A new study says people born between 1965 and 1985 — and since when did 22-year-olds qualify for Gen X? whatevs — have “significantly fewer sexual partners and are less likely to be unfaithful than those who came before and after them.”
I’m optimistic. I’m hoping that this whole thing is going to explode somehow, and the population can collectively start to unpack its neuroses about sex.
It’s like, even the people who thought they were sexually liberated by having a bunch of different sexual partners, and having lots and lots of meaningless sex—I’m not sure they were. I’m not sure they weren’t just acting out a different kind of neurosis, that was an over-compensated reaction to the neurosis their grandparents had.
In the real world, I am lucky if I have 10 people I can call true “friends”. With the rest qualifying as either an acquaintance, colleague or a friend of friend. So how is it, when it comes to myspace, i have 185 people who hold the title of friends? This isn’t “networking” people, this is called collectworking. And in a lot cases, you can call it flat-out stalking.
Reality is, a large percentage of the 185 people (which, for the record, is low in comparison to a lot of myspace users) tucked away in my “Friend” box are people whom i have very little in common with. And further to that, is the percentage of those who aren’t even with in reasonable driving distance to me (assuming they or I WANTED to be social with each other). So in my book, these factors by default, literally makes it impossible for me to be physically or mentally “Social” with them. Yet there they are, quietly idle and on display for the rest of you to see, segregated by my top 8, 12, 24 or 185.
But I guess that’s just the point.
Today’s social networks are less about socializing (true socializing) and more about our own vanity, ego or social statuses. And we use these platforms to show off photo’s of our best gangsta poses, how cool/original/eclectic our musical tastes are, or just how witty or funny we can be in our blurbs or friends comment boxes. All in hopes that someone else cool will notice us, want be our friend and then proudly display us among their collection of “cool” human trophies.
I disagree with Alex on this one. I have a number of Facebook friends that some would consider obscenely high, but which does not fall obscenely far up the bell curve in my own social circles. (Okay, at present it stands at 474.)
Maybe around 10 per cent of these are actual “friends” (defined as people I make an effort to see on a regular basis), but that misses the point. The reason I have a lot of Facebook “friends” isn’t because I think every person I meet is going to be my New Best Friend, but because I’m actively involved in a lot of communities.
At university, I was involved in student politics, the student union and the media society, so on Facebook I count people from different factions, committees and media students from four or five different graduating years amongst my friends.
I am a person who is active in the world, and my Facebook friends list reflects and connects me to the worlds I inhabit.
We need to look at social networking sites less as an intimate dinner (or even larger house) party, and more as a buzzing town square, customised to reflect each person’s interests and broader social circles.
This article was first published in the New York Times last month, and republished in the Sydney Morning Herald's (or Herlad, as I like to call it) Spectrum supplement yesterday.
As a perrenial entertainer, I found it quite, erm, entertaining.
My favourite bits:
One can liven up a guest list as Crawford did, by mixing corporation presidents with a hairdresser, a physics professor, a professional jockey and a “bearded painter.” Ms. Gurley Brown proposed inviting “all your beaus at once.”
That, I’ve actually done.
This one, I just wish I could do:
Luella Cuming advised readers to fill their homes with exotic conversation pieces, mentioning a newspaper reporter friend who “has a pet duck who often sports fascinating jackets and hats and struts around his master’s domain chattering madly.”
I’ve got the bird, but somehow I don’t think the jacket would go down too well.
“The unreal is more powerful than the real, because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. stone crumbles. wood rots. people, well, they die. but things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.”—
“My greatest achievement was just that I got to be Prime Minister and no one else did. Not Andrew [Peacock], or Peter Reith. Like the rhyme when I was a kid: ‘I’m the king of the castle/and you’re the dirty rascal.’”—An Interview with John Miasma Howard, by Adrian Glamorgan
I agree. It always strikes me as bizarre when people say that certain types of relationships “never work”, because if we define “not working” as “ending at some point”, doesn’t that make pretty much every relationship anyone ever embarks on a failure?
“Susan Shirk, of the University of California at San Diego, recently published a very insightful book that calls China a “fragile superpower.” “When I discuss it in America,” she told me, “people always ask, ‘What do you mean, fragile?’” When she discusses it here in China, “they always ask, ‘What do you mean, superpower?’”—James Fallows in the 150th anniversary issue of the Atlantic Monthly. I want to spend at least a couple of weeks in China next year, to get a visceral sense of the socio-political changes happening there, and this quote has stuck around in my head.
Why being pretty doesn't make you special, part Trois
Sometimes I think that much of what makes a woman “beautiful” is self-identification as such.
As I wrote a couple of years ago for Lip magazine, there are a lot of beautiful girls out there, if our standards for “beauty” are simply “looks nice with the right grooming.” We’re talking, what, 70% of the female population here? (NB: The aforementioned figure was selected on an entirely arbitrary basis.) Seriously - I see beautiful girls every day.
So, much of the time, women who self-identify as “beautiful” (for example, the ones on Beauty and the Geek, which jessicalouise refers to below) are actually little or no more gorgeous than most others, but they self-identify as “hot”, and that shapes their experience of the world and even the way others perceive them.
Self-identifying as “beautiful” can imbue a woman with confidence that makes her appear beautiful to others, but I also know girls who believe that the only reason anyone is ever attracted to them is because of the way they look.
But I would argue that it’s the act of perceiving it that way that makes it so . I know equally good looking people who believe they attract others through the force of their personalities or their brains (their looks have something to do with it, but they never assume that it’s the only thing they have to offer).
They’re talking about young girls and body image on Sunrise this morning, about how they’d rather be pretty than smart (they cited Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as role models … really?) and someone emailed in this old nugget:
The average woman would rather have beauty over brains because the average man can see better than he can think.
Or something to that effect.
I get it. I mean, what’s the point of girls having smarts when no one values them? I don’t know. Can you teach self respect?
I actually think other girls have a greater influence on girls than boys do. Girls are their own worst enemy.
Oh, i watched Beauty and The Geek last night. The first season was the best. Clearly the geeks have the upper hand. Aside from that … no comment. Except that what benefit is it to women to be dumb as posts? Especially when you consider they’re hardly world class “beauties”. I just dont get it.
Monica told me to check out the new net soap Quarterlife a few weeks back, but I’m slow on the non-essentials, so I only just got to it this afternoon. The show is about twenty-something creative types, or as Monica may have put it “people like us” (writers, Associate Editors, etc). And now that I’ve seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s kind of like transporting the cast of Reality Bites 13 years into the future to land in the present.
One of the things I’ve found most compelling about the show is what it tells us about privacy in the modern age. The lead character, Dylan, sees herself as compulsively honest (except, well, not - as you’ll discover the more you watch), and videos and writes extensively about her friends. They, as you might imagine, aren’t entirely pleased by what she has to say. The way she goes about it is a bit novice-like (she doesn’t appear to post with any awareness that people might come across what she’s publishing), but it does raise some questions about the extent to which our lives - or, more to the point, the intersections of our lives with other people’s - belong to us.
I’ve been known to write about my relationships with other people, far more openly than on this website (but that being said, also in a far more closed in space). And I would argue that, for the most part, I’m entitled to do this because, well, I’m writing about my life. At the same time, in doing so, I (and the many others who engage in the same) have perhaps revealed things about other people that they would prefer not to be revealed.
Then again, you can do the same thing via speech, can’t you? And professional writers regularly reveal things about others that they might prefer stayed hidden.
Still, it does raise questions about what is and isn’t acceptable to disclose, and to what extent you have the right to control the online presentation of your self.
On the other hand, in a world full of disclosures, it is perhaps those things we don’t share that most belong to us - as that most revealing of couples, Jakob Lodwick and Julia Allison, seem to be discovering at the moment.
This month’s Girlfriend (featuring High School Musical's Ashley Tisdale on the cover, left) advises readers to pick up a copy of Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth. The 300+ page feminist classic. When was the last time you saw that in a teen magazine?
I’ve written in defense of the teen mag market before, but I do think the Girlfriend team deserve major props here - and not just because they publish my stories regularly. It’s not easy to achieve the right balance between fun (as all teen/fashion/women’s magazines need to be) and worthy/non-destructive, but Girlfriend are making major leaps in this arena.
One of the coolest examples of this is their new ‘rolemodel’ section, which features readers who are making a difference in the world. The current issue also includes stories on learning to surf, a story on ‘protest chic’, and staff and reader ‘self respect pledges’. I especially liked the note to readers that they didn’t need to buy a new outfit to have a good time on New Years Eve.
Lest that sound a little too worthy, there’s still plenty of celebrity and fashion pics to keep it light and tasty.
Of course, history (see Magazine, Sassy) would suggest that advertisers aren’t too into mags that tell girls they don’t need to buy things to be happy. Girlfriend is starting from a higher readership point than Sassy here, but it will be interesting to see how they walk this tightrope.
Earlier this week, Akshay and I set up the above Facebook group. If you’re into post-colonial satire (and let’s face it - who isn’t!?), I suggest you join.
Hilarious wall post from my brilliant friend Anna today:
Thanks SO much for setting up this group. When I complained about having to share my 50-inch plasma television with my sister, Ama said I should think about those poor children in Australia who don’t even have servants to make their beds, let alone their own televisions. How awful! How do they survive?
I’ve also heard that children in Australia as young as 14 are working long hours for little pay cleaning toilets in fast-food outlets owned by US multinational corporations. It’s sad that this kind of exploitation still exists. These children should be emulating Bollywood dance moves in front of mirrors in their walk-in wardrobes, not slaving over a deep-fryer!
From those documentaries I’ve seen on cable I understand that many of these children speak excellent English. I’m sure they could get a university education if only it weren’t so expensive. After all, everyone knows that having a Masters degree is your best ticket to getting married.
Please let me know how I can help.
(For clarification purposes, I don’t actually have a problem with young Australian kids who dedicate themselves to helping people in developing countries. I think it’s great, and more people should have the empathy to look outside their own lives to see how they can help others. That said, I did think this Facebook group was a little ‘white kids save black kids’ in tone.)
New Matilda contributor Jane Caro runs workshopshelping organisations determine their ‘brand essence.’ As part of the workshops, organisations develop a character that represents their target audience, followed by looking at the qualities that define them as an organisation.
New Matilda did this workshop a couple of years ago, before I’d started working there, and ended up with the stately Bruce (pictured below), as well as his Lowy Lunch-attending daughter Kara.
On the weekend just past, I attended the workshop Jane held for Vibewire (which I was just re-elected to the National Steering Committee of, after a year’s hiatus). Vibewire’s character was Charli/Charley, a 20-year-old cultural studies student from Lane Cove. The currency of the people I associate with is nothing if not irony.
Anyway, was a fabulous weekend all up, as these things tend to be. It is always exhilarating to hang out with ‘my people.’ As I wrote once in a diary:
My people, as distinct from “my friends” (some of whom are “my people” and some of whom are not, although this does not devalue them in their status as friends) are those who are arty or intellectual or activisty, without succumbing to arty, intellectual or activist cliches. At the edge, but not at the extreme. They are warm and open and unpretentious and vibrant and friendly (if you’re a snob, you’re automatically not one of “my people”).
And they can be found in that loose community of Sydneysiders who are not-quite-hipsters, too mainstream to join SA, who get involved in exciting new initiatives and who start a few of their own.
And it’s not just a specific personality archetype, because I can think of many who fit this bill, and sooner or later, they all seem to start connecting up in beautiful patterns (but there are always more new and interesting people to add to the pattern).
“The key point about the election was that it was based on one of the few situations where people’s experience isn’t mediated – the workplace. That’s why the polls fell like a brick.”—Guy Rundle in today’s Crikey.