Tuesday 20 August 2019

Millennial Diary

Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner
Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner

Ciara O'Connor

When a company has to repeatedly come out and publicly promise that they aren't illegally spying on its customers, it's fair to say they have a bit of an image problem.

No one knows this better than Mark Zuckerberg, who spends an inordinate amount of time fielding criticism that his platform is basically ushering in a winter of digital fascism.

Presumably after brooding on a Richard Curtis binge, Zuck has decided that the best way to get people back on side is match-making. Because there's nothing like the sweet promise of being able to sleep with your friends to make people forget about privacy violations, security, election meddling, misinformation and hate speech.

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Facebook announced a new feature called 'Secret Crush', which will allow users to mark up to nine people as crushes - the object of your affections won't know who you are unless they also mark you as their secret crush - it's basically the 'mutually assured destruction' model of Tinder, but for people you know already.

As people increasingly move away from regular Facebook logins, using it only as a means of inviting people to 30th birthday parties, this feature should drive up engagement at least; sex sells, sure - but vanity and insatiable curiosity were the pillars on which social media was built. Secret Crush is right on the money.

It harks back to Zuck's earliest projects, which shows that he has always felt most comfortable in moral grey areas.

Facemash was a precursor to Facebook which 'scraped' student ID photos from his college server and asked people to rate their hotness. He swears blind that this project had nothing at all to do with what would become Facebook - but for all its bells and whistles and 'on this day in 2011!' and election reminders, Facebook is and remains essentially a means of seeing whether or not you want to sleep with someone.

From Facebook, the sinister technical overlord, to Facebook: the school friend that surreptitiously susses out whether the person you want to shift also wants to shift you. If Zuck could just make a feature to easily decide upon a time and place for the shifting to occur (perhaps we sync our calendars?) we'd be golden.

*******

We are truly in the golden age of surveys. It's been difficult to choose my favourite from the most recent crop, which vacillate between Things We Definitely Already Knew to Things We Wish We Didn't Know.

First there was the news that Irish mammies are failing to pass down their cooking skills to their children - apparently the culture of kids 'doing jobs' in the kitchen is dying and there are fears that this will lead to a malnourished and lazy populace who don't know one end of a carrot from the other.

This widely reported story was just another way to make mothers feel terrible - not only are they expected to be serving up freshly prepared home-cooked food every day lest their children catch obesity overnight (the survey 'revealed' that 'some' mothers 'resorted' to 'convenience' food. There aren't enough quotation marks in the world.) but now they're expected to simultaneously guard little Timmy against slicing his fingers off learning how to chop an onion.

In any case, Gen Z will have no interest in learning how to make an eco-disaster shepherd's pie or glaze a nice bit of carcinogenic ham.

In the same way they may become professional-level make-up artists from enough Instagram videos, the internet will teach them enough about food to stop them living off McDonald's three times a day.

Meanwhile, a separate survey horrified the country with the news that two thirds of stay-at-home mums with college degrees are fine where they are, and have no desire to rejoin the workforce.

The founder of Dress for Success, who helped launch the research, said the findings were 'a punch in the gut'.

It's not surprising at all. We're supposed to be ball-busting CEOs by day then come home in time to smoke aubergines over the hob for an authentic baba ganoush (it's sooo important for the kids to be familiar with cuisines of the world), reminding Timmy to wash his hands after chopping the chilli before going for a wee, and waiting patiently for 40 minutes watching Aoife wrestle with a peeler and a single potato.

A third survey last week concluded that only 13pc of Irish workers say they have a 'great' work-life balance.

Go figure.

*******

And so Sophie Turner, of Game of Thrones fame, and Joe Jonas, of indeterminate general ex-of-Taylor-Swift and boyband fame, were wed in a surprise Las Vegas ceremony.

The surprise was the Las Vegas bit, not the wedding, because since they got engaged in November it seems the internet has spoken of little else.

The couple talked about how their ceremony would be in France, in the summer, and how GoT co-star Maisie Williams would be Maid of Honour. It seemed they were being completely transparent with their wedding plans, in the innocent and refreshing manner of a Love Island couple.

Perhaps, like the rest of us, they were getting sick of it, because in the end they ended up exchanging ring-pops in front of an Elvis impersonator with Sophie in that internationally-recognised symbol of a cool-bride-who's-not-like-other-brides; the jumpsuit.

It isn't clear whether Maisie Williams was in attendance - but Diplo definitely was, because he live-streamed the whole thing.

Naturally, it was all very millennial - our devotion to irony is an important defence mechanism against an older generation who accuses us of taking ourselves far too seriously. And Joe and Sophie take the business of not taking themselves too seriously, very seriously indeed.

Because the world is a horrible place and humans are terrible, it felt like a passive aggressive dig at Joe's brother Nick, who married Priyanka Chopra with her 75ft train in a three-day $500,000, much- anticipated festivus in India last December.

The internet had a field day with side-by-sides of the respective weddings (Joe and Sophie, grainy, posing in sunglasses on a hood of a car; Nick and Priyanka, luminous and stage-managed, on the cover of a magazine). The message was clear: Nick and Priyanka are pathetic try-hards.

This is why we can't have nice things.

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