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.

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How Social Media Has Helped Empower Women

Here we are again. Social media. Most of us have it, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, Bebo (ah, those were the days). The list goes on. We rely and depend it on really on a daily basis, with so many of us glued to our phones. What did we ever do without it? TALK to each other? Perish the thought.

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Social media hasn’t just provided us with ways to connect with new people and interact with friends and families no matter when or where they are. It hasn’t just enabled the government to collect an abundance of personal data and keep tabs on where we are, who we’re with and what we’re doing. It hasn’t just given us ways to stalk our exes and judge their new partners. It’s also given women platforms and opportunities which have helped empower them, enabling them to speak up and be heard. Or ‘read’, rather.

Social media gives women a channel to speak out about their personal experiences and share them with others. From something trivial like what they ate for breakfast (who honestly cares?) to more pressing issues like their experience on the train that morning. That last one wasn’t a sarcastic comment (for once). Women are sexually assaulted on public transport on an alarming and disturbing scale. So much so that the British Transport Police have launched a TV campaign urging women to report it.

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Hashtags such as #TimesUp, #WhenIWas and #MeToo among others have provided women with a channel to speak up and share their sexual assault experiences. Women share things that they have kept built up for months, years, decades without telling anyone. So why are they tweeting about it?

Everyone has their own reasons, to generalise would be unfair. But here are a few common ones:

1) They feel as though they have a voice and their story is heard

2) It’s easier to type than say face-to-face. We’re all guilty of resorting to messaging rather than doing something in person, because you can to some degree reduce confrontation, embarrassment, and rejection.

3) The audience.

4) There’s a degree of anonymity which gives extra confidence and reduces potential embarrassment or fear.

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This was the least creepy ‘being anonymous online’ photo I could find

If you’re going to report an incident to someone, who do you go to? Your friend? Family? What are they going to do? They can’t (legally) punish the perpetrator. So, go to the police? What if they don’t believe you? Do you have evidence? Witness statements? Did you somehow manage to capture this on video? A signed confession and DNA samples? No? Oh. Well, then, hmm, that’s tough. How do you know you’ve told the right person? What if you haven’t, will the message be passed on?

Few women report incidences of sexual, physical, or emotional/psychological abuse. Sadly, the criminal justice system has failed so many of these. What do you do when you’re not being listened to and being ignored by those supposed to help you? Go elsewhere. So we go online. We tweet about. We tell everyone. Maybe we’ll be listened to when the problem is so big that it can’t be ignored. Do you think one woman coming forward inspired a national campaign about sexual assault on public transport? Sadly, the police want numbers. They want ‘big’ numbers. How many women have posted their experiences online? How many of them do you think would go to a police station and report it there? In person, a woman can speak about her problem. But thanks to social media, women, as a collective group, can shout about it.

Now just say the police do choose to ignore this (imagine that !!), even though they do have a ‘big’ number and evidence. Do you think Twitter can ignore it just as easily? These admissions are liked, favourited, retweeted and shared. Most likely millions of people have seen at least one of these entries. We all know that once something is online, it’s there forever (dun dun dun). Yes, that goes for those photos of you when you went through your ‘nobody understands me’ goth phase. And your full fringe phase *shudders* – don’t worry, we all had one.

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Why stop one perpetrator and try to change their behaviour, when you can try to stop and change the behaviour of a whole society? Social media is making a massive audience aware of these issues and incidents which have sadly become normalised, and a taboo. It gives a glimpse into others’ lives and what lets us understand and get an idea of things we may have had no idea even happened.

Being able to share these stories means that women can see that they’re not alone. Which, in a way is sad because it shows the scale of how many people are subjected to such horrendous behaviour, and how often it happens. Women can find support and reassurance from total strangers, people who have absolutely no loyalty to them. You know if you tell your best friend something that they’re going to have your back; so having strangers treat you this way is in a way more reassuring because they’re less likely to comfort or support you if it’s undeserved.

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So, despite the issues and negative impact social media has had on women in today’s society, some good has come of it. Good in the form of empowerment. Women have spent too long being silenced, so post a photo of your breakfast, take your duck-face selfies, share your experiences. You go gurl. *sassy click*

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?