The sweet life of social media (On modern Authenticity)

Lately I have found, in addition to using notebooks to express myself, I have found that words aren’t my preferred medium of expression right now. I don’t particularly have any deep thoughts about Kant or philosophy or culture but that is far from saying I’m not engaged in mental matters.. I’ve lately been really interested in Khanacademy’s maths courses and I am doing a few coding and API pet projects. Some of which I am interested in seeing the consequences or implications/applications of. I guess you can say I’m just tinkering a lot lately.

 

I’ve said in the past that I’m not a fan of social media, or I try to understand the new platforms around but not indulge in them so much. The blog is soo 2000s, and it reminds me a little bit of Barney Stinson’s character who used to say ‘haven’t you read my blog?’. Interestingly as the show How I Met Your Mother moved away from the 2000s, that recurring gag had less usage. Blogging is as established (and thus passe) as Facebook was once edgy and for cool insiders. I also have less and less time to blog anything particularly interesting, or anything I’m willing to air as an interesting thought.

I used to believe that platforms like twitter and tumblr were facile means of self expression to communicate things of very little depth. I still think that to a large extent. However I am tweeting a bit more and instagramming prolifically despite it. Perhaps this is my ‘kool aid moment’, or (to mix the metaphors) – joining the crowd cos I can’t beat ’em.

I try to communicate myself through instagram and twitter by capturing aspects of my life or things I am interested in or things that just capture what life is like in the present moment. For example, I share my interest in the comedic actor Matt Berry with an occaisional #mattberry accompanying a silly picture of his. I am cautious of the way that media platforms put forward a selective or aspirational version of self, which I consider a bit cynical or inauthentic. The way that I like to post things on instagram are to show things in the real world that I find funny. An example of this was that I was in a department store this week and I saw a brand of condoms which had a picture of a chicken (cock) with a helmet on, the allusion to protecting one’s cock being obvious. I also sometimes like to capture things that I see in my local community. Adverts for missing kittens is commonplace, another thing I sometimes capture is if I see a lot of cans of alcohol on a street corner, which I feel has an emotive impact on nearby residents about the state of the area they live in.

There are other things that I like to capture just as repeating motifs, I like to capture pictures of cows whenever I see it, which is an affectionate joke with a friend of mine. I like to take pictures of whenever I have some of my favourite foods or watch my favourite films. I’ve found that when I tweet or post something on facebook that I see people having different perceptions of me. I am portrayed as a unified individual to all people through twitter or IG, because anyone with internet connections can see who I am on those platforms. However the things that people may like or dislike on them reflect their perspectives of who I am. To illustrate, I find that a certain clique of my friends (intellectual liberal types) often ‘like’ whenever I post an article on some political topic that has their overarching point of view, while another group of friends really like when I post pictures of cats and/or yetis. The people that I follow and like to follow on social media reflect who I am as a person and my ‘brand identity’ – I am seemingly a cliched Guardian reader but I also like The Spectator and New Statesman; I like following fitness inspiration and body-positive people. I also really like following some of my former teachers and lecturers to see what kind of work they are doing. I am also a fan of Pusheen the Cat, who brings joy and happiness to all.

There is an odd kind of personhood and extension of mind that goes on with this odd social life. In meatspace it is expressed by a person constantly with their face to a phone screen, which I must unfortunately say is ubiquitous in today’s age. I’m not sure if I’m possibly portraying myself as more intereesting than I really am in social media. My aim through my blogging and instagramming is to show that I am in fact, very dull and boring in what I post and am interested in. That would be a very odd criterion of success, but a signifier of my actual social experience.Maybe I should post pictures of me playing about on my phone, which would acccurately depict my life through a mirror.

In praise of the Notebook

I can’t remember who said it, but it was said that the notebook is a wasteland of the mind.

 

I’ve not been posting lately. I had found that I have less and less that was interesting to say. Then I discovered the notebook.I have 3 different kinds of notebook. The ‘prized possession’ notebook is a nice fancy leather-bound thing of beauty where its dog ears are affectionate and the words meaningful. I keep minutes of meetings I go to, and notes from when I am at a discussion group. I also keep a few cuttings from magazines of things that I deem worthy – such as when something of mine gets published on print, which happened a fair bit last year.

 

My other kind of notebook is the newspaper and magazine, flyers and receipts cut out collage. I find anything of the printed word in a physical form (physical defined by ‘can be glued by pritt stick’), and I put things together. Often political messages or things that define the zeitgeist of our day. For example, one thing that I’ve found interesting to keep an eye on is the current borders of control of what we call Ukraine, which seems to change weekly, that would be something very interesting to keep a printed version of to show its change. Like the ‘prized possession’ book, I have some collage notebooks which are very pretty and I am proud of, and then others which are more an experimentation of this collage-newspaper-cutting technique that I am playing with.

 

The final kind of notebook is a true toilet of my mind. I have a few lined books which I use to keep anything that’s on my head in. I keep things like a shopping list; things I need to do to keep the house tidy; maths working out from Khanacademy; playing with maths ideas to try and understand them in my head; playing with logic ideas; pseudocode ideas; doodles of me as an abominable snowman/yeti in various situations (usually sleeping) and sometimes, philosophical analysis.

 

I’ve found a certain kind of freedom of thought to using my notebook. I’ve thought about a lot of philosophical topics that I am hardly an expert on and played with some ideas, such as ‘game’ strategies (one of which is ‘when should I board the train in rush hour’? and ‘how do I decide what to wear during seasonal weather?’). The notebook is my naked thinking, warts and all, not fit for a reading public or an understanding public, and has been my main form of communicating my ideas lately. As such, I have not much to blog about lately. Or better to say, nothing I want to put on this blog.