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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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.

Toddler to Teen (with Nothing in Between)

Okay, I may be having a concerned middle aged mother moment here, but what’s happening to children? Why do they seem to go from nursery to nightclubs, avoiding the whole phase called, you know, childhood?

When I was a child (still am according to the Translink bus drivers, half price fare thankU), I came home from school, played with my cheap knockoff Tamagotchi, went outside and played the ultimate sport that is Kirby and rang my mates on their landline. We all knew each other’s home numbers off by heart and would sit and talk until our fish fingers were ready, or our ma needed to use the internet – shoutout to dial-up.

These bad boys were the OG Nintendogs

I used to call for my friends, “is Sarah coming out?”; “The street’s playing rounders do you wanna come?” and we’d run about, play ‘rap a door run away’, ride Flickrs and be home by 9 o’clock. We went out in the street nearly every day, except when we weren’t allowed out because we had to do our homework, or were grounded. Yeah, grounding was still a thing.

We’d go into town on a Saturday. That was literally the outing. We’d go in, paddle about, go to New Look to try on high heels, take photos in clothes we were never gonna buy, do peace signs non-ironically and go to KFC.

Us getting our photos taken in River Island

But now, things are so different. Children don’t seem to act like children anymore. Primary school children are using iPhones and social media – 8 year olds are following me on Instagram. 8 YEAR OLDS. Children don’t go through horrible fringe, “nobody understands me” or experimental eyeliner phases anymore. They do makeup better than I do (not that that’s hard), have actual relationships – not fake boyfriends you met on Omegle – and go to playgrounds to drink, rather than “play“. Rather than children and teenagers, it seems to be teenagers and like, shorter teenagers.

This is why I’m so glad I grew up when I did, had the childhood that I had and acted my age. Looking back at my behaviour until I was about 15 actually makes me cringe and question why I had friends. I was a weirdo. But we were all ‘weirdos’. Us being weird was us acting normal. We have scundering photographic evidence that we use for blackmail, and sit laughing and shuddering at the way we got on. Do I regret the way I was? Yeah. Would I do it again if I had a do-over? Definitely.

Me after receiving said blackmail material

I wouldn’t want to look back as an adult and not be able to identify when I actually became one. 13 year olds shouldn’t be acting 18. They shouldn’t want to. Being an adult isn’t fun – we have to pay tax. TAX. (Unless you’re rich of course, and then apparently you don’t have to). And pay twice as much for transport and cinema tickets. Ew.

Yes, I always wanted to be 18, and to be honest, I still do – if I could stop aging that would be GREAT. But I always failed (and still do) to act and look like an 18 year old. But now, 12 year olds actually do pull off being 18. They look older than me, are taller than me (there’s definitely something in the water) and are more active online than me.

But I’m glad I didn’t grow up in a time when smartphones, likes and appearance were my priorities. They weren’t even in my radar. I ran about with friends, literally ran about. Outside. The only social media I had was Bebo and I wasn’t even allowed it so had to make it on my friend’s laptop and could only use it at her house. I joined the school computer club purely so I could use MSN to talk to my friends. We literally emailed each other. But in pink text. That was the extent of my online activity – that and a weird internal school “social media” called SuperClubs which NOBODY ELSE seems to remember but I definitely didn’t make up. Someone please back me up on this.

The OG Facebook messenger

I had 0 cares or worries, besides that boy finding out I fancied him or how my side fringe looked. I lived in a bubble, with no exposure to the scary thing that is the real world. Children these days are able to see so much online, stuff they shouldn’t be seeing – stuff no one should really be seeing. The internet’s full of harmful and dangerous things that children can easily stumble upon. Things that are affecting how they see themselves and the “real” world. They’re comparing themselves to Instagram lifestyles and models, because that’s what they see. So that must be what life’s meant to be like, right? But it’s filtered, fake and 90% of the time, it’s paid for.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not children’s fault, they can’t help it. It’s the world they’re growing up in. What are they meant to do, stop using their phones and isolate themselves from their friends? Play outside alone? Rebirth themselves 10 years earlier? Ugh, imagine.

I don’t know if it’ll change. I don’t really see how it could. And that’s sad. We seem to be living in a world with just babies, adults and the elderly. More and more people are born every year, but we seem to have less and less children with each of them.

Children should be children. They should want to be children. Childhood is the best experience of your life. And it’s not fair if they don’t get to experience it.

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.

gh

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?

Confessions of a Placement Student

Well, here I am, 5 months into my placement year, and I thought I’d share some home truths with you.

I never really knew what to expect out of doing a placement, I mean my brother did his at an IT company (he’s super smart) and didn’t really talk about his work (he’s also SUPER quiet). My sister on the other hand, went to Korea (the South, before you make a witty “the North? Ha ha” joke) for hers, so I somehow think her experience in Jeju is a tad different than mine in Belfast.

Which brings us here. I’m going to let you in on a few things I learnt when on my placement year. Disclaimer: The following may be experienced by other readers, and is not me saying that they are the case for everyone going/on a university placement. I.E – It could just be me and I’m doing it all wrong. But nonetheless, enjoy.

 

1. 11pm is LATE.

I’m in bed by 10:30pm most nights; partly because I’m knackered after working 9-5, and partly because I now know the importance of getting 8 hours sleep*. Plus the fact it takes me around an hour to get to sleep no matter what time I go to bed at- isn’t that a fun and not at all disruptive trait??

*I am determined to get this amount some day.

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2. Weeknight nights out – please don’t

Working at 9am the next day isn’t the same as a 9am lecture the next day. Save your nights out for the weekend, when you can properly enjoy it without checking the time and thinking “I have work in x hours”. I also wouldn’t advise doing a university student’s Fresher’s week, because you will in no way be “fresh”.

 

3. Coffee becomes less of a treat and more of a necessity

I need my daily coffee, not because of a caffeine boost (although it definitely does help), but because it’s important to start the day off with a little treat or “pick me up”. Don’t like coffee? Oh you will, all in good time my friend.

 

4. “I’ll start the gym” – You probably won’t.

I had so many plans to start the gym when I started working full-time, because “I’ll need something as a wee distraction” and because I don’t do half as much exercise as I used to. There aren’t very many ways to make sitting a desk an ‘active’ task. But well, who was I kidding really, the gym isn’t for me – when it comes to choosing between going to one or going for coffee with friends, it just so happen to lose the coin toss every time!!

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5. “After work drinks” – the only thing I drink after work is coffee.

“We should SO go for cocktails after work sometime!!” We all know where cocktails lead and it is NOT a pretty place. *See number 2.  After a day at work, I want to sit down and have a chat with my friends, in a comfy chair, and be home by 9pm. Call me a granny all you want, but I am a content granny.

 

6. You DO get used to it.

I worked in retail for years, and found I could work a 9:30am-6:30pm on my feet rushing around all day no problem; but sitting down for 8 hours at a desk somehow exhausted me? My friend who was working full-time before me had promised me “Don’t worry, you get used to it”. 2 months in I realised that either she was lying, or was coping better than I was. But behold, I am now a machine (sort of) and I promise, you do get used to the change of routine. You too, will become a machine.

 

7. Your employers know you’re a placement student.

I know that one really knocked you for six. The point is, don’t put too much pressure on yourself; you’re not expected to crack the code and master all aspects of your job within the first few months, let alone weeks. Don’t compare yourself  to the other people in your office who have been doing the job for years. Of course they’re going to be “better” than you, but Michael Jordan’s better at basketball than you too – sorry, I’m not trying to lower your self esteem, I’m simply saying you can’t compare yourself to professionals.

 

8. You’ll make (in my case, loads of) mistakes.

You’ll make mistakes, and that’s OKAY. If you don’t do something wrong, you won’t learn what you shouldn’t have done and what you should do differently next time. It’s not so much a mistake as a “how to” for next time. As Hannah Montana said “everybody makes mistakes” and “nobody’s perfect”, what more inspiration and motivation do you need? So, next time you make a mistake, have a wee Hannah Montana sing-song (in your head preferably) and you’ll definitely feel better.

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9. You will meet some of the most amazing people

Those memes on the internet about having work friends who know your whole life story are scarily accurate. You’ll have so many weird conversations and debates about food (we had a very heated one about whether it was candy apple or toffee apple), and you’ll find yourself weirdly invested in your colleague’s dinners. You really do lean on and support each other, as well as get all the scoop on their best friend’s pyscho-ex. Brilliant.

*It’s toffee apple. Not up for discussion.

 

10. You might not figure out what you want to do – but you might figure out what you don’t.

Even if you realise what you’re doing on placement isn’t what you want to do in life, that’s okay. You can rule it out, and you’ll still have learned so much; about the industry, yourself, and working full-time in general. I mean, would you rather do a job you don’t exactly love for a year and never have to do it again, or end up stuck in one after graduation for the foreseeable future? The job’s only for a year, not forever, so  b r e a t h e .

11. Prepare for pensions and National Insurance

I’ll never forget the horror of seeing some of my pay going into a “pension pot”, I remember thinking, “I’m only 20? And saving for a pension??” Well, it’s okay, I’m over it now. Plus I’ve a nice wee £80 cushion to fall back on, so I’m currently deciding between early retirement or buying a villa in Spain…

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Me celebrating my glorious £80

12. You will get excited about new work clothes

I used to go into Primark and think “Okay, why is there a whole floor of blouses and blazers? This would be so much better used for guddies.” Well, let me tell you, there is no such thing as “too many” work clothes. Patterned blouses? Hated em. Blazers? Hated em too. But now, my friend, ain’t nothing I love more than a nice wee print blouse and some fitted trousers. So, you may laugh now, but soon you too will be BUZZIN to hit up the town and buy blazers, just you wait.

 

I had a lot more but didn’t want to bore anyone (might be too late though). I hope this list helps anyone on or going on a placement; you’ll either relate to some/all of these, or you’ll not experience them and then feel a lot better about yourself. Either way, you’re welcome.

If you have any questions/ queries or just want to talk about going on or preparing for a placement, please do get in touch! I’m more than happy to instil my pearls of wisdom and give advice and share my experience! I may not have many pearls, but I’d say I have at least 2.

How Coffee Shops Saved My (Social) Life

This morning as I was on my way to get my daily coffee before work, my brother said something so outrageous that shocked me to my very core. “There’s too many coffee shops in Belfast.” It pains me to even type the words.

Once I had a chance to gather myself, I replied “Ammm, ain’t no such thing” (I’m very street like that).

He then went on to list some: Caffe Nero, Hotel Chocolat, Tim Horton’s, Bob & Bert’s, Pearl’s, Clements, Costa, Starbucks (all of which I’ve got loyalty cards for) as if that was too many?

It got me thinking, where would I be without all of these coffee shops? A lot better off financially yes. But also a LOT more tired, and a lot less social.

I’m a placement student, which means that my schedule doesn’t really sync up with any of my friends who are still at uni. They’re free during the day and out at night, I’m in work all day then in bed by 10pm most nights.

But there’s that glimmering, cappuccino coloured window between 5 and 7pm, after I’ve finished work and before they’ve to go home and start preing.

I mean, what can you do at 5pm? No one under the age of around 60 (no offence) has dinner that early, and going for “a drink” isn’t really an option.

Coffee. That’s what you do.

What do you do at 8am, when the shops are all still closed and you can’t exactly sit at your desk for an hour before work?

Coffee. That’s what you do.

After lectures and seminars to procrastinate actually doing uni work?

You guessed it- el caffe. (See how I’m mixing things up?)

Don’t get me wrong, I do love coffee. But for me its not about the drink; I go for coffee because I want to go somewhere nice and sit and catch up with my friends. Even those who hate coffee love going for coffee; there’s steamers, tea, weird flavoured lattes and those ridiculous drinks in Starbucks with a mountain of cream on top and another mountain of sugar inside.

I must admit, Belfast doesn’t have much when it comes to nightlife, everything sort of closes in the city centre at around 7pm (except the glorious night that is Thursday). But there’s always a light on in that Starbucks opposite Europa, or Tim Horton’s (yeah, we’ve got one of those now). Well, until 10pm when they close, but you know what I mean.

All of these coffee shops have actually really shaped my (and Belfast’s) social life.  They don’t just provide us with my daily dose of caffeine and free wifi (yay), they give us a place to sit with our friends and catch up on everything going on each other’s lives.

 

And it’s not just big multi-national chains, it’s wee small independent coffee shops and chains throughout the north of Ireland like Clements and Bob & Bert’s. I always try to go the local shops and give them a turn instead. If you think about, I’m basically a caffeine-fuelled modern-day Robin Hood.

I’m helping support the local high street -which God knows it needs all the help it can get after the Primark fire reduced footfall by 30%. And with amount of money I spend a week on a coffee, I’m probably single-handedly sustaining the local coffee industry.

Coffee shops are so important to Belfast. We need somewhere to sit have a good chat- and God knows we need caffeine. Coffee’s what we drink, it’s what we do, it’s who we are.

So, I’ll raise my skinny cappuccino and toast to the coffee shops of Belfast, “thank you”.