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.

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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.

But What REALLY Happened?

Before we get into anything, I’m gonna have to ask you to pop your wee tin foil hat on for me there, cheers. *Cue X Files theme tune*

Right, I don’t know if I just never really noticed or wasn’t aware of them, but have you noticed that conspiracy theories have become really popular recently? There’s documentaries, forums, websites and a LOT of YouTube videos about them. 

You have your standard “Bush did 9/11”, “the Kennedy’s had Marilyn Monroe killed”, “the royals had Diana killed” ones which have been around for years – although I don’t know if they count as conspiracy theories if they’re true ¿  

But nowadays, for every incident that happens in the world, there seems to be an “alternative theory” to explain it -and put the blame on powerful people, departments and organisations. Basically, “When all else fails, blame the government”. Not that they would ever, EVER do such scandalous things. Pffft.

Side note: does the big bang theory count as a conspiracy theory to creationists?

Now, for all you non-believers, prepare to have your world SHOOK with some of my personal favourite conspiracy theories explanations. Disclaimer: I’m not saying these are true, just saying they’re possible OKAY? So save your eye rolls and judgements and just play along for me. Cheers.

1. The earth could be flat – I know, I know, TYPICAL MILLENNIAL what are we LIKE. Of course the earth isn’t flat, a big floating ball in the sky makes a lot more sense. Seriously though, maybe it’s spherical, maybe it’s flat. Yes there’s “evidence” that it isn’t, like photos from very reliable sources like NASA. Who also share reports following Santa’s journey on Christmas Eve. Just saying.

– I’m not saying it’s actually flat don’t worry, I’m just saying we only know it’s a sphere because we’ve been told it’s one. How do you know that everything you’ve ever seen or been told about isn’t actually 100% dead on?  Think about it. T h i n k  a b o u t  i t .

If you’re still reading and haven’t given up on me based off that first one, another good wee one is:

2. The lottery is fake. No one actually wins the jackpot. People get paid a large amount (but still smaller than the jackpot) to go public and say that they won. Quick knock on the door, “Wanna make half a mill? All you’ve to do is go on TV saying you won 3 million” job. I’d do it, HINT HINT. Someone gets a nice wee paycheque and the lottery people save like 2.5 million. Win, win. And those mysterious people who win and don’t want to reveal their identities, maybe that’s because they don’t exist? Dun dun.  

3. Modern art is a front for international money laundering. This one’s a pretty run of the mill, can’t really question it kind of one. Ever wonder why people pay millions for a squiggly line on a canvas? All those mad paintings that are just splodges and cost a bomb? Basically, art collectors (criminals, cartels, other rich people who make their fortune illegally) buy paintings (transfer illicit money) off dealers (to whoever they’re paying). Payments go under the radar and unnoticed; the only attention they receive is “Who in the right mind paid money for that?” There’s a more complicated explanation here.

Anyway, clearly I do love a good wee conspiracy theory as much as the next person (but not enough to watch videos and all on them like), but that’s it – why do we love them?

Are we just cynical? To be fair, we’ve been lied to about so much before that we’re bound to have some trust issues like. “Watching TV makes your eyes go square”, “Eating crusts makes your hair go curly”, and let’s not forget the whole Santa situation. We don’t know what or who to believe anymore, so we just take everything with a pinch of salt – and honestly like, can you blame us?

Maybe we’re just being contrary. Maybe we’re all big attention seekers who want to be different and go against the grain. A wee bit of non-conforming, “You can’t tell me what to think or believe, I’ll decide for myself” carry on.

Or maybe, it’s because we love to make the baddies badder. We don’t like certain groups or organisations and they’ve already done a hell of a lot of damage to the world, so what’s the harm in another lil cover up to add to their impressive collection? Standard anti-corporation, “stick it to the man” kinda vibes.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do think that sometimes, SOMETIMES when something happens, it actually does just happen. But I think it’s good to consider the alternatives. I think we should question what we’re told and figure out for ourselves what we really believe.

The thing is, we’ll never know. No one can ever prove whether or not the story we’re told, or our own mad conspiracy theory version is actually the right one. The government can’t exactly be like “no lads here’s proof that Neil Armstrong actually did walk on the moon” (which he didn’t, by the way) because everyone will just be like “OK great ANOTHER lie, when will it end??” And trigger a conspiracy-theory-style catch 22 situation.

Plus, it’s more interesting to come up with alien-related explanations anyway, what else would we do during lectures?

The Rise of the Millennial

Millennials: we’re the generation of avocados, fancy coffee and brunch. We’re also the generation of being blamed for pretty much any issue in society. Lucky us!!!

There’s constantly reports and headlines online about how millennials are ruining the economy (oh, the IRONY) because we’re spending all of our money on frivolous things and going out. We’re not saving. We’re not ‘contributing to society’. We’re not buying houses or diamonds (even though there’s a 5000% mark up and it’s not the most ethical industry @blood diamonds). And we aren’t buying those fancy cloth hankies (yes, apparently we’re killing that industry too). Basically, we’re not “investing our money”.

But we are. We’re investing it in ourselves. We’re paying like £4,000-9,000 a year for a uni degree which we then spend decades paying off and can’t get a job with anyway. That’s an investment. We spend our money socialising, to keep strong emotional connections and improve our mental health. That’s an investment.  We’re paying a bomb for gym memberships, dance and yoga classes (which we never go to, but the option’s there) to keep ourselves physically healthy so we’re around for longer. That’s an investment. We spend our money on things that make us happy, to help us have a better quality of life. That’s an, you’ve guessed it, i n v e s t m e n t.

Apparently we’re not buying enough houses. And we all know the housing market is a GREAT one, it’s never collapsed and there definitely isn’t a housing crisis on at the minute anywhere. Sounds very secure and low-risk. And sure, why get a house if you don’t know where you’re going to live?

Thanks to there being like 0 jobs and a lil disaster called Brexit (THANKS for that, by the way), we have no idea where we’re going to settle. We can put our foot on a plane and travel around the world in search of a job or a nicer place to live; and having no houses, mortgages, families or commitments tying us down means there’s nothing really stopping us. Apart from VISAs and emigration laws of course, but you get the picture.

We aren’t saving our money, but what would we be saving for? Let’s be real here, the planet is literally dying and thanks to past generations completely murdering it, we have no idea how long it – and we, will be around for. Like my granda always said, “You can’t take it with you, there’s no point being the richest in the graveyard.” Wouldn’t you be raging if you spent your life saving and deliberately not buying things you wanted, and then the planet kicked the bucket before you’d a chance to spend it?

Let’s be optimists and say that we are going to be around for like 100 more years. Being realistic, the retirement age is probably going to be around 75 for us, so we’ve loads of time (in theory) to make more money. Is that £7 brunch really going to affect my financial situation so much that there is no chance in hell that I can earn it back in the future? That’s literally an hour’s wage, so unless I never work another hour in my life, I think I got this one covered.

Plus, a very important lil note. It’s our money. We earned it, and we spend it. We can do whatever we want with it, and it’s nobody’s business.

All the focus seems to be on millennials ‘destroying’ current industries, but what about the new ones we’re creating and supporting? Vegan products, those weird stick on handles for the back of your phone, Dragon Soop and succulents – how are they any less important than cloth hankies?? Other generations aren’t supporting these industries as much as us, so why is no one saying “baby boomers are trying to destroy the avocado industry”? We aren’t ‘ruining’ the economy, we’re simply changing it. Lifestyles have changed, needs have changed, money has changed – and the economy should reflect that.

Millennials:  we’re a “live in the moment” kind of generation – and we spend accordingly; because thanks to previous generations, we’ve no idea how many moments we’re going to have.

“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