This is a story about engaging your mouth before your brain...
Most of what I write is not stuff that is ordinarily shared by people. We bottle a lot of stuff up, and perhaps with good reason, but what happens if your general demeanour means you're a fairly open book?
Sure, it's true that some of my life experiences - mental health problems, drug abuse, homelessness, being arrested by the police - are not things that your ordinary middle-class professional will hopefully ever experience. It is therefore logical that I should keep all these things hush-hush. Pretend they never happened.
I don't think that privacy and anonymity is necessarily helpful, judging by the direction that life is headed for many people who I speak to. We know there is a mental health epidemic, with millions of people laid low with depression, anxiety and a huge spectrum of illnesses affecting the mind. If we don't talk about this, and share our experiences, we suffer in silence.
It seems to me as if Psychiatry has failed. Pills, powders and potions have failed to cure the ailments of our very souls. Something is wrong, broken, with society, and medicine hasn't yet come up with the cures... probably because we are treating symptoms, not root causes.
It's been a theory of mine that we were never evolved as a species to live in such close quarters with one another. Open plan offices and tiny cramped apartments in overcrowded cities certainly make me feel like a lemming: compelled to throw myself off a cliff. It really doesn't help that so many service sector jobs are so soul destroying. Moving paper or electronic money around for the mega wealthy is most of what we do in the rich nations. It's not growing carrots or building houses.
Sure, some of us are tortured artists and entertainers. Some of us create organic artisan jam, or dog's milk yoghurt, or run a creative digital agency where we wear unfashionable clothes and stupid facial hair and ride fixed-speed bicycles to work. These, most surely, are the last days of a dying civilisation.
They say you should never get too close to an iceberg, because they can flip over unexpectedly. You might be rather pleased to be part of the top 1% or even 5%, but while you're sticking up at the top, there's a huge mass under the water beneath. Sooner or later, the massive body of ice that's been held underwater rises up, and the top of the iceberg is plunged into the freezing sea.
The motto of Über is "everyone's private driver" but how can we all have a jet-set A-list celebrity lifestyle? There simply isn't enough landmass to create enough helipads for everybody to be flying around by private helicopter, chauffeur driven around the place, pampered and flattered at every turn. Technology can't make us all rich, famous and able to have an impossibly high standard of living, despite its promises.
With our MacBook Pro and our high-quality digital camera etc. we all feel like a writer, a photographer, an artist. Facebook gives us the impression that people love looking at photos of us, so we must be glamour models. Twitter turns us all into bloggers, preachers, with our followers... our congregation.
There was a time when you could quit your job and probably make a good living selling cup cakes, setting up a trendy delicatessen or being a life coach. I'm not sure if those people who followed their dreams and quit the rat race are happy, but there's certainly not any opportunity to do it today. Things are so competitive. How many cup cakes have you got to sell, in order to have a salary comparable with somebody who shuffles paper around their desk and tries to look busy and important in the office, but is just a tiny cog in a big wasteful machine that doesn't actually produce anything of tangible value.
I'm mortgaging my privacy. I'm selling my soul. By making public every little tiny detail about my private life, including my massive f**kups, I'm potentially headed up a one-way street. If I achieve any kind of infamy, then I'm basically screwed, in terms of re-entering the world of the wage-slave drones.
So, I've got the best part of 6,000 Twitter followers in the space of 6 months. Do you think that translates to pounds in my pocket? Do you think that taking the unprecedented step of writing nearly 200,000 words about a fairly spectacular life implosion, would change my life significantly? Well, the ship has sailed for anybody hoping to get an easy ride, I'm afraid.
I like what I've written. I would defend it, to some extent. It serves as a permanent public record of not only what I've been through in the past, but more importantly, there is a subtle recording of what I was going through during the whole time I've been blogging. You can read my emotions, my moods, the challenges, the stresses... in-between the lines of what's written down.
I'm starting to be accused of being self-indulgent, self-absorbed, but why shouldn't I have this? Why shouldn't I be allowed to scream and wail and tantrum a bit, if I had to be the sensible grey-suited career guy, with the good job and an impressive CV, who had the mortgage and saved money for a rainy day and got married and did everything by the f**king book like I was supposed to. I deferred gratification like a son of a bitch, and there was no f**king pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The cake is a lie.
How many people are discontented? How many people are struggling? Not only struggling with stress and poverty and unpleasant things happening in their lives, but also struggling with the injustice of things, the pointlessness of some make-work wanky job that's completely useless to humanity. Or perhaps the work they can get is just so completely degrading and poorly paid it's not even worth working at all. You might as well just get off your head on drugs and alcohol and dribble while you play computer games or watch terrible trashy TV.
How many kids are getting smashed out of their skulls on cannabis, skunk and legal high smoking blends? How many kids are consuming dangerous amounts of cheap alcohol, simply to become highly intoxicated? What is it about life that these kids want to escape? Why aren't they sharing the anguish, the inner turmoil? Why do they retreat inwards, under the heavy sedation of intoxicating drugs and alcohol?
Now Microsoft and Facebook are hitting headlines, saying they're working on chat bots. The iPhone has Siri, which is supposed to be a kind of artificially intelligent digital assistant, that can understand what you ask it to do, and try and help you. People are delighted when it turns out that you can ask Siri to beatbox, and it will kinda do it, in a weird kind of way.
Why would we be wasting our time talking to computers, when we could be talking to each other? I wrote before about us sharing 21% less on Facebook, in the space of a year. Do we not keenly feel the loss of that connection with real people, who can get in contact and try to make us feel less alone with our problems and our existential crises?
No person is an island, and the isolating existence of interacting more with apps and websites and software in general, instead of with each other is a worrying trend. Ok, so I'm bucking that by providing a veritable brain dump of sharing, which is much akin to verbal diarrhoea, but at least it's putting stuff out there, where there's a chance I can get some help from my friends.
There's obviously a bystander effect, where nobody knows quite what to do when somebody starts having a public meltdown. People just aren't supposed to act like this. Where is my stoicism? Where is my stiff upper lip? Where is my shame? Where is my embarrassment and my intense desire for total privacy?
Nobody wants to be first, and people also worry that they're going to end up feeling responsible. Everybody feels they're already struggling so much to keep their own shit together, that anybody else bleating on about their own struggles should shut the hell up. Look after number one and keep yourself to yourself. Don't you think that could be the root cause of this horrible isolated existence that causes so much damage to our happiness, our sense of wellbeing, our mental health... leading to depression, stress, anxiety, breakdowns, self harm and suicides?
We're in such a hurry to label, to judge, to jump to conclusions. We like to bracket people and problems as quickly as we can. Somebody becomes known as a drama queen, or we tire of their depressed demeanour, the dark clouds that follow them around. We start to stop inviting the killjoy out, or generally interacting with them. Let them wallow in self-pity, right? I'm sure social services or somebody from a government service will step in before they do something stupid. It's somebody else's job. Not my problem. I've got enough going on with my own stressful, meaningless, empty, unfulfilling life that I hate and I'm depressed about.
I'm just typing now. The taps are open and the words are flooding out. I have relaxed my anal sphincter and a torrent of liquid brown verbal diarrhoea is jetting out of my arse and into the toilet bowl of the internet, and nobody gives a shit, because we are all sinking with shit up to our necks. There is a whole World Wide Web of shit out there, and we're all just pumping out this useless effluent into the cesspool of human emotional pain.
Do you think I'm going to look back on this frantic period of writing and recoil with horror when I read it back? I certainly expect that I will be cupping my face in my hands, saying to myself "what the fuck was I thinking?" but it must be about as close as it's possible to get to knowing what somebody's thinking, reading this shite.
I thought to myself that I won't hold back, I won't censor, edit or filter, because I can always tear this down with a click of the mouse. A stroke of the keyboard, and all this is gone and I can deny all knowledge that it ever existed. It's the digital photo that you deleted off your camera or smartphone... those shameful ones and zeros are gone forever.
But you know what? I've not felt the urge to take anything down. I've not felt the pangs of regret at sharing stuff that makes me look really bad. I've given the world everything it needs to pigeon-hole me, to categorise me, to bracket me, to judge me, to dismiss me with a label or an over-simplification of my entire existence.
That's what we want, isn't it? Computer credit scores, and computerised personality profiling, and a computer simulation of a real person, that responds in a predictable and easy to understand way. We don't want real lives, with all their messiness and unfathomable complexity. We don't want to get to know each other, but have to live with the fact that we still don't really know each other. We don't even know ourselves, even if you're an irritatingly self-absorbed little prick like I am, who self indulgently wallows in a world of introspection and deep self-examination.
Show me some more videos of funny cats. Distract me from the banality of my existence. Please don't remind me of the humanity that my fellow Earth residents possess or incite any kind of sympathetic or empathetic response in me. I'm quite wrapped up in my own world of pain and disappointment, boredom and stress. I want to pretend like technology and the advancement of civilisation is going to wave its magic wand and even though I'm fornicating with a person I'm nearly totally revulsed by the more I get to know them, in a filthy home in an overcrowded town, on a hopelessly poisoned planet, everything will be fucking rosy for the screaming brats that end up getting spawned.
What the hell is this anyway? This is what happens when the filter gets switched off. This is my life, with no filter.
I think I was born with no filter.
Look: I bought new socks. I'm sharing the private details of my socks life. Every time I have socks, I'm going to post it up on social media. Socks is supposed to be a taboo subject. Always practice safe socks.
Tags: #privacy #depression #mentalhealth #suicide #career #socialmedia