Snow day & why Pliny would have loved foursquare

Posted: 01/08/2011 in classics, Navel gazing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Where oh where has the week gone? Suddenly it is Saturday afternoon and I find myself in a Malaysian restaurant in Hoboken. My first proper trip out in a week, and there were shrimp dumplings and tofu to celebrate. I’ve been under virtual house arrest studying all week so every day ran into each other. No lunches in the city, trips to the grocery store or sessions at the gym to break things up. It was my most pathetic foursquare week ever. Even Alex working from home on Friday because of the snow didn’t disrupt. We both sat in front of our laptops typing away, ignoring each other as we are dedicated to our respective causes.

That being said, I got a lot of studying done, and feel like I am starting to climb the mountain that is my humongous to-do list. I am somewhere around base camp at the moment but I’ve got my crampons and a rucksack full of Kendal mint cake so I am good to go. I’ve been reading Pliny the Younger’s letters – specifically the ones about his houses. Back in the day he didn’t have the benefit of MTV Cribs in order to show-off his properties, and since they were some distance from Rome he had to rely on correspondence to spread the word about his snazzy dining room with a pool in it so food could float towards his guests. It would appear that Romans are as lazy as New Yorkers when it comes to going anywhere above 59th Street (I am sorry the Upper what?). All this reading about lush villas and neglecting my foursquare account got me thinking about Romans and social media. Given how much Roman life relied on (and relished) self-promotion I think they’d have enjoyed Twitter and FaceBook but I reckon that foursquare would have been pretty dangerous.

Sure it would have been fun at first. Everyone checking into the Senate, temples or their patron’s house. Vying to become mayor. The excitement of a shiny new toy to highlight how important and cool you are by where you have been, and badges to collect! There so would have been a ‘Crossed the Rubicon’, ‘Britannia 4 Life’ and ‘I’m on a boat & not coming back because I’ve been sold into slavery!’. But, things would get bloody. There would be generals invading Gaul just to get the ‘Marauders’ badge. Suddenly foursquare rewards would rival a triumph or war loot. Imagine a prominent politician not being the mayor of his own home. Some underling who visited his house regularly stealing it. Oh the shame.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that Pliny didn’t have access to modern social media tools as he would have been an oversharer, and I’d have even more things to read.

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