I’m always interested to overhear my kids telling people about what I do. Working from home means that they get to see my daily duties up close so they have a pretty good idea what I get up to day to day.
Usually they say things like “Dad reviews games” or “Dad writes about gadgets.” But yesterday I was intrigued to hear my eight-year-old daughter say “Dad’s like a Dandy.”
At first I thought she was talking about the comic — although I couldn’t quite work out how Desperate Dan or Korky the Cat really related to my online meanderings. Over breakfast I asked her what she meant.
“You know, Dad, you have all these games and gadgets and you like people to see you using them and you write about it all over the place online.” I’d never quite thought about it in those terms before but she did have a point — but not one I necessarily liked.
“What’s that got to do with The Dandy?” I asked her.
“Not The Dandy, Dad — Dandies. We did a project on them at school.” The penny dropped, and with a little bit of googling I realized what my daughter was getting at. As Wikipedia puts it: “A dandy is a clothes-wearing man; a man whose trade, office and existence consists in the wearing of clothes.” I was being cast as a technological version of the fashionistas of the 1800s.
But did I really just use technology for the sake of it? I guessed there was probably more truth in this than I realized — not least because the idea niggled me so much. But surely technology was a worthier pursuit than fashion? My passion is making the world a better place, rather than simply dressing it up in clothes that will soon be out of date. OK, so maybe not totally different but come on this is the future we’re touching here with these electronics — isn’t it?
Returning to Wikipedia’s description: “For all this perennial martyrdom, and poesy, and even prophecy, what is it that the dandy asks in return? Solely, we may say, that you would recognize his existence.” It was hard to escape the similarity.
Maybe some tech writers are the dandies of the information age. In some ways we get to live out the technological dream — trying out gadgets and games early and gallivanting around the world. But in return for being noticed, for being considered to matter, I wonder if we are not in danger of missing the finer things of life.
My daughter didn’t seem to think it a bad thing to be a dandy. In fact she reassured me the next day that they were important for society, so fashion ideas could be tried out on a few people before wore them. Maybe there’s hope for us yet.
[Post previously published on Wired.co.uk]