Awareness

It’s started again.

To give them credit, it took me a while to get it, this time around. I genuinely believed that a disproportionate number of my friends were going abroad for sustained periods of time.

Then finally it clicked – a number combined with an arbitrary ‘thing’, a place, or a sweet, or a type of pony, whatever. Yes, folks. It was the return of the ghastly ‘awareness-raising’ update.

Check your inbox. Chances are you’ll have seen something like this:

“Girls! I just don’t feel like anyone is commenting on my Facebook wall at the moment, and it’s bringing me down. I feel unloved and devoid of attention. I’ve decided that we should all confuse the male population, poor things, by posting nonsensical statii (that’s a thing!) that will surely garner lots of comments and widespread bemusement.

Want to join in? Follow these instructions.

Oh, and if anyone asks, yeah….it’s like, raising awareness for breast cancer and stuff. “

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t exactly that. But I’m afraid I’m showing no mercy this morning. The general upshot is that people then post these ridonculous updates which in no way relate to the topic, and in NO way raise awareness.

Awareness of what? Breast cancer? Oh, what’s that? I’ve never heard of it. I think we all know what breast cancer is, and that, in general, it’s bad. I would be less brutal if the original message sent around reminded women to check the health of their own breasts, or to contribute something to charity, or….well, anything, really.

And I am not blameless (I am never, ever blameless.) I myself have done it. I mindlessly went along with it, not really engaging my brain, not wondering for a second how exactly this was doing anything for anyone. It isn’t getting people to donate. It isn’t getting anyone to give up their time to help, and as I’ve already mentioned, it doesn’t even remind women to check themselves. The messages sent round seem to be geared more at confusing the male population.

‘But it’s fun!’ you cry. Is it? ‘Fun’ for me is getting tanked up on pink bubbles and doing the Charleston with Cumberbatch. Not popping a random series of words on my Facebook page and pretending I’m doing something useful.

I Googled it, and it seems to be a bit of a ‘hot button topic’, as Adam and Joe are so fond of calling such things. It appears to totally divide the population, with half saying ‘what the hell is the point?’ and the other half going ‘but it raises awareness’. And sure, maybe at first it did, because it was originally about bra colour – related to breasts, see? – and might have happened around the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

But now, cycle after cycle has rolled by. It’s January and I’m still seeing it. I apologise if you devote hours of your life to fundraising or supporting the cause, and you happen to find it worthwhile to put on your wall. What I can’t forgive is what one blog dubbed ‘Slacktivism’. I Wiki-ed it (welcome back, Wiki!):

“Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism or slackervism) is a portmanteau formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist. The underlying assumption being promoted by the term is that these low cost efforts substitute for more substantive actions rather than supplementing them, although this assumption has not been borne out by research. [1]

Slacktivist activities include signing Internet petitions,[2] joining a community organization without contributing to the organization’s efforts, copying and pasting of Social Network statuses or messages or altering one’s personal data or avatar on social network services.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS describes the term “slacktivist”, saying it “posits that people who support a cause by performing simple measures are not truly engaged or devoted to making a change”.[3]

Crikey. Look, this is my second rant-y post in as many weeks. I appear to be turning into Charlie Brooker, but in a dress. I apologise for that, my blog is usually a place of positivity, good humour, and general inspiring bits and bobbles. But I feel strongly about this little conundrum, and I’m going to speak up about it.

My Google search revealed many people who felt the same. The worst thing was reading blog posts by cancer survivors, saying they didn’t get it. And worse still were the voices who spoke up about the ‘I’m 6 weeks and craving’ posts. Aggressive cancer treatments can leave survivors infertile. One woman described how she’d sobbed, convinced that by some weird coincidence a handful of her friends were all pregnant, while she herself would never have children.

Please, just think about it next time. Think about what it’s actually achieving, in real terms. Sure, for a minute or so you might get a smug glow of feeling like you’ve done something – I know, I’m sure I had that when I did it. But come on, girls. We can prove we’re more intelligent than this, surely? Let’s demonstrate to society that we don’t just loll around thinking up ways to annoy/confuse men, like some sort of play by Sheridan.

Let’s accept that we’ve all done it, and it was a bit fun at the time, but that ultimately, IT ISN’T DOING ANYTHING if that is all you’re going to do. There are so many easy ways of getting involved with helping a charity. Just give a bit of money. Can’t afford it? No worries, it’s a recession – how about doing a sponsored run? Not a runner? That’s fine. Donate a bit of your time.

Come on, guys. Don’t be a Slacktivist. You know, you can still post a status about breast cancer awareness? It doesn’t have to tell the world about your bra colour/imply to the social network that you’re pregnant. And please stop trying to confuse The Men.

Peace out,

Amelia

Privacy Policy

(Aka: ‘This just in! Amelia writes a grumpy blog post!’)

A rather interesting turn of events has unfolded this morning. It’s all been a bit Ian McEwan, revolving around just one small ‘set piece’, and the different reactions to that happening.

The set piece: I received a message this morning informing me I’d had a tweet published in the local paper. Was I excited to see my name in print? Eagerly rushing out to buy copies for all the fam? Not so. Possibly because I was a bit groggy from just waking up, and the vodka tonics I’d consumed at Sankey’s last night, but I was a little….shall we say, dumbfounded?

I racked my brain. “But…I haven’t tweeted the local paper about any issues this week, have I? Unless I was really blacked out on those V&Ts last night, and came home and vented about that weird cat that keeps following me around when I go running. No. No, I didn’t do that.” I literally couldn’t comprehend as to how something had got from my brain, onto the net, and into the paper.

Look, I know we’re not dealing with News of the World levels of scandal here – and perhaps I should attribute some of my ire to watching ‘Hacks’ the other week (by the way, that wasn’t very good, was it?) But I was a bit disgruntled, to say the least. I put the pieces together. So…they can just take a tweet, a random piece of ephemera coughed out by my overwrought brain at an ungodly time of the day, and publish it? Cripes.

I mentally rewound the week in tweets. I tweet a LOT. A lot a lot. My mind settled on some particularly un-printworthy remarks I might have made about the Fabulous Baker Brothers, or boys in Barbours. Oh, lord, no. Please not that. I don’t want to look like some lascivious old man.

See, the thing is, I just tweet whatever comes into my head. A stream of non-sequiturs, comments on any passing whimsy, conversations with strange and wonderful new people, and a LOT of perving over the aforementioned Baker Brothers. I wear my heart on my feed, as they say, and I’d like to think that my followers appreciate that. The knowledge that any one of my, quite frankly, bizarro tweets could end up on paper made me tense up.

Perhaps you think I’m being a bit of a prima donna? But I’m saying the opposite – I am not Diane Abbott, or Stephen Fry, or even lurching out of the bars and art galleries of Chelsea (I do that, but not while being filmed. I think.) I am a person of no importance. But in a way, Twitter makes you important. It gives you a platform, it builds your ego – I mean, why call them ‘followers’ instead of ‘friends’? Sheer ego boost. With Twitter, the barriers are breaking down. You can talk to a celebrity. You can slag off poor old Anthony Worrall-Thompson. You can make a comment that gets ratcheted around the world within seconds.

I thought I’d learnt my lesson after a bit of a ‘run in’ with comedian Richard Herring. I’ve loved Herring for years, gone out of my way to see him and to listen to his Edinburgh Festival  coverage. I made one sarky comment, which someone tweeted back to him, and suddenly poor old Mr Herring was talking directly to me. I felt horrible. My offhand remark had gone straight to the source, and not even of some celebrity I despised, but to someone I actually liked! On that day, I promised myself I’d be a bit more Twitter-savvy. I apologised, and explained myself, but ultimately that feeling still stuck with me. Even though their Twitter account may have a blue ‘verified’ badge by it, they’re people too.

Mmm, boys in Barbours

My tweets, as I touched on before, are pure drivel most of the time. Enjoyable waffle, I hope, but piffle all the same. I rarely comment on things that are actually important. I just wang on about Wayne’s World and my new felt-tips, and what lovely apple juice I just got from Waitrose. So what’s the issue?

I have two. Firstly, the use of a tweet which might have been a joke, or just generally not in context. My particular tweet was regarding the lateness of the post. A throwaway comment by a girl who was looking forward to getting her new yummy business cards. Put it down in print, and suddenly it looks like I’m making a comment on the Royal Mail in general. It worries me that things can be taken to prove a point that I wasn’t making in the first place. If I’d been asked to comment on the postal service, I’d have given a fully rounded remark. But it isn’t about the single tweet, it’s the principle.

Oh, and I know, this is hardly new. Journalists using things a certain way to make a story? Points being lost in editing? GROUND-BREAKING. Not. But my feeling was one of ‘I didn’t sign up for this’. Many of you have disagreed, saying that simply by tweeting in the first place, I am putting my comments into a public forum, and they can be used willy nilly (I just wanted to shoehorn that phrase in.) Another line of argument has been, ‘you keep a blog, you tweet voraciously, you Facebook like tomorrow is the end of the Mayan world’. Sure. I do all of those. But if you actually read the things I write, I tell you very little about my actual life, even if it seems like I’m sharing my deepest, darkest secrets with you.

My second issue is with the reproduction of something I have said without my permission. ‘Permission-schmission’, you said. Well, ish. I think you worded it a little more cleverly than that. But really, how much time would it have taken to extend the courtesy to a mere four or five twitterers whose tweets were going to be published, just to say ‘is it ok?’ It would take seconds. And yes, you’ve all come back and said ‘there is nothing legal in place to say they have to do that’. Fine. But what about asking in the spirit of fostering community? It’s a local paper, not The Sun. If I’d been informed, I might have even got quite excited about it.

I’d like to put it in another context. When you take a photo of somebody and publish it, either on your blog or in print, you HAVE to ask permission. Last year at London Fashion Week, even in the busiest environment ever with a million style mavens milling around, photographers would tap you on the arm and say ‘excuse me, could I photograph you for my street style piece?’ Whether it’s a legal requirement or not, it’s still courtesy. So if we extend that courtesy to people when taking their photo, what about when using their thoughts? Surely it’s even MORE important to ask?

It all hurts my poor little heart a bit, because I adore Twitter. It makes me deliriously happy. But this stuff? Not so much. I want to be free to say whatever comes into my head. I think I may have to hire a spin doctor.

I have no wish to cause a controversy or start a fight. For one thing, I hate conflict, and I’m a generally happy bunny who doesn’t want to upset anyone. I wanted to work out why I was left so wrong-footed by this development, and I suppose this is just me questioning a system that is changing, and the hulking megabeast of the social networks, and whether I’m happy to stay within their confines. This is not a war cry, more a last word.

Perhaps I’m making a big issue about nothing. Perhaps I simply wish I’d had something more pithy printed than a comment on the post, which didn’t exactly make me look like Dorothy Parker. But for those of you who just didn’t get why I was frustrated, I hope this might help you understand a little more. This isn’t a searing indictment of regional journalism. Hey – I’m a writer too. I get where you’re coming from. But surely, there must be a better way?

Peace out.

Amelia x

P.S. This article is meant (mostly) light-heartedly. I have no wish to cause a frenzy. I am merely making a comment on an issue, and trying to explain why I was a little bit bothered by it.

Defence Against the Dark Arts

Aka, you can just call me ‘Miss Manners’.

I’ve been planning this blog post for a while, because the problem I’m describing has been particularly rife recently. Or perhaps I’ve just reached the end of my tether with it. There’s something about this particular issue that really gets under my skin. Now, I’m not one to generally write complain-y, miserable posts, and this isn’t really going to be one of those. I’m going to tell you about my issue, which might be your issue too, and then I’m going to suggest a couple of ways of dealing with it.

My issue is one that should be so simple to remedy, and yet it appears to be getting worse and worse, and it’s this: people not replying. I’m talking about everything here; texts, emails, phone calls, Twitter, Facebook. And when I say ‘not replying’, I don’t mean Tweeting some overwrought celebrity with 5 zillion followers who quite obviously doesn’t have the time – I’m talking about friends. And just to clarify further, I don’t class ‘not replying’ as someone who takes a day or so to reply, and then says ‘sorry’: that, in my eyes, is fine. We’re all busy people. Egocentric as I am (I’m not really), I don’t expect my friends to be sitting around just in case I text them, so they can reply straight away.

To take the time and effort to call somebody, or even say something on a social networking site, takes some percentage of thought on your part. I think it’s exceptionally rude when that isn’t reciprocated. Why is it, in an age where it’s never been easier to talk to people, we can’t really communicate with them properly? Perhaps because there are so many different ways of getting in touch, we don’t think we have to make any particular effort? Perhaps we’re too comfortable with the knowledge that we can always get in touch with people? We know that we’ll always get a second chance at communication?

I say ‘we’ because I’m sure I’ve done this. Looked at my phone, and gone ‘I’ll answer later’, and then completely forgotten. And ok, that’s sort of alright if you do it once or twice then apologise, but it’s not really. Why didn’t I just reply straight away? Let’s face it, chaps, it only takes a few seconds to send a text, doesn’t it? By not sending one, what are we saying? ‘Yes, I know we’ve been friends for years, I’ve cried on your shoulder, we’ve danced all night, we’ve laughed our heads off at terrible films, but ultimately I can’t spare half a minute on you right now, because I can’t be bothered.’

I’ve worked hard to not be that person, and to always try and reply to things as I receive them. If I don’t, it’s because I’m somewhere I can’t reply, like work. Or deep sea diving. And I have friends who have certain demanding schedules which means they won’t reply until a certain time, and that is all fine, because I take that into account. But the more I’ve reformed myself and seen how easy it is just to keep on top of things, the more irate I’ve become at people who don’t extend me that same courtesy. There aren’t many – after all, I wouldn’t call them friends if they systematically refused to talk to me, that would make me insane – but the few who do it are enough to put me in a bad mood all day.

I think it’s rude, careless and unpleasant to not reply. After all, who do you think you are, Madonna? Not replying is saying ‘my time is more precious than yours’, or even worse ‘you just aren’t worthy of a response from me’. I’ve been long plagued by one particular offender, who has always exhibited the trait. Fine to reply when it’s convenient for them, but they’d have long periods of just ignoring my attempts at communication. That isn’t normal behaviour. I have some of the most wonderful, kind, thoughtful and generous friends, so why would I want to pollute my social pool with people who deem me not important enough to reply to? I’ve talked to a lot of people lately who’ve experienced the same thing. I think most of us have had it at some point (in the same way that most of us have done it ourselves.) I’ve reached my tolerance limit with it. Like I said, I have enough decent and charming friends to not worry about losing the rare few who aren’t so delightful.

So that’s the rant. But what can you do about it? I’d say there are two prongs of attack:

  1. Be a good replier yourself. Be considerate. Apologise if you are replying after a few days. Remember that just because you see someone’s name on Facebook every day doesn’t mean you’re in direct contact with them every day. The problem with social media is that you feel immersed in the lives of others, even if you’re not actually talking to them. So talk! Hear the news from their mouths, not their feeds!
  2. Implement a ‘strike’ system. If it’s a good friend, I’d say give them three strikes, and then raise it in a jokey but not aggressive way. With any luck, they’re realise they’ve been a bit ropy and apologise, and be a little better in future. If it happens again a few times, have a bit more of a serious conversation. If someone is an acquaintance as opposed to a friend, I’m afraid I’ve started being a bit ruthless now. My opinion is just ‘sack them off’. You know my favourite phrase by now: life’s too short! Don’t waste time on anger, and on people who aren’t worthy of you!

Be decent and hopefully those around you will be decent too. Be an adult and take responsibility of your relationships. Be kind (rewind). I think we should all make 2012 the year when we, as a whole, clamp down on non-repliers. Let’s create a community where we respect each other, and value each other. Where we don’t leave people in the lurch. Where we reply to event invitations and stick to them. Where we keep promises, and keep in touch. That, my friends, is the Promised Land.

Peace out.

Amelia xx

Vogue SAB Challenge 1: A is for Apps

So here’s the first instalment of my Vogue Secret Address Book Challenge! The original brief is poking round on the site somewhere, but I’m essentially taking on Vogue’s Secret Address Book, letter by letter, and engaging with/going to/doing at least one thing from each section. I’m starting with A (obviously!), and this is my first challenge, Apps. Vogue reviewed a selection of apps, so I selected three of them and explored them myself. So without further ado, bring on the apps!

FancyFree

So, what is it? Oh, this could have been so ace. I was on the road to giving it a rather good rating, but unfortunately due to a glaringly bad feature, I can’t recommend this to anyone. Put simply, ‘Fancy’ is a spectacularly frivolous app where you click on various user-submitted photos, to ‘Fancy’ them. Fancy is a brilliant word, so I was already partially sold on the idea, and even though it was deeply vacuous (if you’ll excuse the oxymoron), I very much enjoyed it. Having had a rather draining day on Tuesday – read my ‘Endings’ post to know why – I was deliriously happy just clicking on silly pictures of planets made out of chocolate, and baby polar bears, and Prada shoes, and all sorts of ridonculous but good things.

Fancy App

The Good: If you’re halfway through War and Peace and you need to give that brain a break, there is something strangely compelling in just immersing yourself in a world far removed from things like news headlines and reality TV. You can create your own sort of ‘bubble’, filled with lovely things. Ok, it’s not going to win a Nobel Prize, but it’s fairly satisfying.

The Bad: I’d already started constructing a positive review in my head as I shut down the app and logged onto Facebook. My jaw dropped open. What the hell were all these posts allegedly from ME, telling people that they, too, might ‘Fancy’ the things that I’d liked? I kid you not, there were about 23 posts apparently put up by ‘me’, featuring a little picture of the thing I’d liked, and making me look like an insane toddler. My friends think I’m sitting at home reading novels and being all cerebral, ok, stupid app! Now they know the ghastly truth – that I’ve been loafing around in bed ‘Fancying’ puppies! It happened because I logged in with Facebook, so my fault, but there’s no way you can turn that feature off.

Oh, and that’s another thing. There is something very uneasy-making about looking at a photo of a bird or a cat and clicking ‘Fancy’. You have to try it to understand.

The Bottom Line: I was going to give this app a good score, until it made me look like an utter twat in front of my Facebook friends and ruined my intellectual cred. Now the world has seen me for what I truly am – a tiny step up from the ‘I just really, really love cats’ YouTube girl.

Score: 2/10

 

Flipboard, Free

So, what is it? Essentially, an app that creates a little iPhone sized magazine for you. It’s a magazine that you yourself curate – and by curate, I mean you just jab your finger at things you like the look of. You choose from a selection of online publications, and I opted for everything from Glamour to some random blogs.

The Good: You get to gather together a whole host of ‘stories’ from across the net, to make sure you’re getting things that interest you personally. It’s engaging, and you could spend hours ploughing through old stories and posts from your sources. There’s a mine of information that you can collect together in one place, so if you often find yourself trawling all over the net for different stories or articles, you could save a lot of time. It’s nicely laid out and fairly easy to navigate, and the most satisfying thing is the ‘flipping’ action you make as you turn to the next story.

The Bad: It’s pretty much US-oriented, so not a great deal of content that is necessarily relevant to us UK-dwellers. I think on an iPad it would be glorious, but on the iPhone, it’s all a bit overwhelming and you have to keep readjusting the size of the screen to different stories. The other thing I disliked, but which is insurmountable for obvious reasons, is the fact that it has to connect to the net to load the stories. If you haven’t got amazing signal, it gets very frustrating very quickly, and also makes me think I can hear it eating up my data allowance.

The Bottom Line: Enjoyable enough, and lead me to discovering a couple of great new blogs, but ultimately not something I’d probably look at on a regular basis. There’s almost too much to see, and ploughing through all the stories seems like more of a chore than a pleasure.

The Score: 6/10

 

Skywatch, £2.49

So, what is it? It’s a very user-friendly star charting app, whereby you just open the app up, point it in a direction and see what’s up there. You can find where planets are, the names of the constellations and where they are, and you can find out what’s exactly above your house!

The Good: I’ve long since been interested in astronomy, and I used to dream of getting a proper telescope. But I also haven’t been blessed with endless amounts of patience, so I think I might have struggled to really map the stars and work out what they all are. Go Skywatch resolves this by actually overlaying an image of the constellation across the line of the stars so you can work out why exactly that random group of lights is called a bear, or scales, or a hunter. It’s just so inordinately pleasing as a piece of technology that you’ll be thrilled to use it.

In my opinion, this is exactly the kind of thing that makes an iPhone an outstanding development in the world of technology. You can keep flinging pigs at some birds, but I’m going to stick with innovations like this (and maybe the odd cute puppy, ahem hem). It’s a pleasure to use, extremely easy to understand and get started with, and you can put in as much as you like. If you want to make your own star maps on paper, you could.

The Bad: I have very little criticism to offer. I balked at the price, because I’m pathetic, but really? £2.49 is a bargain for this app. The only thing I would say is that perhaps it makes it too easy. You don’t need to work at finding out what things are, it just says them. But that’s really my only concern.

The Bottom Line: I think you should go and download this app straight away. It’s tremendously exciting and absolutely beautiful.

The Score: 9.5/10 (Actually, it might well be 10)

The 8 People You Meet in Twitter Hell

I love Twitter. I do. I love it sooo much I want to take it behind the middle school and get it PREGNANT, as Tracy always says on 30 Rock. It makes me laugh. It makes me socially aware. It helps me network, and ultimately it stops me feeling like I’m all alone in this big bad world. Plus people post photos of puppies doing funny things. Of PUPPIES. Doing FUNNY THINGS.

Much as I revel in the deliciousness of this beautiful portent of joy, there are a few types of accounts that make my life hell. Nestled among the brilliant, funny people who I follow and who follow me back lurks a dangerous sub-species. Oh yes. The ones who spoil it for the rest of us. They use their Twitter accounts for evil, not for good, so you better watch out, you better beware…

Because these are the 8 people you meet in Twitter Hell.

 

  1. The Chronic Retweeter – aka, ‘I don’t have anything original to say’. Just a quick glance at the feed of this offender will tell you all you need to know. If they’re feeling really adventurous, they might even add a comment on the end of the retweet, like ‘<<<<<SO TRUE’. Look, we all love to retweet. It makes us look big and clever. But PLEASE, give us something else to work with.
  2. The ‘Mummy, look what I drew’. This is the name I give to those irritating individuals who spend all their time tweeting things like the following:  Why, for the love of god, WHY? Not witty, insightful, or at all worthy of a retweet. And yet retweeted is what they get. Big sigh.
  3. The Black and White Minstrel Show – this is when you follow a person you think is innocuous, even engaging in conversation with them upon occasion, and suddenly you see them tweet something obscenely racist or bigoted. Out of nowhere. You’re wrongfooted. But they seemed so….normal. You know what to do: UNFOLLOW.
  4. The Twisted Tweeter – aka The Pervert. He (mostly he, occasionally she) only follows attractive girls, and constantly harasses them through the medium of tweets. They’ll either have a profile pic of a random symbol, masking their identity, or they’ll have a rather vomit-inducing photo of themselves stripped to the waist, showing off their vulgar abs, and even worse tattoos.  Tweets will vary from ‘heyy, u lk well prity in ur pic’ to ‘you’re wearing stockings right now, aren’t you’.
  5. The Briefcase Spammer – usually has a bona fide sounding description, based around social media or helping you build your business. ‘That sounds helpful’, you think, following them back. Two days later and you’ve been bombarded with soulless tweets and an endless stream of links to their blog, or to websites which will ‘help you get 15000000052292903 followers in 15 minutes’. AVOID.
  6. The Underwear Spammer – like the Briefcase Spammer but easier to detect. Their tweets may not even relate to sex in any way whatsoever, but they’ve got a profile photo of a scantily clad girl with too much make up on. Or perhaps it’s a genuine account, and she’s just really, really passionate about you getting a free iPad 2 or a Starbucks gift card?
  7. The Clueless Small Business holder – aka the Full Throttle Tweeter. They just don’t get it. They’ve done some course on Social Media, or just read a paltry few articles on Mashable. They think in terms of quantity over quality. I sat back in awed horror as one person I followed proceeded to send FIFTY tweets in a row, each promoting a different item they were selling. They’d obviously employed some underhand Twitter tactics to help them send that sort of volume of tweets. This aggravates me more than the others, because they’ve totally misunderstood the point of Twitter. And, dear reader, I unfollowed them.
  8. Oversharers Anonymous – Look, love. This isn’t Facebook. At least on the Book of Face I’m mildly interested in stalking friends, because I’ve actually, you know, MET them. On Twitter, I couldn’t give a damn about your personal life. Seriously. It’s fine if you want to mention your beloved in a Tweet – ‘going for lunch with my chap’ etc. That’s just fact. But what REALLY DRIVES ME NUTSO is the people who retweet compliments their other half has given them, e.g:

  Retweeted by @imwithstupid: ‘@piglover2000 babe, you looked amazing today, I love you    sooooooo much, LET’S HAVE BABIES. NOW.’

 Give me a break. No, actually, give me an axe, a sick bucket, and a blindfold so that I never have to endure that kind of thing again.

So there we have it, folks. Have I missed any? Maybe you fall into one of these categories. If you do and you want to harass me further, find me @ameliafsimmons.

Happy Tweeting.

Amelia xx

Black Mirror: The Entire History of You

Or, where did it all go wrong?

Even when I read the synopsis for each episode of Black Mirror, the third instalment was the one which grabbed me the least. I’ve got no idea why, but I thought it sounded a little flat, and a little predictable. In fact, I even read a book for children when I was about 10, which centred around the idea of a girl who could fast forward and rewind time. Readers, I should have saved myself an hour and got that book out from the library. Black Mirror: The Entire History of You (TEHOY, you know the drill by now. TEHOY, mateys! Avast, there be a terrible plot! Etc etc) revolved around the premise of a world where we can review our lives by flashing back to moments and replaying them. Over and over. And over.

Think of how much time we spend dissecting our lives already. I must have clocked up hours sitting down with friends and furiously muttering things like: ‘so, when he said that, do you think that meant he liked me?’ My well meaning friend would reply: ‘well, how exactly did he say it? Did he say, “see you soon”, or “see you soon”?’ Instead of putting on a gruff voice and imitating whatever my passing fancy had said, in TEHOY world, I’d just replay the scene for her. By the way, I’m not actually that neurotic – I was just illustrating a point. Of all the various premises of Black Mirror, this wasn’t particularly interesting, and was also very poorly executed. I didn’t even fancy anyone this week.

I’ll start with the characters. Our main man Liam (Toby Kebbell) is a lawyer who becomes increasingly suspicious of his wife (I think they were married, I really, really failed to absorb much info) having an affair with a ‘prick’ called Jonah. Jonas? A Jonas Brother? Judas? I finished watching the thing ten minutes ago and I already can’t remember. Maybe there is something to be said for ‘Grain’ technology, where I could just rewind back to the…oh, right. Yeah, 4oD.

I’m not going to bore you with plot details, because it was essentially a middle class version of Eastenders. I imagine. I’ve actually never seen Eastenders. I’m too middle class. Liam obsesses over the events of a dinner party where his wife/partner/girlfriend/who cares is reunited again with Jonah/Jonas/Jesus. For the entire agonising hour of the drama, he just plays and replays events using the Grain implanted behind his ear, analysing things. I’m going to say right here that WATCHING THE SAME THINGS AGAIN AND AGAIN IS RIDICULOUSLY BORING. We got the picture within seconds, we’re not idiots. We knew he could rewind and replay bits. We had no need of seeing each one of those bits again and again.

That was my first issue: that I was bored senseless. The second issue was that everybody was hugely unlikeable. Main man Liam was an absolute arse. Black Mirror worked in weeks 1 and 2 because I liked and/or sympathised with PM Michael Callow and Bing, respectively. But this guy? Please. I’m not sure if it was the writing or the acting, but I didn’t care a jot what happened to him. That’s another thing: you’ll be able to predict the end after about fifteen minutes in. His ‘life partner’, Ffion, was unsympathetic too, and….oh, I just disliked them all. I wish I could review the programme properly, but it was just terrible. Also, Stephen Mangan should have played the lead role.

Jesse Armstrong wrote the script, and I was surprised to find not even the merest hint of humour. After all, this is the co-creator of Peepshow and Fresh Meat we’re talking about. Nothing. I suppose it was slightly like an episode of Peepshow if Peepshow had been written by somebody bloated on a diet of Eastenders and misery, and if the actors in Peepshow had been plucked from some wanky, self-involved student production. I expected more from Jodie Whittaker, who is usually a very good actress. The single vestige of Peepshow that remained was those weird POV shots when one of the boys kisses someone. Even that failed to make me laugh. Oh! I just feel so irrevocably miserable about the whole thing.

Essentially, if you took away the technology, this would be a really crap version of Othello, or He Knew He Was Right. Jealous people will always be jealous, and you can still wreck a relationship without a PVR in your head. The other episodes looked at how technology was ruling and destroying our lives, but this hugely missed the point. Actually, I still remember seeing one of my friends playing and replaying a video on Facebook of a recent ex, sure that she’d seen him with an arm around someone. I don’t know whether that example illustrates the point of TEHOY, or does the opposite. Like I said, I’m feeling far too uninspired by the episode to bother making links. This is a terrible review for a programme that I can’t even really rip to shreds properly.

It felt to me like the episodes got smaller in scope. Week one was about Britain as a whole, week two was about one section of society, and week three was about a small group of people. Rubbish, boring, annoying people. I also think it declined in quality. I was disturbed by the first two programmes, but the final episode did nothing for me. Hence the one part review, which is unheard of for me. I can write 2000+ words on anything, but not this. It was poor, badly acted, unfunny, uninteresting, and there was nobody having sex with a pig. All in all, very disappointing. Should this kind of technology come in, you can rest assured I’ll be deleting this particular episode of Black Mirror from my brainbox.

God, I miss you. Please come back.

Toodle pip.