FOMO: Fear of Missing Out

There is a burgeoning problem among internet users…by which I mean  essentially everyone…which is something known as FOMO; or to use its full name – “The Fear of Missing Out”…which is essentially envy and jealousy but with a little more i:Robot desperation thrown into the mix:

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I have only just became aware of the name (there’s a blaaaady name for everything these days), but I was certainly aware of the condition itself as it is a thing that most experience from day to day in this ultra-connected and uber-technological age we find ourselves in: myself included. 

Case in point, I have just finished scrolling down Facebook for a couple of minutes, and I already find myself wanting two kids, like now – but also I saw someone bragging about a carefree/childfree life and really wanted that too. Then I spotted someone’s round the world trip pictures and was instantly overcome with jealousy…but proceeded to like someone else’s post about fossil fuels and the part airplanes have in the destruction of the planet; urgh, I really wish I could stand up for more positive causes. Oh and someone just lost a million pounds on a new diet, they look really great – wish I could – oh wait look at that burger and fries my friend has – oh she looks really amazing on the beach with – I’ll never have a car like that – why can’t I live with my best – how does he even – why don’t I look like – if only I could do…

Huh What GIF

ESSENTIALLY I SEE ALL OF THESE THINGS, AND I WANT THEM ALL.  WHY AM I SO TERRIBLY SHIT IN COMPARISON TO EVERYONE IN THE WORLD?!

You see that’s the cycle, and it is as silly as it is hurtful and destructive. The old adage of “keeping up with the Joneses” – is out…it’s no longer about having a nice looking living room, or making sure the flowers in the garden  are neat and pretty…this has been well and truly replaced with a “Keeping up with the Kardashians” mentality – which for most is a depressing  impossibility, but something that they attempt to their detriment anyway. But just like Kim Kardashian’s butt, this whole facade is fake…faker than my claim that 2016 will be the year I get chiselled abs, bulging biceps, and rock hard…can’t even get through this lie, you know what I’m getting at though.

The bad thing is there can be horrendous emotional consequences of FOMO  which can have repercussions on the rest of our lives. If I am bummed out that I can’t party like a rockstar so decide to borrow money to do it anyway…well, that doesn’t just go away. No matter who you pray to – trust me, I’ve tried them all – banks don’t listen. Heathens! 

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So when people find themselves unable to say no to amazing “once in a lifetime” experiences, largely because they know they will be fantastic memories…and in some cases even better social media posts (urgh), then this leaves them with nothing more than crippling debt and a bleak future. This means they truly will be “missing out” in the long term…missing out on a stable life, free of fear and devoid of the need to work a job you hate simply to make repayments on the lavish mistakes you made for the sake of Instagram. 

Not to be a buzzkill – just be sensible. Saying “yes” to every single opportunity seems like a good idea – and a mantra which blogs and the wider social media culture have endorsed wholeheartedlybut I implore you to be careful with this thinking, as fearing missing out on one or two notable events is nothing to fret about…ignore this advice at your peril – it could mean potentially missing out on an entire life well lived, inside and out.

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p.s. oh, and by the way my friend – you are fucking fantastic just as you are. Don’t let the social media demons get you down. 

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FUCK SELFIES!

I feel like such a grumpy old man for saying this…but I still hate the whole selfie thing.

Not just like taking a photograph of you and your ice cream (or whatever) and then sending it to your friend all: “haha – you don’t have a fucking ice cream, and I do!” – because of course, that is fantastic and I would never want to deprive anyone of such a perverse pleasure…

I’m not even talking about getting a quick snap of you and your friends together to mark some kind of occasion…actually you know what I have no problem with the selfie in itself at all…

But what I do have an issue with is the non-stop: KA-CHURR! … KA-CHURR! … KA-CHURR! 

Selfie GIF

(That was supposed to be the camera sound on phones by the way; was a difficult one to recreate phonetically!)

You see I’m sitting here in Starbucks – probably (definitely) drank too much coffee, but this person is sitting next to me taking photos at every angle – and has been doing so for over half an hour now. This cafe has basically became her own personal photo-shoot: but why? JUST WHY?! 

I’m trying to see if there is anything special going on…she hasn’t even got one of the festive drinks – you know, the ‘Returning Favorite: Toffee Nut Latte’, perhaps I could understand the Christmas-time excitement in that case – why you would need 3,000 photographs of the same thing is beyond me, but still…actually wait – she hasn’t even bought anything! I thought for a second she may be taking photos of the new red cup – that would make sense it has been somewhat of a fiasco as of late…but NO! She has a carton of chocolate milkshake – which looks great and everything, but what…where have you pulled that from?! Who are you?! (and why aren’t you sharing? Man, it seriously looks delicious).

HUh GIF

The thing is, in Korea the selfie is king. There’s none of the shame surrounding it which I remember back home in England. I always thought that if you were by yourself taking photos of yourself in public non-stop, people would possibly (and quite rightly) – look at you as shallow, self-obsessed and well…entirely narcissistic. Here in SK that is still true, but because of the huge importance looks hold in this plastic surgery obsessed society, it is not considered to be a negative at all…so I am somewhat of a miserable island here, complaining all by myself to anyone who will listen (which is next to no one).

Ah phew, she’s left…rant over – and she didn’t even leave me any of the milkshake…what a so and so!

But what do you think about this: am I spot on or just a grumpy owld geezer who needs to get with the times? Lemme know…

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Tokyo Tantrums

Japan ~ Tokyo – 2015

Tokyo has a big city sort of reputation to it, an air of grandeur accompanied with a sense of mystery somewhere within the non-stop luminous glare of the lights and the 24/7 rush…

So many films have painted a picture that has made an impression on me, and because of this it was high on the list of places I wanted to see…so when I realised I had a long weekend coming up I didn’t hesitate and booked it up straight away! Just a couple of hours to get from my home in Korea to the unknown world beyond – armed with nothing but a friend’s recommendations (which proved invaluable) and a feeling I was soon to be in my very own Lost in Translation remake…

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Sidenote: when travelling you really do need to think long and hard about who you will actually travel with. Well maybe not too thorough – nothing too ridiculous, but at the very least you need to see a clean bill of health (both physical and mental), a criminal background check, and dental records. Also check their voice and typical conversation topics as otherwise you may be locked in with the most boring groaner on the planet – which is never going to be fun. With this particular adventure I was meaning to go alone originally, and then at the last minute a lady friend of mine tagged along…which brought some erm, shall we say – complications? 

Anyway I mean this sincerely when I say that Tokyo is a marvel. So much to see and do, a far cry from the more reserved and traditional parts of Japan I had visited earlier in the year.  But oddly I found it manages to retain a fantastic balance between the two often conflicting sides; you see one second I’d be staring up at a 60 foot tall science fiction juggernaut in the form of the powerful Gundam, the next I was wearing a traditional yukata and relaxing in an onsen…then I’d blink and be back to the mad rush of the Shibuya scramble crossing! I was completely in my element, roving around searching for the weird and wonderful, straining my neck to try and see as much as I possibly could…it was everything I had dreamed about for so long, and so much more…

Shibuya GIF

But yeah: the ghost at the feast…the wasp at the picnic…the drunk and slightly creepy uncle at the family reunion. Hmm, that last one was a bit weird, but you get my point – this is the part of the story where I say what didn’t go so smoothly, and most of it had to do with my travel companion: hence my warning earlier. You see I try my utmost to remain as friendly and light hearted as possible during trips, as from experience I understand that it can be a pretty stressful period if you let the small things seep in and truly affect you…if you do that suddenly the foul smell of a certain street, the incessant honking of horns on the road, or perhaps even your friend’s breathing can have you suddenly enraged beyond all comprehension: like smashing an axe into a locked door screaming “heeeeere’s Johnny!”  sort of level rage. So it’s best to take a deep breath instead, and just let most hiccups roll off your back…

However, my lady friend didn’t share this ethos…which meant that any small thing became the reason for a monumental day-ruining mood. Juxtapose that dark rain cloud along with my attempted cheery sense of humour and you had quite a pairing; something like if Voldemort was to meet one of the Teletubbies. Well actually that’s unfair (to he who must not be named): it would only be like that if Voldemort had the emotional range to both grimace and groan about public transport, and literally burst into tears about the levels of salt in Japanese food…as it stands I don’t think he is quite on her level yet.

I can understand the frustration though, Tokyo is huge and it’s far too easy to become dazed and confused by the sprawling subway system: which I honestly think was designed by someone throwing spaghetti at the wall, and saying: “that’ll do just fine.” We took many wrong turns during our days there, and the hours were long and well travelled…but I don’t see how it helps remaining silent or dragging your feet along as if you are a pathetically non-threatening zombie, or almost defunct robot:

Robot GIF

There is an answer to such problems though, and one which I will gladly share with all of you…and that is; beer. Yes, you heard it here first! The golden elixir is the perfect remedy to all sorts of ailments, including the frustration you may feel when a friend (or something more) is becoming more than you can bear. Thankfully there was a so-called “English pub” just off a side street near to the Shibuya crossing…where for three times the normal price I could enjoy beer, ales, and all that good stuff as if I was back amongst the smoke and laughing guffaws of my homeland…“Wait, it’s how much?! Jesus tap-dancing Christ!? It’s not worth that!”

But yeah, that’s how things go! Ups and downs, smiles and frowns…you have to take the good with the bad, and try to carve out memories that will last: and despite all the issues we were still able to do that…pretty much.

However I must now look for an AA meeting in South Korea: so yeah, wish me luck. 

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Finally Returning Home (FEELINGS)

It’s a very weird thing this whole travelling lark – especially when it is to far-flung lands and for prolonged periods…you see the home you once knew sort of changes…

Would love to hear of some of your experiences with this…

…how did you deal with it, how did you cope with the sudden change?

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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Up or Down? (THE TOILET SEAT CONUNDRUM)

Since the dawn of porcelain potties there has been a vicious global debate…no sorry, not a debate – in fact I’d say it’s closer to a war. An unholy battle that seems to have no end in sight…relationships have crumbled, families have been torn apart – and billions of toilet seats have been spattered with hostile revenge pee…and for what?

Toilet Explosion GIF

I’d say it’s pride and ego mostly; which has been the unmaking of mankind from the very start of our civilised existence – and just like most of these rifts we will never budge from our own separate barracks, instead telling ourselves over and over that we have it right, and they have it all wrong; in this particular case women want the seat down, and men want it up. It all sounds so silly, and maybe it is…but if it’s so moronic a quandary then why do we have so much trouble overcoming it?

Now this debate doesn’t really affect me as I live alone and poop standing up (I enjoy the challenge) – so I feel I am at a unique position to weigh in for both sides impartially. As we know the main argument from the women’s camp is that they shouldn’t have to touch the bacteria infested toilet seat just because men are too lazy to put it down after use…well this would be all well and good if men absolutely loved touching gross toilet seats that are painted in various people’s faeces – but research suggests they don’t. There have been numerous reputable studies that have backed this up; or at least there probably would be if it wasn’t so glaringly obvious…so alas it seems only a small section of society take pleasure in such exchanges, and they are banished to a very dark and peculiar cavern of the internet – the large majority however find the prospect of handling human waste stained plastic horrifying, and rightly so… 

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But what can we do? How can we solve this age old dilemma? 

Well, I think like all arguments in life a resolution can only come by making admissions and allowances on each side; a toilet treaty if you will. So this is my proposal as an impartial adjudicator…I suggest from now on we make efforts to meet in the middle, that way things are fair for everyone. What do I mean by this exactly? Well what I’m saying is we should leave the toilet seat in the middle – not up, not down…strengthen those hinges so that it can sort of just hang there awkwardly…that way it is just as inconvenient and annoying for everyone – and no one (not man, nor woman) profits from acts of kindness or outdated versions of chivalry…instead everyone’s toilet time experience is equally as frustrating. This can be one more remnant of a forgotten age of good manners that we cut off, and do away with forever.

But actually…as I make this suggestion I can already foresee a wealth of problems…well one problem really – and that is men and their fondness for peeing on things. Because even if hypothetically we have a utopian middle of the road toilet seat situation…guys will actually see this is a little challenge, sort of like one of those game stalls at the fairground – except even more rigged…after all we don’t have a Super Soaker  as much as we may like to pretend – more of a leaky faucet if anything…better than what the ladies have for sure, but still no sharp shooter…

Cowboy GIF

So where does that leave us then? Well, right back at the start unfortunately. I am not sure there is one acceptable answer, as either side will never back down – if we wanted to blame something then maybe we could pin it on our ultra fast, ultra busy way of living these days…we are so wrapped up in our schedules that no one can afford the half a second it takes to put up/down the toilet seat…in fact it is completely absurd to even suggest anyone undertakes such an exhausting task! But yet, the saga rolls on – and a glimmer of hope remains, hope that someday some visionary like an Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, or a Steve Jobs will come through and revolutionize things for us…but until that day the war will rage on.

Peeology man…it’s a tough one. 

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50 Shades of CRAZY

I have held off telling this tale becau-shhhhhhh, quiet! Did you hear that…no? Oh…I erm…maybe it’s just the wind…sorry…sorry…

But yes as I was saying; I have taken my time with writing this story as it still frightens me a little, and truth be told I’ll probably always be a bit jittery about it…wait…did you seriously not hear that?! Oh God…please send help…she’s…here…

Scared GIF

Anyway, it was maybe a couple of months ago now – ahhh, how time flies when you are barricading yourself in a safe house, ey? And I was readying myself for a second date with a lucky/unlucky lady (not completely sure) – you see the first time had went quite well, she seemed fun, kind-hearted, and was outrageously beautiful – so much so I felt like a humongous wart of a man in comparison, like the hunchback with Esmeralda you know? …but I digress…

Despite all that I was pretty confident the second would go well too, just dinner then drinks or something – the usual set up; in all honesty as long as she laughs at my stories again it’s a good time in my book! So we met up and straight away she slipped a note into my hand before excusing herself to the bathroom – on the front it read; ‘you are my hero’…a call-back reference to the first date when she had almost aimlessly wandered into a speeding bus before I outstretched my arm to stop a messy collision – I had a new white shirt on after all, and it wouldn’t do to have been covered in blood spatter! There’d be no getting it out!

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The rest of the letter was a long-ish rambled account of how happy she was to have met me, how I’m like no other before, and blah-blah-blah, all that good stuff…I thought it was a little much, especially so soon, but I confess I was touched and considered it to be quite cute albeit in a very cringe-worthy 15 year old first-love sort of way…

During dinner things were going okay, if not a little boring – you see, I was trying to take more of a backseat in the hope of learning more about her…I mean I love to tell stories and make people laugh, but it’s meant to be a date not a stand up routine, right?  – and I had noticed how little I actually knew about the person I was sitting across from. She obliged, and talked more about her job as a clothes designer, which I thought was somewhat interesting…she’d also been abroad, living in Australia for a few years…and I attempted to pick her brains over a number of things related to that…but the replies were usually uninspired and drab…one word answers in many cases…ah well…waiter, another beer please!

But then things took a huge U-turn right when I began to talk about the kids I teach, and how dealing with Korean parents can sometimes be a little complicated. Upon hearing this she instantly broke out a rather bizarre (yet undoubtedly compelling) tale…it turns out, she had heard a strange rumour…that foreign guys in Korea often go to teach private English  lessons in children’s homes one on one – which is true. And also she’d heard that sometimes the mothers want lessons too – which is also true…so yeah, still nothing out of the ordinary here…but bear with me…

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The more alarming part of the story is that allegedly these so-called lessons are not totally as they seem on the surface…instead the process goes a little like this; foreign chap teaches the child, after which the child watches the TV, then the teacher goes into the mother’s bedroom…time…erm…elapses…and then he leaves with his wage for the kid’s education, and a handsome tip for his other extra-curricular services…

Upon hearing this I broke out into raucous laughter – regardless of the fact the story was whispered to me in hushed tones as if it were a scene from the Da Vinci Code….I simply couldn’t handle the seriousness of it all, I mean I won’t say it couldn’t happen, or hasn’t for that matter…but it’s certainly not the seedy epidemic sweeping Korea that she was trying to make it out to be!

Well, if it is I am missing out…

“So, is it true…do you do that like every other?” she asked in a stern tone, after which I noticed how her perfectly shaped eyebrows actually look rather demonic when angered, sort of furrowed into a cartoon-esque V shape. All I could do was stare back in disbelief as her eyes burst out of their sockets in an interrogative glare…she was really stony-faced about the whole thing, but I couldn’t be…

“Yeah…yeah of course! Wait…I thought it was normal? Isn’t it? I was just trying to fit in…I thought it must be Korean culture? No? Oh – how embarrassing…”

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She giggled in a really creepy way while stabbing her fork into a chunk of chicken…I was allowed a few moments to dwell on how ludicrous a story and question it was…but only a few moments mind, you see soon she had more to say…

“You know, if I ever find out you do that, hehehe, or cheat on me in any way – I’ll call immigration, have your VISA removed, and have you deported from this country forever. Simple. Really simple. You…out…life here, over. Simple.”

I laughed uncomfortably and squirmed in my chair…“I’m serious. I’ll tell a story in Korean. You won’t be able to deny. Simple, really simple. Out. Never to come back.”

Well, it should go without saying that I stopped laughing, but I couldn’t help but carry on squirming – that was out of my control now as a flood of fear took hold. To say I was incredibly uneasy would be a pitiful understatement, in fact if you want a more crude yet accurate description: I was completely shitting myself.  I mean there I was, sat on date number two and already knowing that if were to upset this stranger in any way, she was mad enough to move mountains just to destroy my life. I’m not talking about the cheating thing per-say, not particularly my bag anyway (too lazy for that business)…but if she was willing to do that what other negative potential does she possess behind those satanic eyes? If I forgot our anniversary would she chop off my fingers and play her xylophone with them? If I couldn’t recall her mother’s name would she remove my teeth use them as board game pieces for her own amusement? If I refused any one of her demands would she feed me nothing but dog food and make me answer to the name ‘Bruno’ for an entire week???

ALL OF THESE THINGS HYPOTHETICALS SUDDENLY SEEMED POSSIBLE!

Crazy Eyes GIF

She must have noted my sudden silence and lack of eye contact (with anything other than my plate), as she stood up and pulled a chair around to my side of the table to perch next to me – her legs outstretched over my own, as she began to massage my perspiring face with her spindly witch fingers. Not exactly awkward…I’d define the situation as err…terrifying. 

I tried to persevere as if I was completely unphased; which for obvious reasons could only last so long. When I couldn’t take it any longer I put down my cutlery and took a deep breath – I knew I had to make my escape, but anything to horrible could potentially spark her wrath, so I would have to approach it all with tact…whilst mulling over this petrifying conundrum I accidentally made eye contact with her grinning face (YOU STUPID BASTARD, JOHN!) that’s when she threw her arms around my neck and started rocking me back and forth while cooing:

“You know I’m so happy we are together. I already feel like we’ve known each other for years, and years. Can’t imagine life without you…don’t want to…”

errr…yeah…sorry to interrupt the story but I have quick query if you don’t mind? Thanks a lot, it won’t take long! Okay, so why doesn’t life have a panic button?! Or perhaps even a Mr. Burns type trap door?! Like at that point I should have been able to reach for a hidden switch under the table and had her removed from my life instantly – it was just too close to a scene from a horror movie to be real…too jarringly awful to be my actual life.  But no!! Instead I have to sit there and deal with it, all the while sweating and shaking as this mental leech attaches herself to me…

Crazy Hug GIF

I’m sure to unknowing onlookers it looked like quite a sickly sweet scene …but it was anything but. Instead I was wishing we were in a taller building – so I could happily throw myself out of it…certainly a solution…but not so much at a ground floor restaurant. I imagine she’d have a lot of questions to ask my bloodied, but still live body – then she’d drag me to her lair to hump before making wallpaper out of my skin, and kitchen utensils out of my stripped bones.

Oh, not to mention ruining my VISA status! (Almost forgot that one!)

Anyway where was I? I got a little side-tracked with the whole crazy killer montage thing…oh yeah, so I was in the restaurant with her latched to me like some sort of evil barnacle when I decided enough was enough. So I just pretended I was really tired and that I should probably head home – which was double-talk for: “please let me fucking leave, so I never have to see you again”.

As we parted she waffled something about knowing I was special, because she now knows I would never do her wrong…and that she trusts she’ll see me again very soon. Yeah…right…perhaps in hell, if I’m unlucky…

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Safe to say she’s blocked and deleted on three different forms of social media…if that fails then I will seek help from two priests in order to perform an exorcism…

Wish me luck, my friends. (Was nice knowing ya!)

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When MERS Attacks!

My boss sent me a rather rushed message last night regarding my work for the next day, the gist of which was; no school tomorrow. Please stay home. 

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This is because South Korea is on high alert at the moment, especially in my close area, due to the recent outbreak of the MERS virus*This is pronounced like “Merris” for some reason, which to me sounds like a sweet old grandmother who bakes cakes, and sucks on extra strong mints in her spare time – but the reality couldn’t be further from that. It’s actually pretty serious, or at least that’s what I’ve been told…

Little is known about it other than that it is thought to have started in Saudi Arabia…possibly something to do with camels. Never did like camels – all that spitting always struck me as insanitary. I’m not quite sure how it all works, but I imagine the camel spat in someone’s eye, and then that guy licked someone, and so on, and so on…in time the camel had enough of being judged so took a flight to Korea, naturally one thing led to another and now…MERS virus panic in SK!

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What does that mean for me? Well, I am forced to have the day off (BOOO HOOO, I’m crying a river over that one), and when I go out I am recommended to wear a face mask in case someone sneezes directly into my mouth at some point. It makes me look like a bit of a ninja, especially with sunglasses it just feels like a rather shit halloween costume…so I’m opting out of that. Instead I’ll just try my best not to kiss any camels should they start to flirt with me.

Wish me luck… 

*Jokes aside, here is a link to a more credible source for information regarding the MERS virus, should go without saying that I urge everyone in the proximity to be careful – and should you spot any symptoms seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY. 

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