in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked

Monday, April 28, 2008

Like, get out of my face, bitch (tram of thought)

So there I was, sitting on a tram into the city thinking about gay-mers when my tram of thought was suddenly interrupted by the following stream:

‘And she was like, like, I don’t like her, and like, I like said to her, like, listen bitch, she like, she doesn't like you either – like, you know… yeah, totally, like…’

A typical public transport infliction. The interruption was total – all thought of gay-mers (I’ll tell you about them in a ‘sec) went out the (unopenable) window, and now I was forced to sit there and endure the silly little troll’s endless tirade against whoeverthefuckitwas. Talking loudly on a mobile phone on public transport is one of those things. While you include people in the sordid affairs of your private life, you exclude them from the space of your public life. They’re free to talk, you’re forced to endure listening, but, all the same, you’re unable to join in. It’s the telephonic equivalent of the VPL: you’re trapped in the Audible Panty Line of their sordid business, unable to do anything but squirm.

It’s hard to be nostalgic for ‘the good old days’. Imagine a world where you had to say ‘the right thing’, marry ‘the right man’, wear ‘the right clothes’ and avoid every thing, place and person that was ‘wrong’ because of faith, occupation or skin colour. And this on pain of being ostracised and bringing shame on your family… and not just for ‘like, a week, or whatever’, but forever, for the rest of your life AND the rest of your family’s life. For as long as the beady-eyed elders remember. But most of us who live in Melbourne these days have gone from living in a world that emphasised ‘have to’ to one that emphasises ‘want to’. We’ve gone from duty (with its right and wrong), to a world of desire (with its likes and dislikes). That’s why the girl says ‘like’ so much – in her own inarticulate way she’s expressing being a fully paid-up member of her own private Empire of Like™, a world that’s all about excluding everything and everyone she isn’t and doesn’t like.

Which brings me back to my original tram of thought, and gay-mers. I recall a friend’s friend (a gamer, but not a gay-mer) telling me over a teary beer that ‘You’re better off telling people you’re gay than telling them you’re into role-playing these days.’ He may have a point… but never fear! Because even if you fall into both categories, these days, if you have broadband, a same-sex directed horn, a polyhedral dice and an armour class of -3, you can meet other people who like to dice with the same kinds of vice. We live in a world where every orc has her equal, where every simulator of battles among sentient sea beasts can find similarly inclined creatures to practice dictation, lactation, or any form of delectation with. A good thing, surely...

But the side-effect of such a meeting of minds and manatee empires becomes palpably, nakedly obvious when you get on public transport. Now, although PT is neither properly public nor effective transport, it’s still one of those few places where you’re likely to brush mandibles with creatures who exist outside the bubble of your own private Empire of Like™. You might be on the way to meet friends at a little bar where everyone else has exactly the same taste in tattoos and Jimmy Choos as you choose (hey, nice shhh…hoes), but before you bump pumps with your chums, being on the tram forces you to cross paths with conspicuous udders.

But what do you find when you get there? OMG, the social fabric is a crud-filled semi-colon made up of multi-cellular phone users, texting h8 mail to their XXX partner (who they’ve never met). Everybody’s standing (or sitting) in their very own real and imagined circle of friends, only displaying the body codes they wear (clothes) in order to be differentially decoded depending on level of initiation…

Of course, this means that a gay-mers can spot each other, but unfortunately, it also means ‘we’ (the people, remember?) have nothing in common except our indifference. We’re becoming less and less able to see and hear anything we don’t ‘like’ – everyone who’s not on our Facebook is faceless. I like you – come sit on my face. I don’t like you, so…
‘Get the fuck out of my face, bitch!…’
‘What was that?’
‘Oh, nothing, just…’
‘So, like, what were you saying?’
‘I’ve like, totally forgotten, ‘cos like, this rude bitch on the tram like just totally interrupted me, and shit.’

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PC is an animal of the antipodes believed to be related to a gibbon.