Monday, 5 June 2017

The Average Tom Perspective

(this is all a working progress, still not finished, read with a pinch of salt)

Before I begin, I want to outline a disclaimer of sorts. Depending on how you percieve this particular blog post and what you take from it, remember that it's just me, Tommy Grainger, your friendly neighbourhood rambler. But this time, I'm hoping that my ramblings might actually stand for something.
   I have never prided myself as politically intellectual or even generally intellectual, because my knowledge either comes from hard work playing with puppets and plasticine or purely by accident. But over the past year I have been piecing together and subconsciously storing items of concern that have really rattled my cage. This is information gathered from the many outlets that we subject ourselves to in the 21st century (more than we deserve) and therefore even I cannot guarantee its validity. Enter the disclaimer; whatever I write, whether you agree or not, is based off of information that I cannot assure you is 100% correct. But this seems to be the going rate for expressing your opinion, especially recently, so you may take it with a pinch of salt.

The views I'm going to express in this post are a culmination of things that have built up over time (predominately after the Brexit result) but I guess have been dwelling in the chasms of my mind all along. I don't mean to offend anybody or wish to change your mind about these issues, but I thought it might be interesting to write down all the thoughts from an 'average joe' perspective. It would be prudent of me to try establish a moral high ground with what I discuss because I am a culprit of some of these arguments too (for example, I check my phone far more often than I should check my body for abnormalities).
   It is hard to know where to begin, and there is no order of preference with the topics I choose to write about; they each harbour their own pros and cons on different levels. So whether it's a refreshing new point of view, a load of waffle full of naivety or I simply need to get with the times, I welcome you all to The Average Tom Perspective.

In the beginning there was a bang, some trees and a river to play in. Add a ball, a stick and some of your scallywag friends and you consider yourself a king. These were the days of evermore, where growing up was a natural experience because you learned your lesson by falling off a rope swing. And we got on just fine. 

I am going to hypothesize heavily here, but along came the 1980s, where the video game console was fast becoming a mainstream phenomena and an eclipse of what the future might hold. Thus began a transition to present day that nobody could really anticipate. Sure I'm being dramatic; children still play outdoors with sticks and graze their knees on pavements, but if you imagine the acceleration of technology from the eighties (I'm using this decade as a commonground variable) over the subsequent thirty seven years to today - it's an astonishing short period of time for such development. Can we even comprehend what hi-tech gadget might be attached to our faces in another thirty seven years time?
   And I cannot act like I'm not impressed. I truly am. But has anybody stopped to think whether this might be considered unnatural? As mindblowing as our technological advances are, can it be stunting our instinctive, physical and social growth? Are we even human anymore?

I strongly feel that the machines have already won and we are now slaves to a technological strategy that has played us for the addictive, greedy fools we are. The scene in Shaun of the Dead where an alleyway of teens are zombiefied to their screens sums it up for me. Nobody walks anywhere now. Nobody looks at anything. Nobody smiles at you in the street because they're all preoccupied with replying immediately to that photograph of hummus with a kitten in it. I know we are a nation of apologists, but I draw the line when I bump into somebody because their square eyes are not looking where they're going. 

I sat in a pub in Stratford with my fiance Lucy, sipping some fine ales, when a family of five entered and sat across from us. Almost immediately the three children (without saying a word) unpocketed their iphones and were engaged in their own agendas, whether it be messaging, playing games or streaming the next keyboard cat. I watched the parents for a moment, both sat in an accepting silence with their drinks, and felt an immense pang of sadness. 
   Now, this is dangerously close to becoming nosey neighbour material so I didn't want to judge. I also fear that this blog might become misconstrude as the ravings of some mad man. I don't know this family? Who am I to even comment? My point is, the scenario looked a very depressing (yet realistic) portrayal of modern day.

I am not dismissing the use of phones or pads because they are bloody useful; especially in this day and age. Within a heartbeat I can open up my Google Maps application and know exactly where I am and where I need to go. My Mum is still, to this day,  flabberghasted with Google Streetview. So I completely advocate technology and it's capabilities but I think the moral of the story is (and I promise you that I won't summarise like this for every topic) that there is a time and a place.
   Phone technology is truly a revolution in how we cope with daily life. Whether it's online shopping, online banking, sending important files via the almighty cloud (in seconds) or facetiming people on the other side of the world, you have to admit how impressive it has become. But how easy do we want our lives to be? If everything can be commanded by a touch of a screen then where do we physically stand in this world? And I mean that in the most literally sense possible; I mean, you can control your entire house from the comfort of your sofa.

Side note:- 
I have just realised that throughout my ramblings about being in front of a screen all day, I have done a good two hour stint on my laptop in my local coffee shop. And it's a gorgeous day. I want that ball and stick to play with!

Is it appropriate for children to be using such technology from the age of (and I heard this recently) two? Two years old. Good grief that doesn't sit well with me.

But to address the point, the reason why I feel so strongly over the matter is that 

It's not the experiences you gain that are true to yourselves - it becomes 1984 where everyone is learning from the same screen. Drones.

The Brexit issue, voting, a divided country. Migration seems to be a type of scapegoat.. it angers me how people are using this as an excuse to coin the term 'make Britain great again'
WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A NATION BUILT UP ON IMMIGRATION. Are people too ignorant and stupid to recognise this? Even the people I speak to, who are feel that immigration is an issue, don't realise that the companies they work for are only successful because of the valued input from foreign employees. This is undisputed fact. I've looked up several large UK companies and read that much of their development and success is down to engineers, technicians, researchers from all over Europe and the world. WTF?!

Seriously, what is wrong with people?! I actually hate people.

Government - political leaders who constantly lie and change their minds - Theresa May

The Daily Mail - this newspaper (amongst others) outright offends me and is scum

Immigration - it's not an issue, GB is built up on immigration.

Social Media, articles on Facebook, headlines giving false news (or easily misconstrued at a glance). Too much information at our fingertips
'Social media is a better slave than a master' meaning that if you're in control of it, then it can be useful. But if you are constantly reacting to every notification, then you become the slave.
Just because you have the opportunity to say something online... does it necessarily mean that you should?
We are becoming so involved with our phones that we check them every 5 minutes. Even I am a culprit and I admit that I check my emails or Facebook far more often than I need to. But twenty years ago, we were using landlines and sending more letters. What will happen in another twenty years. The speed of our technological consumption and how our minds are evolving into the screen is a very scary concept. It's like an episode of Black Mirror. In fact there is an episode

Peoples opinions on social media - comment sections (YouTube), status updates; do we really care or need this? People are becoming too vocal and petty. Online bullying.
This has grown increasingly with the lenient boundaries and consequences over social media and what people are allowed to be 'vocal' about. Freedom of speech is just as much a gift as it is a curse; think about all the protests, speeches, debates and marches that have shaped the course of history, whether for good or evil. However, people in the 21st century voice their opinions over petty little details that don't need addressing simply because they can and never stop to think whether they should.

Photographing EVERYTHING - food, ourselves (invokes vanity and more online stalking - snapchat)

Public forums, Facebook groups for a local community - people posting photographs about 'problems' that do not concern them whatsoever and then complaining about them

Each day we get told something different e.g. 'doing this will keep you healthier than that' 'eat this because it prolongs life' 'this will 43% more likely give you cancer' - fuck off! Life has always been simple enough to know what to eat and how much exercise you need for a healthy balanced life style, this was before the internet and all this bloody research. People follow the media so much these days that they will suddenly change their routine if it means they can (theoretically) avoid being fat etc

What I am truly afraid of (and you can consider this a prediction) is the pure aggression, seen on both sides of the political argument, continuing to escalate until it becomes a part of us. And when I say 'argument' I mean to cover all bases here, whether it's a referendum, general or local election or even a routine debate. To put things into perspective, Brexit and the 2017 general election (May vs Corbyn) are prime examples and I will use these to support my point.  

In the aftermath of the general election, where a hung Parliament was reached (I'm writing this the day after voting, so we're far from a strong and stable answer), it was considered to be yet another messy campaign very similar to Brexit. Nobody knows what's going to happen, the nation is torn in two and the media are revelling. 

Thus begins my fear. The media. Newspaper tabloids, broadsheets, advertisements, social media; anything that we experience on a daily basis where some sort of news headline is given. I can't believe it has taken me this long to notice the absolute poison that courses through the writing in various articles across the UK. 
    It would be naive of me to think that this is a new thing. Newspapers have always backed their chosen party, or their chosen benefactor, and written in favour of them. That's why we have different sources, right? 

But shouldn't they still be relatively partial? 

I feel that the 'headline' alone has done far more damage to the public eye than any words from a backtracking and corrupt politician. Especially in this modern society, where information is seconds away, a headline can be the difference between a lovely morning and wanting to throttle somebody. These aggressive headlines filters down through various outlets to the reader who would normally skim them (because we don't like to read things thoroughly, do we?!) and make up their own conclusion in a matter of seconds before reaching the next article. This is just the way things are, heck, even I'm accountable for such a lazy approach to finding out the daily qualms. 
    The media will exploit this. Fake news, abrupt and 

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