This Friday just gone the forces of the great crass-consumerism monoculture struck yet another blow against common sense and caused chaos on the streets of Great Britain. I am, dear hypothetical audience, of course talking about the inexplicable export and subsequent rise in popularity of that peculiar American tradition of The-Friday-After-Thanksgiving-Sales-Chaos, or, as it’s known to its friends, Black Friday. And when I say chaos, I really do mean it, in stores up and down the country masses of people who’d for some reason bought into the whole crazy mess descended in their droves. Incidents involved police being called to various branches of Tescos, shoppers fighting over allegedly cheap televisions, people causing affray and so on. All in the name of great deals. By which I mean consuming.
Recently I’ve been spending some time planning various excursions around the country across the coming months, mostly to use up what holiday time I had left at work. Due to neither owning, being able to afford or wanting a car right now I am pretty much at the mercy of public transport, which around here means inevitably the railway when long distances are involved. While I’m not really averse to rail travel, the state of the railways in the mainland UK are, to be blunt, not brilliant these days. So in an effort to generate some catharsis on recent rail based experiences I’ve decided to put typeface to word processor and write about the whole thing and bring you, my loyal hypothetical audience, along for the ride. You Lucky, Lucky People.
Ever notice, dear hypothetical reader, that while you’re out and about on these here interwebs that there seems to be an awful lot of controversies going on that seem to have been instigated by gates. Once trusted guardians of area security seem to have their hands in a lot of dodgy dealings I can tell you, and I don’t think I’ll ever trust them again, or their shady consorts railings. Ok, in case you haven’t guessed yet I’m being facetious for comedic effect, but in all honesty, the phrase “-gate” tends to get added to pretty much every controversy big or small these days. Sometimes it’s by the media, other times it’s by normal folk, but always with a weary sense of inevitability.
So the latest odd crazy/fad to spread through the internet like a wildfire is this little old thing known as the Ice Bucket Challenge, and it’s a thing that perplexes me deeply, though not for the usual reasons that internet fads do, but more the fact that to me the whole thing seems a bit arse-about-face. For the benefit of those reading who’ve never heard about it (which given both its popularity and this blog’s obscurity is unlikely, but whatever) the premise is to challenge someone to either dump a bucket of ice water over their head and donate an amount to charity or forfeit the bucket and donate even more to charity. After the deed is done, so to speak, you nominate friends/colleagues/randomers to do the same.
Currently we live in an age where communication with one another is easier than ever, so long as you have the right equipment any one person on the planet can, theoretically, contact any other near instantaneously. This has assisted many facets of society, not least of all shared interest groups, or what I’m going to continue to refer to as “Fandoms.” Now fandoms existed before the coming of the Internet certainly, but far in less expansive and interconnected ways. What the internet gave these groups was a way to grow and interact in a much more fluid manner than before. As soon as they became connected, groups that had existed in isolation developed discussion forums, fan sites, constant growth and so on to the point many stopped being niche and gained almost, but not quite, main stream appeal. Many certainly became more well known than they would have done previously. The march of technology brought people with similar interests together the face of shared interests were changed forever.