Food and foreplay: How social media shaped our religion
Apart from instigating misleading responses to the question ‘Mommy, what exactly is a BJ?’ Steak and ‘Love-between-a-woman-and-a-man-Kind-Of’ Day took Twitter by storm this March 14 as ‘the male equivalent to Valentine’s Day.’
What does this say about what we care about in a modern age? Particularly when we consider the 2002 article ‘Britain has no National Children’s Day…’ and eleven years, and no recognition of International Children’s Day (November 20) later we have, at least, managed to produce a chauvinistic celebratory day which nudges women towards the belly (excuse the pun) of a patriarchal social media-fed monster which has spawned three ‘official websites’ to date. Honestly, Google it. Or don’t actually. It is this dependency on the internet which conceived the beast in the first place. Not that I can deny hypocrisy. As I write this I am simultaneously searching funny dogs on Pinterest (LOLcats are so last year, didn’t you watch Crufts?), uploading the weekends photos onto Facebook and thinking of witty oneliners for #smellconfession, apparently. Social media has indeed given us a platform to market ourselves, but once we’ve finished writing About Me’s and reformatting backgrounds we find ourselves in an internet purgatory of sorts, waiting for the illusive ‘k’ to appear after our number of followers. In lieu of such an occurrence, the majority of us must find contentment in scrolling through our Newsfeeds for something we can hashtag and follow like square-eyed sheep. Lo and behold, horsemeat in burgers?! Haven’t bought one since 1998 but heck, I eat, people eat; Sarah Jessica Parker, there’s a meme here with your name on it.
Although you laugh, you can’t ignore that familiar shudder down your spine as you remember your own ‘neigh-ver eating Findus again’ status. Yes. I know.
Self-loathing aside, I can’t help but wonder what drives our collective writer to use those precious one hundred and forty characters on the same topic pretty much every other sucker is. According to one ‘Official Steak and BJ’ site, the day has been slithering around the internet since 2003, so why hadn’t I heard of it until now? I can’t help thinking of Hume’s theory of the Natural History of Religion. Essentially, he postulated that religion follows an evolutionary pattern, oscillating between monotheism and polytheism – that’s one god or moar gods to you internetter – from pagan idols to an omnipotent creator then refluxing back into the worship of multiple, more personal deities. Applied to the modern age, it still makes sense. During the age of World War, the threat of imminent death drove the majority to seek a God who would be a comfort during times of fear or disaster. While I certainly can’t call the noughties perfect, I can refer to the nearly universal revocation of threats of climate change, as per the Sunday Telegraph’s rather cutting article on David Attenborough’s polar bear fibs, and the absence of weapons of mass destruction this end of the universe. Once we realised we weren’t all going to die in a puff of nuclear ray guns, the celebrity culture exploded instead, morphing into obsession with the invention of our good ol’ friend the Internet.
So here we are worshipping Stephen Fry and Justin Bieber when Stephen gets gay on us in too many ways than we can ignore, and Bieber’s balls drop. Ah. I guess we’re back to the metaphorical religious drawing board.
Bringing us nicely back to the question baffling our government for so long; who wants to celebrate kids anyway? They get old, smoke weed and smell like milk for an unnaturally long amount of time. They can’t even vote for monotheism’s sake! It’s not a big deal, the UN recommend it, but the only countries that celebrate Children’s Day are Azerbaijan, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Central Africa, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, China, Hungary, Haiti, Indonesia, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Sudan, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zambia after all.
Macedonia and us. We got a good thing going; let’s not mix things up too much.
Despite how this seems to be going, I am not about to suggest we start self-flagellating for Fillets and Fellatio [N.B. Cheers Official S & BJ site No.2]. What I am happy to propose however, is that the next step on our religious pilgrimage is not merely towards an omnipotent being, but an omnipotent idea. Our previous Gods disappoint, popes quit; All hail the internet, and our collective input to it. The hashtag will be our spiritual guide, connecting us to the spirits of our brethren, Thou Shalt not Hack thine Neighbours Facebook will be sang at schools across the Western world. Smirk all you will – we are half-way there, preferring self-glorification in fabricated red-letter days than celebrating the implementation of Children’s Rights.
At least we learnt something from the little mites; following the fall of our previous religions, our paracosm is the Internet itself.
I know. Time to stop typing that T-Bone joke.
This is part of my ‘Journalism’ module coursework, and doesn’t necessarily express real opinions of mine! The project is to write a collection of articles in the style of a certain publication as if to be published and has to be about current affaris. Bit concerned this might not be high-brow enough… ha!
It’s inspired by Charlie Brooker’s column, and thus for The Guardian… hopefully that’s apparent?
Let me know what you think :)
My poem, ‘Names’ has been published on the ‘Dead Beats’ literary blog and you can have a look on the link above :)
Thanks to Dead Beats for this great opportunity!
You can read what they had to say about it on Facebook here
Let me know what you think!
“There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night.”
— Albert Camus
A man wakes to the first rays of light prickling through the curtains. It is the same grey room that always greets him. There are a few more scattered items of crockery than he remembered there being. One of the cups on the bedside wears a furry crown upon an invisible head of water. Yawning, he pulls himself up at the promise of coffee.
Stepping through the smattering of papers and books strewn about the floor, he makes it to the kitchen, slapping down the knob on the kettle which bounces up defiantly. Swearing, he walks the extra few steps to the sink filling the kettle and slamming it on the mains port.
Next, he gropes at some mugs. Liquid splashes onto the work surface. He lifts the largest one to his nose, retching at the stench of alcohol that assaults his nostrils. Turning his face away, he tips the contents into the sink and squeezes washing up liquid into its mouth and leaves the tap running in it.
Lifting his body onto the work surface he puts his head in his hands, his elbows on his knees and his feet are left swaying in the air beneath them. He sighs, loudly, turning his head to the desk whereupon his laptop and numerous notepads lie. Turning his head back, the sight is obscured safely again by his palms.
This rest is broken by a urinal trickling. He jumps up, knowing immediately that he will be met by the suds bouncing gleefully around the rim of the sink as pieces of old food are swept to the floor in small streams. Turning off the tap he hears a fizzle behind him as the kettle overflows. His rage is immeasurable. With a sweep of his arm, he sends an array of porcelain crashing to the floor.
He is frustrated I suppose. He thinks his only companionship lies in the pigeons that occasionally shit on his balcony and fly away again before he has time to throw profanities and failed prologues at them.
His shoulders rise and fall steadily as he looks upon the sharp pearlescent shards that almost grin back at him. Impossible. He throws the closest dishtowel over the whole lot. The writing desk looks better now.
Although now he’s reached it and he can see the coffee stains stamped upon his laptop and the snowballs of paper that frame it, a familiar feeling rises in his stomach. Dizzied by it, he takes a seat in the worn grooves of the wooden seat.
Even now, fingers stretched towards the jar containing his writing instruments, his hand trembles. The capacity of those tubes of ink when nodding along with his knuckles as he scribbles frantically, terrifies him. His hand slumps back onto the table as he tries to determine which pen should serve him best. Which one curves sufficiently to navigate cortex and cerebrum and catch the golden tail of an idea, saturate itself in it and regurgitate it shiny and new onto the page?
Rubbing his temples, he tries to raise memories of techniques he may have overlooked, something to stimulate the Midnight Disease he knows he has within him.
The free-flow had failed. All he could write was that he could not write. He wrote this, over and over again, in different ways, past tenses and present participles until he found himself faced with the same sentences and there were no new ways to say old things.
He had cut up old papers and books producing jargon and confetti, some of which still lines the skirting boards.
He had bought Significant Objects. Mediocre and trashy he had thought as he picked up fluffy trolls and chipped china. But gold flashed in his eyes. So mediocre, so trashy, he had to have it. How could he not be inspired by such innate items handled by strangers?
It is now he remembers them and looks upon the windowsill where some sit, casting obscure shadows onto his desk, funnelling light through handles and armpits and tails, almost glittering. He thinks he will perhaps incorporate all of them, in the same vein that Greenman used the longest name palindrome in his Corked Bottle tale. But as he sits it does not come. He doesn’t even understand the fucking name story. He finds himself thinking only of the corporate stamp upon each form, items designed for one wear then tears. Instead of seeing their story potential he wonders what mark-up they achieved for Villeroy and Boch.
So as he stares at the window, eyes glazed to the sun, he misses the gentle clink of china as They congregate about his bed.
For Significant, his Objects are.
I hope people can make sense of this, I’d be interested to see what people think. Hopefully it’s a positive reflection to leave you with :)
Link to Ben Greenman’s http://significantobjects.com/2010/04/30/corked-bottle-ben-greenman-story/
I will be using this blog as a platform to share some of my creative work.
It’s mainly stories/poetry written at University, coursework or homework I have been set as part of my English and Creative Writing BA so it’s mostly quite rough around the edges, but I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Will possibly post articles too as I am taking a Journalism module this term, as well as videos and radio shows.
I am also Secretary of the University Sub-Aqua/Scuba club so you may see that popping up every now and again too; for this, I apologize.
Constructive Criticism welcome, I’m a student – I’m used to it… Just try to minimize spirit-crushing etc.