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.

Week 0

Well lads, I’m back without popular demand.

I took a wee 6 month break from blogging which I’m sure you noticed. To be honest, I was just flat out doing other things. I had placement, a placement report *shudders*, holidays, starting a new job, getting a new house and Money Heist to watch; but I’m back (yay). I was writing down wee blog ideas on my phone as I came up with them, just never made it much further @comittment issues. But, since I had my uni induction this week, I thought it just made sense to get back into the swing of things again now.

So on Tuesday I had my final year induction. I went because well 1) I’m paying 4 and half grand a year for uni so I’m determined to get my money’s worth and 2) it’s been like 18 months since I’ve been in uni so I needed a wee refresher course on what it actually is. Plus, I wanted to go for coffee with uni friends after (to reward ourselves for that one hour of actually thinking).

How did it go? Well, remember my previous blog post ‘Reasons I’m Excited for Final Year’ ? This induction was more like ‘Reasons I’m Scared of Final Year’. Firstly, I completely forgot the most terrifying thing about uni – the roll call. Deadly. Voice broke, knew it would. Not the best impression of me after not seeing me for over a year- that girl who talks like terminator.

Also, dissertation? Yeah that wee gem. We were told we have to submit a wee proposal of what we want to do it on by week 2. As in, 2 weeks from now. Not going to lie lads, I thought that was like Christmas-time carry on, but no. But it’s okay, I’ve got a page and just written down a lot of random words of stuff I’m interested in and I just know that I’ll have an epiphany. I can just sense it.

Apart from that it was actually grand like, it was just going over the timetable and modules etc, and of course having a wee nosey at who all came back to uni.

But, all scary biscuits aside, I’m still excited for the year ahead. This is going to be my year. But like, for real this time. I’m in a lovely wee student house with two amazing girls (although one of our neighbours stole our food bin?? Still not over it), I’m doing a job that I really, really like and I have a fresh set of coloured pens just waiting to be taken out on a spin. I am gonna need to practice writing neatly again because I’m a bit out of practise after mostly typing for a year, but I’ll get there. So yeah, I had my fab post-placement summer and now I’m ready to getmy head down and have a wee go at this final year thing.

I’m also planning to keep blogging during the year because I do really enjoy it and missed doing it; but sure, as my ma always says, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.

2,599,964‬ Fake Fans

We all know that ‘IG Influencers’ are thee new, hip-happening social media marketing tactic, with many major companies ‘collabing’ with bloggers, vloggers and other ‘big names’ on social media (although clearly not because I haven’t been DM’d yet?) to get them to promote their goods.

The whole idea is: “okay they have 1 million followers, so we should get x many impressions; they get around 50,000 likes so there’s at least 50,000 active users who will be exposed to the content. Of these 50,000, x many will actually ‘like’ the product (not just double tap while mindlessly scrolling) and then proceed to buy the merch”. Simple.

So, how come an Instagram influencer with over 2 million followers, was unable to sell 36 items from their own clothing line?

Instagram influencer Arii launched her own clothing line, and then 13 days later uploaded (and since deleted) a post apologising to her ‘fans’. I think. To be honest, I’m not really sure what the point of the post was, she seemed to be apologising to customers, calling people out and thanking others at the same time? I’ll let you be the judge because here’s a wee screenshot. Enjoy.

Anyway, Arii states that the clothing company she was working with had a rule that she had to sell a minimum amount of products for them to keep working with her and producing the clothes, which seems fair enough like, it has to be worth their while. But, the minimum order amount wasn’t achieved, which meant the clothes couldn’t be produced so any buyers had to get refunds instead, and the company would stop working with her. Yikes.

So, what went wrong? How could someone with (apparently) such a big ‘influence’ over hundreds of thousands of people and the power to persuade them to buy certain things, fail to persuade them to buy her own line?

Well, likes aren’t everything. *Louder for the Gen Z’ers in the back*. 40,000 likes doesn’t mean 40,000 orders. Your followers and likers aren’t necessarily going to be your customers. People follow companies just to have a wee jook, but have no real intention of buying their products. And on the flip side, I don’t follow a single clothing company on Instagram, but I buy from them. It’s not about how many follow you, but who. Are they actual customers, fans or just wee robots?

Another lil issue may be that Arii didn’t really promote the line? She posted one video announcing the launch. Then another promo post for good measure. And then, boom: the line “failure” post. I’m no expert, but how can people buy what they don’t know about?

But, apart from all that, what about the clothes themselves? Look at Arii’s feed. Look what she wears – the style, the colours. Now look at her clothing line. Does it look like the sort of thing she would or does wear? Sweatshirts and what I can only assume are cycling(?) clothes don’t really fit in with her style. She isn’t even wearing her own clothes in her posts? Even if you don’t actually wear them, at least whack on a sweatshirt, take some pics saying how “comfy” and “cute” it is and then change into something else. Just lie, girl.

People follow influencers and like their photos because they like what they’re wearing. They have similar style, so will buy clothes of that style. If you show them something completely different to what they like or wear, why would they buy them? You need to know who your customers are and what they want. Just because you are selling a product, doesn’t mean that people will buy it. Especially if you wouldn’t even buy it yourself.

But sure don’t we all love a wee conspiracy theory? What if this was just a marketing ploy? Did Arii think and hope that sharing her story of fake friends, fake fans and unfulfilling promises would make some of her 2.6 million followers feel bad and buy the products to help a gal out? Did she want them to take pity on her? Young girl starting her own clothing line in this massively competitive market is bound to be daunting like, why not give her a hand in helping her achieve her dream? Or did she want them to take pity on the people who actually wanted and bought the products but now had to be refunded instead because not enough people ordered them? I don’t know much (or anything really) about clothes production but it seems a bit weird that a minimum order amount is 36 pieces? Could’ve at least picked a round number, pffft.

The post was also deleted which is a bit sus. Maybe she realised that it was a bit questionable to blame people who didn’t buy her clothes and broken promises for the failure of the line. I mean, maybe making your fans feel guilty isn’t the best move? Neither is calling out people who didn’t leave you a review. Or maybe, the post had caused enough drama and pity to get people to buy enough clothes to fulfil the order amount. Either that, or she noticed that she forgot the word “take”. I sure did.

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So why did Arii’s clothing line supposedly fail? Was it because she didn’t do market research before launching the line and people just don’t like the clothes? Maybe it was because she didn’t actually promote it? Or, was it all a big lie and this is actually her way of promoting it? That post got Twitter and Instagram talking about her and her line, with everyone giving their (very qualified) marketing opinions and advice. Buzzfeed wrote about it, and more importantly, I’m writing about it. So it must be a big deal.

Then again, maybe we’re giving her too much credit and it was just an ugly clothing line that only 35 people liked. Who knows?

Placement: Recap and Advice

So, here I am in my FINAL two weeks of placement. Scary biscuits. It’s mad to think it was a year ago when I first bounced in the door not having a notion what I was doing and discovered my love for blazers. This is just a wee summary of my placement experience, which may or may not be of any use to people preparing to go on theirs. You’re welcome in advance.

I’ve done 9-5 days in retail and worked since I was 16, so I thought I sort of knew what the 8 hour day and working life would be like. Yeah I THOUGHT. I was so used to running about on my feet and being hands-on all day, so sitting down facing a screen and phone was a massive change for me. I’m glad I don’t have a fitbit because seeing I’ve only done 53 steps all day would be pretty depressing like. It does take some getting used to, I remember thinking “I’ll be less tired because I’ll be sitting all day” – oh honey, no.

Anyway, my placement hasn’t been what I thought it’d be like, because to be honest I hadn’t a clue what it’d be like. I had no expectations to meet. Which was good, because it meant I wasn’t disappointed or panicking about how good or bad I’d be at my job before I even knew what it was. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time trying to predict what I’d be doing because I would’ve been COMPLETELY wrong (for the first time in my life) – and sure who doesn’t love a wee surprise?

To be honest it’s probably a better thing that I didn’t know, because if I had’ve known that this is what I’d be doing, I wouldn’t have done it. Because I never thought I’d be able to. So, don’t try to predict how good (or bad) you’ll be at whatever it is you think you’ll be doing, because you won’t have a clue until you actually do it. Plus, do you really want to risk that self-fulfilling prophecy? Didn’t think so.

Even though I wasn’t at uni, I still learned a lot in my year out; a lot about the advertising industry, sales, customer service and working life. But I learned a lot about myself too. I learned what I could do, what I was capable (and incapable) of; I learned what I was good at and where my skills were, and I learned my limits – who knew I had any? I also learned a lot about what was actually going on in the world because I read like 3 newspapers a day. Like I was HELLA informed on the goings on in the world. And I got to compare 3 different horoscopes and choose which one I wanted to believe. Ha.

I met so many amazing people and made some really good friends this year, and I genuinely don’t know if I could’ve done the job I did in a different company. Everyone was friendly and said “hi” when they walked past, even though they clearly hadn’t a notion who I was. They’d make small talk when making lunch in the wee kitchen and then make a jokey comment when their soup exploded in the microwave. It was those extra 15 seconds, Dave, shouldn’t have done it.

Luckily, I got on well with my colleagues and we had such a GEG together. We exchanged conspiracy theories, had wee debates and discussed what we were having for dinner a LOT. They helped keep me sane, and were such a good support network for me. I was constantly asking questions and looking advice, and they were always more than helpful and gave me lil hints and tricks. At the end of the day, they were new once too. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or feel like you’re bothering people, because chances are they asked the exact same ones when they started. What makes you look worse, asking someone how to do something or doing it completely wrong and having to get them to fix it?

I was also really lucky that I had managers I felt I could go to if I was struggling, and who had more realistic expectations of me than I did. I constantly compared myself to my colleagues who had been doing the job for several years, because I had no else to compare myself to. There was no other placement student. I should’ve compared myself to who I was when I first started to see how far I’d come and how much I’d learned, but I didn’t.

So take my advice, compare yourself and how you’re doing to yourself at the start of your placement. Are you the best? Maybe not. But are you better than you were? Hell yeah. Don’t – and I mean DON’T – compare yourself to other people. Placement’s a learning experience, not a competition. You’re not on the apprentice, love.

Well I’m not going to lie lads, I was a bit of a yo-yo this year. I had my fair share of highs and lows and a few little “episodes”. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough at times, but that’s life. No matter what you do or where you do it, you have bad days. *Cue Hannah Montana* Work is hard. But obviously it’s hard – why would someone with no experience going into a full-time and proper adulty job be easy? Like my granda always said “hard work isn’t easy, and easy work’s hard to find”, you’re a wise man, Matt.

I’m not trying to scare anyone like, I’m just being honest. There’s no point in me saying it was all rainbows and fairies and easy coasting. It’s important to admit that I found it tough at times.
My problem was that I didn’t and kept acting like I was fine because everyone else seemed to be fine. I was like a wee duck paddling along, looking all calm above the water, but flailing like mad underneath. But we’re all ducks. Everyone’s pretending they’re fine because everyone else is pretending they’re fine. It’s a vicious duck cycle.

This is just MY experience though, some people mightn’t have a single bad day on placement. Good for them. Everyone’s in a different job, in a different company and with different coping abilities. So obviously no two placement experiences are going to be the same.

My most important advice is make sure you ENJOY your year. I don’t mean your placement, because that’s work. Ew. But your actual year. Go out for dinner, drinks and coffee or go to the gym if you’re one of those people that actually enjoys it. Weirdos. Don’t let your placement year just be about your placement. Also make sure you bring in buns on your birthday, people get REALLY annoyed when you don’t (@ Benny, we’re still waiting).

“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.