Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Sitting Bum - Flaming Horror

I try to get up from this screen, I really do. 
I try to turn it off - surely I've finished with it: I log out of my networks, close down the applications, reopen mail to check mail one last time and shut down.  I shut the lid only to lift it again to do the very next thing .  .  .  to write this piece, as it happens. 
With a laptop I don't have to sit back down again in that room, on that chair, or go anywhere.   I don't have to find it; my laptop is with me - available, portable, wifi-ed, ethernetted if desperate, in my bag about my person - all the time. 
Women organise life by their own timetables while men have never been so tyrannised by wife as by wifi, and this, a gender-centric observation is born from desperation.  Crying for help doesn't mean you'll get any but we're all being out-competed by our computers: Mesdames, come and help here. 
Why women should bother is another matter or course, but men never really understand why women bother so much with men anyway.  Self interest, men suppose; I mean, I wouldn't bother one second about another bloke unless, (a) he supports WHU, (b) he is going to either give me a job or do one for me, or, (c ) to misquote Douglas Adams, 'absolutely nothing else'. 
My boss is a woman and she supports WHU. 
'WHU?'  I do know; it's footie - a soccer team, and I don't care even if Barack Obama does follow them, but I bother about my computer - all of the time. 
Not to mention now.  Writing this is on my laptop is symptomatic of my dependence. 
If this is breaking out of jail, tunneling back in is the best I can do.  Smart eh. 
Good moves Man.  Cool, and while I'm on it, it's online and I can shop. 
I can work and conference.  Email, what a drag - text, but far more letters and fewer fax.  No fewer phonecalls. 
My old fashioned, full blooded live chums communicate with me this way as do my parents and children. 
I have new friends online in professional networks, social nings and dating .  .  .  tempted, I join a new group and find 'friends' on arrival, linked in from other networks they're on or I am. 
I do my banking and pay my bills.  I watch my stock free-fall and this is how I'd sell, if I should sell it, or more likely when I have to .  .  .  if there's any value left there.  This is how I bought stock and should be buying more, now, as the market falls in the old faith of risings to come. 
Oh shit. 
Anyways, [adv., pl., p.t.] I bought my holidays, books and music, booked my working trips, arranged the itineraries, saw the hotel poolside, my next car or sofa or computer virtually on this very screen. 
I sell my 'art' from this self same screen, and when I've finished worrying work, assets and tax; working family and friends real and virtual, finished with that and want to do something else .  .  .  to listen to music or the radio, to watch t.v. or a movie, book a ticket, play a game, reserve a seat; I roam around a bit to stretch my legs, massage my calfs and remember I'm a biped not a sitting bum; then it's back at the screen to relax. 
Relaxed and ready to work again, I stay put to write, to draw, print, to order the gear and arrange transport. 
I'm struggling to turn off my computer and there's so little reason to.  Everything I want is on it so why turn it off, why do I want to, what else am I looking for?  Country walks?  Sex? 
Er .  .  .  yes, food too, and virtuality suddenly seems such bollocks; horseshit if you're North American.
Laptop Lunches
VirtualNora wrote to all her network friends, stricturing us, 'When there is a will there is away'. 
It's a typo of course, I stick up for my mates, even the virtual friends in social networks where we sit safe in our smug profiles; or, is it vice versa, smug in our safe profiles; okay, sit safely smug in our smuggly safe profiles and wait in hope that someone else will do something.  Even, possibly especially VirtualNora, who set up and moderates her network is waiting, but waiting for what exactly? 
It is such a thrill to get any response (!!!!!), and such a disappointment when the response is, 'Hi :)'.  You garner virtual friends with less than that - I haven't exchanged a 'Hi :)' with half of mine.  When, in the virtual whirl, do we ever 'cut to the chase'? 
Now I know there is a problem here.  There is an inbuilt resistance to being identified as you, an acknowledgment that life in the virtual is not so safe as sitting solo on one's bum should be.  Having a common name, I found my name is far commoner than I'd thought.  Getting a domain name, a mail, or blog address with your real name is no straightforward matter; and you know what's coming here: if I want a blog with my name on it, it is going to cost me. 
Life in the virtual is not so good as to come for free, so there's a surprise, but we all like 'free' even while we know that freebies are nearly always rubbish and come with a cost.  But, I'm not going into expense where 'free' is an option, indeed 'free' is the name of the game.  The cost is, and it's a challenge, is I've no free choice but to name myself atavistically as 'nogwinting.blahblog' or somesuch, and lucky me not to have to resort to numerals this time. 
Naming myself thus .  .  .  well .  .  .  what can I not say?  Who can't I pretend to be?  What profile image can I not put up? 
It's a challenge and a temptation.  It doesn't matter what I blog however weird - even I can't remember my name.  I become anonymous to myself and anonymity is a powerful tool. 
It's a temptation worthy of challenge and it's free.  Anonymous can speak without consequence, without reference to 'self'.  Pure unfettered messaging is possible, and sedition is necessary to the best of societies. 
The message can be pure, but Anonymous suffers from speaking without the conviction that consequence brings, without the certainty and impact that an 'I' bestows, and Anonymous is too easily dismissed as feeble minded, vandal, cowardly and disaffected. 

Vital or Virtual
Is the virtual profile a persona?  I cannot safely assume that my friend, VirtualNora is a 'she'.  The profile picture is a hint: looks like 'she', but who can tell?  220 by 220 random pixels at low resolution is not so many to make much of.  Have 'Photoshop', can photoshop, can do anything with 220 square and don't need to take so much trouble over it as that. 
The anonymous option opportunity is both the strength and weakness of virtual, both part of the appeal and part of the problem. 
Are people hiding something; inventing something; proclaiming a hidden side; a private side; a better side; disguising a shameful, embarrassing inadequate truth about themselves, or: is this liberation, freedom, a great unfettering outlet of a creative streak available to us all - at long last?  Or are we all taking the piss? 
Does it matter that there is no way of knowing? 
'do u have another name?'  asks VirtualUsha. 
VirtualCordelia states, 'If you have to ask, you don't want to know. '
VirtualMajlinta refuses my 'friend request'.  What's wrong with me?  And still miffed several days on, provoked to poke, maybe 'her', I reinstate my add request.  Take That!
People or atavars, name, username, virtual name: what is this identity confusion?  Is it a dilemna, or guise, or identity crisis? 
VirtualNanny guides us away from vital through the strict profile form (see Privacy conditions) to submit smart favourites, cool ones, the honest ones and the cute.  Finding the profile pic takes time; the one you like for this yourself if you have one; time to make some more; getting them onto the computer plus a bit of retouch; filling in the 'about you' box in 1000 words or 700 characters; deciding which your favourite movies, music, food, holiday destinations, sport, books and others are, and what this list of likes says about you. 
Are VirtualNora and virtual networks an identity crisis with a friendly face? 
Is there an unspoken acknowledgment that 'virtual' isn't real, (how mad is that?); that Facebook friends aren't real friends, (huh?); that social networks aren't social; that as the chase never kicks off it's not much of a network at all? 
Is this 'play'? 
Licensed Identity Crisis, guise or disguise, is this not a 'tease'? 
Naughty VirtualNannyNing letting us stip-tease like this.  It's 'fancy dress' in pretty pixels.  The Masque Ball without thrills and disappointment, and as so often under laptop tyranny, I wonder if I'm missing the whole point.  I wonder if I'm the child seeing the Emperor naked or whether I'm just missing the point of nudity. 
Still no joy with VMajlinta and I'm not going to put up with this vicarious brush off without having my virtual say. 
I'll say not .  .  .  Message to VM whatsoever you are: 'Well B'orf! Don't be my virtual friend you Precious Pongy Pile of Perfect Atavistical Pixel Dung :('  But then again, 'Hey, get a grip nogwinting why don't I?'  Like everything else, virtual may mean nothing and come to nothing, virtual is part of the vital and on that basis it's all a bit of a shrug and a bit more of the same.  Better be in the virtual than not. 

Bloody Nora
Better get this thing off my lap  .  .  .  I so know that Lap Dancing ain't sex.