Thursday, 30 April 2009

No good can come of it...

Many trivial things have caused my faith in the human race to momentarily lapse into a billion teeny-tiny, Piers Morgan-shaped particles of despair, futility and hopelessness over the years - just lately, most of them new UK Radio and TV sitcoms, alas - but tonight's catalyst:, a website dispensing witty status updates to the witless.

No good can come of it, I tell you.

Or as Generatus might have it: "Tim is in his growlery" (from its mood options I selected 'anger' (it didn't have 'existential dismay'); Generatus apparently selected 'twee'). But it's not actually Generatus's status updates themselves that I'm particularly dismayed by, it's the people I'm imagining using the service... I mean, who would do that? Or rather, why do that?

Fair enough, plenty of people have difficulty expressing themselves - I can understand someone feeling a bit down, but wanting to say so in a way that sounds self-deprecating rather than self-pitying; for instance. And I dare say some people will find updates on there that sum up precisely what they wanted to say but didn't know how to say until they saw it. Of those kinds of uses none really bothers me, they're still somewhat expressive of the person behind his or her update. But, on the whole, doesn't artificially generating status updates sort of defeat the whole purpose of a status update?

A status update is about who you are; Generatus seems to be more about who you aren't: you aren't imaginative, you're not good at wordplay, you rarely come up with something funny, you'd like to appear more 'mad' (all those options are in the Tag Cloud), so you go to Generatus for updates that will cultivate your chosen (false) image. Now, is it me, or isn't there something faintly dispiriting and lonely about that image? about the self-delusion behind it? the calculation? the desire to be someone else? the effort that would have to go into maintaining the facade?

But I'm probably taking it a bit too seriously. After all, I think what really makes me recoil about Generatus is this: thousands of Colin Hunts out there, every one of them clicking on that 'madness' option...

Truly, it doesn't bear thinking about.

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