No likey, no lighty

If only life was as simple as turning off a light when we’re not interested in romantic attention, and keeping it on when we are. Can’t really ask for a much clearer sign than that, can you?

Unfortunately, however, real life bears very little, if no resemblance at all, to the hit show Take Me Out, hosted by Paddy McGuinness, in which a panel of 30 girls simply (being the operative word) make their intentions to the featured male descending from a lift crystal clear through the touch of a button. If they’re interested, they keep their light on. And if they’re not, they don’t.

But good old reality dictates a rather stark difference. You see, increasing numbers of people are either failing to read the signs properly, or deliberately refusing to. We call these people stalkers.

News over the last few weeks has been particularly rife with stories of the like. Kylie Minogue calling police over Twitter stalker scare, to name but one example.

But whereas celebrities have battled with stalkers ever since the inception of fame, more and more of us ‘plebs’ are suffering similarly.

It was only last week that the voyeuristic practices of a certain stalker were revealed after a hidden camera in the changing room of a leisure centre was found. And this is not an isolated event.

“MP’s demand law against stalking”, we were told yesterday. Because it would seem that they have yet to come up with a definition of what stalking actually consists of, especially for us ‘plebs’. But is it any wonder?

You see, us ‘plebs’ are not making it very easy.

Take the aforementioned show, as an example. Forget the regular voyeurism which is involved, in that millions of us watch a bunch of scantily clad women downgrade themselves on national television to win a date with whoever ‘reveals themselves’, and whoever has ‘revealed themselves’ publicly rejecting whoever has offered themselves up on a plate. There’s a much more serious issue in that there seems to exist a term which I have coined, ‘inverted voyeurism’. It’s not so much that we are inappropriately watching others doing the aforementioned (although this is also a concern – when did we become this kind of society?), but that the ‘others’ in question are inappropriately thrusting themselves into view – on purpose. It’s as if they’re begging for the degradation, the shame, the rejection and the cheap sexual stereotype which they will inevitably become.

Why is the definition of stalking so confused? Because of these realities. We might not think of them as related, but they are.

Celebrities have always had the same quandary – they want to be famous, they want others to watch them, and they want to be wanted – until it takes a nasty turn. But now we ‘plebs’ are able and willing to be portrayed in the same light (and Take Me Out is by no means the only culprit – think even of our bandying about of terms such as ‘Facebook stalking’), a similar dilemma eludes when judging just how far one has to go for a line to be crossed.

If only we all had Paddy protection.

Beating the trends

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I have, over the last week, been tweeting largely about trends. (And for those of you who don’t, incidentally, @JoannaLowy87 – can’t blame me for a shameless plug.)

And what started initially as a casual annoyance at the worrying frequency of trending topics such as #10ThingsThatAreAttractive, #ThingsThatAreSEXY and #30WaystoMakeAGirlSmile, to name but a few in the last week alone, has become a genuine concern.

For on Wednesday, from start to finish, a large proportion of the trending topics on Twitter were to do with football. And what’s worse, one fifth of these were, for all intents and purposes, exactly the same thing. #transferdeadlineday AND #DeadlineDay BOTH trending simultaneously? Are you kidding me?

So it got me thinking – are most people in the UK and on Twitter avid football fans? Is that why the trends were dominated with who was going where, all day?

Seeing as my Twitter feed, which is comprised of 793 people, was (thankfully) not dominated by this, I’m inclined to say no.

This would be good news, if the alternative wasn’t that much worse.

For where were all those non-footie fans on #transferdeadlineday? Either jumping on the bandwagon so as to gain more followers, or not doing enough to promote a sense of individuality.

To be sexist just for one moment, and assume that the majority of women are not into football, leaves me in a serious quandary. Because it wasn’t as if there weren’t other, perhaps more relevant, things to tweet about on Wednesday for the fairer among us. ‘Women better than men at parking’, ‘Put more older women on screen’, ‘Duchess salutes power of women’– and this was just on page one of Google!

It’s not as if we’re not being warned about blindly following the crowd, either. “Ignore the ‘tech trends for 2012’ lists if you want your business to be the next big thing”, “Interior designs – creativity and individuality are on trend now”, “Summit to tackle Satnav misdirection ‘scourge’”– all news out there this week. It’s plainly there in black and white.

But alas! Perhaps we are just born this way.

Evolutionary biologist, Mark Pagel, certainly seems to think so, suggesting this week that ‘we humans are more copycats than creators’, arguing that we both watch and imitate those around us. Nay, Twitter’s very existence relies on people following each other!

“H&M accused of copying artist”, “Shops warned on copying books”, “Madonna: ‘Lady Gaga copied me’”, “Girls who obsess about TOWIE”–and model themselves on them – all headlines from the last week, too.

And yet all we (I say we, but we all know that we actually have very little to do with it) seem to care about is the raging copyright scandal which is taking the world by storm – who’s watching what, and where they’re getting it from.

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