Monthly Archives: July 2013

E.T.A

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I saw this picture on Tumblr this evening. Something inside me lit up, with emotions that had already passed. The two images put together, both are iconic in themselves. Now they are two sets of memories and lifetimes pasted together in a way that actually tricks the mind.

WHOEVER DID THIS PICTURE, you’re cool, man.

FU FB

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Seriously people, Facebook. How much more will this phenomenon be allowed to grow? If (God forbid) you don’t have a Facebook account, it’s as if you automatically become a second class citizen; suddenly you are odd, or some sort of outsider. You end up missing a lot of information, or big events, that you then only hear about weeks later when somebody who does have Facebook mentions it. This is usually followed by a response such as, oh you must get on Facebook, you’ll miss everything.

Of course ‘everything’ extends as far as what your friend’s day has been like, and what their friend’s mum’s work friend did last week. Thrown in are a couple of event invitations or people’s parties that suddenly seem to depend on your citizenship of FB country to be entitled to attend; if you don’t have FB you better make sure your (real) friend does and that they tell you about that event (if you even care).

It’s been around nine months since I deactivated my FB account. I actually had every intention of reactivating it afterwards as the reason I did it was very minor. But then after it was gone (again) something inside me decidee to not reactivate it. The first week became two, which became three and four. I’d often find my thumb float toward the blue ‘F’ on my iPhone, but then I’d resist and tell myself to persevere; always just wondering how long I could go for.

Then after a month, I started to forget. I got many “why aren’t you on FB any more?”s, some people asking me on multiple occasions, trying to encourage me to go back on. The months went on, becoming six, when I couldn’t believe it had actually been six months. This second ‘world’, where everybody’s lives were interconnected and looked at by everybody, which is what the citizenship granted access to, that I’d been a part of for five years or more or more, wasn’t a part of me any more. I wasn’t constantly on view to anybody who wanted to look, good or bad, friend or foe. I was no longer at risk of criminalising myself because I mentioned something a little controversial or ‘illegal’. My employer could no longer use my profile to catch me out if I’d been out the night before (whether I showed up or not). My ex girlfriends or ‘others’ couldn’t see who I was talking to, or who I’d been tagged in a photo with.

The FB universe became far too big, enabling access to too much of our personal lives. True, I found some family in Australia there and I got back in contact with my closest (in childhood) cousin. But it was sad that FB is how I found out he had become a Dad, and saw his baby for the first time. The world of social networking in the purely ‘social’ sense has changed what life, love, family and friendship are all about.

So anyway, it’s been nine months without FB and there are parts I miss and parts I don’t. Personally my privacy and security are far more important than social network relationships that I should be having in real life are. In real life, you have to make the effort to call or text- even texting these days seems to be becoming obsolete. And then you have to make the effort to go out and see the special people in your life, to maintain contact with them and sustain your relationship. Not forgetting the risks from the Government no longer imposed by the citizenship when you do withdraw.

Maybe one day I’ll go back, start a fresh slate. That’s if they haven’t already taken over the world and we are all branded with the blue ‘F’ as we march single file down some cyber current.

Oink.

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I thought the days of being called names, laughed at or visually compared to an animal were left behind when I left school. Now here I am, eight years later suffering the same verbal and mental abuse all over again. And just last month somebody anonymously messaged  me on Tumblr  asking me to get a nose job.

Since the age of about eleven, I have been made aware that I’m not all that to look at face-on. But I grew and I learned to accept the fact that there is nothing I can do about it. But it in no way reflects my personality. If I walked around every day being mean to people or being selfish or hurting others then I would understand and accept I am an ugly person. But I’m not an ugly person.

Luckily for me, when I was a teenager at the peak of my self awareness and zero self esteem, I was clever enough to understand that school is just like that, kids don’t understand or care as much.

So all of a sudden all these hang ups that I’ve had to carry around since day, are brought back to the surface in the most embarassing and esteem-destroying ways. And all that confidence that I worked so hard to build up gets torn right down again.

The world is so obsessed with external appearance that not one of us (unless we have reached complete enlightenment) cannot start every day without feeling even just a tad self-conscious.

Is my hair OK? Do I have a fat ass? I have a big nose. I have spots (or even just a spot). I’m too fat. I’m too thin. I have hairy arms. I’m ugly.

The list of personal hang-ups is of course endless, but they are created by the external reality around us and people’s obsession with image. What even is image? It’s just a reflection in our  external reality. Why don’t people think more about our internal reality; the brain; the mind? Because that’s where we really exist.

Materialist Guilt

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I find my own stupidity astounding sometimes. Inside my head I am fully aware of what is right and wrong. But not only that, on my quest to find inner peace, I am beginning to learn some hard lessons about life and the path to inner peace.

For about four months now I have been filled with a senseless longing to own a tablet, or some form of device that will make my writing and blogging life easier than it is on my iPhone. Originally I was set on the Surface RT, imminently drawn in the flashy, colourful keyboard attachment and its enchanting ‘click’ sound.

My dad has said he would try to get me one for my birthday in June, if his finances could allow it.

I continued to research the market and also went to PC World to get a feel for the Surface. Didn’t like it much when I got there. And it was most definitely overpriced. But then none of the others appealed to me either, except for the ultra swanky convertible laptops, starting from about £900 (with the lamest battery life I ever saw, might I add).

Anyway, at the risk of this turning into a tablet review, to cut a long story short my dad couldn’t get me a tablet for my birthday. Instead though, he got me one of the most thoughtful gifts ever; a HAMMOCK from Spain whilst he was on holiday. I was quite shocked that he knew me that well. As far as to actually purchase me one, anyway.

Had nowhere to hang it, until yesterday when he decided to take a trip to Ikea to complete the gift and buy me a stand for it. It’s now in the garden, swinging carefree in the surprising 2013 summer we are enjoying.

Well, as I sat there swinging in the glorious sunshine, reading a book and feeling the heat on my skin, I felt a feeling of pure… satisfaction? Well, it was peace is what it was. Real inner peace.

So what did I go and do? I went out and bought a Surface when the sun had gone in. I wanted to complete the most perfect day, by swinging in my hammock with the tablet I’d longed for for so long. Even though I now had  damn HAMMOCK.

I mean, how stupid can on person be? Not only that, I feel so hugely guilty to my dad now, after he made so much effort rigging up the hammock and buying it in the first place. I feel like giving him the tablet, because I think he likes it more than I do anyway.

I’m a prick. But last night I learned my lesson. It was as if Soc was with me, telling me I’ve learned a hard lesson today.

It wasn’t enough that my iPhone screen smashed, no. I still didn’t learn the lesson to enjoy what I do have and not think about what I don’t.

But damn, now I have a hammock and a tablet. A tablet with a keyboard and office. If I don’t make use out of this infernal machine, writing-wise, I really don’t know what is next for me.

GTA and Our Favourite Cartel King Pin: Society’s Forced and Voluntary Consumption of Organised Crime

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Meet Joaquin Guzman Loera, AKA ‘El Chapo’. If you haven’t already heard of him, he is head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Mexican’s biggest and most powerful Cartel. He is also one of the most notorious criminals of the 21st Century, and America’s Most Wanted Man, trafficking billions of dollars worth of illegal stuffs to and from Mexico- and worldwide- every year.

Now meet Michael, a fictional character in the newest addition to the Grand Theft Auto franchise, GTA 5. Michael is 1 of 3 main protagonists in the new game; a millionaire retired gangster, who in the game is trying to move away from the illicit dealings and gang warfare that earned him his fortune.

In the apprehensive and exciting run-up the release of GTA V (UK September 17th), I cannot resist a look at the comparisons between the number 1 selling franchise, and our everyday real life society. Even whilst this article was in draft, I was sitting in a cafe in South East London the other day, and two guys behind me were debating the ‘effects’ of GTA on society.

Forbes Magazine and El Chapo

The sort of notoriety and street fame of real life Organised Crime Syndicates ever-present in GTA are merely a homage to the real life extremities witnessed in everyday media. It isn’t just GTA that is guilty of glamorising the gangsters- the same notoriety is built up by high-end critics and magazines too. In November 2011, El Chapo was placed on Forbes Magazine’s list of the World’s Richest People, with a net worth of over $1 billion. Yes, that’s billion! He also placed #55 on the list of World’s Most Powerful People. With his name printed boldly across Forbes Magazine, he is given a certain notoriety only this magazine could provide.

Not only that, El Chapo is not just a Drug Lord: earlier this year he was declared Public Enemy Number 1, a title last used almost a century ago for Al Capone during alcohol prohibition. Now that is pretty cool, anybody has to admit.

Such well-run, successful criminal organisations are constantly portrayed in Grand Theft Auto; the Italian Mafia, the Mexican Cartel, the Japanese Yakuza. All of these criminal organisations have been going for years, and they are only getting stronger. In addition, the storylines, characters and location settings have been cleverly emulated and recreated in the series constantly: Liberty City (NYC), Los Santos (LA), Vice City (Miami). And all of our characters started from the bottom and ended up at the Top. Not only in Gangsterland, but in the all the Land, because in Gangsterland, you OWN the land. And when you complete the game, the ‘fictional’ world is your oyster.

You only had to massacre other gang members and members of the public to get there.

The chilling reality is, this is behaviour and crime that can be witnessed plainly all over the world. If we look at Mexico, for example, endless documentaries show us dusty streets littered with dead bodies; victims of gangland crime. And the citizens have become almost desensitised by the violence, as it is literally an everyday occurrence. GTA emulates the everyday horrors caused by organised crime, and each new mission leaves us as players hunger for more power and achievement in a ‘fictional’ city filled with sin and corruption.

Of course we mustn’t forget the if not more chilling realistic portrayal of people who are supposedly the ‘good guys’ in the real world: Lawyers, civil servants, Judges and Government officials. In a corrupt society, images of these figures in the GTA games serve well to remind us just why our criminal protagonists are able to get away with as much as they do.

We all know how to evade the clutches of the law when you’re witnessed throwing a hand grenade into a crowd of pedestrians: As long as you pay them enough, you walk out of the police station a free man.

And not forgetting on the occasion you might manage to escape the law, but almost blow your arm off in the process: You pay the Doctors a tidy sum, and they stitch you up and send you on your way. No more Police Stars on your back.

For a game that has in preceding years received vast negative coverage due to its ‘violence and graphic content’, it’s almost amusing to ponder further why, after so much analysis, the critics/ protestors do not see the exact same thing that is forced upon them and their children by the mass media every day. Whether it be in the form of a TV news report, a Tweet, a YouTube video gone viral, or a newspaper article. The gangsters, corruption and their world are free for all to witness, and are hauntingly real.

I love the bikini chick taking a selfie on her familiar mobile device

I love the bikini chick taking a selfie on her familiar mobile device

On a final note, it may be worth asking, what does this really mean for our society on a whole? The two guys in the cafe had differing opinions, but if we put aside all the ‘negative effects of video games on young audiences’ thesis, etc etc, and think about how these terrible crimes portrayed in video games are already being lived out in real life, it gets pretty deep. The inspiration for the guys at Rockstar has to come from somewhere, and my personal opinion is society need to stop looking at the effects of these games, and instead think about the reality of them.

The return result of googling GTA

The return result of googling GTA and Mexican Cartel

The Smashing of the IPhone Screen

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It finally happened to me today. Since the culture of the iPhone (and smartphone) began, I’ve always felt the smashing of the screen is imenent one day.

So it happened today. Right after I finish work on one of the most beautiful days of July at 6pm, and smashhh iPhone bye bye. Of course it still works, so happens I’m typing on there now. But the screen is f00ked. Actually thin I’m getting tiny glass particles in my fingers.

I absolutely love the engineering put into the iPhone. It’s body is so sleek and a joy to behold and look at, but the glasss. Such a risk and downer. And the fact that the whole phone continues to work AFTER the drop, too.

Oh well. I’ve been indecisive about getting a new phone (thinking of Samsung?!), but actually feels like I’m being shown to appreciate what I have, and not what I don’t have.