The Power of an Image

Confession time.  I, the Fakebook hating activist who believes that the blue and white logo needs burning atop of a pile of rumours, gossip and snaky lies, have an addiction.  It, like all great loves, is one that has grown from small beginnings.  No grand passion but a liking, respect and interest which has grown into a distraction that loses me large chunks of time.  These fractures have recently become ruptured by an earthquake of activity and I keep falling into the seismic cracks…but what keeps sucking me in?  Bloody Instagram, that’s what.

Why do I love it? Where do I start! The first thing that captured me was that it was like being able to create my very own glossy magazine.  Following all the fashion houses, interesting travel destinations, house and garden inspiration, and obscure bands that only me and Him like, kept me entertained for hours.  Glorious mini films about Chanel’s latest lippy.  Tutes on how to create the perfect smoky eye by Dior.  Fabulous Fendi trends kept me entertained.  Presents were sourced and inspiration for life goals ensued.

Then the snowball effect happened.  The feeling of escapism spread as I coerced various friends and family members to join.  Ensnaring by  sending them images, links, items I coveted, things I knew they’d fall in love with.  It became a aspirational fantasy world; like a magazine where I’d once folded the pages.  Because aspirations are good right?

Then the fan girl thing started.  Various celebs who caught my eye and imagination.  I accumulated-them bit by bit.  Little windows into their lives:  Noel Fielding’s latest look (my goodness how is adore the man), breakfast with the Beckhams (who knew I’d actually start to like VB and her ‘kisses’?) and the fascinatingly hilarious antics of @hotpatooties – is she ever going to finish that book?  What once started as a passing interest became something voyeuristic, another form of people watching.  And judging by the other seven hundred and ninety nine point nine hundred and ninety nine followers, I can’t be alone.  And what do we learn from all this exposure to millions of lives?  We are all the same.  Dealing with the same shite every day of our lives: cooking, family time, doggie walking, holidaying, life changing experiences…all the fun stuff we feel compelled to share.  But not just that, the crap too: heartbreak, tragedy, pokes at society and it’s preconceptions smashed.  So many individuals opening up through the power of an image.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fooled by the carefully stage managed stories and images, or the power of a good filter.  However, when you know when you gain your connoisseur’s  badge when you start binning off the fake and the boring (no, not shallow just discerning like when you choose your friends wisely).  But let’s not get too serious here, after all, celeb spotting and watching is a bit of fun (Him is rather good at this and fresh off the heels of spotting John Malkovich, he’s now literally bumped into Kasabian Tom with his sausage, chips and peas).  My various obsessions have kept me entertained and shown me that even though I don’t live on a Californian beach, in a shuttered house and have Rodeo Drive on my doorstep (Tom wasn’t, he was outside the chippy on the High Street) that I do have the North Sea, and a little quirky bungalow on the top of it.  Somewhere where (even I) can spy the white horses from the end of my drive on a wild day.  Where in my postage stamp garden I can hear said white horses crashing, and as for the shops…thank the Lord for inventing the blinkin’ internet on his eighth day – yes because there’s always a Monday morning after the sabbath.

Ashamedly, here’s confession number two, I’d spent years hiding from the ‘sites’ which dealt with, well, ‘sight’.  In my black days of limbo I needed to find out about a community I’d admittedly ignored.  Shunned maybe.  A community which I was scared of as I didn’t want to be ‘that woman of pity’.  The ill dressed lady with a dog and stick (yes, even I knew this was totally wrong of me).  However, in times of crisis you have to get over yourself and look around you (excuse the turn of phrase).  I needed to see that there was a world for me to evolve into.  And you wouldn’t believe how cowardly and inadequate I felt when I discovered what amazing individuals were doing.  Blind skiers, travellers, children…the most beautiful people leading incredible lives; so many journeys, stories and all hampered by ignorance of the wider world.

Inspired by others, I went public.  I had to.  I needed to share.  Not for sympathy or to make any point, but to become part of the bigger picture.  Now we all know that although my sight is improving in my right eye that I’ll never be cured.  I’ll never drive or be able to retrain as an airline pilot (ambition aged 11).  I’ll always hold someone’s hand when going into an atmospheric restaurant (hand holding is good so I don’t care),  I will try really hard not to knock any yellow signs over – but I will as I won’t bloody see them, and, it appears, that I’ll need to start wearing sunglasses to go shopping, as the bright lights trigger mighty migraines after fifteen minutes.    This acceptance left me with a compulsion to explore and share.  And I did.  This has led to different people wanting to share my blog, share my journey, spread the word.  So, with a heavy anxious heart, I went global (it’s like becoming a PLC but with none of the share price but with a sense of opening new doors and entering unchartered waters).  This devil may care attitude came with the ability to hashtag it out there.  Nerve racking, I’ve met a few ‘interesting people’ (the negative side of the internet is that it also attracts weirdos) And this is where it became interesting…

Who knew what I’d learn? Well for a start it put me firmly in my place.  Little fish, massive pond springs to mind.  There I am flapping on about my blinking little life from the edge of the world, and there’s thousands just like me in various pockets around the world.  Yeah you get the ones who only follow for a follow, but you get the ones who link you to new worlds and horizons.

Where do I start?

Well for a start I’ve discovered visually impaired musicians other than the Wonder himself,  bloggers, documentary makers, charities, blind tech guys who are a mine of information, and a blind artist in the Caribbean.  We all know Monet was losing his sight and this was the reason for his style but have we forgotten that the very word ‘possible’ blinks at us from ‘impossible’?  My own mama always reiterated the statement ‘there’s no such word as can’t’…besides, as I keep telling people, when one sense diminishes others grow stronger.  That’s why I have the hearing of a bat, I can smell like an elephant (I’ve an aversion to odours and should have shares in various products like Michael Kors, Yankee Candles and Zoflora), I’m very sensitive and love good food (I can’t eat cardboard ready meals and you won’t catch my near the golden arches or the famous colonel).

But, as usual, my ramblings have climbed and grown like glorious roses in bloom, or you might say like the annoying Japanese knotweed (you decide).  So, I’ll leave you with my two highlights from Insta-world this week:

Due to the high amount of Greek stuff I follow and post.  (Years of holidays are the dead giveaway) it appears I’ve attracted followers who understand:

a. I enjoy Greece,

b. (You might think I’m boring but…) I’d been to loads of places until I found my spiritual home, of which they share similar images.

and c. I now have new Greek friends who suggest where we should travel to next.  If only I had a money tree…

Who needs the Lonely Planet guide?

My other favourite and hilarious moment was when I shared a picture of Rosie Dog on the beach and she was offered a modelling contract.  I mean seriously, three beautiful daughters, a talented family of: writers, dancers, performers, academics – all of us, and the RDog is offered a contract the minute I post one little picture of her!

Obviously there are many pitfalls when courting the technological world.  I was the biggest hater.  I still can’t stand much of it.  However, it opens up doors and pathways in a way we’ve never been able to before.  Celebrating diversity and affording people the opportunity to understand our inner struggles and journeys is surely a platform for help and change.  Ultimately it’s like everything in life: take it all with a pinch of salt, try to see the good, and remember, it’s how you treat it – just like those around you.

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