Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A Cataclysmic scenario, or what if my Facebook friends ever met each other?

I have been thinking, looking at my friends, acquaintances and relatives on Facebook, that it would be a fascinating experience to have them all in one room for a day. And when I said fascinating, what I really meant was cataclysmic.

Let's imagine, just hypothetically, that I died. Or re-married. Or whatever else people do that requires most of their friends to attend in one big bunch for a few hours. Of course, if we are practical and realistic about it, nothing, neither my death or marriage or an alien invasion would ever gather all my Facebook friends in one room, face to face.  

And thank goodness for that.

It would be, let's be honest, a total and utter disaster.

Organizing a seating plan would be an impossible task.

Let's see….

I would have to seat the Jews away from the Palestinians.

I would have to make sure my friend who had a rather unpleasant experience involving her partner and a Russian girl in the past is not sat at the same table with any reasonably attractive Russian girls. Generalizing, I know, but hey…Just to be on the safe side.

The Liberals would hate to be anywhere near the Conservatives, so maybe stick them somewhere in the opposite corner of the room.

The atheists would probably be safer somewhere outside altogether.

And, of course, let's not forget all the Armenian people, journalists and social activists of some sort, whom I met via blogging, who probably would need to be hidden away from some of my old school friends who keep posting aggressive hatred messages these days.

You see how complicated it would get?

But then…Despite being so different from each other, to the point of me not being able to ever imagine them meeting in real life, all these people are part of my life.  Whether from the exotic Soviet past, or from the suburban life in the UK, or a mixed cultural pot of Doha, they are all characters in my story, they all have a right to be in my Facebook friends list. How is that even possible? Does it mean that I lack, you know, principles? Or am I too superficial?

Or does it mean that everyone on my list is actually someone that, for whatever reason, deserved to be there? All these people must have played a role, important or trivial, in my past or current life…they must have made me laugh, or think, or learn something. Made me love them or fancy them, or want to be their friend. Each and one of them, however different from each other (and me, for that matter)  must  have been cool or interesting enough to be accepted and added to that Friends category.

Now, this is the end of the post, and the moment when some sort of a point should, in theory, be made. But I have not really got a point. I just thought it would be amazing if a social platform like Facebook would somehow have the power to magically affect real life. To help all of us become more tolerant, more accepting, less judgemental. So that I could, hypothetically, imagine inviting all of my Facebook friends into one big room together. Because, remember? If you love me, you've got to love my dog. Who was, by the way, a Rottweiler. A breed most often hated for no other reason but sheer ignorance. But, as I said to anyone who wanted to visit my home and was not sure about him…You just have to trust me when I say he is good. And, he is part of who I am.

And so are my Facebook friends.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Too much information?

I was talking about my blog with someone last night and explaining why I don't write as much as before. I can't really be myself, I said. I can't say anything I would really want to say for the fear of accidentally offending someone- either the locals, or the expats, or neighbours…the list goes on.

In the past, my blog had always been my personal little world of free speech. An outlet to express my thoughts openly, to make an non-PC joke if I liked to, or use words that are no longer appropriate to use in the western society. Such as a retard. I can say it here, you see? I am such a retard. Yes, you might find it offensive, but so what, it is my blog, and I can do whatever I want here!

And I need this outlet. I need to be able to occasionally joke inappropriately, or be rude, or be silly, or be totally ridiculous. Because that is the real me.

I remember thinking about an old English friend of mine, that he was turning into a rude, bitter, intolerant old man. But, as I, myself, got a bit older, I realised that he had not changed as such. He just stopped caring about being proper, and started speaking out the thoughts he had probably always had but never expressed openly. He must have realised that life was too short to worry about always saying the right thing to be accepted by majority. Those who hate you for it will step aside, giving more space to those who accept you the way you are.

Last night, at my ladies only jewelry party, I relaxed for just a moment and said something that was, in hindsight, perhaps, somewhat inappropriate. But I had a drink (or two…) and I was with my girlfriends. One tends to relax a little in such situation. And so I made a joke about the reasons I had married my husband. Which involved a reference to him being able to cook really well and being good in bed.

And so a friend exclaimed  'No! No! Too much information!!!' and quickly redirected the conversation.

I paused and thought about it. To me, it was just a joke. Was it offensive? Not really. (Not to Husband, anyway.) I thought it was quite carefully phrased, really. I did not give any details of why or how he was good, which to me, would have been, indeed, too much information. For goodness sake, I thought. It was a joke! Amongst women only. Not only women, but friends, people I know for a while now. If I can't make a rude (ish?) joke with my girlfriends, then when and where can I be myself?

The incident made me think of the number of times I  judged people by something they joked about or said, momentarily slotting them into a 'Oh God, he is retarded!' or 'She is just a common tart' category. And, of course, I might have been correct. I usually am. And yes, I used the R word again.

Of course we can, and should, make assumptions about others from what they say. If only everyone was genuine! Wouldn't it be great to find out straight away that someone is racist or stupid or rude? If only were we allowed to say what we really wanted, how much easier would our relationships become? No guessing, no illusions, no disappointments later.

More importantly, it made me wonder how well I really know others around me. Because, with all these endless social restrictions placed upon us, can we ever be ourselves with each other?  As we grow older, the rules become more asphyxiating, more controlling. What topics are appropriate at this dinner party? What's okay to say in front of someone of that religion? What would someone from that country and that cultural background find offensive and what-funny?  Tiptoe very carefully around the politics until absolutely sure. Please, do be careful with disabilities! Don't even think of making any comment about those who claim to be depressed. Be very careful with vegetarians and pet lovers. And dwarfs.

Fine! Lets be polite, let's be proper. But surely, once we established that we are friends, once in a while, under the influence, you know? it might be okay to chill- just a little?, and relax and forget about the social rules and expectations.  And just share a joke or two, however inappropriate they might be. And expect not to be judged.