conversation

Seeds of Inspiration

A friend on facebook asked me not long ago, “where do you get all your ideas from?”  A simple question indeed but one that is almost impossible to answer in a way people who aren’t ‘like me’ will understand.

By ‘like me’ I mean, well like me.  Let me try to explain.  I’m autistic, which means I don’t do the social thing at all well.  I don’t mix with folks effectively and I tend to quickly piss people off and if I do make a friend, I tend to lose it pretty quickly.  This means I’m alone for most of the time, both physically and inside my head.  You know when you have friends but they’re not actually ‘here’ at this moment but you know inside your head that they exist and they’re your friends?  You have an innate knowledge that you’re not emotionally alone don’t you?  Well I don’t have that.  I’m physically alone and alone inside my head too.  Now that’s freaking alone man..!

I also have major emotional baggage left over from an abusive childhood which means I have a trust issue.  Not something you want when you’re trying to make friends.  This also tends to add to my isolation.  I’m also physically unattractive so even if men did happen to overlook my other failings, the sight of me puts them off anway.  This also means I’m destined to remain just as alone as I am now.

All of this isolation takes its toll and not all of the effects are negative, for me as a writer anyhow.  I’ve developed an immense imagination.  Every moment I’m alone I’m living one of my internal fantasies.  People who see me may think I’m just shopping or taking out the trash but really I’m exploring the outer regions of some far flung planet, searching for the ancient truth stone that will save the people and show me my one true love who just happens to be mixed race, hugely muscular, clean shaven and hung like a horse.  I may appear to be driving to the store, or to my day job but really I’m on my way from my Los Angeles mansion to meet with my agent to discuss my latest appearance on the Ellen show and whether we could fit in a spot on Jimmy Kimmel the same day or whether we need to put that one back a week.  I may appear to be doing housework but really I’m searching the cargo bay of the intergalactic freight liner for clues as to the whereabouts of the hand written  notes that would prove that hugely muscular, mixed race, well hung hunk of a prisoner is completely innocent of those murders on Taxos 4.

You see what I’m driving at?  This is me every minute of every day and several hours into each night too as I toss and turn and struggle to switch it all off so I can sleep.  The moment I wake it all starts again.  This is the stuff that fills my mind 24/7 and all of the locations, the conversations and the people are as real to me as anyone I may physically meet.  Being completely alone both physically and emotionally too, allows me to indulge in this fantasy reality to a high degree and I’ve been doing it for so long that I doubt I could stop for long and I couldn’t imagine being able to survive without it.

It’s the easiest thing in the world for me to just write this stuff down.  I’m so tapped in to my creative flow that I can just sit down and switch it on and let the words come tumbling out.  I see it all happening as I write it.  I actually live it as I write it and I feel all of the emotions each time I re read it.  All I have to do is sit down, switch on and step out of the way.  My higher self does the rest, my creativity, my muse, call it what you want.  I always say that I don’t actually write my books; my characters write them and I just take dictation.

Last night I was bored so I sat down and opened a blank word document and then opened my mind.  An hour later I had a full plot synopsis for brand new epic space adventure novel.  No pain, no tears, no agonies of writers block (what the fuck is that anyway?) and no prob laymo.

So in answer to my friend who wanted to know where I get my ideas from.  The answer is, from me.

Advertisements

The real face of twitter

I’ve been on twitter for around a year or so.  Not long by many people’s standards but before I published my books there was no real need for the extra burden of different social networking sites.  Actually I did get onto twitter before that but I quickly found it to be useless for actively engaging with anyone, so I stayed away and didn’t use my account until I started self publishing.

And there’s the rub.  Twitter is crap for conversation.  If it’s friends and happy conversation you’re after, stay away from twitter and stick with good old eff bee.  Twitter is for 3 things and 3 things only.

1.  Celebrities

2.  Fans

3.  Advertising your shit.

I’ll take each of these in turn.  Twitter is THE place for today’s celeb’s to let the rest of us plebs know that they are actually real live people and not some cgi invention.  They post their pictures and funny videos and tell us all about what they’re doing on set or in the studio and trade witty repartee with other celebs. They also plug their latest movie/album/book/tv show etc on twitter.  For celebs, twitter is an amazing free advertising bill board and they love it.

Hot on the heels of all the celeb twitterers come their fans – in their millions.  The fans come to twitter simply to try to get noticed by their idol (yes I’ve done that too and quickly realised I was on a hiding to nothing).  Every tweet by their favourite celeb is pounced on and the number of replies skyrockets quickly.    Each one hopes and prays their idol will reply to their tweet and some of them will tweet hundreds of times a day solely to try and get noticed by their idol.  What they don’t realise is that alot of the more major celebs on twitter will  have ‘staff’ doing their tweets, announcing the latest movie/album etc and posting photos ad nauseam.  The chances of getting a tweet by a major movie star on twitter is about the same as me walking outside of my house right now and slipping up in a heap of rocking horse shit..!

I used to be a fan of Dwayne The Rock Johnson and used to tweet hello to him and send him the digital artwork I did of him but I never got a response.  Seeing his tweets and his responses (on the rare occasions when he does actually respond) has put me off him as a person.  He’s beautiful to look at and is good at acting but as a person he sucks.  Thanks twitter, you took my idol from me..!

And then there’s advertising.  Twitter is heaving with people all trying to sell their shit (me included) and each one tweets endlessly about how wonderful their product is and why it’s better than everyone else’s.  That’s all well and good but you see dear, there are no actual customers on twitter, only other crazed sellers who have no intention whatsoever of ever buying your shit nor anyone else’s.  If you’re trying to sell your shit on twitter, you’re wasting your time because you’re not reaching actual customers there.  It took me ages to realise this (I can be thick sometimes) and I sat down and wondered what the heck I was doing flogging my guts retweeting other authors, when the effort doesn’t increase my book sales.

And hard work it is too.  It takes a serious amount of time out of your day using twitter.  You’re expected to retweet people so that they will retweet you back.  I say, supposed, because in practice it doesn’t happen that way.  I spent a couple of hours a day retweeting people and only ever got 3 or 4 retweets in return and half of those I did get were ones where I’d thanked someone for retweeting or said hello to a new follower – all carefully chosen by the retweeter so as not to include a link to my work.

I now go there for just a couple of minutes a day to check for new followers and direct messages but I no longer retweet people.  The number of retweets I got in no way made up for the time I spent or the numbers of tweets I retweeted.  I have my facebook author pages set up so everything I post there automatically goes to my twitter page too so I’m still sort of using it as free advertising.

I prefer to actually interact with people so I stay on facebook.  I have my personal page and my author page and I find it more pleasing to have actual conversations with people than simply dispense links that immediately get lost in the cess pool of other tweets, which no one reads or pays attention to.

Is is just me?  What do you think of twitter?

Brand new interview with Leon Domenico

Just to let everyone know that Leon Domenico stopped by and gave another interview about the upcoming fourth book in The Lilean Chronicles series.

Leon is Vincent’s father and spirit guide to Farra Duncan and he tells us a little about this new adventure.

Take the link below to read his interview.  Scroll down the page, the new interview is right under his first.

 

Click here to read the interview with Leon Domenico

After the hiatus, getting back into the groove

I haven’t been able to write for the past 3 weeks.  This wasn’t because of writers block.  It wasn’t because my imaginative flow decided to flow away.  It wasn’t even because my characters went on holiday without me.  The reason is Mother.  My mother visited me for 3 weeks and that means that all writing stops while she is ensconced within my living room.  Oh she likes books and is proud as punch that I’m writing them, it’s not that.  I read her the draft of my upcoming fourth novel, Changing Faces and she loved it.  I read her the 5 chapters of my fifth novel and she loved them too.  I even read her my two flash fiction stories and she positively gushed.

I just feel self conscious when she’s around and I don’t seem to be able to sink myself low enough into the creative flow when I know she’s lurking 5 feet away doing her cross stitch or soduko.  She also has the annoying habit of peering over my shoulder at the computer when she shuffles past on her way to the kitchen to make a cuppa.  That annoys me and makes me self conscious about what I’m writing and gives me a childish urge to wrap my arms around the pc monitor like a kid in school trying to stop the big ginger kid at the next desk from copying my answers on the math test.

I’m one of those writers who needs silence.  I can’t write to music.  I have tried but I find myself concentrating on the music instead of writing.  My mother is great and she would happily sit and do her cross stitch or puzzles for hours (she does anyway) while I write but she can’t stop nattering.  She can’t seem to go for more than a couple of minutes without making some sort of comment or conversation, about anything at all and the interruptions really take me off my stroke.  From the regular “oh there’s another emergency vehicle siren, you get a lot of them here don’t you?” to the occasional “must pop to the loo, my pills are working,” and everything conceivable in between.  Then there’s the coughing, sneezing and farting..!

No, I need silence to write.  I need to be able to focus my entire mind on maintaining that intuitive link with my characters so that I can hear their voices and take dictation from them accurately (yes that’s right, I don’t write my stories, I just take dictation from my characters.  I’m one of ‘those’ writers). Once I get going, hours can go by without me noticing and I ‘awake’ to find myself sitting in complete darkness at 2am, desperate for a pee and horrified that I have to be up at 6am to go to work.  I sometimes think that the ease with which I switch into my alternative fantasy-reality is what enables me to focus so entirely when I’m writing.  I don’t just invent the people, their lives and the situations, I actually know them and experience them with them.  It’s a total and real connection and if time and my bladder allowed, I’d write for days on end without stopping.

So now mother has gone home and I can get back to it.  Book 4 needs another proof read/edit and book 5 needs more chapters.  My characters have had a well deserved holiday; I just hope they’re back and ready to work..!

Is Blood Thicker than Water?

It’s one of the most familiar sayings ever, blood is thicker than water, but what does it mean and is it really true? Well we all know what it means, don’t we? It means that whatever our views and opinions, morals or standards, where family is concerned normal rules may not apply. It means that we are prepared to put aside the normal moral standards we live by when interacting with others and the world in general if a family member is concerned. Adherance to this belief can, if taken to extreme, mean that murderers are shielded by their family members who would never dream of turning them in because ‘blood is thicker than water’ and you don’t dob on family!

Why is that we are expected to put our normal rules aside just because a family member has done something wrong or stupid or illegal? Why should we be expected to pretend we don’t know anything when there is a parent mourning the loss of a loved one somewhere out there? Why is it okay for someone to behave badly and get away with it just because they’re genetically related? It’s happened in my own family a few times during my lifetime and it always irritates me to see someone getting away with bad behaviour because the other family members don’t want to cause a stir. My grandmother was a horrible person, the whole family thought so and times without number she said or did things that really upset whoever was her current target (often it was me) but never once did I see any other family member say anything to her about her behaviour or bringing her to task over something she’d said.

I remember once many years ago during a family get together my nephew trod muddy footprints all over the hostess’s pale carpet. I lightly chastised him (verbally) about it and my grandmother immediately started shouting at me to shut up and be quiet. The whole table went silent, everyone was too embarrassed even to breathe. After a minute or two conversation gradually resumed as if nothing had happened but not one of the relatives came to my defence either in public or private. This episode was a turning point for me and since that day so long ago, I’ve made the conscious choice never to have any contact with any family member other than my mother. I’ve never regretted the decision and I’m sure they haven’t either and I’m still curious as to why many more people aren’t doing as I did.

Recently we have seen one or two examples of people turning in their criminal family members and this has delighted me no end. Since the recent riot troubles there have been a number of parents turning in their children after discovering them having been a part of the looting and rioting. I’m so pleased to see this happening because it means that at least a few kids will grow up with the knowledge that you can’t do wrong and get away with it and that there is no one who will put up with such behaviour, not even family.

My own mother is one of those who believes that one doesn’t ‘wash one’s dirty linen in public’, which I take to mean she doesn’t want the embarrassment of other people knowing that there’s a criminal or nutjob in the family gene pool. My response to that is simple; if more people showed that they’re not prepared to put up with such behaviours, less people would do it and society would clean up a bit. Maybe I’m seeing it all too simply. Maybe it’s a far more complicated issue than I’m able to understand but then I do tend to live in something of a black and white world. My thinking is that if I can exist happily enough in a black and white world, then you should be able too as well.

As humans we are pack animals and our family is our pack. In order to grow and develop well we need a strong and supportive family unit around us. Each person within that unit would ideally have their own unique experiences and their own take on life which they would pass on to the growing child to help them form a well rounded view of life in general so that each new experience adds to their growth in a positive way. As we’re all too well aware though, this doesn’t often happen nowadays and most families are fractured in some way or another and many young people are largely left to bring themselves up with only their peers or movie stars to look to for guidance or as role models. Most of their peers will be doing exactly the same and it becomes a classic case of the blind leading the blind and we all know where that ends up.

So what is the cause of all this moral breakdown and is there really more of a moral breakdown now or has it just been more widely reported lately? I often hear older folks saying “when I was young this never happened” and words to that effect and I’m inclined to believe them. When my mother was a girl there was a war on and those left at home had to keep things going as best as they could so folks tended to work together more. Families were much more disciplined in those days and there wasn’t the political correctness then that there is now. The fashion nowadays is not to discipline your children at all and they even have the right to prosecute parents now for trying to bring a bit of discipline to their kids. When I was young my father used to dish out the punishment when I was naughty and he had a very effective way of doing it. He would stand sideways in the doorway and call me inside and as I went through the door he would slap me hard on the backs of my thighs, and god did it hurt! No matter how I ducked, twisted or tried to rush through quickly, he always caught me square on the back of the thighs and it was enough to act as a deterrent to me.

Another thing we’re seeing nowadays is a much higher birth rate and much younger people having children. Nowadays, kids are having kids before they’ve finished their own growing up and without the right kind of family influences around them, they’re bound to get it all wrong. Kids nowadays are not much younger than their own parents and often they act more like friends to their kids than parents. It’s like a sort of gang culture where everyone is genetically related. Similar rules apply in these families as apply in gangs and with the employment situation being what it is at the moment, many of these families have two or three generations who have never worked or known a work ethic. Large numbers of them live in sub standard housing in areas that are fast becoming no go areas for anyone who values their life and so crime becomes a normal and accepted part of their lives.

So what can we do to change things? The first thing is to stop breeding like flies and let the population decrease to a more sustainable and healthy level. There are just far too many people, full stop. Better education, more employment even if it means pseudo employment to qualify for state benefits and an end to the politically correct human rights compensation culture we’re living in now. Punishment needs to fit the crime and families need to start realising that blood may indeed be thicker than water, but a crime is a crime and whoever you are, you’ll be turned in for it.

I know I make it all sound so simple but it is really that simple. It really is just a case of being brave enough to make the changes, strong enough to see them through despite the protests of thousands of armchair bound single parents. Of course such measures won’t be popular and nor will the brave politicians who bring them in, but they will sort out our society before we anihilate ourselves. Or maybe we should just let society commit suicide and then just start all over again? Maybe that’s the answer to it all. It would certainly be the easiest way for the politicians.

I often think to myself how lovely it would be to find myself washed up on some uninhabited desert island out in the middle of nowhere like a modern day Robinson Crusoe. I could at last find some semblence of total peace from this terrifying world where I cannot go out after dark for fear of being mugged, raped or murdered, where I cannot go out to a bar for fear of date rape drugs or kidnap and torture and where it is even unsafe to remain inside my own home with the rise in burglary, breaking and entering and murder. At least on my peaceful paradise I could walk around in the dead of night without fear of being accosted by a criminal in nappies who can’t be punished due to his/her age.

Blood is thicker than water? Not in my house it ain’t!

The Power of Positive Thinking

There is a trendy new buzzword flying around the internet. One that claims to change your life for the better and help you to realise all your wildest fantasises while not having to actually work to bring them into being. There have been many books published on this subject, websites galore and even a dvd telling you how to do it. All you have to do is think differently, then sit back and wait for the money to come rolling in. What this new treasure? Positive thinking.

It goes by many names, The Secret and Cosmic Ordering being two of the latest but at the bottom line it’s just positive thinking dressed up in the latest fashionable garb. Like an ageing actress past her prime trying to cover her wrinkles with the latest new face cream, positive thinking has been given a makeover to bring it into the 21st century and make it desirable for today’s troubled young and trendy.

When I was a girl our grannies used to tell us to keep smiling and to remember that every cloud has a silver lining and to believe that everything will be all right in the end. That sort of home grown wisdom just doesn’t cut it in today’s hi tech, fast paced, action packed, new age world though. In order for a new idea to take a hold today, it needs to be offered in a glossy, full colour package with fancy typeface, icons and plenty of airy fairy language. Even better if it comes with additional extras like double disc dvd sets, cd’s, flashcards, workshops in swanky Covent Garden shops, mousemats, baseball hats and mugs. All at additional cost of course!

The basic priniciple of this new modern version of positive thinking is that in order for it to work, you must totally believe it. Any shred of doubt and those dollars won’t come rolling in, that Ferrari will stay in the showroom and that hot guy won’t be calling you up. And that’s the rub; the most basic rule for the whole thing to work, is the most difficult to achieve. Of course there’s always the additional workshops you can attend to help you get the hang of it – at additional cost of course. You could also buy several more books to help you understand where you went wrong.

Why is it no longer okay to believe that what happens in your life is what is supposed to happen? Why is it no longer okay to struggle a little for an achievement? Why are we all expected to be filthy rich and drive sports cars in order to be seen as successful and why does it take money and ‘stuff’ to make us happy? Why do we turn to these new age ideas like positive thinking with the sole purpose of getting rich and famous anyway? So many of the rich and famous end up ruining their lives that I wonder if the pursuit of fame and riches isn’t more like a negative thing than a positive. I can name so many household names – actors, singers etc who have problems of various kinds all due to those very things we admire most in them – their fame and wealth. Some are luckier than others and get through their lives with just a few anxiety issues, panic attacks and zero self esteem. Others aren’t so lucky.

Take the actor who doesn’t become a genuine household name until his mid forties for instance. Up until he becomes really famous, he is driven and hard working although broke. He has his goal and he works tirelessly to achieve it and his best works are those he created during those early years of striving. Then he suddenly becomes world famous and gets rich and then his problems start. He has no experience of coping with fame or large quantities of money and because he’s been broke most of his life, he goes a little wild. Women fall at his feet and he sees no reason to say no or be discerning and he ends up with several kids by different women, none of whom he is a proper father to. Facing middle age and the ever present tide of younger, firmer, tight assed guys coming up bhind him, he starts to worry. He doesn’t know how much longer he can be the main attraction. He’s never seen the need to settle down and get married, there’s been too much fun to be had to shackle himself to one woman and now the only women that want his company are brainless teenagers who think that bedding an actor will help their careers. He trawls the seedier nightclubs of eastern Europe with his ever present entourage of enabling hangers-on who all help him ruin his life because he pays them well, and picks up teenage art sudents who then sell their stories to the papers and upload videos of their interviews to youtube. Their budding careers get a temporary but welcome boost and they get their fifteen minutes of fame for having met ‘so and so’. This actor really exists by the way and he is lonely and suffers anxiety attacks. He’s middle aged but still tries to act like a seventeen year old. He was so much happier before he got famous, when he was struggling to be noticed. Once he found fame, he couldn’t handle it.

Others find fame and money ruin them in different ways. Some are ruined by drugs, alcohol, gambling or even crime. There are also a few who find the sudden abundance of money and fame enables them to live out their innermost desires and bring the stranger of their perversions into a living reality. Again the entourage of hangers-on all eager to help their master or mistress to achieve whatever they want, so long as they continue to pay well, ensure that they never have to listen to reason. It’s a downward spiral that ends either in their suicide, early death from alcohol or drugs or they end up broke and lonely and still refusing to realise that they’re not still the hottest, latest thing. Unfortunately stories like these are ten a penny today and the actor/entertainer who uses his money wisely and still works hard and creates a genuinely good product and adapts his work as he ages and matures, is in the minority. The famous person who doesn’t find themselves the subject of shameful tabloid stories of drug taking or seedy sexual endeavours is becoming harder and harder to find.

Why does no one use the power of positive thinking to bring themselves better powers of discernment, more patience and understanding of others, better decision making or more insight into people and their needs? All of these things are useful tools in the drive to succeed and can help ensure that when we do achieve our goals, we have learned the necessary skills to help us handle the results properly when we do achieve them. We are such a money driven society now that anyone who doesn’t have it is a nobody, a loser. You can be the nicest guy on the block, the one whom everyone loves the most because of your kindness and generosity but if you’re broke and not famous, you’re essentially a loser. Those whom you’ve helped to achieve their own goals with your wisdom and inight will turn their backs on you without a thought, for the chance to spend the night with an ageing actor with a good body and get a video of themselves telling all the sordid details on youtube.

The power of positive thinking is just that, a power and one that should be used wisely and with insight into what the ramifications of getting what you want might be. If people put as much effort into believing that their life is worthy even if they’re broke, as they do in spending time and money on shiny dvd’s that promise them wealth and fancy cars, then the world would be a happier place for everyone. Positive thinking requires that you have an insight into what is missing from your life and focus on this rather than on what you already have in abundance. The people that make these programmes and write these books know that everyone wants to be rich and many want to be famous and so they focus their ‘package’ on these materialistic pursuits. By spending so much time focussing on what is missing, you’re actually being negative rather than positive.

Wouldn’t it be more positive to spend some energy and time focussing on the abundance of experience you have that can be used to help others in similar situations? Wouldn’t it be more positive to use these self development programmes to ask for more opportunities to grow in self awareness? At the end of the day, the only ones getting rich by using these so call development programmes are the ones selling them to you! I would love to have more money and I know that a lot of good could be done for many people if I had it but I’ve had many years of experience being broke and having nothing. I’m old enough and wise enough to know that sex, drugs and rock-n-roll wouldn’t enhance my life one little bit and that if I came into a lot of money, I have the self awareness to use it wisely for my own good and that of many others.

All that, and I haven’t spent any money on positive thinking books or dvd’s!

The Internet – its power to heal or hurt

I am on facebook every day, for quite a significant amount of time. If I’m not actively working my page, then I’m checking it every half hour or so just in case. Just in case of what I don’t know but facebook is addictive as we all know and, well you have to check your page often don’t you…?

One thing that constantly amazes me is the way people are hurt or offended by the actions or words of other people. It’s as if the general population really do expect everyone to be nice, friendly and helpful all of the time and when they’re not, they’re surprised, hurt and angry. The thing that people just don’t seem to grasp, is that people aren’t nice, friendly and helpful. In fact people are normally the opposite and I’ve found that to expect otherwise is idiotic at best, and downright suicidal at worst. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and the internet revolution has enabled us to be more vindictive than we ever thought possible back in the day when we had to actually converse with people face to face. When I was growing up I had to actually talk to people and if I had a problem with anyone I had to deal with it and them physically. Being a non confrontational sort of person meant I tended to let things slide more often than not but conflicts did occur from time to time and when they did, I had nothing to hide behind. Nowadays the internet allows us all to be brave, pro active and downright aggressive if we desire to be, and the temptation must be extreme if you are the sort of person that has never had the balls to actually confront anyone in person. It’s so easy to be assertive online that anyone can do it.

People are now able to show their true colours like never before and so many are taking full advantage that an average day on facebook is tantamount to going into battle. Each and every day I piss at least one person off and get pissed off by at least another couple. Facebooking is fast becoming a stressful way to spend my spare time. There are so many weird and wonderful people on the internet and the popularity of social networking sites such as facebook make it so easy for these people to make their presence felt. when I was growing up, each town had it’s fair share of weirdos and oddities and they tended to keep themselves to themselves and everyone knew to keep out of their way, but nowadays the internet has given them the opportunity to scream their weirdness to the masses worldwide and they are taking full advantage.

With the ability to create completely false identities, social networking sites allow us to be whomever we want to be without the ever present chance of being found out that we had to worry about back in the day. One can create any number of facebook accounts and every one of your alter egos gets it’s voice heard..! Equally astounding is the fact that so many of these weirdos have entourages of willing and flaccid hangers on who make all the right noises and so encourage the weirdness even further. Many of them are just so weird that they are funny and it is not these that I worry about. The ones that worry me are the ones who use the internet to bully and demean others who may not have the ability to stand up for themselves. I have been bullied a few times on facebook and I admit that at times it has upset me to know that there are people out there who get a kick out of having influence on the emotions of other people without the possibility of a backlash. As time goes on I get more used to it and am able to brush it off more easily these days but I often see others who are obviously terribly upset at something one of their ‘friends’ has said to them. When you don’t have to worry about whether you are going to get a knock on the door, it’s so easy to express your darkest emotions at the expense of another and for every one that disappears off your facebook ‘friend’ list, there are ten others who will agree and laugh with you.

It’s as if we, as a species, are losing the ability to converse naturally. Nowadays we don’t write letters, we don’t phone people and we don’t talk and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if we didn’t soon evolve without mouths at all…! With texting, e mails and now social networking, what use are mouths..? Without the visible feedback from conversing face to face, how can people learn how to behave socially? Human beings are social creatures; we are pack animals and cannot survive alone but today’s lifestyle seems to be trying to make us into solitary creatures. This can only lead to our downfall and at worst, it could mean the breakdown of society in general as we continue to do our interacting virtually and without the instant feedback that physical interaction gives us. I now find myself feeling more at ease communicating via text, e mail or social networking than I do on a face to face basis and that is worrying.

In order to try to counteract this, I have a little thing I do sometimes that helps me. Whenever I have to pop out to the shop I make a pact with myself that I will make myself actually converse with someone, anyone, about anything at all before I get back home. This has become easier over time and now it’s not so much of a problem for me as it was when I first tried it. Even if I just say a couple of words to someone at the checkout, so long as I actually talk and make something resembling a conversation, I go home happy with myself. Conversation is a dying art and I want to try to keep it alive if I can.

So what’s that got to do with being aggressive online..? Well it’s all about being real as opposed to being fake and that’s the relevant point here. Most of us wouldn’t have the nerve to be aggressive to people face to face as quickly as we do online. That’s because when we talk and interact face to face, we have to consider the other person’s feelings and we have to be aware that if they react badly to what we say or do, we may get either embarrassed or hurt or both..! Because most of us are cowards at heart, we don’t want to be embarrassed or punched in the face, so we moderate our language accordingly and that is what is missing when we interact online.

It is human nature to be a bit competitive. We have this inner need to keep up with the Jones’s and be better than the next person but when it’s done online without the usual signals that encourage us intuitively to moderate our language or actions, it quickly and easily gets out of control and that’s when people get hurt. When you are constantly having your feelings hurt by comments online, it can influence how you interact when you do meet people face to face and any reactions you display then influence the other person, who then has their feelings hurt and so they carry that to their own interactions, and so on and so forth. In this way, the social structure of modern society slowly and inexorably begins to crumble until we have de-evolved into the grunting savages that we so proudly proclaim to have left behind.

The one thing that you can never get across online, is the subtle meaning of your words. You may have meant it as a joke, but your written words alone often don’t get such subtleties across and more often than not, people get the wrong end of the stick and take offence even where none was intended. I’ve had this happen to me many times and have learned to make an effort to make sure the intended meaning of what I’m saying, is obvious in my comments. I’ve had my jokes and funny comments taken completely the wrong way and have had irate ‘friends’ sending me angry emails more than once. Conversely, there have been times when someone has pissed me off so much that I have fully intended to piss them off in revenge, but they’ve either refused to take the hint or just ignored it.

It just goes to show that the human ego is a fragile thing and the internet gives us a never before seen opportunity to take advantage of that. Whether we do that with good intentions or bad, is down to each individual at the end of the day but I fear that now the revolution has begun, there’ll be no going back. I fear for our social structure and am noticing more and more that the internet is making me more reclusive each and every day..!

Where’s the Dignity?

I’m not often at home at the right time to watch the Jeremy Kyle show and when I am, most times I don’t bother to watch it. When I do watch it, I find it compulsive viewing for all the wrong reasons. This is the kind of show everyone says they hate but they can’t stop watching it and I’m the same.

I like Jeremy Kyle himself; I like his style and delivery. He’s not like those other talk show hosts who dither and faff around his guests. He tells them direct, he says what we’re all thinking and he takes no prisoners. He’s funny with it and sensitive where and when sensitivity is called for, most of the time. There are times though when he annoys me. Sometimes I feel he goes too far with his aggressive act and there are times when I feel he belittles people just a bit too much.

It is a constant source of amazement to me what people will happily admit to just to get on the telly. Everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame and even if it means you have to admit to having anal sex with your girlfriend’s brother’s friend’s landlord’s dog walker at seven thirty in the evening on the common whilst your eight month old triplets are left alone to fend for themselves for a fortnight, that’s okay so long as you get on the telly! Really, have these people no shame at all? If I’d done anything remotely similar to some of the stuff the folks on this show admit to, I wouldn’t go out of my house for a year and when I finally did, it would be after dying my hair, donning a huge sombrero and enormous sunglasses! Maybe it’s just me being overly shy but where the heck has dignity gone?

Some people say they pay people to over act and make their situations more dramatic than they are already and that may be so, we’ll never know but it certainly is compulsive viewing. I find myself doing what my parents used to do when I was young; what used to make me think of them as right old fuddy duddies. I sit here and shake my head sadly as I say to myself “jeez what has happened to the youth of today.” I now sound like my mother, which is a frightening thought but I have to admit I now finally understand what she meant all those years ago. Sorry mother!

The first tv show of the Jeremy Kyle ilk, was that one run by Robert Kilroy Silk, remember him? Didn’t he vanish from our screens after some kind of scandal? I can’t remember but I loved his show. It was revolutionary at the time and it was great when things got a bit heated and some of the audience started shouting and ranting at each other. We’d never seen such things on our screens before and we were captivated. I will never forget the one where the old guy in the front row didn’t realise his flies were undone and no one else bothered to tell him.

Then we had Vanessa Feltz and her show that ended in scandal after she admitted they paid people to act up to increase the drama. That was a shame as I liked her show alot; her style of interviewing was witty and light. Tricia was another one, although I didn’t like that show as much as the others. She was the first one who was actually qualified to do such a show, as she was a trained psychologist or psychotherapist or something along those lines.

Then along came the American versions of these shows with their loud music and razzamatazz. Oprah, Ricky Lake, the old guy with the blond hair, the black guy with the funny name and the older gal with the glasses, Sally something her name was. The trouble with lots of shows of this type is that they often fall into a pattern of same old same old and not enough variety of topical issues we can all discuss and learn about. With Jeremy Kyle it’s DNA and Lie Detectors, with Ricky Lake it was makeovers and with that black guy it was reunions – too much of the same that quickly gets boring.

The thing that I have learned through watching Jeremy Kyle is that no matter how low my self esteem may get and however dire my material circumstances may become, I have more self respect and dignity in my left earlobe than most of the guests on his show seem to have and just knowing that fact raises my self esteem a few points. There was one episode where a gal wanted Jeremy and his team to help her alcoholic mother to stop having one night stands every night. Jeremy interviewed a tearful mature daughter about her mother’s escapades before announcing the mother and bringing her onto the stage. In walks this pensioner of 62 wearing a far too large sleeveless t shirt, which she then proceeds to raise above her head and give everyone a full frontal view of her naked breasts that were hanging down below her waist. She had no teeth, her face was very wrinkled, she wore no make up and obviously hadn’t shaved her legs in over a decade, but she was somehow able to have one night stands nearly every night after raising a few jars in the local of an evening. If that was my mother, rather than take her on national tv to broadcast her exploits to the world, I’d move to the other end of the country and change my name!

In the old days of Robert Kilroy Silk and Vanessa Feltz, when this type of tv show was a new concept, they discussed things, shared opinions and tossed ideas around but now it’s just ‘hop in, do a DNA test, into the next room for a lie detector and hop out again’. It’s boring now and we’re more than ready for either a change of tactic with these shows or a change of show altogether. These shows no longer stimulate my brain, they don’t make me think about how I’m living my life or whether I’m doing as good for myself as I could be. They just make me angry at my fellow man, embarrassed to be the same species as these numbskulls and sickened by how low my species can sink!