Tyranny Over Small Things

I am currently a user of a certain online dating site that shall remain nameless. Amen!

I am not a very active user. My usage so far consists of:

– Saying ‘no’ to Americans who think that I am the most gorgeous/beautiful/divine creature they have ever seen, and who also think that when I say I want to meet someone ‘local’ I mean three and a half thousand miles away.

– Saying ‘no’ to people who message me with the single word ‘hello’ and expect a reply which is more than a single word.

– Saying ‘no’ to people whose profiles involves pictures of them half naked with amazing six-packs and who sport names such as ‘stud101’ or ‘hornymike’. (Apologies to anyone who may have actually chosen one of these names)

– Occasionally messaging someone who sounds genuine and interesting, and who then proves me wrong by not bothering to reply at all.

– Saying ‘yes’ to completely interesting, but probably entirely dysfunctional people, like myself (I mean that I’m dysfunctional – the interesting bit you will have to judge for yourself).

– Wondering why on earth I started this in the first place when I have absolutely no time to fit a relationship into my life anyway.

However, this is not a complete picture of my dating life online. As I am finding with several other online social media sites – that also shall remain nameless – there are lots of fascinating people out there who I would otherwise never come across in my daily life. More interesting still is the way that meeting via messaging strips away the physical responses we have to people, and the assumptions that we make, and allows us to connect on a different level. I may never meet these people, or perhaps I may, but the meeting of minds in this way feels like a gift. In fact, sometimes I’m nervous to actually meet someone who I feel I’ve genuinely connected with online in case the connection-bubble is burst.

The other day the unspecified dating site sent me a message. This was unusual. I had thought perhaps they wanted money, or to congratulate me on getting 84 ‘likes’, but no, they wanted to tell me that someone had reported one of the photographs I had uploaded to my profile, and that it had been removed because it was ‘inappropriate’. What’s more, the ‘removal approval’ had been voted on by their moderators!

Well, this was interesting because I am a very conservative person when it comes to the photographs I will share. I immediately went to my profile to check out what had disappeared. The one that had gone was a photograph of my tattoo, a beautifully worked celtic dragon, which is at the top of one of my arms. I read the email again, and saw that every photo I upload has to have me in it, and not only me, but a non-close-up version of me. This does not explain why they allowed the pictures I had uploaded of my cat and my garden. It also does not explain some of the pictures of naked torsos and massive tattoos across backs that some of the men on the site use as their main profile pictures.

It so happens I am having an interesting conversation with someone on the site at the moment, so I shared this experience with him. He replied that it was the people who go round reporting the ‘inappropriate’ images he worries about. It reminded me of the one person that I did report on the site – he had messaged me and sent a whole tirade of obscene and racist abuse, and I suggested that he should be blocked from the site altogether. He’s still there, but my tattoo isn’t. As I said to my correspondent – it’s the usual problem of tyranny over the little things while the big stuff just saunters on by.

I think this ‘tyranny over the little things’ happens in many walks of life, including within our work environments. So often people are bogged down having to jump through statistical hoops (how many cases processed and how quickly, etc) that the bigger picture and quality of service are lost altogether. It’s good to remember that the person you are providing the service to is a fellow human being. Certainly I’ve found that the burden of administration and form-filling at work has increased in recent years to almost ridiculous levels – you make an hour-long home visit, then spend three hours completing the paperwork.

The other aspect that seems to prevent the ‘big stuff’ getting appropriate attention is the lack of joined-up services. Anyone who works in health or social care can tell you about this! Recently my GP referred me to the hospital because of problems with osteo-arthritis. So far I have seen: one consultant, one occupational therapist (twice), one orthotist (twice), and I have an outstanding appointment with podiatry. I also had an x-ray that none of the above-mentioned professionals have seen or been able to use in their diagnosis and response. None of these services appear to talk to each other. There must be a simpler way of doing things that does not make me feel like I’m being portioned up.

Politically, we’re also good at focusing too small. We become insular within our own country or region, and bogged down in party-political spatting, then miss the bigger picture of human need, or what is simply common sense. Our first-past-the-post voting system and five year government terms do not help the longer term view either: ‘Oh good, we’ve got in, we must make multiple massive changes now or we’ll lose our chance’, and then, five years later, someone else gets in and does a complete U-turn. The ‘big stuff’ gets ping-ponged backwards and forwards, and eventually kicked into touch (excuse the mixed up sporting metaphors!).

So, I’ve had my rant. That feels a whole load better! Now all I need to do is go and check on my blog statistics and try not to forget about all you lovely people out there who actually read what I write.

MAD MOMENT…

Having a Meltdown Moment at the Carers’ Support Group yesterday. At least the group provides a place to meltdown in relative safety.

MARVEL MOMENT…

‘Looking for lodgers’ serendipity! People appearing just when you need them and they need you! My attic room is empty once again, so I am sending out cosmic vibes in anticipation…

© Anne de Gruchy

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