I have decided to take some time away from Instagram while I try to sort out my thoughts about the platform. In particular, I’m concerned about the role that parent company Facebook plays in shaping dialogue in our increasingly polarised world.
I don’t use Facebook itself. I deleted my Facebook account in March 2012 and I’ve explored my reasons for that here. In brief, I decided to stop using the platform as it kept me artificially connected with ‘friends’ who were really just acquaintances, because I was fed up with the hollow performance of it all, and because of concerns I held about the direction the network was moving in as an advertising platform. 2012 feels like a long time ago now, in the life of the internet. Technology and society have changed so much over the course of the past decade or so, taking us further and further away from what the internet, in my opinion, should be: open and accessible to all, a tool that helps us to connect, to share information, and to solve problems by removing the barriers that stand in the way of communication and collaboration without sacrificing privacy, safety or democracy.
Minou turned seventeen on Sunday. She put in a request for sunshine and a tub of coconut yoghurt to help her celebrate, and both her birthday wishes came true. I put cushions out for her in her favourite sunny spots on the balcony, and made sure that there were steps – carefully positioned chairs and an upturned flower pot – for her to use as she’s not got much strength in her back legs these days. She whiled the afternoon away on the bench, enjoying a couple of teaspoons of coconut yoghurt as the sun moved around. A good birthday, I think.
There’s a Turkish shop on Smallbrook Queensway that we often stop in at when we go to the market or walk to the station. It came into its own during the early weeks of the shutdown back in April and May, as the shelves are densely packed floor to ceiling with all sorts of essentials including dried beans – which we struggled to find in the supermarkets – and other goodies like tahini – a staple in our household – as well as treats like tins of stuffed vine leaves. Ed and I call stuffed vine leaves ‘Tamek’ because that’s the brand the Turkish shop sells.
I have to laugh at myself for fitting the stereotype of my generation. In my defence, my collection of succulents is quite small and only takes up a tiny corner of one room of my home. I can also put them out on the balcony when it’s warm. I never thought I’d be interested in houseplants – chuckling at the couple who live opposite and have blocked their entire window and all natural light in their flat with a collection of huge plants – but I found myself craving something green while both botanical gardens were shut during the first wave of the pandemic, and so here we are.