I read a lot of stuff on the internet, partly because there are lots of interesting things to read, and partly because I’m easily distracted, which seems to be the primary function of Web 2.0 – to distract us from the things we could have been doing In Real Life (frequently shortened to IRL, but I’m wasting enough of my Real Life reading disposable internet opinions without electively shortening it as well). Ooh look, a cat in a box. Sorry. Where was I?
Some of the time I comment, because I, like every other commenter, think that I’m the one who sees these things clearly, unlike the massed mindless drones of commenters flaunting their wrongness in forums across the wide e-universe. It’s like traffic jams, queues for the Christmas post and the table seats on trains across the let’s-call-it-civilised world: they’re populated by people who wish the crowd would bugger off, not counting themselves as part of it. This is the phenomenon of seeing oneself as separate from all the others chasing similar incentives under similar conditions, and I find it vaguely annoying, as does probably every other irritated individual in the altogether annoying crowd. The opposing phenomenon, however, is one I find more than vaguely annoying.
The inverse of the I’m-not-part-of-this illusion is the I-speak-for-all-of-us illusion. Commenters reply to articles with “we”, implying a spokesperson’s mandate, partners tell waiting staff “we’re fine”, not knowing if it’s true or not and politicians spout more “we” than an overwatered toddler, all of which makes me wish I knew how to grind my teeth. I can wiggle my ears, and raise one eyebrow, but the teeth are.. ooh look, a cat falling off a shelf.
So. Yeah. Anyway. People forgetting that they don’t have a mandate to speak for all of X-, Y- or Z-kind. Dear people-who-are-not-British, please don’t listen to “What the british think about (insert group here)”, it’s probably just what the writer thinks and we all disagree with his/her opinion. I know this because I speak for all people who are not that writer. Dear generation-other-than-mine, please disregard the assurances given to you in articles claiming that my generation either despises or venerates you, it’s all tosh, we haven’t even noticed you as are we’re the selfish generation who just want to cut-throat our way into a job at some point so we can live a life of luxury and one day own our own hovel. I know this because I speak for my entire generation. Dear Men: I wouldn’t know what to make of it either. If I collected all of the “What women really want” articles and posts created on the basis of one writer’s personal wishes, supported by having asked a couple of mates if they agree, I’d have a very very big pile of annoying rubbish. If men are expected to treat us as individuals (which they are by me, although who knows what the other, obviously wrong, commenters think about it) then I think it’s making the job unfairly hard to tell them we all want the same thing. Maybe the same problem exists with “What men really want” articles – I wouldn’t know, I’m too busy trying to combine being myself, avoiding clinginess, showing vulnerability, not letting him lose face and showing him I need him with .. ooh look, a cat on a skateboard.
All those people writing their blogs, thinking their opinion matters. They don’t speak for us. That’s not what we want – we don’t want someone to stand up and speak for us, we want to be listened to as we are. We don’t want to be categorised and labelled, we want to be accepted as individuals. All of us want that. Exactly that and nothing else. I know this because I speak for all of us, and I am, unlike every other driver, post office queuer, train passenger and internet commenter, not wrong. I speak for all of us, because I .. ooh look, a dancing cat.