Posts Tagged ‘blog’

One Hit Wonder Friends

Posted: January 13, 2012 in Life, Relationships
Tags: , , ,

You know what it’s like.  You meet someone new – perhaps a friend of a friend on a night out, maybe someone in a group who you vaguely know about but aren’t actually friends with or perhaps someone at work who you bump into in the corridor once in a while.  Then suddenly you’re ‘friends’ on Facebook, even though you probably have nothing in common with them!  What is it about social networking sites that makes us want to ‘collect’ people we have little interest in outside the virtual world?  How on earth can we have 600 or so ‘friends’?!  It’s just not possible – realistically it’s more like a handful of real friends and hundreds of people that you’ve met briefly in your life! And yet there is nothing that makes me feel more inadequate and unpopular than to compare the number of Facebook friends I have (216, some of whom I actually know!) to the number that a lot of my friends have!   Slightly pathetic I know but I’m sure I’m not the only one!

Strange, ironic even, that something which is intended to bring people together and make it easy for people to keep in touch with each other actually has the opposite effect.  How many meaningful conversations do we really have on Facebook?  Isn’t it just more of an outlet for our voyeuristic tendancies?  We can safely keep watch on other people’s lives, know who they’re going out with, who they’ve broken up with, who they’re engaged to, where they go on holiday, even watch their children grow up, all without even having to leave our armchair!  And we forget that people know they’re being watched on Facebook and will often carefully construct their status updates for maximum effect!  To let everyone know “hey guys, my life is really great at the moment” or “things are going badly, I need some sympathy” or even subtle messages aimed at a specific person (ex’s for example!).  Or just to be seen as really clever and witty…!  We all do it.  Few of my friends are truly honest and open in their Facebook status updates – the ones that are I often read and think “noooooooo!  That’s such a bad idea”!  Sometimes raw human emotion is hard to take.  You really don’t want to be reading about it on Facebook!  Because Facebook is after all just a method of keeping a superficial eye on what a lot of other people are doing and trying to show that your life is just as good / fulfilling / satisfying as everyone else!  It’s a place to be seen with your hair up and your Sunday best on! Rather like a box at the opera!  Treat it like that and it serves a purpose!

I’m relatively choosy about who I accept friends requests from but even so in reality many of my friends probably don’t even count as aquaintences! Some I will probably never meet again! They’re one hit wonders in my life – they must have done something at some point to warrant being a friend but it was probably a long time ago and nothing interesting has happened since.  Still, at least I have over 200 friends to show off about to those who have less….!

Don’t get my wrong! I like Facebook.  But i’ve had cause to really think about my friendships over the last few months – how I treat my friends and how they treat me.  Sometimes I’m lazy and I use Facebook as an easy way of reminding someone I’m still there rather than pick up the phone or send them an email or a card.  That’s not being a good friend!  Sometimes, even when I see them every day, I take their friendship for granted and forget that it’s a two way street and I need to work at it too. That’s not being a good friend either!  And other times I over react to something they do, say stupid things that I immediately regret and spend the next day trying to make it up! Sometimes I wonder why anybody actually wants to be friends with me I treat them so badly!  But there’s the essence of a true friendship – whatever you do there’s normally a way back.  Your true friends understand you and why sometimes you act a bit crazy or just get caught up in other stuff!  Having a few friends who always accept you for who you are is far more valuable than having 600 friends who don’t know the real you so look after them well.  Facebook may chronicle your life but it’s your real friends who will help you live it!

This week I have been mostly drinking alcohol, watching shows and performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  Yes folks, I’m in Scotland and enjoying the surprisingly good weather!  Despite packing for torrential rain and arctic conditions, as is normal for Edinburgh in August, there has only been a spattering of rain since Tuesday morning and the sun has been remarkably friendly, popping out frequently to say hello! 

So, onto the Festival (and the reason I haven’t updated my blog for several days!).  If you’re a fairly normal kind of person you probably think that the word Fringe is just a way of describing the hair that covers your forehead or the tassels that used to hang around the edges of 80’s sofas.  If however you’re slightly mad, a bit theatrical, or interested in Arts ‘on the periphery’, then it’s likely that you know all about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, have probably been and experienced it as a punter at least once or maybe even performed there.

For those of you who don’t know, the Fringe is an Arts Festival which originally developed as a response to the more formal Edinburgh International Festival by performers who weren’t invited to perform but who turned up anyway and did their thing!  Since then it has grown into the huge Fringe beast that we know today and pretty much anyone can bring their show to the festival, no matter what it is, so long as they can find a venue to perform it in!   At the festival, literally thousands of shows are performed all day, every day for practically the whole of August.  The shows range from new musicals, old musicals, plays and comedy to dance, physical theatre and much more in-between.  Venues such as University buildings, students union, sports centres, lecture halls, churches and pubs change overnight into performance spaces complete with auditoriums and makeshift backstage areas.  It’s truly an amazing feat!  Every day a section of the Royal Mile, which leads from Edinburgh Castle down to Holyrood, is teaming with performers desperately trying to publicise their show and get people to come and see it.  You never know what you might see as you walk down the street – people dressed as British queens, Jedi knights, headless kings, Romans, plague victims….the list is endless! 

Last year was my first year at the Fringe; hard to believe that I had gone through so many years of my life as a performer and never been to the Fringe.  With singledom comes an immense amount of freedom and suddenly I had the time to get involved with all those things that I’d never done before – going to the Fringe was just one of my many tasters of freedom.  I spent a week at the Fringe helping backstage with a show full of child performers, but despite that, it was seven days of immense fun not to mention a significant amount of alcohol!  So when I got the opportunity to actually be in a Fringe show this year I jumped at the chance. 

It’s been about five months since I first got involved with the Fringe show and it’s been a long and sometimes difficult path to performance!  We only had a very small show – a cast of three – and we were performing for just a week which is quite unusual.  Most shows will perform for a minimum of two weeks and many will even perform for the entire festival.  We had small audiences – between 11 and 35 each day – but we made it to the end of the week in one piece and sober enough to tell the tale – which may yet end up on a blog post, but not now! 

Unfortunately my Edinburgh Fringe 2010 trip ends tomorrow but I’ve had a fantastic week and as I sit here writing this I’m thinking about all the brilliant shows I’ve seen and the incredible talent, both amateur and professional, that has been thrown together at this amazing festival this month.  Here are some of my highlights:

  • Barbershopera – Apocalypse? No!   A very funny, witty, clever and tuneful show sung in the style of a Barber Shop Quartet.  This original musical, about a timid teacher who ends up saving the world by collaborating with the three horsemen of the Apocalypse (Death is, well, dead, killed by a freak accident…!), was simply brilliant and practically faultless. 
  • Spring Awakening – An excellent production from graduates of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama of this brilliant but at times difficult and graphic new musical dealing with teenagers coming to terms with their sexuality in late nineteenth century Germany.  The two leads were joy to watch and dealt incredibly well with some very challenging scenes.
  • Reginald D Hunter – A very funny, rude and crude, stand up comic who had the audience practically rolling in the aisles!  Me, I just loved his deep southern drawl! 
  • Showstopper – The Improvised Musical  What it says on the tin!  A new musical every performance, unfolding in front of our eyes based on ideas from the audience.  I saw this show twice and it was clever, funny, brilliant – favourite numbers include “Burying my doughnut” in the style of The Smiths, and “You’ve killed me” done as a smokey, jazz number.  Just wonderful! 

So many other shows – One Man Lord of the Rings, Comedy Countdown, Stand up comics Chris Addison and Paul Sinha, brilliant male a capella group Out of the Blue – too many to mention!  What a great week – what a great festival!  The Arts is well and truly alive in Britain!  If you’ve never been to the Edinburgh Fringe then put a date in your diary for August 2011 – you won’t regret it!

Edinburgh Fringe – http://www.edfringe.com/

Barbershopera – http://www.barbershopera.com/

Showstoppers – http://dylan.myzen.co.uk/ss/

Stressed to be pressed…

Posted: August 17, 2010 in Blogging
Tags: , , , ,

WordPress.com is a great site! I love it even though I haven’t really got time to do it! But I’m getting increasingly obsessed by Freshly Pressed and what it could do for my as yet unestablished blog. I learnt very quickly that getting chosen for Freshly Pressed is deemed the pinnacle of success for serious WordPress.com bloggers, bringing potentially thousands of new viewers to a blog and an opportunity to see your Blog Stats go through the roof! It just proves how lazy we all are of course – in just two clicks you could be reading a post which has reached the dizzy heights of pressing, deemed interesting, quirky or funny enough to be fresh. No need for searching or trawling through tags – that’s what makes it so successful of course. We humans will mostly go for the easy options!

Anyone who writes a blog and says they don’t really mind if nobody reads it is lying!! And if they’re not then they should be writing a diary – that way your thoughts will be kept secret, at least until you die! If you want to write and be heard (or seen!) then you blog. Simple. And if you blog you really (with a passion) want people to not only read your posts, but to like your posts and to comment on your posts. It’s that desire for the buzz of acceptance, of popularity – whatever you call it, most of us seek it. It’s a bit like being on stage, hearing the audience clap and cheer you at the end of the evening – there’s nothing like it! Apart from perhaps seeing hundreds of lovely comments on your blog post….!!!

So the question is; how do you get your blog noticed and ultimately onto freshly pressed? Is it enough just to keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best? Or should you spend hours coming up with sharp, eye-catching titles as well as readable / amusing / clever posts? Given the sheer number of posts made every day the chance of getting onto Freshly Pressed must be fairly low! I look on Freshly Pressed all the time and have seen some really good posts. It amuses me that the ones I enjoy and aspire to be like are often very removed from my writing style – clearly my aspirations are way above my station! But the great thing is that they’re all so different which in itself makes it hard to try and catch attention as there is clearly no one formula. The worst thing is that I read them and simply despair that my posts will ever be good enough to be noticed and I am doomed to remain a frequently unread blog, baring my soul to no-one!

There is a lot of good advice out there, on other blogs ironically enough, on how to be a successful blogger and so far I’ve had some success with following a few of the golden rules. I guess the main thing is to enjoy what you write, keep writing and don’t worry about it too much.

And if you can’t be Fresh at least try not to be stale!