Press the “Relative Indifference” button

We have a new website. It is not very grand and when we have some more money we will get something more elaborate, one that will make you a cup of tea, tickle you gently under the chin and sing the hits of Aerosmith to to you in an alluring falsetto. But for now you’ll have to make do with a photo of Jimmy and me looking like we REALLY want to be in a band and some embedded videos of stuff you’ve probably already seen. If you haven’t then hasten over there right now and have a watch. Some of it is quite good.

But remember when you watch Stuart and Kate  – KATE DOES NOT EXIST. Thanks. It probably could have been clearer in the film.

Now of course when doing anything online these days you have to have a “social media strategy”. We now have a lovely woman doing this for us. She is called Nat (hello Nat) and she is the one behind  both the Long Arm Twitter account and the Facebook page. Nat recently went to Canada and spent some time gadding around wearing snow shoes. This makes her officially a good thing.

And so we are forced to join the fug of electronic noise bouncing around the planet in order to tell people who are mildly interested that we are making a film. To not do so would be putting ourselves at a significant disadvantage and as long as we have someone as supremely competent as Nat at the helm (of our metaphorical social media ship which, bizarrely, is shaped like a modest willy) then those that subscribe will receive only relevant and diverting material.

I am on Twitter. Is “on” the right word? It makes it sound like a drug. Which for some it may be. I am rubbish at Twitter. Those that follow me do so out of pity mostly. I used to agonise over crafting subtle, arch and ever-so-pointed tweets that I hoped would be pinged around the world like a million tiny parcels of my god-damned genius. It never happened. The most retweets I ever received was three when I oh-so-brilliantly called George Osborne a posh, self-serving wanker. Which he is. But it wasn’t worth repeating. When I was first “on” (in? amongst? beneath?) Twitter I tweeted etymologies of interesting words that I had found in a slightly obscure book secretly hoping that logophiles and Guardian readers would flock to my account and be so wowed by my diverse and witty observations that they’d tell their friends who read the Independent and little by little, floral print by floral print, I’d accrue the numbers of followers enjoyed by Pegg and Fry and then I would lead my new army to VICTORY OVER THE IGNORANT. And there I’d be in my new palace made of gold and poor people, my face on a massive painting like Kim Jong-Un, passing down decrees about spelling and Bill Murray.

Again, no one was interested. So if you do decide to “follow” me then be warned, it is no fun. Unless you like plugs for Long Arm stuff  or potty-mouthed insults of the government, particularly the odious Michael Gove.

Oh goodness, I can’t allude to North Korea without thinking of this. Utter genius.

And as for Facebook. What can you say about Facebook? Actually the Guardian today said that it was shedding users like a balding man sheds hairs. Although not quite in those terms. We all know Facebook is evil don’t we? We all know that we’ve essentially entered into a Faustian pact, albeit a rubbish one because we don’t get unlimited knowledge and pleasure we just get to look at that bloke from school who you didn’t like very much getting drunk in a tedious nightclub. And then getting married to someone who is not very pretty. And yet we all offer up our souls willingly.

I saw a tweet recently (see, I am addicted too) which went something like this: celebrate the joy and wonder of your friends brining a child into the world by repeatedly “liking” their photos on Facebook! And we all do it. And then post photos ourselves. And pretend that we don’t care about the numbers of “likes” we gather but secretly keep a spreadsheet with in-depth analysis. If I post a picture of my (admittedly beautiful) son, the “likes” go off the scale. When we first announced that we’d made a short film I think I had about three. Not that it matters. But Facebook sort of pretends that it does and then I DO start to care and that really, really bothers me.

And then there is the LIKE button itself. What an invention. I realise that complaining that Facebook is reductive is akin to leaping into a river and complaining that you’ve got wet. But that won’t stop me complaining. It is binary thinking: yes or no, good or bad, LIKE or ignore. There is no room for nuance. I’d like a “HMMMM, THAT’S QUITE GOOD” button or a “WOW! HE’S GOT OLD” button or a “RELATIVELY INDIFFERENT” button. We are complex, subtle and changeable as a species and the LIKE button reduces us to the level thoughtless drones with a stick taped to our forehead hammering one of the two very large buttons on the desk in front of us. We are digital woodpeckers, but with a lot more flesh. And wind.

Ionesco’s play “Rhinoceros” may not have been an allegory of Nazism after all. From this perspective he seems to have foreseen the age of media; technology that purports to collectivise but in reality atomises us and makes us think that we are more important than anyone else.

And I am one just like all the rest.

That said it is useful for telling people that I have written more of this nonsense and for that I am grateful. Hypocritical to the point of crisis but grateful. I am delighted that so many people have been reading my recent wonderings and drivel but promise to write more about the film we are making when I have something of interest to say. Honestly I will try.

But if by any chance you do like what you’ve read on this blog, be a poppet and pass it on would you?

Maybe even press LIKE. (I am clearly keeping count)

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