Jun 28, 2011

Words With... Nobody

The other afternoon, surrounded by good company and many friends, I had a moment of feeling completely and utterly alone.

In conversation, somebody brought up the online game Words With Friends - the Scrabble You Play When You're Not Playing Scrabble Due to Copyright Reasons.

All of a sudden the room exploded with chatter.  There was discussion of the game's relative merit/addictiveness. There was talk of triple word scores and tactics and dictionaries and cheating. It turned out they were all in various states of play with at least one other person in the room.

Except me.

It turns out Words With Friends is a smartphone phenomenon. But I don't have an Android or Apple phone (or iPad). I have a Windows 7 phone. That I don't play games on. Because - I don't know, I just don't play games much. So despite being a journalist, and dealing with words a fair bit, I hadn't entered anyone's radar as "a person I might like to play word games with".

This is not berating my friends, it really isn't. Words With Friends is available on Facebook, and I could have found it and played it there. But I've always chosen to ignore Facebook games, as they seem to be full of pointless point-scoring to build hobby farms, or become criminal masterminds. So Words With Friends got bundled in the category of "stuff I like to hide on my feed".

And even if I did have an iPhone, an iPad or an Android phone, chances are I would still use it for calling, texting, emailing and the odd bit of web browsing - just as I'm doing on the Windows Phone. I'm honestly the most technologically vexacious person I know. Alfred could hand me the passwords to the Bat Computer and five hours later, Bruce Wayne would return from another night cleaning up the streets of Gotham to find me checking Lamebook and attempting to compose witty tweets.

So I understand that it's my own fault for not picking up on a massively popular online game, and being proactive about playing it.

But it didn't stop me having a moment of feeling overwhelmingly, pathetically alone. That's right, as my friends chatted away, 15-year-old Natalie ran a bitten fingernail down the tent zipper of memory and came stumbling awkwardly out - spots, unintentional afro haircut and all.

Who else likes re-runs of Yes, Minister and tea-tree pimple gel?!?!

It's not rational, I know. It's rather sad that I should have doubled in age, but not experienced the commensurate increase in wisdom and not-giving-a-crap-ness.

But I can't be the only one. Others must surely have experienced that sense of "I got nothing" when confronted by a conversation to which they are incapable of making of contribution.

What piece of pop culture has left you feeling a little bit all by yourself?


  1. Technological connection is an illusion, a sales pitch designed to exploit our genetically hardwired fear of being alone and our inherent yearning to belong. But we are all, ultimately, alone.

    But so what? We are all going to die, too. The trick is accepting it, then ignoring it, and moving forward to become the best people we can be despite the cold, unfeeling, uncaring universe that spawned us.

    Now, if you will excuse me, it is time for me to read some Sartre because, when you get past the existentialism stuff, it is really quite funny, which is what I think Sartre was really going for. Seriously. He's hilarious.

  2. Oh this is a feelng I know well. I keep wondering when I'm going to be old enough to not care. My parents never seemed to be bothered by this kind of awkwardness, when do I reach that age too? Its bound to happen any day now. :-)

  3. Dammit Boylan, stop making sense.

  4. It used to kill me that Tuesday night drinks were cut short every week because everyone had to rush off and watch 'Angel'. That was my high point of the week and then whoosh, ripped out from under me. I never watched it out of spite. No, not even the puppet one or the one with no talking.

  5. Boylan starts the day on a cheery note. :)

  6. Hey, give me a break. In my own way, I was trying to be cheerful and uplifting.

  7. That wasn't a go. I always enjoy your philosophy. :)

  8. Slightly OT but kinda related to Dan's anecdote - I purposely left myself out of a social gathering with my friends last night, as they were watching The Human Centipede.
    I need new friends, clearly.

  9. I was kidding about trying to be cheerful and uplifting. I mean, cosmically speaking, what would be the point?

  10. Honestly, I think about 60% of my life has been like this. I rarely feel I fit in most places I go. I'm a dork of epic proportions.

  11. I feel the same every time a passionate and detailed discussion about Dr Who/Star Trek/Starwhatever springs up in the newsroom.

  12. Kat - I think you made the right decision to exclude yourself from that one! Did you ever see the review a couple of blokes did where one of them WATCHED the film but didn't listen, and the other listened, but was blindfolded? It really contains everything you need to know. I'll see if I can find the link...

    Boylan - what is the point... of anything? ANYTHING?

    CCL - But you have kids now. They'll think you're cool! Well, at least until they're 12 or so. :)

    Jamie - shut up and read your bulletins. ;)

  13. Welcome to chatting with a group of Improvisors.

    Agreed on the Dr. Who conversations, as well.

  14. **Boylan - what is the point... of anything? ANYTHING?**

    Actually, there IS a point. To everything. But I found out this singular, central, ultimate truth on the condition that I not tell anyone. Sorry. Really. I wish I cold tell you, but I can't.

  15. Stumpy Bear - that was actually in my mind as I wrote this. I always try to be conscious of too much impro "shop talk", but sometimes I get carried away!

    And Boylan - you are a tease. Sartre would be proud. :)

  16. It's not pop culture based but I honestly wish I understood the joy many people get from watching football (any code) on tv. I understand the fun of playing the game, but watching it leaves me cold. I was recently invited to watch the State of Origin with a group of people and I decided to go to see if it now held any interest for me. I really wanted to enjoy the evening and connect with my hosts. It turned out to be a very boring, confusing and lonely evening. I felt like, to paraphrase Oliver Sacks, an Anthropologist on Mars. I appreciate that many many people love watching this sort of thing on tv but it doesn't 'click' with me and I don't know why.

  17. If too many other people are into something that I don't know about then clearly it is too 'commercial' to be cool so why should I care.

    I think I might be one of those horrible hipsters I keep hearing about.

  18. The Wah - I think the geek equivalent to football is something like Aliens Vs Predator. You can make a tangible calculation about the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, then sit back and wait to see what surprises you might get when they beat the shit out of each other.

    Steave - f***ing hipsters. ;)

  19. Once again not really pop culture but for me its cars. Any time people start having a real conversation about cars, beyond "I like green cars," I feel the need to evacuate myself from the conversation.

    Oh and Dan the episode without talking was in Buffy and Angel wasn't even in it.

  20. I have NO IDEA what any of you are talking about


    xoxoxo, cd

  21. Boylan - Sartre would think that you are a pretentious git who should come up with his own thoughts instead of bastardising the thoughts of a dead Frenchman whilst trying to regurgitate them.

  22. Ah....look at all the lonely people....

    @Nat - I play a game called "words with my 22 month old daughter". She has ~10 of them. She uses her words to express all her feelings & emotions:

    Mum, Dad, duck, dog, no-way, bye, hat, shoe, thanks...

    @theWah - I don't watch football.

    @Bolan - I tend to agree with @anonymous that you appear to be a pretentious git (not that there is anything wrong with that).

  23. Sheesh. It was a joke, guys. Australians and Canadians have no sense of humor, and my every attempt to explain leaves me no viable exit whatsoever.

  24. Maybe a little overstated. You weren't the only one not playing words with friends with anyone. But I had been invited to, so I suppose that counts - its not my fault I didn't want to pay $4 for it.

  25. "no viable exit" - "No Exit" - eh??

    Sheesh... Hell is nobody getting the joke.

  26. Many eighties and nineties pop culture references leave me groping :D. But that's in part because I grew up ion India, and India in the eighties was still trying to figure out the Swingin' Sixties. So all those references to Jolt and Swatches and the first Mac ad are kind of alien. Thank god for "I love the Eighties" and the chance to catch up on the highlights of a decade in half an hour, with ads!