A Patriotic Weekend In A Digital Age

Hot on the heels of the 4th of July and the one day a year Americans everywhere actually admit to loving their country, the British didn’t want to be outdone and so we pulled out all the stops this weekend (6th-7th) to make it the one everyone will remember as this year’s summer (unless we’re lucky and this year’s nice weather does last a bit longer, of course!) Obviously, Wimbledon helped, with many even sacrificing enjoyment of the hottest day(s) of the year so far to watch the various finals and Andy Murray in particular winning- the first British man in 77 years to do so! I don’t even mention the British and Irish Lions for the rest of this blog, but I’m sure their win helped make Saturday special for many too.

The traditional British summertime strawberries and cream! Photo (c) 2006, Adam
The traditional British summertime strawberries and cream!

So it’s hardly surprising that the heat/tennis combination led many to lounge around with Pimms and strawberries and cream (I can admit to fitting this stereotype). However, the difference between the days from whence this tradition came is that before we just did it. Everyone was perfectly content to just get on with it in little groups, and when they found out later round the water cooler that “oh, you had Pimms too! Wasn’t it a lovely day!” it was just part of the process. Now, Twitter and Facebook have changed everything, and it’s more than just updates on our days.

Firstly, it was great seeing how Murray celebrated with fans, friends/family and his team at Centre Court right after winning. What I found weird to watch though was when he was in the people-lined corridors afterwards and, while he shook most people’s hands, there were a few who just stood right up close with their phones in his face. We have to take into account that this is different to being in a big crowd on the court: they were literally stood two feet away from him. People around them were shaking Andy’s hand and congratulating him but then there were those who didn’t have the good grace to communicate with him as a human. Sure, they’ll be able to show everyone the picture they took of the legend in close proximity, but they could probably have got one almost as good when he was on either side, putting the phone down long enough to say well done. And it’s worth pointing out that I’m not just talking about one ignoramus- it was several, and that’s how you know it’s becoming a serious thing.

Equally, Comedy Central actually sums up the British public very well in this tweet:

I didn’t actually see the trends in the few hours after the match so I can’t confirm this nor say how long it may have been the case for, but it does seem like a slightly disturbing record: Andy Murray made British history but in the Twittersphere he matters less than two (admittedly extremely handsome) movie stars who were spectating his breathtaking work. I tweeted more about them than him partially because I know more about entertainment than sport and partially, simply, there were many more pictures and other tweets to retweet of the actors than of him.

Instagram (et al.) pictures of strawberries and cream, Pimms, the sun, etc. are acceptable as it is nice to share these things with friends, but again it is easy to cross the point from enjoying them to feeling like everyone should know exactly how British and fun you’re being. You don’t need anyone’s approval or justification on how you spend our few truly hot days!

Ultimately, only time will tell how ingrained these devices and websites become into our lives, but as long as we don’t turn into the fantasy zombie-like people from the ‘White Bear’ episode of Black Mirror who constantly hold their phones in front of their faces then we should be okay. The key is that we continue to understand the balance between appropriate usage- especially on big social weekends like this one- and rudeness, as this lady in Sainsbury’s didn’t seem to get. Unfortunately, when adults who lived for many years without this technology become obsessed with it, it will be difficult to control young people who grow up with it everywhere around them.

Here’s my favourite picture from Hyde Park in the sun on Saturday (the next day I stayed cooler inside watching tennis and eating!):

hyde park


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