My Response to Patrick Garratt on Vine

I was reading this article on the Huffington Post just now about Twitter’s new microblogging service, ‘Vine’, in which users can upload 6 second clips of their lives with an Iphone and show it to the world.  Garratt makes some very interesting points, amusingly argued, and I both agree and disagree with him.

I agree in one respect that increased self-presentation isn’t healthy.  Giving people another tool to obsess over their own lives and, basically, to show off, is likely to be just as mundane as Garratt believes.  By chronicling your own life, detail by detail, you’re sure to miss the significant things which exist beyond it.  He’s right that there is no distinction between one ‘cup of tea posting’ and another, that there really is a cat saturation point, that there’s only so much we can take of inanities.

And yet, looking on the vine website itself, I can’t help being transfixed.  In that little box, the myriad of human diversity is on show.  Every six seconds there’s a different person, a different location, a different culture, a different lifestyle, different technology, a different philosophy and belief, and a different activity.  Vine is the latest step towards the complete connection of the human race; culture enriched by each step, and tolerance grown.  We now know more about each other than ever before, and that can only be a good thing.

I doubt I’ll get Vine myself, unless it takes off within my peer group and through social pressures I feel compelled to join in.  But it’s an interesting creation, even if it does risk high levels of what could be considered mundanity.

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Travelling The World

I have a confession to make…  I have never in my life left the UK.  This usually is greeted with shock and pity whenever I admit it, but that’s the tragic truth.  In my and my family’s defence, I’ve seen an awful lot of the UK: I’ve at least passed through most major cities, seen a massive amount of the Scottish highlands and made a few ventures into Wales – though I’ve yet to tackle Northern Ireland.  (I suppose that would be another benefit to Scotland becoming independent – these places would suddenly count as ‘abroad’!)  But with respect to all the individual cultures within our country,and I know personally how far these can differ, what I really want is to explore the cultures, landscapes, wildlife and history of other countries.

So I’ve compiled a list of the countries in the world I would like to visit, presented in map form:

Places I Want to Visit

Okay, I appreciate there are problems here…  North Korea and Iran would be challenging to get into, and since I don’t have a death wish countries like Syria, Mali and Afghanistan may have to wait.   I may voluntarily miss out the Vatican.

Joking aside, I really would like the opportunity to visit as many foreign countries as I can, but I have narrowed them down to places which I shall focus on first:

  1. Canada.  Similar culture, same language, less insane than various elements of the USA – should feel fairly at home here!  I’ve been told Vancouver would be a great place to start, and I would also love to explore some of the more far flung northern provinces.
  2. France.  I speak basic French, though would need to seriously brush up on it.  There are so many parts of France worth visiting, from the typical tourist spots in Paris to the cornfields and castles of Provence, from visiting the fields of the First World War to the Alps.
  3. South Africa.  I still can’t put my finger on why, but I have a slight obsession with this country.  I think I’m in awe of the astounding progress which has been made since Apartheid, despite failings the government may currently have.  Feels like an accessible country to start my explorations of Africa with, due to the use of English and my knowledge of the country.  My only concern is that the country could potentially, in a worst case scenario, slide further and further into corruption and intolerance and may not become the safest place for a European to visit.
  4. Egypt.  There’s so much!  The history angle would dominate, obviously, with the pyramids and tombs and ancient cities.  But also more recent history; how fascinating it would be to walk across Tahrir Square and know the victories which had been won there – a symbol for the ongoing battle for freedom.
  5. Japan.  This would be the most difficult by far.  Completely alien language and script, alien culture, alien social norms, alien technology!  These factors make Japan all the more appealing, but I know I would struggle and definitely could not go alone; the culture shock would be enormous.  Yet Japan seems such a beautifully rich and diverse country, I have to visit it at least once in my lifetime.

One other significant plan I have is to look into the various railway deals offered in Europe which travel through a variety of countries, offering a chance to experience a multitude of cultures and scenery without having to plan each journey individually.  I’m not sure these still exist – I hope so!

If – no, when – I travel to these countries, I hope to update this blog accordingly with my experiences.

Boats

I have a somewhat uneasy love of boats.  I’ve spent my whole life growing up in an environment where boats play a massive cultural and historical role, where fishing is a significant part of the local economy.  My father and auntie were accomplished rowers by very young ages, though this hasn’t quite filtered down to me.  I loathe swimming and have a dreadful fear of being suspended above large bodies of water.  Despite this, I feel a natural affinity with all things nautical, albeit one I don’t realise very often.

I can row, vaguely, and do so at least a couple of times a year in a small red boat which has belonged to our family for generations.  The few times I’ve been on large sailing ships have been immensely enjoyable experiences – I even got to steer one briefly, thanks to a school trip we went on.  Larger, modern ships do not have the same effect, and can often be intimidating in their bleak metal masses.

What I’ve found interesting recently, having been forced to temporarily move to town (see a future blog post), is watching all the various ships which sail into the harbour.  From a very handy website, I can see that at this present moment there are fishing boats, passenger ships, fishing boats, tugs, lifeboats, diving vessels; from the UK, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, the Bahamas and Cyprus.  What’s more, if I look to my left I can see these very ships through the window.  It’s incredibly to think of the great distances these ships have travelled, their foreign crews with a multitude of experiences, trading, investing, visiting.  A wonder of our globalised world.

My interest in boats is very superficial, akin to trainspotting, but they are ethnically and culturally a part of who I am.