#20 – Matt Haig, Roisin and Chiara
“The temptation to check your phone is down to uncertainty. Accept uncertainty.”
We know by now social media is an act. Sometimes a very compelling, convincing one, but still an act. Most of what we see on there (here?), what we present of ourselves, what we feel while we’re engaging with it, is an act. But it somehow lures your brain into thinking it is real, to the point that if you become absorbed in it or long enough you forget whether it is real or fake.
Which is why, in partial response to reading the brilliant ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’, by Matt Haig, I will be taking further steps to try to disconnect from social media, using it for the two main purposes of publishing and shipping this blog to as wide an audience as possible, and spreading artistic works of others I admire. Like Roisin and Chiara.
Haig’s guide to living a less anxious, more aware, more accepting life, is presented in a suitably random format, with accessible, readable sections packaged in a way that invites you to dip back in and out, as we navigate through the quagmire of technologically-wired, physically disconnected modern life. Everybody should read this book, at least twice.
It’s both obvious and intelligent, basic yet revelatory. The encouragement and direction to accept who we are, to be content that we are all enough as we are, and that to want is to lack, is enlightening and warming; but at the same time is I feel, an indictment of that which society has become. There isn’t a word that Haig delivers that I disagreed with, but equally felt some sorrow that it had taken me 18 years of adult life and varying extremes of joy and deep despair to acknowledge what is, when laid out here, clear as daylight.
I carried Haig’s book with me as I traipsed around the wonderful Edinburgh Fringe festival, alone, drifting from act to act taking brief time out in between to jot down notes from what I’ve just watched to help me stay more in the present. No Facebook updates, tweets or Insta-posts. And the festival could not have been more enjoyable.
I’d stumbled upon Roisin and Chiara at Boteco bar and really didn’t know what I would be seeing. And having thought about it a fair bit since, I’m still not certain I know what I saw! I experienced chaos and uncertainty with a modicum of discomfort, layered on top of genuinely original performing art and almost non-stop laughter.
The mystery starts from the off. If you go to high five someone as you walk in a room, as seemed the obvious thing for me to do in this moment, and rather than requite, your host grabs your hand, sniffs the back of it then shoves a strange sweet in your mouth, your senses are immediately tuned up to the height they need to be to get optimal enjoyment out of an act like this.
The duo are outstanding performers making every character in their repertoire believable and memorable. Particularly hilarious was the Sloane/most-of-south-east-England-youth send up that I “literally, like totally, hashtag-luh-uuuhh-ved.”
They combine music and visuals superbly to deliver a show with so much life and energy you were out of breath by the end. The “uptight, robust Mediterranean” being a perfect foil for the “loose and easy” Irish-catholic girl, synchronising their sounds and voices at times like they were one. Their accents were so varied and flawless I couldn’t actually tell you what their genuine talking accents are. The madness was finished off, of course, with a truly inspirational Sting in the tail.
Was it real, was it fake? I may have left not knowing quite what it is I’d experienced after watching this funny and flirtatious double act, but for those 60 minutes, I was most definitely connected to actual humans delivering great creative art, rather than some algorithm and data feed filling me with anxiety.
An act it was, but this is the kind of act, we should see more of; and spend less of our lives on the virtual, online, marketed nervousness that Haig so powerfully exposes in his essential publication.
Get to the Fringe. Take Matt Haig with you. And go and see Rosin and Chiara’s spectacular Back to Back show.