Archive for the ‘random’ tag
‘Individuality in people is what makes them beautiful’
Words of a very special young man, oh wait, no, scratch that, I said those words this morning. You see I was speaking (well typing) in response to the petition surrounding the ‘glammed up’ version of Merida by Disney as they have made her look more ‘beautiful’ as they prepare her for the US market. They clearly think that by making her look more sexual then they’ll sell more products but isn’t this yet again an attempt by a big money corporation to follow the dollar instead of standing up for what is right?
The creator of Merida – the star of the film Brave – is unhappy with the new version of her character. Speaking in The Guardian she said the following:
“The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model who speaks to girls’ capacity to be change agents in the world rather than just trophies to be admired. Moreover, by making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior; that for girls and women to have value – to be recognised as true princesses – they must conform to a narrow definition of beauty.”
By jove she has a point. Now I’m a man so did not face half the issues that women – and in particular young women face as they grow up. Still I see all the magazines and read all the stories (ok that is a lie, I don’t but I know they exist). I know that we are spoon fed by the media what to look for in role models and alas looks is right up there. I was standing in the shower earlier working through this blog post in my head (yes this is the type of thing that I do) and I wondered to myself if we asked 1,000 teenage girls and 1,000 teenage men who they would aspire to be like (and for the men would like to share dinner with) – either Dame Helen Mirren or Kelly Brook who would get the most votes amongst both genders?
I think it is safe to say the vast majority of teenage men would be hot blooded and say Kelly Brook but I also fear that an albeit smaller majority of women would prefer to be like Kelly Brook than Dame Helen Mirren. This depresses me. The tabloid media will follow Kelly Brook’s (or anyone else of that ilk) every move so they can show a photo of her in an attempt to boost sales. Good looking women sell copies but photos of a respected, Oscar winning actress would not.
Michelle Obama is the most known First Lady of all time I suspect and is it a coincidence that she is the most glam? I had Carla Bruni shoved down my throat in both the written and broadcast media when she was the wife of the French President but I had to go and search for the name of her successor in that position. Valérie Trierweiler is her name for the record. Whilst I don’t begrudge the media presence of Michelle Obama as she clearly uses her position to further many great causes – it says a lot that other First Lady’s have done just as much good which were not as widely recognised due to being less in the media spotlight.
The media and society have a view on what is beautiful and they try to promote people who fall into that venn diagram of who they believe is beautiful. The media do this to make money (similar to what Disney have done with Merida) and society gets dragged along with it. You ask anyone who they think is the most beautiful person and they’ll say their partner if they have one and then if you say ignore their partner they’ll pick out someone famous. However they won’t all name the same person, in fact quite the opposite, if you asked 1,000 men and 1,000 women who they thought the most beautiful famous person was and I’m willing to bet we’ll get at least 100 names for both men and women.
You see the thing is we all look for something different and see beauty in an unending number of ways. If someone asked me what I thought makes someone beautiful then I would struggle to answer. This is just this je ne sais quoi that some people have and some people don’t in my eyes. There is no one thing that I could hang my hat on and say ‘that is something all beautiful people have’ because I just don’t think there is that one thing.
I would love to live in a world where beauty isn’t dictated by society or the media. I know as we all get older we start to see this for ourselves but when you are young and impressionable you don’t see this. When I was a teenager I saw what the media dictated as the most eligible bachelors – David Beckham and Jamie Redknapp – marry two pop stars. Every young women (ok not every young woman, that is a lie) but the amount of young women who wanted to be pop stars increased with this because they thought that is what eligible bachelors go for. A lot (although not as many as some in society would claim) of young women would like to be a footballers wife. Is this really an aspiration we want to pass on?
The best way to tackle this is to promote individuality as beauty. If young people can see that beauty is not just want society tells us it is then they would start to feel less pressure to conform to what society wants them to be. We are all different. This is what makes us a wondrous race. I’m lucky that I have reached a stage where I am comfortable in my own skin but heck in my teens and early 20s I had so much disdain for how my looked it was insane looking back.
If I had my way then schools would promote individuality far more than they do. In our education system you aren’t prepared for the real world. Instead you are forced into a mould to achieve the best possible exam results for both yourself and in turn your school. However whilst being academically successful is important, so is the process of discovering who we are and how we can be the best person we can be. I think our education system fails on this and is one thing I’d love to change. The more young people are allowed to explore themselves the more tolerant we would be and the more comfortable we would be with ourselves and others – no matter how different we were.
Back to the original point the petition is here and if you believe that young women need a vaster array of role models then I would implore you to sign. I don’t blame Disney for what they did because they are just trying to maximise their revenues but I am disappointed by it. They don’t have an obligation to any section of society but it would be nice to see them promote a larger selection of role models and not just do what they think is best for them in the short term profits wise.
Life can be a bit fickle can’t it? In the blink of an eye everything can change not only for you but also for many others. One small thing can lead to giant consequences and life altering situations. One of those situations happened to me today and to be frank I’m relatively lucky not to be in a hospital right now, at best.
Many years ago (2000 or so) I should have died on a zebra crossing. There were four lanes of traffic and the green man was all lit up and I was walking across. In lane three there was a double decker bus and therefore i could not see what was coming in lane four but with the green man all lit up I didn’t exactly worry but as I stepped into lane four a speeding car whooshed through. I was already a step inside the lane and I saw and heard it and put on the emergency breaks but as I did so my momentum was still travelling forward and my upper body kinda hovered over the car and then when it passed my feet moved to stop me falling into the road. It was most surreal and my phone went but seconds later and I remember answering it, ‘I should be dead.’
It showed me how one second can indeed change your life. Had I been one second earlier then the likelihood is I wouldn’t have taken another breath as that car was travelling easily at 40+ just going straight through the red light. Well today a similar situation arose. I have had instances where cars have just gone through zebra crossings before – even when I’ve been on them but this one was different – this one I managed to clock the driver and noticing that she wasn’t looking at the road saved me at best a trip to A&E and who knows what else.
Outside my apartment is a zebra crossing and I was off into town to do some food shopping. To my right a car was turning and to my left three cars were coming and they all decided not to stop for the person on the zebra crossing. The traffic to my left had stopped and I went to walk across the road. Then I flicked back to my right and there was another car and it wasn’t slowing down and I managed to glance directly at the driver. She wasn’t looking at the road. She was looking down the Broadway either at the car that had just turned left or the parade of shops. She had no idea I was there just starting to walk in front of her.
Luckily I had clocked this and I only took one step before stopping and letting her swish by. As she went by she finally swiveled her head back towards the road and still she didn’t see me with essentially half a foot out in the road. I’m perfectly fine but it made me think that by her not looking at the road/ahead for just a second or two it could have led to her life being dramatically altered as well as mine. I was lucky I noticed she hadn’t noticed me. She was coming from a long way away and had she been looking forward there is no doubt she would’ve seen me and had ample time to just cruise up to the zebra crossing and let me cross. Instead she was travelling at a good 30-40 and not looking at where she was going.
Just goes to show that small, what seemingly are inconsequential decisions, could lead to rather dramatic consequences.
It is a question I often ask myself when laying in bed or sitting on the throne, if I could go back to (and then I think some random date) would I go back and I ponder how happy I was at that time compared to how I am now etc. Well in the interests of a blog post I thought I’d look back at how I was at the end of April every year for the past ten years and see if I’d go back to that time or not.
Note: Obviously I’d go back in time and just before the huge EuroMillions jackpots were drawn go back and play the winning numbers so lets ignore that.
2003. I would have been coming towards the end of my first year at university in Farnham. I was happy where I lived and had made some pretty good friends. University was going along ok and I was cruising towards passing the first year. At this point in 2003 I had actually had a few dates with someone (cue SitCom studio audience going ‘ooooo’) but it would not go any further due to her meeting someone else (ahhhh) but I had just witnessed Pompey winning the league so that was good. Would I swap 2013 for 2003? Maybe I would but only because I would like another crack at the whole uni thing.
2004. I would be just days away from doing Jury Duty and I genuinely enjoyed that. I would be just a couple of days away from handing in my final assignment of my second year so I’m probably sitting at my PC trying to string together 3,000 words of cohesive text about some rubbish. No love interests at this point in 2004 and that I fear will become a recurring theme as I rack my brains. I’d swap 2013 for 2004 only because of Jury Duty and I’d be set for my last summer with my IoW based friends before never returning there on a full-time basis, which still shocks me now.
2005. At this point I was arguably at my most lost throughout this blog post. I was coming to the end of my degree and had fallen out of love with Journalism. I had no idea what the future held and the real world was actually pretty scary certainly when it became clear that I would not be able to move back to the IoW. No love interests at this point and certainly no reason to swap 2013 for 2005.
2006. I was lost in 2005 but by 2006 I had found myself. Volunteering in a charity shop had given me a large self-esteem boost and more of a purpose. At this point I had very few friends that I would actually see though and this I suspect was the start of my more reclusive nature socially. I didn’t really know where my life was going at this point but I was more comfortable with the journey. Wouldn’t swap 2013 for 2006 though despite being relatively happy at this point.
2007. Bizarrely enough despite being unemployed at this point in 2007 I was immensely positive that something good was just around the corner. I had got down to the final two for a job at The Sun which strangely enough a friend of mine actually does these days. Knowing that a large company like that could have some interest in me I felt positive something good was around the corner career wise. However yet again I wouldn’t swap 2013 for 2007. Notice no love (or potential love) interest since 2003, that has to change shortly right? Err…
2008. All change please. All change! Well for the fifth consecutive year on April 29 I was living in a different place and this time I had an exciting job to go with it. Hurrah! I was living in Aldershot working as a Sports Editor (right up my street) and was more than comfortable with my home situation. Smallest double bedroom ever but heck cheap rent, Sky TV and good housemates. Yep good times. However the job whilst being great on paper had one or two drawbacks, mainly stemming from essentially working solo on a project and having no one to bounce any ideas or just talk sport with in my office. When you work in an office full of people who genuinely dislike you then you struggle to stay motivated. Pompey are about to win the FA Cup but that is still a surreal day in my memory and not the exciting one I would have imagined it would be as a kid. Would I swap 2013 for 2008? Possibly but only because I have learned so much since then that I could make a bigger success of that project than I did.
2009. No more Sports Editor for Neil as I had moved on to become part of the SEO team at a well known company on a contractor basis. Still living in the same place and still happy with that situation although I was looking to move solely because I now worked from home and needed space for a PC etc… Still no love interests. What was April doing to me through the years? Had some good times though around this point and was pretty contented however I would not swap 2013 for 2009.
2010. In a stunner I had moved back home for a few months to save some dollary-do’s as it were. I was still working in the same position and low rent and no bills really does help your bank balance. Living back in an area where you don’t really know anyone my social life went to the dogs again. I doubt I’d swap 2013 for 2010 though.
2011. So I’d moved out again and into my own place where I still currently reside. Same employment situation but now I had finally thrown my hat into the ring and just joined the Liberal Democrats. I would be three weeks away from writing the blog post that announced this blog to a wider audience. However I see nothing of too much value or interest happening in my life at this point in 2011 so no swapping here.
2012. This was not a good time in my life. My dad had just passed away and I was fighting an election campaign that deep down I just wanted to get out of because my head was elsewhere. This is the biggest no to swapping years that I have come across on this little journey to how I saw life on this (or around this) date in the past ten years. I’d hate to go back to where I was at this point last year.
So in the ten years the only years I’d think about going back to would be the first two uni years as I wish I had made more of that experience and possibly 2008 as knowing what I know now I am pretty sure that I could have made that project far more of a success (and I have more self-confidence now than I did then) so instead of just seething at certain things I’d face them head-on and hopefully be able to change the direction that the project was heading in.
In those ten years from 2003 through 2012 there was just the one occasion (2003) where there was something going on in my personal life and in all honesty that had finished but I wasn’t aware of this at the time. April has not been a great month for my personal life (although as we all know no month has really been a stream of successes) but for the record I think December/January can hold the claim for best month on this front with both of them laying claim to three years where I’ve had some form of interest on that front in the past ten years.
What I think this shows is in the main I wouldn’t like to go back in time although I wouldn’t mind giving uni another go around and that project from mid 2007-early 2009 could have been so much better but such is life. On April 29 from 2003 to 2012 I lived at seven different addresses (although one of them was twice in two different stints) so I have gotten around a bit on that front but I have actually stayed put at my current location for just under three years now.
So all in all for this addition of ‘If I could go back to…would I?’ I think in general I’d say no, no I wouldn’t.
Ok there are some things that if you don’t actually know me that you need to know. Firstly that I adore takeaway food but hate eating in restaurants. Secondly I still prefer jogging bottoms to jeans (although I have learnt that jogging bottoms should not be seen at any social occasion or even just walking to the shops). Thirdly that I fully believe Sky+ is my most beloved gadget and I fully wonder how we lived before it got invented. Fourthly I have Care Bears and lastly and possibly most obviously I am in no way an alpha male nor manly in any of the traditional ways.
If you know me well you’ll know all this but whilst I couldn’t care less about owning all the ten original Care Bears (there is a legitimate back story behind this) the fact that I’m not manly still at times leaves me a little bit uncomfortable. Society still expects a man to be able to fix things when they go wrong and not have to call someone in. So we get to the tale of the past few days…
Neil v the blocked sinks
Yeah…my bathroom sink has been blocked for months but it wasn’t a huge issue. I live on my own and bizarrely I actually have more bathrooms than people living in my place so I use the en suite and could ignore the bathroom sink issue. I did try using drain unblocker as well as soda crystals/vinegar and of course the plunger but nothing worked so I kinda just left it. It does drain just incredibly slowly. For example if I filled up the sink it would probably take a few days to fully drain away.
So anyway last week suddenly my en suite started draining slower than Eric the Eel swims the 100m Freestyle. This was a problem. I wanted at least one sink working so again I tried what I had previous tried to little effect. Next I bought a wire thing that you can put down the plughole and jig it about and it pulls up gunk. This worked in a very small way so I was stuffed. It was either call the landlord and call out a plumber or do it myself. It was time for me to become a man.
So last night I’m there in the en suite and I unscrewed one of the pipes and I have a look inside. It was relatively clear. Therefore I knew the problem had to be in the trap underneath the sink. I had tried to unscrew this before but it wouldn’t unscrew. This was problematic. So I’m jiggling the pipes and the trap as by doing that the water seemed to trickle away and suddenly the trap came off in my hand. Water gushed out and then I saw what was in the trap. Wow. It was completely stuffed up with a hard plaster type substance. No surprise then that my sink wasn’t draining.
I scrape out the gunk and I do mean scrape it out. Then I stick my fingers up the pipe and clean out all the gunk and screw the trap back on. I turn on the hot water tap and it is draining so I put it on full blast and leave it to run for a minute or two to clean out any further small levels of gunk down the pipe. It drains well. I go to bed happy in the knowledge that I’d try the bathroom sink today.
Sadly though it was not that easy. My bathroom sink is hard to get to the u-bend (it has no trap) so I have to do it blind. I find everything I can unscrew at the back and finally find the two bits that connect the u-bend to the sink and to the pipe at the bottom of the system. This took me a while. I pull out the u-bend and it is exactly the same plaster type substance completely blocking it up. I must have some really hard water or something. So I run the hot tap through the disconnected u-bend (as I can’t scrape it out like the trap) and keep knocking it against the side of the bath. Slowly all the gunk piles out and I can’t believe how much there is. That is probably why it wasn’t draining.
I test the u-bend under the tap and it is clear and now I have to reconnect everything I disconnected. Again I’m doing it blind because it is against the wall and I can’t see anything. I get the top bit connected to the sink and find I have it on backwards. I unscrew it and turn it around and tighten it up again. Happily the bottom part is now lined up perfectly with the u-bend and I struggle to tighten it fully but it is tight. I run the hot water tap full blast again through the system testing both connections to ensure there are no drips and there are none.
Yes I logically and methodically fixed my two completely blocked sinks. I haven’t felt this manly in a long time and I’m immensely proud of myself. I’m pretty sure calling out a plumber for both would have cost my landlord a few quid and made me feel pretty stupid when I found out what the problem was and how easy (relatively) it was to fix once I had located where the blockage had to be. This has undoubtedly been a good start to the week and for a Monday morning it is pretty outstanding. I even had my March invoices paid into my bank account this morning. Good times.
I have been relatively quiet on here for a couple of weeks. In reality I have been relatively quiet across all Social Media in the past couple of weeks. I have been in a sort of malaise regarding a lot of things. I’ve had a lack of energy and drive. This isn’t to say I’ve been down as you’ll find out later if you read long enough that isn’t the case but it has just been a general malaise.
Last week was weird. Like seriously weird. I’m not going to write all of the weirdness on here but there was a 48 hour period where pretty much everything that happened seemed to be the universe conspiring against me. However of course the universe doesn’t tend to work like that so I’ll just take it as a few freak occurrences that seemed to transpire in close proximity to one another.
So what I’d thought I’d do is blog briefly on the main things going on and we’ll see if I expand on any of these in subsequent days…
On Thatcher’s death…having been brought up in my formative years on a council estate with shall we say not Maggie lovers as parents there aren’t many tears being shed. However I do find it distasteful seeing people reveling in her death – certainly people who aren’t old enough to have seen her as Prime Minister. I was seven when she left office and don’t feel that I know enough to judge her time in office – nor her as a person. Even though my upbringing was certainly anything but Pro-Thatcher I just think the best thing to do – even for those who despise her – is to keep your own counsel and give thoughts to her family.
On the media…well my own opinion is what it is but I think I am in a position to look at and have strong opinions on the way the media have reacted. I think that considering the bias that the BBC is said to have to the left, that they have gone overboard on her passing. I also think certain right-wing newspapers have done the same. I know the former PM was very much a marmite person (I know so many people who hate that term but heck its true) but she was never Mother Teresa or Florence Nightingale and I get the sense some media outlets think she was more important and a better person than the pair of them put together.
On Lib Demmery…it is a strange year in Southend. With no elections in 2013 life is relatively quiet. We have seen the council change from No Overall Control to a Conservative majority of one following a defection to the Tories in recent weeks and that has caused an interesting domino effect. However don’t expect anything too dramatic to happen until around this time next year when we find out who is standing where across Southend.
On High Court victory…the fact that the Portsmouth Supporters Trust are set to take ownership of Portsmouth Football Club this week pleases me. Like everyone I can’t predict the future but I do know that it was PST or bust and I trust the trust as it were. With a ten-point penalty set to relegate the club it will mean Portsmouth travelling to Southend next season and should I still be living in the area then it’ll be nice to see the lads for the first time in a few years. You never know I could be commentating on the game!
On commentating…I think I have done seven or eight games so far this season. Only did one before the turn of the year but have done roughly half the home games since and have yet to see the Blues win. It has got to the stage where the security guy laments my arrival and said to me yesterday, ‘when I saw you sitting there I knew we were doomed.’ He says we need to get my jinx out of the way and luckily (or unluckily depending on your PoV) I’m behind the microphone for the last home game left of the season – Morecombe on Saturday the 27th.
On dreams…one thing I have learnt about myself is whilst we all dream every night, I only ever tend to remember my dreams when I’m stress-free. Recently I have been in a dream state many times with some extremely vivid dreams. These are both entertaining and at times concerning. Dreams are like your very own television show where usually you are the star. The thing is though clearly I’m feeling ok about life despite this general malaise that I’ve been going through.
On the week ahead…I’m out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings for various activities. My favourite TV show returns for its 9th season – Deadliest Catch and I’m still breaking in 12 new pairs of socks. I know how to enjoy life folks. I really do. Socks with large holes in are a thing of the past (for now) the only question left is will pj bottoms with holes in be a thing of the past? Yeah we’ll see about that…
So to sum up I’m still alive. I’m doing fine and I’m clearly relatively stress free. I hope that my blogging buzz returns soon.
I received the following e-mail earlier today. Basically is it a nice guy saying my site is shit but if I employ his/his companies SEO services it’ll be great. I do oh so love unsolicited e-mail like this certainly when they can’t even be bothered to work out my name…
No doubt this is exactly the same e-mail that he sends to hundreds of websites…
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Look I know no-one knows exactly who wrote this and Snopes has an entry on it but it is nevertheless a light-hearted way to show how the tax system works.
Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100…
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this…
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay £1.
The sixth would pay £3.
The seventh would pay £7..
The eighth would pay £12.
The ninth would pay £18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.
So, that’s what they decided to do..
The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.
“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by £20″. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.
So the first four men were unaffected.
They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men?
The paying customers?
How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?
They realised that £20 divided by six is £3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.
So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.
And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).
The sixth now paid £2 instead of £3 (33% saving).
The seventh now paid £5 instead of £7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid £9 instead of £12 (25% saving).
The ninth now paid £14 instead of £18 (22% saving).
The tenth now paid £49 instead of £59 (16% saving).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.
“I only got a pound out of the £20 saving,” declared the sixth man.
He pointed to the tenth man,”but he got £10!”
“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a pound too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!”
“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get £10 back, when I got only £2? The wealthy get all the breaks!”
“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!”
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works.
The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction.
Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.
In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.
David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics.
For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible
A couple of days ago I saw some guy complaining on a friend of mine’s latest Facebook status. He was moaning that she updated too much and that he ‘got the message’ that she was at university and happy with her man. It riled me up. I even went as far as to actually say my piece on the status:
If you don’t want to read someone’s statuses then there is an easy way to stop it. I do get annoyed when people complain about ‘how much someone else updates their Facebook/Twitter etc…’ or complains about what they say. No-one is forcing anyone else to read anyone else’s social media updates. And with that I’ll disappear back into the ether.
Yeah. The thing is our presence on social media isn’t there (in my opinion) to keep all our friends and anyone else who might be reading entertained. It is just another outlet for us to express our thoughts and emotions. I remember once someone wrote about me that she found my journal postings boring and therefore decided that she didn’t want to know me any more unless I became more interesting. That really pissed me off as it was my journal – my diary of my life and who was she to tell me what subjects I should write about to keep her entertained?
I don’t think it’ll come as any surprise that we haven’t spoken since.
If someone came on to your blog and said that they found it boring it would be a bit of a kick in the teeth but it was also be disrespectful. No-one forces anyone to be friends with anyone else on social media and if you don’t like what people you are friends with or who you follow on twitter then defriend them or stop following them. It’s simple. Heck on Facebook you can even mute their updates so they don’t show up in your feed. It is really quite simple to avoid other people on the internet. In fact it is one of the easiest things to do in the world – avoid someone on the internet.
So I implore you – if you get annoyed at the length or the number or the style of someone’s Facebook posts then instead of calling them out on it – just quietly mute them if you still want to be friends with them or you are nosy enough that you want to still be able to find out what they are up to with one click. If someone tweets too much then stop following them.
People (in general) don’t perform on social media at the behest of others. My twitter feed is used more than Facebook as I use it to throw out my thoughts as and when they pop into my head. It is more of a debate setting than Facebook. I use Facebook in general to keep friends more up to date about what is going on in my life. There is nothing that I’d say on twitter than I wouldn’t say on Facebook but the same can’t be said the other way round. That is just my own personal preference but we all use social media in different ways. One thing though is our social media is not there for the sake of others. It just isn’t. It is all of our little homes on the interweb and if people don’t like it then maybe they shouldn’t come into our homes…
My twitter Timeline seemed to all be talking about a video on YouTube today so being the inquisitive soul that I am I hunted it out and watched it. It was a video about someone’s decision to drop out of university and that it shouldn’t define her as a person. You can watch the video below.
Now it isn’t a huge stride to say that this is of course all true. University isn’t for everyone and education doesn’t define intelligence. All it does is define how educated someone is. I have a degree. I have never once looked at it nor even taken it out of it’s brown envelope but I know what qualification that I have. It should have opened the door on my chosen career path but a funny thing happened on my way to a glittering career in that field – I lost my love and appetite for said field. Like a very significant percentage of university students I knew what I wanted when I started but by the time I ended I had no idea.
2005 was a long time ago and my career has chosen a new path and even now I don’t really know where I want it to go. For those of my era they’ll remember the song called ‘Sunscreen’ that was a #1 hit in 1997 which was ‘sung’ as a guide to the future. One line always stood out to me, ‘the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.’ At the time it came out I had my career path sorted in my head. Of course that changed.
So I sit here now staring down at my 30s not exactly knowing what I want to do with my life although I have slowly gravitated towards a goal which I am actively pursuing. I have options work wise and I have options in other avenues to strike out and do something different. However to strike out and do something different then you have to actually know what you want to do – and that is something I think most of us struggle with.
‘What would make me happy?’ is a question I often ask myself and there is no clear-cut answer. For those who know the answer without hesitating then I envy you. I’m pretty sure that what would make me happy would be something that requires a lot of work and an awful lot of luck. I don’t think I have hidden the fact that if I could do anything at this juncture in my life then I would be living in a lighthouse writing a novel. Sadly there are financial considerations that stop at least one part of that but the latter is something I can (and am) working on. Maybe in time I might become a half-decent writer and actually be able to achieve that but who knows what is around the corner?
The thing is though going back to the main point I’m trying to make is that education for education sake is relatively pointless. Having a degree does open up avenues but so does just being good at what you want to do. For example all my practical work at university was marked at 2:1 or higher. My theory was most certainly not. I was clearly more than adequate doing the practical side of my course but the theory and knowing about Foucault (yes I mentioned Foucault again…oh how that name slayed me down many moons ago) and other people dragged my mark back.
I went to university because I wanted to be a journalist (preferably broadcast) and I went to get a degree and learn the practical skills to help get me there. It didn’t work out due to several issues that I don’t feel need to be aired at this point but I think it is fair to say they helped evaporate my love and desire. I rebuilt myself knowing that a goal I was working towards wasn’t going to pan out as I’d hoped and expected.
The thing is life is a journey and you never quite reach the destination mainly because it is hard to know where the destination actually is. We all have to marry the issues of being financially secure and being happy. For some it is easier than others but being educated certainly isn’t a precursor to being happy and/or successful. I don’t think it is inaccurate that if I had my time again I would not have gone to that university. Would I have gone to another university and done the same course? Yes, probably but that isn’t the point. I made a mistake going to that university and it didn’t do for me what I wanted (either set me up for my chosen career nor make me grow as a person to understand myself). I did the latter when at my lowest ebb after uni volunteering in a charity shop. I can – hand on heart – say that I gained more in that year than I did in three years at university.
So if you are reading this and are thinking whether university is for you or not then only you can decide but if you aren’t happy – and you can’t see yourself being happy there then plenty of other avenues can – and will open up for you. I remember how big and important a decision it feels but as I said earlier life is a journey and plenty of things will change over the course of your life and choosing university or not will not either define you as a person nor define your feelings of happiness with your life.
As regular readers of this blog will know there are only a few blogs that I actually have on my feed that I read pretty much every single thing that gets uploaded on to it. One of those is the Confederacy Of Spinsters website. It is blogging of the highest calibre and today it was Mae who blogged something that caught my eye and made me think. Blogging that makes me think is the type of blogging that I like.
Mae wrote A Letter To The Client Who Called Me A “Bitch” and made some rather pertinent points. The short story is she was called a bitch by a client and then informed her bosses of it. She was the one wronged but things didn’t exactly play out like that. In our world the term ‘banter’ seems to be far more prevalent than it should be. Whether it be in the office or in dating. People ‘love a bit of banter’ and if people are too ‘square’ to accept such banter then a large percentage of society look down upon them.
The thing is ‘banter’ is often just personal abuse disguised as banter. Calling someone a bitch is just being abusive. Now we can debate whether it is sexist abuse or not – but one thing is for sure – it is abuse and is certainly not appropriate in a work environment. Now in this instance Mae went to her boss and reported the incident but instead of her boss being understanding first of all he wondered if she had mis-heard and when the person in question admitted it then they felt the need to rush to her defence. Now I can’t get inside Mae’s mind but I’m assuming she didn’t need ‘saving’ and just wanted the incident reported – which was the right thing to do – and for the person who called her an abusive term to understand why it isn’t on.
However the sentence that hit the old nail on the head was thus:
By calling me a “bitch” you put me in a losing position. No matter what I did, I was the victim.
Bingo. If she had ignored it then she would’ve been allowing someone to be abusive in the workplace which is not on. By reporting it the perception was sown that she was a weak female that needed saving. She couldn’t win either way despite acting in the appropriate way. These are the types of situations where I think we as a society still have a bit of work to do – to say the least. The first instinct of her boss wasn’t to say ‘he what?’ and then proceed to apologise on behalf of the company and then speak to the offender. His first instinct was to try and defuse the situation by making the person wronged think whether she may have been incorrect in her recollection.
One of the comments though summed things up perfectly from a British PoV:
As a Brit, I’d probably just do nothing. Possibly have some passive aggressive thoughts in my head. But that’s as far I’d go, I think! Such a lamer.
That is the way we roll. The old stiff upper-lip and all that. People need to understand that calling someone else an abusive term isn’t on – whether it is a man or a woman. The difference between the two is how management reacts if it was referred up. If a man was wronged then they would be told to grow a pair and for a woman they are questioned about it and then if proved wronged would be made to feel like they needed saving.
I think basically we need to learn that abuse is not on in the workplace full stop and if it happens then treat those who are wronged the same way. Don’t make a woman out to feel like a damsel in distress and don’t make a guy who complained about abuse out to be a loser who can’t take a bit of banter. Abuse is abuse people and the best way to stop it is by management understanding that a work environment is never a place for abuse and if it is reported to them then they should just deal with it and educate the abuser into why it is not on and move on. Seems simple no?
Mae couldn’t win and was made to feel like a weak female for reporting inappropriate behaviour. This use her own terminology that is some serious bullshit folks. Serious bullshit…