Saturday, 28 November 2015

Coming of age: it really is all happening.

So I am 18 now which I guess, to me, that means something new. In the eyes of the law I am an adult. But I can't rent a car.

I suppose it brings home this idea of this stage of my life being a time of moving on, of discovering, exploring - myself and the world - and of setting my two feet on the ground and officially saying "I am here, World, look at me!"

I like birthdays. They make you feel different: you have moved up a level in age and a whole new range of things becomes open to you. 15 was different to 16, 16 was different to 17 and 17 will be different to 18, so on and so on.  It is not just because of the new list of legal activities I can partake in, which is fun by the way, but because of my changing each year into the person I am now. On the night before my birthday this week I read the diary entry I wrote from exactly a year before. I had hoped for a wonderful year to follow. "To top the last". I am not sure if it ever actually did top the one before but events and sensations and experiences occurred that have shaped me to be ever so slightly dissimilar to the Mollie on the night before her 17th birthday. That's what is so exciting about birthdays; a year of things you won't ever be able to pre-imagine.

The most exciting feeling about being 18 is the wider sense of looking towards the rest of my life. I have technically left my official childhood behind and entered my adult life, I have 'come of age'. And things happen there, I've been told, lots of things. In my diary entry this Tuesday night (right before my birthday) I wrote a slightly different message to myself. Instead of thinking about the year ahead of me, which should be stressful and wonderful and exciting, I wrote what I hoped to encounter in the rest of my life. I wrote about the love I will feel, the people I will meet, the places I will go. But I also wrote about the pain I will experience, the losses, the low points. Because it is all coming to me. Each moment I do not know yet, they are all there lined up on a shelf for me to come along and pick one by one in no particular order each one to live through. Or is that the wrong analogy? Perhaps more accurately they may be thrown at me from a great height when least expected. Sometimes painful, sometimes pleasant. I look forward to both kinds.

I don't know if I will spend the rest of my life writing, who I will work for, if I will be creating something. I don't know who I will spend the rest of my life with, if I will ever meet someone like that, if I even want to. I don't even really know what university I will end up next year. Or what grades I will get, or where I will be in the summer. What will I read? Learn? Who am I going to meet? I just don't know anything at all, but it is all happening.

Oh I really love being 18, it really is all happening.

I can't wait for it all. The laughter, the friends, the tears, the kisses, the shouting, the anger, the everything. I am ready and waiting, it is all happening now! I want to live it all.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Empty morning mind.

Is it okay to not write a blog post some weeks? When my mind feels a little empty of ideas and conjuring something up feels exhausting, is that okay?

Shouldn't I always be trying to share something to try to stretch my mind? When I write it's like I've pressed the 'Start' button on my thoughts process and the cogs start to creak into action. That is a healthy, invigorating activity - why would I want to miss out on that? 

Or by forcing myself to write something am I just vomiting up more drivel into a place bursting at the seams with such stuff? Nobody needs to read more rubbish. But then I am not holding a gun at any one's head to read this, so I suppose it can do no harm. 

I have written this post just after deciding to myself that I wouldn't write one this week. I had looked at my list of ideas and felt too uninspired to bother. And then of course I gave myself this accidental idea. The minute I thought of it the words started to collect together to make the first sentence. Okay, I thought, that sounds good enough. 

I have enjoyed writing this post. It has woken my mind up. I feel I have begun to exercise my thoughts. I don't know whether you will enjoy it. Perhaps it doesn't matter, I have answered my own question. My mind isn't empty anymore. 

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Oh, Paris.

Oh, Paris.

What a terrible, terrible night. Perhaps my contribution to the display of 'unity' will not be helpful in any way but my heart was breaking all evening as each horrible bit of news was spread to all of us sat a little stunned at the events unfolding. This must be a smaller version of what it has been like for cities not in the west to have everything pulled down around them in wars that nobody asked for. We do not face a war here but how hard it is to see a neighbouring landmark rich with history and life and culture be battered with an element of sickly terror. We receive news of guns and bombs in far off lands we might never know in more detail than in pictures, we haven't known these other cities before they became pocked with bullets and bombs. We know Paris. We have breathed it in. How awful it is to watch a home of ours become so shaken up. Perhaps our understanding of the effect of such ghastly events all over the world should grow when it hits our own bubble. Perhaps it shouldn't.

I wonder what my children will learn as a result of this in their history lessons. The same way I have been taught about the Cold War that my parents and grandparents lived through. I wonder what this event will have eventually surmounted to. I hope nothing too gruesome, too cruel, too lacking in humanity; my hope is riddled with doubt.

I am not sure that any of us know what to do with ourselves. What do we say? What stance do we take? What will be our response? Some of us are praying, which is nice if that works for you, but I think most of us just want to show we care. Our unity is touching and isn't the Internet magnificent in times like these? But what we will do afterwards it what concerns me the most...

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Twitter Mob.

There are some occasions where 'mob rule' might work perfectly; overthrowing a government, for example, or challenging authority. Often people worry about the tendency for 'mob rule' online; there's a much higher chance of influencing the masses on here although normally this 'mob rule' is a mistaken identity. The Internet is the prime tool for influential movements that have migrated from less well educated 'mob' to a much better informed group of individuals. One can do great and powerful things on this here virtual world and if this involves influencing the masses in a way where they have access to a thousand other sources and facts then it can be no such thing. That's not 'mob rule' that is just 'working things out'. Alas there are some occasions where the whole business of people working things out together gets lost in what is, essentially,  a 'mob rule'.

I follow a lot of activists online. I'm not sure how I ended up doing that but it is what fills up my twitter feed. Sometimes it looks like the brain vomit of a pretentious university student; all entitlement and opinions and unwavering self-belief. It is, for the most part, great. It is informative, interesting, and entertaining. Some people out there have very valid things to say about the world and I am here listening to them. And yet, sometimes I find myself annoyed by it all. Often I watch an argument unfold on my twitter feed and often it can get very aggressive. Sometimes I find myself feeling a little defensive of the losing side even if I don't completely agree with them. Sometimes it stops becoming an argument and simply becomes a 'slay'. A 'slay' is when a twitter activist cuts down completely what their opponent is saying and 'educates' them on what they were very wrong about. Lots of people join in. 'Slay' is a completely appropriate word choice. The poor bugger won't have a chance to fight back. I am not convinced that they have been 'educated' and I would say that this 'slaying' is a form of 'mob rule'. There is no debate, there is just an aggressive string of information that leaves no leeway. So sometimes this 'slaying' involves telling outright racists or misogynists to go shove their head in the ground, but sometimes a rather mild statement gets ripped apart before anyone actually gives it any thought.

The other day a Twitter activist I follow asked the question "is it okay for a black man to say he is not attracted to black women?". A white woman innocently replied with something along the lines of "don't people date who they are attracted to?". A completely valid response because, yes, people do date whomever they are attracted to. But instead of her remark being taken into consideration in the discussion the original question was supposed to invoke, or even being ignored, two men got back to her with lines like "no one asked you, white girl". I understand the implications of white entitlement, and white privilege which can overpower or even silence black voice but I don't see this as being an example of that. I see people not listening to her and shutting her down before coming to a well thought out conclusion in what is an interesting discussion topic. It was a completely unnecessary 'slay'.

Maybe 'mob rule' is too strong a phrase for little moments like this. But I do see it happen quite a lot. There is a lack of debate, of discussion, of respecting each other in the process of both those things. I think I see a lot of people getting overwhelmed by a feeling or a belief and finding a group of people who feel or believe the same and moving in that group of people without letting a new idea in. They get the idea that they have to all bring down their opponents, they have to 'slay' them. This, to me, looks a little bit like mob mentality. It doesn't look healthy and I really don't think it is educating anyone but those who are already on the 'right' side of the argument. I would much rather see an intense discussion unfold on something that could create an interesting topic rather than a huge group of Twitter users abusing a single voice for not thinking the way that they think. Surely that really isn't any fun?