A world full of knee jerks

I won’t be blowing you away with this observation, but the world has gone bonkers. Completely, utterly bonkers. Beyond political correctness, I think the world’s cojones have well and truly decided to retract all the way inside the body, and given up altogether.

What makes me say that? Three stories in the past week have shown me how remarkably PC-minded we can be.

First, this morning, YouTube announced on its blog that mature content and profanity will be more heavily moderated. In order words, a quick cuss word can cause your video to disappear into oblivion. Now, as Robert Llewellyn points out this morning in his Llewtube video, I’ll be happy to see less mature content crop up randomly when I’m looking for videos of kittens. But profanity? Who sets the blacklist of what swear words are inappropriate? If religious America gets its word in, we’ll have to say “Oh sh…ugar!” as we do in front of 3 year olds? To the best of my knowledge, 3 year olds shouldn’t be left to their own devices when navigating the web.

Second story. Last week, Channel 4 decided to take the entire 4mations site down, after it got cold feet following what’s now been dubbed as “Sachsgate” – otherwise known as Brand & Ross behaving like idiots on air. (For the non-UK folks, two radio hosts made a few immature and somewhat inappropriate “I screwed your granddaughter!” calls to a guest, Andrew Sachs. He’s best known for his role as Manuel in Fawlty Towers back in the 70’s. The story snowballed from two complaints when the show was aired to nearly half a million complaints in the week that followed.)

For a project that intended to push the boundaries of creativity, I’m amazed that a pixelated gimp mask and some cartoon boobies were grounds for taking the entire site down. Clearly, a moment of panic because of some slightly bizarre content. And you know what, that’s one of the great things about the weird and wonderful world of the Internet. There’s weird material being added all the time that forces us to re-evaluate where we stand.

Finally, in the real physical world, the Terrorism Act is becoming a real pain in the proverbial. A 15 year old schoolboy was arrested near Wimbledon for taking photos of the stadium on his mobile phone. He said he was working on his GCSE project, and shoo’ed away from the site. This kind of situation was repeated time and time again.

Before anyone jumps at my throat, I by no means condone humour in bad taste or lewd content on the web. But you wouldn’t chuck out an entire bushel of apples for a single bruised one, right? So why stop everyone else from having fun because of a few bad apples?

My issue here is with the knee-jerk reaction we seem to have towards everything these days. Rather than to get a screwdriver to fix the one slightly loose screw, we just get the sledgehammer out and annihilate the whole lot!

I’m not suggesting sticking your fingers in your ears going “La la la I can’t hear you!” when you face a problem, but the reaction should be proportional to the problem. So put the sledgehammer away, will you?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Using arts & crafts to abide by the 3 R's

For a number of reasons, recently, I’ve made an effort to think about my consumption habits a bit more lately. Becoming my own boss has encouraged me to become a bit more frugal with my spending. By putting a recycling box in my office, I’ve realised how much paperwork I either piled up in folders unnecessarily or threw out without thinking.

Christmas Card by Paperminiskirt on EtsyThat was recycling tackled, but clearing out some cupboards and boxes made me realise just how many birthday, Christmas, house move, anniversary and other cards we accumulate.

So this is my call to friends and family to reuse, or let me reuse, old cards this Christmas. If you live nearby, I’ll happily take them off your hands. If you’re further away, drop me a line. I want to try to give magazines, cards, photos and material a new life, however it ends up being used. It also hopefully means I can avoid buying tacky cards, pre-filled with a meaningless Hallmark holiday greetings and write the cards myself. (Oh boy, I’m going to be annoyed I said this when I run out of time and ideas for the cards three days before Xmas…)

There are so many feel-good reasons to reuse stuff wherever possible. It’s less stuff to throw away, and occasionally, there’s the sentimental value of reusing something that otherwise would have had a short-lived lifespan. So that’s the “Reuse” element (sort of) ticked off.

And then there’s the “Reduce” factor. Well, I’ve curbed my buying-of-random-stuff to an extent, but developing an addiction to crafts means that while I’m buying less expensive gadgets, I’m spending on new crafts material like a Cuttlebug and a bunch of embossing goodies. (As an aside, there’s a definite trend in arts & crafts websites being utterly horrible and unusable. I would love to help them make their sites fun to use, and as good looking as the products they sell!)

So I’m not doing well at reducing the amount of stuff I own, but soon, I’ll write about someone who was more successful at not buying stuff (for a whole year!) than I was.

[Card on the right not by me, but by Paperminiskirt on Etsy.com, one of the best sites for cute handmade stuff. Like eBay for hippies and artists.]