Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Meatspace

The first and last thing I do every day is see what strangers are saying about me.

Life isn’t going so well for Kitab Balasubramanyam. He’s lost his job for writing a novel on company time, a novel that now isn’t selling so well, and his girlfriend has left him. He spends his time in his flat thinking of witty things to post online with his brother Aziz. When Aziz sets off to New York to meet his doppelganger, Kitab is left alone to contemplate his life and the chutneys Rach left in the fridge. Until his namesake turns up at the door, and won’t go away.

Meatspace in part is a great social commentary on what the internet is doing to us. Kitab spends so much time composing tweets and checking for updates, he isn’t really present in the real world, or meatspace as some would call it. He places so much importance on gaining meaningless interactions online; has his latest tweet been retweeted, or just favourited?

Somewhere in this vanity is a genuine desire to communicate with the people who follow me.

He’s slowing slipping away from the real world though. It sounds like his break up was probably over his social media time and ignoring his girlfriend in order to look at his phone. I all think we’ve been guilty of wanting to check a response to something we’ve posted when there’s someone trying to talk to us at the same time. But real life relationships should always be the priority.

The online interactions and obsessions are spot on, it’s clearly written by someone who spends plenty of time online, specifically Twitter. It’s also kind of scary how some people make identity theft incredibly easy for potential thieves. Not just those seeking to use it for financial gain but just usurping someone’s life online. When you put so much into building your online presence, an interloper can be a real threat.

We Googled it. Why not? We're modern men. And what is the smartphone if not the thing that means conversations never have to descend into bullshit?

Some parts did make me cringe though, and I’ll admit to skim reading parts such as some of Aziz’s blog posts and the chapter where they go to a sex party. Aziz’s blogging does highlight how there’s plenty of rubbish on the internet though and the commenter who keeps coming back to complain did make me laugh. Why take the time to read and comment on something you don’t like? I did like how Aziz’s narration kind of tells the same story from the other side, being that person off the internet that just turns up to meet a stranger.

Kitab2 is uninhibited and free from the social constraints most of us abide by. He doesn’t care if what he does is spread on the internet, in fact there’s no one paying attention to him. Apart from what he does reflects badly on Kitab. I suppose Kitab2 is young and immature but I found him a bit irritating. If I were Kitab I probably would have called the police. However it does remind me how people can become over-familiar through the internet. They think they know you so well but in reality, they are still strangers.

The ending was surprising and rather changed the tone of the book into something more emotional. I wonder if I would have considered some parts differently if I had known what I know now…

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Book Source: Purchased

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