Fast food, quick ready meals and shiny screens, habitually eating from the lap in front of pixels as company.
23 to 38 year olds regularly overindulge on nourishment. They addictively consume from their laps of consumption.
Desiring to participate in two for one, one month free offers. A millennial sit slumped in-front of a screen washing away the flavour of their food with a ready-made bingeable script. The act of eating, of being satisfactorily nourished wanes, as the VDU* numbs taste buds.
Screen-lit dining with a side of Netflix is a culinarily underwhelming experience. Unlike an up-next spicy algorithmically seasoned series. The relationship is consummated between the binge of a series and the binge of a packet of complimentary prawn crackers that came with the Deliveroo Chinese takeaway.
This food sits in the flat cavity of a lap, whilst its millennial creator enjoys a stream of narratives; connecting nourishment with the nurture that was once experienced from the lap of their parents. This connection tempts their generation into living a binge on binge lifestyle. Turning bodies, laps, into dining tables; never checking how much is left on the plate in fear of missing live-streamed tender moments.
The act of eating from the lap, sitting with food on the thighs feeds back to traditional communal nourishment. Sharing the pleasure of intimately eating from the body whilst sitting with one another naturally allowing the narratives of discussion to become the taste buds distraction. It is this experience of mutual physical and mental nourishment has for 17 years* been rejected by lonely, false, filtered realities.
Normative Netflix and chill saturates the ritualized space of a seasonal Chaji tea ceremony.
Millennials grow up being nourished between two thighs; psychologically and physiologically over indulging to be able to keep up with the best new releases that everyone at work is watching.
*VDU, Visual Display Unity *In 2002 The Bachelor aired on the American Broadcasting Company ABC, marking the first of many reality TV show.
Employees personalize their workspace, creating better fung shui. Adorning office booths with the addition of plants, photos and decorations of all the good times.
How would the modern day worker personalize the lap, the space that a laptop ‘casually’ inhabits to write their last minute daily commute emails?
The closest thing to personalising this bodily ‘table’ for work is with company approved snap-on stock piled laptop skins.
A lap as a hollow grove, that once provided parental security is now where millions of modern day workers place their portable devices — technology that connects them to their colleagues in the other room.
The work an employee performs — the work they get payed for and the work they don’t — is personal the instant it happens in their lap. The communication and company interacted
with from between their waist and their knees surpasses any physical reality*.
Any commuting after-hours placement of a machine that is capable of hundreds of functions isn’t contracted as overtime. In-fact the lap has become the standardised platform for a laptop to repurpose personal body space for work.
The lap is the workspace. It is the part of the human body that signs off emails and provides a space for modern work to merge with intimacy. A work-life balance that is in jeopardy the moment a child gets put aside for an e-mail push-notifications.
Intricately and intimately unplugging the lap from the laptop.
*The most people sitting on one chair is 2,387
and was achieved by NSG College League (Japan),
in Niigata, Niigata, Japan, on 13 October 2017.
The expertly crafted body of a machine warms up its users two thighs as part of a daily routine. The slick LED backlit Retina display with its 2.5GHz dual-core intel processor working 10hrs a day, is placed comfortably on the customer’s lap.
The ‘control’ of a laptop is most comfortable from this seated position. A position of ease, comfort and little effort. The transportable machine projects the desires, intrigues and fantasies of the person that opens up its lid. The ‘More powerful.
More pro' response titillates.
It arouses its owners' lap keeping it firmly situated within their hollowed-out space.
The laptop has learnt how to satisfy from an understanding of how to perform. Expertly masking its ability to control beneath a sexy facade of submissive compliance.
Apple learnt from Candy.
Lenovo was taught by Fernando.
Dell and Asus took Roxys lessons.
These dancers know how to perform, they move in the owners’ lap with vigour and rhythm. They know what each pundit wants, when and how they want it. Positioned to dance in the seat of another sensitively steering the gaze to focus on their best assets.
The paralleled performance of the portable machine is rated on the quality of the customer experience. In order to receive a 10 out of 10 rating, it seduces the body upon which it sits. Its curves, its silky chromatic skins are addictive to scroll, click, zoom and swipe on. The way it moves soo subtly and soo suggestively to recommend click-bait is hard for many owners to close the lid and walk away from.
A person lap dancing erotically in the lap of a God is blasphemously unthinkable in the eyes of believers and to those who would protect the sanctity of the otherworldly. The act of a disciple performing, of pleasuring a supreme being with the closeness their body may be profane to the western gaze. When believers pray into their lap they are able to physically interact with their God. Praying involves the use of a person’s body, a person’s lap forming a point of unification between the physical and the spiritual realm.
The effect of the lap as a point of unification is also utilised outside of religion when one person gyrates rhythmically in another humans’ lap with the hope of providing pleasure. In this way the unification occurs purely at a physical level with the outcome climaxing at the point sexual pleasure.
So then a person lap dancing rhythmically in the lap of God the messiah, Allah the creator or Vishnu the preserver may be viewed as a performance that would chastise even those on the side lines of belief.
But what difference is this to a person performing a rhythmic dance of worship to their God?
To dance as part of worship is not profane; it’s a practice which is routed in tribal traditions as Aztecs would dance in drought to Quetzalcoatl and Xoloti to send rain. This type of ceremonial performance is well known and an accepted method of pleasuring a God.
But as anything accepted, there is often a paralleled darker version. The practice of Bacha Baz is the twisted cousin of worship performance. Bacha Baz, is a historical and long dark secret of Afghan custom, involving boys who are taken and forced into women’s clothing to erotically dancing for an audience of older men. It is an example of social customs trumping religious values.
These boys perform to these men as though they are their Gods.
A person arousingly lap dancing in the lap of Gods will always be a performance that is enacted in the shadows. Staged under the gaze of those who deem themselves godly or of an authority figure that surpasses all else.
Lap dancing for Gods can a blasphemous performance depending on who the God is.
Alexa, organize a meeting with Siri next Wednesday 10am at Starbucks.
Alexa, is there life after death.
Alexa, is the Pope a Catholic?
Alexa, what’s the weather like today?
Alexa, phone Paul.
Alexa, preheat my oven at 180° for when I’m home.
Alexa, I have a confession to make.
Alexa, add hemp seeds to my shopping list this week.
Amazon’s little helper Alexa is at the beck and call of the overworked individual. Still in their infant stages these ‘smart’ speakers including Google assist and Siri have made the lives of their owner a bit more luxurious.
These VA’s (Virtual Assistant) are ‘timesaving’ on the mundanity of life, organising shopping list and sending the Tesla to pick up the children from school. Entrusting VA’s with the running of life. From this trust they can work miracles, supply free time, fast response, lock doors, track fitness and give people the chance to fulfil their dreams.
Of course these little ‘assistants’ always listen, learning from every conversation and storing each piece information so they can grow up to be the perfect servant. They are the ultimate fly on the wall, an unknown algorithm that chimes in when people call out its’ ‘wake name’. A divine computational god amongst men.
The ‘skills’ developed by an artificial intelligence are beyond the capabilities of any human. Their ability to make people’s lives and situations ‘easier’ means it has become a 2019 cult item. Compliant yet devious. Many may attempt to master the algorithms or hack the code but really what happens beneath that silky humanlike voice is too complex to comprehend.
So, people opt for that easy time-giving luxury by asking;
Alexa, will I need an umbrella today?
The pure beauty of Aphrodite Venus de Milo draped in the exquisite lap of folded marble, is a look at the epitome of elegance and high class. This guise is what the couture fashion houses of Paris strive to replicate. With Chanel, Givenchy, Dior and Hermes all seeking to design and make pious luxury for the muggle human physique.
From the plinth to the catwalks, the folded lap of fabric worn by Aphrodite becomes unstitched on the high streets of the working classes. High streets that wrap people walking their pavements with clothes that replicate the richness of this Greek Goddess.
These clothes become the skewed and folded down versions of the luxury people want to be able to afford. Projecting the very best of the latest high street trends made from 70% polyester, 25% nylon and 5% wool flammable fabric. People protect their bodies with highly toxic fashion as they sit in the lap of fabrics that allow them, for that moment, a snapshot of the reality of a chiselled Goddess made from stone.
Aphrodite never unravelled under the social pressures to follow trends that she so naturally evokes. Yet the highstreets current crushes seem to loosen, warp and self-destruct, as soon as the next new line is uploaded to our laps. New collections drop with the same uncanny copycat folded splendour. The store mannequins pinned into the folds of the mid-wave fashions are the average person’s version of Aphrodite Venus de Milo. Within their plastic human like form sits the remanence of luxury.
Affordable extravagance trickles down from folded laps of whitened stone.
Facial creases and wrinkles are undesirably obvious signs of growing old and shrivelling up. Thankfully there are endless anti-aging creams, moisturising masks and clinical procedures that all promise to iron out these bodily folds of skin, reviving vitality and preserving youth.
The aging population may see these emerging bodily mounds and synclines as they do creased laps in fabric; in need of ironing out, pressing and steaming. But some of these pipped, pleated and diaper creases are designed to form the items they are part of. They are the lapping foundations of cloths that hug, nip and tuck people’s bodily curves.
The stress that individuals put on their body, be that fabricated or otherwise, has become the main culprit in the emergence of these default lines of lapping skin. No-body can cope with stress without it slowly surfacing. The entire human race suffers from stress responses as the body tries to cope with mounting mental, social, and environmental pressures.
The global body, the land and its ecosystems are no different. Its ancient skin that holds all living things in its lapping valley and mountainous thighs is burdened with humanities traumas and tensions. The heat setting of the post-industrial iron is on too high. The revival creams are too toxic and the global body is simultaneously bursting whilst it concaves under people’s collective heat.
The worlds lap *erupts
as it’s thighs *spreads out.
The societal strain for people to present their best self, pressurises the skin they live on and within. Heating and steaming and smoothing out the lapping structures of the fabric that holds them.
[The iron is starting to melt]
*There were 76 confirmed eruptions at some point
during 2018 from 70 different volcanoes; 35 were
new eruptions that started during the year.
*According to USGS, ± 20 % of U.S. land is
susceptible to sinkholes.
The Head: The face of the body that only its inhabitants recognise.
The Thighs: The walls to its residents protecting them from life’s high winds.
The Lap: Where the feet are placed to lie firmly on the solid ground.
The Throat: The voice of the landscape talking in riddles and jargon
For anybody to become a resident of the lap’s hills, to be placed in the valley of protection comes at a high price. To advance into comfort living can often exceed an excess of 75% of its value. Most people who wish to inhabit its comfort can merely afford to be considered part of the PCM (Per Calendar Month) cluster. But there are an unexpected few those who break the statistic that only 2 in 10 of growing PCM’s are able to balance comfortably in the body of the lap of the hills without losing their lives saving. These underdogs have without effort, without strain, been gifted the opportunity to plant down their roots in the hidden crevice of the geographical laps protection.
Gifted by a Euro Millions Jackpot Lottery that the throat of the landscape whispered once about before it was muffled by the authority of the laps clenching thighs. The gift of an unexpected lottery win qualifies a lucky few (2,685,007,603*) to move into the hills lap for geographical protection.
*Total number of Euro Millions Jackpot winners
since February 2004
A young naive child is protected in the gifted hold of a loved one’s lap. The safety and comfort of this hollow space is a refuge for them in an increasingly unpredictable world. They are impulsively picked up and thrust into the instinctive love and care of a maternal lap. An action driven from a nurturing need to provide comfort to those so fresh into the world. They unexpectedly land in the lap of a loved one to be looked after as any injury is treated alongside sadness and confusion to a sound track of a lullaby. This is a physical haven, a sudden relief from the confusion of the newness of life. Its hollowness provides shelter for a child to feed from the breast of its mother to develop into becoming a respectful member of society.
The action of being so unexpectedly lifted, by some-one familiar, into the comfort of their lap is gesture that slowly develops from an occurrence children accept with glee to one they might later, as independent adults, classify as harassment.
This shift from a loved one’s lap being surprisingly comforting to surprisingly unsettling begins when a child is sat on the thighs of St. Nicholas. A figure they are taught to call Father Christmas and trust as he welcomes them with open arms. A harmlessly cheerful paternal man handing out presents from his sack. But in that moment that a child is thrust onto his lap as their parents stand aside, that feelings of uneasiness starts to simmer.
This uneasiness directs the lap into becoming a place of embodied awkwardness. From this moment onwards, for a child, the action of being surprisingly thrust into the lap of another becomes less comforting. The warmth and tenderness of this physical setting quickly disappear down the cracks of the thighs.
The lap shifts to become a site of gawkiness that’s surface is soon seamlessly sexualised by the desires of raging hormones. Until finally, it retires, becoming itself an area of care to replace the comfort it once received. Its physical nature connects the creator with the inhabitant. A bond defined exclusively by age and desire.
To land in the lap of a loved one and feel comforted is experienced for only a moment in a single person’s young life. The potential to care from this bodily grove lays dormant until reawakened by its own progeny.
“If you have ever had life-long difficulties starting dating, or forming relationships, you might like to check out my new web page… Alana’s Involuntarily Celibacy Project”.
This was the ungendered, positive origins of the abbreviated incel community. The new word incel became accepted as an identity tag for lonely virgins; it was a word that meant they belonged to a specific social group.
Femcels emerged as the female equivalent of the masculinised incel tag. As the name suggests it is the shortened term for females who are involuntarily celibate due to a number of self-diagnosed reasons such as, appearance, social skills, anxiety or personality.
Femcels much like their male counterparts have formed communities online, becoming members of Reddit groups and online forums that provide a community for others like themselves to meet, connect and form friendships. These communities are based on mutual social positioning. Within these online spaces some femcels have taken it upon themselves to define and debate what it means to identify as a Femcel. Artsymedic on R/Trufemcels write that a Femcel is… ‘A woman who cannot get commitment (in the form of a LTR*) and she may or may not be able to get casual sex’.
This definition points to the fundamental point that femcels, and incels, are those in our communities that are not in any form of romantic relationship; leaving many feeling both disconnected and isolated. They become removed from many modern societies that stigmatise and place popularised assumptions on those of a certain age (mid 20s up) who are virgins and late to the dating game; the lonely virgins of the sexualised 21st century.
There is the question, however, about whether or not femcels should be placed in the same category as their male counterparts who have topped the news with outbreaks of extreme violence and hate crimes. It was the infamous incel Elliot Rodgers who justified his killing of women based on his experience of sexual rejection and resulting celibacy. This account, along with others, has led to the effects of sexual frustration becoming somewhat of a public safety concern.
‘The course of true love never did run smooth’
The word incel was never intended as a term, tag or brand for men to use to release or encourage one another’s misogyny. A word they could hide behind to freely blame women for their circumstances based upon some historical myth. It was never about gender driven revenge but rather it was intended as a term for a social support system and positive discord.
‘A rose by any other name would not smell as sweet.’
Blame can also be placed heavily on our 24/7, hyper-connectivity, social media class bubbled algorithms and designs for the large and potentially evolving levels of unwelcomed celibacy.
Is it not the designers of these interconnected interfaced social mazes that should be the ones providing a sense of wholesome inclusivity that the original incel community so desperately craved?
Arguably designers are responsible for largely influencing the way we interact with the world around us from the subliminal messaging of paid ads to the online communication etiquette we abide by on social media. Those who design online are in many respects accountable for their audiences’ mental state at the moment of interaction.
In respect to many creatives there is an existing level understanding of influence that they have, with a lot of time and research carried out to ensure outcomes are understood as intended. Avoidance of misinterpretation, offense and degradation is fundamental.
When looking into the situation of femcels (and in many respects incels) it appears that, at some point their social situations and relationships have faltered leading to a state of increased isolation. This is where the world of online forums and communities play their role. They act as a network in which like-minded people can form friendships, finding solace in their commonality.
This is a catch-22 situation.
How can femcels who seek connections break out of the cycle of isolation through talking to those in the same situation? How can they avoid the same destructive misandry as their incel counterparts?
There is a lack of desire to communicate with the society they condemn for their circumstance. This condemnation, however, is as generalised as the stereotypes they have themselves been labelled with. It is a dark example of online induced community branding. Where both communities are fractionalised to the point of complete network disconnect.
There is a responsibility for the designers and programmers of online platforms to break the norm of using personal user intel to suggest friends, articles and plug events that they algorithmically believe to be of interest to users. To deconstruct the inherent personal branding of users by eradicating some levels of individualised rewards.
These algorithms are, to generalise, pushing femcels and incels down a rabbit hole, making it nigh on impossible for them to burrow their way out into developing LTRs they may desire.
“The sight of lovers feedeth those in love”
Going back to the genesis of the term incel, the title of a blog that was a created to be a positive space, is key.
Members of the original blog formed to unite and develop social understandings of what it meant to be involuntarily celibate, using positivity to overcome the feelings of loneliness attached. In a BBC Radio 5 interview from 2018, blog owner Alana can be heard talking about the importance of developing different connections with different people. She is understanding that there are many complex reasons for why people become lonely, but believes that emotional support should be given where possible from outside of current insulated online forums. To help measure the control of algorithmic illusions that cast a shadow of control over life’s nonsensical nature.
In examining the causes and feelings of the femcel and incel communities online it is clear that there are pockets of splinter groups that have become hives of circumstantial infuriation. It is these less than calming groups that those with similar online presences may be recommended to join to release their own troubles. In following Alana’s argument, I believe that there is a responsibility of designers and programmers to use their skills to create bubble breaking cultural suggestions and design platforms that use non-linear pathways of communication.