Brian's Blog

…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World

Avoiding the Trivial


There is something about trivial stuff that bugs me. But what is trivial? Trivial to me might not be trivial to someone else. In fact, the trivial can be entertaining.

1. of little value or importance.

I have come to conclude that it’s not so much what is trivial, but with who that trivial stuff is being shared with, or emitted by that is all important.

Take my friends for example. I can quite happily talk to a friend about trivial things: what I’m eating for lunch, or why I finished work early for example, even if those things are of no worldly importance. We can laugh at their trivialness, and we do. One person’s serious stuff might be another person’s trivial amusement though, and perhaps this is where good friends are important – they can discern between the serious and the silly. In some people’s cases it seems there is little silly and a lot what they consider to be serious, but is trivial, all the same.

Some people will share this kind of stuff (with their friends) via the means of Facebook, Twitter, or text messages, but more on the medium in a moment. Because these platforms are often pretty open, one might be having a silly conversation with friends without considering that that conversation might be read by anyone on their friend list (or beyond, depending on the platform and privacy settings in place), at any point in the future, and potentially out of context. Indeed, legal cases of someone saying something ‘wrong’ on the internet seem to be making the headlines from one month to the next, here in the UK at least – at the moment that things was said by that person, it was probably something seemingly trivial to them.

If someone else (someone outside the circle of intended chatters, or a non-friend) stumbles across, or gets within earshot of trivial content, that is when it can be grating at least, I think. For me anyway.

For those that don’t ‘get’ Facebook, or Twitter, to them it is the trivialities that people reportedly share day in day out – what they had for breakfast, the fact that they just woke up, and what colour socks they chose to wear today – which are what give such social networking tools a bad rep – are all these people doing nothing of importance with their lives? Perhaps the reason why I rarely use such platforms is that I don’t feel they allow me to have a close enough conversation for the trivialities to be shared comfortably.

The internet has a variety of platforms to enable people to share their thoughts, feelings, and trivialities. Beyond Facebook and Twitter there are the e-commerce sites where leaving feedback and reviews is encouraged. Sometimes posts are helpful, other times they venture into the trivial – shared as if a stranger cares about what colour shoes he wears when deciding which computer part to buy (I kid you not, I’ve read it).

My virtual platform of choice (as well as here) is Second Life, but saying that isn’t being too specific, because within that platform there are different way of conveying or being subjected to trivialities. My main friends within my friend list are who I generally choose to share or experience trivialities with (like Facebook, one might have a friend list of people who aren’t actually friends). Other people will gladly share their trivialities in Local Chat, or over their microphone if they are in a voice-enabled sim, for everyone within earshot to hear. These people might be among familiar faces, or within a virtual club, other times it might be a group of strangers having a fun time bouncing random trivialities around. If you stumble (or stagger, if you’re into virtual pub crawls) into a club and there is a conversation happening within local chat among people you’re not familiar with, the content can come across as overly trivial, or even offensive. Sometimes the conversation content (topic or language used) may be not to one’s liking, but had they been friends, the trivialities may have been entertaining. If one takes part (in such ‘trivial pursuits’, one should perhaps consider the poor strangers who are listening in.

I recently ventured into the realm of ‘voice’ in Second Life, since my old broadband service, which I have replaced, didn’t allow it to function. I’m not much of a speaker when it comes to verbal chit-chat, and I struggle not to convey everything I want to say via my fingers through my keyboard when I’m sat at my computer. The advantage (or some might say disadvantage) of only typing and reading a conversation is that it is is up to you to imagine the tone of voice – of course punctuation and smileys can help, but different people can interpret these in different ways (some people think the excessive use of a happy smiley is ‘fake’ – since apparently no one can be that happy!) I am quite a giggly typer but I do wonder at times how well that is conveyed through text on a screen. At the same time I like to imagine everyone is cheerful and happy unless I am lead to believe someone is otherwise. Hearing people speak into a microphone removes most of that imaginary aspect and I was perhaps a little taken-aback when I listened in on the first voice conversations in Second Life to bless my speakers. To be fair there was a mixture of what was being conveyed, from funny stuff, to what sounded like angry Russians (I was in the Moscow sim to hear that), but what shocked me was how dull and trivial some people sounded when sharing their trivialities. This is probably pretty hypocritical of me since I wasn’t brave enough to get on the mic myself, but I like to think I type my trivialities with an air of comedy, so for now I’m happy hearing my cheerful bubbly voice in my head telling me what to type until I take the plunge and share their via the means of my voice.

Back to the real world now, because I am also aware that trivialities still exist here too. For example, if I was a real-life pub-goer I might perhaps subject myself to trivial topics of conversation in this realm. As another example, when I turn on the radio there may be some random-folk’s text message being read out, about how he and his family are “currently driving down to Bournemouth, whilst listening to the radio, to let the children build some sandcastles” – did the rest of the UK really need to know that? – the “DJ” thanks them enthusiastically for sharing that with us all (with no sarcasm, but I include it here myself).

We are taught and told by some that what makes a good human being is one who cares for all others as if they were his own blood, so perhaps that implies we should listen politely to everyone’s trivial matters, and expect them to do the same in return. But the fact is, with however many billion of us there are now on this planet, that’s a very tall order, and many of us prefer to choose who’s trivialities we subject ourselves to, while at the same time I hope we can all consider who we are inflicting our own trivialities on – I thank my friends for laughing with me at mine.


One comment on “Avoiding the Trivial

  1. Pingback: Wasting Time | Brian's Blog

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This entry was posted on 9 September, 2014 by in Computers, Ebay, Internet, Psychology, Second_Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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