Growing older in the midst of a youthful technological era is a curious conundrum.
While one half of your brain has resigned itself to cynicism and world weariness, the other half is startled out of all reverie by the daily barrage of images and information spilling from our computers, television screens and mobile devices.
It’s a visual media deluge, which can either confirm your increasingly jaundiced view of life or, every now and then, make you glad that your cells are still functioning in a relatively normal manner.
Confusion has never been this baffling and for me, yesterday in particular, was a day of such conflicting emotions.
In the early half of the day, my faith in human nature took a considerable nosedive when the news sites that I visited were full of images like this,
with people actually having discussions as to whether this is racism or satire?
Aristophanes, Alexander Pope, Aldous Huxley, Mark Twain, H.L. Mencken, Matt Groening; these are some of the names that come to mind when satire is mentioned. Tea Party wingnuts wielding inflammatory, disrespectful posters and spouting dangerous bullshit, is not.
Despite heading out to enjoy a semi-boozy lunch with a good friend, this picture drifted around my head for the rest of the day, causing much sighing and feeling of malaise until, later in the evening, an event occurred which lifted the gloom.
In July this year, I joined the social networking site Twitter. Well, to tell the truth, I signed on in February, but was so freaked out when the only people following me were spam bots and porn bots (and this is before I even knew what a ‘bot‘ was), that I ran away, back to the comforting familiarity of Facebook. Over the next few months I read and heard more about Twitter until finally, the events surrounding the Iran elections persuaded me to give it another try.
I knew nothing about Twitter etiquette, retweeting, direct messaging or who saw whose messages. I felt vaguely uneasy about just jumping in to talk to total strangers and for a couple of weeks suffered from stalking perception anxiety. I made silly mistakes and probably tweeted inane drivel but ploughed ahead. Any networking activity involves a learning curve, right?
Maybe I just got lucky with the people I chose to follow on Twitter. Any error was gently corrected and despite being a ‘newbie’ (ack, I hate that term), I was made to feel welcome by all. People join social networking sites for a myriad of reasons. For me, the fact that from my small corner of Belgium, I can connect with writers, journalists, scientists, artists, fashionistas, photographers, comedians, musicians, mothers, fathers, nutcases – “the whole gamut of human emotion” – is a mind boggling wonderment.
As humans we live to connect. It forms part of our makeup. Yesterday evening, at 7p.m. GMT, in London, I watched and was part of, a connection which negated the hate images of earlier in the day and raised my awareness as to “the kindness of strangers”.
The Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, London, is currently home to sculptor Anthony Gormley’s ‘living monument’ art project One & Other . It is a daunting 3 meters (10ft) high, open to the elements pedestal, where each participant may showcase their point of view of life; their juggling, dancing, oration or ability to turn into a tomato skills, for one hour. If a week is a long time in politics, one hour on a plinth must feel like an eternity.
A quiet buzz had been starting to build in the ‘Twitterverse’ as we all became slowly aware that one of the ‘ladies who tweet’ was preparing to be forklifted up and become one of the ‘living monuments’. Events may move quickly on Twitter but support shifts like the wind. Within the space of a few short hours, women living in or around London re-organised their schedules, ignored their partners, donated their children to charity and flocked to Trafalgar Square to stand by their girl (women are superb at this).
Henri Hunter’s hour began at 7pm GMT. Here in Belgium, it was 8pm, the kids put themselves to bed; no teeth brushed. In California it was 11am and the girls were coffee primed. In New York, it was 2pm, work or no work, they were glued. In Rome, it was aperitivo time – online – (yipee!). All over the UK, the usual routines stopped as the “Trafalgar Sq. Online Crew” (thanks, Nene), tuned in to tweet support and comments. In the wilds of beautiful Scotland, one woman was looking, listening and helping to direct the web cameras. Kiz, Photographer extraordinaire found the best angles for the onlookers and sweet-talked lovely Felix and Zoom (the ‘One & Other ‘ Camera Operators), into pointing out the best spots for close-ups of:
Henri – (@titianred)
The flame-haired, Autumn Goddess of the Plinth.
The Shoes -
Sister, I would SWIM to Finland to pick up a pair of those….
The Tweet Support Gang -
Jeez girls, aren’t you supposed to be looking UP..?
See what I mean? It’s an addiction, I know.
The male support were keeping quiet in the background. The ‘Silent One’ proferred the champagne and goodies for the ‘après-plinth’. Cheers, O Silent One!
The other male had to run off to Somerset House for work, but as he said to me once in my earlier days:
“It was a good thing”.
Yes. Yes, it was a marvelous thing.
All thanks for the screenshots in this post go to Kiz (@deililly). Check out her superb photography by clicking on the link above – if it works – God, when am I going to GET this stuff…?
Even more thanks to Henri (@titianred) for allowing me to use her magnificence for this post. Will you finally adopt me now?
To the ‘Twitter Girls & Boys’: too many to name, but you are all there, in my heart & laptop, until some virus wipes you all out. Thanks.
To my paren….all right, already….