July 27th, 2002.

Get real.

A week or so ago I conducted an experiment. I decided to write down everything I did in a kind of log that I planned to port to the web after seven days. It was a little writing experiment that I thought would be cool if for no other reason than it would capture a week in my life. Seven days of Simon if you will.

At the time it seemed like a great idea. What with Big Brother and a whole host of other so-called 'reality TV' shows that are knocking about, as well as the many thousands of day to day weblogs out there on the net, I thought that giving everyone a glimpse into my week would perhaps cash in on that slightly overexploited but still evident voyeurism that is out there.

However, after sitting here reviewing my notes written on a pad surreptitiously 'borrowed' from the stationary cupboard of a place I worked at eons ago, I have come to the conclusion that I am not nearly as interesting as I previously thought! Indeed the seven days I chose to catalog turned out to be among the most interesting of 'normal' weeks I have had this summer. A fact that makes my conclusion all the more sobering.

The log notes seemed to consist of variations on the same kind of theme. I get up late, I go to bed late. I chat to the hairdressers in the salon downstairs, I drive my car places, I eat, I watch TV, I talk on the phone. I visit friends, they visit me, I write emails, I read emails, I read a Mac user forum, I watch recordings of the TV shows '24' and 'Six Feet Under' while I eat a grapefruit for breakfast. And in all of this I work at sporadic intervals between working out at the gym, visits to various shops, and sitting in my garden trying to catch a few of the rare glimpses on sunlight that will look back upon and call summer.

It's hardly gripping stuff, to be honest. I did write a little bit of the first day but I ended up getting bored, and I figured if my 'real-life' bored me, then it would sure as hell bore you too.

DAY ONE. 10:34 AM. Will calls me on the phone. The ringing wakes me from a dream I can't remember. 11:01 AM. Checking my email and responding to the overnight stuff. 11:10 AM. Breakfast: a 'farmyard grill' pre-prepared last night so I didn't have to make it this morning. 12:12 PM. Finish breakfast.

Now I might not exactly have a lot of readers, but if I were to churn out that kind of textual bilge then I'd end up losing the few readers I might have managed to accumulate. Written in this matter of fact way even the interesting stuff seems boring.

DAY FOUR. 2:48 AM. Get a call from Paula, one of the hairdressers, while I am in the bath and on the other phone to Elizabeth in Oregon. Paula has been out with Rachael, an ex of mine who is also a hairdresser, and they now find themselves stranded without a taxi to take them home at this ungodly hour, so would I go get them, please?

3:01 AM. I leave my house on a late-night hairdresser mission of mersey. It doesn't take long to get to The Grange in Thornton Hough. They're both tired and very drunk, and while Paula gives me a blow by blow account of their night out, I drive them both home.

3:57 AM. I get back, check my email, and then go to bed.

My notes on the past seven days look utterly mind-numbing. Reading between the lines you might be able to find a more interesting angle, but communicating that in a weblog would be difficult, especially as I wouldn't want to write things that give too much away. It's one thing to give people an insight into your life, but to give every Tom Dick and Harry a key to your front door might not be the smartest choice.

Besides which, the world wide web is awash with people bearing the souls and an awful lot more than that too. I have sometimes killed an evening reading various web logs from people dotted around the globe. One which I find amusing is written by a thirteen-year-old guy in Australia who it seems, hates anything to do with everything. He often goes on what surely must be liable tangents revealing way too much about the lives of those around him, it crakes me up. I wonder if these people are aware that their characters are so ferociously attacked on a near-daily basis.

Then there is the diary of John. A Christian youth worker from the South of England. John appears to be on a drive to become one of the most boring human beings walking the face of this planet. His weblog reads like the back of a sick bag on a plane! It's factual, concise, and quite unimaginatively tedious.

Of course, being a Christian youth worker, John is way past his youth and probably by all accounts never actually had a youthful moment in his life. But still, I read him, though I don't know why. Maybe I am just drawn in, hoping for John that something shakes his life out of what seems to simply be an endless succession of gray days filled with little more than prayers and 'praise the lordisms.'

The other day I found a website where you could control certain CCTV cameras in Boston. I must have sat there for at least ten minutes training the camera on a guy with a 'will work for food' sign walking up and down a line of traffic waiting at a stoplight. He was of course completely unaware that I was remotely spying on him from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. And I wasn't the only person doing this, there were lots of other anonymous users also peering into the lives of others. At busy periods you have to get in a line for three minutes of camera control!

I wonder what caused this explosion of voyeurism and so-called 'reality?' Where did all these real lives come from? I suppose it's nothing new. People have been slowing down to look at car wrecks for as long as we've been able to wreck them. But what I'm interested to know is what has made being a voyeur 'the new big thing' all of a sudden?

Maybe we've all been spoon-fed make-believe for a way to long, and this thirst for reality is somehow a backlash against the cam-glam color-saturated wide-screen world that's been intravenously administered to us for years through cable TV, movies, infomercials and the like. Perhaps the entertainment world has finally pushed our imaginations so far that we simply aren't willing to believe the screen anymore unless we see something we can relate to?

I quite like it. It almost feels like a couch rebellion. An uprising without actually up-rising at all. Of course like all things driven by the masses, it will soon be taken over by the corporations and media monsters. Reality TV is already becoming anything but real, and there are all kinds of so-called web logs (or 'blogs') appearing on corporate dollar-driven web sites these days too. Reality now has commercial breaks.

Who knows, maybe 'meanwhile' will be brought to you by Coke or Compaq at some point? I'd like to say that would never happen, and though I am confident it won't, I can't say that confronted with a stack of cash I wouldn't sell out to a brand. Anything could happen I suppose, especially as you and I are now living in the entertainment hotbed that is... reality.