Running With Scissors In The Dark

That was the final straw. It is 5am. I’ve been lying awake for two hours, trying not to scratch mosquito bites. Giving in to the urge is not just futile; it is positively disingenuous. The only thing that brings relief – for a couple of minutes – is a generous application of tiger balm. (It’s not made from real tigers). I reach around in the dark for the appropriate tub of goo, scoop some on to my index finger, and rub it into my itchy feet. Except it turns out not to be tiger balm, but fucking hair wax. Stupid non-existent night vision.

Insomnia this acute makes me wonder if I’ll ever sleep again. Hell, it would be a miracle if I could achieve this amount of wakefulness in the daytime! Thailand is a country in which you can buy tranquillizers without a prescription, but not at 5am. So here we are.

Let me tell you about yourself: When you were a child, sometimes you would wake up thirsty in the middle of the night. When this happened you would go downstairs to the kitchen for a glass of water. On your way back, half-way up the stairs, in the dark, you would be possessed by the overwhelming feeling that someone, or something was right behind you. This something seemed malevolent, and you sprinted the rest of the way in a surge of adrenalin-fuelled panic. Right?

I think most people will recognise this experience. But what causes it? Is it the remnants of a primal fear of the dark that motivated our cavemen ancestors to keep the fire burning, facilitating the evolutionary advantage that keeping the cold away brought? Were we affected by ghost stories and nightmares more than we thought? Maybe some people never grow out of it. Tell me, I’d like to know, and it’s not the sort of thing you can quickly look up on Wikipedia.

Speaking of which, here’s something that really grinds my gears: Wikipedia bashing. Everyone knows someone who screws up their face like a bulldog chewing a wasp at the mere mention of Wikipedia, before descending to lecture you on how Wikipedia cannot be relied upon. Whodathunkit? Here’s the thing though – unless you’re relying on it to tell you who owns the deeds to the Gaza Strip, you’d have to go out of your way to find something inaccurate. If you want to know the year of the general strike in the UK, the variety of grape most commonly used in Chilean wine or the approximate population of Bolivia, I’m sure enough that Wikipedia wouldn’t let you down. And, frankly, what’s the worst that could happen if it did? A loss of face at the wine club? A diplomatic incident with a Bolivian ambassador?

Anyway. It makes for a good ‘bored at work’ alternative to Google-whacking. Find a fact on Wikipedia that is not true, or an unverifiable assertion that does not have ‘citation needed’ appended to it. Then crown yourself the king of the world, you smug wanker.

Are you still with me? Probably not, but this is the kind of rubbish that’s flying through my head at a million miles per hour and keeping me awake. Typing it into a computer isn’t helping much, but it is at least making me feel as if I’m not completely wasting my time. Probably a couple of people will laugh at me putting hair wax on my foot, a couple more will be glad it wasn’t just them running up the stairs to escape a vengeful spirit, and perhaps one or two real geeks will go fact-busting on Wikipedia.

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3 Responses to Running With Scissors In The Dark

  1. mieke says:

    Yeah, I never got out of my fear of the dark so I just stay bundled up in bed at night. Unless I don’t sleep alone which is HEY! never!

    On Wikipedia bashing. I realize this study is now almost 4 years old and the internet is prone to more and more idiocy as more people gain access, but I’m betting it’d still hold up pretty well if they redid it.

  2. Amardeep says:

    I’m so with you on that running up the stairs thinking there is someone there. *shudder*

    In the case of Wikipedia, i might be that person who screws up their face. Sadly even newspapers are using wikipedia as their first port of call for fact checking. depressing.

  3. Ray says:

    Nice post. In my case there was a choice of demons to fear – and they were real ones.

    Don’t agree with your view of Wikipedia though and I share Amardeep’s discomfort. Most people could crown themselves “King of the World” by your definition – several times a day if they could be bovvered.

    This bloke http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/46900,opinion,knowledge-by-consensus-wikipedia-jimmy-wales has a view that converges with mine. Even more pompous than me, too, so a double whammy.

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