I was asked last week why I rarely updated my websites. I pondered for a while, and before blaming a sense of depression brought about by unpredictable weather I figured that there must be some underlying reason for why I find it so hard to write compared to a few years ago when I would be capable of throwing five-hundred words a day up about a range of subjects.
But I think, given some time soaking in the bath, I have pinned down the main reason for my ongoing procrastination.
You see I am the sort of person who believes that work should be the best you can achieve at that moment in your life. Because of this I don’t tend to look back at older work and criticise myself for being young, naive or grammatically incorrect. Instead I look back and see a clear path of development, a writing style evolving over time. Some of the changes came about as a result of education and qualification while others were influenced by works I had read over time. Predominantly amongst my inspirations were the gonzo journalism writings of Hunter S Thompson, the oh-so-cool editorials in the nineties gaming magazines that I cherish and by critics who are not afraid to utilise humour in a review.
This has led me to develop in a way that I am very proud and I genuinely think that some of my writings are excellent. But herein lies the issue, by being a fan of reading other people’s works I tend to find it increasingly difficult to carve a niche for my own style. When you beg, borrow and steal concepts and ideas to enhance your own you essentially end up a mess of confusion. This lack of individualism has only gotten worse since the advent of Twitter – as I found out specifically this week.
You see when people of my age look back to the seventies, eighties and nineties it is hard to not feel nostalgic for the days when your individualism was only defined by your town, village, school, college or borstal. In those days the girl with lots of make-up and jet black hair was probably the only one you would know of – in real-life at least, seeing people on the television doesn’t really count – and if you chose to give yourself a nick-name there was only a limited chance of you crossing over with another person’s – unless you had a common name of course. The person who hanged around the bike sheds fingering Shelly was cool, and probably the only person you knew of your age group to have been sucked off in assembly. But this is all different now.
Now you only have to try to sign up for a popular gaming service – XBL for example – and see how quickly your hopes of using your nickname, that was fine in college, disappear up the arse of a writhing swarm of other like-minded fuckers. The advent of the XJohnTempleX profile – or its poor cousin the xxJohnTemple1989xx – has shown us all that we are not the individuals that we thought. That at this moment in time you are doing what dozens of other ‘individuals’ are doing with their lives. You thought you were ‘original’ by making your PC tower into a Doom 3 inspired work of art, only to upload pictures to a forum and have at least ten people not only present other images, but better images of better machines created months prior to your own.
recently on Twitter I participated in a hashtag game relating to BBC television shows if they were porn movies. (#BBCPorn) I thought for a moment and knocked out Gash in the Attic and Snatch of the Day. Chuckling to myself I thought I’d look at what other people had done. Imagine how my chuckle turned to pallid depression as I saw seven ‘Gash in the Attics’ in the first fifty results. A specific search proved my fears. I was no more individual than Dolly the Sheep. This splurge of creative freedom has resulted in there being very few ‘original’ ideas any more, and even those that are do not stay that way for very long.
All of this is part and parcel of the Internet changing existence completely, but ultimately it has made the job of conscientious writers incredibly difficult. Do you write something that has already been written, or do you wait until something ‘original’ comes along. I tried the latter, and failed to come up with much – that was any good at least, sixteen articles have been written, re-written and binned in the last fortnight alone – so now I am going to embrace the Internet and use it as not a voice of individualism but as a tool of saying “Hey, me too”.
Yes it is quite depressing to see the stark realisation that one is nothing more than another person, but at the same time it can be comforting at times to know that you are not the only person on Earth to remember fondly the televisual adventures of T-Bag, or that you are not alone in your question of why you don’t see white dog poo any more – Google brings up 311,000 results for that question alone. There are stories all over the internet of people who have connected over a shared love of something obscure, the rise of forums led to me joining one based around a presenter on a 1990’s gaming television show and resulted in my making one of the best friends I’ll ever have, as well as a few who are indispensible and a couple who we all like to fondly remember but taking the piss.
The internet is both evil and pure. How we deal with the realisation that we are no longer the only person who can piss over the top of a urinal door is up to us, but I take comfort in realising that while I may be a miserable aging degenerate with outdated opinions and an unhealthy love of all things Sega I can always find someone worse within a few mouse clicks and while that is the case I promise to stop procrastinating, starting tomorrow.