Sex Appeal: A Found Poem

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I was thinking about the confused mash-up of media, sensation, product and role in JG Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition. The impact of the snippets we take in without context; that we stitch together ourselves behind the scenes to create strange, private narratives.

The assault of information and imagery has increased immensely since that book was written in the late 1960s. Many times a day social media gives us an abundance of raw sentiments, adverts and articles, and we process them all in parallel to real-world stimuli, hungers and emotions. To take it all in we skim-read, we focus on what draws the eye or persuades the dopamine receptors. What kind of stream of consciousness does that create? Continue reading “Sex Appeal: A Found Poem”

The Test

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85% or higher: that’s all Kaley needed to gain the gold star emoji next to her name on all social media platforms. The effect would be immense; everyone wanted to associate with a star. The Corporations would be falling over themselves to advertise on her page, and the crowd-funding for her comic books would boom. She’d be able to eat proper food again; maybe even dine out! She’d be able to buy from exclusive shopping sites, access the expert forums and apply for plane tickets. All she had to do was prove she was authentic.

  “I hope you’ve prepared!” said the cynical voice of a beggar crouched outside the dramatic, mirror-clad tower that was the test centre. Prepared? She thought. How can you prepare for an authenticity test; either you are, or you aren’t?  Continue reading “The Test”

Deragon Hex: The Vipdile Key – Carlie Martece

The Vipdile Key

I’ve been looking forward to Carlie Martece’s second novel since reading the wonderful Toxic Nursery a few months ago, and I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.

The Vipdile Key is written in the same fast paced, brutally honest style, and while it isn’t exactly a sequel, some of the themes from Toxic Nursery are expanded upon here. I certainly wouldn’t say it’s a pre-requisite that you read the books in order of publication, but knowing the background of some of the characters and their relationship to one another added dimension for me.

Deragon Hex is a dystopian future world where people are sealed in an underground network by a secret key code. Technology, social media and reality TV have all taken a step up in their influence, and now everything is under surveillance; the public may decide the fate of criminals and their victims using voting buttons, raping the unconscious is considered entertainment, and popularity is everything. Even research into medicine has taken an irrational turn:

“All thoughts create energy,” an oncologist is explaining to the narrator. “This new device harnesses the energy radiated when a so called ‘troll’ sends anonymous abuse over the com network to someone with severe depression. We’re investigating whether the frequency of this particular energy wave can slow the growth of cancer cells.”

In a world where justice is in the hands of the popular, how will Ash save and avenge their comatose best friend?

Continue reading “Deragon Hex: The Vipdile Key – Carlie Martece”

Fluence – Stephen Oram

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This has been on my ‘to read’ list ever since I finished Stephen Oram’s first book Quantum Confessions, which has stuck with me ever since like a vivid dream. I’m glad I got round to it because this is another illuminating and imaginative glimpse into a potential future for humanity.

This time we are introduced to a world in which social media influence is treated as currency (called fluence) and directly decides which class (strata) you belong to and therefore which privileges you have access to. The stratum are give the names of rainbow colours; red being highest, violet lowest, and white reserved for the disabled. The reds are the ruling strata, seemingly taking the place of government. There is also a group of people who have dropped out of the system altogether known as outliers. We get a taste of the way each strata lives, and the various struggles they face.

The central plot follows main characters Amber, Martin and Max in an intertwined way. All three are struggling with the system that contains them, and seeking the gold at the end of the rainbow. Every character is realistic and believable, which means they are not always likeable, but definitely relatable. Continue reading “Fluence – Stephen Oram”

Identity and Social Media: A Psychological Perspective

I left Facebook for a month and the world didn’t end. I had become frustrated by my own compulsion to connect electronically, and was convinced it was getting in the way of my productivity and personal goals. Being an introverted personality, I didn’t think I would miss the interaction so much and hoped I would become more focused and more emotionally available to experience the ‘real’ world, the here and the now. What actually happened surprised me. First of all very few people even noticed my absence, apart from Facebook itself which sent me 11 notifications in the first week prompting me to reconnect, which led me to question the authenticity of my friendships and of my contribution to the social group. Secondly, although I had more occasions on which I was available to write or paint instead of procrastinating and scrolling my newsfeed, a big source of inspiration was cut off. Convinced I was just adjusting, and unwilling to accept that social media was more important to me than I realised, I quickly became quite depressed.

Why this should be the case, from a psychological perspective, interested me greatly. Then when I logged back in, one of the first things I noticed was a quote from an unknown source:

If you want to know what someone fears losing, watch what they photograph

Given that much of my newsfeed was filled with selfies, it prompted me to think: do people in the technological age fear losing themselves? And my enquiry naturally progressed to: How does social media contribute to our mental health and sense of identity? Continue reading “Identity and Social Media: A Psychological Perspective”

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