Opiates and Bulb

West Side Story rolls towards its first performance, and as it rolls I find myself with more and more time on my hands. I’m in costume, listening on the tannoy as the company jumps up and down and pretends to kill one another. 


I’m using this time to shift the things that need shifting, and to send emails that have remained unsent for years.

One thing that has finally been completed today is I switched away from my old energy supplier – a monolith that obfuscates its charges in order to make it impossible to assess comparative value unless you’re Archimedes – to a relatively new player in the marketplace.

I’ve gone to Bulb, which promises to try to use renewable energy as far as possible and seems to be reasonably clear in terms of pricing. It will probably cost less than I’ve been paying, and the switch was completely painless. Now I can pat myself on the back and make out like I’m doing something to help the world, as I drink out of my plastic water bottle and order another meaty pizza. If you too feel like you want to offset your terrible arson habit or your predilection for leaving the lights on all day then follow this referral link because then we both get 50 quid off and maybe it will help allay some of your middle class guilt even if it’s probably just another bastard corporation dressed up in shiny renewable pants. They say everyone should switch once a year. I suspect there’s wisdom in that. And I want fifty quid off. 🙂 I got it through my friend Ben, who I rely on utterly to get good deals for things. He’s an actor who is good at maths. They actually exist.

Something I’ve noticed this tech is that I came in for two days running with my mobile phone and not a book. Our conversations and our thoughts are both affected by what we consume. I’ve been doing myself a disservice.

It’s so easy just to forget to read and endlessly scroll through Facebook Twitter Instagram or endless games and sites designed specifically to be addictive. As Toby said this morning, the great British novel has been replaced by Candy Crush.

Marx had it in the 1840’s that “Religion is … the opiate of the masses”. Back then it was a fair point, and not necessarily an attack on religion, as it’s often used. The masses crave an opiate. He saw that religion served to give a sense of achievement and belonging to people with little else, and was a way of triggering dopamine in people with nothing to be happy about, while killing large amounts of their time in prayer and devotion that might otherwise have been spent seizing the means of production. But in today’s secular West, the internet is a very effective opiate, and we are all rooted into these little devices that I’m hypocritically dumping thoughts into right now. Getting a level on Candy Crush, a few retweets, some likes or a pleasant comment. Bing. Dopamine. I switched my energy supplier through my phone and feel like I’ve achieved something. If I’d built my own wind turbines or solar panels and installed them myself perhaps I’d be legitimised in my sense of achievement. Outside of that, really I just clicked a few buttons, didn’t read a book and sat on my arse. You can do it too and we both pay a scratch less to one of the monoliths of the future. Oh joy. Click my link. Bing. Dopamine.

Tomorrow I’ll bring my book.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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