Thursday 19 May 2011

Well connected

I used to cycle to the office twice, sometimes even three times a week. A round trip of around 32 miles, but for some reason, the extra two miles added by moving to Loughton made the journey just too exhausting. It may have been the two enormous hills that were added to the route. Or perhaps I didn't have the incentive any more. So at best now, I do it once a week...splitting the journey so that I cycle in one day and cycle back he next - in between I catch the tube.

On my route, which takes me alongside the London canals for most of the way, (I still can't believe you can get to the middle of London without seeing a high rise office block or getting squashed by a big red bus) I go past what was the old Matchbox toy cars factory. Last year they knocked it down, and this year they're putting up a residential development. Developers like to give their creations names which conjure up an image which relates to the locality, or the history of the place. So it's pretty logical to call this Matchbox Wharf. But, who would want to live in a Matchbox reasoned the developers. We'll call it something else. They could have called it Lesney Wharf after the manufacturer, but no, we'll call it Matchmaker Wharf they decided. Matchmaker! Presumably this means this is a place where singletons can buy a flat and then get it together with their next door neighbour. Or if they're already married, perhaps they can shag the housekeeper a la Schwarzenegger. Or perhaps it implies that once upon a time matches were made here. They weren't. So at the whim of some two-bit developer (Telford look at their website), the entire historical context of the area has been given the 1984 treatment. A piece of British industrial history just whitewashed for the sake of a piece of marketing splurge. That's a shame. I always thought history was important.

And talking of important just how important do you think you are? On my desk is a book a bout the most powerful people in my industry (I'm not mentioned), and I guess most people have heard of the Times Rich list. And now Rupert Murdoch's lot have started The Social List. Not the list of the people who are movers and shakers in 'social circles', but the most important and influential users of social media. Any one can put their hat in the ring and see where they pop up. I did it and I'm in at 2121. Which is a nice number. But utterly meaningless. I have included my Facebook page, my LinkedIn profile and my business Twitter account. I haven't included (because it won't let me) this blog, nor the associated Twitter feed (because you can register only one Twitter feed). My betting is that if I could, that would make a big's where I spend most of my social media time. And I'm not an important blogger by any stretch of the imagination. The chances are that The Sunday Times Social Media List will become de facto the measure of social mediaites, and that's worrying because it's fundamentally flawed, and engineered to support the marketing of News International and its marketing agency. I suspect that in full flow, we will find that the most influential are scrawny fifteen year olds who can't hold a proper conversation unless it's about the newest Playstation game, or social media geeks who are entirely out of touch with the real world.

But more importantly.....WHO CARES? Why does it matter? Why must we measure everything? And why have we all become so obsessed with our place in this world? It's of no consequence to me whether I'm up top or down bottom (inspite of rumours to the contrary). The lists out there of who is better, richer, more powerful, and so are endless. I would hope that just being happy and content with our lives is more important than whether we are a step above or below our neighbours. Perhaps it is this endless pursuit of success, and ambition to achieve which has got the western world into the pickle that it's in. I went for a job interview about twenty years ago, and I was asked what my ambition was to which I replied 'I want to retire'...and never is that more true than now.

No doubt a more cheerful post tomorrow. Now just let me get on with tweeting this. And Facebooking it. And putting it on LinkedIn.