My mother, in her sometimes a little too plain-speaking manner, once told me that blogging was a futile pastime because no one wants to read about other people’s boring lives.
She was wrong, of course. People love reading about other people’s boring lives, just as they enjoy watching other people’s boring lives on TV, and gossiping with one another about other people’s boring lives. How else does one explain the unfathomable continued popularity of Love Island, Katie Price and magazines with pictures of Cheryl Cole’s apparently permanently sad and dejected face on the front?
That said, recently something has shifted in me, and I no longer enjoy reading about other people’s boring lives, nor do I wish to bore other people with the details of mine. I have also become incapable of being witty or insightful in the way that I perhaps used to be, and I feel it is highly unlikely at this point that anyone will refer to me as anything approaching a good writer.
This is partly down to lack of practice, but also lack of enthusiasm.
I used to be able to laugh at myself and the minutiae of my boring life, find it ridiculous, and describe it to others in a way that they could perhaps relate, but all that has faded away, and I feel myself instead weighed down with an immense heaviness that sits around my head, a sort of anxious fog made up of particles of Brexit, climate change and encroaching fascism. It’s as if the cares of the world are too great for me to laugh anymore at the sheer smallness of my own life. My petty concerns are irrelevant and unfunny when set against the greater drama of depressing world events.
I try desperately to remember a time before social media, and recall that awful things happened even then. Lots of them. There were wars, and terrorist attacks, massacres and school shootings right through the eighties and nineties; going back to my early childhood there was civil unrest in the UK and abroad, but somehow it never seemed so all-encompassing before. Perhaps it was the shock of 2016, when I realised-probably far too late-that our own government was neither trustworthy nor stable, and at least half the population were, at best, thinking significantly differently about everything to me and my somewhat educated urban southern friends and family. Perhaps it was the horror that half of America could vote for a man who embodied everything bad about the human race and elevate him to the highest office in the world; or perhaps it was simply the jaded realisation that comes with adulthood that everybody-including even the very best people-are simply winging it.
It has got to the point where I can’t even carry on a conversation about anything other than the wilful destruction of our natural world and its human political constructs without shouting out “CLIMATE CHANGE IS COMING TO KILL US ALL! WHY CAN’T TRUMP JUST DIE? ARGH, BREXIT, I CAN’T EVEN!”
I appreciate that this means that I am literally no fun whatsoever and alienates everybody, especially my own mother, who thinks that climate change is India and China’s fault, our own godly government are mucking in and doing their bit (REALLY????? Have you even seen Boris Johnson?) and that all will be OK because Bristol has a bus that runs on bio-gas now (just the one!)
Is this the fault of social media? Has Twitter just amplified everything into such a cacophony of angry shouting people that I can’t see anything good in the world anymore, or are we really all done for? I don’t know, but I know I’m not feeling that there’s much to smile about right now, and that writing about my boring life feels like a luxury the world can ill afford.