinklers. However the slower pace of life had its many advantages. We did not feel the need to go to every event because we actually didn’t know most of them were happening. We didn’t wake up and see a notification that 15 people were attending an event near us today.

I would love to take a social media break right now because I have a few toxic people poisoning the waters around me, but frankly I am addicted so I will not.

Share if you agree

December 30, 2015

I must critique my  place to share the following thoughts before I share at all.  I acknowledge that my insights will not cure me of my post-modern, post-existential, posting compulsions. I am also acutely aware that I am as much the subject of this post as anyone reading it. 

I also need to preface this post with the  message that what I say is not a judgement of the individual. I theorize in fact that we are all being gently manipulated by a phenomenon not previously seen played out over the Internet.

What I do want to say, as my reflection on 2015, is that the selfie sticks we all got for Christmas the year before may have been shelved but our self obsessions have been ignited. 

I feel that if there is one unifying movement that emerged in 2015 it was an explosion of self expression. We invented a new wave of overshare, and with it, a new desire for positive reinforcement: tip top status updates like ‘having   a chai latte and super salad’ and here is a photo of me doing so. Followed by the terrifing hour of waiting and then ‘What, only 21 likes?’. 

With the insecurity of caring how many likes is the power that mass opinion has to change you. That repost of the dying child and a message about the futility of war, 66 likes, ah that is better. I have value.

We say a lot to so many people these days. We also share too much of what other people say. I say this as a negative because I feel like we are compromising ourselves a little in doing so.

Given that our evolving habit ofsharing everything is growing stronger, why do I feel like I have something to say that is worth sharing? I have a knack of throwing words together, but really so what?  

I could seriously do my head in sometimes, just trying to understand where the hell we are heading and the irony of postulating this in the very medium I am deriding. Imagine if Woody Allen was born in 1980, what kind of neurotic torture chamber would his life have been? I hope before his time we see his thoughts on these issues come through in his final films. 

Selfies, proclaimations, rants, whitticisms. There are millions of us contributing to the ever deafening noise of social media. It also seems that we have worked out a way to streamline it, simply by grabbing a quote, unverified, from another person’s timeline with an inspirational backdrop of sunsets, rainbows and stars, and paying it forward.

I fear in our compulsive ‘share if you agree’s, and ‘wow this is so true’s and ‘I cant say this better’s that we are doing little more than butchering philosophical, ideological, political and spiritual knowledge. We are mixing all the metaphors, spreading propoganda, misinforming ourselves and boring the fuck out of our more rational facebook friends. 

We have turned facebook into a fridge door full of motivational magnets. We have turned world politics into an exercise in taking misinformation and spreading it. 

I fear for what we will see in 2016. The memes will not run out, but if we keep spreading them in the absence of context, I fear we will dumb ourselves down to the point of stupidity. 

So is that it? Has Facebook homogonised the masses? Is Mark Z an evil mastermind sitting in his ivory tower watching the developed world evolve into hybrid robot-narcissists, capable of succumbing to crowd hysteria whilst posting our smiling faces at just the right angle? 

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