Monday, 5 February 2018

Weather forecasting, friends, motivational awards and virtual life!

The weathermen are telling us that this week will be the coldest of the winter. Temperatures are about to plummet, they say. Yet when I went out running in the snizzle (did I explain already that snizzle is to snow what drizzle is to rain?) again this morning, it did not seem as cold as yesterday at the same time. There was no ice on the mud puddles either. Perhaps the cold front has not reached us totally yet. Or maybe the weathermen were only referring to the Southeastern bit of the UK. That does happen!

Facebook tells me that 34,819,606 awards have been given around the world for “Friendship Day”, a celebration created, as far as I can tell, by Facebook. I was invited to give awards to people for being a “Great Audience” (reacting frequently to posts with “Wow” or “Haha”), for being a “Big Liker”, or for being “Full of Love” (not just “liking” but “loving” posts). I must not be a very faithful Facebook user as I failed to award anyone with anything. Neither do I “share” the videos Facebook created for what they call a “Friendversary”, when they tell you that you have been friends with someone for a certain number of years - but only the years you have been Facebook friends! So far they have not managed to dig far enough into our lives to discover how many actual pre-Facebook years our friendships have survived!

My Fitbit - still a very enjoyable toy - also invites me to celebrate things. It sends me congratulatory messages for reaching certain goals: number of steps taken in a day, distance covered, floors climbed and more. It tells me I have achieved my “Urbanist” badge or my “Alpinist” badge and suggests that I should announce it on Facebook so that all my friends can be aware of how great I am. I decline to do this as well but it amuses me that my little gadget is working so hard to motivate me!

And yet so much of what we do nowadays we deliberately do in the public eye. Here is a link to an article about this modern need to draw attention to ourselves constantly. It suggests a connection between the media attention given to mass shootings, for example, and the increase in the number if such shootings. It’s the fifteen-minuets-of-fame syndrome.

It also points out an increase in isolation and loneliness as more and more people live surrounded by virtual friends but find it hard to relate to real people.

It’s a funny old world! We even have a Minister for Loneliness nowadays, for goodness’ sake!

Friends, real ones, not the virtual variety, and I find ourselves increasingly astounded by changes in modern social behaviour and the gadgets now involved in our lives. How did we ever manage in the past? This must be a reflection of our increasing maturity - or do I mean age? So I should like us to consider this quotation from the ever-insightful Douglas Adams:

 “Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.”

We just need to keep things in perspective!

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