World Mental Health Day (2016)

If we lived in a world like something from a science fiction novel where we could go for a full body scan at any time that would tell us what was physically and mentally wrong, which would be followed up with a customised pill to cure whatever was wrong with us, would we live differently to as we do now? Would we be free from bullying and abuse or jealousy and envy? How would we define or set limits to what a normal human body should and should not be capable of? Would a human being’s blueprint be just like we read about in science textbooks? What about individualism? Would we see that as dangerous as all should looks and feel the same with a hive mind? Is being different being abnormal?

Now consider the world we do live in. Why when someone is diagnosed with cancer, arthritis or asthma are our reactions different to dissociative identity disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety? Why do some let a diagnosis change how they see a person was from the person they knew yesterday? Why are they now not normal, and what therefore is normal? We are not robots or clones, we do not experience this world in the same way as anyone else has or ever will again. A book can only so show much of the human experience, but does not allow for individualism that comes from being true to ourselves and living life the way that is normal for the journey we alone are on.

What about the future? In the past we may have swept problems or issues under the proverbial carpet to locking someone up in an asylum as a danger to society, but even now mental health issues are stigmatised as cannot see by looking at someone how much they are suffering mentally. More and more the world is getting darker with fear, greed, envy and jealousy, instead of light with hope, empathy, compassion, and understanding. Unless some of us start to punch holes in this darkness it will only continue until we all stagger around blind and deaf to the needs of others. Today World Mental Health Day, so let us use it as a stepping stone to hold open doors and windows with light today and every day.

© Fi S. J. Brown

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The written word: Past, present and future

What would our ancestors say of how we tell stories via the written word, when many could not do so. Instead they would use art from painting and music to tell them and pass them on to the next generation. Even today being able to read and write is a luxury that many of us that can, forget.

Something I have often pondered is, if time travel were possible when or what would I most like to visit. I decided recently that for me it would be the ancient library in Alexandria because I would not only like to see what was in it but ultimately what was in it and answering who really did set fire to it.

The thought of books on fire reminded me of the excellent “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. The book tells of a dystopian future vision of America in which books are banned and if found they are burnt. When I first read it over 15 years ago I could not imagine a world with no books.

However, today we have electronic readers today such as kindles, the word always reminds me of kindling. I will admit to not being much of a fan as love the smell and feel of books. So are they kindling of the fire to destroy books and the written word? No, I would not go quite that far.

However, it does make me wonder about edits to texts, books we regard as classics, if the original text will remain unaltered? Then again, how many books we do read now have gone through changes? The Bible, has probably been spun and purposefully mistranslated for centuries.

I have this concern as have heard it with music, as an artist produces a remastered greatest hits with subtle changes in the music from the originals. Equally, I have seen edits in movies and television, to make them more suitable for a set time frame or feel something isn’t appropriate any more.

So what is the future for the written word? More and more we are publishing our own work, from fan fiction to novels, but are people actually reading more? Yet original creative thought and work seems to be declining, as we see and hear old ideas rehashed. I can only hope for the future.

© 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