Humans I

This one is a departure, it’s a guest post, the first of two written by Andrew Jordan, aka @speedcheese on Twitter and as food blogger (seemingly retired) @fridayfood. Andrew is a technology evangelist, extremely serious cyclist and proper culinary expert.

I should point out that my utterly fabulous team are about as un Brent like as it is possible to be.

Andrew always comments challengingly and amusingly here. For this and the next post it is over to him.

“It’s taken me a week to decide, as Anthony’s guest blogger, what to write about. Of course, I have reviewed several examples of our vernacularly jousting for an inkling of what makes Hampshire Man tick but all I came up with was a distinct feeling that:

a) he doesn’t like work very much,
b) he doesn’t like the internet very much, and
c) he has a dog.

Now, clearly that is somewhat career-constraining, especially if you wish to pursue a job with an internet. Thankfully, he doesn’t and, thanks to me, he follows an altogether more traditional career living in a Brent-esque enclave surrounded by far too many people who are busy doing not enough about very little.

I digress. Anthony makes some very serious points about human behaviour and the way in which, owing largely to an internet (there – said it again), technology, and a society obsessed by telling itself about itself, we are at risk of declining into losing all sense of where we are, why we are there and, above all, who we are with and why we want to be with them. It’s all very confusing.

I write this as I am fired in a steel tube at 600mph across a large stretch of salty water. Reflecting over the past few days that I have spent with our portly and somewhat overly-confident brethren, I realise that their society has not quite found sanctuary in such frivolous yet pithy online intercourse. Yes, they Facebook (vb.), Tweet, Pin and Link like the best of them yet, when it comes to work and home life, they clearly value the basics of human social interaction. They go to sport together. A lot. They talk. They eat together (not each other, for the most part). They like being sociable. They talk. They like to see humans in the flesh. They’re happy to shake your hand. They ask how you are. They don’t really mind what you’re wearing, nor why you’re there, although they really like your accent, as long as you’re British. They smile at you, and not because you’ve done something wrong.

Yet it is “they” (I love “they” – it is so useful) who invented Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Foursquare and MySpace. Somehow they’ve managed to do that without losing sight of the faculties that your friendly local deity entrusted you with when you were sloshing around in the womb.

I like the fact that Anthony has kept Amazon’s hard copy department afloat by researching this whole area on our behalf. I’m sure Carlos The Forester from Peru is most chuffed that another acre of his woodland has just been chopped down by, rather ironically, a company called Amazon. But there’s no replacing the fact that, despite some very clever people with some very clever names having come up with some very clever things to say, it actually ends up with me, sat in a bar, with Jim-Bob and Billy talking about the LA Lakers. That has more meaning, with less technology, and with more sincerity, than anything you will find in your local Facebook. In the office, the same is true. People come to see me. They don’t phone. They don’t email. They don’t try and contact me using an internet. They simply come to my office and say “hi, how ya doin’ “.

And you know what ? I love it.”

I hope you enjoyed this, Andrew is like that in real life 🙂

Humans II follows soon.


4 thoughts on “Humans I

  1. I quite enjoyed Liking this post, I especially enjoyed the email from WordPress accusing me of narcissism that followed.

    My ramblings this year on the topic have been a pursuit of balance, a long head scratching exercise. 

    The Internet is amazing. Yesterday it took me 3 minutes to turn a small charitable effort (collecting winter clothes for those in need) that was being run by people in one building in London, into an activity that will be joined by TR people right across London (for now). 

    On the other hand, the Internet is a distraction machine. I used to be awful and I still wobble, but I tend to leave my phone in my pocket when I am with other people these days.

    As to social media, I used that in the example I gave above. Add a purpose and it is awesome. 

    Over all I find it dilutes, homogenises and trivialises us. I am happy to play but not live there. Not until the pathetic toys we currently have are better designed and allow us to be complicated.

    Don’t set me off on privacy, ownership and control 🙂

  2. I too have mixed feelings about the Internet in particular and technology in general. Mostly I love it and appreciate the (brave?) new world it has opened up. Now I can travel to China, chat to a friend in Australia and digest more knowledge than my small brain can take in, all without leaving my armchair.

    But tonight I am entertaining (sweetbreads with black pudding and girolles; pigeon au petit pois a la francais; iced lemon mousse; cheese selection – for fridayfood’s information!) and I am looking forward to the sort of social intercourse that the Internet does not provide. A balance then, for those of us who can easily move from the keyboard to the kitchen to the pub. I am more concerned about the next generation for whom social intercourse IS the Internet in large part. I hope they will tire of their smartphones, tablets and webcams and smell the roses from time to time.

  3. I admit to being rather pleased that my oddball ramblings have found their way onto the hallowed pages of this treatise on an internet. As I alluded to above, I have just returned from a week in the US and, despite taking all manner of gadgetry, most of which had “4G” emblazoned on them somewhere (which, I am told, is not Simon Cowell’s new manufacturband) I actually found myself leaving my phone back in my hotel when I went out for dinner. Conversation flowed, and for once I was not distracted every two minutes by photos of babies (anyone connected to a Facebook will know what I’m talking about).

    Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good internet from time to time. It can be hugely fulfilling, informative, challenging, upsetting, exhilarating and tedious all at the same time. Well, unless you’re on the Daily Mail’s website, in which case you can exclude all the above except the last. But to Mary’s last point, here’s an interesting observation. My kids have grown up in a world where they’ve never not had an internet. In fact they had email addresses at the age of 6. But they converse with their friends more using the spoken word than I probably do with mine (other than in the pub). And not only when they visit each other’s houses, but using Skype, Facetime and the good ol’ fashioned GrahamBellophone. In fact they like talking to each other, even if the topics simply rotate between Hollister, Jessie (TV Show) and make-up. The fact they can see each other while they’re conversing is a bonus but one they thoroughly enjoy. And that’s being powered by a good ol’ fashioned internet.

    So all is not lost people. We can be happy that our children will not evolve without mouths and with QWERTY fingers. And, when the time comes, they can join me down the pub – without their mobile phones.

  4. I have the privilige of having seen Andrew’s next post.  It too poses a challenge.  The answer though is similar. Don’t be constrained by any medium (in this case technology, in the next post, work) be your glorious weird self. Re invent at will.

    A year ago I was concerned that the we were not challenging ourselves on these topics and sleep walking into a diluted existance.  One in which Friendship was levelled by clumsy design denying me the vast spectrum of the delicious and dysfunctional complexity of being human, my expression reduced to Likes, my attention consumed by the constant pursuit of meaningless dopemine shots, my self reduced to something that failed the Turing Test, a fabulous irony.

    I still see this, but I think the questions are being asked and social protocols emerging that are balanced.  

    In the same way that it is now generally considered crass to bray into your phone, say on a train, I see fewer phones in restaurants and at dinner parties. 

    As Andrew says, I also see kids who grew up with it all slottting it into a range of tools.  My kids play sports and socialise endlessly. The phone rings often in our house too. I am sure the internet plays a big part. 

    I really enjoy other people too. Especially dinner parties.

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