It’s been 17 years today since my father passed on and it’s during such times I pull out the Irish whiskey and start reflecting on his life and his impact on me and the way I think and live my life. It’s been a particularly reflective week because my professional life has taken a fairly dramatic and interesting upswing recently – my interpersonal skills have been called upon a great deal these past few weeks in ways I barely felt possible. Why I barely felt possible was because interpersonal skills was Dad’s thing. This was a man who walked up and down the streets of our suburb talking to anyone and everyone – always talking at their level, genuinely interested in what they did, no matter what it was that they did.
I, however, have always wondered if I was shy, withdrawn, timid or just a snob not wanting to talk to different ranges of people. Perhaps why I spend far too much time on Twitter, not facing the awkwardness of meeting random people face to face. Then again, I also wonder if I’m being too harsh on myself. Dad grew up in a softer, gentler age when people did go from door to door and chat with people. This is not such a friendly, open age in which we live. I do like meeting all sorts of people when given the right circumstances and context.
That desire to meet a range of people could also relate to Twitter though, as it does give a chance to meet with a whole range of people and chat with them about whatever they get up to, whatever they think, feel, dream and the like. So perhaps I am more like my father than I once believed. That I have taken my desire to know more about people to the net rather than to my suburb and community.
It is with that eye that I think of what Dad would have thought of Twitter. That thought doesn’t take very much time. He would have hated it. It features a range of people he never liked or had much time for. He certainly would have thought I was wasting my time with it. And, problem is, I have done all of the things he wouldn’t have liked – such as:
Blowhards – People who talk a lot about what great things they are going to do, what they could do, what little things they have done but in reality achieve little with their lives and waste their time talking themselves up. There’s a lot of them on Twitter.
Bellyaching – I remember vividly the last sentiment Dad ever gave to me. I was going through a really tough time at work – I was being picked on by a colleague – and I said it all while he was lying there, in a hospital, suffering through the last vestiges of pancreatic cancer. He couldn’t say very much, but he did say this – “Stop bellyaching about it. Just get on with it”. I still bellyache far too much – rant away. But then when the dark clouds clear, I have a look at Twitter and see a whole lot of bellyaching about the smallest, most ridiculous stuff that really doesn’t matter to the way the world works for most people. So much bellyaching, so much time wasted.
Mug Lairs – People who give themselves many, many tickets and carry on conversations over Twitter that reveals to all and sundry their pretentiousness and lack of substance. Lairs because they shine a light from their base to their apex and mugs because the reality is, that’s all they are, mugs. We can see them, all conducting meaningless conversations on Twitter during the day about nonsense in their own smug, exclusionary language while most people are getting on with their day and work.
There’s other people on Twitter and in the wider media that would have come under Dad’s blank stare.
The category of mug lair can be continued to those people with little life experience or training commenting on things of which they know little. The people who believe that because they have the power to write about things, do – even if what they write adds little to nothing to our collective understanding of things. I remember Dad refusing to enter into loud, arrogant, half baked conversations being during Christmas about things of which he had detailed knowledge – his attitude was “they believe they know everything, it’s better to keep them that way”. If he was bothered, he would be appalled at the kind of things in newspapers that people get paid to write as well as the kinds of people who write for them. Truth is, he wouldn’t read them.
I can see his point.
But for me, I have had the added bonus of seeing the growth of relationships built over endless pointless Twitter conversations develop into the paid presence of these “m8s” on the comment pages of news websites. The development of these clubs of undertrained, inexperienced opinion piece churners trying to build their personal profiles on the back of their Twitter personas rather than on the back of deep, profound life experience or training in the fields about which they are writing. These same people only speaking on Twitter to their own small cliques of the chosen and being rude to those considered unworthy. I’m guessing that right now, there’s a few readers of this post that could think of a few who would fit this description.
I’m not going to go into names, however, because really, that wouldn’t have been Dad’s way and it doesn’t need to be mine. My reflection on such things, however, has made me realise that I do need to catch myself from being a blowhard, from bellyaching and from being a mug lair.
And stop bloody wasting my time on rubbish that just annoys or upsets me.
Thanks, Dad. Again.