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A kiss is just a kiss, even to strangers?


I don't know about you, but peoplewatching is rarely time wasted. Human beings are perpetually fascinating, in what they say or do.

Social mores and fashions come and go - men no longer wear hats, for example, and women have long given up on the shoulder pad look of the 1980s - but human nature rarely changes. There will always be bores, bigots, bullies, crooks, heroes, mavericks, mankind's entire cast.

But it's often the devil that is in the detail. The aspiring middle classes have invariably amused with their dinner parties, their obsessions with house prices and golf, their desperate need to belong, but there's another odd trend out there which is as contagious as it is hilarious.

The middle classes simply can't stop kissing each other. Snogging, puckering up, call it what you will, is as common at any dull as ditchwater corporate function these days as are name-cards and canapes.

It wasn't always like this. 20 or 30 years ago, there was still a traditional British reserve - largely unspoken - which held sway and characterised the essential dignity of our Island race. We weren't the untrustworthy French, or the volatile Italians. We were true Brits.

No longer. Large sections of society have cast aside their inhibitions to grab virtual strangers and deliver at least one, and sometimes two, smackers on the cheeks of occasional acquaintances at best, virtual strangers at worst.

Does this matter? Call me oldfashioned and/or repressed but I sincerely believe the snogfest tells us much about the way we live now.

The digital revolution has changed society beyond recognition. It has spawned a new generation addicted to living out their lives in the relentless glare of a 24-7 virtual world. Andy Warhol's maxim that everybody can be famous for 15 minutes has been consigned to history - these days everybody can be a star forever, thanks to Ipads, tweets. and the rest. Or they think they can.

Kissing virtual strangers for effect is part of that Zeitgeist, which demands a conformity of type. And it's rarely much to do with that priceless human commodity, genuine love.
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Title Annotation:Editorial; Opinion, Columns
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 29, 2013
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