Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Facebook, and political opportunity

I haven't posted on here in a while. In fact, the reason I'm posting today has made me aware of how much my style of output has changed on here over the last 18 months. I seem to be posting individual article-style posts these days, when originally the intent was to do daily journal style entries.

Anyway, what's spurred me on is that one of my older posts received a comment. It was a post about the the last general election - particularly the Hartlepool seat. The commenter simply asking about one of the candidates.

Reading back the post reminded me of something I'd forgotten. Namely that in a few of the constituencies I was looking at independent candidates did quite well, and their relative success correlated well with their good Facebook showing. Indicating that they'd managed to get their votes by tapping into an avenue of self-promotion that the more mainstream candidates had failed to penetrate.

Politically active people tend to be a bit more Twitter focused. Whereas Facebook remains the domain of familial normality. The candidates had seemed to do well on Facebook by concentrating on local issues, and staying away from mainstream politics.

Reviewing all this at the time I suggested that there was a big possibility for mainstream parties if they could somehow tap into this way of reaching people. Obviously though it's hard for people affiliated with mainstream parties to detach themselves from national politics the way an independent candidate can. So it's difficult.

Facebook users tend to be quite conservative - and I don't mean politically conservative, but conservative in what they choose to like, share and discuss. As Facebook relates so heavily to real world social life, people have a tendency to avoid anything that looks 'weird' or 'controversial'. It's very much like a school playground where standing out is a major concern. Unlike say Twitter, where users can interact relatively anonymously with people they'll probably never meet in real life anyway.

So on Facebook it's very much mundane group think. With local gossip and 'keeping up appearances' being the mainstay of the interactions.

Consequently it can be difficult for political candidates to build up a base there. A person in a predominantly Labour area may vote Tory, but they'll refrain from liking a Conservative page for fear that others may see it and judge them. Likewise they'll be unlikely to share a post for similar reasons. Sensibly avoiding (from a social point of view) any controversy.

There's also the fact that many people find things like politics boring or annoying. So they don't want their timelines filled with a stream of political proselytising.

The local candidates seemed to do well by sharing 'local gossip' type stories on a regular basis - a new restaurant opening up, a shoplifter getting caught, a heart-warming story about some local football team - that type of stuff. In effect taking part in the local conversation, building up a following playing to that. Then cashing in on that reach come election time.

I should really have kept looking at this issue in order to develop some kind of 'Facebook strategy' for reaching people. However, the events of the last year have been something of a distraction. With local elections looming I should really try to refocus a little. In my area we have the Tees Valley mayoral election, and the election of the Police and Crime Commissioner coming up. I doubt too much can be gleaned from these contests. Still it might be worth paying attention.

The nearby Hartlepool by-election is also worth keeping an eye on.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

We Need A Zero-Butterfly Policy

A courtroom. A butterfly hovers in the dock.

Judge. "Butterfly, you stand accused of murder. You flapped your wings in Brazil, which led to a hurricane on the other side of the world..

(that's meant to be a butterfly in a courtroom
..sorry it's the best I could do)

Anyhow, I've recently heard quite a few real life anecdotes about people being pressured into having the vaccine. One in particular where an employee was basically told; if someone dies of coronavirus you'll be responsible.

I shouldn't really have to point out how obnoxious this is. Whatever your own personal views are about the vaccine this type of labelling is obviously quite extreme.

Of course, like with the butterfly above, it's all based on hypothetical cause and effect chains too. That you possibly had the virus. That you possibly spread it to someone else. The assumption that that person definitely died of the virus. It's all very flimsy.

Plus it also completely disregards the basic fact that in order to spread something to someone else both people have to meet up. So unless you're breaking into someone's home and literally forcing them to be in the same room as you you can't possibly be held solely responsible. That person chose to go to the rock concert, or to go for a meal, or to go on holiday. They chose to take the risk.

And these hypotheticals can be applied to absolutely anything once we get started too. If you choose to stay home and sit on your couch every day it's more likely you'll have a heart attack. If you have a heart attack you'll take up a hospital bed. If someone else can't get that hospital bed because of you you're therefore responsible.

By sitting on your sofa you are a potential murderer.

If you don't go for a bike ride you'll become unhealthy and be a burden on others. If you do go for a bike ride you may fall off, break your bones, and likewise become a burden on others.

There is risk in everything.

Returning to the vaccines. If the vaccines give full protection then why worry about other people who aren't vaccinated. If they don't give full protection then the vaccinated too are also "potential murderers" themselves. So they'll be in the dock as well. There's no way out of this door-less room.

Ultimately we are biological entities. We will never be completely sterile. We will always have bugs and viruses in our noses and throats. Which will always have the potential to kill. So once we abrogate the right to decide who we do and don't interact with to the government we may never get it back. As we may never be clean enough. There'll always be an excuse for us to be detained.

Every baby, by virtue of its first breath becomes a potential murderer. Guilty from birth, and only ever innocent in death.

Again, by surrendering our right to decide who we assemble with we risk creating a state-enforced caste system. If you fall foul of 'the rules' you must remain an 'untouchable' ..and I choose that label deliberately, because it's apt. Just think about it, how is it not apt. You're literally forbidden from hugging people.

Yes, there's nothing new under the Sun. The 'new normal' may just be the old caste system.

If you're 'well-behaved' (or if you have the money) you can enjoy certain privileges. If not, it's poverty, lack of mobility and disease ..and, like with lepers of earlier eras, the illness and disease brought about by such poverty will be used as a further excuse to shutter you away. A vicious cycle, all built on nothing more than a breath of air or a butterfly's wing.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Top 10 Albums and Cultural Epicentres

I was recently talking about music with a friend and he asked me to list my "Top 10 Albums". It's the classic thing. One of those recurring discussions that crops up amongst music fans quite frequently.

Having perused his list I quickly rolled off my top ten. It wasn't definitive, or indeed ordered, more just the first 10 that occurred to me. Minus a few of the more embarrassing or clichéd ones that sprung to mind.

(my top 10, ..well 9)

I'm sure I could spend all week coming up with a proper top 10, or top 100 even, but what interested me, and why I'm posting here was the release dates of the albums. I added up the dates of my 10 albums then divided them by 10 to get the average, and then did the same with my friend's. Unsurprisingly they both came bang out in our teenage years.

I then asked a couple more friends to give me their top 10 albums. The exact same. It seems when it comes to music we can't quite get away from our teenage influences. No matter how worldly and cool we may think we are.

It's a debate that often comes up when I speak to another friend about music (one of the two I subsequently asked). He insists that music has been universally subpar in the last twenty years, and that the highpoint for music came in the early 90's. When I point out that it surely can't be a coincidence that the "best music" came out when he happened to be 15 years old he dismisses it. "That's just the way it is. Music is terrible now." Like he just got incredibly lucky being born as the apotheosis of all human music was being reached.

There are probably countless reasons why our musical tastes tend to have their epicentre in our teenage years. Part of it is no doubt just how new and fresh and coming of age everything is.

Another thing that plays a big part though is that it's actually hard to listen to new music. It takes time and effort. It's not dissimilar to trying new food. We like what we're comfortable with. What we're used to. "I'll just have chips". If we try something new or foreign we might not like it. So it's wasted effort. Plus, even if we do end up liking it, it often takes a few goes.

The first time there's that tentative; "Okay, I'll try this." Then a bit of umming and aahing as we weigh it up. Familiarising ourselves with it. It's usually only on the second or third time of eating it that we get that comfortable yummy feeling. Though we may kid ourselves - "I've always liked this!".

So it's very rare there's an instant hit the first time we try something. Acquired tastes.

I think it's often the same with music. If the autoplay is running on YouTube and an unfamiliar track comes on the first instinct is "What's this!?" Get my music back on!". You want to click back into the songs you know. That you can sing along to. However, if you persevere in listening, over time you're rewarded with new fruits. The first time you heard that new song it wasn't as fun as singing along to your much-loved favourites, but after a few hearings suddenly it joins the gang. Often you're not even aware of this happening.

We might think we liked a song the first time we heard it. Often though, we've heard it before, we just never picked up on it. Perhaps it was playing in the background of a TV show or commercial. Maybe it was on the radio in the background as you were out and about and doing other things. It's only when you become consciously aware of it that you suddenly think "Wow, I like this." Though it may have been worming its way into your bosom long before that moment.

This is partly why pop music has such an edge on more obscure stuff. As if something's truly obscure it has no way of catching you unaware like this over time.

I think this is why our teenage years are so formative. Partly because we're simply immersed in the culture of the era we grow up in, and there's no previous experience for it to compete with. But also because we have the energy and enthusiasm to invest our time in listening.

For instance, I still listen to new music now, but I don't put the same time into it I used to. My interest has moved to other things (books, history ..politics 😬). Before if I liked a song I'd buy the album, and go through the back catalogue, and learn the names of all the band members. Now I don't go to nearly as much trouble. Often struggling to even take onboard the correct name of the song.

The Actual Albums..

Anyway, I may as well list the albums.

When The Pawn - Fiona Apple
The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
The La's - The La's
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West
Modern Life Is Rubbish - Blur
Forever Changes - Love
The Smiths - The Smiths
Jacksonville City Nights - Ryan Adams
Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts - Kula Shaker (don't laugh at that one - it's great !)
In Utero - Nirvana

In a way it worked quite well doing it quickly on the fly. If I had time to think I would've tried to be way too clever. Going for obscure, less honest picks.

The only one that isn't really a good reflection of my real tastes is Nirvana's In Utero. I do really like the album, but Nirvana were never one of my favourite, favourite bands. I was never that angsty and American. I think I picked it either to make the list a little less predictably indie, or to lean in towards the list my friend chose (that's more his genre, so I was maybe trying to be on the same wavelength a little).

It would've been more natural to pick an Oasis album or the Libertines first album. Something like that. I was actually going to add The Masterplan by Oasis at the time, but I wondered if that would count. Obviously greatest hits are strictly forbidden in these lists, but does that go for 'greatest B-sides' too? Either way that probably would've been a more honest reflection of the albums that instinctively sprung to mind. In fact, I've probably listened to Celebrity Skin by Hole much more than any single Nirvana album. Malibu in particular is a song I really like. So that probably says a lot about my preference for things that are a bit more melodic. In fact, it reminds me of when I was doing music at college back in the early 2000's; I used to enjoy winding the more mosher types up by stating, with faux-seriousness, that Celebrity Skin was better than anything Nirvana had ever released.

The Numbers.

The average for my above albums came out as 1993. I was born in 1982, so that would put the epicentre at eleven years old. Not quite teenage. The Love album probably skewed things a little.

I also worked out a range, by taking the average of the three earliest and three latest albums.
That gave; 1980 - 2005.

I'll give what came out for the other three too. Though I won't name them by name. I'm not sure they'd want their tastes to be doxxed this publicly. Or perhaps to be associated with some of the nonsense on this blog lol. So I'll just give the initials. A, R, and P.

A, born 1980.
Epicentre: 1993.
Spread: 1984 - 2001.

R, born 1979.
Epicentre: 1995.
Spread: 1991 - 2001.

P, born 1989.
Epicentre: 2007
Spread: 2004 - 2011.

Interestingly that last person's list included quite a few albums I really like. Albums such as Oracular Spectacular by MGMT and Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not by the Arctic Monkeys. So we have similar tastes, though our top 10 albums were still out by approximately the difference in our ages.

It makes me wonder if I would've liked those albums even more had they came out when I was in my mid-teens and not my mid-twenties. Perhaps by my mid-twenties I was too cynical and jaded to take those albums to heart the way I would have had I been younger.

The other two lists were quite different to my tastes (I won't list them all, but bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Counting Crows and Pearl Jam figured heavily). Still, as we're all a similar age, we all had a similar era.

I might do some more posts on music going forward. I can't help but feel this is what lockdown has reduced me to though lol.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

The New Normal - Eternal Halloween

I saw another government minister today saying something about masks and social distancing being here to stay, and that large weddings and Cheltenham style events will be off the table for the next few years. I say saw, but it's another one of these things I've just caught through osmosis from tweets. I haven't actually watched anyone say anything, or made an effort to see what was fully said. So it's just more "new normal" background noise I'm reporting on.

None of it surprises me. The narrative is pretty obvious, and we're all having to wade through it like treacle. So we may as well relax a little. Whatever was said it's all much of a muchness.

What got me thinking though was the masks. Apparently we can keep wearing masks and social distancing because it "costs nothing". I'm guessing they mean it's economically cheap, but it also wouldn't surprise me if they genuinely mean there's no downside at all. After all, they do seem to really love their masks (at least when the camera's on). Anyway, people on my side of the argument have been pointing out the obvious social costs to endless mask wearing.

It occurs to me that something that always gets missed though with the masks is vitamin D. Our bodies produce vitamin D naturally when we're exposed to sunlight, and in the winter months when we head outside it's normally only our face and hands that are exposed to the sun. Thanks to Covid however we now have people that barely leave the house, and when they do they're covering most of their face. Like weird not-so-cool vampires. Terrified of daylight. Not building up their D in the process.

You really have to wonder what the health cost is. It can't be good.

This got me thinking further about some of the other lifestyle changes that are currently being pushed. For instance veganism. (Apparently there's a "meat tax" on the horizon?? I think? ..another thing I must've picked up via Twitter osmosis). The vegan diet is pretty low in vitamin D, so you do need that sunlight if you head down that route (I'm guessing Dracula got his vitamin D from human blood, no wonder he could stay home all day). Now however we're encouraging young people to turn vegan, but to also walk around with their faces shrouded up. From now until forever. It's almost like death by a thousand cuts.

Personally I'm vegetarian myself, so my freckled face is my primary source of vitamin D. I definitely don't want to wear a mask outside for the rest of my life. Maybe I can use this excuse next time I don't want to wear one.

Of course, the answer always comes .."take vitamin D tablets!", but it's a poor substitute for my sun-kissed God-given face. Also let me know what the carbon footprint of those pill bottles is, because my skin is a self-sufficient, net neutral walking vitamin D factory :)

This is the thing though with the entire lockdown lifestyle. Everything is a poor substitute. Everything's a cheap knockoff of natural human life.

Can't get sunlight ..take vitamin tablets
Can't play sports outside ..exercise with an online trainer in your front room
Can't visit a museum ..visit a virtual museum
Can't hug a family member in person ..Zoom call them
Can't find love and romance ..watch porn, or order a sex bot

It's all a bit meh.

You really have to pity the people who love all this new normal stuff. Culturally and emotionally they're basically semi-comatose. It's not that they can't enjoy the higher meaning in life, it's that they can't even see it. When you mention to these people that we need our freedoms and human interaction, that life isn't worth living without these things, they're like "What?! What the hell are you on about?". Like those things are just pointless extras.

They got the monkey-brain. They experience life on a lower frequency. Though that's unfair on monkeys. Monkeys are quite expressive and vivacious. Zombie is probably a better term. Ahh, wait, NPC. I forgot, we have a meme for these people.

This is why they're happy to shut down our entire culture for years on end. No gigs, no concerts, no sporting events. Those things don't mean anything to the Borg. Basic soviet will do.

And this is the telling thing with the "New Normal". It's not the misery, or the lack of privacy, or the communal trough-like hygiene that illustrates how bad it is. It's the sheer ugliness of it all.

You can see it similarly in the US capitol. All that grey fencing. They've came in and instantly made America look more ugly. You don't even need to make an argument. It's past politics. Anyone with an ounce of aesthetic taste can see it instantly. Okay, this looks grim now.

The people pushing the new normal all look and sound ghoulish too. Bringing the spectre of death everywhere they go. Frightfulness. Like they've risen from the dead. They spook ya.
"Look into the eyes of the dead and dying ..you'll end up on a ventilator toooo. Wahahhaaaa!"
The fear and desolation in their own eyes peering out from behind a creepy mask. Even in their avatars.

And it's never noble, or natural, or peaceful death. It's always bloody and murderous death. If you question the masks, or the lockdowns, or the figures they'll come at you; literally shrieking "Murderer!".

Am I in Macbeth?

I'm getting a bit poetic now in my description of them, but I think we can only really describe these things with poetry ..even my awful poetry. We can't argue our way out of this, we're too crowded in by zombies, we have to paint our way out. With pretty brushstrokes, offering a richer vision of life. Richer in every way. Then hope enough people come over to the brighter side. Dazzled once again by freedom.

Leave these half-dead creeps in the shadows.

This morbidly brings me back to the poor old folks of earlier, masked-up and forbidden sunlight and human warmth. We may as well be wrapping these people up in bandages like Egyptian mummies, ready for the crypt. It's all macabre. A long lonely funeral service for the individual. All in the name of 'safety'.

These masks and lockdowns are burying people. Alive.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

A message to all the losers out there..

It's prom night for the global school clique. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are taking their rightful place as prom king and queen, and all the cliquey gossips and popular cool kids are lining up courtside to take their rank. Some with genuine glee, others feigning their praise to elbow themselves ever up the social totem pole.

You though, you're on the outside. A loser. Watching on. Repulsed by the fakes and make-up and pretensions ..but maybe, if you're being honest, slightly jealous too. Why are these vacuous frauds so powerful and you so disenfranchised? You think to yourself that you'd never want to be like those people; that you've chosen your pious loserdom. Yet you also partly suspect that they'd never let you sit with the cool kids anyway. Even if you supressed every moral, bent every knee and faked it to your absolute limit.

..and this is thing. The point of this post. It's always been like this. Yes, things are bad, but no more bad than they've always been.

Normality has returned. It feels slightly crushing and terrifying, but these last four years have really been an aberration. A glorious one, but an aberration. It's amazing it even happened, and now it has happened it can never be taken away. It'll become gilded, like a summer memory. Preserved in amber, framed in gold.

Again, it feels bad that the standard superficial high school order has returned, but we've had this all our lives. It's always been this way. It's nothing we can't deal with. We're used to being losers.

So don't worry too much. Your Facebook friends have always been sheep-like. The media has always been sentimental mush. These people have always been in charge. Remember?

Plus, now these chauffeured brats have gotten their own way again perhaps they'll lay off us all for a bit. They've really thrown the kitchen sink at us all over these last four years. Especially this last year. In fact, it's been one long spoilt tantrum. A historic hissy fit. That we had the temerity to insist that the DJ play some of our songs for a time. They just couldn't tolerate it.

The privileged outrage at the fact that they weren't running the show. Their hysteric and wild-eyed attempts to restore themselves to the "popularity" apex. The sheer depths they went to. It's been fascinating and disturbing to watch. They just can't cope with being losers like we can.

They were literally prepared to destroy everything if they couldn't get their own way.

So maybe now they have got their own way again they'll stop the tears and boot-stamping, and return to bitchily clawing at each other as they scramble for social clout. Instead of aiming their hatred and ire at us. Maybe things might calm down a bit.

Of course it's not fair, it never was, but maybe this is the only way the drama will end. Let them have their victory, however they won it, and with angelic calm we can patiently take a longer view.

We've done okay. In fact, we've done pretty good. So just keep on keeping on.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

We're Sleepwalking into a Mental Health Crisis

It's been a common refrain over recent months; "Lockdowns are causing a mental health crisis."

This in turn has led to calls for more help and funding. Whenever I see this debate appear I always wonder though; just where are we heading as a society?

Obviously people require help for emotional and mental problems, so I would never argue against it. Who would? However, I still nevertheless fear that as a society we may be making a rod for our own back.

For a start I'm uncomfortable with the way we're medicalising what are often simply normal human emotions.

As humans we feel the full spectrum of emotions. From euphoria to depression. For all manner of reasons. It's what we would call the human condition. Life is complex and so are we.

(a cheeky chimp ..swinging
happily in the trees)

In days gone by most people would eschew being labelled as having a "mental health" condition. Not wanting to be attached to the negative connotations that such a label would bring. These days however people embrace such labels. You only need to look at people's Twitter bios to see countless examples.

I'm not against this per se. Or against people discussing their fears and problems openly. In fact, as stated above, I think it's perfectly natural for humans to have such experiences and to discuss them. Life can be a rollercoaster. I just fear that we're medicalising the human experience in a way that will ultimately dehumanise us. I also worry that such mislabelling will lead to problems simply not being solved.

For instance, return to the problems caused by lockdowns. If you're depressed or anxious because you've had your freedoms curtailed is this a problem of your brain and body? Or is the issue the circumstances you are in?

If you're labelled with "depression" this implies that the problem lies with you. Since this problem is within yourself then it's you that needs the counselling, medication and whatever else is offered as a solution. However, if the root cause of the depression is the circumstances in which you're living then the problem can only truly be solved by changing or improving those circumstances.

It's like if you take a wild mouse and put it in a cage. If the mouse starts becoming withdrawn and behaving erratically when placed in this captivity is the problem the mouse, or is the problem the cage?

You can perhaps medicate or train the mouse to cope with being caged, but it'll always be a poor and clumsy attempt at making a bad situation more bearable.

Of course, the causes of mental and emotional problems are often a fine tapestry, but still, I feel this is what we're essentially doing to ourselves. Tailoring the human spirit to fit poor circumstances. Instead of tailoring the circumstances to better fit the people. In the process relegating what once would've been viewed as deep spiritual and philosophical experiences to something akin to a medical ailment.

In many ways we're doing a similar thing with lockdowns now. Instead of tailoring health care to fit a free society we're tailoring society (along with its joys and freedoms) to accommodate a health care system.

This leads me nicely to my final point of concern, and that's what happens once such a system of mental health care is fully in place. Over the last year we've seen coercion used and basic rights overturned in the quest for public health and safety. Will we eventually see similar things in the quest for mental hygiene? When we have an army of well-funded 'professionals' ready to safeguard our mental health will we see the communal mind being cleansed with a similar zeal?

..and more to the point what happens if individuals want to refuse or opt out of such 'help'.

This returns us to the labels that people are so readily accepting at present. There may be benefits to accepting such labels, but what about the potential drawbacks? What if such labels are used against a person?

What happens if such a system of psychiatric intrusion becomes a tool of the state, or of a certain political faction? Or if society en masse simply becomes zealous and hysterical? What are the safeguards to stop things from going too far?

Though it's obviously wrong, mean and immoral to label an enemy or opponent as "mad" it is nevertheless quite common. To paint someone as 'mentally unfit' is a well used and effective tactic. If you've already self-certified yourself as having mental issues then it would no doubt make it even easier for an opponent to do this.

What if people are wrongly barred from certain professions or activities because of such labelling? Or worse still what if someone is wrongly sectioned or forcibly medicated?

You'd like to think such things would be highly, highly unlikely, but that likeliness is only proportional to our continued vigilance ultimately. History shows us this.

When the Coronavirus Act was passed last year that contained changes which meant only one doctor's signature would be needed to detain a person under the Mental Health Act. Instead of the usual two.

This is mildly concerning. Normally in a free society a person's liberty can only be removed in a courtroom before a jury. So sectioning in of itself is an aberration from this process. Making such a thing easier and less accountable should therefore be a worry to most people.

Once again, it obviously goes without saying there are people out there with serious mental issues that require serious help and treatment. So I don't want to downplay the problem, nor doubt the intentions of anyone pushing for solutions. It is potentially a very slippery slope though. Especially given how mechanical and materialistic our view of human life has now become.

Things once deemed of the spirit and soul. The rainbow-like range of human thoughts and emotions. All reduced to mundane labels with bullet-pointed remedies.

Are we sleepwalking dimly into dystopia.

(..not as colourful as the monkey,
but perhaps more relevant)

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Democracy of Crossing The Road

Have you ever been in that situation where you're waiting to cross the road and it's taking a really long time? Perhaps the traffic lights are going slowly, or maybe they're broken altogether. As you're waiting that judgement presents itself. Do you patiently wait for the road to become completely clear of cars? Or do you perhaps make a run for it when you spot a smaller gap?

Of course, it's always sensible to wait until you know it's safe to cross. After all, you're just squishy flesh and blood, and they're hunking great machines. Though if you're really in a rush, or you're a particularly rash individual you may take the risk. Either way you're the one that has to avoid the cars. The onus is on you to keep out of their way. As they're an overwhelming force that you're powerless to stop.

When there's a few more people waiting to cross the road it's a slightly different situation. Again, the people are still just squishy flesh, and the cars remain dangerous obstacles. However, suddenly there's a tiny bit of strength in numbers.

The solid cars can still mow down the soft people, but the balance has shifted slightly.

It's difficult to say at what point the balance tips fully. It completely depends upon the situation I guess. You'll no doubt have experienced such a circumstance yourself though at some point;

There are perhaps now 10 or 20 people waiting at the traffic lights. All becoming increasingly impatient to cross the road. The impatience builds. A few eager feet edge ever-closer to the tarmac of the road. One guy, perhaps a slither more rash than the others, makes a move. Everyone else, like a flock of starlings, instinctively follows. The annoyed drivers having to slow down and stop with frustration as this herd of people then bustle across to the other side of the street.

A collective decision that happens almost telepathically. The subtle cues of body language. The building group impatience. The overall circumstances of the situation. That very minor rush of leadership. All rising to a crescendo of; "Yeah, we're all crossing this road now, damn it!"

Of course, it doesn't always work out like this. Sometimes a hothead may make a rush to step out and the others may think "I'm not following that idiot." Again, the circumstances are always unique to the moment. That potential tipping of the scales is clear enough to see though. An extreme example would perhaps be when thousands of football fans spill out of a stadium. As this throng of supporters floods army-like onto the street the cars are powerless in their wake. Having to wait like pedestrians until this force of nature passes. The sheer numbers, and the mood of those people making up the numbers, dictating the outcome.

Anyway, this 'crossing the road' phenomena always makes me think; democracy.

It reminds me that even in an absolute dictatorship there still remains this natural democracy. Ready to reach a tipping point when all these subtle cues and feelings coalesce to an apogee.

Many others before me have pointed out how 'democracy of the ballot' is essentially a sensible and more civilised substitute for this democracy of nature. A substitute for war, or other physical conflations. Where we can judge who has the greater numbers or force of passion on their side without having to go through the storm of physical battle.

It also makes me wonder if great leadership comes in having the ability to read these great forces, or indeed in having the ability to conduct the feelings that lead to such tempests.

(This image I knocked up recently has little
to do with crossing the road, but it's vaguely 'roady',
and I guess it adds some colour. Mountain Stars.)