The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres


It seems the older we get, the more upset we become when things aren’t quite the same. The smallest of things can cause the greatest outpourings of bile, rants and scorn.

Forget the protests in Burma against the hideous human rights abuses; ignore the wholesale destruction of rainforests and numerous species of plants and animals; and don’t even begin to think about poverty and starvation in the third world brought about by certain Western governments and multi-national companies supporting corrupt regimes.

For all these pale into insignificance compared to the layout changes they have made in Facebook.

There seem to be more protests and people prepared to sign petitions about this than over whether we were lied to by our governments about Iraq’s possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the need to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands, and misery of millions because of it.

What does it say about us?

Quite simply it says we’re more concerned about what’s right in front of our eyes than some abstract idea effecting people elsewhere or elsewhen.

Cast James Bond with a blonde haired actor? Reorganise the layout of our favourite TV magazine? Change the name of BBC Radio 4 News to BBC News Radio 4? Bump off our favourite soap opera star? Kids listening to some new kind of thumpa thumpa music? Have Dr Who regenerate into someone else? Subtle alterations in the pattern on the toilet paper? HOW WILL WE SURVIVE? GIVE ME BACK WHAT I’M FAMILIAR WITH!!!

Clearly it’s an evolutionary survival tactic. Those who were concerned about distant things rather than the immediate tended to get eaten by roaming predators and so failed to pass on their genetic code. We are descendents of the paranoid, the obsessive-compulsive and the randy.

This is why long-term goals are so difficult to stick to. Faced with a choice between an ideal thinner, fitter, healthier self at some vague point in the future, and a bramble crumble right in front of us, it’s unsurprising which one will win out.

It seems the only real way to make people act on a large scale is to change something right in front of their eyes – something tangible, something immediate.

If each cigarette caused a coughing fit, or if each car journey caused a tornado, or if each chocolate bar caused an instant gain of 10lbs, we would modify our behaviour with much greater speed and intensity.

So with Facebook rapidly approaching 100,000,000 members, perhaps the solution to the worlds problems would be to create annoying little changes in the layout or colouring of Facebook every time another species becomes extinct, another person is arrested, imprisoned and tortured without trial or representation, the global temperature rises another 0.1 of a degree, the government lies to us, or another child dies in poverty.

Perhaps then our gripes could make a difference.


Kate said...

I'm getting really tired of hearing/reading peoples' complaints about the new FB. I like it, it's a big improvement, especially the separate apps page.

Attila The Mom said...

What in the world is Facebook?

::ducking and running::

Fat Lazy Guy said...

If they did that, then I think most people would just change to some other social networking site, just like people change the channel when one of those ads for World Vision comes on. I think at the heart of it, some people (or maybe all of us) don't want to know. To choose an example fresh in my mind, George Bush clearly didn't want to know that the Levees had failed in New Orleans.

Then again, maybe I'm wrong and it would make a difference. It would certainly be an interesting experiment.

karatemom said...

At first I was thinking why change it ..but really many ways it is better..easier to navigate and some new features they didnt have before..

and attila..we have got to get you hooked up on facebook girl.!

Overall , to my surprise, I like the new facebook.

( the gripes remind me of a few years ago when computers were first introduced into the office setting I was working in..they did not want function or keep up without them go figure.)

have a good day kim and "poke" you on facebook ..p.s. I see you beat me in scramble yet again .

Carole said...

You have such a knack for hitting the nail on the head. I have heard a boatload of complaints about facebook and very little about the troubles the world faces.

When people are in dire circumstances, they don't usually complain about hangnails, so for a least 100,000,000 people life is good.

El-Branden Brazil said...

BUT, Facebook and MySpace are amazing tools for spreading the word about those issues you mention that should get more attention.

Unfortunately, those moaning about such frivolous decoration as the changes on Facebook, would probably care little for my cause, Burma. Having said that, there are a potential 100,000,000 people I would otherwise, beyond social network programs, have no way to communicate and spread the call for Burma action.

MikeP said...

Aren't you the guy that used to write the "Ramblings" which are now the "Bramblings"? Some change we don't mind.

Kim Ayres said...

Kate - I couldn't believe the fuss everyone was making - it's a great deal easier than getting used to a new mobile phone

Attila - either a complete waste of time, or a complete addiction, or both, depending on your nature

FLG - some do care deeply (see Brandon above) - usually it's because they've seen the effects 1st hand

KarateMom - poke backatchya

Carole - or 100,000,000 people have just found another distraction of choice...

Branden - it's true - it's about learning how to use these tools beyond mere distraction and pastime

MikeP - generally I tend to embrace change more easily than some I know. If things are static for too long, I get restless.

MaLady said...

Much of the reason I am thoroughly annoyed by changes of a smaller scope is that there are so many of them. I would rather spend my energy on the subjects of life that are more important than constantly relearning the daily stuff in the world around me. I like the new Facebook, I like many product changes, but I hate having to reevaluate something every time I'm at the grocery store, etc. My time is worth something and marketers waste it.

savannah said...

i have an account with facebook, don't i, sugar? ;) and it's changed already? oh my! xoxox

Jeanette said...

Great commentary, and dead on.

PI said...

Facebook is a foreign country to me and as I suffer daily from changes in finances and blogging - to name but two - over which I have no control - but experience the flack and fall-out, I'm glad to be FB virgin.

Kim Ayres said...

MaLady - I think the strange thing is how we expect everything to stay the same depite the fact that everything is always changing

Savannah - go take a look at my latest FB profile pic and see what I looked like at 16 :)

Jeanette - thank you :)

Pat - so do you have a MySpace or Bebo page?

Archivalist said...

The Facebook changes are nice. I'm thinking of moving there soon. Wonder what the taxes are like...

Seriously, people in my corner of Maine freaked when the city put in two traffic roundabouts. You would have thought they'd outlawed beer to hear the hue and cry it aroused.

Eryl Shields said...

Crikey, I'm sure I looked at facebook recently and didn't notice a thing. I'll have to take another look now.

Like you I get bored fairly easily so like changes, though, like Malady I hate it when they change the layout of supermarkets. Life's too long to spend it searching for bog-roll.

Kim Ayres said...

Archivalist - Clearly it's time to get out the sandwich board and announce to everyone, "the end of the world is nigh."

Eryl - have you ever seearched for kitchen roll in Tesco, Dumfries? Sometimes it's near the cleaning stuff, but every now and then they shove it over by the crisps & nuts. Keeping us on our toes...

michael greenwell said...

i think this is the best post i have read on the site.

submit it somewhere, it deserves a wider readership

MaLady said...

I don't get to be a prissy little princess deciding for the world what changes work for me and which ones don't? Well then... ;-)

Kim Ayres said...

Michael - I'll take it as a compliment for this post rather than a condemnation of all the other posts ;)

Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions on where it might be appreciated, let me know :)

MaLady - you have to stamp your foot and scream and scream and scream until you're sick...

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