Define a Waste of Time

I’d love to know what you think constitutes as a waste of time.

I have this niggling worry everyday as I find myself spending more and more time caught up on the internet. I’m on social media, or I’m Wiki-hopping from one interesting link to the next. Or I’m taking too many photos of the cat so I can ostensibly capture an instant on Instagram.

I’m not necessarily saying these things are a waste of time, but I can’t claim they’re not either.

I’m not even a big social media addict. Twitter and Instagram and WordPress are my big distractions. I rarely check Facebook, and except for Instagram, I don’t have any of these as phone apps. If I duck out from work to get lunch, I’m not among the people in the queue who browse their phones.

I found myself going to my laptop this morning to look up something simple and became so distracted by the alerts and reminders and emails that I completely forgot my original purpose. Time ticked on. By the time I closed my laptop and thought about changing out of my pyjamas, I realised I’d intended to check the weather forecast.

Completely revealing my age, as a child my aunt and uncle had a Commodore 64. Which at the time, was A-MAZ-ZING. My brother and I played on this thing for hours and hours. Children don’t feel quite the same level of guilt as adults but as much then as now, it’s not that I don’t enjoy my computer time – only that I think it could be better spent with something I enjoy as much, if not more. But it’s easy, isn’t it? You get caught up and before you know it you’ve been browsing your Twitter feed for an hour.

How do you waste time? How do you willingly spend time but regret it later?


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Tiny Peppers, blogging every day in November – you can find them here!

 

 


I just spent five minutes trying to find an appropriate meme for this post.

I stopped myself.

No meme for you, more time for me.

Did I make the right choice?

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People on Pedestals

It makes sense we feel connections with people in the public eye. You observe them on television, in film, on stage or follow them through social media. You probably like their show, love their movie, own their art, listen to their music or read their writing. You probably feel, on some level, you know them.

I can understand all this, which makes it difficult for me to explain the ways I don’t understand.

Even as a teenager, at the alleged peak of celebrity obsessions, I was disinterested. I mean, I had ‘celebrity crushes’ but hanging pictures of these strangers on my bedroom wall (no matter how cute they were) seemed weird to me. What posters I did possess were stuck under the lid of my storage chest away from prying eyes – pictures of animals and ALF. Yes, ALF – who’s a puppet. While my pin-up choices made sense in my head, my friends were infatuated with television personalities, bands and film stars. When one friend tried to entice me to get an autograph from a local celebrity, I replied, ‘What for? He wouldn’t want mine’. I managed to confuse my friend, who couldn’t find an argument against it and nevertheless wandered off for the autograph without me.

That’s not to imply I wouldn’t want to meet the famous people I admire. Unfortunately, when those opportunities present themselves I imagine myself standing with a gazillion other people who may or may not be screaming for the off chance of a short conversation that may or may not be meaningless. Of course, this standard of mine means I’m unlikely to ever meet them in any capacity. Which perhaps makes me all the poorer.

Look. Can’t we just meet for a coffee?

I find myself feeling sorry for well-known people. Some are better at negotiating ‘celebrity’ than others but I often see the down side.

I follow Emma Watson on Twitter and some months ago now she tweeted this:

“I told my dad I am learning to touch type and he said he still uses the ‘hunt and peck’ technique. And now I’m crying laughing. #dads”

Charming, right? One of the responses to this comment was vile. Irrelevant and vile. At the time I saw it, it had thirteen RTs and several more tagged it as a favourite. I realise that’s a relatively small portion of her followers but I still got the heebie-jeebies on Emma’s behalf.

Then there was this photo that did the rounds on Twitter

 

Should this treatment be part of being famous? Really? Taking pictures of them doing things unrelated to their job? With their kids in the park? In the supermarket? But I guess it fills me with horror because I would hate it happening to me.

In my teens I witnessed a girl scream when she unexpectedly meet a actor from an Australian soapie. A short and shocked ‘argh!’ like she’d just uncovered a spider. I admit, it is odd seeing people from television/film in public (it’s a bit like when you’re a child and see your school teacher at the supermarket), but scream? Without meaning to sound like Spock, this response seemed illogical.

I once saw Miriam Margolyes at the airport (she notably played Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films) and I kept well away. She looked like she wanted to be swallowed by the world and avoided making eye contact with anyone.

But there is a market for it. People buy celebrity magazines. I have family and friends who buy them. Some ‘celebrities’ probably buy them. And I don’t understand it at all. So when The Daily Post asked the question, ‘Who did you idolise as a teenager? Did you go crazy for the Beatles? Ga-ga over Duran Duran? In love with Justin Bieber? Did you think Elvis was the livin’ end?’, I couldn’t relate to this either.

I know I’ve way over-thought this, but sometimes I feel we use the word ‘idolise’ too freely; we feel it more than we think about why. We give more weight to attractiveness than we do to identity. We mix up actors with the characters they play, we confuse popularity with talent and fame with worth. What am I idolising exactly?

I don’t like people on pedestals. I’m not saying you can’t look up to people, only that I prefer admiration over adoration and respect over worship. Some of the kindest, extraordinary, admirable, inspiring and talented people are not well-known at all.

 

Who are your non-famous idols? Do you have an autograph of someone you admire and if so what does it mean to you?

 

Affinity and Beyond

I’ve always liked the word ‘affinity’. There’s a lot of depth entwined within that one word – that emotional connection with something stretching beyond mere personal preference.

Often your affinity for certain items is strong enough for friends or family to recognise it and say things like “that is very you“. When my husband raises his eyebrows at the sight of something I’ve saved from the market it’s resignation bordering on disapproval – he’s definitely not surprised by my choice.

As a self-confessed hoarder, I’ve mentioned before how I like to collect stuff and while I claim to collect nothing more specific than things I like, I admit certain patterns are emerging. I have a lot of pre-1950s porcelain dog ornaments, a few dolls’ heads and several small teddy bears. Clocks, plenty of clocks but only a couple work and tell the correct time. It took a house guest to point out my three (quite different) depictions of Montmartre, Paris – the conversation began with, “Have you been to Montmartre?” and I replied, “No, why d’you ask?”.

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Image: Jack Hood

I’m more mouse than lion. I feel more dog than cat (although, I love them both). I’m more cottage than palace and a meadow of poppies than a garden of roses. More bumble bee than dolphin (or any other aquatic animal for that matter). I love the colour green, but feel more like a deep teal blue.  Autumn is my season, autumnal are my colours and leaves (actual, painted or ornamental) also feature highly among my objects. Red rooves and chimneys. Feathers. Notebooks. Christmas trees. The number 11. How did these become me?

*insert nature versus nurture debate*

I’ve been browsing other blogs, looking at the pictures in headers and examining blog identities and Twitter pages and I find it interesting how other bloggers see themselves and what they think ‘represents’ them. From a goldfish to a dinosaur to clocks. Why did I chose my blog header? Why do I feel that reflects me?

What do you inexplicably connect with? Where do your affinities lie?

Blogged Down

Warning: Rant pending.

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I *like* this, so it is completely relevant

While my blog appears to have plateaued in readership, maybe it’s time I wrote about this whole social media malarkey.  I remain confused by the persistence of the fisher-types.  Why? Why, I ask?

I’ve spoken of this phenomenon before with regards to Twitter, but it was early-blog days and those who read that particular post genuinely followed me. Now I’m getting blog-fishers and I’m increasingly baffled. You see, my blog is young and I have so few genuine followers I can surmise who’s reading it based upon the country of origin. And because it is young, it is screamingly obvious when I have ‘likes’ on my post but zero views. Wow. People take the time to ‘like’ a post they haven’t actually read.

In reality, when you do that thing called ‘conversing with others’, you don’t say ‘that looks lovely’ before you see it. You don’t say, ‘this is delicious’ without tasting it. Even a liar knows if they wish to maintain a facade of credibility, this is the wrong way to proceed. But apparently, because we are only dealing with others in a virtual context – this is OK? No, I don’t want you to lie. I don’t want you to pretend to read this so your pretend liking of me appears more credible. Read it, or don’t. ‘Like’ it if you mean it.

I’m not sure why WordPress allows its other users to ‘like’ a post without opening the link. I assume it is to encourage connectivity. And as irritating as I find this, I irritate myself further by submitting to curiosity and tracing the fisher’s avatar back to their blog. And I guess this is the core of it, they don’t use the ‘like’ button to assess my blog, it’s an invitation to theirs. I guess if you ‘like’ enough people, sooner or later you’ll connect with right people.

I traced a fisher’s blog the other day to discover he started blogging when I did. I can see why people follow him and he doesn’t really need to fish. But he does fish and he now has four-thousand odd followers. Of course, this leads me to wonder about the benefits of having a large follower count if you can’t tell who’s reading it or which ‘likes’ are genuine. Does a high follower count influence a blog’s likability? Are new visitors more inclined to take to the time to read it?

Now. This next sentence is really important, so be sure you read it carefully. There will be a ‘like’ button at the bottom of this post but please ignore it. I repeat – IGNORE it. Even if you think this post is made of awesome, resist the urge. Feel free however to leave a comment, (even if you can only manage one random word) just so as I know you’re participating in my WordPress experiment. Alternatively (and it would be amazing if you could), insert a random instruction into your own blog post in the next month and see who in your readership notices (don’t forget to link here so I can check it out).

Breathe in. Annnnddd out.

OK. My inner scientist is getting all excited. To give this some perspective, you need to know I’m dealing with a pretty small sample size. I have (to date) twenty-four blog followers. My highest ‘like’ count currently stands at eight. So this isn’t going to be a mind blowing exercise (prepare to be underwhelmed).

I want to add too, this is not a judgement on anyone’s following or ‘liking’ habits, I’m aware it’s part of the social media machine – I just don’t understand. And for me personally, I’d really like to know what is real.

So thank you for reading this.  Thank you to all those who support me and my blog.  Of course, you are under no obligation to participate in my zany ideas, I’m sure my husband wishes he had the chance to opt out (HIM: What do you mean you want to put a fish tank in a piano? ME: It’d be amazing! HIM: Ugh).

For today only, I hope you don’t like me *knowing wink*.

 

Any thoughts on blog-fishers? Am I mad not to subscribe to the technique? Check out this post that discusses the correlation between followers and ‘likes’.

The Hollow Follow

0e689add9f898cff852ecc11d29c3139I don’t want to be the person who expects a follow-back. Of course, when I follow someone I do have this faint hope that they might check out my profile and like it. Realistically, especially when the person of interest/admiration/adoration has a few thousand followers, noticing you while they’re navigating their fame-machine is like expecting to be noticed under the cover of darkness in an invisibility suit. It marks my insignificance with a big red squiggle*. As Ms Under50Followers, I once sent a tweet to Mr 5000 in the slim hope of a retweet or reply. Nothing. In his feed I noticed he’d sent a similarly hopeful tweet to Mr 950000 and he got nothing back either. It’s all relative isn’t it? We have this daft desire to seek acknowledgement from those we respect and Twitter gives us this false sense of being able to touch their lives. Sometimes, there are golden moments when we do.

I was ecstatic when I got my first follow-back. My ‘Yay!’ dissolved quite rapidly into an ‘Oh’ when I discovered he return-followed everyone. It’s like eating chocolate with a soft-centre of disappointment. I genuinely believed with delusional naivety (and yes, all those words are required to express the extent of my foolishness) that each follow meant something. No. Welcome to Twitter. On the upside, no matter how slight the possibility, one day he might accidently read my tweet and then read this. Just in case – Hello.

Then there are the Fishers. They always follow back, they always expect a return-follow and consider yourself unfollowed if you don’t comply with these conditions. One Fisher, even though I followed them first, went to the trouble of sending me a direct thankyou message and a return-follow, only to cull 90% of their fan-base once they’d reached one thousand hits. Conversely, there are a rare bunch of Fishers who honour their decision to follow you despite no return-follow. These are often talented unsponsored people trying to promote themselves and prove they are worthy to receive more of the next type of follower – the Enthusiast.

Enthusiasts (not to be confused with Stalkers) are the followers we all want. They read your tweets, read your blog, read your books, cook your recipes, listen to your music, watch you on TV, see your film, laugh at your jokes, marvel at your satire, hear your truth and if you’re not achieving any of those things on a large scale, they believe you could. They are the Twitter-folk that one day might allow you to earn some money.

Sometimes Fishers are also Enthusiasts and many Enthusiasts take the odd fishing trip. It’s inevitable. When Unknowns attempt to be heard over the noise of several hundred million other Unknowns, Twitter becomes a numbers game. I don’t know what kind of benefits a decent follower count yields, but I wonder, is a follow-back courteous if it is meaningless? Is any follow a good one?

My husband warned me against posting my Twitter observations. He said that I risked isolating myself from my (meagre number of) Twitter followers. But will I? If all I am to someone is a follow-back then they’re not reading this. If, however, you have come to this via Twitter you are an Enthusiast. Even if I’m unfollowed, you’re that person who takes the time to discover whether or not you like me.

I can follow that.

* I hope you misread that as ‘squirrel’ like I did on my read through. I may actually prefer my insignificance to be marked with a big red squirrel.