I like to think of myself as a 21st century-kind of guy. While at university in Manchester I was described by a friend as ‘Metrosexual’ and felt quite proud of myself even though I had no idea what she meant. This was in the days before Google so I actually had to ask around to find out its English translation, and it seems she was right. I’m definitely in touch with my ‘feminine’ side – I wear lots of pink, can often be found donning flowery shirts which could’ve been cut and sewn from a pair of your nan’s curtains, and am close to tears at the end of any Disney film. This, I’ve heard (being a ‘soft southerner’), goes against the stereotype of the typical macho Geordie male, whose rippling, gym-frequenting, tattoo-laden torso I feel constantly in the shadow of while strutting round the streets of North Tyneside listening to a bit of Queen on my iPod, mouthing the words to ‘I want to break free’ (and sometimes doing the little hoover actions, too).
Part of being a guy, and indeed gal, in the 10s (is this what we are calling this decade? I’m not sure it’s been decided) is our fluency with and reliance upon the magical tool which, 12 years ago, would have solved my Metrosexual conundrum. The internet. Oh, wonderful internet. Beautiful internet. That which allows me instant access to football scores, ridiculous memes and irreverent viral videos. And, the tool which enables me to keep the whole world up to date on the life and loves of my daughter via social media. Living a mere 280 miles from those with whom I grew up, I feel an extra reliance upon social media, particularly Facebook, to stay in touch with my family, and my friends – precisely 800 of them. Hang on. What? 800?! I’m guessing that at least 95% of these people I will never meet again and 80% I will never have any kind of interaction with whatsoever. And it’s these people I’m choosing to share some of the most intimate, precious moments with? ‘Why?’, I ask myself. I guess it comes from some innate need for me, and my life, to feel important to others. “Yay, I got 30 likes on that status I wrote about a trip to the beach – that means people care about me!”.
Whatever the reasons behind my and so many others’ need to feel this ‘digital gratification’, I’m still not so sure about the ethicacy of my decision to share pictures and videos of my daughter with so many others. Surely it should be her choice if all these people, many of whom she has never met, are bombarded with magical moments captured on my always-at-hand Samsung S6, not mine. She is an absolute show-off who loves nothing more than talking about herself and showing people something new she can do (like most kids, I expect) but still, it does bug me, even as I count up the Facebook reactions and feel slightly pleased with myself.
This trend for constant, incessant sharing of people’s lives with others has launched a rebellious streak in my wife Frankie, who has taken the almost unheard of step of deleting her Facebook app from her phone (shock horror!) and keeping her use of it to a bare minimum. It is also why we have made the decision to keep news of our current pregnancy off of the internet – only people who I speak to in person or over the phone know about it. Or those who read this blog! So in around four months’ time a whole load of my friends will find out about the birth of baby Thierry/Dennis/Arsene (see first blog), and wonder how they missed it. And perhaps they’ll realise that, despite the wonders of the world wide web and its incredible ability to keep people in touch with one another, sometimes hearing someone’s voice or seeing someone’s face, and actually sensing people’s reactions rather than seeing them displayed as a ‘like’ or emoticon, can have its benefits.
Jake Rusby | Rusby Media