Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Is Social Media Turning Us Into Lazy Voyeurs

Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+ and Twitter are just some social networking websites most of us visit every day. The world has indeed become a smaller place as it is getting easier for us to communicate and connect with people from across the globe. The convenience of checking up on what your friends are doing with the click of a button has in some cases replaced a simple phone call. Names have been replaced with handles or avatars and it all have become very impersonal. This led me to ask, has social networking websites driven as further away from each other instead of bringing us closer?There are very few people I know that are not on Facebook. The scary reality is that if you don’t have a Facebook, Linkedin or Google+ account you almost do not exist and if you don’t tweet or know what Twitter is you have probably been living in a cave. Cyberspace no longer is a mere tool to do research, get information, sell or buy products and communicate, it has evolved into an alternative means of socialization. We share information about ourselves with hundreds if not thousands of people every day and in return we get to know more about others. Sometimes we learn things about people we rather could have done without.
Having just over 6000 friends on Facebook my news feed gets flooded with status updates every few minutes. Some status updates are quite interesting and others are just plain bizarre. This one person on Facebook insists on providing blow-by-blow accounts about the status of his erections – like I care! Seriously, is his life that uninteresting or should there be some cause for concern regarding his obsession with his cock? Another person seems to have serious relationship problems as her relationships status fluctuates between beings single, in a relationship, engaged, to it's complicated and back to single again in the course of just one week. Either she’s experiencing some schizoid episodes or urgently needs to evaluate her “relationship” as it does not seem healthy.

Something I find particularly bizarre is the Facebook profiles people create for their pets and children. A family member (whose name I wouldn’t dare mention) have created and maintains profiles for her dog and cat complete with photos, careers and relationship status. Another person I know has done the same for her 9 month old son, and he already has 67 friends. It’s just creepy, but I did accept their friend requests, I do know them after all.  I too have created a Fan Page for my cat "Killer Pussy", so yea I am no better than them either.  At least my cat has more fans than the average person on Facebook have friends.  She has 815, but she doesn't give a rats ass about that (and yes the pun is fully intended).
Even stranger is the fact that on Twitter I am now following a cat. No you didn’t read incorrectly I am really following a critter of the feline persuasion. I get hourly updates from the feline lounging around the house, taking a nap or taking a poo in the litter box. Now, I will admit this is my own craziness for following the daily toils of a fictional cat, but curiosity also got the better of over 1 416 057 other people who are also following "Sockington" the famous tweeting feline. One would think having 5 cats of my own I would have better things to do, but clearly I don’t.  (PS: Killer Pussy is on Twitter too!) 

Social networking sites have also made us lazy and voyeurs. Where are the days when friends returned from an exotic holiday and we would pop by for a visit to check out their holiday photos? These days you can follow their adventures online and in real time. This makes it really convenient for all your stalkers to track where you are and what you are doing. No need to hide in the bushes are purchase expensive plane tickets.  Facebook has brought us Cyber Stalking.  Personally,  I have to admit that I am guilty of this myself.  I do check out certain people's profiles regularly to see what is going on in their lives, and I will admit I do this mainly to feel better about myself.  You can't lie, I know many of you do the same thing, come on admit it.
How many of us really know the people we are friends with online? Very few of us have actually met half of our virtual friends. I am one of the biggest culprits in this area. Out of my 6 742 Facebook friends I shamefully would have to admit that I know maybe 200 of them. From the 200 I probably have only met 50. Yet, on a daily basis I have an unadulterated bird’s eye view of their turmoil’s and joys of all of them and they have the same of mine - quite frightening if you sit back and think about it. Effectively we are sharing vast amounts of personal information about ourselves with perfect strangers and yes even with “cats”.

To a certain degree technology has made it easier for us to communicate. Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, MSN, Skype, Google+ or any of the other platforms to stay in touch, the one thing you should really be asking yourself is whether these mediums are a better substitute for personal contact? Social networking websites have changed the way we connect with people but even though you can reach a friend or family member that’s on a different continent with the click of a mouse there still is a barrier between you, and the Internet will never be able to replace face-to-face personal contact or the warmth of a hug.

Till next time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jealous Much?

In a week’s time hubby and I will be leaving on a jet plane bound for New York City *Jumping with joy*.  And this trip could not have come at a better time.  Of late, walking into my office feels like walking into an Alfred Hitchcock movie and I am not always quite sure what the plot is or if I will make it out alive.  I am tired, stressed the fuck out and I am in some serious need of a change of scenery and where better to go than the Big Apple.  Seeing as we will only be there for a week, we needed to do some serious planning about what we wanted to do and what we wanted to see within the confines of the limited time we have to do it in.  So after much deliberation this is what hubby and I have agreed on.
We have booked our flights on Etihad Airways and being the opportunistic little shit that I am, I took the liberty to write to them and politely asked if they would be so kind as to upgrade our economy class tickets to business class for free.  Needless to say I have not heard back from them.  So I will take that as them saying to me “ROFL! Nice try, but NO!”  The flights promise to be grueling.  We depart from Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi on an eight hour flight.  Then there is a three hour layover before we get onto a fourteen hour flight to New York.  The return flights are not much better.  It pretty much is the same thing but to make matters slightly more uncomfortable, we only land back in Johannesburg at the ungodly hour of 04:25am.  Flying business class would have made the flights a little more comfortable, but not being millionaires we are stuck in cattle class. Fuck!

As for NYC from all the hotels we could choose from we decided to stay at the Yotel (NO, this is not a typo, it really is the hotel name).  We choose this hotel for three reasons: 1) The hotel has the quirky meets modern combination that I like and has free WiFi (which is essential for me) 2) The hotel is centrally located (practically on Time Square) and walking distance away from some of the places we want to go to and 3) It has a fucking fabulous terrace and they serve cocktails with brunch!  Seeing as we will be on a tighter schedule than Lady Gaga while on tour, I do suspect that we will not spend a whole lot of time in the hotel apart from sleeping there and drinking all those fantastic cocktails at brunch or happy hour.  But at least we know what to expect from the hotel and they are somewhat affordable.  So what do we plan to do while in NYC?

Like I said before we plan our trips with military precision (we are synchronizing our watches to NYC time as I type this).  If anything, hubby and I are pedantic bitches when it comes to itineraries and we had a good few heated discussion when we were busy deciding which touristy things we were going to do (FYI: a democratic voting system does NOT work when there are only two people involved in the voting process).  So after a few books and maps got hurled across the room in a dramatic drama queen fashion, we eventually came to a mutually agreeable itinerary that’s broken down into days and hours.  Don’t worry, I will not bore you with the fine print, I will just give you a general idea as to what we got planned for our own general safety.  You never know who is going to read this and I don’t want to get kidnapped by a stalker in New York never to be seen or heard off ever again.
One of the places I absolutely have to visit is The World Trade Centre and the National September 11 Memorial Museum.  I am not quite sure if the museum is open for the public yet though.  I lost a friend in the South Tower on 9/11 and I do feel a strong urge to go and pay my respects to her.  We also decided to go to Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty.  We will not actually go to her as that will waste too many hours.  Besides I have been inside a woman once and I didn’t like it, so I have no urge to go inside Miss Liberty even if people are now allowed to do so again.  Seeing as we will be close to the financial district we will also go to Wall Street, if only to stare at all those folks who are “Occupying Wall Street”.  That should make for an interesting photo opportunity and I really do hope they are still there protesting while we are there.

Another important item on our list of things to do is going and spending half the day at the Guggenheim Museum.  They will be exhibiting Rineke Dijkstra’s “A Retrospective”, Kandinsky 1911-1913 and the Thannhauser Collection.  Naturally there are also a number of other art pieces that I want to see and I am really looking forward to it.  You also cannot go to New York and not see a Broadway show.  After some deliberation we settled on watching Mamma Mia.  It was really hard to choose which show to watch but, in the end, we chose the gayest one!  Who wants to see “Spiderman the Musical” anyway?  It just sounds stupid and like some performer is bound to get hurt.  Oh wait, that actually really happened.  Off Broadway also seemed like a good option but we won’t have time.

Being married to a Fashion Designer (a creative god and bat shit crazy genius at times) he insisted that we also work Parson: The New School for Design and Mood Designer Fabrics into our itinerary.  We both love Project Runway and this is our equivalent of the Sex and the City tour.  Also on the list is the Empire State Building.  I am terrified of heights so it should be interesting being on the 86th Floor’s Observation Deck – I might throw up, so be warned people!  At least I know we will find the building really easily – we just have to look up, apparently you can’t miss it.  We will also be spending some time in Central Park, it’s really big and we have to work in a romantic horse carriage ride.  I know Peta and some New Yorkers have an issue with how the horses are treated and that it’s not ethical.  But hey, I don’t know when we will be in New York again, and this is on our must do “to do list”, so sorry.
Buildings and attractions are not the only touristy things that we plan on doing, we also want to go to certain well know neighborhoods and different New York Boroughs.  These include the now trendy Hell’s Kitchen, the Meat Packing District, Soho, Little Italy and China Town.  There is also plenty to do and see in Queens, Brooklyn and Bronx but I fear that we may only get to see Manhattan due to our time constraints.  I guess this is a pretty good and convincing excuse as to why we will need to visit New York again.

Yep, in a week’s time we will be in New York City and as you can see we are going to be fucking busy.  My iPad is uploaded with everything we need to make every second of our trip count:  Subway guides, Foodspotting for when we get hungry, The Essential New York Tourist Guide and plenty more.  I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a trip and when last I had so many people green with envy.  New York here we come.  Hope you are ready for us bitches!

Till next time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Are the Queers Being Exploited for Profit?

After being underwhelmed by last year’s Jo’burg Pride and being left feeling rather exploited, I decided to this year not attend Pride, rather opting to go to New York City instead.  After all, do I really want to attend another Gay Pride that clearly is a blatant rip off?  Well, the answer is NO and apparently I am not the only queer in South Africa that feels this way.
This week I have a quest blogger from the website The Modern L (Everything you wanted to know about being a modern lesbian! And now one of South Africa’s favorite online Lesbian Magazines), and this guest post was penned by The Miss Jones.

Profit vs People:

They say that the LGBTI Pride Parade is like Christmas for the gays. It’s the one day a year that everyone looks forward to, the day you spend weeks, if not months, planning your outfit, what you’re doing afterwards, and who you’re mincing with. You look forward to seeing all the colorful floats, what the cute stalls have on display and which eccentric outfits the qeens, bears and fairies will be wearing on the day. You make sure the batteries for your camera and phone are fully charged so you can look back at the day that was and reminisce about the fun you had.

I have attended the local Pride parade every year for exactly half my life, and the ones with the fondest memories, I have to admit, were the ones much earlier on in my life. Pride was always something I looked forward to and prepared for and I always felt inspired after attending the event.
Seeing the entire gay community standing together for a mutual cause, marching through the streets with a purpose, seeing the public wave and hoot as we pass, our straight friends and family walking alongside us in support, the qeens flinging insults and high heels at the happy clappy homophobes at the side of the road, and most importantly, being free to express yourself, your individuality and not just your sexuality is what Pride is and should be all about.

That was then…

In recent years there have been quite a lot of complaints and blogposts directed at the downward spiral pride parades all across the country are taking. And this should be cause for alarm to those who organize these get-togethers, but I don’t think this is sinking in just yet. Myself, and many others believe this is due to certain role players making the mistake of putting Profits over the pink People.

In the past I have driven and been on 4 floats, once on a motorcycle, I have walked with 5 charity organizations, walked for a cause twice and managed stalls on 2 occasions as well. In some years gone by, float and stall operators had to rock up for a meeting, pay a nominal admin fee, stick to the rules and Bob’s your auntie, you’re good to go! Ever wonder why there aren’t so many colorful floats and as many exciting stalls around? Why ten ton flatbeds decorated in the fabulous rainbow flag have been replaced by convertibles and bakkies? Why the stalls with the cheap trinkets and memorable memorabilia disappeared and have been replaced by overpriced junk you know you’ll never use again? Let’s take a look:
To have a float in the Jo’burg parade, you’re looking at up to 1500 bucks per float. The Durban parade up to and R1200 and the Mother City R50 to R250. Stalls in Jo’burg range between R450 and R1035 and Cape Town between R300 and R1000. There’s also the issue of the method of payment for these events and the so-called Pink Money they use as currency, which is non-refundable!

Then there’s the issue of refreshments on the day. We used to be able to take our own picnic baskets and refreshments, but at recent events, even bottled water has been confiscated at the gates. I distinctly remember standing in a queue for an hour and a half for Pink money at last year’s Pride, only to then stand in a two hour queue for a drink (that cost about twice as much as I would have paid at my local pub even now, a year later), and then not having enough energy to stand in another mile long queue for something to eat. The drinks vendor also did not stock what we preferred to drink so what’s the point? Look, I totally get why they would ban bringing in booze so they could sell their own, but why not let people bring in their own soft drinks, water and snacks?

So if people pay to operate stalls and floats, pay overwhelming amounts of money for food and booze and spend money to buy a currency they cannot get a refund on for essentially nothing and the organizers get cash from advertising packages and corporate sponsors, as well as sponsorship from service providers and artists, not to mention the rent-a-crowd they brought in by the busloads last year, it looks like Gay Pride has turned into another cog in the money making machine.
There are those that argue that money is needed for the organization and smooth running of the event, which is essential, but with the massive media coverage AND turnout Pride gets every year, sponsorships and advertising shouldn’t be that hard to come by and if insufficient funds are raised through advertising and sponsorship, organizers should really look into firing their PRO’s and marketing managers. The other argument is that they need to pay artists due to perform on the day. When I spoke to a very well-known female artist that performed at Pride a few years ago, she told me that she performed for free and that it was a tremendous honor to perform at the event. Other artists have told me that they’ve done the same in order to get exposure. And to be quite honest, apart from the artist I just mentioned, I don’t think I watched anyone else perform at Pride in the 15 years I’ve attended and no one I know has either. So why pay a so-called fortune for something no one really cares about?

Today I was told that apart from everything one has to pay for at Pride, the NMB Pride is charging an entrance fee to this year’s event and this has created a massive storm for the gay community in PE and no doubt it will cause many to boycott the event. For smaller cities, with their Pride parades still being in its infancy, this is definitely a step in the wrong direction. Pride is about people, not profits. About being free to be who and what you are or who you support and not about how deep organizers can dive into your pockets.
My point is this: Pride is turning into yet platform for the exploitation of the gay community. Some of my family members used to attend Pride with paper bags over their heads in fear of persecution way back when, and back in the day, some of my drag queen friends were jailed for wearing a disguise in public. They didn’t do that so someone could come along and make a quick buck off our community!

Follow The Modern L on Twitter by clicking HERE.
Or visit their website

Till next time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spring & A Fat Ass Diet

Spring has finally arrived in my little speck of the world. The bees are buzzing, the birds are mating and every single last flower in my garden is producing enough pollen falling just short of sending me into anaphylactic shock. I am super allergic to pollen, grass, well pretty much everything related to spring. But allergies and animals having sexy time everywhere you look is not the only thing spring brings. Spring also brings a reality check. I, like most people I know, do tend to pack on some extra pounds during the winter months. And as we start shedding our winter jackets and sweaters revealing our lily white arms and legs which must see the sun in instalments, it also brings another revelation. And unfortunately for me my revelation was the fact that I have become fat!
The greater part of my Internet activity this past weekend was spent researching diets. You see, in just a few short months I need to be able to fit into my Speedo for our island holiday. Yes, you read correctly – my Speedo! I only wear it when I am not in South Africa and at places where there are people that I am sure I in all probability will never see again. During this winter I packed on a few extra unwanted pounds and to my horror discovered that I am starting to grow a second chin, a flabby gut and some god awful cellulite on my ass. It’s all very traumatising! And seeing as I have cancelled my gym subscription the only recourse I have left to my disposal is a diet. Either I go on a damn diet or make peace with the fact that I run the risk of looking like a beached whale in Madagascar in December.

Now, it should be noted that I have never been on a diet a day in my life. I don’t know how it works and prior to this I also didn’t really care either. But as I realized that a diet may be necessary, I consulted with my good old friend Google. There are millions of diets on the Internet ranging from well organized programs you can join with weekly weigh-ins (I don’t even own a scale by the way) to eating programs you can follow, some lasting only a couple of days and others lasting months. The more I read about diets the more it dawned on me that maybe it was not for me. I am far too lazy to measure out my food, pack three small lunches to take to work or having to go stand in my underwear on a scale in front of a bunch fat people only to be told I am fat too. My fragile self-esteem would be devastated.
Sure there are no fat evaporating fairies hiding in my summer closet, but diet – bitch please. I just can’t imagine myself having to stuff my face with shit that taste like cardboard, not eat carbs and having to swop my fizzy drink for bottled water. That’s like being a contestant on Survivor but without the million dollars. Furthermore, if I don’t eat potatoes at least 5 times a week the world will end. Not to mention having to swop my red meat with fish and/or skinless chicken, having to give up my gravies, sauces and other fattening condiments that I love so much. Oh my God, a diet will kill me!

For a brief two days I must admit I did ponder on the idea of bulimia. On the one side you can eat what you want and as much of it as you want. But on the down side you have to vomit and I hate vomiting. So I shut that idea down as it requires too much commitment and too much time spent in the toilet hurling. Anorexia was eliminated from the onset as an option for obvious reasons. So with half a cheesecake taunting me in my fridge, I sat down yesterday further contemplating my dwindling options. Clearly the diet thing was not going to work for me. Diets have too many rules, gets up in your business too much and have the distinct notion of starvation and supervision that is as unappealing to me as is the cellulite on my rear end. So what am I to do?
Having had Plastic Surgery earlier this year and still having my surgeon’s number on my speed dial, just a number higher than that of my Botox dispenser, I considered bypassing the whole starve yourself thing and fast forward to liposuction. Why starve yourself and munch on a salad that does not constitute a dinner (according to me) when you can have all that fat sucked out in less than an hour. The only problem with that is I cannot afford it! Damn you economy! Damn you! As my elation turned into a gluttonous cheesecake feeding frenzy, my extra pounds were weighing down more than just my flab. Rather disconsolate I walked to the mirror and gave myself a good stare down. The edges of my mouth still covered in crumbs of the cheesecake that was delicious I must say, I looked at myself and made a decision.

I have gained a few pounds over winter and the only reason I gained the weight was because of bad eating habits. Crisps is not food and neither is a snicker bar or chocolate milkshake. I made a choice the change my eating habits. And no, it will not be a diet but rather a conscious choice to eat healthier: More fruits and vegetables, less McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken, less frying and more steaming and grilling. Whether my conscious decision to change my eating habits will see me shed those extra pounds, only time will tell. But one thing is for damn sure, I will not be on some fat ass diet.

Till next time.

Beer ~ The Miracle Diet Drink

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Bucket List

In less than 25 days hubby and I will be leaving on a jet plane for New York City.  I am so excited I can barely contain myself.  NYC is one of the places on my bucket list that I want to see and experience before I die.  Taking into consideration that we will only be in NYC for one week and with a gazillion things that we want to do, I suspect there will be a lot of caffeine consumed during that time and very little to no sleep to be had.  I have downloaded several apps on my iPad especially for this trip ranging from where to eat to an app that helps you navigate the subway and other public transportation systems.  I am not going to get lost in NYC and waste valuable time in a confused panic.  This bitch is prepared for everything and I plan on squeezing every last drop of fun out of this experience even if it theoretically kills me.
Like most folks I know, I also have a bucket list and luckily for me there remain a lot of things on that list that I want to do.  I guess it is like my secret insurance policy that I have that keeps me from dying young.  As long as the list exists, the longer I have to remain on this earth burdening you all with my mind meanderings.  I have done many things on my bucket list thus far, some out of choice and others not so much.  I have been to Egypt, Madagascar, Kenya and Luxembourg.  I have ridden Arabian horses next to the pyramids, dived with wild sea turtles, met Nelson Mandela, been on the news and even jumped out of an airplane in the dead of night screaming like a ten year old girl while I received training at the Army. Yes, contrary to popular believe I am butch like that.

Some things I have done that were on my bucket list, I can’t divulge on my blog seeing as family members and certain colleagues read it therefore it shall remain a secret.  However, I can admit that I have also had sex on the beach once locally and twice internationally.  I have been mauled by a tiger, I have played with lion cups, even handled an adult female leopard, fed giraffes and played with baby elephants.  Most things that I have achieved on my bucket list brings a smile to my face, but then there are some things on my bucket list that I did not volunteer for and that I do not recall putting on it.
Life is always full of surprises and in my case life sometimes have a warped sense of humor, like that one time that I accidentally got high on liquid E.  You see, hubby and I got invited to go and watch a drag show in Johannesburg.  We were still in our twenties and it was a week night, but being young and irresponsible we went.  Halfway through the show somebody bought us shooters and without thinking twice we downed it.  It wasn’t long before I noticed a very weird sensation pulsating through my body.  It felt like my nerve endings were tingling and I was getting Goosebumps.

After the show ended we decided to stay and dance and for some queer reason I felt like I loved the whole world and the whole world loved me.  I was euphoric and in a hugging mood.  We were having a gay old time until 2am the next morning.  We were higher than Charlie Sheen in a Vegas hotel room and we didn’t even know it.  Not even my quavering jaw or the grinding of my teeth alerted me that something was wrong.  I was blissfully unaware that I was in fact tripping on E.  It wasn’t until the drive home that hubby and I realized something was amiss.  Arriving home at 3am and having to get up for work at 6am, still tripping our faces off wasn’t any fun.  Needless to say we have never since accepted shooters from anyone at a bar, nightclub or restaurant ever again.
And then there was that time that I got crabs.  It was before I met my husband and I was going through what you can call a “promiscuous phase”.  I had just broken off a two year relationship and was making up for lost time.  I vividly remember the evening I discovered that I had crabs.  I was sitting on my bed and I was itching in the crotch area.  I didn’t think much of it until I scratch and then felt something that shouldn’t be there.  I took off my pants, picked this little thing up between my fingers and on closer inspection I saw it had feet and it was alive.  Horrified, I searched my private area and discovered more.  I was utterly shocked and distraught!  “WHAT THE FUCK?!” I remember screaming.  “There are things living on my balls!!!”  Not knowing what to do, I phoned my friend.  Crying I tried to explain to him the calamity I found in my pants “I think I might have crabs” to which he responded “You either have crabs or you don’t, there’s nothing like I might have, check your balls again!”  So I did.

I had crabs and I needed to go to the doctor.  Being 20, young and na├»ve I didn’t know that any old lice shampoo could sort me out so I had to embarrass myself even further.  Sitting in the doctor’s office the next day, terribly ashamed of myself, I told him what I had.  He wanted to examine the “affected area” but I rudely refused.  Then he gave me a speech about STD’s and safe sex and then promptly had me tested for every STD known to mankind.  It was a horrifying 5 day wait, but eventually I got called back to his office and told that I had no STD’s but that he hoped that I have learned my lesson.  Since then every time my crotch area itches it reminds me that I once had a hundred unwelcome house guests attached to my balls and that I never wanted them to visit me ever again.
Not all things I have on my bucket list are always necessarily fun.  Sometimes you have to experience certain unpleasant things and that is called the Bucket List Life has for you.  Still on my personal bucket list is that I want to tour France, visit a non homophobic Russia, swim with wild dolphins, have my travel ban to Uganda uplifted, win the lottery and many more.  But for now we are going to NYC, the city that never sleeps and I plan on painting the town pink.  One week of unadulterated tourist fun is in my immediate future and I am ecstatic.  I am sure when we are back that jetlag is going to be a bitch, but I don’t care – at least we have seen the Big Apple. NYC checked!

Till next time.

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