Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Always Take The Weather With You

The British are obsessed with the weather. The Spanish are obsessed with the weather. Which statement is true and which statement is false? Answer: both are true, as would be the case for the Germans, the French, or the Maasai of the Serengeti. As far as the latter are concerned, their obsession probably doesn't manifest itself in quite the same way. They aren't umbilically connected to digital technology and obsessed to such an extent that the merest hint of weather demands that they attempt to break the internet.

There has been some weather in Mallorca in the past few days. There always is weather of course - you can't really avoid it, and that has nothing to do with obsessing over it - but there is weather and there is weather. Or perhaps one should say that there is the consequence of weather as much as there is the force or action of weather. Hence and for example, we have been regaled with images of submerged cars. One uses the word "regaled" advisedly. It means to provide entertainment or simply to entertain. Are cars submerged on a flooded road entertaining? Seemingly so.

To return to nationalities' relative meteorological obsessions, this recent burst of weather has been notable for its cross-cultural consensus. Spanish (Mallorcan) media outlets have posted their images and videos of cars in water and have been greeted with rapturous volumes of likes, wows, loves, sad faces, and angries. The full range of emoticon emotions has been shared by a nationality which is supposedly less obsessed with weather than the British. We can most definitely put that notion to bed: an obsession is for cultural sharing, especially if it can be done digitally and involve the result of 100 plus litres per square metre of rainfall.

The dramatic evidence of heavy weather is in contrast with the consequence of prolonged, unchanging weather. This can be and is equally dramatic and a great deal more concerning, but it is not as requiring of immediate hits on the share button. The drought, which the environment ministry will doubtless insist is still at pre-alert levels despite the cars up to their bonnets in wet stuff, has produced endless images of barren stretches of former reservoir and levels so low that a car would struggle to get water to cover its wheels.

What of course is missing is the drama and so therefore all the mobile phones frantically capturing still and moving images of weather and uploading them for an enthralled internet community to respond with "OMG" and an accompanying like, wow (choose as applicable, or not).

Weather in Mallorca, where most are concerned, would be 30-plus celsius, a blue sky and a gentle turquoise sea lapping onto velvety white sand. It's the difference which counts and what might seem unusual or unexpected. Take snow. There's snow in Mallorca? Oddly enough, there is. It may still be waiting to produce a repeat of 1956, but if and when it does, the internet will be broken for certain.

The interest (obsession) with weather has grown exponentially in line with digital technology. This didn't exist in 1956, was most certainly not universally available in 1990 when there was that much weather that Alcudia's City of Lakes became the City of THE Lake, or sufficiently diffused when the hurricane of 2001 occurred and flattened whole pine woods. Even the tornado of 2007 predated the mass adoption of social networks.

Weather is thus a product of technology that fascinates even if the weather event is of no consequence, such as when the Puig Major gets a covering of snow. So technologically-driven is it that it produces an incessant bombardment of non-weather images, such as the here is a photo of some sea and some sun, followed by another photo of similar sea and similar sun. Wow, like, love, share. Non-weather is the typical dish served up by the webcam for its devotees. Here is a not terribly clear image of a cloud in the sky. Goodness, look at that. A cloud. There can be few more pointless exercises known to mankind than to stare at what a webcam is looking at for more than five seconds (if that, or indeed at all). But mankind deals in pointless exercises. If not, there wouldn't be any "X Factor" or the current England cricket team.

An obsession? Totally. Come rain, come shine, come hail, come snow, come wind, it is all there courtesy of technology. Once captured, it whizzes around the world in a frenzy of sharing. We are all Meteo men, women and children, assisted by Meteo cats and dogs (assuming they themselves aren't raining) and other members of the animal community to be digitally found experiencing weather. We can always take the weather with us. It's on our mobiles. Wow, like, sad face. Share.

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