Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon

Ctrl, Alt; Delete by Emma Gannon

It’s hard to remember my life without thinking, in turn, of the internet. The internet became big just at the right time for me, I’d had years of roaming and playing outside as a child and now I was 13 with dial-up. The internet was the home of the Hamster Dance, Dancing Baby, and Weebl’s Stuff. Until well after University, I spent the majority of my time online. I had (many) a blog before they were the norm, I learned how to code, I found wonderful online friends, and I visited A LOT of Stargate SG-1 fan sites (I wrote them all down in a notepad that I wish I still owned).

The internet at 13, 16, hell even 25 isn’t the internet today, and part of me does freak out at the thought of there being a generation that doesn’t know what it means to be internet free. So reading Emma’s book Ctrl, Alt; Delete: How I Grew Up Online, really resonated with me.

cad“Emma Gannon was born in 1989, the year the World Wide Web was conceived, so she’s literally grown up alongside the Internet. There’ve been late night chat room experiments, sexting from a Nokia and dubious webcam exchanges. And let’s not forget catfishing, MSN, digital friendships and #feminism. She was basically social networking way before it was a thing – and she’s even made a successful career from it. Ctrl Alt Delete is Emma’s painfully funny and timely memoir, in which she aims to bring a little hope to anybody who has played out a significant part of their life online. Her confessions, revelations and honesty may even make you log off social media (at least for an hour).” GoodReads.

I don’t know much about millennial bloggers, mainly because I’ve not put in the time to find out, but I do follow Emma’s blog, Girl Lost in the City. How I found Emma’s blog, I’ve no idea. It was probably one of those days where I went inception style through bloggers ‘favourite’ links until I came upon hers. Confession time: I actually won something on her blog and then bugged for her it for ages as the company was very difficult about it. She must have found me terribly irritating, and I feel rather embarrassed-guilty about it, so sorry about that Emma! This is the downside of instant internet life and ‘brand’, customers feel so entitled.

As she is only three years younger than me, a lot of her younger internet experiences were a lot like mine. I sat and chatted to strangers (who could have been grooming me) in chat rooms and over MSN. I pretended to be older and changed my name so guys would want to talk to me. 30-year-old Alice finds 13-year-old Alice frightening. What was I thinking? The internet wasn’t safe then, which is a weird thing to say now.

I suppose now (on a simplistic level) the internet isn’t safe now because you can find so much information about someone, then it wasn’t safe then because you didn’t know to stop yourself from spilling that information. Emma talks about how she learnt to be more guarded with what she put out there, and so did I.

Ctrl, Alt; Delete isn’t just a story about the things Emma did on the early days of the net, it’s about how this set her up to be the awesome person she is today. What I most admire about her is that she really knows her stuff, and she’s worked damn hard to get where she is today. She has this epic risk taking ability and seems very self-aware (knowing when to leap and when to step back).

It’s also a book that talks about how the internet can be a power for good and for change when we let it. It doesn’t have to be a platform for narcissism. Take Feminism, I can categorically say I would not be a feminist without the help of the internet. It’s given me access to a wealth of information and people that have developed the way I think now.

Ctrl, Alt; Delete is a fantastic book, and I recommend you read it. There is also a podcast accompaniment to the book, in which Emma interviews awesome humans (Dawn O’Porter, Zoey Suggs, and Laurie Penny to name but a few) which is just as inspiring.

What has the internet given you?

 

Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys by Viv Albertine

Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys by Viv Albertine

Long time readers of the blog will know that discovered Viv Albertine when I volunteered for the Brighton Festival back in 2014. Her autobiography Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys was coming out, and she was doing this talk as part of the book tour.

I had never heard of her before, but instantly she was the inspiration I never realised I needed. It was exactly like when I discovered Caitlin Moran, something shifted, and everything was new.

cmb“Viv Albertine is one of a handful of original punks who changed music, and the discourse around it, forever. Her memoir tells the story of how, through sheer will, talent, and fearlessness, she forced herself into a male-dominated industry, became part of a movement that changed music, and inspired a generation of female rockers.” GoodReads.

This is a book written from memory, it’s candid and unflinching. Albertine is open about her ups and her downs, which skip between STDs, record contracts, life as a mother, and cancer.

The majority of the book covers her time before and during being part of The Slits, while the second half focuses on her marriage, motherhood, and finding herself again. While part one was fascinating, getting to see inside the world of Punk through the eyes of one of its members, it was the second half of the book that really struck me.

It was so refreshing, not only to read an honest account of the realities of marriage, but to read about someone feeling lost and needing to find themselves later in life. I’m only pushing 30, but to read about someone older taking risks and trying new things was a reminder that life really has only just begun. You can spend time over thinking and worrying, or you can live.

Albertine has been part of a music defining band, an artist, and aerobics teacher, has worked behind and in front of the camera, has created ceramics, gigged around the South East, and still is all of these things. She didn’t let anyone’s perception of who she should live her life dictate what she did, and even though that didn’t always cause happiness, it is inspirational.

I can’t recommend this autobiography enough.

What autobiography have you read recently?

 

Yes PLease by Amy Poehler

Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I love Amy Poehler. I’m not even sure where this love comes from, as I don’t think I’ve watched much of what she has done. Nonetheless, the woman is awesome.

I pre-ordered Yes Please as soon as I knew it was being published, months ago. I knew this was a book I wanted to read. I wouldn’t say it wowed me, but if you’ve not read it yet you should. A vast chunk went by me as she talked about improv and SNL, but her upbeat, I’m-human-and-hate-myself-a-little-too attitude was a delight to read. Anyone who says self-deprecation doesn’t have its place is an idiot. Being proud of what you’ve done is brilliant, disliking yourself at the same time is human.

‘It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice and seize your real estate.’

I enjoy reading memoirs, either for the insight into the lives of others or for experiences similar to my own (which in turn makes me feel less of an odd-ball.) Amy has taught me that I need to work a lot harder at what I love, say yes more than no, and that life can begin at 30 or 40.

‘”Relax” is a real tough one for me. Another one is “smile.” “Smile doesn’t really work either. Telling me to relax or smile when I’m angry is like bringing a birthday cake to an ape sanctuary. You’re asking to get your nose and genitals bitten off.’

This. I get told to smile all the time and it takes all I have to not scream in that person’s face. Poehler has a fantastic way of mentioning all the ways she has been less than nice (or as I like to call it, acted like the rest of the world) and making herself sound totally reasonable. I don’t hate her for not being perfect, I like her more for it.

Yes Please was a delightful Sunday read, get stuck in, even if it’s only for this one story which made me literally laugh out loud. I do not exaggerate when I say books rarely make me laugh.

‘All of my lower-middle-class Boston issues rose to the surface. I don’t like it when bratty, privileged old white guys speak to me like I’m their mouthy niece. I got that amazing feeling you get when you know you are going to looser it in the best, most self-righteous way. I just leaned back and yelled, “FUUUUUUCK YOU.” Then I chased him as he tried to get away from me.’