Janet Christie’s Mum’s the word – Why seeing is believing and IRL counts

When logging on and off again doesn’t help

Mum's the Word.
Mum's the Word.

If the mother of queues to view The Queen lying in state has taught us anything, it’s that people have a deep need to experience things in real life, to see with their own eyes, rather than viewed online. If distance makes being present impossible, the web’s a good substitute but it seems people don’t give it the same cachet.

Maybe it’s me but staring at a screen seems to activate a different part of the brain, one that doesn’t engage all of our senses in the experience, resulting in a feeling of ‘did that really happen?’ If it’s real life, we can be sure it did.

If further, much more mundane, evidence of the gap between the web and real life was needed it arrived this week in the form of my winter log order. I must have segued during an online dwam from manageable-looking builder bags to half a tipper truck, the reality of which was now parked outside my drive-less flat. Under the gaze of the driver who was very friendly but what could he do, I took an executive decision to have them dumped in the road.

It’s not like I haven’t been told.

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“Do not buy stuff online,” says Dundee IT Man, with the addendum “at least not without checking,” because he’s not against the web per se, obviously given his job, it’s just some of the people who use it - ie Dundee Woman and me.

He’s right, because we have a habit of mis-ordering, possibly with one eye on a box set and the other ogling a blurry picture of said item which looks the very dab. Click.

“Yeah, it looked much bigger/smaller/better than this online,” we say, sniggering over the litany of items we’ve bought - shoes in two separate sizes (not obvious until you start walking), a table that flips Dundee Man upside down to cure back issues, chichi but compact cushions, and whisper it, duplicate flights and holidays (no, it’s NOT funny, ahem). And now my mountain of logs.

During the 20-plus trips from roadside to woodpile far, far away at the bottom of the garden, I repent. No more online purchases. Until the wheelbarrow proves more rusty than trusty and here I am, clicking away again. I would have gone to the store for a replacement IRL, but… the traffic, and anyway there’s a queue to watch.

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Janet Christie's Mum's the Word