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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Technology – 20.18.11

This is not a rant against technology but more thoughts after watching an old clip on YouTube and considering what was said then to what is true of today’s technology. Equally, is today’s technology an escapism and/or all bad news?

Everywhere we go today almost everyone has a mobile/cell phone. Some have them stuck to their hands and stare back at the black mirror to this world where a version of them exists. It is like almost like old computer game The Sims but with better graphics and have more control of the worlds we create. Others hold them aloft to an invisible god as take selfies and hope this god will ensure they get many likes on the assorted social media as they apply filters to portray themselves in the worlds just mentioned.

Mindfulness has become a big thing but yet many do not just stop and look to enjoy the moment as feel the need to have proof they were there at all. Our memories are like movie with only edited bits we remember but yet by taking videos or pictures are we trying to hold on to them for that bit longer? Do we have to document our lives and share them to these worlds…is anyone really that interested in our fiftieth meeting of a so called celebrity or posing drunkenly with our mates when we are over twice the legal age?

Are our lives so vacant or boring we need the justification, reassurance, acceptance or love that come with these worlds? Acts of random kindness feel cheapened too – how can they be so random when it is recorded then shown to others to showcase the deed in action? Do we need these black mirrors of vanity and worlds to justify our being in the 21st century? Looking back at these records of memories are they not more painful or do they cheapen the so called good times, making them seem like they lasted longer than they did?

The word technology comes from two Greek words, transliterated techne and logos. Techne means art, skill, craft, or the way, manner, or means by which a thing is gained. Logos means word, the utterance by which inward thought is expressed, a saying, or an expression. So perhaps technology in this case is a means to present our art and inward expressions of the way we see the world after all. As no two people see or experience life the same way perhaps we can use it to help humanity grow after all and not a step backwards.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Olympic body shaming

Social media can be used for many positive things particularly during the Olympics, for example congratulating people representing our nation in sports, not always people that we knew of before they began, or inspire us to take a look at trying a sport as looks fun or interesting. However, it also has its ugly head that rears too as people mock those that fail to win medals, the achievements of getting there alone are not enough.

In recent years body shaming has become a thing on social media and the Olympians have not escaped it – First came the body shaming of a female Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno who’s body was not the stereotypical view of a gymnast and now I am reading about a male Ethiopian swimmer Robel Kiros Habte who has a ‘dad bod’. Why do we feel the need to criticise someone’s physical shape, and is doing something most of us could have only dreamed of, are we that jealous as species now we will find anything we can pick holes in another to belittle their achievements? Why do we like to make heroes of people only to knock them down when find they are less than perfect?

Nobody has a perfect life or body, more like a perfect lie, as each day we have obstacles great and small just to get from dawn to dusk. I admire people for achieving and/or living their dreams, often against the odds and/or do so in ways that inspire me too. Enough of this negativity, jealousy, envy and greed of others, we are all different and not identikit zombies. Let us celebrate what makes the beautiful person others and ourselves are (I do not mean physical beauty either) and not pick holes in until we look like Swiss cheeses. Celebrate the individuality in us all, not just the similarities that bring us together.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Real life

As popular reality TV shows return for their autumn runs in the UK few stop to think of the contestants that in many ways are like actors in a play. Winners already decided to scripted arguments, edited video footage to manipulative judges comments, all make us invest emotionally in the contestants and vote in a certain way. Thus the contestants are presented in neat little packages, which are often far from how the truly are around friends and family.

However, it is not just confined to TV shows, for it is something nearly all of us are guilty of. Take a look at your Facebook profile, if have one, and see the image of yourselves that you promote to the outside world. We share our lives like the diary room on the show “Big Brother“, editing our photos to elicit a certain response, trying to look slimmer and younger than we are, to the portray of how life is and the person we want to be seen as by others.

Learning to be comfortable in who we are can be very difficult. Combined with the media and entertainment telling us we need to do x or y to become rich and successful or this is what true beauty looks like via a heavily edited photograph. Those that differ are seen as abnormal or freaks as their individuality is erased at a click of a mouse. Therefore, nowhere do we see examples of ordinary individuals as almost want to conform to these ideas.

Is it not time we stopped watching and listening? Gave ourselves a break for not being how the world paints what human beings are to be. Not everyone will have a partner and/or children, a fulfilling career does not mean one that brings lots of money and owning houses to cars are extras that should not be forced as must haves; what is wrong with renting a home or use public transport, owning a car may seem convenient but costs so much to run.

However, by all means continue watching television and posting to social media if you wish, but perhaps tuning out from or switching them off them now and again so can appreciate what we have without needing to share it, the little things that are special to each of us. Spending quality time with friends and family as life is precious and short, which is why the present is the only time that actually exists; based on foundations of the past and start of tomorrow.

© Fi S. J. Brown

End the stigma

When we search Google it uses a function called ‘autocomplete’, which means we see search predictions that might be similar to the search terms we are typing. For example, as we start to type new york, we might see other popular New York-related searches,

This function can be useful when searching. However, not all of them are positive. These pictures I found on Pinterest from someone who found what showed up when looking up terms relating to mental health. It is frightening to me how some assume or feel regarding it. How can we hope people seek help when some view mental health like this?

Remember – just because we cannot see someone’s depression, can we not see their tears; just because we cannot feel their pain, it does not mean it will go away like a headache with a tablet; just because someone hears voices, does not mean they’re going to kill others; and just because someone is suicidal, does not make them crazy or selfish.

This is why we need to end the stigma of mental health. It can only be done together. At least 1 in 4 of us will experience mental health issues in our lifetime, reach out to help someone not push them away. Hollywood and the media paint mental health one way, let us paint its true colours not the black and white they use.

© 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

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

Normal…a redefinition

How a dictionary defines normal can be very different to how as people we do, ask hundred people and you will get a hundred definitions. Equally, ask the same hundred people what they define as abnormal, and you will get the same result. This is because our life experiences to the people we meet adding different colours and layers to how we see the world. With the advent of social media to the cult of celebrity these too add to this perception we have of the world. Seldom do we stop and think of what is normal and/or abnormal and do not question it.

We pass judgement every day; be it how best to serve tea or coffee to how to dress ourselves and the partner we choose to have in our lives (if at all). They all serve as means of self-expression, that is to say they say “this is my way” of living life. The choice of partner you will already have opinions on, some maybe tutting or swearing at the thought anyone may want a partner of the same gender as themselves to choosing not to have a partner at all. So which is the normal way? Simply put all of them are and none of them are.

Even people that claim not to be judgemental make judgements every day, knowingly and unknowingly. So on deciding if another’s choice partner as in the above example is normal or not we are making a judgement, not on morality or ethics but based on our personal sense of normality.

In defining what is normal, we need to look at our own lives, where we make judgements and where others judge us. Whilst doing this we also need to consider not just why we think this way, but what is the root of this belief and why we have these expectations of others and equally ascribe them to ourselves.

Expectations of ourselves and/or others can be due to our families, beliefs, and cultures we grew up in to the ones we find ourselves living in now, which by breaking these can lead to estrangement and even death. Equally, we need to learn not to be hard on ourselves and/or others for failing to live up to these expectations: For example, in some areas of the world you would be expected to be married with at least two children by 21, but we have to remember that may not happen for all and trying not to be judgemental on someone that by 25 is single and a virgin. How can we ascribe the actions or personality of ourselves and/or another normal and/or abnormal just because they are different to our own?

So should the word normal in this case be left like many prejudices and stereotypes be left in the past? Just because we do not agree with, have no knowledge, expect life/another/ourselves to be a certain way, is it really abnormal? Equally, should we expect others to agree with and/or collaborate with our ideas of what is and is not normal? Have they not also got their own, just as valid, ideas and ways of expressing what is normal to them?

Let us return to defining what is normal, a friend once said “it is a function on a washing machine”. Normal in real terms is what is right for us and our journey, trying to conform to the expectations and ideals of others is like wearing our neighbour’s underwear! We also try to put labels on ourselves so can find like minded people, only do this if you must to let them explore your world but remembering not to judge them by our ideas of normal, for we are not them, have not and never will experience their journey their way.

I am currently writing a short book exploring the above themes, to find just what is normal to us, the journey to find what it is but always remembering that one size will never fit all, and finally accepting what we have found, which can be just as difficult as the prejudice we can encounter from others.

© Fi S. J. Brown

“Look Up”

There is a viral video going round social media suggesting we “Look Up”, give up our mobile phones and computers in favour of real life contact. Where as I agree with this in principle, that is for many now their lives revolve around the internet and social media being plugged in 24/7. It is almost like an electronic umbilical cord that we feel we connected to something. Are the androids not just the phones or characters from Blade Runner but ourselves, now dreaming of electric sheep?

I saw one girl comment that Twitter and YouTube helped with her introversion, sadly I call this rubbish; we can all hide behind a keyboard and phone to pretend be something we are not. This may have helped her “speak” with people from all over the world, but for me it does not help her in the real world, which matters far more than a words from a human made device to another human made device. Call me old fashioned but I prefer a phonecall or letter from a loved one matters far more, or even a text or email to say hello.

It saddens me that we created and manufactured great things in the past, but now as great a leap of technology the internet with social media may be, are we not a standstill? What is posted is not always done with love and creativity, instead it is often done for attention. Our online presence shows an edited form of how life really is for us, for me it is like a Holywood movie – a polished, stylish, unoriginal and sometimes untruthful account of how life is really going for us.

Equally, our attention spans have decreased and people do not read properly, so a tweet or video on vine are now just the right length. I would rather be lost in a music concert of the past with musicians that felt their notes and beats or book that has not been hyped up so far by the press, that it is no in reality no better than toilet roll. Give me “Fade to Grey” not “50 shade of grey”. Things no longer last, I like things that will inspire me to create something new.

I have considered deleting my own social media many times in the last few years, having felt and seen its darker side. However, for now it is helping me give a voice, to my own thoughts and ideas, as well as to those that deserved to be heard, rather than the endless celebrities that frequent social media. One day I’ll pull the plug, but for now I’ll stay as have met some very special people because of social media, but also enjoy my mugs of tea and deep ponders away from it.

© Fi S. J. Brown