Sometimes I feel sad. And it’s not because I listen to Birdy and I hear my tortured, Jacqueline Wilson-reading 14-year old self in her melancholic tones. It’s because sometimes I think that humanity has lost something, a shine, a sparkle, an ability to connect with each other. Look at Instagram, look at Pinterest, what are they but tools of reflection, but not pure, true self-reflection, like penning novels or writing letters, but a kind of falsified self-reflection, casting a shadow on a wall of the kind of person we’d like to be. My friend told me she loves reading Cupcakes and Cashmere because it’s exactly the kind of life she’d like to have – clean, pretty, perfect. But humans don’t ever really look like our on-screen selves – we don’t get out of bed wearing Laura Mercier foundation, we don’t always eat trendy burgers, and we’re certainly not always having fun with our fit female friends. There’s something unsettling in our desire to create a sassier, slicker, prettier version of ourselves; we’re like pugs walking around trying to make ourselves look like greyhounds, and it’s bloody tragic.
When did it happen, this desire to create an exterior that we hope will one day match the interior. I got my iPhone out the other day to take a photo of my coffee and my granny was bloody horrified – why, she asked, did I need to tell the world what I was doing the whole time. And it made me think. I had absolutely no idea. But then didn’t EAT want to know I was enjoying their delicious latte? Shouldn’t I tell them? But that’s not my job. And yet somehow brands have conditioned us to think it is; that we, the consumer, have somehow have power by being able to compliment or berate them. What a marvellous trick. By giving us the sensation of autonomy, the ‘open forum’ of the internet, we’ve allowed ourselves to become delicious, data-ridden putty in their hands.
I often feel sorry for people that don’t work in ‘social’ jobs. Last week I was talking to a friend; he works in logistics for Ocado and he admitted that he doesn’t tend to talk about how outside of work, because people get that ‘glazed over’ look whenever he mentions the world ‘logistics’ and he just doesn’t see the point. And it’s the same for lots of professions – lawyers, doctors, accountants. There’s a culture of silence around their professions (I mean we’ve seen what happens when lawyers start posting about their successes on Facebook and it’s not pretty), which, somehow, cuts them off from this tech-obsessed, social world. Sure, doctors can tweet about how delicious their burger from BRGR is (and, truly they are) but they can’t boast about their work, in the same way. You don’t see coders constantly posting about their latest websites or how they’ve cracked that fiddy bit of CSS which has changed everything, do you. It would be bloody weird if they did. And yet, let’s be honest, they are running the shop.
And yet, writers, bloggers, stylists, photographers have the perk of being their own product, their own finest work – free to talk about their success on as many social media streams as they like. It’s become socially acceptable to be totally self-gratifiying. In fact, for many jobs, it’s a total pre-requisite. How many times have you been asked whether you are ‘familiar with social media streams’ in an interview. And isn’t that a bit sad? Perhaps we haven’t seen it yet, but I think a few years and we’ll see a real shift in people wanting to perform these less social jobs, preferring instead to be able to have a job that is 50% composing funny things in 180 characters. And obviously as a journalist, I am as guilty as any of this, more than my most if you can my Twitter, but I’m just saying let’s take a minute to switch off, to think of the people who don’t shout the whole time, but in their whispers are doing something rather wonderful. Your Ocado shopping always arrives on time… Thanks, Simon. Because since when did what brand of trendy energy drink I choose change anything? Maybe we should remove the world ‘tastemaker’ from our lexicon, it might take the pressure off everyone a little bit. And yet this is my job – to find out about things, to tell others about them. So, without further adieu, here’s my new TSL feature on the top ways to spend your time, money and love this week. Here’s what I’m TSLing:
Time.Spend.Love List – 13/11/13
Videos to spend your time on: