meeting in a premium mediocre space

Premium mediocre

There’s a phrase that I keep coming back to when I’m spending time with people; premium mediocre. It’s was brought back to front-of-mind by a friend, originally attributed to this long, mildly sweary article from 2017 which – on re-reading – starts out talking about the features of mid-range dining options, but is much more of a deep-dive into the purpose of life for millennials, parental aspirations for their children, and the financial stability of different lifestyles.

And there I was thinking it was just about the over-the-top decor at some of the places I have visited recently. Looking around at a more sophisticated online “cafe recommendation” system than existed ten years ago – when I was still writing my hundreds of reviews – it’s more difficult to generate the enthusiasm to write a review of a cafe. 

While I still appreciate a well-made cup of coffee, and my standards for such a cup of coffee are higher than most, it’s increasingly the details of the venue (ambience, noise levels, suitability for conversation, overall price and fussiness of coffee presentation) as the venue is now more the context for the conversation than an end in itself.

When I need to have a difficult conversations with someone, or try and work productively, the issue is not so much where a venue appears on the social hierarchy (though it often needs to be a factor), but whether it helps achieve the aims of the meet-up. It’s not the cup of coffee (here today and gone tomorrow) but the outcome of the conversation (with a person who will – depending on whether we share a faith-shaped worldview – live forever or at least outlive the coffee) that’s the most important.

Is the person I’m meeting with going to be distracted by the venue? Then it’s time to dial it up, or down, away from the premium mediocre setting.

gap in the schedule

Normally a gap in the schedule would encourage me to take some time and write something up, but this time around – the end of my second uni subject and a few weeks’ break before the third one starts, my son’s tenth birthday party and the lead-in to Father’s Day, and full-time work – it seems more difficult than before to get writing.

I suspect it’s the weight of habit: not publishing on a regular basis leads to more not publishing on a regular basis. The stakes seem higher talking to the world these days, where a misplaced word in a public opinion can be costly to reputation, employability, and more.

So instead, I’ve been hunkering down a little more: spending time with the kids, with Kel, even – gasp – with friends, reading a couple of books, even watching a movie or two. But none of it is leading me to creating anything new. Which seems a waste.

More than the last time I was regularly writing, there’s a sense that if an event isn’t shared with the world, it didn’t really happen, or it wasn’t of value.This is patently false, and yet, there’s an air of wanting to share whatever is happening with the world.

I don’t necessarily want to be sharing the specific events of life with everyone – some things are best enjoyed for what they are, without telegraphing them to all and sundry – but when I’m learning something new, I’d like to share it with others.

So I’m going to try a little harder to place some more words here, even as blogs are being read less and less (or, for the ones that are still attracting larger numbers of people, many of them look highly similar to one-another, as I see on a facebook group that provides a community of support to bloggers).

Is there still a place for personal self-expression on the “old” web?