An Unnecessary Distraction.

Bad jokes about important things and a lot of less important things

Posts tagged coalition

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The irony of a blog complaining about oversharing.

When did sharing stop being a good thing and start being absolutely unnecessary and actually quite sinister? I mean, obviously in some ways sharing is still a good thing. No one likes the toddler who doesn’t want to share its toys; it’s always nice to share our opinions and experiences with friends; and sharing wealth by not letting certain members of society pay themselves obscene bonuses to stop them fleeing to hotter countries with more ‘forgiving’ taxation, keeps a whole population at a decent standard of living. Obviously that last one is a wildly misleading picture of British society, but you get the picture.

Yeah sharing’s generally alright. I don’t even have a real problem with the thoughts people share when their brains start leaking onto Tweets and Facebook statuses and the like (depressingly proven by the fact that I write this blog). There are studies that would beg to differ, but as far as I’m concerned, if you’re in control of it, then fair play. But why, for the LOVE OF GOD, has the introduction of Open Graph  to Facebook made what we read, listen to, watch, play, take photographs of, become something that is shared by default?

In the first instance, I object (by default) to involuntary oversharing, because I barely gave a shit about that Facebook status informing me what drink you bought at Starbucks. Or even your daily pregnancy updates. Well done! You can reproduce! Hooray for biology! I just ate lunch, where’s my praise? I digress. If I barely cared about the banalities you actually chose to broadcast online, why do I care about things that you used to do in the privacy of your own home; listening to music, watching TV and reading the trashy articles in broadsheet papers (don’t pretend you don’t, we ALL DO, and I’ve seen it on Facebook.)

While Charlie Brooker has given the social downfalls of having your every movement automatically broadcast a pretty good airing, the impact of having our activities shared on social networking sites paints a fairly bleak future not just for our privacy, but for our ability to actively share what we want with our friends. By passively sharing our activities and our interests for us, Open Graph software "[opens] the door to a horde of zombie posts that will overwhelm our interest and deaden us… to organic discovery". And where Open Graph social reader apps, also through their one-time inconvenience of ‘allowing’ them to access our information, create a barrier to the active spread of information in more ways than one, the opt-out nature of recent adjuncts to the Facebook franchise, illuminates a simultaneous barrier to our privacy.

And it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to translate these trends into government policy. The government recently voiced plans to monitor the calls, emails, texts and web visits of the UK population - despite pledging in the Coalition Agreement to end unnecessary data retention and restore our civil liberties - and this looks like a proposal we’re going to have to struggle to opt-out of. Labour tried to introduce a similar measure in their last term, which was similarly criticised - by both Conservative and LibDem MPs, funnily enough.

The full plans of the current coalition won’t be outlined until the Queen’s speech next month, and looks set to face incredible opposition from within the Coalition, but it’s an unnerving development nonetheless, worrying 94.2% Guardian readers, if not most of the British population. Maybe opt out of sharing your Spotify playlists while you still can? Or pre-emptively opt into the Coalition’s plans to ‘share’ our online activities, like me. I think I’d rather just cut to the chase and email my entire internet history to the Home Office myself, along with a list of all of the things I’ve done each day. With pictures and videos where possible (winky face).

On a different, but related note; speaking of oversharing (and it should be old news by now, so I’ll keep this brief instead of spending a whole piece on it), I’m still hearing joke after joke about Tulisa Contostavlos’ and her ‘sex tape’ (read: betrayal and gross invasion of privacy). I don’t really understand why, since they’re not getting any cleverer - they are generally variations on: “Tulisa is a slut LOL”. I’m not really sure where the jokes about the other ‘star’ of the tape are though – or are dick jokes only funny when we’re not actually laughing at them? Disappointing.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen the tape myself, and have no desire to, since it’s not actually my business any more than staring into my neighbours’ houses with my nose pressed against the window, or, perhaps phone hacking, is my business. I have seen Tulisa’s response though and I’ve decided that I think she’s amazing. “A threat to the traditional post-sex tape narrative, were the woman is quietly disgraced”, Tulisa’s unapologetic response reasserts that the shame lies not with her, but with her ex-boyfriend, who chose to use her sexuality in their relationship, as currency against her. And her decision to stand up for herself on her own terms, through her own YouTube channel and without the influence of an editor or a pay-cheque is refreshingly genuine. I’ll take a feminist moment wherever I can get it, and I’ve really only got good things to say about a woman who has been able to handle herself with such strength and self-respect in the wake of such exploitation. Takes a lot of gumption. I guess that’s where sharing things gets good again.

Filed under tulisa sex tape facebook sharing coalition snooping

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Is the Hunger Games something to do with the Pasty Tax?

I’m starting this with a confession: I don’t know what the Hunger Games is. For the past few weeks, I’ve been vaguely aware of this film coming out, that everybody already seemed to know about and be excited for, and I’d never flipping heard of it. I pretended, for a while, that I knew what all the fuss was about. And when I say that, I mean I nodded blithely along to conversations on the topic, and then forgot it existed until the next time I saw a Facebook status, or was drawn into another conversation about this terrifying enigma.

It’s probably necessary at this point to admit that I didn’t even come close to Googling The Hunger Games, and still haven’t, because I really don’t care all that much. That said, a couple of days ago I snapped a little and begged for answers - all I got was that The Hunger Games is a trilogy of books and there is now a film about it. Great. So I took the title literally, and assume that the books are about games where you are hungry if you lose.

I’ve also managed to gauge that the plot(s?) involve some sort of post apocalyptic battle for survival, which is always good fun, and pretty much fits my ‘games about being hungry’ assumption, and I think this is really where I made a breakthrough: The Hunger Games is about the Coalition! If we take a closer look at the past few weeks, it all makes perfect sense.

The introduction of 20% VAT on hot takeaways, after all the debate, outrage, and glamorous photoshoots, is actually neither the end of a tax anomaly, nor an unnecessary strain on a consumer population already under enormous financial pressure. It’s just one of the rules of the Hunger Games, you guys! Dave’s just introducing a bit of healthy competition to our lives, because it’s fun! It explains so much about why Dave and the Gang were so excited to bring a bit of ‘healthy’ competition to so many of our other things - like the NHS. I mean, fair enough the stakes of Cameron’s Hunger Games are pretty high, but just think of it as a return to classical Rome! Only instead of fighting lions to the death in an extravagant amphitheatre, for survival and gladiatorial pride, we’ll be fighting each other to death in the street on our lunchbreaks, over hot sandwiches and basic public services.

That’s where this fuel ‘crisis’ comes in too, I reckon. I mean, on the face of it, Francis Maude’s warnings that the mere threat of a fuel tanker drivers’ strike would threaten lives was an ideologically driven tool to isolate and break the unions and avert industrial action, as well as “Totally unnecessary, totally self-inflicted, and quite frankly, a bit of a mess”. But if you think about all this rationally, Maude only created the panic-buying in the first place to try and hype up the Hunger Games! It’s all so obvious now. Taking away the public’s ability to travel independently adds an extra element of the Coalition’s beloved competition to the Games - it’s all in good fun, honest. 

Well. All in good fun if you’re not actually competing, of course. If you’re a member of the feral elite whose attitudes manifest the rampantly materialism that has led to the inequality and aggressive individualism that characterise our Hunger Games, then you can sit back and enjoy the show! You’ll never have to enter the Colosseum. You just get to watch the rest of the populat-sorry - participants, turn on each other just to get by, safe in the knowledge that you don’t have to walk to Greggs for your overpriced lunch on your lunch hour, because the cafeteria in your office is serving up poached quails eggs with a side of grilled asparagus and a dressing of peasants’ tears today.

If you were thinking of drinking away the misery caused to you by a brutal competition for a cheap lunch while you’re working to avoid the repossession of your house, and the ability to maintain a mobile lifestyle, think again. With minimum alcohol prices set to rise above 40p per unit, you won’t even be able to partake in a comforting gin binge. Admittedly, as a postgraduate student without a loan, this probably hurts me more than most, but how else am I supposed to handle the nervous breakdown that will ensue when I graduate and a jobless reality deals me a bodypunch to the soul? That said, there is a get out of jail free card though, so at least theoretically we have a second chance to secure our own survival.

The pasty tax, granny tax (and just… the Budget), a minimum threshold for alcohol prices, and all this goddamn petrol panic buying are the rules of the game. If you can survive all that, you win, or something. But if not, you remain as one of the struggling, idiotic, panic-buying, rioting masses. And with higher education becoming more and more elusive, and even A Levels potentially becoming increasingly restricted to fit an already restricted University intake, we the players are going to find it harder and harder to get past these economic obstacles. No cheeky deals or cheats either guys, because the rulemakers will know about it; they’ll be reading your emails before long. There are no ladders in this game; only snakes. The odds for most of us in the Hunger Games just aren’t great.

So, if you lose these elusive ‘Hunger Games’, you are hungry/stranded/cold/uneducated/die. What is the prize if you win? Not just survival. Something better than that. Dinner with David Cameron. The chance to influence public policy! And the ability to perpetuate the Hunger Games for the next generation of bumbling proletariats that was unfortunate to be born into the same relatively unprivileged statuses as, well, us. I know I wrote about the inhumanity of this flawed and corrupt party financing system last week, but I see the point of it all now! It’s all part of the Hunger Games right? Right. It’s all about our feral elite.

By all means, correct me, since I still haven’t actually looked up what the Hunger Games actually is, but - am I close?


Filed under the hunger games pasty tax coalition fuel strikers panic buying apocalypse cameron