Category Archives: Me

Why I Miss Spam

Whenever I check my emails I am overcome with a brief sense of hope.

This is it, I think, today I’ll get the email of my dreams.

Sitting in my inbox will be a message from the CEO of some fantastic company saying “Daniel, I’ve read your blog and I’m so amazed by your talent that I’m going to pay you a million dollars for you to lazily write one blog post a month for my company. Don’t worry about the topic, just do what you like. That’s how much we value you.”

A fantasy. I check my inbox and it’s empty. Obviously. People rarely email strangers about anything. Who would want to contact another human being?! Isn’t it strange that we live in an age where we’re more connected than ever but nobody can be bothered to communicate. That would take far too much effort. Why is writing an email such hard work?

Instead, we wait. Checking our emails every 5 minutes in the hope we’ll receive something to validate ourselves. Nothing ever comes. Nothing at all these days.

There used to be a time when I’d get spam. That would keep me somewhat happy. For a few seconds I would be one step closer to that fantasy email. My computer would ding, I’d know there was something in my inbox. An email, an email! This is it. Then I’d check and it would be an advert for Amazon or a cry for help from a Nigerian prince.

Tick. Delete. Tick. Delete.

The process gave my email purpose. It became a form of game. I had to check my emails because if I didn’t the spam would build up. My email existed solely for this process of ticking and deleting.

Then something horrible happened. Google started blocking spam. In one fell swoop I no longer had to tick or delete.

Nevermind though, I still had all that legitimate spam to give me meaning. Newsletters, social network notifications and promotions. They all kept me coming back to my email. Gave me some reason to continue.

Then more recently something even worse happened. Google started automatically filtering these emails into folders for me. I never read them to begin with, I just deleted them, but now I don’t even have to do that. Out of sight, out of mind. My email has become twenty times as easy to check, but also it’s now twenty times as pointless for me to bother with it.

I’m left with nothing. My inbox is now a barren desert. Its only purpose is to mock me. “Nobody wants to email you! NOBODY!”

I’ve literally gone for weeks while travelling where I haven’t been able to check my email, then when I finally manage to do it there’s nothing there. Google has sorted and separated it so efficiently that I no longer need to exist. It’s only a matter of time before they start to reply automatically to my emails for me. Then I might as well kill myself because my life will be so automated that it will no longer matter that I’m there.

The only thing I live for now is to check my spam folder. Maybe my dream email was sent there by mistake? But no, it hasn’t been. Just emails for penis enlargement and sexy ladies.

I guess the only way to receive is to give. Send out emails and you’ll get replies. But there’s no fun in the expected. Knowing you’ll get a reply takes away half the fun. There’s no surprise in that.

Once in a blue moon somebody sends me an email after reading my blog. I get a feeling of warmth inside. For a few moments I’m important! I’m loved. My email is validated along with my life.

Yet when it comes to hit reply, I waver. Am I really going to have to spend 10 minutes of my valuable time writing an email? Who can be bothered with that? I’ve got more important things to do.

Like checking my Facebook.

Another Existential Crisis

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A few years ago now, not long after my birthday, I wrote a blog post that I was pretty proud of. It was entitled, “The Annual Existential Crisis (Birthday)” and was essentially how every year my birthday forces me to become introspective about my life and how I  usually don’t like the results.

In the three years since that post, I have worked 4 different jobs in 3 different countries. I have had the happiest period of my life yet really nothing about my situation has changed.

I’ve now arrived in another country and I’m looking for another job and all those horrible thoughts and feelings are swarming back to me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been sitting around house-sitting for a few weeks and for the first time in a few years I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and think about…stuff. That’s the worst thing to think about.

Continue reading Another Existential Crisis

Modern Envy.

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Of all the characteristics of ordinary human nature envy is the most unfortunate; not only does the envious person wish to inflict misfortune and do so whenever he can with impunity, but he is also himself rendered unhappy by envy. Instead of deriving pleasure from what he has, he derives pain from what others have.
– Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

Envy. It takes us all at some point, usually when we’re at our weakest. Whenever I’m miserable or depressed, the sin rears it’s ugly head and poisons my mind. I have envied my friends, I have envied my family. It shames me to say it, yet it’s almost impossible to stop.

When we are children we are all envious creatures. We know little of the world or our own lives, we lack true empathy and are selfish beings. We look at the other children around us and see what they have and if we don’t have it, we want it. If another child has a new toy, we too need a new toy.

As children our envy stems somewhat from perceived injustices. Why should another child have something while we have nothing? How is that fair? Children can’t rationalise that another child getting a toy has very little to do with their own circumstances.

Growing into adulthood we don’t learn much, we are still prone to envy and jealousy and struggle with our feelings, we just find between ways to hide it from others. Continue reading Modern Envy.

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Annoyed)

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The biggest annoyance of science is that the stronger it gets, the more we as people are forced to live with the truth. Our lives are meaningless and we will all eventually succumb to our own mortality.

This week in the news I read about how the ice is melting even faster in the Antarctic, a cause for some concern. Usually I don’t like to comment on current affairs on this blog because as soon as I publish the post my post will become outdated. Thankfully this news article isn’t the first time and wont be the last time I’ll read about how the whole world is fucked and we’re all going to suffer.

Right now it’s the polar ice caps melting. Next week it’ll be global warming. The following month it’ll be a super-volcano in Yellowstone erupting or possibly a giant meteor from space coming to destroy us all.

Continue reading It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Annoyed)

The Best Places to Not Visit in New York

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The main aim of all travel is to have a good experience. Something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.

When we travel we go to great lengths to produce a memorable experience for ourselves. Spend bags of money trying to create the perfect moment or memory. The ironic thing is that years later the things we remember aren’t what we originally set out to see.

A few winters ago, my girlfriend and I visited New York City. If you ask me what I remember from that time then I’d have to be truthful and say not a lot. My memories are hazy, made up of small seemingly meaningless images or moments that seem unconnected by any theme. The only connecting factor is that they happened in New York.

Continue reading The Best Places to Not Visit in New York

Cultural Differences and Respect in Korea

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It was just my second week of working in a hagwon when my headmaster said we needed to talk.

We moved into a small classroom, large Lego bricks scattered on the floor. The only place to sit was in tiny chairs for toddlers. Our knees were pressed up into our chests as we looked across at each other. I would have laughed if the headteacher didn’t look so serious. She stared at me intently, her lip quivering. She took a deep breath.

“I’ve actually been very upset with you this week. Very angry.” Immediately I was taken aback.  My mind raced, my stomach tightened. What had I done?

Continue reading Cultural Differences and Respect in Korea

Leaving Bangkok

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On its surface Bangkok is a city that is defined by its roads and food. In Bangkok it is either rush hour or rushier hour, either breakfast time, lunch time, dinner time or supper time.

Everywhere you go food exists, in restaurants, bars, malls. The city is paved with food stalls. Eating is so intertwined with life that it’s hard to tell when one meal ends and the next begins. Life is like one long feast to Thais, all they seem to do is smile and eat. Smile and eat. And take taxis.

Continue reading Leaving Bangkok

Waiting For Next Season: The Pain of Being a Football Fan

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Like every generation of Englishman, I got into football at a young age. Each day I would go out onto the field outside my house with my friends. Friends – at that age – were easy to come by. Anybody that could kick a ball was a friend.

We’d throw down some t-shirts for goalposts. The unluckiest – weakest – child was forced to be the goalkeeper. Then the rest of us would pretend we were world class footballers until it was dark. Continue reading Waiting For Next Season: The Pain of Being a Football Fan

Santa Teacher

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Christmas was approaching. Excitement building. At first the children spoke in hushed whispers, but as the day came closer their voices grew louder. Eventually they were shouting in hysterics “Santa is coming! Santa is coming!”

I wrote about lying to children in my last post. Well the biggest lie of all is Santa. And as Christmas approached it was my biggest problem.

Pity. That’s what I feel for any white male who works in a Korean hagwon at Christmas. Why? Because there’s a very definite possibility that you will find yourself tasked with being Santa. In a school filled with Korean women, the white guy becomes Santa by default.

Continue reading Santa Teacher

Sickness in Korea

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The lack of private toilet time isn’t the only problem I have with working in a Korean kindergarten. Every few weeks I seem to get some new illness. Either due to the lack of hygiene from the kids (Hey, I’ll just sneeze in your face, ok?!) Or more annoyingly the kids who do understand hygiene and decide to use it against you (Hahaha! I’m going to cough right in your face…so funny!)

Inevitably you get sick, but you can’t do much about it. The annoying thing about hagwons is they open before the hospitals and shut after them. The working hours are so long that there’s no time to go to see a doctor. Unless you want to be the stupid white idiot who goes to the emergency room after work with a sore throat.

Worse than this, there’s an immense amount of social pressure to not take a day off. The unspoken rule seems to be that unless you’re dying, you should be in work.

Continue reading Sickness in Korea