I’ve always had a non-obsessive interest in technology, how it changes stuff, and what new stuff you can do with it. I was the kind of kid who went into Dixons on a Saturday and programmed all the Spectrum and Commodore computers to display “Dixons is shit” in big letters across the screen. (Proving even then that a little technological know-how is a dangerous thing.) And while I never talk about technology or its effects on this blog (why would I when I have a beach-based self-defense system to promote), the fact that I had a blog in 2006 is a product of my interest and desire to play with new stuff and see how it feels to have a little test drive.
And early on I saw this stuff – the blogs, the Tweets, the social media - as having a positive net effect on the world. I saw it in my own experience, and what I saw happening around me. I made new friends. I did new stuff. I experienced and expressed things in ways I could not have experienced and expressed them before, and it felt, intellectually and emotionally at least, nourishing and worthwhile.
I don’t hold that view anymore. It feels like the unquestioned promotion of new/social media as somehow inherently positive or good is misguided and logically queer. And if you work in my line of work, you get pretty bored pretty quickly by the charlatans proclaiming that everything is now somehow different. Who talk about old worlds and new worlds. Who only see the world and human behavior through the lens of technology. That’s a boring and narrow view that ignores too much.
I try not to let this skepticism become cynicism. That would be wrong. I still want to remain open to the joy I felt turning those Spectrum computers against Dixons. That sense of responsibility when I realised someone actually read this blog. So I stay open. I keep playing with this stuff. I try to balance my skepticism with a curiosity about change. But it doesn’t nourish me in the same way it used to.
That is, until it does again.
This is the first year a large proportion of the people I know. Know well. Know a little. Know only in passing. Are on Instagram. It’s theirs and my first proper Instagram Christmas together. Instagram demands we look at the world and ask ourselves what image should we share, what’s worth capturing, saving, or savouring. And it’s lovely to see that being done for the first time at Christmas. All the way over in India I can see those moments that matter, if only a little. The final day of work. The last minute shopping. The drive home. That rainy drive home. The wreaths on doors. The family and friends you’ve all missed most. The dog. The bloody dogs and cats. And the decorations – ordinary stuff made special. And it’s a delight I was not expecting. Maybe it’s because I love Christmas. I don’t know. All I do know is I’m looking forward to having my own Christmas celebration here tomorrow and then enjoying some of the special moments from everyone else’s. I’m guessing it’s going to be hats and turkeys, and maybe shit jumpers. Even the skeptic in me feels like this is all a good thing.
So happy Christmas, everyone – take lots of pictures.