A Gap in My Social Media

The title says ‘My Social Media’. I think it’s best to qualify any comment on Social Media with a ‘my’. It’s such a personal thing. We all have our own versions of Social Media and the funny thing is we all think we share the same one. We don’t though. If you went on Twitter and followed only people who loved, say, Donald Trump and somebody else went on and only connected with people who collected rare horror films on VHS then those two people would have vastly different Social Media experiences. Well, there’d be a few similarities, obviously…

So this, here, is about my Social Media. It’s worth remembering that. Although, I do think there are certain generalisations that can be made across the spectrum of Social Media interactions. One size doesn’t fit all, though, that’s the point. 

I’ve been using Social Media in some form or another for the best part of my life. I include things from the dark ages in that statement. Ancient things like Newsnet and even, God help us, CB Radio. I’ve always been drawn to communicating with people who are not in my eyeline, mostly for fun. 

My modern Social Media outlets have become stuck at Twitter, Facebook and this here blog thing, which effectively died years ago but which I keep cattle-prodding on a weekly basis because that’s what I do, I hold onto my old things with a tight grasp. I’ve never grasped the nettles of Snapchat or Whatsapp or other such fancy things. 

And, I need to say, my Social Media has been important to me. As a natural progression in life, I’ve become someone who doesn’t interact very far in real life beyond family and workmates. As a result, the linkage and contact I maintain through the computer screen is more good than it is bad, although this may not always seem to be the case.

So, having qualified and contextualised the hell out of everything, let’s get to that gap. My gap, maybe not yours (enough with the qualifications now. Ed).

It’s all springs from right out at the outer reaches of how people use their Social Media. In the movies, when old Q was bidding farewell to James Bond, he gave him a couple of pieces of advice. One of them was the words ‘Never let them see you bleed’. At one end of Social Media are the people who seem to maintain their online presence entirely on this basis. Everything is Hunky Dory, all is A1, top of the world. Nobody is ever bleeding over here on the sunniest side of the street. 

The good folk at this end of Social Media accentuate the positive of their lives and their relationships and their state of mind. They may do this to benefit their own personal situation or to benefit the impression they give to others. Either way, their motives are often positive, one feels. Often they simply think that it’s nice to share the good news and nobody needs to be brought down by hearing about the less-positive aspects of their lives. 

I can write about this end of the Social Media spectrum because I belong to it. If you were to read all of my Social Media snippets over the last years you would get a fairly positive picture. If things are even moderately shitty, I don’t turn up to tell you about it. That’s just my way. 

So, yes, I can see the reasons for the unremittingly positive Social Media landscape. But I can also see the collectively negative impression it can compound, particularly for the people who live on the other side of the street.

The people on the other extreme end of the Social Media rainbow simply don’t have any good news to tell. There isn’t even anything they can pretend about. They have 'run on for a long time' as we all have but life has caught up them now and is unremittingly shit. This is, in all likelihood, a passing phase, but that means nothing to Social Media which is always and forever only about the very moment it exists in. 

For the people on this extreme dark side, that Social Media stroll up the bright side must be a tough gauntlet to saunter. It must be like going up a brightly lit street at Christmas, where all the curtains are open and the interiors are yellow-bright with warm fires and ceiling-high trees and presents flowing out underneath. While all there is outside, really, is the bitter cold and cutting wind and the water seeping gently into the hole in your shoe. 

From the bright side, looking back, it might be pretty unpleasant too. The guilt of being in the warm bright room, while the other poor soul lurches past outside. 

These are two extremes, obviously, and are so exaggerated as to hardly exist at all. But we don’t have to move very far inward from these extreme ends to start to find where the bulk of Social Media really lies. People have their positive narratives and people have their negative narratives and the narratives may swap and switch from time to time as life throws its dice. 

But, and here’s my point, the two ends rarely converge. The middle ground of Social Media hardly exists at all. Some people share the good and some share the bad but the ordinary, part-good, part-bad story is rarely told. It’s understandable, perhaps. The ordinary is by definition… ordinary and thus not very invigorating or engaging. 

It is also, however, where many of us live out the bulk of our lives.

Social Media shows us a heightened existence. A place where life is often very bright or very dark, very full or very empty, very good or very bad. I think over-exposure to it can tend to lead us towards a mixture of fearfulness and envy that is not really terribly good for us. This is not going to change anytime soon. For a short time, early on, Twitter seemed to achieve a golden moment of real life being depicted in short bursts but that has long gone. It is now more declamatory and polarised than any other medium (well, mine is anyway). 

That’s it. I wasn’t going to write anything this week because this was what was on my mind and I felt it would come out sounding petty and irrelevant. “Never mind that,” I said to myself, “write it anyway.”

So there it is. There is a gap in my Social Media and Real Life exists somewhere within that gap. 

On the flat world of our Facebook and our Twitter pages, it is often those things which we choose to leave unsaid that speak for us the loudest.

People are Doing Well

It’s an amazing time, at least from where I’m sitting.

People are doing well. People are doing really well.

Not everybody, of course. I’m mainly talking about certain people who I follow on my Social Media, Twitter and Facebook. I know some of you are not doing so well, and I’m sorry about that. For the moment, though, let’s focus on those others.

It’s seems to be a golden time for people to find success and creative fulfilment, at least among the people I connect to. All at once, or so it initially seems, people are writing hit movies, heading for Hollywood, winning prizes, getting big book deals, bringing out new TV series, winning film awards. You name it, it’s happening.

And I, for one, couldn’t be happier.

I’m not going to name names. Some of you will know who some of the people are, some of you won’t have a clue (that’s both readers covered). It doesn’t matter, it’s not the point. The point is that people who I have watched and occasionally chatted-to for years and now getting what they have sweated for and what they truly deserve. It’s an uplifting thing.

“Gosh, Ken,” I hear you say, “aren’t you the big fella? Glad for everybody’s success, wishing everybody well. Not for a minute bemoaning your own significant lack of progress.”

Well, no, it’s not quite that simple.

There is a little envy. It would be foolish to say otherwise. The envy isn’t of success or money or prestige, oddly enough. It’s of the opportunity to tell the stories you have to tell and to know there is an audience there who will listen. That’s a marvellous thing and it’s a thing that all of us storytellers wish fervently for. As for myself, I tend to get it in my own small-but-satisfying ways and, although, I might aspire to more than that, I know the limitations that are on me.

So, yes, a little envy but only a very little. Generally the feeling is one of delight and encouragement and inspiration.

I’ve watched these people, you see, I’ve watched them for quite a while. They all have some pretty basic things in common. Pretty obvious things too, it must be said but, even though they may be obvious, they are still very real and well worth noting.

There are two things really.

1) They are talented.

2) They never gave up.

These people who are doing well, they weren’t always doing so well. Any when they weren’t, they may have got disheartened and lost their confidence and doubted their ability to succeed. But They Never Gave Up. Learn from that. Be encouraged. Go forward. Fail again. Fail better.

Maybe you will succeed and maybe you won’t.

But maybe, just maybe, you will.

The possibility is there to be seen, to be encouraged by. It can be done. But you have to be really good and, mark this, that alone isn’t enough. You have to sweat too.

The other reason that this is all so much fun and so encouraging is this. The ‘Top’ is not a sharp peak like some alpine mountain on a cereal box. There’s a small plateau up there. There’s still room enough for us, if we can be good enough, and work hard enough, and never, ever give up.

Well done, the people who are doing well.

Thanks for showing us how it can be done.

Deckard and the Replicants

I was Facebooking briefly with somebody about Blade Runner this week and it reminded me of the Blade Runner theory I once came up with all by myself.

I’ll get to that in a minute but first a warning. 

This post will have Blade Runner spoilers. 

You may laugh. “Blade Runner is, like, a gazillion years old, who cares about spoilers?” Well, I would. If I hadn’t seen it, like, a gazillion times. If I hadn’t seen it at all, I would go away now. So, if you haven’t seen it, maybe go away and see it and then come back. Or maybe don't even come back, it’s hardly going to be worth it. 

I saw Blade Runner on the night it hit cinemas on general release for very the first time. For me, it was Friday night in the Savoy in Sligo. I was awash with anticipation. I had read about it in all the magazines and it sounded fantastic. It was. Reservations about voice-overs and happy endings only came later. On the night, it was magic. I went to see it with someone who didn’t get it at all. That kind of heightened the fun.

My regard for the film was further cemented in the week it came out for rental on video. My older brother, who was a huge sci-fi fan, had not seen it so I rented the video and made him watch it on a Sunday morning/afternoon. I remember we had to stall our viewing to have some dinner (there was no such thing as ‘lunch’ in Sligo) and then come back to it after. He loved it and I felt like the big fella for showing it to him. So, yeah, that was great.

The Director’s Cut in 1992 in that Fulham Road cinema shook me up again. For me, it was a different film. Harder edged, way way better than before and…

(and here’s where we go all spoilertastic)

… and Deckard was a Replicant. 

Shoot me. I never got that from the original version. I loved the original version. I loved Deckard and Rachel, “put your hands on me…” and the way Deckard’s blood seeped back into the little glass of clear spirit he was drinking.

But I never got the Replicant thing.

And now, in the Director’s Cut, for the sake of a very few tweaks, Deckard was wholly and entirely a Replicant (to me at least).

There was no easy versions of Social Media in those days. There was Usenet. Some time later, I landed on Alt.Fan.Blade.Runner and was amazed to see that people were still willing to argue that Deckard was not a Replicant. I got stuck in and made all the arguments over and over again. It was kind of fun, a precursor to the good Twitter feeling, perhaps.

The arguments for and against Deckard being a Replicant have been repeated ad nauseam so I’m not going to get in too deep here. The point of this post is a) nostalgia and b) that I once made a point about Deckard being a Replicant that nobody else had seemed to have made and some people on Usenet acknowledged that. They stopped, said, “that’s a rather silly point but, in fairness, I’ve never heard it before,” and then they moved on. 

So here it is.

No, wait, before that, allow me to boil the while Deckard/Replicant argument into two statements upon which I feel it’s hard to disagree.

1) The Director wanted Deckard to clearly be a Replicant. The Screenwriter did not. 


2) Deckard is clearly a Replicant in the Director’s Cut while in the Original Theatrical version this is by no means clear. 

The case-closer comes in the Director’s Cut when Gaff leaves a piece of unicorn origami for Deckard to find. Replicants have implanted dreams and Deckard dreamed of a unicorn. The fact that Gaff know this makes Deckard a Replicant. End of. This is the piece that was missing from the original. The origami was there, enigmatic, the dream was not. 

There are other things, even in the original. Deckard’s eyes momentarily glow red, like the Replicant’s do. He is also told that he has done, ‘A Man’s Job’. There is other stuff.

Here’s my own contribution.

Oh, before I do that. This is a fraught enough argument as it is so let me just state that I am not saying I was the first or only person to make the following point. It is now fairly widely discussed in places online. All I can say is that I made it up all by myself, I spotted it that very first night I saw Blade Runner and when I told it to a lot of people in the forum, they had never thought of it before.

Oh. Kay. 

My extra bit of evidence that Deckard is a Replicant… it’s got to do with Holden.

Holden? Holden? Who the hell is Holden?

Wait. Holden is the first Blade Runner. He’s the guy who does the test on Leon and who gets himself shot while asking about his mother. You remember now. Yes, you do.

My theory in four words is this.

Holden looks like Deckard. 

He does or, rather, he did. I’ll explain that in a minute but, first, look at the picture at the top of this post. That’s Holden. He is a sort of a Harrison Ford looky-likey. Why? Because they are both Replicants. 

There’s a deleted scene, restored in later versions, where Deckard visits Holden in hospital. Holden’s acting (and, yes, face it, overacting) is like a mirror of Deckard’s mannerisms. They are alike, they are cut from the same cloth and they don’t know it. 

This idea is not as convincing now as it would have been back in ’82. Back then, we only knew Harrison Ford from a brace of Star Wars movies and, of course, Raiders. Now, he is like family and nobody else can look remotely like him. I get that.

But let me tell you this.

In 1982, in the Savoy, when Holden came on screen to do the Voight-Kampff Test on Leon, I said to myself, “There’s Harrison Ford now, he looks a little different.”

So that’s it. The Armstrong Theory (not really). Another tiny facet of Ridley Scott’s scheme to make Deckard a Replicant.

Or not.

I don’t really mind what you think. 

It’s just a fun subject to revisit now and again.