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Friday, 24 September 2010

Life is a Minestrone

I think I'm going to ditch my Facebook account. Now everytime I go on line I get annoyed with the nonsense that my friends and relatives find to put there. It's a bit like my aversion to the mobile phone: but, if it's possible, worse.

Why, oh why do people have to tell me that they've been late for work, or they have the sniffles, or their little darling popped his pants this morning?

If this is Internet 2, I'll keep my dial up and 32 MB of hard drive. If this is social networking it's taking place in a lunatic asylum.

My half sister has just sent me this."Here is a Beeswax for your farm in FarmVille. This gift expires on October 3, 2010 so be sure to accept it fast! Could you help me by sending a gift back?". I tried Farmville; it's insane, childish and a waste of brain power. What is a 40 something woman, with two teenage kids and a diplomat husband doing wasting time sending me ( and no doubt a zillion other suckers) this nonsense.

I can't deny that Twitter and Facebook can marshal public opinion and raise awareness on a wide range of important subjects (I just can't think of any sensible ones at the moment). But for every one of those there are hundreds of inanities zapping across the void (between people's ears). 

The puritan in me suspects that rather than getting on working at their desks my "friends" are tweeting, texting or Facebooking and sometimes all at the same time.

Do we have to be distracted all the time: what's wrong with silence, thinking, being motionless? Why all this aimless activity?

On Wednesday, my wife was barged out of the way by a fellow pedestrian. She complained that my wife was walking too slowly! I have no idea where the woman was going but I wonder if by the time she arrived there she wasn't in any fit state to do anything such was her impatience and annoyance.

I resent having to be the one who moves out of the way when a pedestrian approaches me. If I don't they'll barge into me - since they've their heads down doing something with their mobile. Earlier this week I swear I was the only person in a crowded street not looking at a phone.

Blogging's just as bad; although I rationalise my obsession as it being a diary substitute: doesn't really work that, since I can never remember what I was doing the day I blogged.

Our cats have the right idea. Hours of inactivity, interspersed with purposeful industriousness - eating, fighting and purring.  


Anonymous said...

The samurai and Zen master Miyamoto Musashi said 'do nothing that is of no use'.

Most of my time is not spent in a useful way and I think this is true of almost everyone. Even just surviving is in itself of dubious value. I think Farmville is an easy target, yeah, it's so obviously a narrow, pointless activity that one feels a yawning of ennui, but I am not at all sure that it is a whole order more stupid than the average career. When one looks back at a 'serious' person like Julius Caesar one wonders what it all really amounted to in the end and whether it was worth it at all.

He would have satisfied his urge to win at games without killing anyone had he got hooked on Farmville.

When you see that time is being wasted you have to turn around and ask, 'what does it mean to not waste time?' I think the usual reflex answers to this question are unsatisfactory.

Barry Coidan said...

I am in awe of Caesar, and find it hard to imagine that he had any time to do anything "useless". He and Alexander the G point to what can be achieved - albeit in a rather bloody manner.

Caesar would own all the farms by now if he'd come across "Farmville".

Isn't it reassuring to realise that in the final analysis nothing really matters?

Prospero summed it up nicely: "We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

Less cheering,Macbeth had his own take on life. "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing."

Pretty depressing stuff, but he's a Scot and had just lost his wife and seen a forest walk!

As those great philosophers, Godley and Creme, put it so succinctly "Life is a Minestrone served up with parmesan cheese."

Anonymous said...

But what did Caesar and Alexander achieve? They were just tyrants. History says that they brought civilisation only because they wrote it. Ever watch 'Terry Jones's Barbarians'?

Barry Coidan said...

You are joking aren't you? Even if Caesar wrote it "The Gallic Wars" is impressive as a piece of writing and as a military campaign.

He might have invaded Gaul to pay off his huge political campaign debts and to further his career; but as an example of endeavour, organisation and sheer energy it's quite staggering.

Alexander, by the time most modern kids have left uni, had defeated Darius, stormed Egypt, beat up the Afghans, and had a go at taking the Indras valley.

Again, all rather bloody but the sheer scale of his conquest is awe inspiring.

By contrast Napoleon - who saw himself as a latter day Alexander was a gnat on the backside of an elephant.

Anonymous said...

Is that achievement? I think you missed my point. I just feel it may be a hollow achievement. No better than Farmville. Probably worse. Don't you wish Hitler got hooked on Farmville? You know, if he'd won we'd now be talking admiringly of his 'great achievements'...