I’ve been online for 14 years at this stage. Sure I dabbled a bit with Internet at school where it was all dial up and screeching modems (I remember the modem phone was a big black rotary dial phone sitting on a wooden box with a red light bulb – very sixties spy movie to be honest). But it was only when I started in BIS in UCC in 1997 that I really began to experience the world wide web. Back then it was all chatrooms that you could sign up to with your Hotmail account (before hotmail was owned by microsoft – on a side note I had my hotmail account for a full ten years before I got rid of it. It got hacked like so many hotmail accounts do so it was time to say good bye to the butterfly). Forums came later. And with all these new colloquia came the trolling and the hysteria.
Don’t get me wrong, as a new comer to the digital frontier, I did my fair share of baiting. I also had my fair share of conniptions. When I was doing the trolling, it was all in good fun, however when I was the one clip clopping over the binary bridge, my anonymous nemeses were foul, mentally unstable, despicable beings; creatures unworthy of human consideration or feeling. And always so very, very wrong.
But it’s a futile game, arguing on internet forums. In all the years of squabbling with strangers I don’t think I ever convinced anyone to give up their ridiculous beliefs in favour of my more sensible ones. I tried. For sure I tried (mostly on the People’s Republic of Cork forum of the early naughties) but my nameless, faceless opponents held strong. In recent years, YouTube comments have come the closest to the sheer vitriol of those early forum days. It takes a lot not to be drawn into the mire. But as futile the borg insist resistance might be, we have to try. The sheer volume of information available via something like Twitter, for instance, is second only to the sheer volume of idiocy on the same platform. It can be so easy to get swept up in the hysteria of a twitstorm and given the often times ludicrous statements flitting through our timelines it can seem quite justified. But the constant stream of righteous anger that seems to pervade every social media platform these days does nothing for us. Rising to the bait of the trolls does nothing but make them feel a brief moment of schadenfreude and leaves us feeling fucked off and miserable. It seems to me that taking a deep breath and counting to whatever, before replying to an obnoxious comment slagging the poster of a YouTube video or before retweeting that outrageous sounding injustice on twitter, would help us all take our collective blood pressures down a notch. With the evening talk radio shows screaming doom and gloom at us between half four and 7 every day, taking a breath on the internet would probably do us all some good.
I was listening to some Cat Stevens earlier (and actually still listening while I’m typing this). One of my favourite songs is “Where Do the Children Play?” from Tea for the Tillerman. I remember listening to this on vinyl many years ago when we lived in Ballygarvan. Myself and my sister Edel used quite often just sit around in the dining room of our house there, listening to our older sisters’ records on constant repeat (except “repeat” in those days was a manual operation, lifting the needle back to the start of the set of grooves for a particular song). We must have listened to that song a helluva lot because listening to it now the version in my mind keeps expecting the song to skip in certain places. So much so that I have an irresistible urge to give my Mac a light thump on the side coming up to certain parts of the chorus.
I think one of the reasons we used to play that song so much was because it reminded of us when we lived in suburbia. Moving from Bishopstown to Ballygarvan when I was about 8 was a formative experience to say the least. We went from a place surrounded by people, with a green full of other kids during the evenings and all day on summer days, to a pretty peaceful country abode surrounded by cows, trees, fields and horses. For the most part, living in the country was actually pretty good. We had streams to wade across, woods to explore, mud to traipse through. Plenty to keep kids with imaginations busy. Despite all that I still missed the suburban kid’s life. Having friends within walking distance who could “come out and play”; rounders and football on the green; other boys my age with whom bases and forts could be built in back gardens or on the abandoned mounds of earth the builders left behind when the estates were built. I missed that life so much that I still have dreams where we move back to that house we left in Kenley drive.
Myself and Seán moved into a house in Bracken Court in Donnybrook in Douglas this weekend. It’s a plain, 3 bedroomed semi-detached suburban home. With early 90’s decor and that orangey, wobbly glass in the doors. And I love it. I love it because I’m there with himself. But also because it reminds me so much of that suburban childhood interrupted. There are kids playing on the green, running in and out of each other’s houses, messing and enjoying a suburban summer before the cruel vagaries of childhood have them back behind a school desk in a few weeks time. They say nostalgia ain’t what it used to be but I think the Cat Stevens is suiting quite nicely just now.
A post from Damien Mulley about blogging (or more specifically a lack of blogging) nicely sums up some of the thoughts I’ve been having about getting back into the blogging and writing. I also just finished reading Wil Wheaton‘s “Just a Geek”, where he discusses going from struggling former star trek actor to being a writer through blogging. I’ve been thinking about how I was going to go about getting back into my writing for pleasure and these two pieces have spurred me on. At the start of the year, my excuse was that I was waiting to get a new computer, then I had all sorts of half formed ideas of waiting until I had set myself out a schedule or to do list for blog posts. Seems like I’ve been procrastinating over this stuff for far too long so on top of my little outburst last week, I’ve decided to just get back to it.
You see, I’ve never really said this out loud before but I want to be a writer. To do that, I need to hone the skill and there’s only one way to do that – to write. It’s one of the reason’s I started the blog way back when, a place to put my witterings, half baked ideas but most importantly a scribble pad for my writing. So there it is. Dunno if this is just a pipe dream or not. Gonna give it a try anyway.
I wanted David Norris to be president. Because he’s smart and funny and different. And gay. The man who is synonymous with gay rights in Ireland (at least in my mind) was going to take the Áras from the party political hacks. He was going to show the world that Ireland was a grown up country who could elect a gay man to one of it’s highest offices. Sure he was colorful. But he had dignity and the respect of the nation. He was going to show Ireland that gay people can do the big jobs too. But then he fucked up. He fucked up by writing a letter to an Israeli court pleading for clemency for his former lover, who had been convicted of statutory rape 19 years ago and not telling his campaign team about it. He fucked up by underestimating the relish with which certain tabloid publications would pour over every salacious detail of his life while at the same time refraining from informing his campaign team so that they could protect him when the inevitable stories surfaced. This whole thing has been swirling round my head all day. I’ve been cursing his campaign team for leaving him in the lurch, the israelis for leaking the letters in the first place, his former lover for being a possible child molester. But mostly I’m just sad because the man I thought would make the best president seems to have lost his chance. If he makes it to the ballot I’d still vote for him. Sure there’s a certain arrogance about the man. The letters he wrote seem to belie a man with an incredible ego, with no little sense of self importance (although you might argue that when you are writing a character reference, it’s kind of important for it not only to say good things about the reference but also about the referee or else it becomes an empty gesture). But I also think he has done some good and because of him, my sexual preference is no longer a criminal offense in this country.
I don’t feel so protective of the role of Irish President that I feel we need someone saintly. I just want someone human. Someone likable. Someone who can string a sentence together without an autocue. And yes, having a gay man in the Áras appeals to me. Of the potential candidates out there, I think Norris can still be that person. Whether his campaign can recover from this latest crisis remains to be seen. I truly hope it does.
Finally got round to writing some blog posts (to be posted over the next few days). I’ve missed the little buzz I get out of writing for me of late and am trying to get back into the swing of things. Of course I want to put a bit more structure on the blog as well so that kind of requires a bit more planning on my part. That doesn’t mean I won’t be popping random thought type posts up here from time to time and of course when I am truly vexed there’s nothing like pouring out a good rant through the interwebs.
I’ve always enjoyed writing and the whole point of starting the blog was the help me to do more of it. Laziness is my biggest challenge. That and Angry Birds (stupid addictive exploding birds on my mobile phone). But I will progress. And I’d love to hear more from the people who read this. Leave a comment or say hi on twitter or facebook.
And now I’m going to go watch some Stargate Universe. Still a quality show.