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.

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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?

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.

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.

iSpy

Well, it’s no secret that we don’t exactly have complete control over our personal data. Geotags and photos of where we are, what we’re doing, who we’re with – it’s all over social media. Sadly, we just sort of accept that whatever we do online isn’t private.

We’ve all experienced those creepy ads – you know the ones where you say/ type something and then later on an ad for that exact product pops up? No, sadly it’s not a “spooky coincidence”, it’s good old data monitoring and collection. A lot less fun.

Although, no matter how many times I say “Go away Mark Zuckerburg” into my mic, I’m still bombarded with “suggestions”, so maybe they’re not listening as closely as I thought. Hmm.

Oh but of course, this is done to benefit us consumers by effectively marketing goods we might be interested in. But if this is so “effective” then why suggest that I buy things that I’VE JUST BOUGHT? “We thought you might like…” Well yes that’s great intel and very insightful of you to pick that up from my completing the purchase.

Companies also market using things like your location as being of benefit to you -because them knowing where you are is of course of no interest to them and only works in your favour. It lets them give you a “more tailored and relevant user experience” – even though most users will see the same content regardless of where they are. Go ahead, have my location if you need it, I’m probably just in my house anyway. Use it if it changes what content I see or what options are available to me; but don’t tell me that you need it to provide a “user-defined” experience when it’s mostly for you to gauge the geo-demographics of your customers.

Agent tracking my location waiting for me to leave my house

These days, there’s an increasing amount of new “smart” technologies which, as well as reducing the need for us to do physically do things (god forbid having to actually get up and turn on the big light) also gives away some access and control to our homes and systems.

Here’s some examples:

Alexa/ Google home – I don’t even know what the point of these are apart from to play music and spontaneously laugh

Smart TVs – because using a zapper to change channels is just too much. Oh but they can also make the screen match your wallpaper, because being able to see your appliances is SO 2008.

Smart homesthe government you can control things like your alarms, heating and electricity from your phone; like that ad where the dad turns on the lights in his wee girl’s room from his smart-watch while he’s in Antarctica. Yep, that’s a thing. Apparently.

Doorbell cameras – presumably so you can avoid your Avon representative and catch those hooligans playing “rap a door run away”. I knew it was you, Jamie. I’m telling your ma, you little twirp.

Me phoning Jamie’s ma

Baby monitors for your house (not the technical term I’m guessing) – so you can keep an eye on your house when you’re not home and make sure your pet’s not wrecking the place. Not that you seeing it will stop it happening, but at least you’ll get to helplessly watch your door frames being mauled. That really does give you “peace of mind”. It also lets the government and other third parties have a wee look and see what’s going on in your house, maybe get some decor ideas. I do like those grey curtains, Susie. Very mod.

So, we know our personal data is being collected and monitored, so what do we do? Campaign? Complain? Avoid disclosing personal information? Nah. We make memes. We literally joke and take the mickey about the government spying on us. What a world.

Now, I’m not saying that the government or other parties are using these ways to control our lives or anything ~ don’t worry, I’m not that paranoid. I mean, I think the government and the people of Airtricity have better things to do than mess about with our heating or turn our lights on and off. But what happens if unauthorised parties intercept these systems, and hack their way into our houses? We know it can be done – I’ve seen CSI.

These smart homes are meant to make us feel more “at ease” and secure because we can keep an eye on things, but I’d feel a lot more “at ease” and secure if there wasn’t potentially someone watching my house, than knowing that my dog didn’t tear my couch apart.

It just scares me that not only do people give away this control and information, but we accept it and don’t seem to care. That’s not normal. I don’t want to feel like I’m on ‘Love Island’, ‘Big Brother’ or some other trashy reality show. I just want to sing really loudly when I’ve the house to myself and not be afraid someone’s listening. I want to bust a move without an audience. Keep my house mine. Well, my parents’, but still.

Fake News

Fake news. We’ve all seen it. It’s all over Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms. It’s become a lot more common recently, and a lot weirder. It’s basically when people just make up stories for no real reason. Like when 12 year old boys talk about how they fought an 18 year old felon and broke his arm, or a wee girl with a ‘mysterious’ rockstar boyfriend that no one has ever seen. People just lie.

Sometimes, it’s pretty obvious when it’s fake news, like “Nigerian President Died and Replaced by Clone”. Yes, that is an actual example, like come on. But, sometimes it’s hard to tell whether it is fake or not. Do you ever wonder why all of those promised new McDonald’s McFlurry flavours never got released? Why you never saw that 80 litre tank of Strongbow Dark Fruits in your local Tesco for a tenner? Okay, that one should’ve been obvious.

Now not all ‘fake news’ is the same. There’s clickbait (the old “Doctors HATE Her” articles about how to lose 18 lbs in 3 seconds; propaganda (90% of Brexit’s Leave campaign lol); parody/satire (basically sounds like it could be true but is really just someone having a laugh) then there’s bad journalism and misleading headlines. They all pretty much just make people believe lies for various reasons; some want you to try a new £30 meal replacement, download a virus app, sway your political views, or just change your opinion on something. Nothing screams ‘great political party’ like one that has to lie and alienate the public into thinking that it’s better, does it?

Of course, we’ve all seen fake news designed to make celebrities look bad, like The Sun claiming Noel Edmonds was moving to New Zealand because he refused to give them an interview. I know, it makes no sense to me either, as if moving country is the ultimate revenge. But what’s caught my attention a lot recently, is fake news that’s designed to cause negative views and opinions at certain groups or about certain issues. Here’s some examples I’ve seen on my Facebook newsfeed:

“Feminists call for gender neutral Santa”

“Feminists call for babies to be changed to ‘theybies'”

“Transgender community call for Trans James Bond”

“LGBT adding ‘P’ for ‘pedosexual'”

“Muslim refugee shoots 15 people in nightclub”

Why would feminists campaign for equal pay, an end to FGM, child and forced marriages, rape and abuse when there’s a Santa at stake? Who cares about rights when there’s a fat man in a red suit to be had?

Why would members of the transgender community want equal treatment and less discrimination and abuse when they could have James Bond? Let’s put all that aside for a buff man in a tight suit.

Better than James Bond

These stories, although fake, are harmful. They are targeted at already controversial groups in society, who face backlash on a daily basis: feminists, transgender people, the LGBTQ+ community, Muslims – even vegans are victims of this. These stories are designed to make people roll their eyes and complain about these groups. They’re meant to give these groups bad reputations and keep them and the issues they fight for a taboo.

Some people brand all Muslims as ‘terrorists’ because of the actions of Islamic extremists like ISIS. They face so much discrimination and sectarianism already, they don’t to have another FAKE ‘reason’ to have people treat them unfairly.

Feminists fight for the equal treatment and rights of females across the world. But how can they campaign for change for serious issues like rape, when their FAKE association with Santa is grabbing the headlines? How can they encourage people to get behind them and support their work when no one’s taking them seriously and people think that they’re just “being awkward”?

These negative stories are detracting from the positive ones about these groups. So when people do a little research into what they do or are campaigning for, they’re met with these bogus headlines. Muslims are branded as terrorists, feminists are branded as matriarchal men-haters, the LGBTQ+ community are branded as attention seekers, vegans are branded as, well, vegans. Anyway. These are just some of the groups who are victims of fake news stories, there are of course a lot more, but these are just some of the recent ones I’ve personally seen.

Fake news is more than a few computer hackers having a laugh and pulling a prank on the general public. It’s more than ‘satire’ and sarcasm. These fake stories are malicious. They’re giving close-minded people ammunition and supposed “reasons” to hate others and what they stand for.

So who’s writing these stories? Sure, it’s individuals with a lot of time on their hands. But it’s also established sites and Facebook pages. We all know that you can’t trust everything you read online and you shouldn’t always take things at face value, but the fact is that there’s always going to be people who do believe it. These “news” stories may be a “joke”, but it’s not funny if it leads to further discrimination and exclusion against a group and their beliefs.

So yes, be careful what you read and what you believe. Before judging a group based off a UniLAD post, do some research and see what they’re actually about. Then by all means, judge away. Don’t share fake news stories. It’s literally the online version of spreading vicious rumours. It may seem funny and like a joke to you, but it’s actually causing harm to others.

And no, Dominos aren’t launching a 40″ pizza for £20. Spoiler alert.

Has Social Media Made Us Anti-Social?

We’ve all heard older generations saying that nowadays, young people are anti-social and “nobody talks to each other anymore” or “they’re always on their phones”. True, we do use phones and the internet a lot more; especially for social media. But is social media really, well, ‘social’?

Yes, and no -agreeing to both means I can’t be wrong, right?

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People don’t talk to strangers on buses or trains as much as they used to. Yes, there’s the occasional chat about the weather or how bad the transport system is and how pointless the new Gliders are- they don’t even glide? They just roll slowly. Anyway, if I’m using my phone on public transport, I’m normally on social media, talking to people (how popular am I?!). So yes, I may not be speaking, but I’m still talking. If there’s no one I know beside me, then how much would I really be socialising otherwise?

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Here’s where I draw the line. There’s few things I hate more than when you’re out with someone and they just sit on their phone instead of talking to you. I personally think choosing virtual social interaction over personal social interaction is rude and antisocial, like am I not enough craic for you? Who could POSSIBLY be more entertaining and funny than me? Give me attention, damn. Unless you’re about to show me your new boo or a funny meme, put the phone away with you’re with me, cheers.

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Some people may choose to be ‘antisocial’ because they aren’t comfortable in social situations, or don’t have the confidence to speak to others, and so dodge social interaction instead. Sort of like the way you do everything you can to avoid phone calls, but with actual talking. Others may find themselves being accidentally ‘antisocial’ because although they’d like to make friends and socialise, they don’t really have the social skills or know how to or. Social media has enabled these people to talk and socialise without having to experience the personal interaction. It’s also meant that they don’t have to reply instantly, they can sit and think about what to say next if they find themselves unsure. They’re able to practise having conversations, so that they’re more comfortable when they do have face-to-face interactions. So I think social media is really good at helping improve some people’s social skills and enabling them to build relationships that they may never have had in the ‘real world’.

Although, this is only well and good if people take these skills and put them to use in the ‘real world’ to build personal relationships. But some people become reliant on online relationships and choose these over personal ones can then isolate themselves further, because they think “I have friends online, so I don’t need friends in person”. This leads to people becoming recluses, and so they don’t experience many human or social interactions. Which means that they’re more uncomfortable and awkward when they do have these interactions. So they avoid them. And this goes on and on and on.

Do you see why I said “Yes, and no” at the start now?

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What a lucky gal

Social media gives us access to people we’d otherwise never meet- admittedly, some we’d rather we didn’t (@ 90% of people on Tinder), but that’s not the point. People are less restricted to who or how many people they can talk to. I mean why would you want to deprive anyone of having the chance to talk to me? It just doesn’t seem fair that people should have to miss out on this.

A lot of relationships now start online. Be it reconnecting with old friends on Facebook, sliding in someone’s DMs on Instagram, or the gift that just keeps on giving that is online dating apps like Tinder. Brilliant. People are meeting and falling in love with people they wouldn’t have met in a bar, or sat beside on a plane (one day this will happen me, just wait and see) or in a department store when reaching for the exact same pair of gloves. So I watch a lot of romcoms? Sue me. Dare you.

So yeah, social media is actually pretty damn good in my opinion at meeting new people and potential baes, if of course you ignore all the weirdos and catfish and bad experiences. But sure, they just make for great stories, eh? Eh?

I couldn’t choose which photo was funnier so I had to include all 3. Stock photos are so tragic sometimes.

We can keep in touch with family and friends abroad or on holidays. My sister lived in Korea for a year (I will never forgive you, Aoife) and if it wasn’t for social media, my parents wouldn’t be able to make sure she didn’t end up like Liam Neeson’s daughter in Taken, and I’d have no way of telling her what face masks to post me over. So many of my friends also ditched me to go to England for university (I’ll never forgive youse either), but that doesn’t mean that I’m not able to talk to them everyday and make them feel guilty for leaving me behind. You think moving countries is gonna get rid of me? Nice try. Buzz, buzz girl. Me again.

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So yes, people do seem to use phones more and speak less; but a lot of the time we’re on our phones talking to people, it’d be physically impossible (or unhandy) to be with them in person. I’m not exactly going to dander over to my friend’s house at 9am on a Sunday or at 11pm at night – that’d be a wee bit weird don’t you think?

Yes, there are phone calls, but once that call’s over, so is the interaction. I’d personally rather be able to talk to people throughout the day, than be limited to one certain time (I’m so clingy, damn). Not to mention trying to find a time when you and someone else are actually free at the same time; you can just quickly reply when you’ve a few minutes to spare. Basically, you’re able to fit your socialising into your schedule.

And yes, there are carrier pigeons, but I mean come on guys, animal rights? And they fly into a lot of windows. R.I.P Gary.

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I know not everyone’s the same, people use social media for different things. Some use it more than others. I use social media to talk to people when I’m not able to talk to them any other way, but I meet them in person whenever I can because I’m a social butterfly who needs constant attention and interaction. 🙂

So I think social media is social, and antisocial at the same time; depending on how, how much and when it’s used. I do think that society as a whole is becoming scarily dependent on technology (@ creepy Alexa), but sadly, I doubt this will change. So I’m using social media in a way that suits me and that I’m comfortable with. That’s the beauty of it. It’s so diverse that it can be used in so many different ways, so everyone can find what works for them. Yeah it’s changed how much we interact with each other, how and when. But is it necessarily a bad thing?