That prams and art are not mutually exclusive.

Everything is Made in China

The internet – and the world in general – often leaves me both over and underwhelmed. It’s a struggle to find things special anymore, as everything seems the same. As my son said the other day – in the kind of exasperated tone only a 6 year old can deliver – “Everything is made in CHINA!” The more we see of each other’s lives, the more we want to be ‘like’ each other, even though that sameness dulls our senses down to the point of nullity. We’re becoming greige, losing all that colour and flaw and flavour that makes us, us.

Spending time on the internet – anything more than a check for emails – leaves me frustrated and often nursing a dirty feeling of envy. Someone has had a holiday. Someone has bought a house. Someone has a new baby. Someone has published a book. And it all looks beautiful, other people’s lives. It’s difficult to take stock of your own bounty when so much of your leisure time is spent ogling somebody else’s life. The hardest part is admitting it, because these envious thoughts usually follow with “man, I am an asshole” and yet I know I am not alone in this feeling.

So if I don’t particularly like the internet, why am I here, laying out a new bloggy doormat and potting some marigolds?

I didn’t think I would come back to this blog, as social media represents some of the worst parts of the internet for me. Ironically, it also sports some of the best bits.

A few months ago, I tried disconnecting from Facebook. For about 3 weeks, I deactivated my account. Only a few times during that month did I miss it. And when I say ‘miss’, what I really mean is more like a kind of muscle memory, my fingers reaching for the ‘f’ key on the keyboard, because that what they’re used to doing when I have a spare 5 minutes online. I downloaded my Facebook data, and felt violated at how much of myself I’d put online, given over to the Facebook corporation and their goons. And this for someone who is pretty careful about what they ‘share’. I was ready to close the book entirely, and yet within 4 weeks of deactivating, I had reactivated my account. While I don’t use it as much as I have in the past, I’m still on there, on page 13,890,756.

My girlfriend Laura is a secondary school science teacher. She tells her teenage students Facebook is bad for their soul. Not everything is bad for your soul: tea is good, so is reading, gardening, walks. Walks while drinking tea and looking at other people’s gardens are particularly good for you (think triple word score, only better). She has been known to do this around her own neighbourhood, in her pyjamas. Laura is a good kind of crazy person you want living in your community. And she has a valid point. People taking pictures of themselves and beginning every sentence with an ‘I’ does something to one’s worldview. Like budgies in a cage, we become unable to see beyond our tiny mirror to the world beyond.

So this is the world we live in. And we’re all trying to figure out a way to live on the internet. Where does creative writing fit in? Where does any creative pursuit fit in to our globalised culture, which increasingly undervalues creativity? What of books, magazines, newspapers and writing in general?

I don’t know, but I know that it fits somewhere. It matters. And this blog? Not made in China. Brought to you from an art deco table masquerading as a desk, in my fading wallpapered office, by the sea, about 50 or so kilometres from Melbourne.

7 Responses to “Everything is Made in China”

  1. Writing Jobs

    That was an excellent post today. You make it look so easy. Thanks so much for sharing. I really enjoyed reading it very much. Have a wonderful day!

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  2. Green mama

    I’m with you, babe. I’ve had a vague sense of malaise for over 12 months now about my online time. I did a huge blog cull around that time because i felt the majority i read didnt sit well with me and just today I made a note to myself to limit non-working screen time to 1 hour a day. Facebook makes me feel eww, but I manage my work social media so I have to find a way I can jump off in my personal life. Wonderful writing- you enjoying your course?

  3. Gill

    I think we all need a bit of good crazy perspective. Facebook does hurt my soul, it’s the never ending battle in my mind ( as you know!). A great deal of my online time leaves me feeling dull and murky. I want rich and colorful.

  4. Shelly

    The thing about Facebook is: even though I want to ditch it because it makes me feel somehow violated every time they make changes to our privacy without our knowledge, to ditch it would be to ditch my friends. I’m not talking about close friends in real life, because those people will be in my life regardless, but what about those people whom I haven’t seen for years, but really enjoy connecting with via this tenuous link? A lot of people I know on Facebook are people I knew when I lived in Canada. It’s a little piece of my past to see what those friends are doing and to ‘like’ their status or make a comment.

    Really enjoyed this post, Karen.

    • Gill

      I get this, Shelly. I can keep in touch with overseas family and friends via Facebook and that’s what makes it useful. But the best part of it is the smallest part of it. As mentioned in this post, there is something concerning about constant status updates. The self absorption concerns me most and I wonder where this will lead society in the future.

  5. sarafoley

    It’s interesting, the social media phenomenon, that’s for sure. I get lots of inspiration from facebook – because I am very careful about the pages I like. I am also fussy about who is my friend, and block them if they offend me 🙂 I am as fussy about facebook as I am in my real life. It is so wonderful for keeping touch and re-connecting with freinds and family. We recently organised a family gathering after christmas through facebook; it’s the only forum that we can gather at the same time – but we will be meeting face to face very soon!


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