The seven sins of social media

I don’t want to potentially sabotage my career as something new-fangled and vaguely virtual, but I can’t hold this in any longer.

Social media is going too far. Going online is becoming more infuriating by the day. Facebook used to be a place for judging old classmates and Twitter used to be a place for posting your damning verdicts on old classmates. Everyone was happy. But now, big businesses have cottoned on and they’re ruining the fun.

Where the hell did this all come from? I feel like some spoilt CEO’s kid went ‘hey pops- I bet you don’t even know what a hashtag is, do ya?‘ and in a mid-life crisis CEO daddy went out and paid someone to tell him what Twitter was for, and he just got a bit carried away.

So here is my definitive list of seven things social media needs to stop doing, right now.

7. Listicles, listciles everywhere.

Never, in the thrilling history of lists, has any industry written so many. Go ahead and google any given number and the words ‘social media’. I’d bet my bottom dollar that the first, oh, I dunno, seven pages, are dedicated to “Nine social media essentials” or “Thirty brands with a great social media strategy”. There is a new list every day to detail the impact some real social media engagement could have on your customer’s brand awareness or client facing visibility. Never has so little been said so extensively.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 22.15.14

I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE THAT NUMBER, GOOGLE. (The big long one. I know how to pronounce ‘twelve’. Shut up.)

6. Badly used memes.

I lurk on reddit. I’m obsessed with Tumblr. I read the Onion, check Oatmeal, watch Vine. I’m no special snowflake, neither- millions of other people do too. Millions of people, excluding, specifically, the social media managers of big brands. It is baffling how a meme is created collaboratively by the creativity and consensus of an unnamed virtual collective, all finding that particular penguin especially socially awkward, but the humour and warmth/wit of these tiny creations TOTALLY BYPASSES THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE MARKETING MEMES.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 22.09.29


5. Weird newsjacking.

Newsjacking, for those of your who live outside of the buzzword world, is when you jump on a bandwagon created by some news. It can be sweet or funny if the link between news and company is in any way relevant (a la Mothercare being psyched about the Royal Baby). Unfortunately, many brands seem to think world disasters, deaths or any manner of tragedy is fair game. Bizarre really- who would have thought a devastating hurricane would be the perfect opportunity to sell overpriced lycra hotpants?

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 22.41.58

Dear American Apparel. No one is bored during a natural disaster. They are worried for their homes, loved ones and lives, not how much they can save on spangly disco pants. You attempt to be edgy and relevant has only managed to piss everyone off. Is your mind literally made out of mud and spandex? Sincerely, everyone.

4. Inter-company bants

Every so often, one company will talk to another company. Like they’re a peoples. Like Tesco, Asda and Waitrose are in fact just a bunch of guys, hanging round, tweeting each other grocery jokes. Sometimes it’s kinda fun, but some attempts at brand banter are just a little bit too desperado. Brands talking to each other is usually a sign of them trying to get noticed by BuzzFeed, if they’re big, but it is also a sign of some poor community manager holding out for some attention.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 22.14.20


Hey you- friendly social media user who has already conveniently ‘liked’ or followed our brand page! We would like you-yes you- to not only be witness to a stream of corporate conciousness, but ALSO to be coerced into actively partaking in our social media bubble! Does that sound exactly like what you should be spending your valuable time on? It does?! Well come on down, because we have oodles of posts for you to pointlessly engage with. Hooray!


The worst bit about this Play.com post is that ‘liking’ the Facebook post has absolutely nothing to do with entering their competition. Nothing.

2. Virtual ‘Chugging’ (charity mugging)

Charities should use social media. It’s an important way to raise awareness, chat to volunteers, etc.  All agreed? Cool. Brands, however, should not use charity to garner social media attention. You know why? BECAUSE IT’S UNETHICAL, THAT’S WHY, but also because it’s a bit creepy.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 22.13.18

Durex are here implying that they help prevent AIDS, possibly the most infamous and horrible pandemic since the plague, if you- the unassuming audience- spread their name around for them. You know, the ol’ you scratch our back, we’ll fix AIDS. Which begs the question- if you knew you also had enough condoms spare/loads left over from your JLS over branding, why on earth should Jonny Blogs have to click a button before you actually do anything?

That aside, there is a whole world of pain attached to ‘clicktivism’. Surely this kind of irresponsible marketing campaign only adds to the feeling that by pressing a meaningless internet button you’re helping, instead of, you know, actually bloody helping. Anyway, I digress. Here is a relevant video.


 Nothing. Infuriates me more. Than pointless. Fucking. Hashtags.




Do you think someone is going to USE this hashtag? Or casually search for it? Do you understand that hashtags are supposed to be a way of people following discussions over time? Do you think that anyone in their right mind is going to tweet that they are going to #SwitchToLumia?? Or say they are on their way to #DiscoverDenim- as though they’d never discovered denim before??? Or that for any reason after battling with your so-called ‘gamechanging’ COFFEE MAKER to make a brew is going to joyously tweet about their #NESPRESSO???? Do you think we are all idiots? Blindly crunching out company hashtags like content creating consumer machines? IS THERE NO DIGNITY LEFT IN SOCIAL MEDIA???

*breathes deeply*. So there you have it. Things I hereby swear to never do on social media, and thigns that will cause me to instantly dislike your brand. I’m glad that’s settled. Now, I think I need a lie down. A lie down as far away from a wifi connection as I can physically manage.

(P.S. Relevant article here.)


When London breaks

You know how when it snows, everyone gets ready to make those “Southern pansy” jokes? The ones about how oop North, we rally through full force gales, shimmy over snow drifts and pick our way through the perilous icy peaks to get to the mines, but when a single snowflake lands outside Buckingham Palace, every Londoner goes into a full-scale meltdown as though they’d never seen the sky deposit such an unearthly matter on their beloved city before, and as a result they spend all day blankly refusing to go to work?

Yeah. I used to make those.

I lived on the edge of the Pennines for a year, where, in winter, it was safer to sit on your bum and slide one mile down the ice-covered road into oncoming traffic than to risk breaking your back by walking down said hill- and I still never missed my bus. I used to slide to college, voluntarily or otherwise, every day with only a few complaints and a twisted ankle. I felt my perils were just a simple part of winter, and coping with it was a simple job of getting on with your life despite external forces.

I used to look at Londoners, whimpering over the weather forecast, and think that they were pathetic. That was then. That was before I experienced The TFL Tube Strike.

I’m not sure if you noticed (…) but London just had a public transport freak out. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the situation, so do your fact-finding elsewhere, but I do know that for two days, it messed with my head.

The night before the strike, I’d been pretty smug. Meh, I thought, ignoring all warnings, this will just be another thing that Londoners meltdown about. Oop Norf, we rally through full force gales to get t’werk…(cont.). That was before what should have been an hour and a half round trip took me SIX AND A HALF HOURS.

I saw five people crying. I saw three arguments. I saw queues of one hundred people trying to bustle onto a single decker bus. I was in Waterloo East when it had to be evacuated and I was in gridlocked traffic for so long that I gave up and decided to walk the remaining stretch in the windy drizzle.  I was on the only central-bound train from Clapham that thoughtful strangers decided to fart on. And you know the worst bit? I didn’t even have it that bad.

I’ve got a new found respect for Londoners. I used to think that the transport-drama headlines were hyperbolic, and simply proof that people were softer down south. But having experienced just a taste of what it’s like to be in a crowd of one thousand lost and late commuters, I sort of get it now. Because back home, when there’s a transport crisis, we’re not battling with crowds of hundreds of people who are getting in your way, or knocking you over to get on the bus. And there’s certainly no one farting into your handbag.


New Year Assholes

I’ve been struggling with something for the past nine days. It’s not been the biggest struggle I’ve faced- still not managed twerking- but nonetheless it’s been in my peripheral vision for over a week now. Like when you fall asleep wearing a contact lense and when you wake you’ve got a feeling it’s slipped round to the other side of your eye. Gross, internal, and bloody annoying.

So I’ll just come out with it.

What is up with the New Year Resolution snobbery?

There seems to have been a trend over the last few years to staunchly mock and deride the very concept of a New Year’s Resolution. Silly humans!  cry the mockers (at every fucking opportunity), if you’re unhappy with your ridiculous life, you don’t need a set date to change it! You are puny in your attempts to better yourself. The coming of a new year ought to have NO SIGNIFICANCE whatsoever to your desire to quit smoking/lose a stone/learn Arabic- and if it does, it is somehow more meaningless than trying to do said resolution in June! Or September! Or any month other than January!!!

Well, mockers. The tables have turned, because I am here to deride YOU.

Page One

What is wrong, exactly, with having a new year resolution? What possible harm does it have for people to anchor positive life changes around a particular date? A date they can share with others, a date that by it’s very nature marks a new beginning? What I think has happened here is someone, probably Richard Dawkins/someone equally derisive-for-the-sake-of-it, spouted out some poo about the foolishness of the idiot humans who wholeheartedly want to change their life/outlook/health out of some sort of defence system for not wanting to change their own life/outlook/health, and their pessimism has spread like a snarky STD in a Magaluf bed and breakfast.

I for one will not be silenced. I am resolving to make my resolutions, with or without your approval, naysayers. In fact, as an act of spite, I have written a five page- FIVE PAGE- resolution detailing exactly how I want to better myself in the next twelve months. Every drop of ink that went into the 2014 edition of Shit I Want To Improve is not only going to become my bible, it is also intended as a tiny, -ink-drop-sized slap in the face of every person who thinks that it’s okay to chortle at “fatties” taking over gyms in January, because “let’s face it, they’ll be back in front of the fridge in February”, or leave patronising comments on someone’s Facebook declaration that it’s “a New Year and a New ME”. Ya’ll need to start being nicer. Incidentally, that’s on my resolution list. Page four.


Blog Alpha: The Review

Alpha is over. No more anger-inducing talks. No more soul searching with strangers. HTB Church will probably unfollow me on Twitter (I’m currently only at two degrees of separation from TIMES man of the year Pope Francis because of this strategic follow, so this is a genuine shame). My ten week delve into the Christian faith has come to an end.

It’s been a bumpy ride. At best, inviting and revelatory, and at worst upsetting or boring. I’ve questioned and probed and cried and learnt. I’ve solidified what had previously been an unwavering agnosticism to an unwavering atheism, much to relief of some friends and to the slight disappointment of others.

My initial experience of Alpha was pretty detached. I thought I’d wander in, take part in the conversations and free dinner, scuttle off home again and when it had all ended, I’d be able to put a badge of religious acceptance onto my brownie-sash and maybe even have cranked up a few views on the newly reformed blog.

Alpha Course 2013

I was convinced that the only people that would go to a Christianity conversion course were probably nutters in the first place (excluding me, naturally. I was there for investigative reasons), so I was initially wary of the beaming hosts and carefully planned ‘I used to be an atheist too!’ talks that frequented Alpha. Then they started making sense.

Basically, I got into it. The community, the songs. Despite the weekend being really overwhelming (not sure I’ll ever see Parseltongue in the same way), I loved it. Gorgeous scenery, thought provoking talks, surrounded by friends and food. It’s difficult to meet people in London, and Alpha was a ready made group of people willing to ask about your week, get stuck into meaty topics, and share a trip to the beach with. In some ways I felt like I was using Alpha, religious exploration aside, just to make friends.

Another game changer was how it’s affected my relationships. A lot of my friends, who form my closest and most precious relationships, are Christians. Before the weekend I cynically assumed they’d all be rooting for my conversion, all hoping I’d be “saved”. It turns out that that’s just a myth about Alpha, that the number one goal is a selfish battle to convert unwilling passers-by. It’s not. It’s a chance for people who are interested and open to Christianity to learn (or re-learn) the basics. I never felt pressured once during Alpha. I never felt pressured by any of my Christian friends.

What I did feel is that I’d patronised my friends. I’d put their belief system in a box, making assumptions about it, then stomped on in hoping to find out what the tricks were, what the catch was. What was it about this Christianity, this HTB Church, that was turning my normal friends into something else? Something I couldn’t relate to? How dare this religious belief put any matter of distance between me and my relationships!

Well, the joke (and relief) is on me. There is no distance between me and my friends because of our beliefs. Not really. We all love each other, we were friends before Alpha and we still will be. I was silly to think otherwise (serious note: I’m sorry to these friends for being such a bloody drama queen about it. Not that you expected anything less, amiright?).

It’s been kind of weird enjoying being part of a community without holding an intrinsic belief that the rest of the community holds. But there you have it, that’s what happened. I find churches and religion much less sinister now, though it’s still not for me. I won’t be going to church, but I will treat people who do with more understanding. I’m certainly more aware of how similar people are, both believers and non-believers alike. We’re just rattling around. That’s been the most comforting thing to come out of it all.