I bought the Sunday Times this week, just to see if I’d made the right decision in not buying it (or any of the weekend papers) for the past year. I had.
There was a page this Sunday – a full page – about a woman who doesn’t wear shoes. Sum total of insight gleaned: ‘People in Sheffield barely mention it.’
The Sunday Times sells 850,000 copies. This means, end to end, this woman’s shoeless non-story could paper a trail from here to Northampton.
Perhaps she’d care to walk it.
But all of this is as nothing compared to the internet.
The world built by the Internet is the Director’s Cut of the world. A long, self-indulgent box set of superfluous tweets enlightening us with:‘Just got into the office. It’s bloody freezing!’. Or facebook posts saying ‘I’m so blessed. I love my children and my customers.’ Or ‘I’ve just had a meeting so good I accidentally jizzed on the powerpoint.’ Or a picture of a cocktail. You know the stuff.
You know what the internet – and by extension social media – needs more of?
What are we to do with it all? What are we to do when we fool ourselves into thinking half an hour spent flicking down our Twitter stream is us: the top of the food chain, at the top of our game? Or, for that matter, half a day’s self righteous indignation, screaming into the void?
I’ve talked before about moments lost to digital entrapment. But I’ve not, really, changed anything. Not really twigged that the empty calories of sucking in other people’s moments equates to anything, at all.
So this is the year I’m going to do less. Less prevaricating, less timeline kerb-crawling. But work harder at making time count. Making things. Doing things. All of which means that SevenStreets will be writing less, writing slower, but hopefully better*. Less posts about a new cocktail menu or club night. We’re taking stock and asking: what can we, really, add to the some total of words already released into the wild? Another worthy piece about culture in crisis? Er, probably not.
I remember thinking, when Lou Reed died, (after feeling sad, but not too long after) ‘oh God, here come the blog posts…’
And boy did they come. The facebook platitudes and the RIP wars. Laurie Anderson, Reed’s wife, said everything that needed to be said. But that didn’t stop us breathlessly offloading, sharing, liking and adding to the mound of stuff.
That thing – that thing you’ve just done? The world probably doesn’t need to know. You don’t wear shoes? Great. Go do a jig on broken glass in your entry, but keep it to yourself, yeah?
If we all edited ourselves, spent less time getting angry about imaginary wars, imagine how much more fun life would be. We’d find out about new stuff faster, we’d have more time to see our loved ones, explore the world, start that ‘teach yourself Finnish’ course.
It’s another reason why I stopped the Almanac. I was running out of ideas. Sure, I could fill it with press releases, but why waste everyone’s time?
It’s easy to say there’s too many Costa Coffees, too many cars, too many choices – harder for those of us who churn out words to admit that we’re adding to it. Now.
Michael Lopp, aka Rands, says it: “You’re fucking swimming in everyone else’s moments, likes, and tweets and during these moments of consumption you are coming to believe that their brief interestingness to others makes it somehow relevant to you and worth your time.”
Today, I got invited to join the Beta of a new social media site: Betterific. A crowd-sourced clusterfuck of bright, well meaning people, sharing their killer ideas to pimp up the stuff around them. It sounds like something the PR girl from Twenty Twelve would have dreamed up. But no, it’s real.
‘Wouldn’t it be great if toilets had pedals, like pedal bins, so you wouldn’t have to touch the seat,’ offers one Betterificer, as a gift – unbidden – to the world.
‘Wouldn’t it be great if Wotsits came with chopsticks’ says another.
“We are Betterific, a site that tries to improve your daily life. Think of Betterific as a place to share and discover great ideas. It is a blank canvas where you can try to improve anything, and we rally behind the creative ideas that can make products great,” says their representative on Earth. “As a social media lover, we’d be honored to have you as an early adopter!”
“Wouldn’t it be great if you walked to Northampton with no shoes, starting now?” I offer, in return.
Let’s not make more. Let’s make better. Let’s fight less.
I’ve said way too much already.
*this isn’t a legally binding contract.