What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Easy. be rich. live in a united Ireland. be happy. Why is that not an acceptable answer?

I’m a final year student, so one thing I always get asked is, “so what are your plans for after uni?” Let me tell you now, I don’t even know what I’m having for dinner tonight, let alone what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.

There’s this expectation that people should know exactly what they want to do and where they want to work, but no one really knows, do they? Some people figure it out when they’re 10. Others figure it out when they’re 40. Some never do.
Not even the people who ask the question know what they want to do.

How can someone who has work experience in 4 different roles possibly know which one job out of a million out there, they want to do? Maybe I’ll get a job related to my degree, maybe I won’t. I don’t have a BALDY. And that’s okay.

Final years and graduates don’t HAVE to go straight into a job that they’ll be in for the next 30 years. We are under enough pressure without being made to feel that we have to have it out figured it out, as if trying to figure out how to Harvard reference isn’t hard enough.

We hear “What do you want to be when you grow up?” from primary school. Don’t you think it’s a bit weird that one of the first things you ask a 5 year old, is what their desired employment is? Like, of course they don’t know what they want to be besides a “princess”, “astronaut” or “Shakira”. I’ve wanted to be famous, an author (attempted to write MANY novels but could never make the plot last longer than 1 page), a musician (can’t sing), a model (HA imagine), a lawyer (realised it was gonna be a LOT of work) and here I am full circle back to Shakira. She has a lovely life, wouldn’t mind being her. Or J Lo. She’s the dream.

Anyway, if that’s all the phases and notions we go through when we’re growing up, why would that stop? I’m still getting older, still figuring out what I like and what I’m good at (I will find something yet, just you wait). And I don’t expect that to stop. What’s all the fuss about wanting to know what you want to do? Sure isn’t life more exciting when you haven’t a CLUE what you’re doing?

You might want to be an accountant (God knows why), but you might get a job as one and actually hate it. Maybe it’s the job, maybe it’s the city, maybe it’s your boss (probably the job though). The same job isn’t actually the same job. You don’t know anything til you’ve tried it, even when you have, come a different set of circumstances like a different company, you could be miserable. Back to the “I don’t know” stage. Welcome, have a seat x

I’m not doing a degree where there’s a clear-cut path at the end of it. IT, go into IT. Law, go into law. Medicine, be a doctor (after like 20 years of uni). I do communication, advertising and marketing. So I have a whole load of choice and variety, which seems like a good idea but I’m hella indecisive so it would’ve been nice to have a narrower idea. But the thing is, I didn’t choose this degree for a job. I chose it because it sounded interesting and I fancied actually ENJOYING the next 4 years. So, if I don’t get a job related to it but that I still love, that’s okay. I don’t care that I don’t know what I want to do, so why should anyone else?

“What do you want to be?” Happy is a valid answer. Healthy is a valid answer. “I don’t know” is a valid answer. And Shakira sure as hell is a valid answer.

Boris’s Poli-tea-cal Blunder

I was having a wee jook at the news to see what the general craic was with the world, because I normally live in a nice wee bubble where I don’t really know what’s going on. Call me “uninformed” if you want, but ignorance is bliss and all that? Don’t need any negative energy, thank YOU.

Anyway, on my voyage to wisdom, I stumbled across some ‘breaking’ political news story about the general election. Exciting times.

Boris Johnson has caused uproar and disgust across the water (wouldn’t be like him), not for his extreme political views and this whole ‘Brexit’ shenanigans. No. For putting milk in his tea while the teabag’s still in the cup. You can imagine the outcry.

What sort of person have you got as Prime Minister? You let a man who puts milk in his tea with the teabag STILL IN THE CUP lead you? Wild.

So like, we all know this isn’t “news” at all, so why did Sky feel the need to write an article about it? And why did people care so much?

Because, when people don’t like you, they look for any excuse to justify disliking you. “Why do you hate him so much?” “He’s causing everyone severe bother with this Brexit fiasco and potentially disrupting the lives and futures of like, everyone. ” Hmm, seems a bit unreasonable. “He makes tea wrong.” Fair enough. Say no more.

If he was caught on camera making tea normally, would anyone care? Nah. Because when you’ve a bad public image, bad publicity has more of an effect than good does. When people love you, every wee thing you do just makes people love you more. Do something bad, well sure look at all the good you’ve done to cancel it out.

People don’t like you? Every little thing you do is scrutinised, with people just WAITING for you to do something weird or wrong. Do something good? Doesn’t really matter, look at all the other stuff you’ve done. One good deed doesn’t make you a saint. Probably a PR stunt to make people like you anyway.

Boris’s reputation made something as trivial, sorry, majorly important as making tea, become, like, a thing. Like people actually care about it. If Beyoncé made tea weirdly, would you notice? Would you care? Youse would probably all start making tea the way she does.

But, Boris is pretty controversial (to put it as nicely as I can), and some people just love to have a reason to not like him, or support his credibility as a leader of anything. I mean, if you wouldn’t trust him to make you a cup of tea, why would you trust him to make important decisions and run your country?

“The teabag was STILL IN THE CUP”

I can just PICTURE Labour’s next campaign, “We make proper tea, vote for us”. Would be more effective than any political agenda, I reckon.

Why Students Should Skip Uni

Not that you need a reason, do you?

Well lads, big day on the 12th of December – yes it marks a week since the glorious day that is my birthday, but less more importantly, it’s vote day. Yes “vote day” is the political term, I believe. But aye, they called a general election for some reason, which is really random because they’re never normally this time of year. “General election” doesn’t normally fall into my countdown to Christmas.

The 12th of December is also the second last day of uni – yepa.

What have the two got to do with each other? Well, you can’t vote in Armagh if you’re sitting in the Holylands, can you? Most people (hopefully) are registered to vote back in their local area (or “constituency” if you want to be fancy). But chances are, a lot of students won’t be back home on the 12th because they’re living elsewhere for uni.

I know, it’s tempting to just give it a miss and stay in your nice freezing student house rather than go back home to vote, but you really should consider it.

Yeah, you could always register to vote in your student house area but let’s be real, chances of that happening aren’t great, are they? “While lot of effort la.”

Cheesy cliché but you have a voice, so make it count. What other chance do you have to actually make a difference and help decide something? It’s like the one thing normal people can actually play a part in. We’re not trusted to make decisions and and have our thoughts and ideas listened to normally, so this is our yearly shot.

Before you say, “It doesn’t make a difference, it’s only one vote”. Well yes, but one vote times the thousands of people saying that slightly adds up now, doesn’t it?

Let’s not forget the lil 3-year nightmare we’ve been living in. If only more people had’ve voted, maybe things would’ve turned out differently, eh? Eh?

No harm, but you can’t complain about the results of the elections or about decisions that are made if you didn’t vote. True, we can’t do anything about what politicians decide, but we can do something about who gets to make those decisions.

Voting is especially important for students, because we’re the youngest. We have the longest to live with decisions that are made. There isn’t much representation for us young ‘uns, and what we want doesn’t always get much attention. Not voting gives the impression you don’t really care what happens and you trust those bloons in parliament to make the right choices. But if we vote, we can have our chance to show that we actually are important and do care what happens about our future.

Why do I vote?
Because it’s literally the one thing I can do to try to make a difference (apart from recycle). It’s the only control I have. I sign petitions, yes. I go to rallies, yes. But I mightn’t need to if the right people are making the best decisions for me.

I vote because I’m a girl. Because I can. Women couldn’t always vote. Women fought for years for the right to something men got granted onto them simply for having a Y chromosome. People protested, fought and worked for years, not so they could vote, but so we could. I don’t want that to be in vain.

So go home, be warm, number a few wee boxes and be satisfied that hey, you might have actually made a wee difference to the future, how rewarding.

“Please explain your absence in today’s lecture and tutorial.” “Sorry miss, was too busy changing the future.” Sounds kinda badass, doesn’t it?

I mean you could always go to uni then go home and vote because they’re open until like 10pm, but ure don’t pretend you weren’t looking an excuse to miss that lecture anyway.

The Christmas Cup-Off

Well lads it’s that time of year again, C H R I S T M A S (cups) – get your Mariah Carey playlists pumpin and dig out that Christmas tea towel you’ve lying at the bottom of your third drawer. If you listen carefully, you can almost hear Michael Bublé doing his warm-up.

First of November marks the start of the countdown, and what better way to start than with beautiful festive coffee cups??

Me and my ma had a competition going to see who could spot and photograph (trust no one) the first Christmas cups of the year. The prize (aside from the pleasure of winning) was the winner got taken out on a coffee date by the loser. And there’s me always say I’m strictly anti-gambling, I know. The HYPOCRISY of me.

Well – I won. I saw ELEVEN Starbucks ones in town on the 1st but couldn’t whack out my phone in time, but finally captured the red cups in action on Tuesday (thank you, Caitlin for bringing in your Starbucks to the lecture).

But me and Claire aren’t the only ones having a Christmas cup competition, the coffee shops are, too.

It’s like a Christmas cup-off in the coffee shop world; if you don’t have them, you could be losing out on customers. Let’s be real, we all go somewhere purely for the novelty of the cups this time of year. People go into cafés and ask for a takeaway cup even though they’re sitting in (and not just because the takeaway’s are bigger) and parents ask for cups for their children (I know this is true because my ma does it for me). Little do the baristas know that “my wee girl” is 21, not 5.

It’s a race to see who can release them first (usually Starbuck’s, and Caffé Nero last) and who can do it best. Yeah, fair, people actually want the drinks inside, so I guess nailing the menu is important too, but the real winner is the winner of the cup design.

Not a fan of Starbucks but their cup game is strong

See, you don’t have to go for a fancy festive drink, you can get your bog standard americano, but give it a wee bitta razzle dazzle with a Santa cup. It’s a simple way to get in the holiday mood, without having to drink an eggy, cherry-y or gingerbread sugar-bomb concoction. Dentists, rejoice.

Companies need to NAIL their Christmas drinks campaign, and not just to attract customers with their coffees and cups. What’s the whole point of branded cups – Christmas or otherwise? Brand reinforcement. You need a distinctive cup so when people see that cup on the train, in people’s hands or used as an ashtray on someone’s windowsill (classy), they know who’s it is.

See a Costa cup, *subliminal message received*. Want a coffee? You didn’t but since you saw that woman with one, you’re kinda in the mood for one. Sure why not nip into the Costa round the corner there, you deserve it. Don’t want one? No problem. Sure just REMEMBER that Costa cup, retain the brand name and place it at the forefront of your mind so when you think coffee, you think Costa. Just visualise that cup, v i s u a l i s e.

So having a Christmas cup that really grabs attention is ESSENTIAL. Why do you think there’s so many ads for them? Companies need to shout about their fabulous crimbo cups (and drinks, I guess) so that when you see a wee Rudolph, Santa or Christmas tree cup, you know where it’s from. Christmas cups aren’t normally in the brand’s colours or style, so they need to make people aware that “hey, we look different, but it’s still us”. Not that Clements need to do that because the grinches that they are keep the same grey cups all year round – bah humbug.

So, lads, the Christmas cup-off is ON – but only one can win. Who are you voting for?

Menu Madness

Me and my uni ones were going for brunch on Friday (standard millennial girl behaviour). We (FINALLY, after a lot of veto’s) decided to go on the Wednesday, and within minutes we were all checking the menu and pre planning what we might get.

Once we got there, it still took us about 15 minutes to decide what we wanted. So imagine how long it’d take if we’d never seen the menus before, we’d still be sitting there now like.

And we’re sure as hell not the only ones. Everyone does it. Find out where you’re going, go online and download the menu. It’s the norm really.

I used to judge people who knew what they were going to order for lunch like 3 days before they went. I thought, “how do you know what you want? Why not just see what you feel like at the time?” That’s what I did. I just rocked up and chose what I fancied. So next time an interviewer asks me about taking risks, you can bet what example I’m gonna whack out.

I don’t know when exactly I moved to the dark side and started downloading PDFs left, right and centre. But to be fair, I really struggle with decisions so the whole hassle of actually CHOOSING one thing over the other 48 on the menu is a bit of a 20 minute stress-infused ordeal.

Plus, I’d be so distracted at trying to choose that I neglect the company I’m with and don’t speak to them. So you can imagine why pre-deciding and avoiding a 20-minute silence isn’t a bad idea for someone like me. I’m doing my brain, my amigos AND the poor waiter all a favour.

It’s sort of like a “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” kinda scenario.
We’ve all had those times where the waiter keeps coming over and you’re still not ready to order so you panic and choose the first thing you see or lapse into “chicken goujons and chips”. So maybe if you had’ve seen the menu before, you’d have gone for something a lil more exciting and worth the £18.

Me when the waiter comes over

Now, I don’t choose EXACTLY what I want, unless there’s only one thing I actually like on the menu. I normally narrow it down to like 2 things I might go and then “see how I feel” when I get there. Not that it’s exactly hard to narrow it down when you’re THIS fussy.

Even if I’m not even planning to go to a certain place anytime soon, I still have a wee jook and see what they do; just in case I ever do take a notion. I’m THAT sad, I know. But I’m not the only one, I refuse to believe it so I’m gonna generalise and say this is a SWEEPING TREND.

So why do we (yes, WE) bother? What’s the point of looking at a menu of somewhere we’re not even going to?

1. To see the food
Duh. “Italian” – okay does that mean pizza? Lasagne? Fancy twirly pasta? What if I don’t want any of them? Is there something like normal? What about vegans/vegetarians and other fussy creatures?

2. To see the names
I want to see how posh this place is. Is it “salmon and cream cheese bagel” or “free range, organic, hand-caught Scottish salmon, with organic, hand-churned cream cheese on home-made, circular dough with a hole in the middle, topped with honey-rolled sesame seeds“? I need to see if the place is as unfancy as me.

3. The price
Ah yes, probably the main reason for us students. Once I see “olives” as a starter for £5 you can bet your donkey I’m going to swiftly exit, delete and rule out THAT establishment.

4. For a wee nosey
Of course. Bitta dinner inspo, pass the time when you’re in the dentist waiting room, new place opened round the corner so you HAVE to suss it out.

Me when a new café opens

It’s not just that more people are jooking at more menus now. it’s that more menus are available now. Not having a menu online could be what makes someone choose another business over yours. Think about it. Why I would choose to go to a place when I don’t know what it serves or how much it costs; when I can easily go to another place where I can find it all out and avoid disappointment when I sit down and read the menu?

If I’m deciding between 2 places for dinner, the one with a menu I can read is gonna be the pick, hands down. I might like the food, drinks and price at the other place, but how do I know that if I can’t see what any of that is?

That’s the downside of businesses not having websites and opting for a wee Facebook page instead. There’s almost never a menu on them. Goddamnit. Photos, memes and competitions, great. But that doesn’t help me decide where to go for brunch now does it?

For someone like me who finds decisions and committment a stressful and MELTING task, having the ability to check, decide and then RELAX when I get to the food place is a beautiful gift.

So shoutout to the businesses who do have their menus readily available for a wee nosey, go rabh maith agat. And to the businesses who don’t, you just lost yourself a very valuable customer who orders tap water.

Do it “for the CV”

Let’s start this on off with a wee joke, shall we?

How do you get a university student to do something?

– Tell them it’ll look good on their CV.

I really should be writing for Christmas crackers, what a waste of my gift.

Anyway, not much of a joke because 1) it wasn’t very funny and 2) it’s true. How many times have you done something, not because you really wanted to, but because “it looks good to have” or you “need something” on your CV?

The “CV” is that lil carrot of bait that teachers, lecturers, parents and employers dangle in front of students’ noses when they think we should or want us to do something. And it works. There’s no motivational tool like telling us it’ll help us get a job or make us look impressive to whoever we’re trying to impress, when we don’t even know who that is.

It’s sad, but we do a lot of things that we do and spend a lot of our lives trying to look impressive on a piece of paper. A piece of paper that defines us by 1) how “smart” we are and 2) what we’ve “achieved”. A piece of paper that potentially determines what we do for the rest of our lives.

So what have we “achieved”? Well what are we meant to have achieved? We have no idea what we’re meant to have accomplished at any stage of our lives. Who decides what we need to accomplish? And who says we have to accomplish anything?

We haven’t a BALDY what we want to do or what we’re meant to do, so we enter a panic mode and do things purely for the sake of doing them. Purely for the sake of having an extra bullet point on that list that determines how worthy we are of being considered for a job. No harm, but I doubt climbing a mountain and camping for 3 days is really gonna see me landed as a CEO like.

We’re told from we’re in school that we need to “stand out” and have that “edge” on other people. Other people like our peers, colleagues and friends. We’re pretty much told to view everyone else as competition. But like, what are we competing for?  We’re all different. We’re doing different things, we want to do different things and we want to work in different places. So why are we ‘competing’ with each other? Why are we supposedly measured by the same criteria?

We have to do something that hardly anyone else has done, because pretty much everyone’s done the same things. But, we’ve all done the same things because we’re all trying to stand out, and the only way we can stand out is by doing the same thing that everyone else has the option to do. So because everyone tries so hard to be different, we all end up being the same. Yeah, I’d to re-read that to make sure I followed it, too.

I think it’s great that we’ve loads of opportunities and chances to try different things and get experience, and we should give them a go and make use of them. We should be encouraged to do whatever we have to do so we can do whatever we want to do (even if we don’t know what that is). But, we should also be encouraged to have fun and live our best lives before we’re too old or committed to be able to. Like, yeah work experience is class and all, but we need life experience too.

There’s just a lot of pressure on young people to “get ahead” and “get experience”, when we don’t have a notion what we actually want to get ahead or experience in. So, we don’t really spend the time trying to figure it out, we just make use of all these “great opportunities” and hope we’ll have an epiphany along the way. Still waiting on my wee light bulb moment. Gonna come any day now, just you wait and see.

Every uni student ever

Now, I’m not saying we’re all robots who do things we don’t want to do just for make our CVs a bit snazzy. But, the reality is, we do a lot of things just to improve our chances of getting a job. Because we’re pretty much conditioned to think that getting a “good job” is one of the most important things in life. But, what is a “good” job? High pay? Holidays? Job satisfaction? Casual Fridays?

We decide. We get to make that judgement on whether a job is “good” for us or not. So, why don’t we get to decide what experience is “good” for us to do? “Good” means something different to everyone, so why does it mean the same thing when it comes to a CV?

Yeah, you get judged off what you’re like; your personality, your likeability and how you’d “fit” into whatever you’re trying to fit into. But, before you even get a chance to be judged on what YOU are like, you’re judged off what that piece of paper is like. It’s a bit like online dating, you’re not gonna swipe right or meet up with someone who’s got a really cringey bio, are you? They could be an absolute geg and maybe even your soulmate, but you’ll never know because you wrote them off based on “6ft 2. Here for a good time not a long time ✌️”. That’s us, judged on whether or not we’re an employer’s “type on paper”. Literally. How shallow, pffft.   

So, no wonder we spend so much time and effort doing things not just for ourselves, but for a piece of paper, too. Because, we’ve spent most our lives believing that we’re not much more than that piece of paper.

Beans are Beans – Why Buy Brands?

Okay, this has something which always confused me. What’s the craic with people buying branded food? I don’t get why people pay so much more for a branded food item, when there are loads of cheaper options available. Like why would you want to spend more?

Y’all at Tesco

I’m a student, yes, but that’s irrelevant. Even if I had the money to buy branded foods, I still wouldn’t, because I really don’t see the point. “The branded ones are nicer”, well okay but I really don’t think having a “nicer” tin of sweetcorn is going to seriously improve my life to be honest. But thank you anyway.

I’ve always wondered how big brands still do so well, because supermarket own brands are available left, right and centre. I know back in the day, that this wasn’t the case; it was either buy the big brand or buy nothing. Brands were the only real option when doing your shopping. But nowadays, pretty much every food item comes in a cheaper version. There’s even several TV Shows like Eat Well for Less, which encourage people to switch from expensive brands and try cheaper alternatives to save money. 

Right, maybe I’m missing something here, but why would you pay £1.50 for a loaf of bread when you can literally get one for 36p? I buy it. I’m not dead yet, it’s decent bread like. It’s not really salty, makes a nice wee sandwich, and is UNREAL toasted. So why would you pay £1.14 more for BREAD? Like, I seriously don’t get that.

People buy branded products for the assumed better quality. But how important is it? How important is the quality of a tin of chopped tomatoes? Is the 28p tin going to absolutely destroy your precious spaghetti bolognese? Is the 80p tin going to make it taste like Gordon Ramsay made it himself?

That’s the thing, people assume. “You get what you pay for”. That’s a brilliant wee line, which brand’s marketing department came up with that one? It’s not true like. How many times have you bought something that wasn’t worth what you paid for it? Probably a lot more times than the price was justified. “You get what you pay for”, that, that is the thing keeping big brands in business. That’s their mantra. They depend on people thinking that to justify them charging more.  

Some people don’t “need” to save money and can “afford to buy the big brands”. Good for you, congrats on your financial situation. But surely there’s something you’d rather spend your money on? Something that’ll last longer than the 5 minutes it takes to eat?

Maybe it’s for some kind of self-fulfilment or something, I don’t know. Maybe it makes people feel good in a way because they feel like they’re giving themselves the best that they can? “I’m treating myself to the finest baked beans money can buy” or something like that.

I mean, it has to be to impress and please yourself, right? Who else cares? Unless you want the sales assistant to think, “Wow, he’s living the high life. I wish I paid £4 for a box of corn flakes. I aspire to be that man” as they beep your shopping through.

For some, it’s a habit. They just buy whatever brand they grew up with. They didn’t have the supermarket own ones when they were younger, so they’ve just kept buying the same ones they always have. They grew to love that brand, and its food. They think “I’m not going to like any other ones as much as these ones”, but sure why not try others and see if there’s one you like just as much?

Of course, it’s your money, you can do what you want with it and you don’t need a 21 year old telling you which loaf to buy.  

Youse to me right now

I’m not saying ‘boycott all big brands’, I’m just saying, why not give cheaper ones a go? If you’ve tried the supermarket own brand version and you really hated it, fair enough. But I don’t see why people don’t even consider them. What have you got to lose? 36p? Sure what’s that compared to the £1.50 you were going to spend anyway?

Rant over. Sort of.

Another thing I don’t get, and which confuses me even more, is why people buy supermarket own brands, but buy the dearer version? Let me clarify, supermarkets normally have a few own brand ranges: the regular range and the value one. There’s the finest one too, but like, that’s for people who do stuff like host dinner parties and eat cheese as a dessert. Madness.

Grapes. Let’s talk about grapes (now you’re excited, aren’t you?) You can get a 500g packet for £1.06, or, you can get a 500g packet for £2. They’re both Tesco’s own. One is ‘Suntrail’ and one is ‘Tesco’.  Same colour, same weight, same use by date. Just dropped a nice wee rhyme there, hope someone noticed. So what’s the difference? The price.  

I mean, you can’t really say that one range tastes better because not all grapes are created equal. Some are nicer than others. Sometimes I get a packet which is UNREAL, and sometimes they’re just standard grapes. But does this only happen with the cheaper ones? Can you categorically say that every individual packet of Tesco grapes is nicer than every single packet of the Suntrail ones? Despite being a different variety, from a different supplier in a different country, picked at a different time of the year? Really? You sure?

Now, just going to throw this out there, but I reckon people buy the more expensive ones for the packaging, not the actual food.  Hear me out.

Tesco reinvented their value range. It’s no longer ‘Tesco Value’; the products don’t come in plain white packaging with Arial font. Instead, they’ve got ‘Suntrail Farms’, ‘Grower’s Own’, ‘Neville’s’, and ‘Stockwell’s.  They’re all Tesco’s own version, but different categories have different names and different branding. And they come in nice colourful packaging with a funky wee font and logo and all. Lovely.

Why did Tesco do this? So people don’t feel like they’re buying the ‘cheap, budget option’. It gives the impression that they’re still buying a brand. Neville’s? That’s a brand. Grower’s Own? Also a brand. A cheaper one made by the supermarket, but a brand nonetheless.

This is because for some reason, people are embarrassed to buy own brands and value ranges. There’s this sort of stigma that if you buy own brands, you’ll be seen as cheap or stingy or poor. And to be honest, that’s a bit disgraceful like. People shouldn’t feel ashamed for buying cheaper food. It’s the same way people get embarrassed and hide the stickers when they buy ‘reduced’ items.

Did Tesco change the recipes? The food product inside? No. Just the packaging.  Because they know that the packaging changes how people view the product. From we’re no age, we’re told, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”, so why isn’t this the case for food? If it tastes nice, what difference does it make if the packet looks ‘boring’ or ‘cheap’? Just gonna come out and say it, y’all are shallow.

P.S – This post was not sponsored by Tesco, I just shop there so know the prices. Although a wee giftcard wouldn’t be turned down.

Digital Detox

This weekend, I decided to do a wee ‘digital detox’ and take a break from social media. I had a bad day on Friday and was in STINKIN form (sorry Niamh and Amber), so I just felt like I needed to take a couple of days to myself and clear my head. Instead of looking at what everyone was having for breakfast or was doing with their day, I just wanted to focus on what I was having for breakfast, and what I was doing with my day.

The thing is, a lot of the time I’m on social media, it’s purely for the sake of it. It’s not because I particularly want to be, it’s just a wee distraction while I’m waiting on the microwave or when the ads come on. That’s why we go on social media, because we’re bored and want something to look at; we want a distraction but don’t want to have to distract ourselves. We pretty much rely on other people for entertainment when our lives aren’t entertaining enough.

It’s nothing new like, but people these days (yeah, not just us young ones) are pretty much addicted to our phones. We refresh our feeds to see what’s “new”, and if anything’s happened since we last checked 10 minutes ago. And then get a wee bit disappointed when there’s nothing to look at, like or reply to. It’s like we have this constant need to see what everyone else is doing, and show everyone what we’re doing. Or eating. Or watching. We’re obsessed. It’s almost like some sort of self-validation. Our lives aren’t enough for us, and we’re not satisfied or fulfilled by what we’re doing until we see what other people are.

That’s the thing, it’s about other people. We want to see what they’re up to and have a wee jook at what their lives are like. And then, we compare them to our own. And that’s a problem with social media, the constant comparisons. They can make you feel better about yourself, or a hell of a lot worse. We might be happy enough doing what we’re doing, eating what we’re eating, wearing what we’re wearing, but then as soon as we see someone else is doing it ‘better’, we’re not that happy anymore.

We give him a run for his money

It can be something as simple as dinner. Someone’s getting a Chinese and now you’re a bit melted because you want one but are stuck with pasta, AGAIN. Maybe other people are going out but you’re in bed, and then you think that you really should be going out but you’re not, so you must be a bore. And there’s nothing, NOTHIN like the panic you feel when you see one of your classmates has submitted their assignment and you haven’t even started yet. Help.

So, I thought “to hell with it, ya gal needs a break”.

Have I noticed anything since my detox? Well, the sky is bluer. The air is fresher. I can smell flowers. Birds are chirping. Children laugh in the distance. I am at peace.

I have absolutely no idea what is going on in the outside world or other people’s lives. And you know what? I don’t need to. I don’t care. No one knows what I’ve been doing. They don’t they need to. And they probably don’t care. Although my private stories are a GEG so I know people did miss me.

So, what did I do with all this free time that I’d usually spend on my phone you ask? I stared at the walls in my room. There are 459 bricks on next door’s extension. Nah. I didn’t do anything, because I was already doing other things. I went for wee danders, met friends for coffee, did shopping, did uni work (and ACTUALLY got stuff done?? Class), and watched First Dates Hotel. What a show.

me

So there was no real time that I needed to be on my phone. Well, I did to arrange meeting up with my friends like, but I did it retro-style and used TEXT. Yeah, people do still do that. To be fair, I did go online a few times (I’m a fraud, I know) to listen to music, check the weather (rain again, SHOCK) and check the Celtic score. Although I really wish I didn’t. The world’s revenge for me going online I guess.

But I didn’t go on social media. And I didn’t need or want to. So I didn’t miss it. I didn’t miss seeing selfies, coffee art or food. I didn’t miss seeing how people were at the gym, how drunk they were getting on Saturday and how much they were dying on Sunday. My thumbs weren’t twitching from lack of double tapping or scrolling, I didn’t get cabin fever and I didn’t start talking to inanimate objects. So, it was an overall success I’d say.

What about when the ads on iplayer came on? What I did do with all that free time? How did I distract myself from the marketing traps in front of me? Well, first set: made a cup of tea. Second set: washed my cup. Third set: Get this, I just watched the ads. *Gasp* That’s right, I watched them. Well, it was more ‘saw’ than ‘watched’ because I didn’t really pay attention like. But yeah, there actually are other things to do than sit on your phone when ads are on. Wild like. 

It was a short detox, but that’s all I needed. And sure, people only stick at those weird tea detoxes for like a day anyway so I didn’t do too bad like. I just needed a few wee days to myself. I was still busy, I still went out and I still met friends. I didn’t miss out on anything and it actually did help me clear my head. PLUS, did you know that I got uni work done? Unreal. Go me.

Now, I’m not trying to be condescending and tell everyone they should boycott social media and “live in the moment, man”. Because social media isn’t a bad thing. You can talk to your friends, stalk your exes and just have a wee nosey at what other people are doing. You can see where’s nice to go for coffee, or get dinner inspo. And that’s fine. It’s a good wee distraction for when we need one and it can give us a few minutes to just take a break from our lives. I just needed to focus on mine and take a break from other people’s.

So, yes, use social media, but make sure you give it all a rest as well. Just to take a wee bit of time for yourself and forget about everything else. We spend so much time focusing on what other people are doing, when we really should be focusing on ourselves.

Coffee Doesn’t Costa Thing

Well lads, in case you haven’t heard, Costa are giving people FREE COFFEE today  at all of their Costa Express machines. Can I get a ‘yeo’?

Not the type of Yeo I meant, but ok Google, cheers.

That’s right, pop into any wee garage or shop with one of these ‘Costa Express’ bad boys and grab yourself a free coffee. And, this is available all day (1st October). No conditions and no hidden charges. Except you’re only allowed one per person, but sure there’s nothing stopping you caffeine junkies doing a wee tour and hitting them all up. #RoadTrip. Not that I would condone such behaviour. Not at all.

So, why is Costa doing this? Well, to celebrate National Coffee Day and promote their snazzy machine coffee. But, why this specific tactic?

Well, to raise awareness. They want to shout about the fact that you don’t have to visit a Costa to get Costa coffee. There’s the sort of assumption that machine coffee isn’t as nice as the “proper stuff”. So, they want to tell everyone that you don’t have to choose convenience or good coffee. So, good news for people who like Costa coffee but don’t live or be near one. And of course, good news for Costa who are able to ‘go’ to those who aren’t ‘coming’ to them. But, the thing is, you no don’t have to want to go to Costa or have a Costa coffee. You just have to want a coffee. Being realistic, if you’re driving about at 8 in the morning in rush hour traffic, you’ll probably take any brand of coffee you can get your hands on. “There’s a garage, I’ll pop in there while I get petrol”, “There’s a shop at the top of the road, I’ll pop in there while I grab a meal deal”. Whether it be Frank and Honest, Barista Bar, Centra’s own or Costa, you’ll most likely buy it.

The point is, Costa aren’t restricting themselves to deliberate purchases. They’re increasing their convenience and impulse sales, too. More people are buying and drinking Costa coffee, whether or not they intend to.

So, where are these machines? Which shops or garages? Well, you can figure out where your nearest one is today, can’t you? “We’ve got decent machine coffee at selected retailers” doesn’t exactly motivate people to jump to Google and see where, does it? “We’ve got FREE COFFEE at our coffee machines” does. I’m guessing Google’s got A LOT of recent searches asking where these machines are. So, Costa doesn’t really have to promote where exactly the machines are, because customers are hella motivated to figure it out for themselves. Then they’ll know for future where they can get this decent machine brew. It’s a wee coffee-fuelled treasure hunt. Move over, Easter bunny.

Normally, the point of offering ‘free’ things is that you’re hoping people will buy other items off you while they’re there; but, it would be the retailers benefiting from this, not Costa. If they offered free coffee at Costa cafés, people might buy biscuits, buns or food while they’re there, so Costa can still make money. But, in an independent retailer, Costa won’t reap the benefit of any add-ons. Unless they’ve agreed to get commission for every Kit-Kat sold or something, I don’t know.

They’re probably hoping for repeat purchases and loyalty. Once people try Costa machine coffee, they’ll never go back to anything else. Well, in theory, that’s possible, yeah. But there’s always gonna ‘brand switchers’ who just want the freebies or whatever’s on offer, regardless of the brand (@ me). This is always the case with this type of marketing promotion, but maybe even more so because of the ‘convenience’ nature of these coffees. Like I said, it’s not just people who want a Costa coffee, but a coffee in general. So, they’ll likely buy whatever the quick and handy option is.

The thing is, whether people decide to be brand loyal to Costa Express coffee or not, depends on if they reckon the taste and quality is worth the price. The fact is, once the offer’s over, you have to pay the same price for the machine coffee as you would a barista one from a Costa café. So people need to decide whether they’d rather have a Costa machine one for like £2.50, or if they’d be happy to go back to their regular 99p or £1.79 or whatever they normally pay. If it’s a small price difference to their usual, standard machine brew, chances are yeah, they will become loyal. But again, this mightn’t be through specific intention.

“£3 machine coffee?” Costa’s dream customer^

So, it’s a bit of a risk for Costa, and an expensive one at that. So, what else is in it for them? Well, they’re getting people talking. They’re getting free publicity. Everyone will be saying, “Here, did ya hear there’s free coffee at the garage down the road?”, “Costa are doing free coffee, Google the closest one for us there”, I can’t even mentally prepare myself for the cued Insta stories “Thank u @Costa!!!”. We all know how powerful word of mouth is, you trust your mates more than ads, so if they like the coffee, chances are it’s good. They’re not being paid to say it like. Plus, not to state the obvious but Costa have managed to get ME to write about them so they MUST have hit the jackpot. Lucky duckies.

So, Costa can sit back while consumers spread the word and promote the offer, their brand, the machines that do NICE coffee (I didn’t know it was possible either) AND the location of them, for free. Maybe that’s worth more than the £2.50 coffee is.

“Free publicity?” ^Costa

A wee downfall is that Costa cafés might get fewer sales, but, mostly for takeaways or pre-planned visits. People who are passing by and aren’t near an Express machine will still call in. People who wanna sit on comfy seats and leech off their wifi and electricity for a few hours will still call in. People who take a wee notion for a coffee will still call in. Plus, it’s national coffee day so they should be busy enough like. So, it’s good news for them. But, bad news for baristas who were hoping to skive for the day. Sorry, mate.

But, this tactic doesn’t just benefit Costa, it potentially harms competitors, too. Double whammy. If Costa are serving more, then, their competitors might be serving less. Costa could benefit from ‘sales’ from those who would usually get their coffee elsewhere. Just say you go to Caffe Nero or Starbucks normally (even though they leave their water taps running CONSTANTLY), would you not be more likely to give the Costa one a go since it’s free? You never know, you might actually prefer it. There’s not much in the price anyway. So that’s another thing, Costa are able to encourage consumption by those who would otherwise not be motivated to switch brands. They could become some people’s “new favourite”. So, increasing consumption of your own brand while possibly reducing that of your competitors, not a shabby idea, lads. Chapeau.

So, go forth and enjoy your free Costa coffee (unless you live in the north of Ireland of course, SHOCK we’re oppressed excluded).

*Not sponsored by Costa. Although, if you want to repay me in cappuccinos, that would be nice 🙂