“Would You Like Insulin with That?”

We’ve all heard those weekly BBC reports about the obesity epidemic, and what steps we as consumers can take to eat a balanced diet and be healthy. We’re told to read labels, use portion control and make swaps for ‘lighter’, ‘low salt’ or ‘low sugar’ options. It’s easy for us to do this because companies ~have to~ display nutritional information on the packaging and use things like the ‘traffic light’ system. They also tell you in teeny tiny writing how big a portion is or how many servings there are of the product,  even though it’s normally something ridiculous like 7 smarties.

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Food manufacturers give consumers the information to ’empower’ us, and we’re told how to use it to make informed decisions about food. Seems fair – they take some steps and so do we. But, what about eating establishments? Why don’t they have to disclose the nutritional content of their food? But how are we meant to make healthy and informed choices if there’s no information to, ya know, inform us?  Like yeah, you know what you ordered, but what are you actually eating? A BLT you get in a café isn’t that different to a shop bought one, except the bread’s less stale; and a shop bought lasagne’s pretty similar to one you buy in a pub, they’re both equally nasty. So why should one have to publish the nutritional content and not the other?

Yeah, companies like McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s and Nando’s have nutritional information about their products available online, but 1) people don’t know they’re there and 2) you have to go looking for them. If I’m in Tesco picking up a meal deal (or Boots if I’m feeling fancy), I don’t have to go online and compare my options in advance, I can quickly pick up two sandwiches, read the labels and compare the wee traffic lights. And I can do it in about 20 seconds. I can make an informed decision about what I eat in 20 seconds. Go me. So why, if I’m sitting in a restaurant, should I have to go online and research whether or not the nutritional information’s available, and if it is, then sit and check it while the waiter’s standing there with their pen and paper and my friends have already ordered and are glaring at me? Sorry, guys.

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Reading the McDonald’s nutritional info

If the information’s available online, then companies know consumers can read it and see how (un)healthy their food is, so why not just put it on the menu? It’s probably just a wee tick-box exercise so they can say, “We want to help customers make healthy choices so are uber transparent about our products’ nutritional content”. Basically, they want to have the information available, but don’t really want people to read it. I mean, they probably don’t want to shout out about the fact their burgers have 850 calories and 120% of your sat fat allowance for the day. Hmm, better make mine a diet coke, then.

But I suppose, they don’t want to tell us the truth any more than we want to hear it. Ignorance is bliss. It’s easier to claim we don’t realise how unhealthy food is and keep the blame on food companies, not ourselves – the old “it’s not my fault if I didn’t know”. Would you feel guilty about eating a pizza? Probably not. Would you feel guilty about eating a 1300 calorie pizza? Probably. If you don’t know how unhealthy something is, then you don’t have to feel bad for eating it or tell everyone that you’ll go to the gym tomorrow to “make up for it” (even though not even you believe that lie). You can eat what you want, not what you ‘should’ and play that lil game where you pretend it “probably wasn’t that bad”, I mean, potatoes are a vegetable so chips should be healthy enough, right? Right?

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People always complain that they eat healthily but can’t lose weight. But, maybe the problem isn’t what they’re eating, it’s where they’re eating. If you eat spaghetti bolognese at home, you know what’s in it so know it’s not that unhealthy. So if you order it when eating out, you might think the same. But, chances are they’re not using wholewheat pasta and lean mince like your ma does. They most likely add things which end up driving up the calories, fat and salt content. So, even if you think you’re “being good” and going for a healthier option, you mightn’t be. See, when we make things ourselves, we can tweak it to be healthier and choose what and how much we eat. But when we eat out, we can’t. We can’t ask for a ‘skinny’ curry or ask for our steak to be ‘grilled, not fried’. They’d definitely spit on it, like.

Companies might think that displaying nutritional information might put consumers off and affect business. But the thing is, people know burgers, chips and pizzas aren’t healthy. They know fast food products are full of fat and salt. And they still choose to eat it. It’s not exactly groundbreaking information that a salad has less calories than a bacon cheeseburger like. Look at Wetherspoons, a lot of their food items are over 800 calories, and they have 0 issue displaying this on their menu. They don’t deny that it’s not the healthiest because, people don’t go to Spoons for ‘low cal’ or “syn free” food. They go for jugs, and cheap, massive portions of decent food. I mean, it’s like £6 for a burger and chips, what do you expect?

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Finding out KFC isn’t healthy??

The thing is, nutritional information is displayed on store-bought products. We can see how unhealthy it is, and how small a real portion is, and what do we do? We ignore it. But the key difference is, we choose to ignore it. Consumers are given the information, and what we do with it is up to us. It’s our decision, and rightfully so. We have the option to read it if we want – and that’s a big “if”.  You might fancy a Mars bar (God knows why like, they’re horrible), but after seeing how much sugar’s in it, you might think twice and put it back on the shelf (where it belongs). Or, you might decide that it’s worth the pancreatic damage and buy it anyway. At the end of the day, we can’t control what goes in the food, but we can control whether or not we eat it.  So we should have the same option when eating out.

Do it for the ‘Gram

Nowadays, people seem take photos of almost everything they do, buy or eat. It’s all about the “aesthetic”. Not just any angle, gotta be birdseye and of course you’ve to draw a wee heart with the pen tool. Very cute.

We’re all guilty of doing it – well most of us millennials anyway. Out for coffee? Snap that cappuccino art. Out for food? We want to see your poached eggs and avocado. Nails done? Ooh girl, show me. Don’t dare start sipping or eating before you’ve got the perfect photo (if you’re feeling nice you might even include your friend in the background). There’s no disappointment like getting blobby latte art, like how are you meant to insta that?? Pffft.

So why do we do it? Is it because we’ve got smartphones now so it’s easier to do? I don’t remember people whipping out disposable cameras in Barnam’s when I was younger, and I didn’t find photos of brunches when I went through my family photos. I didn’t find many of me either but that’s okay, I’m not bitter 🙂

Our camera rolls and galleries are like a digital diary – we can look back and see all the places we’ve gone, things we did, food we ate and people we were with. It lets us reminisce the good days, and when we’re older and can’t afford a house, we can look back at all the avocados we ate and know that they were worth it.

But we don’t just take photos for ourselves and the people that steal our phones – I don’t scroll through my gallery to fondly remember all the cappuccinos I’ve had like. We upload them on social media, namely Instagram. We whack a wee filter on it (mostly “Lagos”) and post it on our stories with a wee geotag of where we are, much to the delight of stalkers, kidnappers and the government. I mean, what’s the point going out somewhere or doing something if people don’t know about it?

We post these for all our followers and creepers to see, incase they didn’t know how much this social butterfly flapped her wings. Uh yeah I have several friends, didn’t you know? You can show off your social life and show your ex that yeah you ARE living your best life. You got a hair cut and you have your life together. Ha. You can show off that yeah you do cook sometimes, you actually did go to the gym after work (go you) and you did get paid today. Make it rain, babe.
It’s nice to post and broadcast things that we’re happy about, things we’ve achieved and people we love like.

As well as this, people are nosey and want to know what you’re doing. Like yeah you work 9-5, but what else do you do? The whole point of Instagram stories is to let people see you what you do when you’re not getting candids or going on nights out as shown by your normal posts. It lets people get to know you a bit better, you’re not gonna pollute everyone’s feeds by posting “pointless” photos (not that your mirror selfies have much of a point either like), but whack a wee story up and people can choose to see it. Who cares if it’s just a photo of poached eggs? And so what if your hair looks weird? It’s gone in 24 hours anyway.

Some people underestimate the power of Instagram. Without realising it, we’re all influencers: showing off your claws and tagging the salon, tagging the tattoo artist in your tat photo, posting that coffee, brunch or clothes haul. Instagram acts as a little window shop basically, you get to see so many things you otherwise wouldn’t, and find out what they’re like, where they’re from and how much they are. It’s not just the “behind the scenes” of people’s lives, but clothes, food, drink and activities. Even posting stories and photos of you going on holidays lets people see what that town, city or country’s like – and what there is to do. What would you rather see, “Top 10 Things to See” on TripAdvisor or real people taking real photos of what they saw there?

Even small things like going out for dinner and taking photos of the food lets people see what it’s actually like. Hardly any restaurants post photos of their food, and when they do, you can never really trust them. Before I go somewhere, I love having a wee jook at the menu, downloading the PDF and of course, having a wee creep on Instagram to see what the food actually looks like. But I don’t go on the restaurant’s account, I look for the tagged and geo-tagged photos. Why? Because these have been taken by real people. It’s like when you see the advertised vs real product from clothes sites. You can’t always trust what the business posts, because they need it to look good, it’s their job to. Like we’ve all seen the McDonald’s ads and know it’s just plain lies.

We need others to take one for the team and be the guinea pigs for us. It saves you going somewhere or buying something that turns out not to be that nice. Yes, “looks can be deceiving” and “don’t judge a book” and all that, but we rely a LOT on what we see. If food doesn’t look nice or the portions are tiny, I don’t want to eat there. If clothes are crap material and poor fit, I don’t wanna buy ’em. If a destination doesn’t have much to do or see, I sure as hell ain’t wasting my sanity or time going through security and flying there.

Businesses are relying on us too, to promote their brand for them. They need us to tell our friends that we went there, what we had and how nice it was. They need us to take photos and share them with our followers. Even those candids and photos of nights out do this. They lead to “omg love your top😍” “thanku sweetie it’s from topshop!!” There you go, Topshop got some free advertising. The girl you follow just acted as a mannequin, but she’s more your size than the 5″10 girl on the website. So you know this top is nice, looks as shown online and yeah you actually could wear it out. So Topshop just got a wee sale and customer. And they didn’t have to do or spend anything to do so.

These real-life posts are a lot more reliable than what you see in ads, websites and brand social media accounts. We all know that the most trustworthy reviews are by people who gain nothing for leaving positive feedback. Critics writing reviews in magazines and blogs isn’t a true representation. They’re normally given the best service and treatment, and are “rewarded” in some way for the review. Imagine getting free food in exchange for giving an opinion, pfft. But most importantly, their tastes are probably more “refined” than ours, well, mine anyway. They go to fancy places for fancy food, posh boutiques for one-off quirky pieces, and cafés that do teeny tiny flat whites and “biscotti”. I’m never going to go to these places, I don’t want to. I want to go to places that my friends and NORMAL people go, because I trust them a lot more.

So, to all the story spammers and feed polluters: please DO continue taking photos of everything, you’re doing us a favour. Shame that you never take pics of the bill though.

Fakebook – Our Fake Lives Online

Let’s be real, the “us” we portray on social media, isn’t the same “us” that danders around tesco in their jammies or watches Netflix for 8 hours straight. Everything we post has been polished, filtered and approved by 3 friends in the group chat. You don’t just post “whatever”, you make a conscious decision to upload something specific. Out of 56 selfies, you chose to upload that one – even though you might delete it later but you “felt cute” at the time. Out of a million memes, you chose to post that one (which isn’t even funny). And out of all of the giveaways for a free trip to Malibu for you and 4 friends, you chose to share that one – oh but I’m sure this ones definitely real.

Why? Why do we make such an effort to control what gets posted? Because everyone wants to have friends and followers. The aim of the game is give the people what they want so they decide to follow you. So you post what you think people want to see and what you think will get you the most likes and follows; there’s a constant desire to impress. You try 6 different filters, 13 captions and debate with yourself whether or not to post that selfie. People creep their own profiles and do a “detox”, deleting the photos or statuses that they don’t like anymore. They check notifications, count their likes and comments and panic if there’s less than 11 in 5 minutes, because sadly, we live in a society where self esteem and value is determined by this. We let how many strangers like our photo effect how we feel about ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s edited beyond recognition, it gets more likes. Do you ever wonder why people don’t look like themselves in their Instagram photos? Because they get more likes on these, so they’re basically told that they’re prettier and more popular this way. It gives people a chance to change their appearance to one that they’re happier with – the way they wished they looked. The way they’re told they should look.

In real life, you decide to be friends with someone based on what they’re like, and online is no different. Your friends, family and anyone who actually knows you, well, knows you – so they know that they like you. But strangers need to gauge who you are and what you’re like based on what you post on your accounts to see if you’re the sort of person that they want to “add” or “follow”. They don’t know you, so they don’t know your flaws, your personality traits or what you look like without makeup. You get a clean slate. You choose what they see and what they know about you. Don’t like the photo? They don’t have to see it. Don’t post it, delete it, remove the tag. Don’t want people to know something about you? Then simply don’t mention it. No one needs to know about your Goth phase in 2008. Thank God.

So, it isn’t always a bad thing to hide some things or be a bit ‘fake’ online, and not just with photos. In private conversations, you can say what you want and openly express how you feel, especially with controversial topics. But on social media, you have to be a bit more cautious. Say something out loud and there’s no real “proof” unless someone’s recording, but put something online and there it is, a lil digital paper trail. As we all know from FILM, once something’s been uploaded, it’s up forever. You can delete it if you want, but how many people already saw it? And who knows how many screenshots have been taken by then?

Obviously, everyone has an opinion and the right to express it too, but there’s certain things which are probably better left un-typed. You wouldn’t walk down the street shouting racist or homophobic comments, so why do the equivalent on your ‘wall’?

It goes for anywhere, but especially here in the north of Ireland, you have to be really careful about what you post in relation to politics or religion. You pretty much have to accept that you’ll be judged on what soccer team you support, what passport you have, what you call the artificial state that you live in and what you do on the 12th of July. It’s the same in the UK with who voted ‘leave’ and who voted ‘remain’, and in America with who voted for Trump (and more importantly, why?). If people know where we stand on these sort of things, they’ll judge us and it will effect their opinion of us; but online, if we don’t post about it, then they won’t know and so will judge us based on other things like what we’re like, not what we believe in.

Let’s be real, we’ve all googled our own names to see what comes up. And most of the time, it’s nothing bar old Bebo accounts or other people with the same name (shoutout to the 134,000 other Niamh Murrays rolling about). But what else comes up are our social media accounts. So, if someone’s doing a lil dig on you like Joe from ‘You’ checking up on your woman Beck, that’s all they really have to find out about us, that and the primary school photos from the Andytown News website. Yikes.

Aside from stalkers, potential employers are going to be doing a little snooping on you too, to see what you’re really like. Even they know that you can’t really gauge what someone’s like from applications or CVs, and no one’s their true self in interviews. They want to see if you’re the sort of person they want working for them and representing the company, so what they see can affect whether or not you get a shortlisted, an interview, or the job even. If something negative or offensive gets broadcasted on social media, it’s going to put off employers and customers too. I mean, footage of a company executive singing a sectarian song doesn’t exactly scream “professional and trustworthy source”. But that’s hypothetical, of course…

I reckon that’s why a lot of people are getting and using LinkedIn. Having a social media especially for networking and professional use means people don’t have to worry as much about what they post or hide hide on other accounts. It gives employers a first port of call too, they can see your LinkedIn and think “hmm, doesn’t seem like a bad spud” and give up, rather than keep digging and finding your drunk alter ego’s Instagram account (yeah, you know who you are). See, there’s sort of an unspoken hierarchy of how “behind the scenes” your social media accounts are:

  • LinkedIn is professional, so you post about achievements and current affairs.
  • Instagram is basically where you post photos of yourself and your friends to show off your contour and social life, it’s basically all for show, like a polished version of you.
  • Facebook is mostly used for memes, but this is where people feel most free to post what they want. They’re not afraid to say how they feel on current affairs and political matters, or when they’re drunk.
  • Snapchat is where you can be your true self and send ugly selfies where you look like a thumb, super behind the scenes.

Saying all this, how ‘fake’ you are depends how much you care what other people think about you; some people really don’t care and still post statuses and photos which are pretty questionable. But, they’re doing what they want on their accounts. Don’t like it? Unfollow. Unfriend. If you don’t like what they do, say or are like, then you wouldn’t be friends with them in real life, so why be online?

Are We Easily Offended?

I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it: “We aren’t allowed to say… anymore”. I’m guessing most of us have said “you can’t say that” (mostly to grandparents and older generations with questionable views), or changed a word we’re going to say to another more ‘correct’ one. But, is it the rules of what we can say that have changed, or simply what people will and won’t tolerate? Just because you “could” say it before, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should’ve.

Society has changed. People have more rights, and people are more aware of those rights. Yes, it’s still a predominantly upper-class white male dominated world (how fab). But people can stick up for themselves more. They know when they don’t have to “tolerate” or “deal with” being mistreated. They know how they should or shouldn’t be treated. For example, I should be treated like the gift to the world that I am. So, people know that they don’t have to listen to derogatory words used about them. They don’t have to put up with it anymore.

I admit, people do seem to be a lot more sensitive in the past, with people constantly choosing their words carefully to avoid offending someone or being labeled as discriminatory in some way. But is being aware of the effects of what we say necessarily a bad thing? Shouldn’t we have to think about what we say and how it will impact others? God FORBID having to think of the consequences of what you do.

Sometimes, people do just seem to want to look for hurt and malice where there is none, or as my ma would say “some people are while easily offended”. People need to be aware of whether the offence is the responsibility of the speaker or hearer. Someone can take offence even if nothing “offensive” was actually said. It’s like if you tell someone they look like their ma – it’s not offensive, but some people get offended by it. Not me though, don’t worry, Claire.

Even vegans are getting involved (how unlike them) with some claiming that phrases like “don’t flog a dead horse” promote and normalise mistreatment of animals. Even though the phrase clearly says not to beat an animal but okay.

There’s always extremists who take it a step further, and say that things which aren’t offensive, are. The problem is that this hides the actual issues with things people say. If you ask people to change words or phrases because they’re derogatory or offensive, then people will change. But if you demand unreasonable changes, then people won’t listen and they’ll not change anything they say.

People need to be more aware of the consequences of their actions. If you want to say something, fine. But if no one wants to hear it, then it’s not fine.

There’s a difference between when something’s unwanted, and when it’s wrong. Will I be offended if you call me ugly? No, because I got 100 likes on my selfie probably. Does that mean you shouldn’t be able to say it? No.

Will I be offended if you make a sectarian comment? Oh, honey, yes. Does that mean you shouldn’t be able to say it? You betcha.

Let’s be real, we’re not running out of words anytime soon. New words are constantly made up and added to our vocab (my personal fave is “yeet”), so if you can’t use a certain word, find another one. Preferably one that won’t make people angry. Or, better yet: keep your rude opinions to yourself. Problem solved!!

It’s pretty straightforward – if people don’t want to be called something, don’t call ’em it. Drake’s real name’s Aubrey, but he doesn’t like it (wonder why) so wants to be called Drake. So what do we do? We call him Drake. See how easy it is??

Even if you don’t agree with not being able to say a word/phrase without judgement or backlash, why not save yourself the bother and confrontation by keeping it tucked away in that lil brain of yours. Why make controversial comments and then complain you’ve had a backlash?

To sum: stop pissing people off.
The end.

Why Do People Buy Brands?

I was sitting in mass last week (how all good stories start) when a woman sat down in front of me who was wearing a Michael Kors bag. I just looked at it and thought “how much did she pay for that bag? And why?” (It was either ponder this or the gospel according to Mark, yikes). This was just a plain black over the shoulder bag, nothing you couldn’t get in New Look *screaming in background*, except without the fancy name. Why did she spend £500 on a handbag? Is it better quality? Will it last longer? Or was it simply so people could see she could afford it?

Me thinkin’ ’bout how she afforded that bag

To be fair, I grew up in a house that didn’t really do “brands”. I own no “designer” brands, I never have – unless Missguided counts? I ~thankfully~ avoided the whole Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch phase in third year (yeah you should be scundered) and never had Vans or Converse when they were the IN thing. All the guddies I own are wee cheap ones from places like Primark or Boohoo, and the same goes for my clothes. My logic has always been “why buy 1 top for £50 if I can buy 5 for the same price?” Which is probably why I ended up with 67 tops at one stage even though I only wore 4.  Anyway, the way I see it, I’d rather have a cheap purse with more money in it, than a designer purse that’s nearly empty.

If something is a certain style or design, that only one brand really does or specialises in, then fair enough – I can see why people might want to fork out and buy it. But I seriously don’t get branded clothes that are literally just plain clothes with a logo on them.

I mean, I don’t really get the concept of paying extortionate amounts of money to advertise a brand for them? Surely they should be paying you? Wearing clothes with obvious branding kinda makes you a walking billboard. I get it from the companies’ points of view, I mean why pay models to promote your clothes when you can get consumers to do it free? But I don’t really get why consumers choose to do it.

Is it the association that if you buy and wear designer brands that you have money? (Even though you’ll not likely have much left after spending £120 on a pair of guds). Like are we still in that “having money makes me cool” or “will impress people” mindset? “I can afford this and others can’t”? Truth is, others can. We simply choose not to. I could technically afford a £20 pair of Adidas socks, does that mean I will or would even consider it? Hell to the no. I could buy 10 5-packs of primark ankle socks for that price. 2 socks vs 50…hmmm tough one.

Me after my Primark sock haul

But surely the whole “showing off” thing can’t come into play here, because who’s realistically going to see the logo if it’s hidden under your trousers? So then why buy them? Are these socks so superior and the best quality that will last me longer than any other type and not shrink in the tumbledrier? What actually makes them so special to justify costing so much more than the competition?

“I buy them because they’re comfy”; “they’re good quality”; “they last ages”; “I just like them” – all valid reasons. But unless they’re 5 times comfier, better quality or last 5 times as long, why pay 5 times the price for them?

See, people don’t wear branded clothes, they wear brands. It’s not just a top, it’s an “Adidas” top. Not just a bag, it’s “Michael Kors”, those aren’t sunglasses, they’re “Raybans”. People don’t just buy branded clothes to wear them, but to be seen wearing them.

If designer branded clothes didn’t have logos on them, would as people still buy them? You like that top? Cool. Would you pay £50 for it if it was made by Nike but didn’t have the logo? Would it still be “worth” the £50 if people couldn’t see it was Nike? Hmm I don’t know. Do you reckon people would still spend £475 on Louboutins if they didn’t have the red soles?

So pretty but so not worth £525

When a leading shoe brand release a new pair of guddies, and a high street shop releases a similar “copy cat” version, why do people feel embarrassed to be seen in these “rip offs” or “fakes”? If you’re buying something for the design and appearance, then what difference does a wee tick on the side make? I doubt the lack of logo somehow makes it hideous looking.

I’ve seen it myself – schoolkids making jokes and digs at friends who have these copy cats. But what’s so funny about buying cheaper goods? If I can buy the same thing you have but for £60 cheaper, surely I should be laughing at you? This peer pressure drives some people to buy brands purely to fit in, regardless of whether or not they actually like the goods. Like no harm but there are some ugly shoes out there that wouldn’t be popular if they weren’t made by a designer brand.

If Boohoo invented these designs, would they still be worn? I really wish they had, would save me having to lay my eyes on these…things. I think it’s sad that we live in a time when who made it is more important than what they actually made. Like don’t even get me STARTED on iPhones.

But that’s me, and that’s my preference – I always have been a cheap and cheerful kinda gal. Which I guess is why I don’t understand people who choose other wise. I’m sure I’d think differently if I was brought up thinking that brands actually mattered, but I wasn’t so I don’t. And I’m perfectly happy this way, buying and wearing “cheap” things – I don’t want to be “branded”, I ain’t a cow.

Moo

Don’t @ Me

Well, it’s pretty ironic that I want to go into digital or social media marketing but don’t have Twitter, isn’t it?

Truth is, I do have Twitter. I actually have like 6 different accounts floating about somewhere, one for every time I decided to get it, then didn’t have a baldy how to use it so just deleted the app.

I did use to have an account and tweet the occasional witty comment or inspirational Lil Wayne lyric that just resonated with my soul ~there’s just something about degrading women, murder and drugs that rly spoke to 2013 me~. But I think I just got a bit fed up and couldn’t really be bothered with it anymore, I never tweeted much anyway and then got offended when people unfollowed me (the NERVE).

So why don’t I have Twitter?

There’s a couple of reasons (apart from the fact it adds a lil bit of mystery because people can’t creep me online).

1. Coming up with a username (or “handle” as I believe the Twitter kids say). Niamh is a really common name so a lot of usernames are taken – and as much as I’d like “niamhm1223216” as my handle, it doesn’t exactly scream “memorable” and no way would I remember it when trying to log in.

2. Coming up with a bio – as if coming up with my Instagram one wasn’t tough enough. What do I write, my age and uni? “Follow me pls”? another Lil Wayne quote? I don’t want to be boring (not that I could be) but I don’t want to be trying too hard either, people have to think “oh I’ll give her a wee follow”.

3. Ever get when you’re running late and you think to yourself “it actually looks worse if I show up this late than if I just don’t show up”? Like am I too late to the Twitter party? Years ago I decided to wait until the “whole Twitter thing” died down, so I wouldn’t have to make it. But here we are, about 6 years later and yep, it’s STILL a thing. Yay.

4. What’s my first tweet gonna be? “Hi”? A meme? “I don’t know how to use this”? If I’m making a comeback after about 5 years and finally joining the Twitter world, I need to have a good entrance. Like a washed up 2000s singer trying to be a somebody again. Craig David needed a BANGER when stepping back on the scene like.

5. Followers. Like how will people find me? No one wants to be that person with 5,000 tweets, following 893 and only 4 followers, it’s a bit scundering like. No harm.

These all come back to one main reason which is that I don’t know what I want from Twitter.
For me, LinkedIn is professional and proper, Instagram is more “behind the scenes” and not so serious and Facebook is for changing your profile picture so people don’t forget you exist and tagging friends in memes. So what’d my Twitter be for? Do I want to use it to stay in the loop with current affairs, look at memes or follow celeb gossip? (Obviously there are other options. I hope).

It’s important to build a digital presence and brand, and I don’t know what mine is yet. It’s the same reason I don’t know what handle I’d have or what my first tweet would be. I don’t wanna tweet about the latest first dates episode if I want to be taken seriously. But do I want to be taken seriously and just retweet business news? Isn’t that what LinkedIn’s for? I want to be me and have my social media reflect that. But I don’t really know what that “me” is yet. Ya girl’s still growing (one day I will be 5ft4, just you wait and see).

If I knew what I wanted, I could choose a handle, I could write a bio, I could think of a first tweet. I’d know who I wanted to follow and what photo I’d want as my dp. But until then, I don’t see the point making Twitter. I don’t want a seventh account floating about, and I sure as hell don’t want to waste a good name.

The “C” Word

Culture. Well, what other word would I be talking about? Tut TUT. Anyway, if you’ve been on social media recently (or Buzzfeed in particular), you can’t seem to scroll far without coming across the word. It seems that every time a song, music video, or fashion photography is released, it comes into play. All this talk of culture and appropriation got me thinking, what actually is culture? Well, let’s ask boy George, shall we?

What a man

Culture is: “the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.”

These “people” include races, religions, nationalities and ages – just because two people are from the same place, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll have the same culture. A Parisien Islamic pensioner and Parisien Catholic teenager will obviously have cultural differences (duh).

So, culture includes what we do, think, eat, wear and how we act and behave. But where does it end? Is burning other nationalities’ flags “culture”? What about shooting people? Colonisation? Fast food? Not saying thanks to the bus driver? (Eugh, imagine) Is this “culture”?

How big do these “people, groups and societies” have to be for their behaviour to qualify as “culture”? Can any behaviour done by these groups by classified as culture?

A group of a certain race, religion, nationality and who support a certain soccer team shout sectarian and racist songs and abuse at matches (hypothetically of course, this would never happen). This is a group which share views and attitudes, and this is a social behaviour after all, so does that make it culture?

People seem all too quick to excuse a behaviour by saying it’s their culture. It eliminates their responsibility and shifts the blame. It’s not them choosing to act that way, it’s out of their control – it’s instilled in them, it’s how they were raised. Headers.

We need to stop using “culture” as a justification. Not only does this skew what people think is “okay”, it also undermines actual culture. If anything can be classified as a cultural behaviour, then it loses its definition. We lose the ability to distinguish and tell the difference between what we should deem unacceptable and acceptable.

As well as this, a group of people behaving a certain way and branding it “culture” creates a stigma and association attached the wider group they’re a part of. This results in stereotypes of nations, races and religions, having them branded and labeled as a whole. Spoiler alert: not all Irish people are alcoholics and drunks, despite what films repeatedly portray. Very badly, and usually with a Scottish accent, might I add (@ Gerard Butler- you brought our country shame).

Good.

Anyway, recently there seems to a rise in people defending and wanting to “protect” their culture. Even if said culture involves discrimination or abusive behaviour. So, why the desire now more than ever to retain it?

Well, we live in a world where cultures seem to be blending into one – shoutout to multinational corporations !! No matter where you are in the world, you can most likely eat the same things and buy the same brands. Globalisation means that sadly, small and local firms are being put out of business by the big dogs.

Don’t get me wrong, these companies allow us to pay less for products, order food despite not speaking the language, and make things more accessible. But what don’t they do? Pay tax, yes. But offer a sense of “home”. They offer it to visitors, but not natives of the country. Nothing screams ‘traditional’ like a Bershka or H&M. That’s the real reason I go on holiday.

Beautiful

You can go abroad, walk down the city’s main street, and feel like you’re home. Same shops, same language (shoutout to English speaking countries for apparently being the only ones not to learn another language !!) and thanks to global warming, the same weather. How FAB.

In a time where everything’s blurring to become more similar, of course it’s important to preserve traditions and culture (ones that don’t harm others, just to clarify). Things that make us unique, things you can’t get or do just anywhere. But first, we have to stop using it as a scapegoat for acting like eejits.

My Week Without Wifi

Well, here I am; sitting on my bed and typing away on my notepad. No music on, no videos or programmes on the background, nothing but the soothing sound of the motorway to listen to. No, I’m not an emo or going through a tough breakup, we just have no wifi (hence the lack of my usual HILARIOUS gifs and photos in this post)

Last Tuesday, we cancelled our wifi because BT the supplier which shall remain nameless was costing an arm and a leg and offered pretty bad service, so we decided to move to another company. The new wifi doesn’t come until this Tuesday, which lead to the event mentioned in the creative title.

When I heard we’d have no wifi for a week, I wasn’t gurning or anything. It’s a bit melting, yes – but I thought, ya know what? This mightn’t be too bad. I’ve always wanted to do a digital detox and cut off all social media for a wee bit. I do think we’re too reliant and addicted to our phones, and if it wasn’t for my Snapchat streaks (yes, I’m ashamed to still have them but we’re on 954 days, COME ON) I’d have done it a long time ago. This week gave me a chance and excuse to be on my phone less, use social media less, and send ugly double chin photos to my friends less (how lucky are they?).

I had pictures in my head of me becoming more wholesome and at one with the world, “I’m going to live in the moment more, talk to people face to face more, spend my time more productively” etcetc. I really prepared myself for some good old family bonding, maybe play some ‘go fish’ or ‘donkey’.

The reality was actually a lot less exciting. I was in work all day Wednesday and Thursday so wouldn’t use the internet anyway (did somebody say ’employee of the month’?), got the glider in and home so had wifi there (see? Definitely worth the £90 million of tax payer money!!!!), met my friends for coffee so had wifi while I waited for them in the café, and of course had the option of using my 3g at any time. So yes, I was on my phone less than I would’ve been, and it did mean I wasn’t mindlessly scrolling or just picking up my phone every 10 minutes. I still snapped my friends, replied to group chats and had a wee creep on Instagram (you know who you are). But, I’m still as wholesome as I was before, am as (un)productive as before, and everyone else in my family has a lot more data than I do so they were on their phones anyway so no card games were played.

The biggest realisation was how bad terrestrial TV is. Why is there nothing but NCIS on every night? Like what do people under 65 watch? We couldn’t (legally 🙂 ) download anything but it’s okay because we got to watch Mulan, one of the 2 DVDs we have – I was not watching 6th sense, oh, honey no.

But, aside from the TV issue, I quite liked having no wifi. It was nice to actually be aware of how much I was on my phone, how much time and data I was using. I found myself going online when I actually needed or wanted to, not just to fill the 3 minute gap of my porridge heating in the microwave. I used social media for what it’s actually for – talking to people, not just scrolling through news feeds double tapping and screenshotting cringey statuses.

I don’t feel cut off from the world, not knowing what’s going on or what the latest meme is. I genuinely don’t miss the wifi that much, apart from being able to watch programmes – I only have 2 episodes of Russian Dolls left and I really want to know what the “twist” is. Not having wifi made me realise just how much I’m on my phone pointlessly, just to avoid watching ads and kill time. Obviously, working full time and meeting people after work meant that I was only actually home for like 2 hours before going to bed, and having to make dinner and shower etc in that time meant I’d even less time to notice not having it.

I do want to use my phone less, and actively try to do so and do things like read books more instead (actually having a book I haven’t read might help a bit) and this week gave me good practice. I’ve tried doing a wee detox before, but when the wifi’s there, it’s hard not to just go on and scroll away when you’re bored. At least this time, I was forced to make the conscious decision to go online. Even though I’m not on my phone LOADS because of work and meeting friends (social butterfly, I’m telling ye), it’s nice to use it less and actually USE it for a reason. So, this week’s been grand, no streaks have died and no one’s missed out on seeing my chins – it’s all good.

So from Tuesday, I’m not really gonna act much differently; I’m not going to go on and watch a week’s worth or stories and memes, the only thing that’ll change is watching shows (again, legally 🙂 ) online. And even at that, I only watch about an hour or max two a night anyway before it hits 10pm and I crash. What a wild life I lead.

In short, I don’t miss the wifi – I just hate freeview.