The Big Issue : Edition 540
THE BIG ISSUE 30 JUN – 13 JUL 2017 13 PHOTOGRAPHSBYJAMESBRAUND IT CAN BE bracing, seeing yourself through the eyes of others. My mother always asserted I was a genius; good on her beautiful, deluded soul. I did get into Mensa when my brain was young and fresh, and before I had truly interrogated the wonders of red wine, but I’m not fool enough to think that lends me any sheen of brilliance. One of the stupidest things you can do, as a smarty pants, is trust your brain too much. The brain is a flat-out liar much of the time. As a Gen-Xer, not to mention a columnist, I’m used to being the one doing the observing. Here I am, above it all, analysing everyone else’s foibles and traits, la-la-la. We Gen-Xers pride ourselves on our objectivity, our loping intelligence and, above all, our inherent refusal to conform. We are all, as the crowd intone collectively during Monty Python’s Life of Brian, “individuals”. Each of us a lone wolf. A generation that, to all intents and purposes, could be comprised of only children. So we’re cool, right. Most definitely cool. Apparently not. I’ve just worked on a stack of cabarets with 36 millennials at an arts academy. Cheeky little sods. Apparently I’m not the only one identifying traits and making merry. Riffing off one cabaret about social media, the cohort started impersonating “old people”* who navigate devices by stabbing their fingers at the screen. “They can’t even use their thumbs!” one of them shrieked, and as the hilarity ensued I made a silent, almost immediately broken vow to stop texting in front of them. Damn it. I am a screen stabber. An actual touch typist, I find the thumb thing unwieldy, and the size of the teeny phone keyboard maddening. You can tell I’m texting from the next room, by the frequency and volume of expletives. » Fiona Scott-Norman (@FScottNorman) is a comedian and writer who likes her chat without the snap. FIONA I Scream, You Screen “Damnit.Iama screen stabber. An actual touch typist, I find the thumb thing unwieldy, and the size of the teeny phone keyboard maddening.” Another cabaret, this time from a 21-year- old dissing Gen-Xers. “I feel sorry for you,” digital native Elly says. “You’ve gone from no internet to internet everywhere. You’re constantly finding yet another social platform you’re supposed to be across, and wondering why you have to. Oh that’s right, because you’ll lose your job if you don’t.” Pow! Right in the kisser. I took to Facebook with the alacrity of the Tinder world to Netflix and chill, but everything else? Do I have to? My care factor about the online world sits at around 50 per cent. I know it’s important, I quite like some of it, I spend, IMHO, way too much time in front of screens already, cannot be arsed spending my life on any more platforms, would rather hang with friends and/or chickens. I also know that now, if you’re not online, you don’t exist. For an “old person”, it’s sobering. For millennials, that IS their reality, and they are online 24/7. In another cabaret, Millie jokes about having an eating disorder for the “likes”. That if you don’t Snapchat something “it didn’t happen”. On our group Facebook page someone shares a news story about a man in Algiers who dangled a toddler out of a 15-storey window, and posted the picture online with the caption “1000 likes or I drop him”. Millie responds with a punchline from her show: “TF. Or ‘too far’ for the older people in the audience.” It all feels TF to me. I’m paddling in the online world, prepared to go in up to my knees. Where it’s all at, however, is in catching a wave. I tried to give my mum an iPad once, but she couldn’t work out how to swipe. In 30 years, in a world where “all thumbs” is a compliment, that will be me. About to go offline. *So far as I can tell, anyone over 25.