Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

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What is privacy in the 21st century? Have we redefined the parameters of what should and should not be for public consumption?

The staple diet of most these days are reality TV shows that provide fly on the wall access to the homes of celebrities, the inner workings of football clubs and play by play commentary on the medical conditions of many who would previously have baulked at the mere thought of discussing them within the privacy of their own doctor’s surgery.

So what is privacy? What do we now consider the boundaries of what is for me to know and you to find out?

I can’t be too hypocritical about the subject; hence me asking questions, rather than pontificating from a standpoint of moral or ethical superiority. This blog serves as my medium to engage with others (you) and share ideas and beliefs about whatever subject I would like to discuss.

Social media gives us all an opportunity to instantly share the most random of thoughts, our instinctive reactions to our experiences and to sate our voyeuristic urges by eavesdropping on the conversations between public officials, captains of industry and the celebrities who – like us – seem to have forgotten the art of having a private conversation over the phone.

Perhaps our ideas of privacy have softened following the revelations and education we have all received over the past decade; where we have seen that the realms of what we considered confidential, private – secure – no longer are.

Phone taps, voicemail hacks, identity theft, credit card clones, scanners, Trojan virus’ and the piggy backing of a broadband signal. What once we thought was for our eyes and ears only seemed to be no more than a click, send, submit or accept from being in the hands of someone else.

So perhaps, like any immune system, we have built up a resilience to seeing privacy invaded and now no longer feel quite as perturbed as we would have in the days when a quick phone call meant finding change and leaving the house to find the nearest, cleanest, telephone box that was in working order.

Maybe the Katie Price’s, Kim Kardashian’s and Big Brother attention seekers have reduced the threshold of what we now consider to be private.

Could it be that we no longer worry about who could be peering through our curtains when we can log on to the Internet and stroll down anyone’s street via Google Earth? Street view allows us to walk up to the front door of nigh on any house on the planet and, if you forgot to close the door, peek inside your garage or count the new Coy you put into your pride of place fish pond.

Twitter, Facebook, My Space, Tumblr, Instagram – you name it, you can update to it. Privacy – who cares? There is so much to delve through that we will all probably get to a point where we reach access overload.

How ironic. We could reach the point where we have so much access to the inner thoughts and microscopic movement of all we know – or don’t – that we might not care to look anymore.

Perhaps the privacy we once held so dear will return to us – when we can no longer stand to log on and take a look.

How long before “Private – Keep Out!” becomes synonymous with “Who Cares – I don’t want to know!”?

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We’re just socially interacting, innit
Not hating nor pontificating

Insinuating perhaps even implicating
Occasionally berating

But always articulating
Without aggravating or humiliating

Just relating

Relating

Participating

Oft times facilitating

Hopefully cultivating an educating and exhilarating
Illuminating and invigorating

Opportunity to debate

To generate thoughts and create a state of mind
Never blind to the fact that we

Each one of a kind
endure this

Grind

Time after time

Walking that
Line

So cruelly defined by fate

So why wait?

Come
Before it’s too late

Let’s
Start a debate.

When you passionately argue against a system that provides access to healthcare for those who are probably most in need, you are, for me, arguing from a platform that is completely and utterly morally, ethically and inhumanely spent.

As the world scratched its collective head attempting to comprehend the fantastic spectacle that was the London 2012 opening ceremony, I took to the social network-sphere to take in the wave of pride of a nation who saw an homage to our National Health Service.

A nod, for those who are still confused, to the idea behind the NHS. To the concept that a nation would ensure free access to a healthcare system for all – based on their medical needs and not on their ability to pay.

Was this a political statement? Who can say?

Should an Olympic opening ceremony be the vehicle for such a statement if it were? No – some would say. Emphatically. Passionately.

However.

Stop for a moment.

Consider.

These games – the London bid, were based on the ideal of inspiring a generation. About igniting the imagination and desires of an entire generation. What better message could you possibly hope for the youth of today; the leaders of tomorrow; the minds that will define a nation, than one that embodies the very best of qualities humanity has to offer?

Thinking not of yourself, but of others. Taking care, not just of yourself, but also of your neighbours.

As #NHS began trending on Twitter I was surprised to see the fear, perhaps even hate, for and of the idea of social healthcare.

I was numbed by the comments of those who truly believe(d) that a healthcare system built around the idea that everyone would pay to ensure everyone had access was abhorent.

I wanted to ask those who most vehemently raged against our NHS, those who live on shores from across an ocean, why they were so against putting in place a system that extends the life expectancy of everyone, not just of the affluent.

I wanted to debate the thought that this social ideal was inherently evil, when the counter argument was one that saw no demons in a system that directly links your health to your bank balance.

If money is the route of all evil…

I don’t believe that the opening ceremony was lauding the current state of our NHS; as it is in dire need of improvement. I am not even sure it was making a political plea that we should save it.

However.

Stop for a moment.

In a time when so many countries are weighted down under the burden of an economical recession, when more and more people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads or put food on their tables – ask yourself. What exactly is it that someone could find so repugnant about a system that would ensure that you, yes you – no matter what your financial situation might be tomorrow, do not have to worry about your access to healthcare?

I ask simply because… because… money has no place determining who should continue living!

The Decline of Decency

Posted: February 28, 2012 in Social Commentary
Tags: , , ,

I am not quite sure what happened to the age of innocence, but I have a good idea about what is happening to the age of decency.

I have a good idea and I do not care for it at all – not one iota!

With each passing day I seem to despair more and more at the absolute torrent of hateful and abusive vitriol people seem happy to vent at complete and utter strangers.  Whether it be via the medium of social media; an online discussion forum or more alarmingly, towards the person on the other end of the telephone.

Every day seems to bring a new low in a catalogue of lows in the decay of what used to be commonly expected as basic human decency.

I frequently ask myself the question “when did it become acceptable to disagree with someone’s opinion with a bile laden response that makes you catch your breath or makes you wince at the venom injected into the expletive; the offensive insult, the comment designed to do nothing other than hurl as much disgust or disdain in one spiteful and deplorable statement?”

Some responses are nothing more than a single worded response; whichever single word will cause the most shock and pain.

When did it become so shameful?

When did respect and decorum so abjectly fall from grace?

I do not know who to blame and I have to admit that I do not particular have the appetite or energy to start apportioning responsibility to any particular person or group of persons.  All that I am certain of, is that it is a crying shame that so many feel so invulnerable behind the keyboard – so invincible that they would pour forth such hate without any restraint.

It is a shame and it is an indictment on what has and is continuing to become of our society.

Perhaps it was always this way.  Perhaps the electronic age merely opened up the gateway; enabled a medium to reach out across the globe, instead of across the garden fence.

All I know – is that it is a shame.

Shameful.

Something about which we should all be ashamed.

“That wasn’t me letting you into my lane… That was me leaving a safe two-second gap!”

When it comes to driving, I prefer being on the Motorway than churning out the miles around town.  I love the open road and the fact all traffic is heading in the same direction.  I even get a great sense of achievement when I see the distance decreasing as I pass each and every road sign.

I feel so much more secure that I don’t have to keep an eye out for small children.  I feel so much more secure – right up until that point when someone spies the two-second gap I am leaving between me and the car ahead.

We all know this driver, perhaps we sometimes are the driver in question.  They see the gap and decide it is just about the right size for their car and dart into it from the adjacent lane.  They dart in; sometimes even thank you – as though you had in some way encouraged their lane change by leaving the gap, immediately causing you to lift off the gas and cover the brake.

They dart in with no apparent sense of regard for the fact they are now less than a second behind the car in front of them and have now caused you to be less than a second behind them.

A fortnight ago I completed a round trip of just under 400 miles; a journey that involved me spending quite some time on some of Britain’s busiest stretches of Motorway.

During this journey I lost count of the number of times someone stole my two-second gap; the number of times someone disregarded common-sense in the name of expediency and haste.  During this journey I lost count of the number of times I heard myself say “I wasn’t letting you in!  That was my two-second gap!”

This week we were sadly reminded how close we are to tragedy, whenever we climb aboard a vehicle and take to the roads.  We saw what has been reported as one of the worst motorway accidents in UK history; a harrowing accident where the number of people injured or dead and the number of vehicles involved seemed to increase with every updated news report.

It is entirely far too early to speculate about what caused the accident and far too soon to comprehend how those families involved will go about dealing with their loss and rebuilding their lives.

But, perhaps – we can all take the warning we have been given.  Perhaps we can all put in a little more thought the next time we are about to change lanes.  That two-second gap is there for a reason.  That phone call can wait, surely it can wait.  The radio station – does it really need changing this instant?

We can all take that tiniest bit more care.

Surely we can give each other that.

Can’t we?

Two seconds really isn’t that much to ask.

Ok – this will be an extremely short blog post from me, as I really need to get this out of my system and ask ‘what the hell kind of people are they?’

I have no idea how I stumbled across this programme but I am entirely hooked on the, in my opinion, vacuous, disingenuous and utterly self-effacing (sarcasm) protagonists that make up the cast of this unbelievable show.  And when I say ‘unbelievable’, it is not with any kind of admiration or reverence.

Surely there are only so many air-kissing, designer clothes wearing, materialistic divas; all with ego’s the size of Manhattan, that one can fit into a programme.  Surely!

However – perhaps it is just me; perhaps I have no idea what I am talking about (not something I am above admitting) – perhaps that is actually what house-wives in New York City aspire to be.

Maybe I just have a lot to learn.

Well – I intend to watch as many episodes of this ‘show’ as I can fit in to my week.  All so I can learn of course.  Really, I am.

In fact, I dare all of you to watch an episode and see if you manage to learn something as well.  Thing is – if you do, can you please come back and explain it to me?

Can an addiction to buying books be considered ‘unhealthy’,  or does the fact that the vice; the crutch of the addiction, is in essence the voracious pursuit of knowledge make it unquestionably healthy?

I ask because I, yet again, went to buy something for someone else and managed to come home with two new books to add to my collection.

I ask because, and not for the first time, I found myself standing in Waterstone’s thinking that the staff were so lucky to work in an environment where they spent their entire day surrounded by thousands upon thousands of books.

I ask because, and this is not something I am proud of, there is a very good chance those new books will join the pile of other ‘unread’ books that adorn my humble bookshelf.

I ask because, and I am sure there are others out there who will understand this, I actually asked the shop assistant to see if they had another copy of one of the books, because the cover was dog-eared; something that made me feel decidedly uncomfortable.

And I ask because, and again – I am sure I am not alone in this, the thought of someone breaking the spine of a new book sends a chill through me to my very core.

So I ask, is it wrong that I love the smell of a new book?  Is it wrong that I will randomly pick up an old favourite and read through a familiar passage?  Is it wrong that I am somewhat precious about whom I let near my books and whom I would let borrow it?

I have stroked the dust-cover of a new book.

I have looked upon a book with what could only be described as wanton lust.

One of the two books I bought is the third copy of that book I will have owned – and yet, I have never read it.

I think I may have an addiction, but does that mean I have a problem?

Oh – and if you were curious, the two books were 1984 (third copy) and Coming Up for Air – by George Orwell.