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I notice you’re beautiful. FORGIVE ME

June 28, 2013

If you’re British or know anything about the British you’ll be familiar with the concept of “the stiff upper lip”. The stiff upper lip for those of you who don’t know, is a school of thought that suggests you must never tell anyone how you feel about anything ever or you can expect to be instantly ostracised and you’ll deserve it.

This theory is updated slightly into Guy-ism, or the idea that it’s cool to cry and get emotional if you’re one of those weak, pale, soft creatures that live in kitchens, but not if you’re one of those big, bronzed hardened creatures who lift things for no reason. Huuuaah! Actually, that’s not an update at all, but has existed forever and is older than the Brit thing, which was always more restricted to men anyway. It’s just that manliness and the expression of it has worked its way into advertising, made more extreme by the fact that it has to compete with the opposite school of thought; the one that says it’s OK to have, y’know, a full emotional range and personality. As long as you moisturise.

I feel like this half of our culture has gone a bit too far in the direction of sharing. If you ever watch a film set in New York, you are invited to think that your average affluent Manhattan-dweller upwards of thirty spends at least three hours out of every day talking to some kind of shrink or therapist.

We are bombarded with images of very unstable people who sneeze into a hanky and then go on TV and spend 10 years telling people about it. Now, don’t get me wrong; despite being a bit inhibited personally, I am all for emotional openness with people who care about you and all about open discussion for important issues. But, all too often it’s done to people who don’t care about you and about unimportant issues. There is also no sense of moderation.

I think it’s a natural part of humans to want to share and this is what lead us to the internet, which in turn has exacerbated the concept of venting your spleen to anyone who will listen. This is only too evident when we get hold of a complete stranger on Youtube who makes Vlogs or entertainment / information videos. Rather than make really sure that the comments we write on the video are relevant to the spoken content of it, the first thing that you see when scrolling down is a gushing waterfall of intensely personal observations.

They vary in tone of course, from “OH LOLZ WAT A BITCH I HATE HER CUZ SHES FAT” to “Um… I don’t mean to be creepy and don’t take this the wrong way or anything, but I can’t help that notice that… You’re slightly…. Well… I LOVE YOU PLEASE MARRY ME YOU’RE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING I HAVE EVER SEEN AND I LOVE YOU DID I MENTION I LOVE YOU? I LOVE YOU!”

Look, I think it’s totally fine to like someone you don’t know. We’ve always done it and we always will. It’s not a majorly bad thing, either, to toss someone a compliment. We’re nervous about it because we know we don’t know the person and we know the stigma surrounding anything that stems from the internet or has any involvement with it at all (which, by the way, is just about everything). We also see *shock* that we are not the only person who has noticed certain physical attributes of the Youtuber in question, which makes us feel unclean because we have a tendency to judge other people as perverts for speaking their minds about attraction, so if our sentiment assimilates anyone else’s in any way, the logical of us realise that we look like perverts.

So, why all the comments if we know all this? It’s expunging. We have to get rid of all the feelings of lust or affection by telling the world, because we know they cannot be fulfilled and that makes them incredibly frustrating. We are taught to share everything and not bottle it up, and life experience tells you that doing it with strangers is a bit tidier, since you can forget all about it afterwards and not get those sideways looks that tell you your mate knows a bit too much… In any case, venting happens more and more and it’s difficult to explain or quell, like a compulsion. Take it from me, sometimes you have to work hard not to say that you think someone is very, very, attractive.

In answer to this, I think Youtube should include as part of their service an “I think you are gorgeous” button as well as a Like and Dislike button. I certainly don’t think they should put in an “I think you are ugly” button, but rather go the Facebook route and refuse to give people an option to make lazy negative judgements (ironic really, when you consider how Facebook got started). I want to see if people will be less inclined to splurge, or whether the need to put some original (or, maybe just semi-non-anonymous) spin on one’s declarations of attraction will be too strong a pull to the comment section.

As it is, it seems the “Type in the verification code: fUk U & idOnt wana pOst Y0 comnt, b1ch” barrier isn’t enough to stop even the most pointless of observations, including the ever relevant “lol”. It seems that we reckon what we have to say is the most important of all… Why? Because it comes from us. Fortunately, we’re programmed to think we matter. We like voting on things (unless it involves heading to the nearest ballet box or anything taxing like that) because we must be heard, in one form or another.  Perhaps that one short click will do the job.

The other option is to keep it in your pants, in the figurative sense, and try to get rid of the compulsion to say everything that’s on your mind. First off, you might want to regulate how much time you spend on Twitter.

Stiff upper lip, people. Stiff upper lip.


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