Making Friends

I got talking for the first time with a new housemate who perhaps, I should have gotten to know better before I moved in with him. He’s five years older than me and the oldest in the house and strangely I got along better with him than perhaps I thought I would or so far, how I have been with housemates my own age. What he said made a lot of sense to me, in that being you never know who people truly are until you have to live with them in a student house. For the first time in a while, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure whether it was that he was genuinely good conversation or that the lack of reliable internet or company that made his presence that much more meaningful – despite this being the second conversation we’ve actually had in person.

The hours of conversation have made me think about what we all expect from life and that ours differ so dramatically considering like me, he is going into his second year of university yet at twenty-four. He was speaking to me about children and how he’d like to settle down in ten years and start a family with a wife, a few kids and a white picket fence. Naturally, this made me think about my future as a family man and the thought of doing the school-run makes me want to hang myself. Yet despite fundamental differences in our envisions for the future, I’m feeling once again a sense of déjà vu: finding common ground amongst the things we both say ‘what the fuck’ at. This common theme with how I seem to bond with people makes me wonder if this is how we as humans, generally connect with people.

I know it’s strange since in the 21st Century we typically see and hear through various forms that love (whatever the fuck that means) brings us together whether it be to find common ground on political issues or humanitarian issues. Is the reality of it all far more cynical? I’m not particularly bothered if so, considering a good complain about people I don’t like or the current state of the political climate is becoming a pastime for me. Perhaps that is the greatest downfall of the modern world – our core belief that love will win the day and singing songs in unison at charity gigs will unite us all forever more. I’m not disputing the feel-good-factor and the buzz from those sorts of things but I don’t suppose the light bulb was invented because we loved candle. Complaining about things and being united in our shared annoyance or how put out we are has led to some of the greatest human advancements. Whinging about horses and how it takes too long to get from place to place led to the combustion engine and in turn, complaining about pollution has led to the UK banning the sale of diesel and petrol cars from 2040.

True, not all our advancements have come from healthy complaining considering a level of unhealthy complaining has led to many a war or skirmish stemming from the very fundamental line: ‘I don’t like that they believe in something different to us’. In a world of expanding atheism and nihilism that phrase is changing quickly to: ‘I don’t like that they believe’. Perhaps that’s a completely other rabbit hole to fall down some other time but my point is, whether we accept it or not, the foundation of human cooperation is based on bitching about things.

I for one, have never made a friend on holiday with a conversation not starting with a moan about the lack of available sun loungers or that the salad is off. Maybe this is just me and once again, I’m over generalising by a few thousand miles but today is a testament to the theory and I’d like to say, I’ve made a new friend.

Hooray for bitching.

Making Friends

The Ban

I’ve just been scrolling through the onslaught of comments about Donald Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from the military. My first thought was primarily: how the hell does what someone has in their trousers impact on their patriotism or desire to serve in the armed forces? Surely anyone who’s willing to go to places where their legs could get blown off is a feat in itself and whether you’re a man, woman or neither, it warrants respect. I saw a comment which of course came from a balding man with a red face that said: ‘it’s a mental illness, good to get rid’. In my opinion knowing full well that you could die in a war over oil or a religion you don’t believe in or have any stake in is the red flag, not someone wanting to be who they are. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for those who serve in the military both in the UK and elsewhere; with family members serving in the RAF but the thought of it to me, is something I just don’t understand and probably never will – unless of course, I’m conscripted or something. It’s an equation I can’t work out which is ironic as I’m not very good at maths anyway. So, anyone who stands up and proclaims a love for their country so strongly that they’re willing to possibly die for it is deserved of our admiration not persecution.

There’s the argument that medical treatment is costly on the military which surely, coming from the US government is entirely hypocritical considering how badly they failed soldiers in the past by getting them addicted to morphine. That’s another argument entirely but isn’t the whole point of America that it’s an idealistic nation founded on egalitarianism and liberty to do what you want and be who you are? Or I could just be missing the point of ‘land of the free’ entirely.

This whole announcement and reactions to it – which themselves are a real kick in the teeth for anyone with any faith left in humanity – really stirs up the larger question to why everyone is so concerned with what other people do and who other people are. Why are we, as human beings seemingly constantly outraged about people who are different or do things differently to the rest, especially when these people are doing nothing to encroach upon anyone else’s way of life? It’s not a typical conservative issue as seen here in the UK with Scottish Conservatives being openly gay and advocate for all LGBTQ+ rights so I can’t work out what it is. In all fairness to those hoping to pray the gay away from their kids or co-workers, the hot and heavy change of the 21st Century of people no longer being afraid to say might be daunting.

I was in a play in sixth form about transitioning called Pronoun by Evan Placey. There’s a great line that says that the idea of being tolerant is bullshit as to tolerate is something you do when ‘people’s music plays too loudly on the bus’. It’s true, we live currently in an emerging tolerance culture where we are coming out of the era of shame and repression. We’re not at normalising yet apparently because of the amount of unsubstantiated hate I’ve seen in comment sections alone today. It was Frank Underwood in House of Cards who said ‘you can’t get from a no to a yes without a maybe in between’ and as simplistic as it sounds we’re into ‘maybe’ as a global society regarding equal rights for everyone considering how progressive some nations are and how backwards others are – looking at you, Chechnya.

Personally, I think that everyone cares far too much about who or what people are. I honestly couldn’t care if someone was transgender or cisgender or straight or gay or anywhere on the Kinsey Scale. It was in Batman Begins that Rachel said to Bruce: ‘it’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you’. People in general need to take that on board a lot and stop caring about things that will never actually affect their day-to-day lives. I’ve quoted a lot in this but it really goes to show the sorry fucking state of it all when fiction makes more logical sense than our reality featuring Donald Trump.

The Ban

Beyoncé Culture

I saw something that offended me terribly on Facebook the other night. It was that someone who I knew and someone who I cared about for a time just updated their status to being in a relationship. Reading this it definitely sounds like a personal admission of jealousy, yet honestly, it isn’t. This is an expression of sheer disappointment. Why is it, in my generation is everyone searching for ‘the one’ already? I mean, come on, people! It’s almost as if it’s a backwards step with everyone devolving into penguins trying to find life partners to keep our eggs warm than be the natural mammalian predators that we all are and do whatever and whoever we want for as long as possible. The problem isn’t a gender specific thing, I know plenty of men and women, and variations thereof, who I hear constantly whining about lack of a girlfriend or boyfriend. I for one, blame Beyoncé.

Everyone out there seems so hard to ‘put a ring on it’, and the young and free of the 21st Century are becoming far more traditional. I saw a study recently (don’t quote me on this, I saw it on Facebook) that said that this generation is having sex for the first time later and later than ever before. I’m seeing more and more documentaries pop-up akin to the sadly more and more common place 40-Year-Old Virgin. Strangely in the era of super-STDs, we also seem to be having an epidemic of sexual repression contrary to what the masses may think about young people – students in particular.

It could be that I generally associate with the particularly socially inept sect of my course, but I’d say most have never had a relationship yet alone slept with anyone. It’s a win for every worried parent about their child at university as well as a win for a budding comedy writer. Yet I’m worried about the personal development for these people and if they are to be a microcosm for young people in the UK in general, the future as well. Everyone’s living life in a strange sexless Hollyoaks storyline where those who embrace sexuality are often ostracised and relationships and romantic politics is the key to a happy life. Fuck that.

Unconsciously, we have, on the majority, waved goodbye to the free-loving of the sixties to usher in this new era of accidental repression. People are replacing human contact with more and more porn and body-pillows with anime girls on them, while simultaneously slagging off whatever sex won’t notice them sexually. On the other end of the spectrum we have the serial lady-killers and man-eaters who are frowned upon by nearly everyone so much so, that these people form packs that you can see a mile off. Even now, these people are pairing up like seahorses, something personified in total by the reality-TV train wreck, Love Island.

A prime example is being told by someone that they have commitment issues, only a week later being told that they love you. Obviously because I’m the idiot this happened to me and I had no idea what to say other than: ‘oh, that’s nice?’. I’ve never known a worse turn-off but apparently it works for others as the very same person just updated their Facebook relationship status. When did things become so unnecessarily complicated and all about commitment and feelings? The answer is August, 2009, the date ‘Single Ladies’ was released and infected the world with expectations of the instant gratification of saying yes to the purgatory of premature, long-term emotional and physical commitment.  Fuck you, Beyoncé, and your damn catchy song.

Beyoncé Culture

Humanity Market

I realised today after handing out my resumes with an unusual cheery demeanour that in a sense, no matter what job you are in or even if you are unemployed, we are all sales people.  Whether we are good or bad we are all individually pushing a product whether it be overpriced cinema tickets or ourselves to another human being – who perhaps, are selling that they are disinterested in what we have to say. Even the classic phrase ‘I’m not buying what you’re selling’ encapsulates everything about human life right now: whether we buy or sell.

Politicians are the perfect example of sales people in their human disguises to hide their true lizard appearance. Obviously besides that, they sell ideas and policies and speeches on a global scale making them perhaps the next evolution of your humble letting agent turd. Even Alex Jones of InfoWars is trying to sell you reality whatever the fuck it may be coming from him and I still can’t work out if he’s real or just a character like Keith Lemon or Borat. For example, earlier this year we had Theresa May selling the line – God knows why – ‘strong and stable’, a product which fell flat on its face and the people who sold it to her were promptly fired. So as Palpatine from Star Wars put it, ‘ironic’. Jeremy Corbyn isn’t doing too badly, only recently selling pints along with policies and socialist soundbites at Glastonbury.

The terrible, yet actually at times useful, Tinder is an example of people selling themselves en masse to other people for either the classic ‘good time not a long time’ or ‘something long term and serious’. Those four or five photos, description and a favourite song has led to perhaps the greatest open human market ever. It’s an actual manifestation of a clear late-stage capitalist society that we live in where literally even romance revolves around the act of selling and buying.

Maybe it’s not a totally recent thing and maybe as human beings we are all fundamentally buyers and sellers whether we choose to be or not. I’m out selling myself to potential employers for a job while perhaps a thousand years ago a nomad would sell themselves similarly to a chieftain to be a part of the tribe. Which by the way, is an excellent analogy that can be applied to anything like trying to convince the popular kids at school that you’re cool enough to sit with them.

So in conclusion, we are all prostitutes. Literally every time we open our mouths to tell an anecdote we are selling someone on that story for payment in respect, belief or anything. While there’s a taboo about being a sex worker and constant debate on whether or not it should be legal, the point, when you really think about it, is moot considering none of us are any different fundamentally. Whether you be an Evangelical priest or a nightclub owner we are all selling something and ourselves. No one is clean or exceptional in this massive thriving orgy we call human society. Just check out Tinder and see for yourself.

Humanity Market

New House

I’ve never come to appreciate the library as much as I do now. Over the past few days of having no hot water or internet, I have come here to peruse Facebook, go to the toilet without worrying that something is going to break around me and most importantly, download pornography on my phone. Its dire straits, I tell you. Considering it’s a student house, I should be thankful that I’m not being violently fisted by my landlord but in another sense considering that the house is quite literally falling apart, I am. The wonderful thing about York is that all the houses are so old but unfortunately the horrible thing about York is that everything is fucking old.

I’m the only one to move in as of yet so obviously I’m the one fighting the teething problems and have spent my days getting out of there as much as possible in an attempt to find something meaningful with my time, other than binge watch The Office DVD box-set. In the three days I have utilized the free McDonald’s student burger deal more than perhaps anyone has in their lifetimes and walked quite literally four laps around the city centre. I tell myself those treks are to burn away the calories of the burgers only to pretend it’s not because I’m so dangerously bored. To make matters worse is that currently the washing machine is out of order in the house and I’m wearing my jumpers in this muggy twenty-degree Celsius heat.

What happened some two-hundred years ago when we were bored? It seems clear that’s the era my house was built for so it does beg the question. Naturally the walk around town would be shorter and there would be more shit on my shoes. Were we as human beings less demanding for entertainment in those times? Or have the old GCSE history books omitted all the bits about opium bars and mega-brothels that would make George R.R. Martin blush? It goes without saying that at my ripe old age of nineteen, I would be dead by now of either some disease or the Crimean War. My maths is probably a bit out with the dates of the Crimean War but my point still stands.

I had planned to read this week and enrich my mind with Orwell but modern technology struck back when I discovered that I could play Stellaris and Civilisation VI without having to connect to the internet. I could be playing those games right now in the comfort of my uncomfortable home but perhaps it was my grandmother’s voice telling me to ‘get some fresh air’ – words I hated as a kid, watching Cartoon Network until it started to hurt – that motivated me. That’s the line I’m going with, the reason behind my constant trips to the library and into York city centre; definitely not for the internet connection to download pornography on my phone.

New House

Learning To Read Again

I’m moving into an internet dead zone tonight and it’s going to be strange not to check social media or even look up some irrelevant information for some random reason unknown to myself. The next week will be a time to grow my repertoire of novels and that I’ve managed to collect through years of people buying me them as gifts, assuming that I’m an avid reader. Unfortunately, I’m not which I probably should be considering the implications of being a student where the key thing expected of a student is to read anything and everything. Even the lecturers will often be the first to admit that most academic reading is ‘academic masturbation’ – which is a direct quote from my ever-cheery professor – it’s the end of my first year and I’ve yet to read anything.

Is that depressing in itself? The notion that even a student such as myself has fallen out of reading even the simplest of things because I can get it all from a YouTube tutorial on the mental development stages rather than having to pour through Freud’s ramblings. Oddly enough, I don’t even study psychology. Has the screenplay killed the novel in the 21st Century to an extent where you hear about one in a million successes like J.K. Rowling but crappy yet commercially successful scripts like Sharknado are a dime a dozen. Admittedly, I’m part of the problem as I’d much rather have internet connection and binge all six seasons of Suits than even attempt to read anything by Dan Brown.

Personally, I blame my own lack of reading squarely at the doorstep of Ian Fleming, who I studied in a language module a few years ago. As a kid, I loved James Bond and all fourteen books as I had got through them when I loved reading when I was eleven –  I had no actual idea what was going on but the thought was there. Then, when I sat down and sifted through every bit of misogyny, racism and creepiness, my idea of the ultimate cool fictional male role model collapsed and I was left with either The Doctor or Batman. I’ve never felt so cheated and now I can’t even glance over at the collection on my shelf without feeling grim. Thank God for Roger Moore, right?

Maybe that’s a tip to take away for everyone. If you love something, don’t analyse it or you’ll end up hating it. I guess it’s a massive ‘fuck you’ to every student studying their favourite subjects at university, paying through the nose for the privilege, only to understand that unfortunate joke. Now more than ever, I don’t think I have any intention of making films after I graduate, considering the only enjoyable position I have had is boom pole operator which is a role not often given to people of my height.

So, with no internet I’m going to have to learn to read again which is something many a holiday-maker has found sitting around the pool. Who knows, in just a week I could finish Paradise Lost, which I’ve always wanted to finish, and maybe slip in a bit of a Stephen King classic. Unfortunately, it’s the 21st Century and I’ll probably wither away and die like Yoda before that happens.

Learning To Read Again