Collecting Car Numbers

When I was little kid, back in the days of post-war rationing, a craze swept through the country for collecting car numbers. Today there is a scientific name for these things, it’s called a ‘meme’, a self-replicating word or something that seems to arise out of nowhere, sweep through whole communities like a dose of flu, and then die out only to reappear somewhere else. So enthused was I that I gave up some of my sweet money to get a little notebook to write them down in (for those of you without sagging skin and a need for nose-hair clippers, my note book did not have Toshiba written upside-down on the lid, it had a red cover and pages made from paper!).

Anyway, me and me mates would hang over the school wall, waiting patiently, for a car to come by. Back then they were few and far between and sometimes a whole playtime would go by without a single ‘hit’. Slowly we filled our notebooks and from time to time we’d confer with our fellow collectors; all we were interested in was who had the most numbers. With hindsight it really was an all-consuming waste of time.

As an aside, in his autobiography, Eric Sykes wrote about an incident in his childhood. He bought a notebook to have a go at collecting car numbers, and sat himself on the pavement outside his house to wait for cars, but none came. The local policeman appeared and said “You’ll get piles if you sit there”. So the young Sykes sat there all day, thinking the policeman had meant he would get piles of car numbers. I know how he felt.

I’m very new to this blogging thing and was only inspired to give it a go after reading about some ex-pat bloggers here in Turkey and checking out what they were writing about. Having had a few adventures in the years J and I have lived here it seemed like a fun idea to share some of the experiences with an interested audience.

I sought some tips from one or two more experienced bloggers and one that kept coming up was to use ‘social media’ to get the word out. Create a ‘page’ on Facebook and link to Twitter, I was advised; so I did. Now, I’d originally joined Facebook for one reason only, to link in with other activists who were fighting to stop the destruction at Yuvarlakcay; I found it alarming when people I knew (and some I didn’t) wanted to be my ‘Friend’ which would mean I’d be obliged to check in regularly in case they’d sent something. My grandson became a ‘Friend’ and I was amazed to see that he had hundreds of ‘Friends’; I felt very socially inadequate. Twitter was just as bad; grandson said I should join, so I did. Once set up a window appeared that asked, ‘What’s happening?’ Now I assumed that it was my grandson and I set about tapping in a whole load of stuff about what had been going on before eventually looking for a ‘send’ button. In the end I sussed that hitting ‘Enter’ would get it away; or not! Too many characters I was told; it took hours before I realised that  I could only have 140, and that my grandson was not waiting patiently for my reply! Eventually he wrote ‘I don’t see the point of Twitter’, neither did I and that was pretty much that!

A long while later came blogging and social networking; I joined ‘Bloggers’ and did as I was told and linked (quite randomly) to half a dozen blogs to get going. Next thing I know there are emails arriving saying this or that blogger wants to be my friend, or has voted for me or is following. Out of politeness I was drawn in and very soon I had friends all over the place and more blogs to follow and read than there are hours in the day to allow. Some of these people are following hundreds of blogs – how do they do it? Again, I felt socially very inadequate.

Then, a few days ago I had an email to tell me that some one whose blog got me started and whose I do read was now following me on Twitter. This was a worry so I thought it polite to reply and explain my shortcomings re the social networking thing. What a joy his/her reply was – ‘Don’t worry about it’ he/she said, ‘it’s mostly mutual back-scratching, just enjoy the blogging.’ Such a relief, here was someone who felt as I did; most of this stuff is just like collecting car numbers, it takes up time, is of questionable value and it’s not about content only how many you’ve got.

Which brings me nicely to my final point – I’ve just joined up to this NetworkedBlogs thing from Facebook and my widget is looking pretty empty and sad so would you be kind enough to take moment and click on the ‘Follow’ button? You push my button and I’ll push yours. Ta!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü