Category Archives: Blog

Boring Acquaintance

We’ve all been to a birthday party two years in a row and run into the same boring person.

You remember meeting them the first time. They were so incredibly dull that you hoped to never see them again. But a year on you see them again in the exact same place.

Because of Facebook you can keep tabs on these boring people. You notice them in photos with your mutual friend.

In the past I’ve purposefully avoided parties when I knew for a fact one of these boring acquaintances would be in attendance.

Other times I’ve tried to convince myself that they might have become more interesting or that maybe the first interaction was just an unfortunate accident. A true Lemony Snicket.

This mentality always leads to disaster. As soon as you see them at the party your heart sinks. You realize instantly “People don’t change maaaaaaaaaan”.

You say hello. You pretend to be interested in what they’ve been up. You make your excuses and get the fuck away from them so you don’t catch the boring disease.

Moments like these fuel my social anxiety. I feel angry at the mutual friend for keeping such a dull person in their life. I don’t want them to stop being friends: I just want them to stop inviting the boring acquaintance to events that I’ll be showing my face at.

We like to think of ourselves as free spirits who spend our lives fulfilling our wanderlust. But in reality we’re just pattern-seeking victims of circumstance with social amnesia.

Next time you run into a boring acquaintance at a party I dare you to be honest. Get drunk and tell them how you really feel. Ask them what they think of you.

Let me know how it goes.

Digital Importance

I’ve started guessing the digital importance of people I meet. Here’s an example.

Last week I came across an interesting Meetup event. The focus of the event was “Virtual Reality Storytelling”. A lady who recently created a spy-thriller franchise with a VR component was going to be the guest speaker.

I’d never been to any Meetup events before. I’m fascinated by the idea of virtual reality revolutionizing entertainment so I signed up to attend.

I arrived on time. There were maybe twenty people in attendance plus the organizer of the event and the speaker. While the organizer set up the projector for the presentation, the speaker casually introduced herself to all the attendees.

From the outset, she seemed like a very nice person. She spoke about how she had a background in traditional storytelling but recently shifted her focus to more innovative media.

As she talked, I caught myself wondering how powerful her online presence was. My gut instinct was that she had no real online audience. It feels weird admitting that in writing.

It wasn’t like as soon as she opened her gob my internal narrator started to yell “HOW MANY TWITTER FOLLOWERS YOU GOT BABES?“, however if I’m being truly honest I did begin to speculate shortly after she introduced herself.

I’m not someone who’s obsessed with fame. Like every other mouth-breathing moron I’m often temporarily distracted by a shiny Kardashian arse or a Miley nip-slip. But these aren’t people I put on any great pedestals just because of their cultural standing.

After the event I looked the speaker up online. My gut instinct was right. She is not someone who has a large online following.

Let me be clear: I don’t think those who have online followings are better humans than those who don’t. I listened respectfully to everything this speaker had to say, I think she had some very interesting insight on virtual reality storytelling and I’m really interested to see what she she creates in the future. However, those that do have an online following undoubtedly have more power to influence, and this is why this judgmental voice in my head exists.

The whole experience was wild as it was a cutting example of how the digital world is impacting “real” life.

It can go the other way too.

You meet a friend of a friend at a bar. There’s a slickness to their character and you suspect they’re doing pretty “well” on social media. You check their Instagram the next day and sure enough they have over 5,000 followers.

Is this the first step in the avatar-ization of our personalities? Or am I just being paranoid and judgmental?

Mario Kart

When I lived in London I got really good at Mario Kart.

I took a year off from uni when I was 20 to travel. I did the typical Northern European backpacking circuit and moved to London when my money ran out.

When I got to London I moved into a share-house in Stratford, which is in grimy East London. My good pal Zander had moved into the place a couple months before me and let me know there was a spare room going. It was cheap and I’d get to live with my only friend in London so I snapped it up straight away.

I got a job at a non-profit in West London. I’d get up early, catch the Tube across the city and work ’til five. Unless I was boozing with work pals I’d get home at around six.

After dinner me and Zander would often stay up real late playing Mario Kart 64 in his bedroom. We had other games but we only ever played Mario Kart.

Kart was a huge thing for us back in Perth. We’d play while pre-drinking with friends. It’s a four-player game so it works perfectly if you’ve got a big group of people.

In London it was different. It was just me and Zander.

Mario Kart 64 is a fascinating game. It’s the gaming equivalent of Sgt Peppers. You’ve played it a thousand times but on the 1001st game you’ll see something you never noticed before.

Me and Zander are pretty competitive cats. Best of all, we were evenly matched in terms of skill level. Kart is no fun if one player is far superior, particularly in two-player mode.

Fueled by Kronenbourg and skunk we would race until the wee hours of the morning. Our skill level became off-the-chart good. We knew every part of every course intimately.

In the interest of full disclosure, we did use YouTube sparingly to learn about racing techniques that would optimize our performance. However it was mainly the sheer amount of hours we spent on the track that helped us get so good.

Occasionally another housemate would challenge us to a race. This would inevitably result in a bloodbath. I remember several serious conversations where we considered going pro.

When I think of my time in London I immediately think of Kart. Perhaps it was a slightly stupid way to spend so much time, especially during a temporary sojourn in a foreign land, but it’s all a matter of perspective.

I never became a pro Mario Kart racer. But I did experience the exhilarating feeling of expertly avoiding banana bombs on the ramp to make it inside the cave shortcut on Koopa Beach, I did aggressively boss my way around the world of shit that is Moo Moo Farm, I did make several competitors slam against the train through skillful handling within the dusty landscape of Kalimari Desert. And I have the wonderful city of London and my good pal Zander to thank for that.

Dandy Warhols

Somewhere during my final teenage years and early 20′s me and all my friends got mad into the Dandy Warhols.

I’d always liked the band. I think like so many others my gateway drug was the song “Bohemian Like You” which was fucking everywhere when it came out. I also remember seeing the music video for “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth” on MTV and really digging it.

I saw the documentary DIG! at the Luna Cinema in Perth during the summer immediately after I graduated from high school. DIG! profiles the rise of the Dandy Warhols and another group called The Brian Jonestown Massacre from obscure, underground acts into more popular bands. For any young kid into music and drugs DIG! is essential viewing, and the movie really solidified my appreciation for the Warhols.

Me and my friends would spend late nights at our university share-house listening to the different Dandy Warhols albums over and over. We’d get drunk and high and dissect the songs like true connoisseurs.

At some point the band became a communal obsession for me and my group of friends. The Warhols went from being just another band we all liked to our band. They somehow helped us define ourselves.

If I had to speculate there were two main reasons for this ascension.

The first is that the Warhols were female-friendly. Not just ‘coz they had a chick in the band, but in addition to their drugged-out shoegaze anthems they had some catchy hits in the catalog. This meant the girlfriends could dance along too.

Secondly, there was a depth to the Dandy Warhols that was appealing. The music was exciting fuel for a lot of late-night debauchery but it also sounded like real life.

When I was 21 the Warhols came and played a show in Perth. About fifteen of us all went to see the gig. I got munted on mushrooms and booze and woke up the next morning with absolutely no recollection of the life performance.

Time swallowed up those days quickly. Me and my friends all finished our degrees, got proper jobs, moved overseas.

I still like the Dandy Warhols. I’m sure most of my friends still do too. But I’m no longer obsessed.

Nostalgia is interesting because it makes you look back but it also makes you think about the present. You look back so you can figure out your current predicament. How did I get here?

When I consider those days I think about a lot of things. I think about the music I was listening to, I think about how much booze I was drinking, I think about the women I was seeing, I think about how little uni work I was doing.

But more than anything I wonder what I thought about my own future. What were my expectations? Did all those memories just wash away or did I purposefully forget so much?

Fight Night

The decorum of the corporate world is paper-thin. I love it when this thin veil of civility is breached and chaos reigns supreme.

Immediately after graduating from university I fell into an advertising sales position at Australia’s largest media organization. I’d studied Communications and harbored loose aspirations to be a writer. I thought by working in advertising I could learn about the media industry and if I wanted to I could jump across to the editorial side of the business.

When we’re young we don’t really know what normal is when it comes to real jobs. Even if you’re prematurely advanced or highly precocious there’s a ton of guesswork involved.

I enjoyed my first few months at this advertising job. National newspaper, fancy office, big team with a complicated hierarchy. It seemed important.

This novelty wore off quickly. I realized a lot of my co-workers were morons. The office was filled with petty jealousy and futile rivalries.

A few months after I joined the federal government launched a new initiative and began to spend a truckload of money on ads in our paper. We were originally destined to have a dismal end-of-year result but this last-minute campaign changed all that.

We ended up smashing our group target. This meant a fat commission check for each member of the team. A big party was organized on the eve of the new financial year.

The party started in the office. The Sales Director gave a short speech thanking everyone for their hard work throughout the year. Bottles of champagne were cracked.

After a few hours of boozing we made our way to a local watering hole. Sales teams know how to drink. Many celebratory beverages were downed.

This is where my memory gets hazy. The problem with after-work drinks is that they often don’t include any food. I had about fifteen drinks over the course of five hours on a completely empty stomach.

I remember laughing and joking with some colleagues but also noticing some dark energy emanating from some of the more inebriated members of the team. At around 10PM I caught myself starting to slur so I tapped out. I jumped into a cab and went home by myself.

When I walked into the work on Monday morning the atmosphere was grim. Worried faces buried into monitors, sweaty brows, no talking. It felt as if someone had died.

I immediately became overwhelmed with The Fear.

Did I do something terrible on Friday night that I don’t remember?

Surely if I did something bad I would remember at least part of what happened, right?

Am I getting fired today?

Turned out I was worried for no good reason. Two women who hated each other had gotten into an altercation at the party. The drunker of the two had accused the other of moving her handbag and this led to a verbal slanging match which included threats of violence.

Hilariously I was told by other people that I was still at the party when this confrontation happened, right in the vicinity of the action. Yet I was clearly in the early phases of a black-out as I couldn’t recall a single thing.

After a two-week internal investigation the aggressor who initiated the confrontation was fired. A monkey in a suit is still a monkey. This was the main thing I learnt from the whole experience.

I ended up kind of enjoying the soap opera drama of the office for a while. But eventually that got tiresome.

We’re all animals but we all handle domestication in different ways. After just over a year I realized I needed a different type of enclosure. And even though I’m no longer working in an office, I’m still very much still stuck inside the Zoo.