Categories
Advertising social media

Why We’ll See Less Ads, and Hopefully, Less Hate Speech

Over 160 companies have decided to stop advertising on social media platforms for the month of July to support the Stop Hate for Profit campaign – I would too, to be honest, but I don’t have a business or advertise so that’s a bit of an obstacle, isn’t it?

A continually updated list of brands joining the Facebook ad ...

This is a boycott targeted at Facebook, but since Facebook owns nearly everything these days (like your personal data), companies won’t be advertising on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp for a month. Looks like Marky Z’s big plans of owning every platform is kinda blowing up in his face(book) a wee bit, doesn’t it? Instead of making loads of dolla, he’s now losing dolla on all of them. Shame.

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Starbucks and Coca-Cola have also decided to stop their social media advertising for 30 days, but not as part of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, so they’re not just boycotting Facebook. The only “social media” platform they’ll continue to use is YouTube, because like, does anyone actually consider YouTube to be ‘social media’?

Anyway, Starbucks has decided to take a break from all social media advertising while they have “discussions” to figure out how they can help stop hate speech, and Coca-Cola said that “there’s no place for racism on social media platforms” and that they need to have “greater accountability”. So, they’re sort of supporting the campaign but like, not actually supporting it, ya feel?

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So, why are these companies boycotting social media advertising which is a MASSIVE way to reach their target audiences? Not because they know we’re sick of seeing so many goddamn ads, no; because pretty much everyone’s sick of seeing so much hateful content on the platforms and not enough being done about it.

Basically, there’s been a lot of issues with what gets posted on Facebook. It’s been accused of allowing fake news, hate speech, racist, sexist and homophobic content, incitement to violence against human rights and racial justice protesters AND ignoring voter suppression on the site. Last year, it was also accused of discriminating against communities of colour, by targeting housing-related ads to exclude users of certain races. Quite the list, I know.

GIF pirates of the caribbean - animated GIF on GIFER

So, why is this content allowed on the platform, instead of being removed and users blocked? Well, Mr Mark said that two of Facebook’s priorities are: 1) Giving people a voice and 2) Keeping communities safe (I’m assuming “making money” and “capturing data” also fall pretty high on that list). According to him,

“The approach that we’ve taken to false news is not to say: You can’t say something wrong on the internet”

Mark Zuckerberg, 2018

But surely, hate speech is wrong? Incitement to violence of racial justice protesters is wrong? Voter suppression is wrong? Surely, racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism are all wrong?

Do You Have What It Takes To Be Wrong Wrong GIF - LowGif

Anyway, last week, Facebook announced some ‘changes’ to address the misinformation (fake news) and hate speech on its platform. It’s listed “trusted sources” on its new “high quality news” tab feature, which is fair. But, one of these “trusted” sources is Breitbart News, which has been known to work with white nationalists (not the Irish kind) and Neo-Nazis. According to Business Insider, it’s been called an “alt-right” and “white supremacist” platform;

“It promotes racist rhetoric and used a category tag called “black crime” for several years. Its stories often push anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim narratives, and heavily promotes Trump.”

Business Insider, 2019

Hmm. Trustworthy? High quality? Not the words I’d use, like.

Facebook Security Breach Exposes Accounts of 50 Million Users ...

Facebook also said it’ll label “problematic content” that might be harmful or misleading. But, the problem is, this content won’t necessarily be removed – even if it violates Facebook’s standard policies – if it’s “in the public interest” or seen as “news worthy”.  So, brands, people and Stop Hate for Profit have come out and said that that’s not enough.

Basically, they’re taking a stand and boycotting advertising on social media platforms because they don’t want to contribute to the $70 billion Facebook makes off advertising (I know, how mad is that?) when it refuses to accept accountability and take proper steps to protect users from dangerous content. In short, Stop Hate for Profit and the brands standing with it want to show Facebook that,

“Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence.”

Stop Hate for Profit, 2020
Why This Facebook Boycott Is Different – Adweek

The advertisers joining the campaign have decided to put people before profits and accept that they might lose money from the lack of advertising, but it’s worth it for the bigger picture. This isn’t an approach Facebook seem to take, instead preferring to follow the money. But, by cutting away a decent chunk of its profits and holding some advertising revenue hostage, Facebook might decide to do what everyone wants it do to (and rightly so), to get its customers back. Ah, capitalism.

Even though this campaign hasn’t made Mr Mark further change his policies yet, it’s already cost him $7.2 billion off his personal net worth, £45 billion from Facebook’s market value and knocked him off third place of richest people in the world, so, something tells me that he will, pretty soon. $$$

Categories
social media

“Haters Will Say it’s Photoshop”

A few weeks ago, there was a big ~drama~ because a photo of Cardi B at a shop wearing a face mask and gym clothes, with no makeup (I mean, why bother if half your face is covered and you’re just buying shower gel?) went viral. Big whoop, I know.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, there really isn’t one but people are pretty sad these days and apparently have nothing better to do than insult celebrities (rarely males, though, ever noticed?). Melters people started slabbering accusing Cardi of “Photoshopping” her Instagram photos because she (particularly, her figure) looks different in them than this photo of her at the shop.

I mean, 1) IMAGINE not going to Tesco (during a pandemic) wearing makeup, heels and a bikini ? and 2) Prepare for the irony: the photo was fake, anyway. Someone edited the original photo to make her thighs and stomach look bigger. So, no wonder she didn’t look the same. Bloons.

Anyway, the point is: Even if Cardi B did edit her photos on Instagram, so what? Everyone and their ma edits their photos. Surely, that’s why Instagram comes with built-in filters and prompts you to apply one before you post your photo? Surely, that’s why the Instagram ‘Camera’ comes with effects and filters that can change your skin complexion, face shape and eye and hair colour? Or am I missing something?

How is ‘editing’ your figure any different than wearing illusion clothes, sucking in or tensing your stomach, pushing your legs back, wearing a push-up bra and posing in certain ways or taking photos from certain angles? Like, actually, how?

The same people calling Cardi fake are the same ones who upload photos of themselves doing these things, or with Snapchat/Instagram beauty filters. We all know that social media – especially Instagram – is a platform that people feel that they have to post photos of themselves at their best. I don’t look like my Instagram photos in day-to-day life (sadly). Like, does anyone’s Snaps to their best mates look like their Instagram photos?

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People say that ‘Photoshopping’ photos sets an unrealistic beauty standard or a ‘bad example’ to young girls. Cardi B is a self-made, female multimillionaire. She made her mark and her fortune as a successful rapper, despite being in a male-dominated industry (I mean, she’s definitely a better rapper than her husband). She’s won countless awards, broken records and has worked really hard for her success. She made her money, had a child and came back to make even more. How is that a bad example? Is insulting and bullying someone because of their appearance a good example?

As far as an unrealistic beauty standard, Cardi B has always been very public and honest about her cosmetic surgery. She’s posted videos on Instagram about her breast enlargement, and announced to thousands of fans at her concert that she should be at home “recovering from lipo” instead of performing. So, she’s never pretended that her current look or figure is something she was born with.

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Okay, imagine how a young girl feels seeing “natural” photos of celebrities. Now, think of how they feel when they see that all the comments are insults and full of hate. What sort of message does it send when ‘picture-perfect’ photos of celebrities with their professional hair, makeup and best outfits are full of comments calling them fake, unnatural and unrelatable; “Show us you naturally! No one likes someone that fake and superficial”. When more natural and toned-down looks and outfits are posted or ‘off-guard’ photos in supermarkets, the comments are calling them catfish, ugly and fat;  “Wow, you’ve let yourself go, put a bit of makeup on!”; “You left the house like that?”. No matter what, you can’t win.

What Do You Want From Me GIF | Gfycat
Natural and “ugly” or made up and “fake”? Decisions, decisions…

Maybe people do edit their photos because when they don’t, they get torn to shreds. Maybe these negative comments about women’s appearance makes others who have similar features, want or feel that they need to change themselves or how they look to avoid this hate. What if they think, “Well if people think someone who likes as amazing as she does is ugly, what the hell does that make me?” Maybe the fear of showing your natural self and not making any changes – digitally, or physically – isn’t just about the photos you see, but the hateful comments underneath.

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Leave my rolls alone

A post shared by Cardi B (@iamcardib) on

She’s a geg, like.

Cardi responded by posting a video of her in a bikini on Instagram, to show everyone that she does actually look like her photos, and her figure is in fact, real. But, she didn’t need to. She shouldn’t have to feel like she has to “prove” herself to people, especially those who no doubt filter, pose and dress to look different than they naturally do. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best in photos, it’s your profile, your feed, your face and body.

Stop slabbering to women about their appearance. We have to fight so hard to be judged on our merit rather than our looks, but what’s the point if successful, record-breaking women are judged on their ‘Gram, rather than their GRAMMYs? What’s the point telling young girls that, “looks aren’t everything”, if it’s pretty damn clear from the hate and abuse that women are subjected to online, that they basically are? It’s a ridiculous, patriarchy-fuelled self-fulfilling prophecy.

Rant over 🙂

Categories
social media

Where Have All the Brunch Pics Gone?

Social media is as popular as ever, especially since lockdown when people have little else to do or to distract themselves with. I mean, how else is everyone going to know you made banana bread or went for a run or decided to endanger lives and break the lockdown restrictions because you wanted to see your boyfriend?

People might be using social media more, but they might also be mindlessly scrolling less. I know, it seems like a complete contradiction because that’s like the purpose of social media, but I think the way we’re using it has actually changed in the past month.

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Basically, more people are using their social media as platforms to promote change, rather than their food photography skills. They’re giving an insight into their culture and history, rather than their social life. They’re sharing tough and negative experiences they’ve had, rather than trying to portray a picture-perfect life of happiness.

Up until recently, the Instagram stories on my feed used to be photos of coffees, friends, horrifying slow-mo videos of poking poached eggs and the yolk running out – NASTY, selfies and aesthetic landscapes. My ‘Explore’ section was always just photos of class looking salads, smoothie bowls, succulents and the odd makeup video.

But now, the stories I see – and post – are mostly educational. They’re raising awareness of social and human rights issues, sharing news stories and informing people of what the news outlets just ~happen~ to leave out. My ‘Explore’ section is pretty much the same, with loads of infographics, sources of information and more news-worthy content (well, news-worthy to everyone except the news outlets, apparently).

Only ONE avocado in sight

We’re still posting photos, sharing content and talking to people, but what we’re posting, sharing and saying is completely different. It’s like taking what social media technically does and seeing what it can actually do if that makes sense? Are you picking up what I’m putting down here?

Social media isn’t just for sharing photos of what we’re doing and eating, being plagued by ads and mindlessly scrolling to kill time. It’s for informing and educating yourself. It’s for informing and educating other people. It’s for supporting movements. And yeah, the odd avocado toast pic and girly boomerang is still there, but people are realising there’s more important content to share than what you’re eating (because literally no one cares about that, okay?).

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I think we’re seeing just how powerful and beneficial social media can be. We already kinda knew how influential social media channels are, like we’ve seen the impact of social media marketing, influencers and Marky Z bugging our phones to show us ads for things we mention ONCE. But this is all from more of a capitalism (boo) and consumerism point of view, I guess. As in, like, we’ve seen how it can influence what we do, like and buy by showing us what everyone else is.

But now, I think we’re seeing how it could be used to generate and promote change rather than profit and products.  People are learning about systemic racism, history, current events, other countries and cultures, and the experiences of people from different races.

There’s obviously the issue of ‘Fake News’ on social channels – from the pretty convincing articles and the dodgy stories that you know fine rightly never happened. But, I actually think that people are increasingly using sources like Instagram and Facebook for news content. Not just for stories from News outlets, but from people, pages and groups.

I know we’re always told that news outlets are ‘trusted sources’ and we should use them to stay informed because they’re more accurate, but there’s so much that they don’t cover. Like, I read the news and all but I’ve recently realised how little I actually know about what’s going in the world.

I’ve learned more about systemic racism, structural inequality and certain aspects of history in the past month through posts and resources on Instagram than I probably would’ve ever learned from news channels. I’ve learned of events, crimes and issues through Facebook that the news outlets just don’t cover. And it’s not just what they cover, but how they cover it. You just need to look at the reporting of the latest protests to see examples of the racial bias, like.

As well as that, I’m learning from people. I’ve seen photos, videos and infographics of real and regular people from across the world sharing their experiences, their history and their culture.

I’ve seen people, brands, institutions and ideologies being called out, like I feel like the past few months have really brought some things to light. Things that were deliberately hidden or twisted for the purpose of maintaining the racist status quo or that people were simply unaware of. The vibe basically seems to be, “if the news isn’t sufficiently or accurately covering human rights and racial issues, we’ll do it for them”.  My kinda vibe.

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It can be overwhelming, but I suppose we need to be overwhelmed to realise how bad things are and how much they need to change. Plus, I’d rather have an overload of important content that supports a movement and I actually benefit from seeing than an overload of runny poached eggs (ew), beaches and people breaking lockdown rules.

Categories
lifestyle

Checking Myself

Recently, I’ve been trying to reflect and educate myself about racial issues and white privilege. At the end of the day, how can you help challenge a system without knowing about how and why it needs to change? Because I’m white, I will never fully understand the struggles faced by people of colour because of a racist system, that’s a fact. BUT, what I can do is try to recognise the benefits I and other white receive because of that racist system. Ya get me?

A Guide to White Privilege | Illustrated Series — Courtney Ahn Design
Click for a really good explanation

Before anyone feels the need to start slabbering, I just want to clarify. Having “privilege” doesn’t mean that your life’s been easy. No one’s saying you don’t deserve anything you’ve achieved or you’ve had it all handed to you (unless you’re like the Carringtons in Dynasty).

Having “privilege” means that you’re not oppressed because of a specific trait, like your race, gender, sexuality etcetecetc. As a female, I’m oppressed by a sexist system which favours men (this, my friends, is the patriarchy which you’ll often hear me saying we need to destroy). So, I don’t have male privilege. BUT, I am white. So, I benefit (not through choice) by an inherently racist system which favours me. So, I have white privilege. I’m also a heterosexual cisgender female. Which means, that I’m privileged in several ways.

White Privilege | Frontier Centre For Public Policy

I’m not mentioning these other types of privilege to undermine the significance of having white privilege. I’m simply trying to show that the concept of “privilege” isn’t as straightforward as being white or a person of colour, there are several traits that acquire privilege. Acknowledging how you’re privileged is pretty much the first step. So let’s put our right foot forward here, lads.

And, before you starting typing angry or defensive comments, lemme clarify this, too: having white privilege doesn’t mean that you’re racist, either. It means that you automatically benefit from a racist system because you’re white. See the difference?

Now that we’ve got THAT established, let’s get to the nitty gritty of the post. Learning and reflecting about white privilege made me think about the smaller indicators of it in my life that, I suppose I never really paid much thought to before; as well as the bigger ones I was more aware of.

I’m gonna share some of these to ~hopefully~ highlight some things that myself and other people probably take for granted and don’t even think twice about. A lot of these are female-specific because I was thinking about things that I personally buy, but you can put your imagination to good use if you can’t relate to some of them, and can think about things you do buy instead. There’s a wee activity for you.

Use Mannequins to Improve your Display Window

Mannequins

When you’re dandering past shop windows, to either look at the clothes on display or your reflection (we’ve all been caught out, let’s not lie), who’s modelling the clothes?  Ridiculously tall mannequins. And what colour are they? They’re white. Now, I know that a lot of the time mannequins are ivory or pure white, which no one really naturally is (well, my legs are pretty close to be honest); but sure, does anyone naturally have those figures either?

The point is that mannequins are meant to provide a visual representation of what clothes look like on people, and they’re nearly always white. Be it white, cream, a beigey colour or some varying shade of one of those (a bit like my ma’s tea); they resemble the skin colour of white people. Particularly us pale Irish folk who are sun and vitamin D deprived. This means that white people can see how the clothes would look on them and against their skin colour, a lot more than people of colour could.

“Nude”

This brings me to the problematic colour called “nude”. Ahem: “Nude was originally named after the Western-European centric Caucasian skin tone.”

I can dander into Primark, New Look, or any high street shop and pick up a pair of tan tights, or a “nude” bra (I mean, I technically can’t because nowhere stocks bras small enough for me 😦 but that’s another sad tale). The same goes for underwear (because GOD FORBID people think or even worse, SEE that you wear underwear), a stick on bra or those nipple covers (because GOD FORBID people think or even worse, SEE that you have nipples) that match your skin tone.

If you’re white, you can most likely do all of these things, too. Think of all the colour options you have for these items as a white person. Now, think of the colour options people of colour have for these items.  It’s the same with makeup. Most foundation, powder, concealer, bronzer and contour options are suited to white people. I know that a lot of things come in shades that are either too pink, too beige, or too orange. But, it’s one thing to not have items that match your skin tone ~perfectly~ and it’s another to not have items that suit your race.

There has been progress and more brands are extending their “nude” and makeup ranges to be more inclusive of different skin tones, but it’s still predominantly white-orientated.

I don’t know what it’s like to not be able to buy these things, or find them easily. I don’t know how hard it is to find appropriate colour choices or where you buy them if you can’t find them on the high street. I don’t know how people feel who can’t buy these easily, and I’m going to pretend to. But I can acknowledge that these are privileges I have.

22 Best Hair Products of 2020 - Top Hair Care, Styling, and Treatments

Hair care

I can dander (pre and post-pandemic) into Boots, Superdrug, Poundland etc and pick up a wee cheap shampoo and conditioner for like £1 each. There’re hundreds of ones for me to choose from, not that I consider anything above the £1.50 mark, like. If I need a brush or a comb, I have like 15 options to choose from (no lads, a brush is not “just a brush”, it’s so much more).

Visualise your local Boots or Superdrug or wherever you buy your hair products. Think of all the lovely colourful bottles all lined up across shelves and walls. If they’re like mine, there’ll be a section for “Afro-Caribbean Hair” and it won’t be big. There’ll be a couple of brands, normally less than five, and they won’t be cheap. In the brush and comb section, there’ll be a few which are suited to Afro-Caribbean hair, too.

It takes me no effort at all to buy a shampoo or conditioner, or find one that works well for my hair (very little effort because the answer is nothing can help make my hair look half decent), they’re all equally effective (or ineffective). I just choose any of the ones that smell nice or are on offer, and that’s it, really. I don’t have to go to a separate, small section or a particular shop, or online just to find simple hair products for my hair type. That’s another privilege I have.

13 Best Body Lotions, Body Creams, and Body Butters to Moisturize ...

Body moisturiser (or “lotion” if you wanna be posh)

My best friend who’s a person of colour told me this when I was over at hers (pre-pandemic before you ring 101 on me). She uses a special cocoa butter moisturiser which she buys from Amazon, and it’s hella dear. Why does she import a super expensive moisturiser from a tax-evading company? Because, apparently, when her skin gets dehydrated or dry, it goes dull and a bit “ashy” as she calls it. Regular moisturisers like Dove and Nivea etc don’t moisturise her skin as effectively as it would mine, so they leave her skin looking this “ashy” (greyish) colour.

I was so surprised at this because to be honest, I just assumed that moisturisers worked the same on every skin colour. Like, I knew that certain moisturisers like E45 are better suited to people with really dry skin or eczema, but I never would have thought that certain formulas or brands are better suited to different races. I never knew that the popular and generic moisturisers that you see pretty much everywhere are better suited to white skin.

Not only can I not imagine having to pay over a fiver for a tub of body moisturiser, I can’t imagine what it’s like to see all these ads and hype about certain new “best-selling” products and think that they mightn’t suit me because of my skin colour. One of things my best friend loves about going to Ghana to visit her family, is being able to buy her favourite moisturiser. It’s not because it smells better or she just prefers it, it’s because it actually works on her skin, stops it looking “ashy” and returns it to its usual shade.

Before that conversation, I never appreciated or realised that being able to buy and use pretty much any moisturiser I fancy is another privilege I have. I don’t have to choose between having one that’s cheap and accessible and having one that works and suits my skin colour. And that’s why I think it’s important that white people do try to learn and educate themselves about these privileges, because otherwise, you can’t acknowledge them and help contribute to change.

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So, there you go. Those are some of the things that I recognised are privileges of mine when I’m doing day-to-day things like shopping. Things that before, wouldn’t have entered my mind when I thought about “white privilege”. There’s obviously a hell of a lot more including wider issues like poverty, education, healthcare, law enforcement, employment etc. But, by highlighting things like shampoo and conditioner, I’m trying to show just how deep the inherent racism of society goes. It has found its way into every single corner of life, and I, and other white people, never even realised and we never fully will. We can’t understand, but we can educate ourselves.

Hopefully I got you thinking, anyway.

Categories
lifestyle

Will Anything Change?

During lockdown, I always thought that because people had gone like 8 weeks with an entirely new lifestyle that once things went back to being a wee bit ‘normal’ they’d be different.

People weren’t driving as much and were walking or cycling instead – like everyone in Belfast to seems to have a bike now? They’d gotten used to not having takeaways and were cooking their own food more, were only going for weekly shops for things they needed rather than 4 shops a week to “pick up a couple of messages” (guilty), and even though a lot of people lost their jobs, a lot of those who were working, were doing it from home.

There were loads of online articles, photos and posts about how this was our chance to restart everything, have a wee do-over and change how we live. I was personally hoping for a more continental/Scandinavian way of life because they just seem to do everything better?

Happiness Research on Twitter: "CONGRATULATIONS FINLAND! For the ...
Exhibit A.

I reckoned that more people would work from home, there’d more flexibility for working hours, people would change their buying habits (buy less, basically), eat less fast food and support wee local companies rather than big multi-national chains (you know I hate Starbucks, like) and people would be more aware of their distance and hygiene etcetcetc.

Oh, how naive I was. I’m all for optimism but ever since lockdown has eased here, I’ve kind of lost my faith in people a bit.

Everyone seems to have gone back to “normal” – completely forgetting that there’s STILL A PANDEMIC GOING ON?? In the north of Ireland, you can meet up to 6 people OUTSIDE if you stay 2 METRES APART. You’re NOT allowed in other people’s houses.

But, everyone’s sitting in groups of like 8-10 people, touching each other and going into their mates’ houses for wee seshes and sleep-overs. It looks like people didn’t forget how they acted before all this happened, except, apparently, how to use a bin. Great!

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Before, on my wee 8am dander, the parks and roads were so quiet, there was like no rubbish anywhere and I could hear birds.  Now, at 8am, the parks are completely covered in food takeaway rubbish, food packets and empty alcohol bottle and tins. And you can hear (and see) people who are still up from drinking all night in the park. Lovely.

The roads are busier, and people are driving for “necessary” journeys like sitting in a 45-minute queue for a burger or a £6 frappaccino from multi-national chains (some of which don’t pay tax and leave their taps running constantly 😊). Sigh.

And as for the whole being aware of physical contact and hygiene- well, going in groups of 4 to use the park flower-beds as a bathroom and not using any sanitiser after isn’t exactly what I had in mind.

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BUT, I don’t wanna kill my own vibe completely, like. I know that I’m going to change (can I be improved?). I mean, I cut my hair, so, change is definitely on the horizon, lads. A good few of my attitudes and habits have changed, for the better I think, so I there’s some things I’m not planning to go back to. Except maybe my hair. I’m still unsure.

And I do still think that work life will change. I know a lot of jobs were lost and companies closed, but new companies and new jobs will be made. They won’t be the same, but maybe they’ll be more relevant or reflect how things have changed. Maybe “bin tutors” will be a thing?

12-01-14 How to Use a Bin 01 by TinyPirateBoots on DeviantArt

Let’s be real, everyone gets while comfortable. Companies have the same jobs and just keep filling the positions, without necessarily thinking about how effective it is or how it could be better. They obviously create new roles, but they’ll likely stick to pretty much the same structure they have for a few decades. But, this whole disaster is forcing people and companies to reflect on what they actually need and what really works.

Sure, didn’t everyone get told in school by some man in a pink tie, “the job you’ll end up doing hasn’t even been i n v e n t e d  yet?” How magical. Well, maybe he was right. And maybe this is the part where all us millennials looking for an epiphany or “perfect job” we actually want to do FINALLY get what we’ve waiting 10 years for.

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Once we recover from the recession and job market collapse, of course.

A lot of big companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google have already said they’re letting staff work from home for, like, ever. And I reckon smaller ones will follow suit. People with children or who have to commute really far will probably want to stay home, and companies could save a lot of dolla on company cars, office premises and 5kg boxes of Nescafé for the staff kitchen. And just think how much we’d all save on buying “work clothes” and that crap we buy during our lunch breaks.

So, even though it looks like things mightn’t change as much me and other people thought – and hoped, I do reckon that some things will. God, they’d need to.

Categories
Advertising

Seizing Opportunities or Capitalising on Coronavirus?

Let’s be real, everything’s pretty much gone to crap recently. Apart from the obvious main issue which is that thousands of people have sadly died; businesses are closed, jobs have been lost, there’s a massive recession and education is pretty much on pause. Oh, to be a millennial. The future is so dark right now.

In times like this, businesses aren’t functioning as normal (neither am I, like), so they have to try to do something to make a bit of dolla among all this mess. Bitta damage control, really.

So, how are they doing it? By exploiting opportunities!! (or capitalising on a pandemic).

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You’ve probably noticed that pretty much every ad is the same now. It goes a lil something like this: “In these unprecedented and daunting times, it’s so important to stay strong together, even though we’re apart. We will get through this eventually, but in the meantime, we have great pet insurance for only £7.99 a month.”

I know that not all advertising should be to push your products, and I do think it’s important for brands to acknowledge what’s going on and use this as an opportunity to do some social advertising. But, either promote a social issue or promote your product. Promote both if it makes SENSE and they’re somehow related. But, giving a big shpeil about the tough times or a nice wee pep talk and then finishing it off with, “which is why you should set up a fixed-interest current account” kinda ruins the vibe.

Frank Well Go Through This GIF - Frank WellGoThroughThis WCTH ...
“Please buy our products”

Then you’ve got your standard coronawashing, where businesses promote how much they “care” and are thankful for all their staff, key workers and the NHS etc, distracting people from their unethical corporate behaviour. @Virgin @Amazon – you know what would mean more than you telling us how supportive you are? Paying your tax so the NHS can be funded and actually supported ?

I get that brands want to help out and do whatever they can in these “uncertain” and pandemic-y times, and it’s a bit like greenwashing in that I do believe they’re doing a good thing despite the reason. But, surely it’s just another way to delay or avoid changing other important issues in your business strategy?

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“Oh, sorry, we can’t pay our tax because we’re too busy CONNECTING people”; “Yeah, we still use child-labour and sweatshops BUT look! We’ve donated some jammies and towels to key workers!”

Maybe part of the reason some brands are so on board with publicising their pandemic-related contributions is so that people don’t pay attention to their more negative contributions? But, maybe I’m just being while cynical. And sure, at least brands are taking a break from greenwashing though, right? Every cloud !

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Then, there’s the more obvious capitalisation of COVID-19. Skims by Kim Kardashian, Boohoo and ASOS are some of the brands attempting to make face masks “fashionable”. And this has been pretty controversial. Are they making protection more accessible? Or are they potentially endangering people?

I think it’s a great idea to make masks prettier or more aesthetic to encourage more people to wear them and minimise spreading Coronavirus and other infcetions. But, the problem is that these marks aren’t medically beneficial. 

Boohoo blasted by NHS staff over selling 'useless' face masks ...

So, while more people might wear masks, LESS people are going to wear ones that actually work because they don’t come in neon colours or leopard print. It doesn’t matter if twice as many people start wearing face masks if they’re swapping medically-approved ones for flimsy nylon ones offer pretty much no protection. 

Like, fair enough if you want to take advantage of opportunities to make some money during all this, seeing as most businesses have seen a massive loss in sales and need to survive. But, so do people.  

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CEOs everywhere

The problem is, that even if these brands don’t say that their masks are actually functional and have things like, “not a respirator and will not eliminate the risk of contracting disease or infection” on their websites, people won’t necessarily know or pay attention. They’ll see a cool, patterned face mask for a fiver versus a boring black one that doesn’t fit ANYBODY’S face, and they’ll probably opt for the one that’ll look best on the Gram.

It’s like making instant tan with SPF02 and promoting it as “suncream” that makes your skin look tan, but SMALLPRINT: doesn’t actually protect you from the sun.

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Sure, remember when Pretty Little Thing made bikinis that were for “poolside lounging only” – not to be used in water because the dye runs? Fashion’s about the aesthetic, not the function. And I know that if masks are ‘aesthetic’ then more people will wear them, but marketing non-protective masks and just HOPING consumers notice the small print might be crossing a line, like.

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Categories
lifestyle

Diary of an Over-Thinker

For those of you who don’t know, or can’t tell from my blogs, I’m a DEADLY over-thinker. Every single little I do is over-thought into oblivion, before and after I’ve done it. So, I wanted to let y’all into the mind of me so you can see the kind of stuff I have to deal with from myself and my annoying lil brain every.single.day.

I’m not talking like over-thinking, “Omg does she hate me?” “Does this message sound too cheeky?” (the answers are normally “I don’t care” and “yes”). I mean like every single thing I do has to be planned and set out, and they have to happen in the way and order that me and myself agreed after much debate that they would.

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Me to my brain

I hate the word “perfectionist”, because like, that is such a back-handed insult if you’re talking about yourself. Like, “My biggest flaw is that I’m TOO amazing”, or, “My brilliance is EXHAUSTING”. My friends would probably say I’m a perfectionist but I know they’re just finding a nicer way of saying, “too fussy”. And that’s true, I’m WHILE fussy. Too goddamn fussy for my own good.

And I really wish I wasn’t, but I just can’t turn it off.

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*”No, you’re fussy

Every night before I go to bed, in my usual 2-hour routine of over-thinking before finally getting to sleep, I go over everything I did that day, and everything I’m going to do the next. That includes me planning what outfit I’m going to wear and what I’m going to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner, when I’ll go for my walk, when I’ll do my revision, when I’ll read etcetcetc.

I can’t just “wake up and see” what I “feel like” doing. Nope. I have a wee routine and I love it. Ya gal needs structure. Plus, I have to plan everything in advance because I’m desperate at making decisions, so if I “saw how I felt”, I’d spend an hour deliberating with myself about what it is that I’m actually “feeling”.

Is it any wonder I’m always KNACKERED?

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My mind is constantly going. Like, I seriously can’t turn it off. I can’t just “chill” or “do nothing”, I have to be busy all the time and my mind will be equally as busy. Like, in films when people say, “What are you thinking about?” and the person goes, “Nothing”. HOW? Literally HOW can you manage to just put your mind to sleep? Tell me.

Ever get the way when you’re not using your computer and it goes to ‘sleep’? Everything just sort of sits still in the background, waiting for you to open it back up again, and in the mean time, the screen’s just black? Well, for me, instead of the screen going black, a wee screensaver comes on with a ping pong ball jumping about the screen, hitting wall to wall.

Entertaining to watch, but while tiring, lads.

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Even wee small things like colouring in (my personal lockdown hobby of choice – I literally do nothing else but colour mandalas). I’ll genuinely spend about 10 minutes before I even put pencil to paper because I have to decide what colours I’m going to use. It goes a bit like this, “Okay, I’ll do that bit pink, so then that bit has to be green and then I can make that other wee bit purple… but wait, then THAT bit has to be pink too but it can’t be because it’s touching that other bit that’s pink and that won’t work.” [reflective pause] “Okay, so THAT bit will be pink so then that other bit can be pink and then that bit and that bit can be green and then the other bits can all be yellow”. “Yeah, that’ll work”.

Genuinely.

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Doing assignments? Sweet Jesus, they’re even WORSE.

Ever get when you write a sentence and then think of another, better way to say it? Well, I’ll spend a full 20 minutes typing out a paragraph, then think of another way to say something, so I’ll copy and paste the whole paragraph just below, then I’ll reword the new paragraph, and compare the two (for around 4 minutes) and then delete the one that isn’t as good.

A lot of the time, I don’t even delete the worse one, I either move it to the bottom of the page in case I change my mind or paste it in a new document which is full of paragraphs which I’ve reworded in my assignment.

See this, THIS is why it takes me four weeks to do a 2,000 word essay.

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Me comparing my 4 almost identical paragraphs

And, I really wish I could care less. But, I honestly just can’t. If I can think of a better way to do something, then ya gal’s gotta do it. There is no, “Eugh, I can’t be bothered, that’ll do”. Nope. It’ll not “do” until I actually can’t think of a better way. Being like this wouldn’t be my preferred choice, but like, my brain kinda wears the trousers in the relationship that is my life.

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To be fair, I’m happy with my life and I’m lucky that most of the time, my over-thinking has got me decent results (you should SEE some of the mandalas I’ve coloured in – no joke, could frame them and sell ‘em on Etsy).

So, yeah, I’m fussy. I’ll write revision notes and start a page all over again if I make a mistake or I don’t like the layout. If I’m rapping along to one of my bops and get a line wrong, I’ll restart the song. I’ll write five paragraphs all saying the same thing but in a ~slightly~ different way for an assignment. I’ll sit and plan out everything I do, down to what time I’ll have my shower at (5pm tonight in case you’re wondering).

But, hey, that’s me. Just gotta build a bridge and get over it. Plus, at least you’re not the one stuck with this carry on going on in your poor wee head.  

Categories
lifestyle

Be Selfish

I was reading ‘Fight Like a Girl’ (because death to patriarchy), and it made a really good point about being “selfish”. It also made a lot of good points about female oppression but I’ll save that for another post.

“Let’s stop using the word ‘selfish’ like it’s always a bad thing, as if considering yourself worthy of prioritising automatically strips you of emotional complexity and feeling.”

– Clementine Ford

And she’s damn right. Why is being ‘selfish’ bad? Should you not be your own priority in life? Should you not make sure that you look after yourself before you look after other people?

Note: Before you start slabbering, I don’t mean prioritise yourself in a ‘bunk the queue, be rude to everyone and have an ‘every person for themselves’ mentality’ kind of way. I mean prioritise yourself in a ‘make sure you’re actually okay and are looking after yourself mentally, physically and emotionally’ before others kinda way.

You can't pour from an empty cup | self care | quote

I’ve seen a lot of things online saying about, “keeping an eye on who remembers to check on you during all this,” and about ‘cutting people’ out of your life because they haven’t mailed you in a few months to say ‘hi’. Like, no harm but while big-headed of you to assume that you should be everyone else’s priority and go-to check-in.

Yeah, maybe you’re always mailing other people, but maybe you’re coping better or at a healthier place in your life than other people.  What if you’re “cutting out” people who would LOVE to check on you but at the minute are too busy trying to get themselves to some level of normality or happiness?

Everyone should make sure they’re okay before they do anything else. Because, at the end of the day, you’re the only one who’s guaranteed to be with you for the rest of your life (and no, ‘God’ doesn’t count).

It might take one night of doing a Superdrug face mask and watching a romcom, or it might take weeks, months or a couple of years. I can vouch for that last one, anyway. So, maybe you’re lucky enough that you’re happy with who, how and where you are. Fab, good for you. But, not everyone is. So, I think people need to understand and realise that it’s okay to be ‘selfish’. You need to be sometimes. To roll with my earlier cliché, fill your cup up before you pour from it.

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I’ve done it. At the end of first year, I began my journey to eternal singledom because I thought, “to hell with it, wee lads are melts I need to actually sort my life out before I let anyone else into it”. Now, at the time of this brilliant epiphany, I was like, “check me in September and I’ll be ready to go, lads”, but HERE WE ARE three years later and I’m still not “ready to go”.

I’m still checking on my mates and family and all, like I’m grand. I just realised that I’ve got a lot more important things to focus on in my life than some wee lad’s. I had uni, holidays, a placement, a sick family member, final year, the emotional trauma of a dissertation, a wee pandemic and several succulents to look after. I’m not sorry that I prioritised myself, and I don’t regret it either. Because I did, I was able to get through all of those things lot better than I could’ve. Plus, feminist books don’t exactly DRIVE you to partner up with males, like.

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Anyway, the point is: at the minute, I’m generally really happy with my life; I feel like I’m able to check on my family and friends, be there for them and look after other people. Despite everything life chucked at me, I’ve still had an absolute GEG of a time. But, I can tell you right now, that probably wouldn’t be the case if I didn’t take time to look after me, myself agus mise first those few years ago.

So, be ‘selfish’.  Look after yourself and be your number priority, because being ‘selfish’ now, means that you can be ‘selfless’ later.

Should I explain the ‘cup’ saying again?

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Categories
lifestyle

A Simple Life

As per, I’m trying to be positive about this whole situation, you know the one. I mean, yeah, lockdown’s a bit crap like, but when I think of all the good things that have happened or come out of it, it makes me realise that it’s not really all that bad.

Then again, although my dissertation single-handedly wrecked my life for a bit there, I was really glad to have something to do every day; like, it killed about 7 hours a day for me. I don’t know if I’d have such a positive outlook and experience if I literally had nothing to be at. But, let’s not think about that.

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At the start, don’t get me wrong, I was really anxious and convinced that cabin fever would drive me to insanity within 3 days. I missed all my mates, I missed proper coffee and I missed hugs (😢) . I also missed not being in a constant state of paranoia and anxiety when I was near people. Throwback!!

But after 7 weeks, I have to say that I’ve gotten pretty used to this way of life; this simple way of life.

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Aside from the obvious perks of keeping myself and other people safe from a deadly pandemic, my skin’s looking clearer and brighter than it has in a long time; the bags under my eyes are GONE; I’m actually SLEEPING (and without earplugs) for the first time since I moved into my student house – who’d have thought it was possible? I’m also not spending money left right and centre for no particular reason other than something to do. And I’m not running myself into the ground trying to juggle uni, work, socialising and ‘me time’.

I’m prioritising myself, since I don’t really have anything else on my agenda apart from colouring in. Anyone who’s ~lucky enough~ to know me knows that I’m always running about looking for stuff for do, because I can’t just do ‘nothing’, I’m physically incapable. Now, I’m still keeping myself busy for the sake of my sanity, but lockdown’s forced me to slow down. Something I never thought was possible.

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I don’t really know what the rush to go back to ‘normal’ is. Because, who said that the ‘normal’ way of life was better? And what even is ‘normal’ anymore?

Is waking up at 6am, commuting for an hour to sit at a desk for 8 hours, then commuting another hour and a half back home to have 4 hours to spend with your family before you collapse out of sheer exhaustion, and then repeat nearly every day for 35 years ‘normal’? Is spending all your disposable income on stuff you don’t need or even really want, purely for the sake of buying it ‘normal’? Is wrecking the o-zone layer ‘normal’?

Or is taking care of yourself and your loved ones, being mindful and respectful of other people, appreciating essential workers and SAVING THE PLANET ‘normal’? I can tell you right now, me getting 3 hours of sleep a night was not normal, and I sure as hell don’t want to go back to that.

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I don’t think things will ever really go back to how they were exactly, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think this whole shenanigans has made everyone’s outlook change a bit, and I honestly reckon that some things from this ‘new’ way of life should stay.

I think people should spend more time on themselves; I think people should be more aware of personal space and DEFINITELY personal hygiene; I think businesses should rethink how their employees work; I think NHS staff and older people should be prioritised in shops; I think people should check in and ask how their friends are really doing. I also think people should really consider what they actually need in life, and be less wasteful with money and purchases. Death to capitalism, am I right, lads?

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Obviously, I can’t wait to be able to actually SEE my mates and family again, and be able to go for as MANY walks as I damn well please, but I’m actually glad that I’ve had this experience. I’m NOT saying I’m glad that COVID-19 happened at all; but I think it forced everyone to just slow down, think about what’s really important, and take time for themselves and their families. And I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.

Categories
University

That’s a Wrap

Well, lads. We’ve officially reached Week 12 of the second semester of uni, and I really don’t think there’s been a bigger anticlimax for us final years. Until we receive our degrees (doubtful at this point) from the postman while wearing our jammies, instead of on a big fancy stage in gowns and even fancier outfits.

Robots stand-in for graduating students and other news - BBC News
@UUJ take note.

One thing that’s stopping us from celebrating our final week of uni being “over” is the impending doom that is the Dissertation deadline next week. Like, I genuinely never thought I could hate something I cared about this much? I remember at the start of final year, I naively thought, “You know what? I reckon a dissertation will be GRAND, because like, it’s only 10,000 words, PLUS we get to write about something we actually care about. It’ll be really interesting”. HA.

Interesting? Yes. Grand? No.

But, it’s only 9 more days until Dissertation Freedom. It’s gonna be a bit of a mental homestretch but a homestretch nonetheless. YAY.

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Me submitting my Turnitin Diss 2 mins before submission closes

I actually can’t believe that my four years at university are over. Like, that’s actually WILD. I know everyone always tells you that it “flies in” but like wow, they are not wrong. I suppose having 6 weeks of strikes and finishing lectures in week 5 because of a pandemic really speeds up the process, but still.

I’ve really enjoyed my past four years and I’m really sad for it to be over. Purely because I’ll miss my mates and having no adult responsibilities, like I’m not ready for the real world yet. I had a taste of it on placement and I’m not a fan lads, not gonna lie. I’m going to miss being able to just go for lunch or coffee as a reward for watching a 2 hour PowerPoint presentation. I’m gonna miss 9 hour weeks and 24-week years. I’m gonna miss my student discount 😦

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But, you have to look on the bright side. At least I won’t have any more assignments, exams or DISSERTATIONS. I don’t need to spend hours and hours writing pretty notes in coloured pens. I don’t need to feel so exhausted and stressed that I need a break, and then feel guilty for taking that break and doing nothing. I won’t need to feel guilty about taking a “day off”. I don’t need to worry about coming home and having to spend a couple of hours doing more work.

There’s a hell of a lot of things I’m really going to miss about uni, but I have to say, the constant pressure and stress AIN’T one of them.

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Constant mood

Looking back, I’ve really learned a lot over the past few years. Obviously I learned a lot about advertising and marketing etc, like I did pay £4,000 a year for that so I should EXPECT to learn about it. But, I learned about a lot of other things, too.

I moved out so learned all about living by myself and with other people, I learned about time management, coping with stress, looking after myself, juggling a social life with a job and a degree. I did a placement year so got a hell of an insight into the real world and working 9-5 and everything that comes with it. I also learned how to cook daal.

But most importantly, I learned how much I need the friends I made. I’ve met the most amazing gals ever and I can’t believe I didn’t have them in my life until 4 years ago. I’m sure they feel the same about me, of course. Surviving final year, dissertations and self-teaching a degree because of CONSTANT strikes and the odd pandemic, really forms a bond that can never be broken.

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It’s mad to think that four years ago, I was just a naive wee first year who hadn’t a baldy what she wanted to do, or was about to do for the next few years. Now, I still haven’t a baldy what I want to, but that’s not the point of uni. I have no grad job lined up, no desire to start looking right now, and no clue what I’m good at. But, I’ve got class mates, fab memories, and I’ve had an absolute GEG (bar the past few months).

Yeah, four grand a year’s a bit steep like, but sure can you put a price on gegs, mates and memories?

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Plus, thanks to the incoming economic disaster and collapse of the job market, I might never earn enough to have to pay the debt off!! Every cloud!!