Google Buzz

Having just spent the whole day syncing various corporate PR videos and apps onto lots of Apple iTouch devices (not for fun, but for a large multinational company’s annual conference in case you were wondering), I came back home to a googlemail account that was covered with this “supposedly exciting” message and uninspiring logo:
Google Buzz Logo
I had just read about Google deciding to “invade” (or should that be join) the over-burgeoning world of social networking gone mad. I actually read about it on Twitter and even though it did excite me for about 10 nanoseconds I did start to wonder how I could fit yet another social networking site into my already social network crammed life. And I don’t even have a job (yet).
I do love the internet, the web and all things tech, but even I have my limits (which will surprise many). That said I obviously joined, as I already have a Gmail account so I was already Buzzed up anyway. I am intriugued to see who will come out on top in the Social networking wars (here’s me hyping the mundane up again). I personally like Twitter the most as it basically gives me access to lots of links on articles about Technology, Culture, Politics and the news from a wide variety of sources. It would take me ages to trawl through all these various news and story providers but Twitter makes the job easier. I can also access it via my iPhone, and, not to put too crude a point to all this, since I spend a lot fo my time on the loo (I couldn’t think of a more sophisticated way to mention this) Twitter on my iPhone means I have access to the world and all its different events from different angles in the one place I need it the most. What else would I do on the toilet? I am always loathe to take a good book in there as books are sort fo sacred to me, and it would be like defiling literature. Anyway, my Irritable Bowel Syndrome problems aside, social networking does serve a useful purpose in my life, given my specific lifestyle. Yet even I don’t spend that much time locked away from civilisation to be able to go through every Plurk, Tweet, Facebook status update, Flickr update or Buzz that comes my way. I wish I did. I really love the way that social networking on the web connects like minded people who would otherwise never meet as they are separated by geography and other traditional barriers.
I was planning to write a blog post about social networking anyway, before all this Buzz commentary. The angle I planned to take was to discuss why I have more than one Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail account and how that connects with the myriad of different aspects of my personality. Social networking and the web in general allows me to share different parts of my life and personality with a diverse range of very different people. This gives me and my thoughts a great deal of freedom to express themselves. If I did not have this option all my thoughts would fester deep within me, like a swirling vortex of pent up frustrations, boiling and bubbling with rage until they erupted and offended all around me.
So maybe buzzing in addition to tweeting may help keep me a sane, normal, and probably more dull person in real life?
Who knows, I probably won’t have the time to even update my Facebook status with the fact that I am buzzing about twitter.
A lot of people have commented on how social networking has become overbearing and gone into overkill. To an extent I agree about the overbearing comment.  With all the social networking sites around one could spend all day every day just reading status updates (half of which are exaggerated half truths or designed to project a specific self image people want to create). I am already singed up for Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, Moolto, MSN Live, Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, WordPress, Blogger, Library thing and Goodreads! They need one service that combines all of these!
I feel that it is up to the individual to act in a balanced and sensible manner (some might say I am expecting too much, given how humans often abuse advances in technology), when picking which services they use to communicate different types of messages and ideas. Of Course there are some geeks out there locked away in a room with wires attached to their internal organs from their computers who live for the next status update and electronic hit, but most people just use it to share their thoughts and ideas with like minded people.
It is hard to find like minded people who you click with in the real world. It always had been. Most of the people we are surrounded by are with us out of pure chance. They happen to be our neighbours, school friends and family. We have geography and maybe blood or language in common but often we don’t have much else.
Personally I have found sites like TED and Mashable to provide me with a very rewarding experience. I would never have discovered them were it not for Twitter. I have also got back into listenign to more music, and the joys of discovering new bands through sites like Spotify and last FM. I haven’t even joined MySpace but I know it has helped a lot of good bands break through. Twitter has also been a great place for aspiring and struggling writers to network with other writers and get useful tips and make valuable contacts. Like many things social networking can be a positive as well as negative force, and both those forces are at work in our lives.
I hope that I can find the right balance in terms of sensible social networking use, which I think I can, and use it to enrich my life instead of distracting me from facing life.
With all this in mind I will now post this blog onto WordPress, link it to blogger, post a link on Twitter, Buzz, Facebook and Plurk and check any comments on my iPhone, when I should really be finishing “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”
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Back to Blogging

As you may have noticed I have not been blogging for a while. This is not due to a lack of experiences or subjects that I am formulating comments on but because I have actually become overwhelmed by the magnitude of events entering my once simple, ordinary life on a daily basis.

If I actually described how I felt right now or everything that has happened to me since the beginning of 2008 then this blog would never end and would become longer than War and Peace combined with Ulysses and Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (all books which I am dying to read but need to create a clone of myself to be able to ever achieve this goal).

So I will try to be succinct. I have a lot to say as I have experience a lot in a small amount of time. However, we live in a quick fix instant gratification age where people have short attention spans (myself more than others) and so no one, not even I would bother reading through all my diverse and over complicated thoughts in just one blog  post. So I propose to commit some of my current thought to digital cyber code in a series of blog posts on specific subjects.

Compartmentalising the different aspects of our lives, thoughts, characters and experiences may be anathema to me, as I feel one loses a great deal of meaning by disconnecting various interwoven threads, but at least it will be easier to read and compose. Hopefully you will find something in there that you relate to, a conflict I am facing that you may have faced before, or are currently facing and maybe we can conjure up some useful insights by the process of transferring my thoughts and your feedback using the power of modern technology (i.e. this blog.)

To Keep this blog post short I will just list some of the various topics that I will write about as they have been a big part of my life since January 2008. That may seem an arbitrary year to begin my cyber “memoirs” but it has some significance. 2008 was the year in which my first child was born and was the year in which I was made redundant from a job I would have never left and then went to work in a modern day professional office “sweat shop” and fell ill having contracted a serious of viruses and developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, to add to my already debilitating Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diarrhoea.

2008 Was also the year I started CBT – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, sessions, in order to combat my worsening IBS-D, and that forced me to start dissecting my thought processes and lifestyle to uncover the root causes of my various physical and pyscholigical illnesses.

In 2009 I continued with the CBT, took up Yoga, joined Weight Watchers, lost 2 stone in weight in 5 months, put back on most of that 2 stone since November 2009, honed my skills as a multi-tasking househusband, babysitter cum live at home father, dogsbody son and son-in-law (carrying out various time consuming duties for my family), was put on various trials of medication to try and combat my CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), such as Vitamin B12 injections on a weekly basis and a variety of polypharmacy solutions.

I also developed asthma and Hay fever just to add to the myriad of medical conditions attack me. I quit smoking (not because of a less stressful life – life was ever more stressful, but due to the asthma), supported my beloved wife as she completed her Doctoral thesis, whilst working and being a mother and stressed out wife and daughter all at the same time.

My father-in-law had a sudden major stroke in late October 2009, 2 days after I had booked non refundable tickets to a wedding in Houston that I couldn’t afford to go to but was a reward for my wife’s year of constant stress, struggling and no sleep. We didn’t go to Houston over Christmas but instead shuttled between hospitals and funerals through the sudden snow storms of 2009/2010 as I began to start job hunting seriously, having realised we were on a financial precipice.

I got a job interview and job offer after 30 job applications, for one of my favourite Consumer electronics companies, only to be told that they had messed up and in fact the company had a recruitment freeze so the job I had been given was taken away from me bringing back into the same frustrating, anxious, stressful place of being broke, jobless, overweight, confused, conflicted and struggling to re-train as a web designer whilst finding a temporary finance job and supporting my wife as she cares for her bed-ridden father and physically drained mother (whilst she herself is still working and raising our daughter with me).

On the plus side I got to spend a lot of time with my daughter, which taught me a lot about myself, about fatherhood, the trials and joys of parenthood and has made me re-learn many subjects and pieces of knowledge that I have forgotten over the years (such as astronomy and geography, not to mention grammar and basic maths).

I have also been forced to grow and challenge myself and my preconceptions due to marriage and my never ending crisis situations, and I have discovered that adaptability is a very under rated skill that is vital to success in life.

I have also had the good fortune to discover the artistic genius of TV shows such as The Wire, The Sopranos and Battlestar Galactica (re-imagined) whilst getting more involved in social media experiences like Twitter and blogging.

I also managed to buy a Nintendo Wii, using vouchers from my credit card provider, so if things get too much and I am in need of some techno salvation i can always fire off some stress with my Wii Zapper gun (so long as the wife is away, she is not a toy gun fane).

I also completed a Career Change programme with a Career coach that was a real eye opener into the way I live my life and how I can take back control and start living more of my “truth”, rather than the crowd pleasing facade I have become so accustomed to wearing almost permanently.

I managed to read some Chekhov Short Stories and finish reading Dune by Frank Hebert, which was an immensely enjoyable read, and A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway, the first Hemingway book I have ever read, which was also a revelation.

And finally, most important of all, I managed to get in game of Scrabble, which I haven’t played in years, although the joy was short lived as I was beaten by my wife. So much for my aspirations to become a short story writer and novelist!

P.S. See the next post for the promised list of topics I will blog about and put links for.

Escape into Reality

Chewing on my weight watchers friendly homemade smoked ham sandwich and listening to Radio 1 I have decided to update my blog.

The theme of my blog and indeed its very purpose has never been made clear to the cyber sphere or even me. The main aim was to provide me with an outlet to express my pent up thoughts and feelings. This would help clear my head and aid the process of clarifying my increasingly hazy, frazzled thoughts, tangled up in the complex web of lies, facades, masks and inner conflicts swirling within my unstable psyche. That is not a clear aim. It does, however, make for interesting reading, if the author is entirely honest and open with his audience about the experiences he has undergone. Having been transported to the edge of my own precarious sanity and staring down into the deep, spiralling vortex of self destruction, I find it hard to be honest and open without fear of sending myself and my readers into a fit of horror.

I want to be honest. I need to be honest. However, it is not that easy. My current myriad of problems, both physical and psychological, can all be attributed to years of hiding my inner truth behind thickets of masks and facades, acts that i put on to tell people what they want to hear and what I think the world wants me to be like. I only ever wanted to fit in. The irony is that the more I lied to those around me, the deeper the masks penetrated into my soul, the more I alienated myself form, well, myself. Cutting through the jungle of half truths and cloaks with the scythe of self awareness and new found insight has been a painful process, and I am not ready to tell the tales that have scared me to the point I find myself in today.

I need to get a job. Yes, you heard it here first. Although I am struggling to battle ill health, debilitating Irritable Bowel syndrome diarrhoea, chronic fatigue syndrome, yo-yo weight loss and gain, and depression, making it hard to have the energy and motivation for even the most basic tasks, I am so close to the edge, and so lonely, that even me, the king of isolated contemplation, wants to get back into the real world and connect with other people and feel that I have some useful purpose in life, other than watching documentaries about World War 2 or Hunter S. Thompson.

I have read one too many psychologically complex short story and need to escape into conversation with characters less troubled and scarred than the cast of a Dostoevsky novel. Yes, the real world can be dull, it can be mind numbing and soul destroying, but at least it is real. Too much time spent in virtual online worlds like Second Life, or in the lives of emotionally inept protagonists form a William Boyd short story, is not good for the soul either.

I love to write, and I will still write, but I need to go out there and earn some real money. I need to reconnect with the everyday rat race of suburban London life. It will not be fun and I won’t like it, but i am starting to feel that I need it. If I sit in this claustrophobic, dusty study surrounded by the mess of a failed business enterprise and unfiled receipts, trying to spend 8 hours a day working on my novel, all I will end up doing is going even more insane and producing nothing but an incoherent diatribe of angst ridden prose. Reality stimulates me, even dull reality, on the subconscious level, and I need that stimulation. I also need to talk to someone, anyone. Even if it is about a Dan Brown novel. (OK maybe I don’t need to go that far).

I like my alone time, and I thrive on it, but not this much alone time. Everyone else is out there doing things. I am stuck here in a self absorbed daze relating to Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson and analysing why they pulled the trigger and killed themselves. That fascinates me. It is a dangerous fascination.

So what’s the plan? How can I pull myself out of this self absorbed physical and psychological mire? I plan to try and find a local part time job in finance, to give some structure and routine to my life. Then I plan to teach myself wed design and go on web development courses. I may even resurrect my once famed website form the early noughties, Razweb.com, which has disappeared so far into the cyber ether that even Google cannot find it anymore. If i can re-train as a web designer then at least I can have a career that is creative, interesting and stimulating, I can then be energised enough by my work to come home and sit at my desk in a disciplined fashion and devote at least 2 hours a day to writing. I have already typed up the synopsis of the 2 novels that make up my first work of fiction. All the characters are there, living, breathing, talking, going through life changing conflicts and resolutions. I just need to bring all the pieces together. To do that I need a clear mind and a stable heart. No more panic attacks and rapid heartbeats and insomnia ridden nights of breathlessness and wheezing.

I have no idea if any of the new treatments I am undergoing to battle my Chronic Fatigue will work but I will try anything. Optimism and hope are the best weapons I can bring to the battle.

I am starting to feel like my life is beginning to find its feet once again. Any new found stability and certainty will greatly lessen the burden on my increasingly nervous and anxious wife, who has her own pressures, and will mean I can spend less time lying to my family and putting on a brave face and assortment of masks to cover up why I am at hope all day too tired to even go for a walk round the block.

On that note all I have left to say is that I am thoroughly enjoying reading “The Woman in the Case” a collection of short stories by Anton Chekhov, the king of short stories. He can transmit an entire philosophy and range of human feelings in just one line, and is a true literary genius. I am also planning to meet up with my wife’s cousin, who is himself a published fiction author, and I have started reading his first novel, “The Bus Stopped” by Tabish Khair. It has already caught me in it’s magical grip and transported me back to the exotic and contradictory land of my forefathers. I can’t wait to delve deeper into it once I push myself and make that walk round the block.

No more running away from life. I need to jump into the sea of reality and swim with the tide, no longer against it. Maybe this way I will finally realise my goals and get to the shore I so desperately seek.