Monthly Archives: September 2014

Taking sides

It’s normally the case when Apple release some new tech. As an unashamed fan of their products there’s normally a queue of people waiting gleefully to try to derail whatever modicum of excitement or interest folk such as me may show. Who knew aluminium would bend under sustained pressure? Did you know that a Samsung something or other could perform that new feature x years ago? Yawn.

None of this really bothers me (although sometimes I bite on Facebook πŸ˜‰ ) but it’s interesting and got me thinking more widely about such motivations, and how people still readily jump to polarities with little provocation or need.

It seems to me as a species we seem very prone to irrational polarities. Which has always sat rather uncomfortably with me, I’m a creature of comfort when people are in harmony. If someone especially loves whatever flavour of Android phone they have then I’m pleased for them – indeed, as a selfish consumer of shiny things the more the competition up their game then the pressure remains on Apple to keep improving too – and vice versa, of course.

At secondary school people were divided into liking Rock or Rave – before the needless subsubsubgenrefication of music took sway, I secretly liked a bit of both. On the tech front you either liked Commodore Amigas (naturally!) or Atari ST’s (urgh!). The meagre differences in their merits built up to gigantic gulfs during bolshy playground debates (I was pretty entrenched in camp Amiga on this one – although when networked up together the ST always seemed to win on Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge 2!).

In the sixth form we were told we must either like Blur or Oasis by an overexcited Britpop obsessed media, I liked both with a slight preference for Blur, although Pulp were and are better than both. It’d be around this time that I’d begin an enduring affair with the Levellers of course which quickly resolved that ‘debate’ for me in a different direction – but even then (and still now amazingly) rather than focus on the frankly amazing music they produced (and indeed, continue to produce) instead people make snide tabloid-inspired remarks about dogs on bits of string or being a crusty.

This is a band who’ve endured 25 years of being, have a veritable string of hits so are even validated somewhat by the facile trappings of the music industry, and continue to tour to thousands of people every year and run their own festival as well as appearing at countless others. They must be doing something right! If you doubt me, grab their recently released Greatest Hits album and decide for yourself.

People who like similar music even fall into the division trap – I always imagine a continuum of folky-indie style music (now who is subgenreing?!) starting (this won’t be an exhaustive list!) with bands like The Wonder Stuff and 3 Daft Monkeys – plenty to say, but with a sense of fun and not taking themselves too seriously through to say, New Model Army who I’ve always found more serious and sometimes bleak (that’s not a critique, I really like NMA too!) – the Levs sit somewhere in the middle with aficionados of the former group finding them too serious, those of the latter too frivolous.

I guess being a football fan is the ultimate expression of our tendency to polarise things that are fundamentally very similar – being a staunch Forest fan obviously the city of Derby is the worst place in the world, and its fans are remorselessly moronic. Which is palpably absurd – I’ve had some great nights out in Derby and count a number of ‘sheepshaggers’ as my dearest friends. Obviously that all goes out the window for 180 minutes or so per season, but normally I can be pretty rational even on this most divisive of topics.

Politics of course is like football fandom taken up a notch – although because I don’t really feel much affinity for any of them – and vote generally tactically to try to thwart the one I like the least – but I see staunch supporters of either red or blue passionately debating what to me seem like minuscule differences between the policies, performance and conduct of their respective parties – whereas I’m left thinking they’re both a bit pants really.

I’m not sure what conclusion I was leading to here really – I’m sat in a hotel room having been on a course for the last few days and I’m bored blogging on my phone! But wouldn’t it be nice if – certainly for trivial differences such as these – people didn’t leap to create division and conflict?

Okay, maybe not for the football, as that’s fun (so long as it doesn’t lead to genuine abuse or violence). In truth though, even the footy ‘banter’ (god I hate how that word has been misappropriated!) is probably symptomatic of a fairly fundamental flaw in our collective nature which leads to cataclysmic consequences particularly in the political and religious spheres.

This is all probably a residual tendency from our more tribal past. Or something. It’s worrying though because it’s precisely these motivations that organisations like Britain First or even UKIP leap upon to exploit – fortunately for me my Facebook feed is relatively clear of such bilious content but I see plenty of folk complaining about theirs.

So what started as a covetous piece about my desire for shiny capitalistic consumerism has started to make me reminisce about manipulation of needs and other university time heavily left-leaning learning – goddammit, maybe I’d be less of a schizophrenic paradox if I had more of a proclivity to just irrationally pick a side and stick with it!

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