Twittiquette Special: Auto DMs

Or, Y U NO JUST TWEET ME LIKE A NORMAL PERSON?

Or, ‘How to Lose Friends and Irritate People’.

Auto DMs. It’s a sticky matter. A thorny issue. As one amusing tweeter pointed out to me, it also sounds “like a Tory MPs secret fetish”. Well, we all know how much I enjoy the secret fetishes of Tory MPs, but sadly that isn’t what it is. For those of you who don’t know what the source of my ire is (I think I’m turning into Charlie Brooker, slowly but surely…) I shall demonstrate in the following scenario. Our heroine – let’s call her, oh, I don’t know: Amelia – is sitting at her computer, whiling away a few minutes on everybody’s favourite social network (Hint: not Facebook)

INT/dining room. Amelia sits at the table, tapping away on her laptop. A ‘ping’ occurs; she has received an email. 

AMELIA: An email! How exciting. I shall do my excited email dance.

She does the ‘excited email dance’. It’s clearly highly derivative of both the ‘Birdy’ dance and also the Charleston. 

AMELIA: Let’s see. Could it be a book deal? A message from Benedict Cumberbatch’s agent, saying he enjoys my Twitter account and wants to meet me for tea at Sketch? A notification that my glam rock snakeskin studded trousers have finally been hemmed? Oh, no…it’s a new Twitter follower! Oh, HOORAY! I just love love LOVE new followers, how glorious. I shall look at their account forthwith.

She clicks onto Twitter, scans the account, and sees that the person in question sounds wonderful. A ‘wonderful’ account consists of some combination of the following: a profile picture of a moustachioed man, a girl with big hair, a love of ‘The Chap’, an obsession with tea, etc. This person meets the criteria, and AMELIA clicks ‘follow’. 

AMELIA: *Singing a little song* Ace, I am SO excited about my lovely new followers. I love Twitter.

‘Ping’

AMELIA: Another email! Oh! It’s a direct message from the person I just followed! Wow, maybe THEY’VE got a book deal for me! Or some hot tips on where to get macaroons! Or…well, there’s no end the exciting possibilities.

Peers closer

AMELIA: What? (Reads aloud) ‘Thanks for following my account? I look forward to talking to you?? PLEASE GO AND CHECK OUT MY BLOG?’ ARE YOU HAVING AN ACTUAL LAUGH?????? WHY? WHAT IS THIS ABOMINATION? I feel….used. I don’t feel SPECIAL. I feel like EVERYBODY ELSE. Waaaaaah!

She clicks ‘unfollow’ through the blind tears of rage, them proceeds to kick her computer in. 

– FIN –

Well, firstly, I think that was GREAT, and I have no doubt that the book deal will indeed shortly be winging its way to me. And secondly, I don’t actually shout quite that much at the laptop, but it does drive me nutso. And thirdly, that was an Auto DM. A little impersonal message that gets automatically sent to your account when you click ‘follow’. There are, of course, exceptions.  One tweeter told me earlier that she quite like getting notifications from a charity she followed, just saying ‘Thanks for your support’, and I think that’s rather sweet too.

But my issue is with business and personal users. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there is no need for a personal user to ever, ever, EVER send an Auto DM. It smacks of the user thinking they’re being charming and sweet by devising a 30 second message that everyone will receive. They also might think that it’s a fantastic way to promote their website/blog/shop. It’s not. I seriously doubt that anyone will bother clicking a link in a tweet. Get the net! We’ve followed your account, we’re already interested! We’ve probably already checked out your link!

And the same goes for businesses. We’ve followed because we like the sound of you, not because we feel obliged to. That means we’ll see your tweets, and probably engage in a dialogue with you. Do you know what the real world equivalent of the Auto DM is? It’s this: you go to a networking event, and instead of going up to someone and introducing yourself/talking to them, you take your business card and either shove it at them or put it into their jacket pocket, then walk away without saying anything. It’s intrusive, impersonal, false, and ultimately creates a terrible first impression.  Do you know what I do to anyone who Auto DMs me, boys and girls? I unfollow them, right away. So there you go – you had me at ‘Follow’, and now you’ve gone and ruined it.

It’s like the guy who goes in for a kiss when you haven’t given off any ‘I fancy you’ signals. It makes me CRINGE. Now, just to harp on a little bit more about it: I can understand businesses doing it (it’s clearly only the misguided ones though) but not personal accounts. It’s like yelling ‘THANKS FOR BEING MY FRIEND’ at someone. It makes you look socially inept. Hey, don’t cry! I know I’m being mean. Maybe you genuinely thought it would be a nice idea? A little ‘thanks for the follow’ card instead of having to reply to everyone in turn? I’ll admit, even I thought about doing it at some point. And hey, if it could drive a little more blog traffic, then, why not?

Why not? Because it isn’t nice. It’s spammy behaviour. It means you’ve misunderstood Twitter; that you’re trying to skip the lovely, warm, organic nature of the site in favour of leaping to the ‘important stuff’. So if you’ve done it, and you’re a person who has a soul, then please, stop. It won’t do you any favours. I’m sorry. I know you probably feel like it’s a good idea, but it’s not. Fact is, most Twitter users will either ignore it completely, develop a bad opinion of you, or unfollow you completely. For the most part, I take approach numero three. Why? Because you’ve already essentially spammed me. So that means you’ll probably be inundating me with tweets about your blog/business/product. Oh, look. I forgive you. Come and have a hug.

If you’re a Twitter newbie and seriously considering this, then I beg of you – implore you not to do it. Why not just thank the person directly? Or just engage them in conversation at some point? I’m sorry to be harsh, but you need to be shocked out of it. If you’re an oldie, and you’ve done this, then there’s no shame (well, not much). Just stop it now, it’s not too late. Let me be your Ghost of Christmas Future. If you do this and you think it’s a BRILLIANT way of running your business and refuse to change, then my @ symbol will never darken your door.

Once again, I have cracked my whip at bad Twitter habits. What do you think? Am I completely in the wrong? Send me an Auto DM and prove it. Go on. I dare you.

Twittiquette: The Commandments

On Twitter, as is the case in my personal life, I am a bit of an etiquette nut. I have a long list of pet peeves – things I see people doing on Twitter that are just so utterly silly, that it drives me nuts. A while ago, I wrote a post called ‘The 8 People You Meet in Twitter Hell’, and I had a lot of lovely responses. But bizarrely enough, it turns out that writing that post didn’t completely eradicate bad behaviour from the Twittersphere. Weird, eh? So I’ve returned with some hard and fast rules.

Twitter is great. I love it. I want to take it to Bora Bora and propose to it on a sun-drenched terrace. It’s great for making new friends, business contacts, finding out anything you could possibly wish to know…all in all, it’s fantastic on many levels. But some people use it incorrectly, and that makes me sad in my little techno-holic heart. Twitter is such a different beast in the world of social media. There’s a good way of using it and a bad way of using it. Ultimately, I believe you need to know why you are using it, and that means deciding on how you want to approach it. Determine what you want from Twitter – networking opportunities, readers for your blog posts, a stop to the eternal loneliness and silence of your tragic life, etc etc.

Anyway, I asked Twitter what got on their collective nerves, and the response was overwhelming. You poor people are at the end of your collective tether! Here are the results:

DO try to reply to tweets. (Proposed by @belledebrum) I’ve touched on this before – unless you truly are a superstar of epic proportions, and are getting a million tweets a minute – there’s not really a great reason why you can’t answer. Especially if you’ve actually asked a question to Twitter, and then you refuse to acknowledge polite and helpful responses. Look here, you. You’re on Twitter. Twitter is about talking to people and engaging with them. So sort it out. ‘Make up your mind and get in or get out’, as Hot Hot Heat once sang.

DO watch your language, jokes, and comments. (As proposed by @Alex_Franklin) It’s likely that you don’t personally know an awful lot of your Twitter followers, so you can’t possibly gauge what’s appropriate for everyone, or what will offend them. Don’t fill your tweets with swearing, or things that may be hugely offensive to people, even if it makes perfect sense to you.

DON’T make it personal. Hey. You! You with the endless chat about your amazing boyfriend! STOP IT. Save it for Facebook. On Facebook, you actually KNOW people, and they (hopefully) care about you, because they are your friends. They’ve sat with you and held your hand as you cried about your rotten ex, and they’re happy that you’re happy now. BUT WE’RE TWITTER AND WE DON’T CARE BECAUSE WE DON’T KNOW YOU. So please, for the love of God, just THINK before you post soppy stuff. I saw some adorable tweets yesterday about Valentine’s Day plans that walked the right side of the line. But things like ‘awww, he loves me sooo much, look at what he made me for dinner’? Nah, mate. I’ve already unfollowed you.

DON’T abuse the retweet button. When I listed ‘Chronic Retweeter’ as one of the worst Twitter “types”, I was inundated with friends who felt it was them. It isn’t you. Because you’re worrying about it, and that means that you have a SOUL. Why do people retweet a retweet of a retweet? Why? The worst is when it’s boring stuff! I actually – ok, I need to breathe here, because I am FURIOUS – I actually SAW SOMEONE RETWEET SOMETHING ABOUT MAKING ARRANGEMENTS. So, it went “@stupididiothole RT: @completenincompoop You cool to meet on Friday, mate?” What???? I DON’T CARE.

DON’T damage your business. Using Twitter for a business account is a very tricky…well, business. You need to do it just right. And purely offering endless promotions or constantly sending the same link over and over again? It’s bad form. And it’s more or less pointless even being on Twitter.

DON’T use ‘Who Unfollowed Me?’ Because we’re not six years old, and we’re not in the playground. I simply do not understand the point of these apps. It’s embarrassing. I’m embarrassed for you. Well done, you’ve ‘named and shamed’ me for unfollowing you, and in doing so, have completely proved why I was correct in doing it. Now get back to your game of hopscotch. Or drug dealing, or whatever it is kids do these days in playgrounds.

DON’T use auto-DMs. (as proposed by @RoseGallagherr) Why? Because the very use of them is a massive turn off. I’ve swiftly unfollowed anyone who uses an auto DM, especially if it’s a personal account. Seriously, there is no possible reason for you to use an auto DM if you are an individual. I once got this “Thanks for the follow! I promise to keep things interesting and not to spam you”. Well, you already have. Bye bye.

DO know when to drop someone from the conversation. You start off in a lovely Twitter conversation with two or more people. You eventually run out of things to say, but they go on, a huge orgiastic Twitter Love-In. And for the next half hour, you’re still being copied in on every single tweet they send. My rule is, if someone hasn’t replied for, say, two tweets, they’re out of the convo, so remove their name.

DON’T make digs at people. I really dislike this. It’s when someone sends a ‘general’ tweet saying something bad about you, or what you’re doing. I had this issue with one girl, who kept sending tweets that were very clearly about things I was saying. I sent a tweet thanking my blog readers, because I’d just got more views in 10 days than I’d had in the whole of the previous month. Minutes later, she sent a tweet saying ‘Just can’t understand why some bloggers are OBSESSED with stats. I’m just about the writing. Maybe I’m just different’. Nuff said. Reader, I unfollowed her.

DO keep it organic and DON’T flood. “Flooding” is the practice of sending tweet after tweet after tweet to promote your business or website. I suspect foul play, because there’s obviously no way someone could sent 20 tweets in a row without the aid of Lord Voldemort. You’re clogging my feed, maaaan. Plus, I’m REALLY not going to visit your website now, out of spite.

DO cheer up love, it might never happen. AKA, don’t send tragic tweets. “I always knew you’d do this to me”, or “I just can’t go on like this anymore.” Oh God, darling. Do I need to call the Samaritans? It’s not that I’m being hard-hearted. I hate seeing these tweets because I find it upsetting that the author feels that Twitter is the place for them. Again, Facebook is for personal stuff, Twitter is not. Actually, maybe not Facebook as much as, say, a therapist. Please don’t tweet like that, you make me feel all worried.

DON’T fish for followers with no good reason. Yeah, I’ve done this. We’ve all done this. Here are just two of the lines I’ve used: “I have 384 followers. Please help cure my OCD by getting me to 400”, and the other day, I offered a snog for the 600th follower, purely as a little comment on those people who keep promising giveaways at different numbers. It’s so tempting to angle for more followers, but ultimately, it’s a silly idea. The followers you get won’t be the right ones – or even real people. Specially not if you’re offering a kiss. Anyway, don’t keep pressing for more. If you’re a good Twitter user, you’ll get them by being amusing or informative, not by asking for them. Also avoid #FOLLOWBACK, #PIGGYBACK, #FOLLOWLADDER, and #FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GIVE ME MORE FOLLOWERS, I’M SO UNPOPULAR.

DO use “Proper English”.  (As proposed by @Captain_Char) Text speak is for texts. No, wait. Text speak is for idiots. Unless you are my current favourite Twitter account, which is the @Y_U_NOOO’ account (sample tweets: “GIRL WITH PRETTY GIRL ROCK AS YOUR RINGTONE – Y U NO PRETTY?” and also “VOLDEMORT, Y U NO USE MAGIC POWERS TO GROW NOSE?” Hilarious stuff) Otherwise, text speak is irritating, ugly to look at, and pointless.

DO watch your hashtags. (As proposed by @nbamford and @QueenB_Belinda) Unless it’s really hilarious, please take your finger off the hashtag button. For the most part, they are clumsy and overlong. Hashtags were originally used for bookmarking your tweets. I occasionally use them as a kind of non-sequitur, or something that negates the body of my tweet in a mildly humorous way. But overusing them is soooo frustrating. Like this: “Off out tonight #great #reallyexcited #firsttimeoutinages” AAAAAARGH. #annoying #soannoying #imcomingtokillyou

DO be humble. Cripes. Please don’t retweet every single compliment you get. Read the tweet, smile at it, and move on. I don’t want to read about how hot you look in your shorts, as commented by some random sleazy male. If you’re a business, then by all means do retweet, because that’s a customer testimonial and is nice to read. Just…don’t do it too much. But individuals? NO. Oh, and another one (proposed by @Wuthering_Alice) DO NOT RETWEET YOUR #FFs. I repeat. FFS, do NOT retweet your FFs. It’s utterly, utterly pointless.

DON’T retweet “celebs” who offer “life advice”. (As proposed by @CaptainChar)This seems to be a bit of a pandemic at the moment. “Will Smith” appears to have an awful lot of fortune cookie wisdom to be shared: “The only person who will love you is yourself, so go and love yourself. Right now. And take some photos” etc etc. Seriously. I’m pretty sure that ISN’T Will Smith, and even if it was, it wouldn’t be excusable.

DO use DMs if the conversation gets a little heated, sexy, or just long-winded. (As proposed by @aladyofseams) If you’re having a conversation with someone you know, and it’s about personal matters – or country matters – then hop onto DM. Seriously. Y U NO KEEP YOUR PRIVATE LIFE PRIVATE?

Yours sincerely,

Amelia, AKA The Twitter Dominatrix, AKA Adolf Twittler.

Chronic Retweeters will be punished as I see fit.

P.S. It’s a freaky coincidence that Voldemort got mentioned TWICE in this post. Or is it???

P.P.S This originally started as ‘ten commandments’, and spun wildly out of control.

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 reaction

I felt like I should write a proper review, after listing all my reactions but not really making sense of it. The programme has really affected me. I sat up until 4am last night, wired, and unable to stop running it through my head. I woke up again now, at 6.30am, and it was the first thing I thought of. It’s really, really disturbed me. I suppose I don’t watch enough horror films these days – I’m very easily appalled.

Back in the ‘Screenwipe’ days, I was a big fan of Charlie Brooker. I saw him as a sort of cerebral Harry Hill. I’m surprised by his move into what I consider to be ‘Mark Gatiss territory’. Anyway, the more I saw of him, the more I heard him rant and ramble, the more he reminded me of a nasal, whiny teenage boy. The kind who thinks he knows everything about politics, literature, life…all at the age of 18. You don’t have a discussion with him, he just talks at you, and if you make a point, you are swiftly crushed. The more interviews with him I read, the more I can’t shake that image, and I get faintly irritated by his huge wave of firm beliefs on life and all the disappointments it brings, according to him. I didn’t think a great deal of Dead Set, so I’ve got no idea why I decided to watch Black Mirror.

From the start, you could see the threads he was trying to pull together. Obviously, Britain’s embracing of royalty again, after the Royal Wedding, here reflected in Princess Suzanne, a Kate-a-like. Then obviously there’s the shifting unease with Cameron, any optimistic ideas about the coalition long dead. (Many of the more unfortunate  Tweets have revolved around the following: @NickCleggsfair: David’s just texted. He’s watching something called Black Mirror. Apparently ‘I’m the pig’. Whatever that means.)

So there was that, a squirming feeling for some that they’d been left a bit….*beep*ed over by the Conservatives. Then the incident with Gordon Brown and that woman whose name escapes me – the one who overheard his rude comments, and the public bayed for his blood. The focus was on what happens when the public determine outcomes, but a public who are working together as more of a mob than a democracy. I have to say, Derren Brown managed rather well to convey this to us without any need for porcine ‘love-making’. Then the riots – the way comment spread across Twitter. First the mobs ruled us, and then we became the mob, linking the police with profiles of offenders who were boasting about their new TVs, etc.

Then there’s our inability to empathise with what we see on screen. We’re removed, most of us ‘dual or triple screening’, sitting there and Tweeting what we see, the crueller the comment, the more chance of a retweet. I for one am rude enough about X Factor, but I’ve never watched ‘I’m a Celeb’. I think the concept is vile. It’s not ‘a laugh’, it’s not ‘entertainment’. It’s a bunch of ‘celebrities’ so keen to revive their fame they’ll humiliate themselves on television. Just think of the TV deals! This time around, Freddie Starr went home, I read, with heart problems. This is it, we’re just laughing and laughing, and voting for people we don’t like to eat bugs, or testicles, or…Anyway. Given my inability to watch the above, I’m not sure I should have felt ready for Black Mirror, but I watched it anyway.

People have zeroed in on the story, isolating the pig sex component and have instantly gone ‘how horrible, what a disgusting programme, I’m not watching someone have sex with a pig’. That’s not the point. Brooker hasn’t made an hour long show about how great having sex with animals is. The whole point is that it’s unthinkable. It’s a completely unnatural desire, not just a dark fetish. If it had been softer, the PM’s dilemma at the crux of the show would have fallen apart. What if the demands had said a man? Or a prostitute? Still the humiliation of being seen at your most vulnerable moment on live national TV, but with less of a chance of you vomiting when Countryfile comes on TV. No, the ransom demands had to be so utterly obscene that there was no question that it couldn’t be done. No way. The aides and advisors were calm, the PM merely concerned with handling all of it.

I mention in my minute by minute reactions how my feelings keep shifting. One minute I’m laughing and the idea has become ridiculous, the next minute I’m staring into the broken face of the PM’s wife and seeing how it will destroy her marriage. It’s clever, because 60 minutes of pure outrage and nauseated shock would have been too much for the viewer. It’s played utterly straight, you’re reminded again and again that this isn’t ‘The thick of it’. But as all the chances fall away, we’re driven towards the unthinkable, yet inevitable conclusion.

I read forums and reviews and Twitter last night, trying to gauge public reaction. People thought it was ‘rubbish’, ‘disturbing’, ‘sick’. People can’t seem to unpick the storyline from the point Brooker is trying to make. We’re not supposed to be ok with this. We’re supposed to feel alarmed, and yet, we keep watching. People named a plothole: that the government would have simply said, ‘we don’t negotiate with terrorists’. Agreed, but I think they show this as a dilemma completely off the book. It’s the beloved ‘Facebook Princess’ at stake, and the stages the PM and his team go through are fairly well realised.

Another plot hole: the severed finger would clearly not have been the finger of a size 6 Princess. Yes, I also agree, but I think it was only the studio crew who got a hold of it, i.e. people more likely to recoil and put the links together, not to forensically test it. So, after 45 minutes of grappling with the concept, we were finally faced with it. I found it very tough to watch, because like the general public, I swiftly moved on from the Private Eye style haw-hawing at the sight of the PM with his trousers down, and looked at the human aspect of it. That is, a man having to do an unthinkable, unspeakable thing, in front of the eyes of the nation.

Try as we might, we still have our visions of England. We trust in England and long held traditions, beliefs and a shred of national pride. An act like this would mean everything was broken. I don’t know, I felt Brooker was actually saying something positive about the Great British Public. They laughed, jeered and tweeted at first, but that stopped. They quietened. They looked upset. Some cried. See! Not entirely without redeeming features!

Actually, those shots of the faces was something itself. Not only are we a culture who love to watch, we also love to watch people watching. Youtube had tonnes of those ‘Reaction to 2 girls 1 cup’ type videos, and probably for things like The Human Centipede too. Voyeurism has become a way of life.

The ending is where my real issue is. Oh, and SPOILER ALERT.

So as the programme ends, visions of Rory Kinnear vomiting and ignoring the phone calls of his wife still dancing like sugarplums in our heads, we think it’s over. The credits roll. Then…what’s this? Oh! It was a TURNER PRIZE WINNING ARTIST WHODUNNIT. As I said in my play by play review, I kind of saw this coming. Not because I’m any sort of genius/Derren Brown type, but because of my drama degree. The rule is always that you include no ‘flab’ in any good performance. That meant that the news segment on the art exhibition at the beginning was bound to bear some importance. And the slightly creepy looking guy who’s pottering about in his workshop too, he wouldn’t be given screen time for no reason.

But it wasn’t just that I saw it coming. It was the silliness of it. Sorry, but do we really think of art like that now? I feel like at the moment, we’ve moved on from being shocked by Tracey Emin or the Chapman brothers. I just think the ‘what is art?’ debate is hackneyed and not something I’ve heard Brooker express an interest in. Although that said, I read about an artist who is LIVING with pigs for four days, behind glass, naked. No bestiality there, though, chaps. She was waaay too thin, pigs hate that, they like a bit of meat. BADOOM TISH. Etc. Then there was the man who starved his dog, I believe? But really, unless you’re a) a listener of Front Row, or b) a Daily Mail reader who gets outraged by the articles they publish on the louche lives of artists, I don’t think this debate is probably central to your life.

Is that what he’s saying, though? That we overlook art. We don’t understand it, until it’s pushed in our faces? I don’t know, I’d just spent 10 minutes watching Rory Kinnear have sex with a pig, I couldn’t make sense of a ‘state of modern art’ debate that had sprung in out of nowhere.

Couldn’t we just have kept it at being rude about social media? To me, this felt like that total cop out ending that you wrote when you were 8, when you didn’t know how to finish a story: ‘and it was aaall a dream’. So, English teachers. You may well be due a spate of stories which end ‘and it was aaall a Turner prize-winning work by an avant-garde artist’. As for the ‘opinion polls are 3 points higher’…oh, come on. Again, a naff ending. The only bit of merit was seeing that behind the sheen of the politician, the PM had a totally destroyed marriage.

And that folks, is that.

And then I woke up, and it was all a Turner-prize winning work by an avant-garde artist.

Small Business

Happy Monday, dear readers. I promised you a break from the incessant talking about Tracy Anderson, frozen treats, and calories. (Although, if you wanted to know, today I did half an hour of Tracy’s cardio, and I nearly died, but I still love her, and I also made some frozen yogurt, and…oh. Ok.)

No, today, I am going to talk about something a bit different. Ah yes. The small business. I never thought that a year on from working in a call centre, and 6 months after working as an ad agency drone, I’d be doing what I’m doing: designing and making my own jewellery, and building my own website to sell from online. The ideas just slowly clicked into place – my course in fashion design at Central St Martins, my love of all things techie, my obsessive love of fashion, my strong convictions about how to promote yourself as a company, my strict aesthetic tastes….Combine that with the fact that I can NEVER find the jewellery I want to wear, and you’ve got it. Bingo.

Now, I’m not kidding myself. We’re in a double dip recession, apparently (‘sounds yums’ as Giles Wemmbley Hogg says), the luxury market is holding firm but it’s the small retailers who get hit, the people who make and sell their own things, etc etc. Ebay has become a complete buyers market. Everything is disaster. Doom, gloom, sob. I’m keeping expectations low – I don’t for one moment think I’ll be able to make enough to live on, and equally, I wouldn’t want this to be the only thing I do.

But setting apart the thorny issue of money, the things I have learnt in the past couple of months have been infinitely more valuable than what I learnt in any job so far. I didn’t realise how much I’d have to learn. I sat, furrowed of brow and square eyed, working out how to install WordPress onto my domain name. I learnt technical terms I’d never come across before. With the help of Youtube, I worked hard at learning how to build a website that looked the way I wanted, as opposed to using the disastrous Website Builder that came with my domain name. I had a specific idea of what I wanted, and I wasn’t going to stop until I got there.

It’s been infinitely more hard than I expected. I’ve worked for 16 hours straight, not moving from my computer screen. My head is full of ideas and thoughts, and I’ve long since sacrificed a good night of sleep for my overactive imagination. I’ve had to be everything, designer, maker of the jewellery, stylist, photographer, website builder, PR girl, and all before the website has even launched! Despite the fact that I no longer go into an office to work, I’ve worked more than double the hours of my former, exhausting Account Exec role. I work most of the weekend, and when I come offline I still work on things on my phone. Or sketch a design. Or start planning my next collection. Or work some costs out.

And this is for THE TINIEST BUSINESS IN THE WORLD! I have so much respect for anyone who does this, because it is TOUGH. I’ve started reading all those articles on young people who’ve started up a company, on a scale much bigger than me, and it’s very inspiring. And there are loads of you out there! I know, because I follow a lot of you on Twitter!

Despite the hard work, I’ve kept powering on because ultimately, I get the final say in everything. I haven’t ever had this kind of freedom in my working life. Should that header be Century Gothic? I say yes. I’ll change it. Don’t like the copy on one page? No worries, I’ll change it. I choose the way everything looks, feels, reads. Yes, I’m a complete control freak. But it’s intoxicating. I love doing it. I want to keep doing it. I can be as creative or ‘out there’ as I like, and there’s no one standing over me to reign me in (hopefully, this is a good thing!)

Every day in the UK, I hear bad news about unemployment figures for young people. This is the time to try something different. I don’t want to get into a full time office job and be all fidgety because I didn’t do what I wanted when I had the chance. I’ve learned more new skills doing this than I know what to do with, and it’s helped me understand which sides of a business I’m better at, and which I need help with. I’ve had fantastic support from friends, not least of all my wonderful friend Mikey who waded in when I was about to break the internet, and saved the day.

So, for all of you entrepreneurs out there, I think you’re ace. Let me know what you do, and how you’ve found it.

 

 

Breaking up is never easy, I know

Dear Facebook,

I’m not really sure where to start. I suppose I don’t really know what to say to you right now, it feels like I don’t even know you, but I’ll just have to try.

So. I think we both know that things have changed lately. Right? I’ve changed too, sure, but it’s like you’re going 100 miles an hour, and you never actually stop and ask me what I think. I suppose that’s a big deal for me. You don’t really care, do you? Sure, you used to ask me what was on my mind, but that all seems like a long time ago now. How about just making sure I’M ok?

It’s just getting so complicated. My head is absolutely pounding.

Something else that gets me? I used to love the way you looked. But you just keep on messing around with yourself, and for the love of God, you need to stop! You used to look GREAT. You were attractive and….well, I used to like just sitting there, looking at you for hours. But now? I can’t…I can’t even look at you. You’re so vain. You’ve spent such a long time working on yourself, always changing changing changing. Again, you stopped caring what I thought about that a long time ago.

I used to like you. I used to respect you. We were good together, ok? But I can’t do this anymore. I feel like I don’t know who you are, or what you want.

The thing is, we’ve come so far together. You were with me through the good times, the bad times, the terrible hairstyles. I thought we’d fall apart when you started selling my personal information to advertisers – god, that was rough – but I forgave you, and we worked through it.

And the truth is, you’ve pushed me away. You know how you were so suspicious of me and Google+? Well, you were right. Yeah. I went there. And guess what? I’ve been seeing Twitter for months. MONTHS. I know you got suspicious. I could see how you looked at Twitter, how you started trying to compete. Well, you’ll never compete. Twitter is my future, and you’re my past.

I’m sorry. I tried to make it work, but I can’t do this anymore. I can’t see you make an idiot of yourself.

A part of me will always love you.

Amelia x

p.s. And you know what? Your user interface DOESN’T look like everyone else’s. I was just being polite.