Autocorrected Reality

Why have we become to be accepting of fake
Seeing and hearing a world of edited masks
What reasons do we have for hiding the truth
And become in need of validation to be alive

We have never been so close together
But have never been to be so far apart
In this virtual world anything is possible
And we can reinvent the wheel each day

Just a click of the mouse or tap of the phone
Add a filtered mask to our lives to hide flaws
Sharing a picture is easy but editing is a must
Then wondering how many likes will we get

We have never been so close together
But have never been to be so far apart
In a virtual world anything is possible
And fake news can be spun into truths

Like the Egyptians written messages in symbols
Do we need a Rosetta stone to translate again
Are we evolving or taking a step backwards
For once again we are writing upon tablets

We have never been so close together
But have never been to be so far apart
In a virtual world anything is possible
And the real world grows shades of grey

Then there are the celebrities that seem like us
And the influencers wanting to be the next thing
But they really are yet more filters to distractions
To hide a truth that has more layers than an onion

We have never been so close together
But have never been to be so far apart
In a virtual world anything is possible
And trolls to millennials ready to jump

Through the autotuned mists of disguises and lies
Chasing shadows as sleepwalk through the dreams
How can life be so unreal but be reality simultaneously
If we smash the screens will we waken or dream on

We have never been so close together
But have never been to be so far apart
In a virtual world anything is possible
And nobody knows you are really a dog

© Fi S. J. Brown

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Slow down, what’s the hurry?

Over the weekend I started watching some videos from a YouTube channel by the Fine Brothers, which has kids, teens and college students reacting to things from the past to present and elders reacting to current trends. The music and fashions of the 1980s and 1990s made me laugh, cringe, and feel older than my actual age, I was born in the late 1970s, with equal measure. The music ones in particular make me realise how fortunate I was to grow up with such diversity in what was regarded as mainstream and/or chart music compared with today. Only this week Ed Sheeran has 16 out of the top 20 singles due in part to streaming of music counting as singles, making many in the UK question what is a single and what is not. For me the issue with most modern mainstream music is it sounds like a machine made it for the most part not a human; autotune leaves songs devoid of genuine emotion compared with say Cindi Lauder on ‘Time after time‘ or Snead O’Connor”s cover of ‘Nothing compares 2u‘ to the musicality of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ or Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir‘. It all seems more painting by numbers in fifty shades of grey rather than with multicolour, which as someone with synesthesia music often does as each piece of music is visual and filled with colour.

However, it was kids reacting to technology of the past (1980s-1990s) I found most interesting of all, probably as would have been the ages of the kids to teens using them in the videos at the time they were new. In particular it was the responses from those under thirteen which interested me the most, for them the Internet to smart phones are normal ways of life, with everything being available in more or less an instant to 24/7. Most of them had zero patience to wait for things, anything more than around five seconds and they felt it was too long to wait. Things that required thinking or a series of steps were pushed aside as wanted instant results. To me some of the most important things we learn in life take time. Learning new skills from a new language to driving car cannot be learnt instantly. Or mastering musical instruments, which can be supplemented by watching videos on YouTube, but to become a proficient to professional level takes time and often daily patience. Creativity to using our imagination is another thing that an app or website cannot do for us alone, and takes time to patience to hone our skills. So in some way sold and new can come together. However, there are no shortcuts to make these our knowledge and not something we know how to find out how to do it or get something to do it for us.

Are we so used to things appearing as soon as we press a button or using an app to do it for us we no longer have the patience?  It made me think why do we need something done NOW, can we slow down for at least a minute, what is the hurry or gratification to have something instantly? Take deciding to watch a movie, in the past we would have gone somewhere like Blockbuster video stores to rent movies rather than a mouse click or tap on Netflix or Amazon Prime. I remember at least a three year wait between cinema release and being shown first on TV with renting a video would be the only option when it finally did come out to rent! ‘The return to Oz‘ for example I remember in particular it was many years after cinema release, like Disney movies that were seldom shown on TV (which was for copyright or so it was said). I still do not subscribe to either Netflix of Amazon Prime as do not feel the have the need for that kind of 24/7 entertainment in TV or movies, I prefer music or books to either and always have.

Do not get me wrong I love being able to find an old song I like and play it instantly or discover new music from artists I love to discovering new ones, rather than spend a fortune on buying vinyl, cassettes or CDs to rewinding tapes just to hear that one song I know by an artist or listen to that song buzzing in my head! I was also sad that when given a film camera one instantly wanted to take an old selfie with it and all did once the kids got the film in the camera, hurting their eyes with the flash as they did! As someone that developed her own black and white photographs in her teens and uses a DSLR I enjoy the process of taking a photograph as much as taking an image. It did make me wonder just how many images are now just files in cloud servers not physical albums, how will kids today be as embarrassed as we were when our parents dug out old photos of us to show future partners or spouses? Will technology exist to be able to retrieve photographs taken ten-twenty years before?

Significant improvements in technology over the last 20 years or so have perhaps made patience unnecessary in the modern world. Think about it, we can make credit card payments, get a taxi, talk to a friend across the world, or even check their mail – all of this online, right from home or sat on the toilet in a bar, and within the matter of seconds! We’re becoming more focused on quick fun — such as a game of Angry Birds on the iPhone — than on reading books or magazines. We also have online shops that will deliver that day, so no longer have to physically go to a shop and wait or order and again wait for it to arrive. Perhaps the signs of this instant gratification was something to come with the Harry Potter buy at midnight deals, as so many could not wait to read the latest book. With the rise in popularity of apps such as Tinder even our relationships with others have come to be instant fixes at the swipe of a finger for sex that would seem unacceptable twenty years ago as the fear surrounding HIV and AIDS to taboo of casual sex were so great. I have bought a few things on day of release or wanted the instant I saw them, the only one that comes to mind being Pink Floyd’s ‘The Division Bell‘ but that was only because it was a local holiday and passed a music shop!

This need for instant gratification is making the younger generations perpetually impatient as they are unable to grasp that waiting for something is what made us appreciate it more. Perhaps it goes hand in hand with things being so disposable now? Have something now as it won’t last another five years. I am all for living in the now but surely this is taking it a touch too far?! Do we really need these instant results and quick fixes? Can we not slow down, as we are now accelerating so fast I feel I am clinging to the edge of my seat in a car driven by a teenager that has learnt to drive only through watching YouTube videos; knowing a crash will come soon and many will be injured and/or unable to operate without the need for instant help and/or support. Maybe I am getting old and have the same fears my parents and grandparents would have had with technology I now take for granted. However, it is a good day for me when I can shut off my phone and just enjoy the world around me without being stuck behind a screen, appreciating what I have now and not what I could click or tap to have or do next next.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

Rainbow love

The internet has turned into a rainbow fest with news from the US supreme court yesterday announcing that same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide. I have always felt who we fall in love with is a personal thing and not something we should put rules or laws upon as I respect everyone’s right and freedom to be themselves.

I am not one for labels as many of you know, as feel they’re better suited to food not people, so whether you’re gay or queer, bi or transgender, it does not matter, it’s love that matters with empathy and understanding. Even if you disagree with the judgement, why would you not allow another to experience love?

I can understand some of the emotions those that identify as LGBT because in my teens I wondered if I was gay, I had no interest in boys, and even into my twenties and thirties I was still uncertain as to whether I was straight/gay/bi for relationships and/ or sex were not something I thought about or held any interest in.

A few years back I discovered the term ‘asexual’ with regard to humans rather than plants and some of it ticked boxes in my head of yep that’s me. It is hard when life’s ‘norm’ is something other than we feel but realising and accepting that is our norm. It has been part of personal journey and now at the point I can do both.

I’m not going turn my profile picture rainbow on social media in support of the news but instead use my words to help those in countries that cannot express their love for fear of estrangement from family and even death know they’re loved too. Finally, I send kisses, hugs and toast my tea to you all with whatever love means to you.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Humans 2015.5 AD

For me four words describe many humans in this the middle of the second decade of the twenty first century. They are: Narcissistic, Cruel, Ignorant and Fearful.

As we’ve entered the era of the selfie there has become a thin line between self love and narcissism. A look at most major celebrities social media it’s a case of look at me and my life, which gives the younger generations a false idea of how they must look to what they can achieve in life. The newspapers to websites show us altered images to say “this is what normal is“, yet we’re all normal and it is what is right for us not what someone else tells us. We also have products filled with chemicals to give us masks to hide behind and show off to the world, which if some post without some how become regarded as “brave“. The narcissism entered a new low recently with the news Kim Kardashian has published a book of selfies, frankly who cares; in the past family pictures would be kept to an album brought out on special occasions. The images offer nothing to aspire to and have in much in common with a tortoise’s shell with glitter and glue than they do about what makes that person human and their individuality.

At the same time we have become much less compassionate and caring about our fellow humans and the world around us, many laughing at those with emotions and make them feel like they are some kind of modern day circus freak for doing so. Some like to troll across the internet picking holes at others as do things differently or look different to them, hiding behind a screen as know the screen is not two way. They also will do whatever they can to get what they feel they are entitled to; doing so through lying and cheating, as long as they’re alright and does not matter who they hurt in so doing. Those that try to stand up against them are met quite often by more of the same so back down and lose their voice as pushed aside or muted into submission. Karma will have her way but even that does not seem to make them pause to think, simply because all they think of is themselves.

Is ignorance really bliss? How can we have more people staying on in education yet know nothing about real life. They follow celebrities blindly or get enraged by politicians but only look at the surface as do not think for themselves and allow handheld computers or smart phones to do it for them. No longer going to a library for finding the answers or trying to learn for ourselves, we head straight for Google and believing 99.9% of what is written; which is even more alarming when we consider the words could be written by anyone from an academic professor with an agenda to kid of sixteen that thinks he/she knows it all. For some it does matter as can say yes I agree with him or her and will never look further to understand, interpret their words or create something for themselves. Indeed some will rip off those that have, marking it as their own as don’t know how to, jealous someone else has, or will claim it as their own.

Finally, we have also become fearful that people of certain religions or beliefs mean to hurt us. Someone with a gun is liable to go crazy at a school, especially if they have a mental health condition. Some days it feels like the world walks on egg shells as ignorant to the truth and will hurt them for just being a certain way just to prevent them from hurting ourselves or those we love as gave us a “funny look“. Newspapers to website spread a form of fear porn to make us worry and whisper on what may be as we fear not what will happen if we do but more the fear from not acting when we feel should. Some campaign for peace, but while we are fighting among ourselves due to difference and/or ignorance, can it really ever happen or is it just something to hang hope on?

Four words, yet they say so much of life at the present moment. We cannot change the past as that’s now our history and today lays the foundations for tomorrow. We live life in one direction, even if time travel is possible, with past events re-written to suit the survivors or victor’s points of view. So perhaps stopping and thinking now and again to consider who we are, this world we live in beyond the concrete cages and finally what/who matters most.

© Fi S. J. Brown

There’s an app for that

Today if we want to learn how to do something we go to a site like YouTube to learn by video or we use an app on our phone/tablet to do it for us. More and more we let an app do something for us, rather than working out or learning how it is done, as quite often quicker and easier than spending time, or so we argue, learning how is not important. Yet our parents and grandparents would, if they were lucky, go to a library and borrow a book to learn how to do something but many more would learn from their parents or grandparents directly or indirectly.

It is as though in many ways we are now reliant on technology to think for us, not question and wonder for ourselves for there are other things we would rather do than study. Yet at the same time we complain of a boredom our ancestors would never have understood, with so much now possible we find it hard to find something to do…is that not a contradiction? Is it because we have become so reliant on machines for us, that some cannot think for themselves? It seems as though some almost need the machine or app to tell them exactly what to do, when and how!

So what can we do? As for some being without the internet and/or mobile phone is although missing something or no longer part of modern life. Those that choose not to have social media are thought of as strange, as the cynics believe they must have something to hide or even anti-social! I have considered doing this myself countless times but decided to keep for sharing creativity such as music, art, photography and writing. So much of our lives based upon the screen that conversation in person seems so strange to some, but with an alcoholic drink it’s ok!

Does technology improve our lives, is in now ruling or even ruining our lives? Stopping to think about what makes us human, all we can do with our many senses and our capacity to learn new things from scratch. Yet now it seems like we are sleepwalking backwards by relying on something else doing things for us and thinking for us so we can get on with something perceived to be more “fun”. In many respects the robots of science fiction are here but are not the humanoid droids we thought they would be. Machines taking over, is it really so far fetched?

© Fi S. J. Brown

Greatest accomplishment

I was recently asked what do I considered to be my greatest accomplishment to date and why?

I took a moment to think. Many may expect it to be my academic qualifications, after being almost written off  at a young age due to developmental dyspraxia to end up having a degree, two masters and a PhD by the age of 32 is a fair accomplishment in anybody’s books. However, I see what I learnt formally as an experience, the qualifications say nothing about me as a person, or the journeys that took to get there. Some people in this cannot read or write, so I am humbled to have such gifts. Equally, life is all about learning and as a friend’s mum showed in Pakistan it is never too late at 65 to learn to write your own name.

I thought of the people that have come into my life, which I have helped (directly and indirectly) to get on the path they want to be on or been there when they needed someone to listen. However, I felt that was egotistical as it was what I had done for them, and almost felt like I was trying to take possession of what they had achieved, or belittle achievements that they should shout across the world not taken as something I achieved. I would never want to take such ownership, as prefer to sing songs along with my friends than autotune it with my own beliefs, traditions, and interpretations on how their song is sung.

I considered posting my recent photo post to Facebook during the “make up free selfies” for cancer of me without my wig (as make up free is the same as any other picture of me). Although that took a lot to post and the response from friends old and new, near and far, overwhelmed me like a tsunami of support. That photo became a symbol of something beyond the vanity of some that I read about online for me. However, I could not say it as again to me showed was a thing of ego and pride, for as proud I am of making a statement it is not an accomplishment as it is part of me and not any different to posting any other photo.

Perhaps I was being hard on myself over the selfie, for a few years back I could not even look at a photograph of myself or look in the mirror such was my poor self-image. However, does posting a photograph of any sort if it is of us really become an accomplishment worthy of praise? I know last year I was in tears with myself posting a photograph to an exhibition curated by Yoko Ono as knew I could not have done it a few months before, it was like self-evolving to the point I could post the above photo. Was I was being adversely harsh on myself, and did not want to sing my song encase others laughed, mocked and judged me?

I finally decided my great accomplishment was self-acceptance and love. From the internet to magazines, printed press, friends and family all have an opinion on what we should be like, who we should be, and what should matters to us – when in reality the only one that walks this journey is ourselves. Those that are closest friends accept us for who we are, the flaws we see they see as part of our character, it is a shame we often cannot accept ourselves. For it is being able to put both hands up and saying I accept this shell of a body I have, I may not have the looks, the money or dream job but this who I am – 100% human.

 

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