Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On this

This is irony. I overheard a conversation last night. In a restaurant, in Norway. The party having the conversation was a 50/50 mix of Norwegians and non-Norwegians, so the language employed was English. They were talking, eagerly, about many topics not appropriate for this blog (for instance, let me non-appropriately mention that I now know that these ladies thought it should be called "IT engineer's crack" rather than plumber's crack). What feels more appropriate, though, is to refer to the part of the conversation I meant to address in this paragraph:

(only now it's not in  that paragraph anymore)

(or this one. Also - this part of the conversation was not in English, for reasons that shall be revealed)

"Hva heter ordforråd på engelsk?"

This is irony.

Let me translate.

"What's vocabulary in English?"

This is irony.

This is not:

I'm having a Facebook detox experience. Meaning I'm off the drug, cold turkey. This week only - I wouldn't dream of quitting altogether - but still. I needed to prove to myself that I could. And I needed to break the destructive pattern I've been stuck in there for a while. If you logged off two minutes ago, chances are not much new will have happened when you compulsively opens the window again for the 19th time that day.

Interestingly enough, the thing that finally made me realize it was a bad habit I could break was the introduction of Facebook's new timeline. I love it. And I don't see the issues so many people seem to have with it. Okay, so the timeline makes it a lot easier to see what you were up to on Facebook three years ago. So what? You posted that three years ago, knowing well that you yourself was responsible for the content. If you can't handle it today, chances are you shouldn't have posted it back then.

Personally, though, I look back and remember happier times. Sadder times. Different times. I find it interesting to see my own (less destructive?) patterns - how I for weeks would post nothing but rants about my thesis (not unlike what I did on this blog), or the weather, or - believe it or not - what I actually was doing. "CC is at work" or "CC is about to go for a walk". (Did you remember the "is"? I'd almost forgotten) I was more boring in the past. My current updates are more amusing (but also an aqcuired taste. I like to think that those who haven't gotten used to it unsubscribed from me ages ago).

What perhaps surprised me the most, though, was how little I posted in the past. It seemed as though, perhaps, I didn't visit the site more than once or twice a day. Huh. How did that work?

Like with the missing status update "is", I had forgotten that my Facebook life once consisted of different patterns than it does now. I once knew how to limit my own use.

Thus, the discovery of a younger, naïver, funny-but-not-quite-as-clever self, through the help of the Facebook timeline, helped me realize I could just quit. For a while. This is irony, I suppose.

And yes. This. Irony. Charles Dickens (happy birthday yesterday, old man!) had it right. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". In a way I am happier with my life at the moment than I've been for as long as I can remember. In a way I am not at all. I compartmentalize. Try to accept that I don't have to know everything, professionally and personally. I enjoy a great many things, hate a great many others. It's the hardest time of year for me - when winter is loosening its grip but spring still is aeons away. I long for spring. Or for getting away. At the same time as there is nowhere I'd rather be, than right here, right now. I went ice skating this weekend. And I watched an incredulous amount of "Sex and the City". I'm in Carrie-overload, the greatest philosopher of our time. I listen to Eels and Wilco, trying to catch the lyrics. But I only hear voices and instruments. I miss writing. Yesterday reminded me. I'm rusty and my writer's confidence is at an all time low, but I miss it. I wish I had the strenght to tell myself to take it up again, the way I managed to tell myself to quit Facebook. Once I decided, it was so much easier than I'd thought.

Is it irony that we all know the first part of that Dickens quote, but most of us have no idea what comes next? It's not his most famous work, after all, even if it probably is the most famous quote:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

Indeed. 'Tis a good quote (even if I generally despise quotes).


M.J. Nicholls said...

You've inspired me. When I write my next book I'll do a complete internet detox during its composition. For now, I need FB since I just moved away from everyone I know, and even then I didn't really KNOW them, like in their souls, or their shoe sizes, or cheese preferences. But do we ever really KNOW anyone? Why is there an axe in my hand? And blood on my gums?

Jan Morrison said...

good for you! I totally support social media fasts of all sorts. My only problem with time-line thingy is that it jumps all the time but that may be because I have only my ancient laptop working right now - oh by the way that reminds me - I can't get into the burrow to see when I'm supposed to post cuz I lost all of it on my dead computer.
I love EVERY first paragraph of EVERY Dickens book.

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