Dear International Bloggers

I don’t want to preach to the Internationals on the Chelsea MAFA programme, but I do want to share a really good and worthwhile Radio station with our International Community – if you haven’t already discovered it – it’s called BBC Radio 4.

There’s something relevant for all interests. Every morning there is ‘quote of the day’ kind of like the Pimlico tube station’s white board; this morning’s (first day of Spring – 21 March) was by Professor of Islamic Studies Mona Siddiqui, from New College, the University of Edinburgh. She reflects on the current news re Cambridge Analytica and whether misuse of ‘data’ held on social media manipulated the American presidential election. She makes a interesting point that power now lies not in the leaders of states but in organisations who hold our personal information. She ends on a spiritual note.

How Foucault would comment on the current events and on our ease to surrender our personal information to big surveillance institutions of power. He thought power not as hierarchical, but as a relationship that can be reversed. It wasn’t his style to preach but he did make us aware. He made us aware of resistance. He illustrated docile self-disciplined bodies much like making ourselves ‘useful’ and efficient – not to our own autonomy but to a power of control. I am illustrating my little piece of (ugly) resistance in the photo – you may laugh (as it shows I am non cultured, fuddy-duddy, out of date, not sexy) but I think Foucault would share my will not buy into smart phones and that was my little rebellious side resisting (to the consternation of my children and peers)?

The potential to control and influence, Foucault warned us back in 1975. I doubt he’d be preaching to us any more than he pricked our conscience in his essays.

I understand social media as ‘fun’ but it is also hard work – giving to that rampant, unrelenting, host who sucks the life from us. I know I am weak and lazy. Like a prowling unpredictable hungry animal, it won’t go away unless its thrown another morsel, the beast will pester for more, more, more. It feeds on repetition and there’s no option but to keep feeding it. There is one way out -to trick it and change my route – but that takes courage to be different- to resist. “Ease of access, has greater value than personal privacy’ the Professor says, and ‘we don’t just leave digital footprints, we often follow the paths these organisations direct us’.

It seems to me that when we spend time on our own, even just walking down a quiet street or standing on the platform at the tube station, not many of us have time to reflect on feelings towards spirituality in a world where we are constantly bombarded by noise and imagery vying for our focus of attention.

I hope Easter might be a time to stop and (not feel guilty for not having updated this ‘public-facing Blog) but to enjoy life by getting out (unwatched) away from the city and work pressures. ‘Our personal autonomy is precious to us, we are also given intelligence, imagination and reason to help us make moral judgments.’ I just hope I won’t be forgotten or not ‘included’ if I chose to resist a little of the norms and internet culture.

THIS ABOVE or THAT (‘this’ is St Ives, Cornwall, ‘that’ is home to the Panopticon, and all too familiar)

Annabel Ludovici Gray