Free eyeballs

I live one Curly Wurly away from a Tesco Express. That’s how long it takes somebody to eat one while wandering down my street – finishing it just in time to hurl the wrapper into my garden.  I’m afraid I chunter when I occasionally pick those wrappers up. I curse the fact that I have to share this beautiful planet with untidy Curly Wurly eaters – not to mention the Twix lovers, Mars bar munchers and other confectionery litterbugs who use my garden as their litter bin. I find myself wishing that their teeth would fall out.

But just before lockdown I had a delightful experience. I got chatting to two women who were trundling up and down the street with long tongs and plastic sacks picking up all the litter. Volunteers! Part of a national movement – apparently, you just have to ask the council and they will provide you with all the equipment you need to be a litter-picker! And these amazing women were giving up their Sunday mornings to do just that! Wow! I could join in I thought – if only I wasn’t so busy, self-centred and lazy.

But… I did promise myself I’d clean up the canal path near me. At least the kids hanging out under the bridge smoking weed and spraying obscene graffiti on the concrete would have a cleaner environment. But guess what? Next time I went I discovered some other volunteers had beaten me to it. The abandoned poo bags, the bicycle wheels and the fag packets were all gone.

What wonderful people! And it started me thinking about all the other wonderful people in the world. I recently built my own website www.mirrorworld.MONSTER. All the software was free – donated by loving techies. I taught myself how to record a podcast. Again all the software was free. 

At the moment, I’m teaching myself to be a digital artist. But when I say teaching myself, I really mean that other people are teaching me – perfect strangers are instructing me with their free online videos. In fact, I created the eyeball above simply by following a free tutorial. Imagine that – free eyeballs. What a world!

I romanticise these people who provide services for nothing. I know they are kind to dogs, spoil their children and would never end up as concentration camp guards.

Often it’s easy to believe that the world is populated by monsters, that the streets are full of muggers, bottom-gropers and rapists – and that the internet is riddled with paedophile predators, catfish trolls and billionaires trying to steal your soul and your inside leg measurement with their fiendish algorithms. 

But it’s not all true. A lot of people are doing stuff for nothing to make the world a better place – so I dedicate this (free) blog post to all those wonderful people who are giving away free knowledge – and to the women who pick up the Curly Wurly wrappers in my street. Thank you! Stephen Jackson

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