Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Instagram’

The Zoom Generation

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 4th May, 2020

ZoomTo be honest, I had never heard of Zoom until the London lockdown began six weeks ago. But now I wonder how I would have got by without it. The university course I teach (at SOAS) moved entirely online for the summer term and Zoom is brilliant for class discussions. For lectures, I use Panopto. Similarly, I sit on a number of political committees, including the Liberal Democrats’ Federal International Relations Committee, which I chair, and Zoom is great at not only showing everyone who is there but in prominently focussing on the person actually speaking. As a “host” with Zoom Pro I can arrange as many meetings as I want, for an unlimited period of time, and control who enters the meeting. Chats and questions can take place in a sidebar. So what’s not to like?

facebookOf course, this is only the latest in a series of technological advances that have become “however did I manage without?” items. Social media is another one, especially twitter, not only as a platform on which to air one’s opinions but also as a prime source of news and commentary. I am a great supporter of the usefulness of Facebook, too, though doubtless Instagram-using younger people would say that just shows my age. Similarly, how did we live without SmartPhones, or before that basic mobile phones? It’s a salutary lesson to go back in time in one’s mind to think about the impact new inventions had on people’s lives, not just in our current postmodern age but during the process of modernisation itself: railways, telephone, electricity. You get my drift. However, people did have fulfilling lives before all this technology and I get a sense of that when I have my daily statutory walk in the woods just behind the house, listening to the birdsong and watching the flowers change as spring edges towards summer. Perhaps this COVID-19 experience will make us all realise more profoundly the beauty of simple things. But in the meantime, hooray for Zoom! May the 4th. be with you!

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Theresa May’s Temper Tantrum

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 22nd September, 2018

Theresa May Downing StreetTheresa May returned from the Salzburg EU Council in angry bird mode. In a fiery statement at 10 Downing Street she accused our 27 EU partners of a lack of respect and demanded that they come up with a workable alternative to her rejected Chequers Plan for Brexit. She was obviously riled by EU Council President Donald Tusk’s admittedly cheeky Instagram posting of a photo of the two of them with a cake-stand loaded with pastries, captioned “A piece of cake, perhaps? Sorry, no cherries.” This was a reference to the charge that Britain is trying to cherry-pick some of the greatest benefits of EU membership as it formally leaves the Union. Most notably, the Chequers Plan proposes effectively remaining in the European single market for goods and food, but not for services. The British government has been told repeatedly that this is a non-starter, as the EU is determined that the single market must not be undermined; it is indivisible. The 27 remaining members are united on that and French President Emmanuel Macron, in particular, was deeply irritated that Mrs May chirpily repeated her Chequers proposals at Salzburg all the same.

Tusk May cakeTo make matters worse, back in Downing Street the Prime Minister asserted that the EU had not explained why the Chequers Plan won’t work, which, to put it bluntly, is a lie. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michael Barnier, had set out very clearly the fundamental objections some time ago to his clueless British counterpart, Dominic Raab. The EU also believes that the British still have not come up with a workable solution to the Irish border issue — and it is for Britain to do so, Brussels argues, as it is Britain that is leaving the EU, not the other way round. But it was clear from Theresa May’s combative statement yesterday that facts are no longer at the centre of her political rhetoric. She has adopted the Trumpian disdain for truth that characterises her Brexiteer Tory MP colleagues. And it was to them, not to Brussels, that her remarks yesterday were really aimed. She is fighting to save her political skin. Chequers is dead as a dodo, but she is on the endangered list too, now. And meanwhile the clock ticks towards 29 March 2019, the scheduled date for Britain’s departure from the EU, which seriously threatens to be a disastrous crashing out with no deal unless common sense — and ideally a People’s Vote — prevails.

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