Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Only Connect

Last night’s presidential debate was riveting – up until the point where I couldn’t watch anymore because my eyes were closing. No offence to the organizers, but getting x8 two minute responses to each question posed, did get slightly wearing after two hours (*I was on the edge of my seat for the first hour).

I wish I could have watched the whole thing, but the spectre of my daily alarm clock going off at 5.45am, ensured that reason prevailed over political curiosity. On balance, I felt that election favourites Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga came off worst in the debate and the day was carried by the underdogs and rank outsiders who had some refreshing and challenging questions/opinions to bring into the room. Having all the candidates lined up in one room for the first time was a great leveller, even if their party policies were fairly similar, their body language spoke volumes.

An exciting week in politics; this week is going to hold further momentous events –

1. An ICC video link exchange due to take place this Thursday and on Friday 15th between the Hague court and Uhuru and Ruto, to discuss the logistics behind the upcoming case due to start on 10th April and

2. a local supreme court ruling on whether Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are legally allowed to stand in the upcoming election since their integrity is in question, (according to article 6 of the new constitution).

Politics aside:

Our collective obsession with being ‘online’

“Hello” said a Canadian voice outside a mountain hut at the weekend that my husband was staying in (on Mount Meru).

“Hello” says my husband and his friends who are inside the hut, albeit tentatively.

“Hello”, the Canadian voice said again – this time louder, more insistent.

“Hello” – says my husband and his mates ring in again, also louder.

After a time, they realise that the man outside is on a phone. Now this becomes a joke.

“Hello” (Canadian)

“Hello” (giggling 40 year olds inside the hut)

“Hello.” Apparently the Canadian has finally got through, “I can’t hear you well.” The man says. “I’m in the middle of Africa – I’ll probably lose you when the satellite moves over.”

It sounded like he was talking to someone at work.

“Er, hello” – says one of my husband’s 3 friends loudly coming out of the hut. “Do you want to borrow my mobile – it’s got a full signal!”

The fact that ‘AFRICA’ is out of range and offline – could not be further from the truth. Last week I chatted to some safari guides about the trouble they have with clients who are supposed to be on holiday but insist on keeping in touch with work and online throughout their visit to Kenya.

“It’s not generally a problem,” the friend said, “you can usually get online wherever you are.”

(Cue – photo of Masai holiding a computer while sitting on a kopie)

Apparently things have changed greatly from the bad old days when a holiday really was a holiday. Now you can get a signal almost everywhere in the country – in fact the coverage here is even better than I can access back home in England.

The guide said that he had one tricky client who googled all of their safari destinations in advance of his trip of a lifetime, in order to check that there was connectivity in each place that he would visit. When, in a mountainous region, he couldn’t get online (the safari guide had told him in advance that it might be tricky hre, but apparently the client had known better) – the man in question sat in camp, staring at his phone – utterly miserable, to the point where he was unable to join the rest of his family on their trekking/wildlife experience. When the truth came out, the 65 year old client in question admitted that he had not confessed to work colleagues that he was going on holiday, so had been hoping to dupe them by doing his job ‘remotely’ throughout the trip.

I have noticed the same problem with house guests and my own family. It’s a 21st century dilemma. Over the past couple of years we have had a wireless internet connection at home – if the wireless is offline (often due to misaligned signals or frequent power cuts) our lack of connectivity quickly becomes an issue. Visitors want to skype home, email or text almost as soon as their plane touches down. Once an idea pops into your head to check something online, you expect to be able to do this immediately.

My husband is the worst culprit. He relies on catching up on emails during home time because he received hundreds every day and is often out of the office. He’s on his smartphone literally as soon as he opens his eyes in the morning to the moment he closes them at night. So addictive is it, that when he’s not dealing with emails he’s internet surfing, Facebooking and Ebay cruising – to the point where it’s actually hard to hold a conversation.

We recently bought a computer for my 12 year old daughter because she HAD to have one for a school geography project. Up until then we had been holding out. Increasingly she is being pushed online for social reasons too. Apparently the biggest disaster in her life currently is that she is not on Facebook – but she’s not yet 13 which is the legal requirement to join, so I have put my foot down. In fact I offered her $200 to stay off Facebook until she is 14 (an idea I got from XFM radio yesterday morning). She turned me down flat and says I am lucky she hasn’t signed up behind my back because it is actually simple to lie about your age on Facebook and ALL her friends are on the social media site – EVEN WHEN THEY AREN’T YET 13! - SOB!

(I really hate Facebook. It’s all that comparing wonderful lives via photographs. I’ve never joined due to fear of falling into a deep depression. Isn’t Facebook getting a bit dated people??)

Even without Facebook she is online at every chance, spending endless hours playing ‘Stardoll’ – a sort of online ‘sticker-dolly-dressing‘ program that she (and most of her friends) are currently addicted to.

And let’s face it, I can’t talk; I have my blog (which, as you know, I am not very good at updating), but worse - am addicted to news websites; the Nation, Standard, the Bing newsfeed, BBC, Telegraph and Daily Mail – following stories that I notice become increasingly irrelevant and inane the longer I surf. This week I realised that I can only get constructive writing done if there is a power cut, but only for as long as my computer battery holds out.

Right now I’m down to 12 minutes battery life remaining – must sign off!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Julie : Why did THE CHICKEN cross the road??

DIDA: Its about time we started teaching Chicken the values of NOT crossing roads. Its better to stay on one side of the road than the other. Suppose it was knocked down by a speeding car! What would it have said? Thats the kind of Chicken that would vote for Waititu.

KIYAPI: It depends with WHERE the chicken was going. Crossing the road is NOT the end of the story. I resigned from the Education Ministry to fight for the rights of Everyone! Chickens included! If a chicken wants to cross the road,let it cross the road! Thats what my party RBK stands for!

UHURU: The JUBILEE government will ensure a 24-hour Economy where a chicken will NOT have to cross ANY road in search for jobs. I will create jobs right where the chicken is standing...And the ONLY time a chicken leaves the work station,is maybe when its going to answer charges at the ICC.

KENNETH: I was born in Bahati. We used to call it,"Bahaa....." ,I went to Starehe,where we used to eat chicken every weekend. And am sorry,I think we ate that chicken too.Anyway,dont worry, My Government will create another chicken within the first 100 days...

MUDAVADI: Did YOU mention a CHICKEN?? Julie Gichuru, did You JUST mention a chicken?? Wait,Is that chicken here??! Am sorry but I think we are NOT supposed to be discussing a chicken. We should be EATING it!

KARUA: I believe in Integrity. I pushed so hard for that chicken to stay ON one side of the road. But the two principals failed to convince their troops to stop the chicken from crossing. The constitution is clear on the role of chickens. And My government will NOT only bring back the chicken, I wil also close down that road!

RAILA: Chickens are just chickens. That is the kind of chicken that owns huge tracts of land on the other side of the road! As a chicken,I believe You should stay in one place! Not crossing roads every now and then! You cant lay eggs through Skype.

MUITE: The Safina Government will get down to the bottom of the matter! You cannot convince Me,or any rational Kenyan,that that chicken was acting alone! NO! That chicken must have been sent by other chickens! You cannot tell me that other chickens were NOT aware that that chicken was crossing the road! Ofcourse they were! And am NOT holding brief for that chicken,but My Government will investigate the matter and include more chickens in this whole 'Road-Crossing' Scandal!