Scientists from the University of Kortnapping in Finland today unveiled ground-breaking research on social networking which reveals the crushing impacts that such internet sites as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook might have on pub culture.
An early sufferer of so-called “pub performance anxiety” (PPA) Trevor B, 46, from Gloucestershire spoke to us candidly about the problem.
We have protected his identity for his and his family’s safety and his words below were typed by an actor.
Trevor recalls fondly how he felt about going to the pub before the “rampaging” effects of social networking.
“I was quite the larrikin, a bit of a jester, and the centre of attention in my local. You know, always had an opinion, always ready with a joke or quip and I could do quite a few tricks with beermats,” he told us.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I was the life and soul of the party, but I was certainly the pancreas or, perhaps, a gland of some sort.”
“But then one night – it was a night like any other, really – after I had flipped and successfully caught five, I think it was five but it might actually have been six beer mats, I heard some disgruntled mutterings around the table.”
“Foolishly, I didn’t think anything of it.”
“But then over the next few weeks mobile phones started to appear in the pub and it didn’t seem like I was really connecting with my friends anymore.”
“Then, I started to hear words I’d not heard before… retweet, delicious, mash-up…stuff like that. And it all went downhill from then on.”
The realisation that his drinking buddies were no longer impressed by him was made all the worse for Trevor when he uncovered the reasons why.
“Overnight it seemed, they were starting to gain their opinions from these web sites. They were looking factually at both sides of an argument in order to gain an insight before they’d come to their own conclusions.”
“They were watching monkeys juggling chainsaws whilst riding unicycles on YouTube.”
“They were enjoying humorous postcards and witticisms on their Facebook Walls, and they were even following Stephen Fry on Twitter.”
“I couldn’t compete,” a visibly upset Trevor told us.
“Of course, there were times before all this happened when I would forget a punchline or a story would kind of meander.”
“It never really seemed to matter before, but all this social networking has changed that. Everything on the internet is much funnier, much cleverer – AND they can do it right every time without fail. It’s just not fair.”
Form went right off
Before long, Trevor found himself struggling to come to terms with his affliction.
“I would lie awake at night worrying about whether my jokes were current and funny.”
“I became anxious and panicky about whether my opinions were strongly-formed, based on sound reasoning and backed up by the facts.”
“And, most crushingly of all, I increasingly suffered with the jitters when it came to beer mat flipping. My form went right off.”
“It ruined my nights at the pub,” bemoans Trevor, through tears.
“So much so that I can’t go there any more. My wife and children have really felt the pressure and stress of this too. But, unlike me, they seem to have found a way of coping. They go out at night a lot more these days.”
Incredibly small fish
Professor Ulfrick Ulrickson of Kortnapping University explained that Trevor’s experience was common and not at all uncommon.
“Our studies of the early victims of PPA reveal an alarming consistency in their symptoms.”
“When once they were big fish in small ponds, the ease of access to genuinely talented, interesting, and funny people via FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter and the like, has revealed the victims to be merely incredibly small fish in gargantuan oceans.”
“And quite ugly, incapable and untalented fish at that.”
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