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So long 2013, thanks for all the things

Column Perhaps we should be glad to see the back of it
Fri Dec 13 2013, 12:50

THE LAST YEAR HAS BEEN AN INTERESTING ONE, up to a point. I won't miss it.

Lots of things have happened this year, and some have even been scrutinised by a wide audience.

Most interesting of all, perhaps, have been Edward Snowden's government surveillance revelations, but you might be forgiven for missing those. Especially when you're distracted about the Pope's royal baby doing a special One Direction twerking at Wimbledon... or something like that.

This past year has been one of shameless indulgence. People have flashed themselves deep into the consciousness of other people and mostly for showing skin, or for doing something that falls somewhere between jack and shit.

Selfie was a word of the year, and baby faced crooner Justin Bieber has been a social networking draw throughout the past 360 odd days. Also high on agendas have been Miley Cyrus, in a range of states of undress, a ten legged harmony machine called One Direction, and enough football matches to keep pub chatter ticking over 'til doomsday.

Amidst all of this some serious things have gone down, though. This year we lost some great authors and inspirational leaders, and have seen a man risk a lot to tell people what scrutiny they are under.

What are the takeaways from everything this year? One that springs instantly to my mind is that our Prime Minister, David Cameron thinks that a state funeral is a place to take beaming selfie photographs of himself with President Obama.

If you needed a better example of what a vacuous bunch of boobs things like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are turning us into, you need look no further than three grinning buffoons posing for a photo album shot at a supposedly solemn international occasion.

Worse than that, perhaps, is the outrage that greeted it. The response to this moment of protocol madness was a furious one, which is odd since it is the sort of thing that passes for normal behaviour these days.

The big shame is that successive news about Cameron, his policies, his government, a nanny-like police state, GCHQ and snooping, and collusion with copyright cartels do not have the same impact.

There's that. And there is the mooted suggestion that Facebook will roll out a sympathise button. I like to imagine the meeting in which someone at the social network tries to explain that emotion to Like or Don't-Like CEO Mark Zuckerberg, but I find the idea of people expressing sympathy through a button to be appalling.

Selfies at a funeral are one thing. But if we do go down a road of expressing ourselves through emoticons and buttons we will soon be left in a road where no one goes to funerals anymore and no one behaves in a respectful way.

Instead we will snapchat a sympathy video, and upload a sad faced tweet and boo hoo expression to Instagram, while clicking a button on Facebook to pretend we are human.

"Did you go to the funeral?" people will ask from behind their games of Candy Squeeze Pile Robot Dump. "Nah," will come the response. "I tweeted them a sadfaced cat pic and a link to a Coldplay song on Spotify."

There may come a time when this becomes acceptable. But it won't happen on my watch.

I am not on Facebook, haven't been for years. I do not miss it, and whenever I hear about some scandal that's happening there I roll my eyes. I would like to avoid any social network, but some do have their benefits, though I really can't see any in Facebook, and steering clear of the best parts of the good ones puts the news and information hungry, like myself, at a disadvantage.

A well manicured Twitter following list is a good thing, and that is why it is my intention, nay my New Years resolution, to build myself one of those. The first time someone mentions twerking in any direction, they are off it.

Also on my bad list, which translates as my "got my goat list" are freemium apps, something that I hope the UK regulators take a swift and firm grasp of.

I've downloaded a couple recently, and both are utterly useless unless you kick in some extra cash. These are big hitter apps that are nothing more, in my opinion, than open glaring cash sinkholes.

Nasty exploitative crap. 2013 can keep it and stuff it right up its Hipstertube. µ


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