AT first I blamed it on the time of year. The shortening days can tend to lead to a shorter fuse when it comes to dealing with the banalities of life. But then I realised this was a bit more than that. It has been slowly creeping up on me. The upshot: my patience is wearing thin.

Admittedly, it's an epiphany that centres largely on the murky realms of social media. While some quarters of the online world have long been a cesspit of navel-gazing and narcissism, it feels like in recent times that has ramped up several notches.

I find myself snorting with derision at those who spend their days sharing every mundane detail about their lives in order to pretend that somehow it makes them more interesting (you could argue this column is much of the same but at least you get it in one big dollop).

I use social media for a mixture of work and fun – mainly watching dog videos – but what I can't abide is those who regard it as a slop tray for every humdrum thought that pops into their heads.

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You know the kind of thing: humble brags, cryptic posts to stoke outrage/sympathy/confusion or insipid polls about whether to have fish fingers for tea (egocentric Twitter surveys are the 2021 equivalent of Candy Crush and FarmVille requests on Facebook circa 2013).

Perhaps what irks most is that part of me thought things would be different going forward. That we would all emerge blinking from the worst ravages of this pandemic with a renewed sense of decency and zest for positivity.

It actually feels like the opposite is true thanks to the current trend for the politicisation of absolutely everything and a peculiar need to turn the most innocuous statement into a nuclear-level argument (Person 1: "I love cats." Person 2: "Why do you hate llamas/hamsters/sloths?"). Tedious.

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Back in the real world, I have become curiously obsessed with a patch of wasteland at the far end of my street. A neighbour mentioned it used to be home to tenement flats years ago, but they were demolished after a fire.

The plot belongs to a mishmash of owners and over time has languished into a notorious fly-tipping site. The other day I stood peering in through the rusty gates at the piles of rubbish and it struck me how nice the space could be if it was turned into a community garden.

There's a smattering of birch trees which I think self-seeded and some wild rose bushes. It would take some work, but it wouldn't be impossible to transform.

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As my gaze swept over the hodgepodge of unwanted items strewn across the vacant land – broken vacuum cleaners, a grubby-looking fridge and the buckled frame of a pram – it felt oddly reminiscent of scrolling idly on social media.

On the surface it is ugly but scrape away the superfluous flotsam and jetsam, maybe there is something joyfully less bleak beneath. And suddenly I felt a little less grumpy.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald​


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