Last week I linked quite a few people to a feature in The Guardian called Why the world needs introverts. I did this because the feature felt like a breath of fresh air, as well as a clear, strong and long overdue defense of people like me. Susan Cain, the author of the article and its related book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, is also well known for the TED talk she delivered called The Power of Introverts.
If the internet could stop now then I’d really appreciate it.
The last two weeks I’ve not been able to go a day without reading about another woman’s experience of online abuse, threats or intimidation. While our offline society may appear to be moving towards something more egalitarian, it turns out the internet can still reveal its sordid, bloated underbelly.
Pardon me if I seem angry, but I thought we were past this now. I thought we’d all grown up and left behind the playground bullying and the infantile insults. I don’t know about you, but as I got older I learned how to behave like a decent and rational human being, much as I also learned not to shit all over the floor. I guess I’m wrong, as it still seems there are a lot of people out there who still think it’s fine to be as vulgar and vile as they wish and I suppose it’s a logical extrapolation to imagine that these people have also not yet learned how to stop crapping on their carpet.
Shame, really, as every pet I’ve ever had got past that, but I guess it goes to show that animals are often more decent than people. That’s why I’ve always struggled with the term “misogynist pig.” It seems so unfair to pigs.
Way back, not long after I started this blog, my girlfriend and I ran into this gentleman on the tube. We talked to him about his picture, but it never occurred to me to actually ask his name, and we only travelled with him for a short time. I was quite surprised to see that he’s painting at the London protests today.
Such newspapers only contact me about one thing: The death of a friend.
It’s now been six months since I lost my friend Paula in a cycling accident in Camden. For me, the worst bit wasn’t hearing hearing about it, it was having to then break the news to others. It ranks among one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. I didn’t sleep that night.
We didn’t all find out at once. Instead, the story sort of trickled from person to person over several days. In my case, I spent much of the week simply wondering where Paula was and what she was up to, since we usually kept in touch. She had a lot of time for me but as I knew she was busy, I just assumed she was busier than ever.
In the middle of the afternoon on a clear day, Paula left her university lecture and cycled west from Holloway Road in the direction of Camden. The university’s turnstiles recorded her leaving the building at 3pm. Mere minutes later, she was struck by a truck which was trying to turn off Camden Road into St Pancras Way. She truck was massive and Paula was slight.
The coroner told me that it was quick. I spoke to him before I spoke to any of the newspapers. I left my contact details for Paula’s family with him and her sister later called me to talk. I didn’t know what to say.
It was a cruel twist of irony that she’d bought her bike only a week before, but she knew how to cycle and she was certainly no fool. Through speaking to both local journalists and Camden Councillors, I discovered not only how common these accidents were, but that Camden Road was a particular black spot for these collisions and that both local government and local residents had been trying for years to rectify this.
I started a petition to try to change this. I outlined three very achievable demands that could lead to safer London cycling:
“The notion of companies paying for “online endorsements” from kids is even more sinister, although parental consent is required. Thanks in part to the media spooking parents into believing there’s a deathtrap full of paedophiles round every corner, kids are kept indoors and bombarded with sales propaganda as it is. They grow up being told, in the most sophisticated manner possible, that products are the ultimate source of self-worth. A recent Unicef report concluded that British kids are desperately unhappy: they have an abundance of toys and products and a lack of attention from their parents.
And we wonder why the ones who can’t afford these products kick in the windows of Currys and Foot Locker, risk arrest for a gizmo, land in jail for the sake of a shoe.”
As well as talk of what “values” a “product” is supposed to embody (something that still makes me spasm uncontrollably), there’s also a great passage about pooping.
Hello, my name is Paul Dean. I'm a freelance writer and journalist based in south London and this is my semi-personal blog. You might've seen my beard on the board game show Shut Up & Sit Down, or you may have read my words splashed across a magazine, website or even broadsheet newspaper somewhere. I'm also the writer on the excellent indie game Maia.