Five First World Problems

Ambiguity is my greatest source of despair. Honestly. I understand that the lack of world peace, the existence of gender inequality and the rise of right-wing ideologies is far more destructive to the course of human existence, but not knowing what someone is talking about in an email is taking the absolute biscuit as far as I’m concerned. What follows are eight lines of me ranting about just that.

I have spent literally hours of literally scores of days in my working life puzzling over the correct form of text to use in an email in order to get across the point of view I hold and the set of actions I am looking for other people to enact. Other people seem to take several seconds to dash out a missive in which context, application and punctuation are completely optional. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN.

Offending instances include people using ellipses (…) rather than full stops or question marks, leading me to wonder if they are being solicitous or sarcastic. People leaving modifiers dangling all over the place, with their prepositions stranded willy nilly. If I have to ask myself what it is you are trying to say, you have not done a good enough job in saying it. Foreigners can claim an exemption, however.

I like watching the credits on films; I have always done so. I’m a nerd about this stuff. Marvel and the like putting extra things in their credits was heaven for me; I now had people ready and willing to watch the credits with me. Netflix is killing that. And it’s doing so in order to be that most infuriating of things in this, or modern world: Helpful. You can stick being helpful up your big fucking arse.

Some streaming services have taken the decision that we don’t like watching credits, and that we really want to be watching the next film or TV series they recommend instead. That is, they take me out to an advert for a program they’re upselling. I don’t want this. If it’s a film, I usually only have the time in my hectic schedule for one film in any given week. I do not want another to come on now.

If it is a TV series, however, then at least give me the option either way; it may be very handy. In the case of a lot of series, there is a “Skip Intro” option, which allows me to get right from the cold open to the meat of the action I want. A “Skip Credits” button would be just as good. Instead I find myself scrolling through entire films, just to watch a few pages of text scroll by. Please let me watch them!

I was waiting for a large piece of glass to be delivered. It’s a shower screen. The rest of the bits for the shower had arrived the previous day. In their cases the suppliers had emailed and texted me to let me know that they were coming. The shower tray company even told me what time they would be arriving. I appreciated this advance warning, although not as much as I would subsequently find.

I do not answer the phone from an unknown number. I am less likely to do so when they leave the phone ringing for ten full minutes. If you ever call me like this, please understand that I am googling your number, leaving you hanging. Phone calls are impolite, invasive, and not part of modern life. I need aloof and impersonal. Emails and texts work best for me. I had to leave the room to get away from the noise of the vibration. I deduced what they were calling about, and my stomach dropped.

It happened to be in the middle of a phonecall with a client, but at least I was something close to forewarned. The hauliers thought they were being helpful like this, but ringing me just puts me on edge, as if a gang of sailors are knocking down my door, ready to pressgang me in to their service.

Why do the presenters of children’s TV smile like concussed nuns? They’re asking a simple question, but they have to put a fake giggle and a shit-eating grin on the whole thing or the poor ickle kiddie-winks will be offended. Or something. I have never understood it. I have written a number of blogs on fake emotions and social lubricants, but this feels all the worse, because children are watching.

Our children are impressionable human balls of wax, not the jaded failures their parents represent. They do not have the hard carapace of calloused world views that we have, so don’t get them thinking that the world is a shiny happy place full of drunken fucking idiots. They’ll expect us all to be like that from then on, and I am not signing up for that. Not on your, or anyone else’s, nelly.

Try watching kid’s TV, and see how long you can go watching the presenters before you yearn for the comforting hug of a cartoon. If they’re not grinning or inappropriately laughing they’re shouting like they’ve forgotten they’re wearing a microphone. I know studios can be empty, soulless places, but that doesn’t mean there’s any need to shout. Just stand still and talk like a normal fucking actor.

New year, new you: does anyone actually believe that? My timelines were full as one year turned in to the next with opinionates suggesting that we are all trying to rebuild ourselves in the images of our own minds eyes. Real people were not saying this: real people were complaining that there was nothing on TV, or that they had misplaced the flagon of gin which they had only part consumed.

New Year’s resolutions are bullshit. They always have been, and they always will be. Yet they trot out as if they were meaningful concepts, rather than just some fun, end of the year activities for primary school pupils. They were designed to occupy the time of frazzled teachers, willing the year to come to an end, and give little Johnny and Jemima something to focus on, rather than biting each other.

Look, it used to be 2017, and now it’s 2018. That kind of transition brings with it a lot of baggage. Except that it shouldn’t. In a space of time it will be 2019. That’s fine too. Apparently people over eat at Christmas. That’s fine too. Just stop whinging about it, and stop telling the world you’re going to do something about it, just because you want to fit in. Fitting in is for fucking idiots and their kids.

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