9 articles Tag Facebook

Keeping Kids Safe Online in the Holidays

In previous years, the summer holidays have meant that Sausage mostly just sees her friends on her birthday (which is in August) or if I manage to arrange playdates with her friends, by contacting their parents. This year, however, seems to be a whole different kettle of fish. Sausage is going into year 5 in September and seems to be growing up before our very eyes. She has her own iPhone, iPad, laptop etc, and so do many of her friends, which means that she’s able to communicate with them as and when she likes, within the bounds of when she’s allowed device time. We aren’t MEGA strict with her when it comes to devices, but we do try to get her to put them down for at least an hour before bed so that the blue light from screens doesn’t interfere with her sleep.

The communication versus online safety thing has been playing on our minds, however. She’s not allowed a Facebook account because she’s too young, although we do know kids of her age who are on there. Snapchat’s recent update has left us with security worries and we’ve got her account locked down because it’s a site which is well known for being an avenue for grooming. She currently uses WhatsApp or iMessage to speak to her friends, but we still worry about the lack of security with these; it would only take one of her friends to give someone her phone number or leave their own device unlocked for someone to be able to attempt to contact her and it’s something that is a constant source of worry for us.

Just recently, Azoomee got in contact with us to let us know about their new chat features and it seems like something which could be the answer to all of our worries. Azoomee Chat was built for children. It’s not an adult platform re-designed for kids! Key features which make Azoomee Chat best practice are:

  • Communication between two children only takes place if a parent for each child has verified the connection
  • There is no geo-tracking data
  • There are no group chats (which is where cyber-bullying begins) opnly one-to-one communication
  • There are no photos or face-time (we use personalised avatars instead)
  • There are lots of pointers in case a child needs advice
  • Parents have full visibility of all communication
  • Only pre-verified friends can see your posts

Every child has their own Kid Code; it looks like this: GF6D7XS2. You’ll find your child’s Kid Code in the Azoomee Settings screen. Your child can give their Kid Code to their friends, or you can give it directly to their parents. They need to add your child’s Kid Code in their Azoomee Settings. Finally, for an extra layer of security, you’ll need to verify the friendship – you’ll receive a notification to do this in Settings.

We’ll be trialling Azoomee over the next few weeks and are really hopeful that it is something which could work for our family and give us the peace of mind we need to be able to allow Sausage to use her devices without the need for us to be constantly looking over their shoulder. I strongly feel that schools should be offering kids an Azoomee membership and teaching them safe communication as part of the national curriculum as we’re only going to be MORE reliant on technology as the years go by.

Keep your eyes peeled here for an update so you can see how we get along with Azoomee’s new chat functions or head over to their site to get your free trial of the services.

 

“It Never Did My Kids Any Harm”

It Never Did My Kids Any HarmWhen Facebook first started, way before I had kids, it was a way to catch up with old friends, let the world know what you were doing, share photos and “poke” people, virtually. It’ll be TEN YEARS AGO this year that I joined Facebook (I know, right?) and in that time, the things I use Facebook for has changed quite dramatically. I think the thing I spend the most time doing on FB now is using groups and I’m in various ones, some for diet and fitness, some for make up and fashion, lots of buying and selling and a couple for parenting, and it’s in that last group where I hear my pet-hate-phrase.

There are lots of different questions to which “it never did my kids any harm” gets trotted out as a standard response, everything from smacking to cot bumpers to sugary drinks to watching Mister Tumble and I really wish it would be stricken from the English vernacular. I think I see it used most often in relation to controlled crying, something to which I’m hugely opposed and I just wish people would see how damaging this kind of ‘echo chamber’ response is.

I get that everyone makes different choices and that’s entirely up to them. It’s also good for everyone to have support and camaraderie, especially when it comes to parenting as it’s a lonely old job at times. However, using your own experience to bias someone else’s choices is SO wrong.

The reason things change as generations move on is because of research and development. We advise against cot bumpers and sleeping in certain positions and sleeping in car seats for extended periods and all of these other things because of years and years of extensive research, NOT because someone, somewhere said “Well, my friend Janet fed her kids lead paint and THEY ALL TURNED OUT OKAY”.

THAT’S NOT HOW ANY OF THIS WORKS.

I appreciate that there’s a lot of inherited wisdom which is passed from generation to generation, and generally speaking those things are fine, but basing your opinion of a whole facet of parenting on the equivalent of ONE case study is absolutely bonkers. Would you trust a medicine which had been tested by one person? Or drive a car which had only one safety test done on it? No, I don’t think you would.

If we’re being realistic, there are SO many things that older generations did (giving the baby brandy or whisky in their bottle to help it sleep? Giving it a sniff of the gas tap?! Leaving them outside the shops OR EVEN THE PUB in their buggy??!) that you absolutely would never dream of in this day and age.

The fact is, the reason that rules and regulations change is because people spend time and money working things out in a lab, with finely tweaked variables and control tests and all of those other things that we’re supposed to trust. They produce QUANTIFIABLE results. You can say “smacking my kids didn’t do them any harm”, but on what are you basing that? The fact that they aren’t on top of a bell tower with a high-powered rifle? Because, believe me, when it comes to the psychological effects that spill over from childhood there’s still a VAST space between “fine” and “bell tower” and they aren’t all kittens and roses.

The trouble is, people don’t seem to want to listen to quantifiable evidence when they’re of the “never did any harm” school of thought. MY argument against controlled crying comes from reams and reams of research which was done with kids living in orphanages – children who were left to cry for hours on end eventually stopped expecting comfort and therefore stopped asking for it, leading to an inability to effectively produce cortisol in later life, affecting future relationships and greatly increasing the likelihood of depression into adulthood. But if you bring this up, people latch on to the supposed absurdity of comparing their child to an orphan to poo-poo any sort of data. What you’re saying doesn’t reflect their opinion and therefore it MUST be crap.

I’m not advocating the judgement of other people’s methods as such, I just really wish people would think a little beyond this attitude and realise that things move on FOR A REASON. I swear, half the time people use this phrase as a way to make them feel better about their own doubts about methods they used, or as a defence of their own parents because they see criticism of old methods as some sort of accusation of failure.

What do you think? Are you of this school of thought or do you try to follow current advice and research? Is this something which drives you potty, too? Leave me a comment below.

Parenting Groups: Five Reasons for Quitting

parenting groupsFor a fair while, I’ve been part of a few different parenting groups on Facebook, places where mums and dads can go to ask questions about anything from “does this rash look like chickenpox?” to “which shops have Hatchimals in stock?” and largely it’s been good. I’ve asked plenty of questions myself and try to help others where I can. But, as of yesterday, I’ve removed myself from these groups (all but The Motherload) because it’s just messing with my head. There are questions which get asked over and over and OVER again and they’re things which make me so cross that I can actually FEEL my blood pressure rising. Here’s just 5 of those questions:

1. Vaccinations

This was the one which prompted me to remove myself yesterday and it’s probably the one which makes me the MOST angry. Someone asked “Have any other parents refused vaccinations for their kids and has is caused them problems with school and nursery?”. The comments are full of people who think they know better than the World Health Organisation (despite the fact that they get their info from American websites with URLs like VacTruth.com and nothing with any basis in actual science). Just in the last month, I’ve seen people cite the inclusion of mercury and aluminium in vaccines as a reason not to give them as well as one woman who claimed that the flu vaccine contained MSG which is, WAIT FOR IT…WORSE THAN GIVING HER CHILD COCAINE. (FML)Another woman claimed that she knew all about herd immunity and it meant that her child didn’t need vaccinations, thus proving that she actually knew nothing about fucking herd immunity.  I was one step shy of spamming the group of pictures of kids with smallpox, so I decided it was best to step away.

2. Baby Names

I’m aware that what people on random parenting groups name their kids is absolutely NONE of my business, but every time there was a “can I have suggestions of names for my unborn child?” thread, I’d read through with my head in my hands, feeling really sorry for the future generation of children who were going to have names like “Aliviyah” (pronounced Olivia, just in case you were wondering) and feeling like I was living in a real life Idiocracy.

3. Nub Theory

“Oh hi everyone. Can you look at this scan picture of my baby (who is probably too young to have even properly developed reproductive organs yet) and guess what their gender might be based on a totally theoretical and unproven method of working it out?”. Nub theory is a THEORY. Asking strangers to guess the gender of your unborn child is stupid.

4. Keeping Up with The Jonses

Do you know what I found myself Googling the other day? Matching Christmas dresses for me and the girls. Thanks to the people on Facebook parenting groups who go absolutely fucking OVERBOARD every Christmas with their EXPERIENCES and their CHRISTMAS EVE BOXES and their “BOOK-A-DAY” ADVENT CALENDARS and ALLLLLLL the other overblown shit that everyone MUST do and MUST talk about at length so that they can lord it over everyone else, I am seriously considering matching outfits for myself, my eight year old and my two year old for Christmas Day. And I’m pretty sure that makes me a massive twat.

5. Nastiness

I’m aware that what I’ve written above may seem like a bit of nastiness but this is NOTHING compared with some of the vile behaviour I’ve seen from grown people in parenting groups. There’s a LOT of stuff which gets discussed that I don’t agree with but I always try to be respectful and give replies to people based on actual knowledge and not just knee-jerk reactions. Often though (I assume on days when there’s a full moon and everyone’s menstrual cycle is syncronised) things can get NASTY. Simple threads about bottle feeding can lead to struggling Mums being called c*nts and being left wishing they hadn’t asked in the first place and it’s that kind of behaviour that I just don’t want to be a part of.

Are you a member of any of these kid of online groups? Do you find that they enhance your life or do you step away from your phone or PC feeling like your head is going to explode? I’d love to hear from you!

No Time to Read?

Time to ReadAs soon as I was old enough to read, I became something of a bookworm. The Hobbit was the first “proper” book I read when I was about 6 and it was an ongoing love affair from then. When I was in my early teens, I’d wake up on Saturday morning, go into town to buy a new book and then spend the rest of the weekend reading it, usually finished by Sunday afternoon. My mother was so concerned by my lack of interest in being a street-raker that she actually consulted a doctor about my behaviour (although I think most  parents would be delighted by a child who chose to stay at home and read, but hey, sometimes you just can’t win).

The last time I read a book was a couple of years ago now. Carrie, by Stephen King if I remember rightly (which I highly recommend, if you haven’t already read it. In fact, read ANYTHING by Stephen King.). But since then, I’ve not picked up a book. I have plenty of access to books and I also have a Kindle, so that’s not the problem.

I keep claiming that I “don’t have time to read”, but that’s not really true, either. I have plenty of time for Facebook and Netflix and Candy Crush and all of the other things which hog my attention. I might CLAIM to be time poor but that only seems to apply when it suits me. I think the problem is inside my brain…what I once loved about reading is the thing which is making it hard for me now. Bear with me while I elaborate.

One of the appeals of reading a book was that feeling of slipping inside the story, losing myself in the words and in my own imagination and being taken away from reality into a finely-woven tale which could completely consume me. These days, I seem to have an absolute inability to disconnect myself enough to lose myself in anything. Even when we’re watching a film or TV show, I’m picking up my phone to browse Facebook or Reddit or occasionally Twitter (I say ‘occasionally’ because, is it just me, or is that place just tumbleweed central these days? No-one seems to chat on there like they used to).

People have noticed how attached to social media I am and it’s become a bit of a running joke, but it’s also starting to worry me. It seems like my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) has become all-encompassing. It’s definitely a lifestyle thing; when I was young and single, I literally NEVER turned down a night out or a chance to socialise. I could be settling down in my pyjamas, get a phone call and be in the pub in half an hour flat because I couldn’t bear the thought that people were having fun without me, and I think Facebook has become a substitute for that – I can still be sitting in my pyjamas, not NEEDING to go out and still be connected to everything that’s going on in my friends lives.

I’ve seen other people take a social media detox and I genuinely wonder how they do it. Going on Facebook, either by app or desktop, has become almost like a reflex, something I do as a matter course and I really feel like I need to take a break. The main fear is that, because so much of my work is social-based or reliant on a social media scoring, stepping away means losing money but I think I need to give it a go and see before I let it consume me. From next week, I’ll be removing the app from my phone and only accessing Facebook via my laptop, and I’ll only be using my laptop during “work” hours.

I need to re-learn how to read. How to watch a TV show without picking up my phone every two seconds. How to interact with my kids and Husband without there being a screen between me and them.

And the stupid thing is, the thought of it fucking terrifies me.

Being a Pedant.

I seem to have gained myself something of a reputation. I get tagged in memes on Facebook on an almost weekly basis, usually things along these lines:

grammar nazi

Now, I’d love to tell you that my reputation was totally unfounded and that I am, in fact, super easy going and rarely judgmental, but that simply isn’t the case. I am, by dictionary definition, a pedant:

Pedant

It’s not just spelling and grammar which draws my ire (although a recent post in a Facebook group I’m in which used the abbreviation “4t” in place of the word THOUGHT made me feel particularly cranky), it’s lots of things.

For example, last week Burrito Baby and I went to a baby singing class at our local library with my friend and her son for the first time, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Obviously, we were surrounded by a whole band of your typical ‘crunchy’ mums who dress their kids entirely in shades of brown and allow them out of the house without seeing either a brush or a flannel, but we had fun nonetheless.

The problem came, however, when someone pulled out an animal book and turned to a page bearing an image of a chimpanzee. She asked the kid to identify the animal and when he couldn’t she proclaimed “It’s a MONKEY!”. It took every ounce of strength for me to not rip the book from her hands and say “IT’S NOT A MONKEY, IT’S A FUCKING APE!”, but stop myself I did, not least of all to relieve my friend of the embarrassment of being seen in public with an utter lunatic. That was almost a week ago and it still keeps playing on my mind; I’m also not ashamed to admit that I’ve sporadically been checking with BB to ensure that she knows that a chimpanzee is an ape (yes, she knows the difference!).

What also keeps popping into my head though, is the question of WHY it matters so much to me? That other kid could quite happily navigate its entire life without needing to know that monkeys and apes are different creatures but it really matters to me that BB knows what is right. I think it stems from growing up being told that I was a clever child. When you’re “clever”, there’s a lot of pressure on you to be right and KNOW THINGS because it’s  just expected that you will. I also remember being mocked fairly mercilessly whenever I got something wrong; I was literally NEVER allowed to forget the fact that I mispronounced “Che Guevara” during a game of Trivial Pursuit at the age of about 7 and it was used as something to mock me with until I was almost 30. Even now, if Husband (my most trusted ally) tells me that I’ve got something wrong, the shame burns in me even though he’s never mocked or been derisive. I HATE appearing to be wrong or misinformed and I think this is why I expect others to be the same.

In the grand scheme of things, spelling and grammar may not be super important to someone else, nor might the differences between monkeys and apes or any other spectrum of (probably useless) knowledge that I’ve got squirreled away, but try as I might I just cannot stop caring about it all. Facebook still gives me rage almost every day because of stupid errors on memes and status udates and I still have a reputation of being a total Nazi about it all. As much as I’d love to be the person who’s known for being the funniest or most caring, I think we’ve gone past that point know and I’ll forever be known as that woman who judges people for their apostrophe usage. And, I think I’m okay with that.

Tell me I’m not alone! I can’t be the only person to whom these things matter a little more than they should?! Leave me a comment below (and I PROMISE I won’t be judging your spelling!).

 

The Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Selling Groups

Facebook selling groupsIn times of austerity, it’s no great surprise that online selling of new and second hand goods becomes more popular than ever. Everyone is looking to make a little more money and the great British public does love a bargain! These days, selling on eBay seems to be less profitable than ever – once listing fees, selling fees, PayPal fees and postage are taken out of whatever you make on an item, it’s almost impossible to make a profit on anything, so more and more sellers are turning to the next best thing – Facebook selling groups.

Enterprising folk are making selling groups, of which there are literally thousands on Facebook, so that people can advertise their goods and save themselves the fees and postage that eBay likes to extract. It can be a tricky world to navigate, so I thought I’d give you a quick beginner’s guide to how to effectively use Facebook selling groups.

1. Join as many groups as you can

To increase the likelihood of selling things, it’s good to join as many groups as you can. They’re usually listed geographically, and the easiest way to find them is to go to the search box at the top of Facebook and type in your town name, followed by ‘selling’. However, if you find your timeline overrun by selling posts, to the extent that you can barely pick out statuses from friends and family, it is possible to ‘unfollow’ the group but remain a member. Simply click on the arrow in the top right hand of any post from the group and click ‘Unfollow’. You’ll be able to visit the group at your leisure without feeling bombarded, but be warned, you may miss out on a bargain if it doesn’t pop up on your timeline!

2. Read the rules

There will often be a pinned post or a link in the sidebar, listing the rules for posting in each particular group. Some groups have no rules and often state that in the group name, but others are closely administered and like you to post in a certain way. Posting outside of these rules is often the quickest way to have your post removed, so save yourself the effort of writing out your post only to have it deleted by brushing up on the rules before you post.

3. Special Interest

It’s often also worth searching for special interest groups, relating to what you want to sell. So far, I’ve come across specific groups for selling baby items, maternity clothes, plus sized clothes, baby slings and wraps, pushchairs and many others besides. Often, these will have a more far-flung member base, so postage might be necessary, or payment via PayPal, but they can also be a great way to sell a slightly more niche item.

4. Etiquette

It’s usually the case, in these groups, that the first person to comment on a selling post gets first refusal. Even if a person asks a question, they should be at the top of the list when it comes to who gets to buy your item and passing people over without giving them a chance to commit to an item is frowned upon. Once someone has committed to buy something, you may notice people commenting after to ask if they can be ‘in line’. this basically means that they want to be in with a chance to buy from you if the first person pulls out. As long as you stay within the timeline of people who’ve expressed an interest, you should be fine.

5. Acronyms

When I first joined these groups, I spent ages wondering why people were signing off their posts with the name “Tia”, when their name was clearly something else. Obviously, I’d missed the fact that TIA means ‘thanks in advance’. You may also see OOS, which means ‘on other sites’ as an indicator that, even if you’re first to comment on the thread you’re watching, someone may have still got in before you on a different page. There are a few of these acronyms knocking about and the best advice I can give is to ask if you don’t know what they mean!

6. Bartering and Payment

Bartering is usually absolutely fine on these pages and many people will actually ask for ‘offers’, rather than explicitly asking a price for an item. Payment is usually cash on collection unless otherwise stated.

7. Safety

This is obviously common sense, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you’re either giving your address to a complete stranger or going somewhere unknown to collect something, so ALWAYS go with another person and never agree to meet someone unless it’s a very public place and you have someone with you. I never buy or sell without my Husband being in the house or car with me and I implore you to follow the same rule.

8. Make sure your goods are salable

Ensure that everything you sell is clean and in good working order, unless otherwise stated. I’m currently selling an oven for spares or repair and it’s CLEARLY stated that it’s in need of a good clean and doesn’t work properly. A lot of the people buying from these sites are doing so because they don’t have a lot of money and are simply looking for things to make their lives better as cheaply as possible, so the least you can do is make sure that things are in the best condition they can be.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask

Unless stated otherwise in the rules of the group, many of them also allow ‘WANTED’ posts. It’s perfectly acceptable to make a post asking for a particular item and stating a budget. You just might find the very thing you’re for, and also prompt someone to make some money off of an item that’s just been laying around, taking up space.

10. Delivery not included?

In the vast majority of cases, items are collection only, however on some local groups people do consider delivering an item, perhaps for a couple of quid in petrol money. If you’re buying a large item, however, you will often find a “man with a van” lurking around in the group, who can collect an item and deliver it to you for a fraction of what it would cost to hire a van. Admins of the group often know of a person who does this and it’s always worth an ask.

Are you a fan of Facebook selling groups? Have you grabbed a major bargain or sold something that you never thought you’d shift? I’d love to hear your stories, along with any other tips or tricks that you’ve picked up along the way.

In The Wake of the General Election. #GE2015

It’s been a funny old weekend. I woke up on Friday morning before 5, feeling like I’d had concrete poured into my stomach and couldn’t get back to sleep again because my brain was racing. HOW could this have happened? How could the country have voted the Conservatives in again for another 5 years? Over the course of the morning, my fear turned to anger. I couldn’t see how a vote for Blue was anything other than self-serving and utterly lacking compassion and social conscience and so I made a declaration. I took to Facebook and wrote this:

Capture12

Yeah. I know. Pretty divisive.

My reasoning behind such a statement was that I genuinely cannot see how I have a single thing in common with someone who would willingly vote the Conservatives back into government. I can’t get my head around real, actual people thinking that the Tories can do anything but serious harm to this country. Anyone who can look at how ill and disabled people have been forced back into work, how the NHS is desperately over stretched, how the rich have been given tax cuts while the poorest of us are being fined for having too many bedrooms in our homes, are not people I’m happy to call my friends.

In the following hours, I had a lot of backlash. I had people calling me names, suggesting that I was ‘pathetic’ and ‘small-minded’, I had people outright challenging me to stand by my statement and then having tantrums when I did. I had another blogger (who, I must say, I really barely know) start a whole new thread on her own Facebook page, inviting people to agree with her on how despicable I was for removing her as a friend because of our conflicting views.

All in all, I’ve now got 20 less friends through Facebook than I had this time on Thursday. I know because before I posted the status above I took a note of my numbers, just for the sake of science. Many of them are people I’ve known since school, girls who’ve known me since I was 11 years old, and some are other bloggers. People were really quick to tell me that I was wrong and a few tried to defend their reasons for voting Tory, saying that they thought the Tories represented what was best for them and their families. Hardly anyone tried to engage me in a reasonable debate, rather choosing to call me a bigot and an idiot.

I’ve got to say, I don’t think I’ve ever been more disillusioned than I am now. For me, the Conservatives represent everything that is wrong with this country. I simply cannot get my head and my heart to reconcile the fact that so many people are willing to see the death of the NHS, the repeal of the Human Rights Act and so many other key tenets of what makes this country great. All I can see is that the people who have voted Tory have happily taken from the state, in the form of healthcare, emergency services, education and cushy Government funded jobs, and then pulled the ladder up behind them. What’s that old phrase? Oh yeah…”I’m alright, Jack”.

One person, someone I’d previously liked and respected, told me she’d voted Tory because if Labour had got in, the proposed Mansion Tax would have prevented her and her Husband from buying the lavish new property they’d had their eye on, while another said that, because her Husband was a Letting Agent, the Labour proposal to cap letting agent fees (fees which have got so high as to be utterly prohibitive in recent years, forcing families into unregulated slum housing) would mean they could no longer afford their lifestyle. If that’s not a massive “FUCK YOU” to the rest of our country, I don’t know what is.

Being willing to watch families stand in queues at food banks because they can’t afford to eat and old ladies dying of hypothermia because they can’t afford to heat their homes, for the sake of your own prosperity, shows a complete lack of humanity.

I’ve done a lot of soul-searching over the past few days to try to work out how seemingly decent people can so happily drop the axe on everyone else for their own gain. My poor Husband (a paid-up member of The Green Party) has been a sounding board for most of it, and although his politics are in line with my own, he’s able to be a little less ‘black and white’ about things than I am. He’s of the opinion that good people can still vote Tory and that there’s been too much misinformation by the press, manipulating the moderate middle to believe that the Tories have their best interests at heart. Hard working people who don’t have time to research policies, people who come home and read the Murdoch-poisoned rags and believe what they’re seeing.

I can’t say that I’m entirely buoyed by the thought that, of the people who voted Tory, half of them did so out of selfishness and greed and the other half did so because of their utter lack of research. I’ve only been on this planet for 30 short years, but I think it’s safe to say that this has been the most information-rich General Election to ever have been run. There have been websites inviting people to test their opinions against policies to see where their actual values should lead their affiliations and yet people are still voting blindly. I’ve heard untold people say that they voted for the Tories because their parents did, or because their Husbands did. Sister Suffragette, I think not…Mrs. Banks

I’m not suggesting that every single person who voted Tory did so out of either stupidity or selfishness, but not one person yet has managed to give me a reason for their vote which I’ve been able to get my head around, or reconcile with them also being a good person.

The one good thing that’s come of this is that I’ve sorted my own political affiliations in my head. In the run up, I was wavering between Labour and Green, but ultimately went for Labour as I had strong faith in Milliband and his genuine socialist views. In the wake of him leaving the party, I’ve come to the conclusion that New Labour isn’t quite the socialist party across the board that I had hoped it was, and as of this week will be a paid up member of the Green Party. There’s a meeting in a coffee shop locally next week which Husband and I are hoping to attend as I’m done with being an keyboard warrior, I want to get out and actually act. I’m also now part of a few online groups of women who are banding together as a sisterhood against Conservative rule. I genuinely think we’ve got the power to make a huge change.

I was also hugely relieved to see the protests in London, despite ALL of the major news sources refusing to give it coverage. In the run-up to the election, I actually said to Husband “there’ll be riots if the Tories get in”, and then had to face the sinking realisation that if they DID get in it would be because the majority of people wanted them in power and therefore probably wouldn’t be unhappy about it. So to see that there were plenty of others as unhappy as me has given me hope, albeit small in the face of another 5 years of right-wing oppression.

To the 20 friends I’ve lost in the wake of this election: I’m sorry that things had to be this way. I’m sure you did what you thought was right for YOU. Unfortunately, I’m more interested in what’s right for everybody and I just cannot carry on pretending that it’s okay to screw everyone else over for your own gain.

If you’re interested, there’s a list below of posts and articles that I’ve found really interesting and informative over the past few days. Please also link me to anything you’ve found useful in the comments below:

Chrisopher Everard: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200525108166139&set=a.1179223136677.19518.1711111543&type=1

Dissapointed Idealist: https://disidealist.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/that-wasnt-an-election-result-it-was-a-5-year-prison-sentence/

Douglas Hine: http://dougald.nu/the-only-way-is-down-18-notes-on-the-uk-election/

Green Party Women: http://greenpartywomen.org.uk/news/2015/04/10/green-party-candidates-campaign-to-lift-ban-on-job-share-mps-begins/

The Independant: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/every-major-british-political-party–except-the-conservatives–currently-led-by-a-woman-10238390.html

The Ramblings of a Formerly Rock and Roll Mum:  http://www.rocknrollmum.com/2015/05/general-election-outcome-my-dads-thoughts.html

Bright Green: http://bright-green.org/2015/05/09/ge2015-left-you-feeling-1-dejected-and-disappointed-2-exhausted-3-relieved-read-on/

Another Angry Voice: http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/asset-stripping-bankrupt-britain.html and http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/austerity-is-con.html

Use Your Illusion – Parts I and II

No, this isn’t a post about Guns ‘n’ Roses, although I do bloody love that band. November Rain is still one of my favourite songs, and I wish I could go back to the 80’s and 90’s to visit Slash’s L.A. house which was more or less turned into a giant, walk-in vivarium. But I digress…

I was checking my Facebook this morning when I came across a status update from my best friend, which read as follows:

After I stopped rolling around my living room floor, guffawing from the depths of my toes, I stopped to think. Isn’t it funny to think how we come across to others? Now, knowing my darling bestie, there could well be an element of sarcasm in there, but assuming she’s being serious, she’s got a properly demented view of my life!

On paper, I might seem ‘together’. I have two jobs, a three-year-old, various writing commitments, yadda yadda….no more than anyone else has to contend with really, but I suppose it’s more ‘obvious’  because I choose to broadcast it all via my blog and various social media profiles. But what those profiles don’t tell you is that I have a pile of washing up to my waist, I have a lawn full of dog poo that I need to go and pick up, Sausage gets bored with asking me to get her dressed on non-nursery days and often takes herself off to her room to search for something to wear that isn’t pyjamas, and I regularly leave my washing up until we have nothing left to eat or drink with.

So you see, while I talk about the good bits, the boring day-today bits or areas where I’m shamefully slack often go unmentioned. And don’t forget, Husband works from home too, which means he takes care of the shopping, dog walking, collecting Sausage from nursery and much else besides!

I should also add here, that I have ONE child. Bestie has THREE. And that’s not just any three kids, she has three boys under three, two of whom are twins! How the woman isn’t entirely grey is beyond me! (Here’s where I enter a disclaimer and say that I adore the boys and want to eat them because they’re so gorgeous, I just can’t imagine how difficult it would be to have three boys so close in age).

But it’s all about how we project ourselves, isn’t it? I’ve written a few posts in the past about honesty through social media (here and here) and despite that fact that we put more of ourselves out there than ever before through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, StumbleUpon (delete as appropriate), we still only let on what we want people to know. I mean, I get it, no one cares about the mundane parts like that fact that I often spend all day in pyjamas if I have nowhere to go, or that I eat too many crisps, but at the same time, it’s impossible to get a full view of a persons day-to-day tooings and froings, despite how much we all talk about ourselves.

It made me think that we might be holding ourselves up against this perceived yardstick of how successful other people are, when in fact the standards that we’re imagining are actually impossible to reach. So I’ll go first, I’ll be honest. If I can get away with it, I’m really fucking lazy. When I have a day off, I like nothing better than sitting on the couch with Sausage, or catching up with my favourite TV programmes and more often than not, housework is the farthest thing from my mind. I don’t know if I feel better or worse for getting that dirty little secret out there, but I hope it might make people feel better when they take a totally skewed look at my life and come away feeling bad about themselves.

(Dedicated to Jamillah, who is officially SuperWoman, despite what she may think)

Facebook is making me die inside.

I have a bit of a Facebook problem. I spend far too much time checking my Facebook, time when I should be, you know, parenting Sausage or doing housework or something. I’m more than happy to admit that my main motivation for having a Facebook page is my innate nosiness. I love to look at other people’s pictures, read snippets of what’s going on in their lives.

I have 343 online friends, the majority of whom I know in real life…well, sort of. I mean, how well do you really know the girls you went to school with ten years ago? There are quite a few people who I went to school with who I was really happy to get back in touch with, people I truly value but whose lives took such different paths to mine that we lost touch, but on the whole, I barely even knew these girls ten years ago. Now I wish them happy birthday every year and read about their pet cat getting scurvy.

Another little addiction for me is the ‘like’ button. I’m definitely the type of person who gets a kick out of the immediate gratification you get when you update your status and people click ‘like’. I mean let’s face it, why do we update our statuses if we don’t want people to read it, like it and relate to it? It makes us feel valid, doesn’t it?

But why the hell do I need someone who I haven’t seen since primary school ‘liking’ some glib remark I’ve made about Cbeebies to make me feel valid? Does that not say some really negative things about my personality, or is it just all part of the human condition, the condition which made that kid Zuckerberg worth $6.9 billion at the age of 26 (good God, he’s my age? *retches*) So, it’s obviously not just me, is it?

The trouble is, I’m a pedant. I don’t claim that every sentence I write is beautifully composed, with impeccable spelling and grammar (though I do try). But the ‘Facebook insight’ into other people has made me seriously question the level of education in this country. And I’m not just talking about the odd typo, I have at least one ‘friend’ who I’ve only just discovered is virtually illiterate. I’m dead serious. I try not to get too enraged about it all, but when another friend ends EVERY sentence with at least three exclamation marks, one has to wonder what the hell it is that they’re getting so excited about!!! That is the part of Facebook which makes me DIE INSIDE. I check everything I write and go back to delete and re-write whole statuses if I think they don’t sound right, or have a typo. How can others not give a shit that what they’ve written may as well be in Sanscrit?

The other thing that is sometimes lacking on Facebook  is a sense of context. Last year, I joined an online group created by people who were taking the same Open University course as me and I thought it would be really handy to be able to discuss the assignments and issues with a group of my peers. I also received ‘Friend Requests’ from a few of the people in the group, and happily accepted. We were a mixed bunch of varying ages, sexes and circumstances, but we fired up some great debates and helped each other along the way. Then, one day a discussion started about a particular issue which was being played out in the media and based on my (what I thought were fairly standard, by no means radical) comments, two of the women in the group decided to delete the whole conversation, delete me from their friends list and actually go to the effort of blocking me from ever seeing their profiles again.

If these women had known me, if they’d actually thought about the context of the conversation, they would have realised that what may have seemed like a reactionary comment was actually quite a reasoned and reasonable statement to make. Or maybe they wouldn’t. That’s the thing with Facebook, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Either way, their blocking me was no great loss and I’ve managed to get through life quite happily without their judgement. But really, doesn’t it all seem like hard work? Making sure we don’t offend people we don’t even know? I have enough trouble censoring myself for the people I know really well!

All I know is, I’ve been trying to lay off of Facebook a bit lately. I’ve not completely quit as I know there are people who I’d really miss. But on the whole, it’s losing it’s appeal. My cousin was actually brave enough to delete her whole profile, an action of which I will forever be in awe.

But at least there’s always Twitter.

*UPDATE* – I deleted the illiterate friend. I know that seems harsh, because I think she’s probably quite a nice person, but I don’t want my blood pressure to go up every time I read her status.

Also, does anyone else have *those* friends, you know, the ones who say deliberately veiled provocative things like “Phoebe is spending her afternoons sunbathing in the nude in her garden”. You just know they’re sitting there going “Ooh, how can I get people to think about my tits, without actually coming out and saying “hey everybody, think about my tits!” and thus garner an extra molecule of attention out of my friends?”. Or those ones who invent a personality for themselves, which you’re pretty sure doesn’t exist outside of Facebook?

Yeah, those people make me feel a bit nauseous.

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