Social media

relationship status update.

facebook-relationship1

So, there’s something which has been on my mind for a few months that I’ve been wanting to share with you all.

In all honesty, I’m not really sure where to start. It began so many years ago and I was entirely unaware of it growing that when it fully blossomed it took me completely by surprise. What began out as mild disgust has since developed into a passionate pledge of sorts.

I never thought I would be this person, but here I am, ready to make it known to the world.

Here goes nothing. Inhale, Alex. Inhale. Exhale.  (more…)

#socialmediafails: Like me! Follow me! (Love me.)

Awkward social media realisations and what motivates me to write.

ImageWhat is more fictitious, rainbow-coloured unicorns or what I post on social media?

“Comparison is the thief of joy”
– Theodore Roosevelt.

Last year I read an article which fundamentally shifted my perspective of my twenty-something life. The article, entitled “Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy”, struck so many chords in me that I still have the tab open in my phone web browser. The article explains the relationship between the discontentment many Gen Ys feel and our use of social media.

Can I highly recommend that you go and read it? I can? Good. If you have not read it please, PLEASE STOP READING THIS and go there RIGHT NOW! Come back to this tomorrow. Just go. Go!! Yes, it is quite long, but yes, it is that good. Have you gone yet? There are unicorns spewing rainbows. Now have I convinced you? Good. Finally.

After having read the Wait But Why* article everything suddenly made so much more sense. The comparative inadequacy I felt, which I had let social media fuel, was able to be rationalised down to a competition where, unbeknownst to me, everyone else is cheating just as much as I am. (For anyone who spews rainbows must be a master of illusions.) I found this clarity and the realisation that no one actually has their sh!t together really quite comforting.

Since having these mini unicorn-illustrated revelations you would think that I would try and do my little bit to stop this really awful, toxic cycle, right? Right. Wrong. 

Despite gaining this new perspective I have not demonstrated the maturity or security in myself to stop posting self-promoting status updates, tweets and photos. Posting on social media to (strategically) garner as many likes and follows as possible is Just. So. Addictive.

I’m guilty of it. I still am. It can range from the successful (“I got a full scholarship! I got a new job!”) to the vain (“Oh, did I just accidentally post a selfie? #notthataccidental”) to the envy-eliciting (“Casual check-in at a 5 star restaurant, darlings!”).

I am completely guilty of this. Yet, why do I still do this? Because it feeds my ego.

It makes me feel special.
It makes me feel important.
It makes me feel valued.
It makes me feel loved.
(And if that’s not f-ed up, then I don’t know what is.)

Is posting really inane, “real” details about our lives the solution? It’s a nice thought, but I don’t think so as that could be:
a) just as attention-seeking as the aforementioned types of posts. I’m sure you’ve encountered them, too – the vague, wallowing, woe-sharing without any explanation (think “Life is the worst!”) which often receive an outpouring of social media sympathy and “care”. (Perhaps that’s part of the issue – maybe we have conditioned ourselves to feel better by sharing our negative experiences on social media. Are we really that disconnected in real life?? If so, then that’s depressing.)
b) bloody boring (Posts of the “I just popped a really big pimple” variety. Too much reality. We do not need that much detail, thanks.)

Who the hell are we kidding? We all know rationally that real life does not have a vintage filter which enhances the colour of our days. Life can be wonderful, but life can be shit. This is nothing new. So, how come we are all buying into this big con, when we probably know that what we see on social media is only a fraction of someone else’s life – and it’s a fabricated fraction at that?

Perhaps the way to counter this isn’t by changing how and what we post, but by weaning ourselves off it altogether. Perhaps it’s time to migrate away from this behemoth that we incessantly feed. Perhaps it’s time to de-friend the fake friend that is social media.

(I mean, how has “de-friend” been allowed to become part of our vernacular?)

****

Personally, I’ve been challenged by my relationship with social media through this blog.

“How?” you inquisitively inquire?

Well, over time it has become apparent that certain types of posts garner more likes, follows and hits than others, which makes it tempting to only write pieces of that ilk. From working in marketing I also know that ensuring that there is new content posted on a regular basis is beneficial for organic search engine optimisation (which we marketing folk call “SEO” – sorry for the jargon) where, basically, you’re aiming to be the first result in a Google search of certain terms which are relevant to your business/website/blog. You can aid your SEO by using key terms relevant to the searches you want to appear in throughout your site and by adding new content on a regular basis.

So, I’ve gotten into the habit of coordinating my posts on certain days of the week not only for SEO, but to correspond with when I know I’ll get the most traffic. An example? I do not post on Saturday night because:
a) most people are engaged in other activities on Saturday night and thus are less likely to see that I have posted something new and
b) it has become Very Important to pretend that you are having an Awesome Time doing something Awesome on Saturday night (even if you’re at home studying or sitting on Facebook when you’re meant to be studying). No one wants to commit social (media) suicide. Duh. 

But here’s the thing, I enjoy writing most when it is done out of a creative and emotional impulse. I need to express myself and it needs to happen now! And that means writing about things which are more or less sexy, controversial and happy-go-lucky than that which constitutes a popular post. Recently, I’ve been making myself post a new piece on certain nights each week which I fear is shifting my writing away from “impulse and expression” to “obligation”. The latter of which is the antithesis of what I want for this to be, because doing so would change the nature of this blog entirely.

See, I do not write for you; I write for us.

The “us” is imperative.

This blog would not be what it is if I didn’t write, firstly, for myself. See, if I was only writing to satisfy an external audience then I would find it less meaningful and fulfilling and the end product would reflect my being less emotionally invested in it.

Of course I write knowing that I have an audience and I greatly appreciate your readership, you gorgeous little bandicoots. It fills me with immense pleasure when you share that you have enjoyed reading a post or that it touched you. I love that. That really makes me so glad and it makes me feel pretty honoured, too. It is also, more often that not, comforting to hear that I am not the only one who is absolutely failing at life on a regular basis.

But of course not everyone likes this blog. And that’s perfectly ok – I am all for everyone having their own opinion. Furthermore, I am not under the illusion that this blog would appeal to everyone.

I have friends whom I respect and admire who have indicated that they do not like reading this blog. I let their unintentionally-hurtful, throwaway comments sting. Comments like, “I have another friend who has a blog. He’s a fantastic writer”. (I get what you’re implying. Cheers!) Look, I know they don’t approve of my sometimes less than G-rated vocabulary, content and cynicism. But that’s ok. I am not, after all, forcing them to read or specifically aiming to appeal to them.

But that isn’t going to stop me from writing.

I am not, after all, writing for any accolades or record-breaking number of website hits. I am not writing because I have to. I am not writing thinking that I am changing the world. I am not writing to please everyone. I am not writing to cast judgement on others (and if I do – please pull me up on it). I am not writing to perpetuate the life that I portray on Instagram.

I am writing because I find it therapeutic. I am writing because it allows me to unravel my thoughts and to learn from my experiences. I am writing because I love it.

And for the moment that is enough.

Alex x

* A name so desperately lacking in punctuation that it hurts my eyes. (Would it be so hard to add a comma and question mark?)

words, actions and the vast chasm in between.

Dissecting a state of paralysis.

ImagePhoto courtesy of Jeen Na.

“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.”
– Simone de Beauvoir

“Live the life that you want to live today.”
– Just some words I wrote on a piece of paper which I then stuck on my wall

****

Funnily enough, writing this post has me thinking about this one time when I was squished in the backseat of a stranger’s car with three other people in the middle of the night driving along empty streets. As you do. 

At the party we had just left my friend and I had – unbeknownst to each other – both been eyeing off umm flirting with politely chatting to the most attractive guy there. At the conclusion of the evening he kissed one of us while the other was collecting their stuff. Then, in the car on the way home, someone else in the car shared that he had told her that he was interested in one of the Sydney girls… the one he didn’t kiss.

Oh, and at this point in time I was more or less sitting on top of this friend (seeing as we were still doing the sardine-in-the-backseat-without-seat-belts-oh-my-god-such-rebels thing).

Awkward.

“Words and actions,” I said loud enough for her to hear, looking straight ahead.

****

I am not wise; I pretend to be wise. I can rattle off things which certainly sound wise, much to my father’s annoyance. Why does this irritate him? Because wisdom without discipline is futile. And I epitomise wisdom without discipline.

See, I may know what’s good for me, but do I actually employ any of these tidbits of awesome into my own life?

Ahh no. I can definitely vouch for the fact that it’s a no. Ok, no need to be overly enthusiastic, Alex. A simple “no” was sufficient.

Want some examples?

Do I know that ice-cream is not a “health food”? Yes.
And so what did your diet consist of over your recent break? Umm. Ice cream. Maybe. Perhaps. Definitely. Yeah, so mainly ice cream.

Do you know that exercising on a more regular basis would improve your fitness, energy levels, skin, mood and overall health? Yes, I do know that.
And how many times have you exercised this week, Alex? Ahh minus twice. (I didn’t even know that was possible.)

Do you know how to make more financially responsible decisions so that you can save money for travel? Yes, it’s called not going on Asos.
And did you receive yet another parcel from Asos yesterday? Ahh yes. Yes, I did.

Do you know that going to bed earlier is immeasurably good for your health and wellbeing? Yeah, I feel ah-mazing after getting an early night.
And how often do you do this? Twice a year… max.

Do you know that you gain very little from sitting at your laptop? (Well, apart from testing the strength of your self-esteem by playing peer-comparison games on Facebook and knowing every detail of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wardrobe.) I’m sure that my stalker-esque knowledge of Kate’s wardrobe will come in handy one day. It will, I swear.

My saving grace is that I do drink water and I floss my teeth on a semi-regular basis (which is better than “never”, right?)

****

I am full of words. My words create blog posts, but they do not generate actions. I talk a good game. I’ve read hundreds of articles about a) fitness b) health c) getting what you want out of life d) being a better person e) blah blah blah.

I don’t need any more knowledge (seeing as nearly all of the articles can be reduced to the same thesis). I have all of the major building blocks I need. Perhaps lots of life stuff isn’t that complicated, but that we make it complicated so that we don’t have to can postpone tackling our issues… (Please note that that was an inadvertent “I am Alex and I am so wise” comment. See what I’m talking about?!)

Yet I prefer to read articles similar to previous articles about “Living Your Best Life”, rather than actually making changes so that I do live my best life. I have all of the tools already sitting in my handbag (or head). It’s just that I choose to not use them.

Why the hell not, Alex?!

I don’t know. That’s exactly what I’m trying to work out.

Insert literal thinking time here. 

(Disclaimer: I am about to sound like an arrogant twat.) I know that I can do it. I know what I’m capable of and I have a firm belief in my capabilities. I can put my words into actions. I have the drive, willpower and discipline to achieve my goals. I know this because I’ve already proven it to myself. I took all of those traits to the th degree. Which was only very detrimental.

Perhaps that’s it. Perhaps I’m afraid of what my life will become if I fully exercise the full force of my willpower again. I’m afraid that allowing the tidbits of wisdom I have amassed to be transformed into action will turn me into the obsessive person I was. And that scares me and if that’s what would happen I’d much prefer to stay being the unhealthy, hypocritical, arrogant person that I am, thank you very much.

If I put into action the things that I want to be a part of my life my life would be an Instagram feed of green smoothies, early morning runs, national park walks, camping trips, quinoa salads, piles of books I’d (metaphorically) devoured, sunshine, a chic yet rustic apartment, fresh morning air, travel, limbering limbs, laughter, healthy/#clean/gourmet meals, fresh flowers, lunch break walks, re-established evening rituals, organic protein balls, a vintage bike and seeing the stars out in the countryside.

It sounds glorious. And pretty damn healthy and happy. And sickeningly virtuous.

The only thing is that I’m not very skilled in virtue.

I hope I’ll get there. No, I will get there in time, but it’s going to take time. Seeing as I’ve written this post I can’t feasibly get away with doing nothing now (it’s harder to be a hypocrite when you have an audience) I’ll just have to keep taking some very small steps in the meantime.

But until I get past my fear I’ll just have to content myself with watching other people project the beautiful, organic life they (want all of their followers to think they) live on my Instagram feed.

#sigh

Alex x

PS: And happy Mean Girls anniversary, bitches. #tenyears #sofetch

double dip.

A post that has nothing to do with hummus (and a lot to do with men).

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Would you give him another shot? (Yes, obviously.) #dishy

What’s your stance on double dipping? Do you see it as the ultimate social faux-pas that is on par picking one’s nose or do you really not give a damn?

Well, for those of you who are interested, I just Googled “does double dipping really spread germs” and the Mythbusters came up with the answer. And their answer is basically “no”. And if the Mythbusters say it’s true, then it’s gospel.

Alex! You said this wasn’t going to have anything to do with hummus! You said this post was going to be about men!

Well remembered, you clever little cracker. Apologies for getting sidetracked.

It had been a considerable amount of time since I had contemplated the conundrum that is double dipping in great depth, but I found myself doing just that at the start of this year.

It all began with liking a photo on Facebook. The start of every great modern love story. 

It wasn’t just any photo – it was a photo posted by a business. And perhaps I happen to know one of the business’ co-founders. And perhaps I briefly dated this co-founder guy and perhaps we agreed that we liked each other and perhaps we didn’t continue seeing each other because the timing was crap. Perhaps.

And so one day I happened to like this photo of his – simply because it was a great photo (and, for once in my life, not as a ploy an excuse to re-initiate communication with him). However, he took it as an invitation to re-kindle things between us.

Well, that sounded arrogant. How on earth did you know that, Alex?  Well, after months and months of not talking to each other there was suddenly quite a bit of communication between us. All initiated by him. All with the suggestion of seeing each other. Oh, and he started liking my status updates on a regular basis.

I was unsure how to respond. It was like having to choose between salted caramel and chocolate fudge ice cream. i.e a tough choice. See, on the one hand, there was some potential that something could develop between us given our previously-established mutual attraction. I already knew that he was a really lovely, talented, interesting guy. Why the hell wouldn’t I go there?

Well, the other half of my brain quite eloquently reminded me that it hadn’t worked out between us the first time round. Yes, the timing wasn’t great – but you can always find an excuse. The reality was that there was a reason why things between us hadn’t progressed (including, but not limited to, some sub-optimal communication skillz), so why would it be realistic to think that things would be any different the second time round?

This was how I came to ponder a non-consumable version of double dipping. That being, is it ever a good idea to give a guy whom you’ve already been romantically involved with another shot? Is it ever ok to “double dip” when it comes to men?

This was what traversed my brain for a solid day (or three).

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I spent this time talking to myself. A lot. Certainly my most endearing quality. For those of you who are new to the gang you can click here or here or here or there to find out what I’m talking about. Basically, I over-think everything and this occasion was no exception.

Spoiler alert: After a fair bit of internal debating I consciously decided to not pursue anything with this guy – which, I have to say, I was so very proud of myself for doing.

Why? Because I realised that, despite the fact that he was and is rather wonderful, I wasn’t actually attracted to him in the way that I had previously been. So, I responded to his messages, but I didn’t actively fuel the conversation. I saw him once briefly in a social setting, but I didn’t take him up on his offer to retrace our romantic steps. Basically, I totally wanted to give myself a handful of brownie points.

The deep irony is that since making this decision, this guy has started seeing someone else (which I found out about courtesy of social media – but of course!) Upon making this discovery, my first instinct was to Facebook stalk the hell out of this new girl… ok, and Insta and LinkedIn stalk her too. Who is SHE? Wow – she is SO pretty. They’re on a weekend away? Man, it must be pretty serious.

I felt torn between being really happy for him (ohmygosh she looks like a gorgeous human who is supremely well-suited to you. Therefore, you should definitely marry her!)* and feeling an odd pang in my chest which manifested itself in the form of a slightly furrowed brow.

Huh? You were the one who said no to him, you idiot! Yes, I know. I know, ok?! But that didn’t stop me from feeling just slightly jealous. Firstly, she is, objectively, a babe. But more so, she is seeing a guy who is pretty great… whom I liked at a stage… and who liked me. Which, in a weird way, makes her my replacement of sorts. Not really, but kinda. Good god – get over yourself, woman!

Feeling these wisps of sadness and envy was quite bizarre considering I’m actually really happy that this now gives me permission, in my mind, to be friends with him (and like his photos) without worrying that he may read anything into it. I knew in my head that choosing to not date him again was definitely the right decision for me – and I hope it was the best thing for him too – but my heart was still half a step behind…

Perhaps it was just my way of processing the loss, of sorts, for what could’ve been.
Perhaps I should just have both the salted caramel and chocolate fudge ice cream, after all…
Yes, I think that’s a good idea.

On that note, Happy Easter, chickens.

Alex x

* I would love to tell you that this thought didn’t actually cross my mind, but lying has never been one of my strengths. Sigh. I’m a work-in-progress, ok?!

#socialmediafails: part two

Facebook “friends” and friends on Facebook.

ImageI think Ed and I could be friends.

Sometimes the strangest things happen on buses. Whether that be entire wardrobe changes, the disintegration of relationships played out in front of 60 relative strangers or procreation*, Sydney’s public transport certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to… colourful moments.

I had another one of those moments recently – except everyone remained fully clothed and no one shouted at their relatives. Yeah, a little less sexy and scandalous.

I was on my way to uni (truly groundbreaking stuff). As I walked up the back of the bus I spotted a girl whom I’m Facebook friends with sitting just in front of the seat I had my sights on.

Insert the part where we may eye-contact and say hi to each other and briefly catch up.  Insert the part where we don’t make eye-contact and don’t say hi to each other – even though we are now sitting 40cm away from each other.

Sorry. Let’s pause and recap. My “friend” is sitting in the seat in front of me and I am not going to say hi to her. Huh?

Just quietly, WHY THE HELL ARE WE EVEN FACEBOOK FRIENDS?!

Calm down, Alex. 

See, you could be deceived into thinking that we are actually friends. I mean, I know what she is studying, whom our mutual friends are, whom her family members are, whom her boyfriend is, what her boyfriend’s job is, her favourite authors and her pet’s name – all courtesy of our Facebook “friendship”. Well, except for the fact that we’re “friends” who have barely ever had a conversation with each other. But conversation is so passé, darling.

I’m still unsure whether I didn’t say hi because of the social conformity and norms which dictate that we don’t speak to people in certain settings or because the word “friend” has been diluted and no longer carries the value it once had. Either way, I have no idea how this girl and I even became to be Facebook friends in the first place.

****
Since then I ended up hanging out with another vague “friend” of sorts. Yep, another one. She’s a lovely person, but we’ve spent very little time together over the ten years that we’ve known each other. Anyway, we’ve kept abreast of what’s happening in each others’ lives by reading one another’s blogs, Insta-stalking travel photos and having the odd two minute catch up whenever we bump into each other, which counts for something. Right?

Ahhh. Hmm. Perhaps not, Alex.

See, spending some time with her the other week allowed us to go past the superficial “how-are-you-what-are-you-up-to-at-the-moment-oh-that’s-nice-bye!” And it was a pleasure to have done so, because I learnt so much more about her and her life that I could have ever done by Facebook-stalking her. We talked about the future, family dynamics, AFL-honed muscles and unexpectedly enchanting cities.I think social media only allows us glimpses into each others lives, and we orchestrate the glimpses we let others see – myself very much included.

I was reminded of this when I was catching up with a friend over coffee. (An actual friend this time.) Look, it was nice, but I was acutely aware of the fact that the main way in which we’ve kept abreast of each others’ lives recently has been by liking one another’s Instagram photos, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates. We’ve been friends for years, but honestly, I think that our social media friendship has been a contributing factor to the deterioration of our (actual) relationship. We ask each other about things which we’ve seen the other post about – no longer bothering to feign surprise after waiting for them to bring it up themselves.

It makes catching up somewhat redundant, doesn’t it?

So, with that in mind, I’m trying my best to not write various status updates about my life at the moment. Yes, I think that the Likes would be well into the double digits and gosh, I’d feel sooo totes loved and #blessed. But who am I kidding? My Facebook friends are all nice people, but I’m only close friends with a solid 4% of them and I want to share my news with this 4% in person because they are the people who really matter to me. They’ll be genuinely happy for me because they’ll understand the significance of the things I’m sharing with them.

I guess that’s why I didn’t say hi to that girl on the bus. She’s just a “friend” and not a friend. And those speech marks, small as they are, seem to make a difference.

Alex x

 

* I wish I could say that I hadn’t witnessed that last one in particular, but I kid you not – I did. #stillmildlytraumatised

mouse-click miracles.

I’m sorry to inform you, but “liking” that photo will not save that baby.

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“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi.

Perhaps we’re all searching for a tangible miracle within our sometimes steel-clad, disenchanted world. Perhaps it’s because growing up to be a ballerina or a fire-fighter just doesn’t cut it anymore. But contributing to something that will change the world? That means something. That commands our respect and admiration. But perhaps we’ve taken it too far…

Before I get going I would like to clarify some things from the outset. Of most relevance to what is to follow: I am not a particularly charitable person. That wasn’t a deliberately self-deprecating comment, but rather a realistic one. I enjoy doing volunteer work, but I haven’t done much recently (although that is something I am going to work on this year). I don’t contribute that much money to charities or other worthwhile causes. I don’t campaign or attend rallies. I don’t fundraise. I don’t work at an NGO or charity and I don’t have any particular intention of doing so within the foreseeable future. Basically, I could be doing a lot more to help others and the world.

I would also like to emphasise that I do not intend to mock any of the causes or societal issues that I may mention. They all have real and devastating impacts on the lives of individuals throughout our world.

Disclaimer: over.

So, I may not be a particularly benevolent person, but occasionally I’ll like a photo or status on Facebook in a gesture of sincere clicktivism. I’m sure you know the type: the one where if we reach 1 million likes will mean the difference between a chronically sick child’s life or death. Or perhaps a #makeupfreeselfie for breast cancer as you may have noticed mingled into your Facebook newsfeed over the past week.

That has to count for something, right??

Well, actually, no. I don’t think so.

Sure – social media is a useful tool in driving a marketing or PR campaign. Personally, I think that a campaign without a social media activation and strategy would probably be minimising its potential and reach… unless you’re targeting non-social media users! And yes, social media has been really beneficial to individuals who are suffering in some very practical ways.

Take, for example, a dog I follow on Instagram. Yes, you read that correctly: I follow a dog on Instagram. Nice one, Alex. But to be fair, this isn’t any dog – it’s a hilarious French Bulldog named Sir Charles Barkley (You can call him Barkley for short). And with over 175K followers, Barkley’s posts travel far from his Seattle home. So far, his account has been used to find missing dogs and reunite them with their owners and raise money for pups who need expensive surgery in a similar way to how people who are seeking missing family members or a bone marrow donor have used Facebook to facilitate their search.

I’m not for a second doubting the power of social media in helping to raise awareness about certain issues and causes and that it can be really positive and powerful.

But tell me, how is sharing that photo of that baby actually going to ensure that it lives?

How is liking an animal rights photo going to save that pig?

How is retweeting Amnesty International really going to help those in need?

How is following World Vision on Facebook going to make a difference in the lives of children and communities in developing nations?

How is posting an attention-seeking status to the effect of “I want to do it on the kitchen bench” (which just happens to be a ‘secret thing amongst women’ about where you place your handbag down when you arrive at home) going to raise long-term, meaningful awareness of breast cancer?

How is supposedly divulging which colour bra you’re wearing (which is a similar thing where the colour corresponds with your birth month) going to change anything either?

How on earth is a makeup free selfie going to see an end to cancer? Please, do tell me. Ok, evidently it vaguely got my attention because otherwise I wouldn’t be typing this sentence, but have I done a breast check since seeing one of those #makeupfreeselfies? (I’ll give you a hint: two letter answer – first letter N, second letter O.) Bad Alex.

Makeup-free selfies, in and of themselves, can be positive in helping to promote a healthy, realistic body image (as long as they’re not being used as an excuse for fuelling our vanity). And if this week’s campaign was about that, then I wouldn’t be going on this mini-rant, because I have a lot of time for initiatives which help people to develop positive body image. But the last time I checked, my selfies weren’t finding a cure for cancer or encouraging my friends into doing breast checks.

imagesGW1PU19F  imagesKGNP1I0J  untitled

So, evidently I’m the Grinch of Breast Cancer awareness. You’re welcome to get pissed off at me.

You may disagree with me, but really, who the hell are we kidding? It’s great that we want to get involved and do our bit. But why don’t we do something which is meaningful, that is going to make a difference. We can contribute through the donation of time or money, for example. No, it may not get as many likes on Facebook. It may not make you look quite as baben on Instagram. It may not make you look like the socially aware, caring person that you wish to portray yourself as being.

But perhaps it could actually make a difference.

Alex x

Epilogue: And now that I have finished my little rant I guess this is the part where I ensure that I’m not a hypocrite by going out and contributing in a more meaningful way myself. #watchthisspace

PS: To the anonymous person who passed on a message to me through our mutual friend over the weekend – thank you! Also, come and say hi next time?

****

An editorial post script:

Since writing this I’ve found out that the #makeupfreeselfie trend has in fact raised a couple of million quid in the UK. This is great stuff. However, I know it may sound cynical and critical, but I find it repugnant that people were only, seemingly, spurred into action by the fact that doing so contributed to their social media self-promotion. For me, the idea of giving isn’t about the giver, but the recipient. 

In addition to this, I’d love to recommend Clementine Ford’s article in relation to the topic. She’s ace and so is her piece. Find it here.

Ax

#socialmediafails: part one

Realising that I’ve let social media warp simple things like saying “please” and “thank you”.

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I’m going to take what I think is a fairly safe bet and guess that you, my darling reader, are pretty good with that whole social media thing. Right? And thus, I’m going to assume that you know a fair bit about social media and its continual impact upon communication and so many other related spheres of our 21st century lives. Blah blah blah. For the love of peanuts, tell me something new!

Well, despite having read plenty of articles on the subject and having spent many hours doing utterly arduous first-hand research in the field, there have still been times when I’ve been surprised by just how much social media had affected my relationships.

An example?

Well, I can think back to a time during the age of social media when I went out of my way to make my friend’s day. Good lord, I busted a gut. I spent quite a bit of cash. Hours were spent planning it. There were tears just getting my arse there. And I’m glad to say that I think I made her pretty happy.

And do you know what I wanted (and expected) in return? A social media shout out. Yes, that’s right: I wanted her to thank me publicly by posting a photo, tweeting or writing an update about what I’d done – which is f-ed up on so many levels that it is giving me mild brain damage. How the hell did I get to the stage where I not only wanted, yet also expected social media glorification in return for what I’ve done? How did it get to the stage where this would be my first response if a friend had done the same for me?

One source of influence which pops to mind are the handful of fashion bloggers I follow on Instagram. Perhaps you follow some too? If so, you’ll notice that when they are gifted another gorgeous skincare collection/bunch of flowers/handbag they make sure to post beautiful images of said gift whilst ensuring to tag the gift-giver, thus directing their followers to the company’s activities, as a way of thanking them.

A particular example of someone who does this on a regular basis is Margaret Zhang: a chick who goes to the same uni and me… and, whom at the ripe old age of 20, also happens to be a prominent fashion blogger (the type that gets to attend New York and London fashion weeks). And yes, I do sometimes feel like a bit of an underachiever when I see what she’s just posted. 

An aside in regards to Miss Zhang: in some ways I find it funny that I enjoy her work so much, seeing as my taste is so very different to hers – but I always enjoy seeing how she pairs really interesting pieces and I guess observing someone else’s style develop from a distance has a beauty of its own… In addition to this, I love the way she writes – it’s always a beautiful combination of irreverence, substance, depth and a sort of lyricism.

Ok. Margaret tangent over. We were talking about social media shout outs.

Here are some photos she has posted over the past couple of weeks:

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You’re smart enough to figure out which Insta and description correspond with each other:
A belated Valentine’s Day shout out to her bf. #cupcakes.
A shout out to Tommy Hilfiger for her pre-show flowers and trench coat. #asyoudo
A shout out to her friend who sent her roses.
A shout out to the hotel booking site (and subsequent hotel) used during her stay in London. #LFW

Firstly, how come I don’t get showered with flowers and cupcakes and trench coats?? Hmm?? Answers, people!

Secondly, perhaps seeing posts like these from various sources multiple times a week could help explain my shockingly entitled mindset. See, I’ve allowed this to become my normal…

But the thing is that for Margaret, this is part of her work as a fashion blogger as every time she gives a company or brand a shout out it’s generating them the positive publicity they desire. What’s more, my guess is that some of these brands pay her to post these shout outs as part of their PR strategy and if not, it’s her way of her reimbursing them for their free products.

Except, Alex, you are not a fashion blogger who is being showered in free shoes. Although I obviously wouldn’t complain if that was the case. Duh. No, instead I am me. The thank yous I give and receive are not driving a potential 124,000+ people to my website with a single post.

Fashion blogging aside, most importantly I’ve realised that in this process I lost all perspective. Rather than making my friend’s day, what I was doing for her became an opportunity for me to look good in the eyes of others. If I remember correctly, that’s the opposite of what gift-giving is about – it should be about the other person and not myself and what I can gain from it.

What’s more, now that I’ve thought more about this particular instance, it has become increasingly clear to me that, it was I who should’ve been thanking her, not her thanking me.

So, to my lovely friend, it may be belated, but I hope you had a great day. Thank you for letting me share it with you and, in doing so, for making my day. Thank you for making my soul blossom.

Alex x

twenty thirteen.

So, I didn’t make it onto the “Let’s reflect on 2013 at the end of 2013” bandwagon during the final weeks of December. My mother thinks I am the epitome of disorganisation (particularly in regards to my bedroom). Although I beg to differ I will concede that I am not known for doing things with great speed

ImageLet’s all take a minute to enjoy one of my favourite quotes from “The Devil Wears Prada”.
Ok. Let’s continue.

Despite missing the traditional window of time to reflect upon the year that has passed, I still have my reflecting-upon-2013 to do. So, let’s get cracking, rascals.

My 2013 was… normal and relatively uneventful. Well, in the sense that nothing cataclysmically, diabolically life-changing happened – my life just had its regular ups and downs with its usual dose of melodrama and randomness inbetween. My friend, on the other hand, had a phenomenal year. Here’s the status update she posted the other week:

2013.
Turned 21.
Fell in love.
Finished my degree.
Moved out of home.
Started my dream job.
Met new fantastic friends.
Been accepted into a new challenging role for next year. 
All in all, life can keep going just the way it is 🙂

Now, I’d like to clarify that I am not the jealous type (or at least I don’t think I am…). On the contrary, I am with all sincerity, ridiculously happy for my friend who had a splendid year. But from reading updates like that my 2013 feels a bit lame in comparison. I don’t feel like I achieved anything particularly great.

I mentioned this to another friend and she was kind enough to remind me that, in general, we social media bunnies only share the awesome moments in life on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and co. Most of us leave the boring, disappointed, sad and frustrated moments out of sight of our 429 Facebook ‘friends’. She also finished by encouraging me to not compare myself to others because, according to her, I had achieved lots of things during my year. “Yeah? Like what?” I thought… But it got me thinking anyway…

She’s a great friend, that one. And she’s got a good brain on her shoulders, too.

The result of her advice was this:

2013.
Turned 21 22.
Fell in love… with Game of Thrones… and Jon Snow.
Finished another year of my seemingly never-ending degree which started with my best semester ever and was then followed by my worst ever.
Moved out of home on. (See: that time when my ex got married.)
I continued doing a Started my dream job I absolutely love (nannying).
Met new fantastic friends. 
Been accepted into a new challenging role for next year. 
I realised that I quite like stringing words together into sentences and so I started this blog.
I branched out and tried new things (Latin dancing and pilates) – both of which I really enjoy and I now do on a regular basis.
I learnt a lot about myself and I think that I grew a lot as a person.
I got my first role without using any connections, but through a traditional interview process. (Admittedly, it was not a paid position (intern!), but I was still chuffed, ok?)

It may not have been a perfect or spectacular year, but all in all, life can keep going just the way it is. 

Alex x