In recent months, I have avoided using “Google” as my search engine because I don’t like how it tracks me and targets me with advertisements and splashes my phone’s newsfeed with vaguely related topics. So I have been using Duck Duck Go. It’s good but has its limitations. For example, I can’t find the website of my children’s school on there. No idea why. It’s also very USA-centric which is fine if you’re in the USA, but less useful if you’re not.
Anyway, the point is, I have recognised and become afraid of how omniscient the internet is. I want to be more anonymous.
Today, however, the internet set out to prove me wrong. It wasn’t Google though. It was this website – wordpress.com. I talked a lot about cooking in a couple of blogs and voila, it threw up a couple of other cooking blogs for me to look at. I wouldn’t have even noticed except that one of the pictures looked kind of familiar.
Fifteen years ago, when I was teaching English in China, there was a man just outside the University gate who sold sweet little buns. My friends and I referred to him as “the mianbao man” because mianbao is Chinese for bread. We never found out a more specific name for the delicacy he sold. The French teachers and I were the chief addicts. We would buy a packet of five or six and demolish them in moments (the packets only cost a few cents). They were sweet with a slightly crunchy base and delicious soft tops.
When I went back on a holiday with my husband four years later, the mianbao man’s little shop had become a mobile-phone shop. It was a terrible disappointment.
So imagine my glee on spotting (at the bottom of my own blog) a pretty little picture of buns that looked so familiar and a title “Small Honey Buns” by a blogger called ChineseTuition88!! The accompanying story about it being the blogger’s classic quick breakfast throughout high-school seemed to match my own associations. Needless to say I have attempted to adapt the recipe to our bread-maker and am anxiously awaiting the beeps which tell me it has done its bit.
Getting back to the internet, I must admit to missing Facebook lately too. Last night, while I put the bread mix in the machine, I listened to a Sydney Morning Herald podcast. It was (at least in part) celebrating the beautiful kindnesses that have been performed in our society because of COVID19. About 90% of the stories involved social media pages of some sort.
At this time, I do not feel connected to my community. I do not hang about at the shops. I am not up at the school chatting to parents. So far I have not succeeded in organising online soirees with friends. My pond has shrunk to a puddle and I have to be honest and say that it’s mostly my fault.
Of course social media would make it easier. But I’m sure it’s not essential. I just have to be more determined, more enthused, more pro-active.
Just like I have been with this honey bun recipe!