Privacy in the digital age

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God, that’s a wanky title. It’s the sort of title someone who puts “social media expert” in their Twitter bio would give a blog. If you’re lucky I’ll come back and change it. But to be honest I probably won’t.

Anyway – I’ve been thinking a bit lately about how to hold on to some degree of privacy in the 21st century, when we all live online, pretty much all day every day. It’s pretty hard is the conclusion I’ve come to.

Now that’s not much of a blog, is it, so I suppose I better ‘flesh out my ideas’ or whatever it is ‘bloggers’ do.

I was trying to think why I update this place so infrequently. I enjoy blogging, I have plenty of ideas for posts, it’s just getting round to doing it – that’s what I thought.

But that’s not it at all. It’s because of privacy. Yeah man.

I used to do those wildly (a bit) popular 99 girl problems posts where I basically treated you all as a therapist and you laughed at me for being shit at life. But as a therapy session it didn’t work out too well (for me). I wasn’t getting a lot out of the deal. I tended to start them in a weird mood and end them in a weirder one. So I stopped.

Then I thought I could blog about work – but what’s the point in that? Work is work, nobody wants to come home and do more stuff about work when they’re not at work. And anyway, you can’t say anything too interesting as you’re risking giving away secrets and/or getting yourself into trouble with your bosses – unless you’re anonymous – which I reckon defeats the point of blogging. Or boring everyone shitless. Probably mostly boring everyone shitless. Yeah you’re bored shitless reading this blog anyway, I know, I know, you’re a comedian.

Then I was thinking about the more personal stuff I’ve put on here and I thought, maybe I just don’t want to open myself up like that any more? I don’t know what I was expecting when I wrote those posts, really I don’t, but I wasn’t after being laughed at so much. Sure, it’s reassuring, for about a second, that I’m at least providing some entertainment for people, but then after that you just feel shit.

I also stopped posting personal stuff as I’ve been getting into too much trouble for stuff I’ve said – so I’ve been trying not to say stuff that might get me into trouble. I’ve realised this is really dull though, so I’ll probably pack that in in a bit.

And I don’t really want to talk about feelings and stuff anyway. It’s not very manly – and I am very manly. VERY MANLY. And anyway, quite often they’re not very uplifting so I dunno why anyone would want to read them.

And THEN (I’m getting to the point, promise), I realised the reason I seem to have stopped blogging is about privacy. Everyone has gone a bit batshit mental on the internet. Over-sharing is rife. I’m pretty bad for it, as any one of my followers on Twitter would agree. But my argument for that is way before I used Twitter in a semi-professional way (I mean when I got a proper job), it was a very warts-and-all (I don’t really have warts – that’s a metaphor – if I did I certainly wouldn’t blog/tweet about them) thing. Watering it down would make it a bit pointless. Nobody wants to read someone who just tweets about their dinner or some boring fucking conference they’ve gone to.

I stopped blogging because I just didn’t want to share any more. I’ve been considering giving up Twitter as an experiment for the same reason, but frankly I’d rather cut my right ball off and I don’t think I could anyway – tweeting is completely automatic these days, I don’t even think about it. What would I do on the bus? Who would keep the #busnews tag going? These are big questions, questions I do not have an answer to.

But blogging is different. You have to sit down and analyse something, really give yourself (urgh) to the topic. It’s pretty exhausting, emotionally (yeah I went there), and I just don’t think I want to do it any more.

I’m not expecting people to beg me to keep blogging. I wouldn’t want them to – well…maybe a bit. But it’s rude to just leave something hanging empty, so this will be a final post. For a bit. Until I’m bored of keeping things to myself and then I’ll be FLINGING bits of information you really don’t want at you. In the face. So there.

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In other news

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Now that tedious rambling hoping for sympathy at earning a shitload of cash over the next few days is over, here’s some NEWS about ME since this is MY blog and obviously that’s what you all come here every day for, even though I’m terrible at updating it, truly terrible, and frankly am extremely boring and hardly qualify as a capable human being and judging off the site stats there’s nobody out there anyway. HELLO. CAN YOU HEAR ME?

  • My washing machine is still broken. It has been for about two months. This may explain why I have been visiting home more often recently. It’s now getting to the stage where I’m hoping fairies will turn up in the night and fix it.
  • My shower is now broken. There’s a hole in the hose that water sprays out of, viciously, in random directions. This is making having a shower a bit of a lottery. Again, hopefully the fairies will turn up and fix it.
  • I joined Lovefilm. I have about 150 films on my rental list. Am I doing it right?
  • I have dried porridge stuck to my t-shirt. Fit, right?
  • The bar girl from previous posts is now dating the bloke I told she doesn’t like. Does that make sense? So, all in all, that one went extremely well, I’m sure you’ll agree. I get to work five shifts with the pair of them in the next week and a bit. Can’t wait.
  • I didn’t like the new Lady Gaga song. I now like it. Apart from the weird spoken bit. I don’t like that bit. I’m a fickle bastard, aren’t I?
  • I celebrated my birthday (23rd, contrary to popular belief, yes I’m an old bastard) belatedly. Drunk times were had. I’d tell you about it if I could remember any of it.
  • I got a credit card. This is perhaps not a good idea. Who wants to go on holiday?

That’s it 😦

My non-holiday bank holiday weekend

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I haven’t used this blog to complain yet. Time to fix that, innit.

This weekend, despite it being apparently a HOLIDAY, I’m doing four jobs. This is bloody ridiculous. I officially only have one job, how does this kind of thing even happen? Especially to someone as lazy as me. I do not know the answer to these questions.

In fairness I have just taken two weeks off work in which I did basically nothing except annoy the cats I was supposed to be looking after at my dad’s. But this is besides the point. FOUR JOBS.

I’ve left Smacks more often than the Mitchell brothers have left Eastenders. Guess where I’m working on Saturday and Sunday night? You got it. Obviously I just can’t get enough of those five quid an hour wages and pissed, annoying customers. I love that shit, I truly do. I’m even back on the sodding rota at the place. I’ve left. I live miles away. They can’t cope without me. That must be it. The customers have demanded my return. Who am I to deny the public, eh?

The other three jobs are all proper work related – regular overtime and two clients who have weekend content from us. I volunteered for all of them – it’s actually (sometimes) fun and decent money – so I can’t really complain…but still. Four jobs. Four bloody jobs. I do have an author page on one of the websites though. And I’ll get bylines on another. Get in. Back of the net. Etc.

It effectively means that *counts in head*, by the time I next have an actual day off, I’ll have done four days this week, four days this weekend, three days next week…four days next weekend…four days the week after…my next proper day off is Saturday the 7th of May. That counts smacks shifts that finish in the early hours of the following day…but still. FOUR JOBS. That’s not even counting nonaynever.net, which is effectively a part-time job, and various other writing and subbing stuff that turns up from time to time. Sigh.

Still, I don’t have to do any proper work for nearly 24 hours. Party on down.

*goes to bed*

99 girl problems – part two

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Shit on it – it’s a month since I actually wrote anything proper for this place.

In the absence of anything more interesting to tell you about (other than I got roped into writing for Immerse in Tech by Adam), I’ll give you a little update on what happened with Thingybobs (can’t remember if I told you her name, you know, bar girl from the other post the other week, the one I told when drunk I like her, which I remember, but can’t remember what happened next – TRAUMA).

I pissed her off. This is a girl you do not want to piss off. She could probably take me apart with her bare hands. She’s from Padiham, man. Padiham is the boil on the arse of Burnley. Which is in turn the boil on the arse of east Lancashire. You get the picture. Back at Christmas I had to ask Twitter if it’s still a sign someone likes you if they beat you up after you stop being kids – it is, forever, apparently – she used to leave me covered in bruises after working with her for a few hours in a bar. I am a beaten man. It is hard for me to speak about this, truly it is.

ANYWAY, I pissed her off. There’s this really sweet lad who used to work at the same place with that I’ve always got on with. Nice, but a bit dim. Wouldn’t hurt a fly. He likes her.

She was doing the usual girl thing of either not noticing even though it was completely obvious, or pretending not to for whatever reason it is that girls do that (why do girls do that? GIRLS, write in and explain yourselves).

So I told him. I may have (I did) also told him she doesn’t like him in the same way, which is true, ’cause she told her mate who told me, for reasons I am not aware of. In my defence, if I was in his position, I would want to know and have all the info and not be waiting for something to happen for years and years and years and then it not and yes I have been here and no I don’t want to talk about it. But it was a shitty thing to do and I do feel guilty.

I was being fair to him, obviously, not just trying to clear the path for myself, as that would be horrible. Anyway, he went off in a man huff to have a subtle cry probably and punch a wall, whatever it is men do, and I thought I’d got away with it. And carried on drinking – I had been drinking all day, there’s nothing else to do in Burnley. Even if I was in Manchester, but that’s not the point. Then I went home. To bed. To sleep.

Unfortunately, apparently it all kicked off after I’d fucked off home and obviously it’s all my fault. Which it is, but I hate it when it’s my fault. So I woke up to bollockings via Facebook – I’ll tell you something for free – I’ve had better starts to hangovers.

So that’s where we’re up to. I’m quite impressed with myself actually. Usually I’m good at sabotaging my own relationships, this time I managed to break my own – which wasn’t even in first gear – and someone else’s. Double word score.

I’m going home this weekend so more epic adventures are sure to occur.

DON’T GO ANYWHERE.

(You can go somewhere if you really need to, just make sure you come back. Cheers.)

99 girl problems – part one

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I am one of these people who likes to analyse things. Well, I say like to, I don’t like to, I do it and then hate myself for it. It works pretty well most of the time. Anyway, I mull things over, run through potential outcomes and calculate their probability. It’s a bit like poker, except with my life and that I’m not very good at poker.

While I can usually keep my mentalness to myself, sometimes it spills over and causes problems in relationships. Yes, dear reader(s?), I am talking about the fairer sex once again. Make yourself comfortable.

The analysing is just one of the problems. I also have a horrible compulsion to say whatever is on my mind. Again, I can often control this, at work especially, but with friends I usually let my mouth run away with me. They’re used to it, I get more leeway with them than frankly I deserve. But anyway – not so with girls.

Girls are judgemental. And mental – but in a different way to me being mental. Their brains work in different ways. They read things differently. They assume things, usually wrongly, in my experience, then it’s your fault that they have done so.

Another problem. Once I get a bee in my bonnet about something I find it almost impossible to get rid of it. For instance, on Thursday night I asked a question of someone which has hugely unfair. I knew it was unfair. She knew it was unfair. She said so. I agreed. But I still made her answer, even though I knew I wouldn’t like the answer. We haven’t spoken since. It was grimly predictable. I wonder if she’s stopped being mad (she called me mental three times in the space of an hour – I had no valid defence) at me yet. I wonder if I’m over it yet.

I’m stubborn. This is the next problem. I know that in the above situation I am in the wrong and should definitely apologise. I know this, I do. But I can’t. Because I’m stubborn. So I’ll wait until she makes the first move towards a reconciliation and then she’ll be pissed off I’ve made her do it. This is already mapped out – I could stop it, but I can’t. I’m not making sense.

Women terrify me. With their shiny hair and faces and bodies and brains and feelings and emotions and all that shit. They are frightening. If I had a choice between taking on an army of Daleks unarmed or talking to an actual woman I would be picking the rubbish bins with plungers sticking out of their heads every time.

All weekend I’ve been avoiding one of them, you know, one of those female things. Because the last time we spoke I was drunk and apart from the last hugely embarrassing thing I said to her which there is no way I am sharing so don’t bother asking, I remember nothing of the night. Most likely the alcohol, possibly my brain deleting the evidence for me. Thanks, brain.

Anyway, one simple conversation this weekend could have cleared up the situation (is it even a situation? I don’t know, I ran away and hid in Salford for a month), but instead I’ve, er, run away to hide in Salford for a month. Same time next month, aye? Deal.

Just to demonstrate the sheer terror a woman can strike in to my heart, let me share a story. I was working in Smacks (bar in Burnley, been doing shifts there on and off for five years) one time and this woman, shortish, big eyes, dark haired, prettyish, was trying to start a conversation with me, I was probably 18 (young and stupid, nothing has changed since) at the time. I dislike it when people do this at the best of times. The best punters are the ones who order their drink, give you the right money and leave, sharpish. No small talk is needed thanks. Get your liquor and get away from my bar. What can I say, I’m a people person. I am a born journalist.

So I was delaying talking to this girl. She’d managed to get my name and age out of me between serving customers. This was more sharing of information than I was comfortable with. Eventually, there was nobody left at the bar other than her and the chap she was with. It was pretty awkward. The other bloke on the bar had spied what was going on and was in quiet hysterics in the corner, the bastard. So I had to go and talk to her. She was chatting me up. Now, I have little experience of being chatted up (I know, with this face, it is a surprise, but I am telling the truth here), but she was definitely chatting me up.

I figured this was a bit weird with this bloke stood there like a lemon so I was giving her the straight bat, all Jonathan Trott like, resolute in my defence. More punters eventually arrived and I was able to slink off and do some work. But she hung around the bar all night and eventually asked what was wrong with her, why I was being like I was (a dick, to be honest, but she didn’t say that). I can’t remember what I said (thanks again, brain), but I wasn’t very nice and she went off a bit upset…I still feel guilty about this. So she stormed off with her pal and my colleague, who’d been watching this develop all evening comes over, asks me what I was playing at turning down her advances. I tell him it was because I thought she was taking the piss, with her boyfriend stood there, for their own amusement. But oh no, that bloke’s not her boyfriend. My colleague happens to know he is actually a gay man with a gay partner. Yep, I’m a massive idiot.

That was kind of cathartic. Where was I? Another problem, right? I obsess over things. So someone will say something or do something and I will obsess and obsess over it for days, for no rhyme or reason or resolution. I get crushes on people easily. I daydream often and vividly and have even been known to confuse reality with things my mind has conjured.

I think that will do for now. The men in white coats are probably on their way. Part two will come after a self-loathing session throws up a few more problems.

This blog is SO much cheaper than therapy.

Those moments you endlessly replay in your head

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I don’t know if anyone else has this, but my brain does this annoying thing where it saves key moments in my life and endlessly replays them back to me.

Most people probably do have memories, yes. But mine aren’t highlights. They aren’t nice memories designed to make me feel better. If my life was a stint on now-defunct Channel 4 reality show Big Brother, my “best bits” would be a string of embarrassing moments where I’ve said something monumentally silly, failed to read a clear signal, turned down a great opportunity and just generally got in my own way.

It stops me sleeping at night sometimes, it really does.

Like there’s the moment where at ten years old I was squeezing behind my teacher’s class at school when somehow I managed to take the legs from under her, dumping her on her backside. Did I mention she was heavily pregnant at the time? She was fine, but I still have nightmares about that moment.

Somewhat inevitably, as it always seems to be with me, most of them involve women and my regular failings with them. (There will probably be a lot of this kind of thing on here – consider yourself warned – and if you’re my sister or my stepmother please stop reading now please thanks)

For instance, there was the time when I was leaving, and she told me not to go, and looked at me with a face that told me she *really* didn’t want me to go. So I went. I don’t think she ever forgave me for that. I never forgave myself for it and often fantasise how different my life would have been if I’d stayed.

Then there was the time when she (a different she) was upset and I was comforting her and instead of doing what 99% percent of blokes would have done and used the situation to my own advantage, I inexplicably told her my best mate fancied her. That went down badly with both parties. I’m no Cilla, put it that way.

Oh yeah, and the recent time when she (a different she still – what a gigantic slut I am) had hold of me and was angling after a Christmas kiss, so I told her she was annoying. Score! I am tremendous at this flirting lark. In my defence, on that occasion I was so drunk I could barely sit up straight. And she was being kind of annoying…

Ooh ooh ooh and then there was the other time, with yet another she, who was with me against all the odds, when there was a definite opening (I’m sure I haven’t just made this up) and the moment slipped away. That one will probably haunt me forever.

Then, going back to my teens, there was my first major crush (a mate’s sister’s mate – stay with me here), who cornered me one day and said she’s heard I liked her and demanded to know whether or not it was true. So I said no!?!?! What was I playing at? I have literally no clue.

Sometimes I think there’s a spiteful little man living in my brain who sees these moments coming and deliberately prevents me from being happy by sabotaging the situation by making me say something incredibly thick, or by physically running away. It’s a few years since I pulled that stunt, mind…