Tag Archives: scared

Social Media Cold Turkey – photographic evidence (day 21 – 09/11/2014)

I was out with my family the other night and I got to thinking about something (dangerous, I know).

We were walking around the Sunderland Illuminations at Roker Park and I was taking photos on my phone, mostly of the kids who were all excited and happily posing in front of the displays. Well, 7-year-old Nicole was happily posing, 3-year-old Ethan took a little more convincing and Kenzie, who’s almost 2 – well you just have to catch him on the odd occasion that he stops and stands still.

Anyway, we were wandering around and I was snapping away on my phone, until I realised that I hadn’t really seen any of the displays for myself (as in, not through my camera). I hadn’t really been taking in and enjoying the displays, but instead was more focussed on taking photos so that I could remember (and show others) how much we had enjoyed them! This got me thinking about how much of our time we spend taking photographs when we’re doing something that we enjoy, whether it’s having days out with family or going on nights out with friends.

If something interesting or funny happens and nobody managed to get a picture of it, we’re genuinely disappointed. Or if we’ve taken a load of photos on a day/night out or on holiday and we somehow lose them (lost camera/corrupted memory card/swimming pool incident – I have previous of all of these) it feels like a big part of the experience is lost. It’s as if we don’t trust our memories to keep the information for us to enjoy in the future, we need photos to jog our memories and help us to reminisce.

Which is fine and we’ve always done this to an extent, with lots of embarrassing photos taken on birthdays, at Christmas, at school plays and sports days, and our first day at each school. And nothing was better than getting a disposable camera for your birthday and taking (28?) pointless but awesome photos of you and your friends which would later be blu-tacked to the back of your wardrobe door.

I guess it just feels like now, with good quality cameras on our phones and the ability to immediately share an unlimited amount of photos on social media, taking photos (and especially sharing them, to as many people as possible) has sort of become the focus of our social lives, rather than just a way to remember them. Instead of taking photos that we can look back at on our own or with the small group of people who are in them, we’re using them as a way to prove to others that we have active social lives and lots of friends; that we’re interesting and spend our time doing interesting things.

When we really think about it though, with photos becoming a bigger and bigger element of everything we do, we can’t be surprised that people are becoming more and more (and more) pre-occupied with how they look, at all times. Countless times I’ve heard friends (as well as myself) say that they need to make sure they’re looking their best tonight because such-and-such is coming out – and they always take loads of pictures. But photos aren’t confined to special occasions anymore and it can feel like they’re being taken (and shared) all of the time. Worryingly, a quite natural reaction to this is for us as a society to become more conscious in our day-to-day lives, of how we look.

What I find more worrying though, is that we’re starting to concentrate on this stuff at a much younger age. When I was 10 years old, I’d wake up in the morning and get washed, brush my teeth, pull a brush through my hair and get dressed. Then it was either out to school or off to knock on my friends, in which case we’d spend the day playing on our bikes or climbing trees (they would climb trees, I would usually sit on the bottom branch a few feet up, scared to go any higher); or playing computer games at someone’s house. I realise this sounds like a bit of a “things aren’t like they used to be” lecture, but the point is that 99% of the time, taking photos of us doing whatever we were doing, was the last thing on our minds.

Now, many young girls of the same age are getting up in the morning and whether they’re off to school or to knock on their friends, they have to consider how they look. They feel they have to apply make up to hide what they think is their horrible skin which doesn’t look good on the countless pictures that they and their friends take of each other every day. They have to put proper thought into what they are going to wear and how they’ll do their hair.

I can’t imagine having felt that way at 10 years old and I find it pretty scary – and such a shame – that kids have to now. There are so many other things they could be thinking about – and enjoying – but instead they’re spending most of their time convincing each other that they are in fact, beautiful. Or worse, battling their insecurities about their own looks by insulting each other. What scares me is that, at 9/10/11 years old, children aren’t emotionally developed enough to be dealing with such complex issues and feelings!

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Being Animally-Awkward

I’m not an animal person.

In fact anyone who knows me will probably tell you that’s a gross understatement of the facts!

I don’t hate animals – I’m not some heartless hater of all ‘lesser’ creatures, who can be found stonefacedly scrolling right on past all the videos of high-on-catnip cats, ‘talking’ dogs, and cats who think they’re dogs. I can appreciate all animals from the cute and cuddly to the powerful and ferocious. My oldest friends will even recall a long-lived obsession with a certain type of sea-faring mammal.

So actually, let me rephrase that – I’m not a pet person. I realise that many, many people get great joy out of their pets, they enjoy looking after them and love the loyalty and affection that they get as a reward. In theory I completely understand this, but personally, I’ve just never seen the appeal.

Its not because I don’t want to look after anyone or anything – I am a complete mother at heart and adore looking after my nieces and nephews. I grew up in a family of 6 kids and am not afraid of snot or slaver or poo. The truth is, animals just freak me out!

We never had pets when we were growing up (my Mam had her hands full enough with 6 of those human-animal hybrids that we affectionately know as young children). So I never really got comfortable with the reality of animals in the house. My Dad had 2 black cats and we stayed there every weekend but this didn’t really help much. I was never a massive fan and as I got older and started to be left in on my own on occasion, I would shoo them out of the living room on account of the fact that they made me really uncomfortable. Slinking around with their slightly-too-intelligent eyes and what I still swear would qualify as smug expressions! And as for walking up the stairs while they were poised on the banister at the top, trying to psych me out by looking like they could pounce at any second… no chance!

Okay, so I probably sound pretty insane to all but a very niche group of animally-awkward people like myself. But there is a point to why I’m telling you all of this.

Due to recent circumstances, I have for the first time in my life, at 24.5 years of age, become solely responsible for another creature.

His name is Sherlock and he’s a goldfish.

Now somewhat predictably, very soon after this happened I had a small panic about my ability to keep this goldfish alive. To understand why, you need to know a little of Sherlock’s back story…

It was Easter-time back in 2013 and I was living in London whilst doing an internship, like so many other evenings we paid a visit to the local Polish supermarket, which was basically like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, containing all sorts of sweet and savoury treats that you would never find in the likes of Asda. Including sugar-coated peanuts and every flavour of ‘Milka’ chocolate you can imagine! What it didn’t usually sell… was fish.

But, fatefully, as a kind of random birth/life/Easter celebration, on this day they were selling just that. Now I’ve explained that I’m not exactly a pet person so I wouldn’t usually have bothered too much about this. But even I couldn’t bare how those poor little fish were being kept. In a tank that looked like it was designed for one or two, there were no less than 50 fish, cramped together and looking thoroughly miserable. So we found the most sickly looking specimen and bought him for £1.

In truth we expected him to die pretty much instantly, but after a few days he was looking far more chirpy (if indeed a fish can look such a thing) and once he was set up in his own proper tank, complete with decorative gravel and ornaments, he thrived! He even survived the journey up North to Sunderland on the train in a (very large, the largest you can buy, and thoroughly cleaned out) coffe jar.

Since then he’s survived another house move and a week-long bout of barely moving or eating whilst a bizarre white thing hung from his side (very glad that went away).

He’s almost 2 years old now and as far as I know that’s a long time in goldfish years, so you can see why I don’t want to be responsible for killing the little guy now.

But unfortunately, if you’d been witness to my first attempt at cleaning him out last week, which involved me backing away into the corner while my younger sister fished him out of the tank with the little net, all the time saying “I feel like I’m doing a bushtucker trial,” you would understand that its a very real possibility!

As for now, Sherlock is all set up in a new, bigger tank donated by the aforementioned little sister, with some nice clean new gravel and a lovely spongebob ornament. After having a pretty mental 5 minutes where we were genuinely scared he would jump out of the top and had to scramble to put the lid on, he seems to have settled in.

So it doesn’t look like I’ve done him any harm so far – touch wood!

Oh by the way, that childhood obsession? It was dolphins, I always did love those guys!