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.

Advertisements

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.

me

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.

fat

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.

giphy
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?

1 O4-RBXrhZsP2bTVmo97LAQ

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?

info
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.

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

The “C” Word

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

What a man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good.

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

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

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

Beautiful

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

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

My Week Without Wifi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.