Things to read this January (and why scrolling social media sucks)

I don’t actually mind using the internet. I know, it’s a revelation to me too. Don’t get me wrong, our relationship hasn’t been simple – often tumultuous (deleting my Instagram profile once before, removing the Twitter app from my phone once a week, and no storage-sapping Facebook app, thank you) – but all in all, there are so many opportunities to learn, and laugh at great Vines and, well, post your writing to a technically infinite audience (a dozen or so readers per post still technically falls between 0 and infinity, so hey). The good times on the internet have included:

  1. An article of mine being published on the CBBC Newsround website in 2006. I wrote about my experience as an extra on an Eastenders episode and I remember feeling like the next step was obviously Jacqueline Wilson-level fame (how the BBC didn’t snap me up in primary school for brand loyalty alone I’ll never know)!
  2. Streaming every single episode of Mad Men during a tricky break-up. Thank you, thank you, internet.
  3. As an actual child, firing up the only programme we had on our PC besides Word and Minesweeper: Microsoft Encarta. For those of you not acquainted with the software, it was an encyclopedia you could download off a CD-ROM, like a simplified Wikipedia; a way to actually learn useful things without having to sift through a clickable hot take angle first.
  4. Having my first semi-viral moment on Twitter with a photo of a moon emoji perfectly placed over a Potato Smiley on a plate of more Potato Smileys which was retweeted by the Moon Emoji account.

(Btw, I just tried finding it for about five seconds before I realised that this is exactly what I’m writing against – wasting sweet and precious time on the internet – but you have to trust the fact that I got around 500 RETWEETS AND I LIVED OFF THAT KINDA-FAME FOR MONTHS.)

You know what doesn’t show up on this list? Scrolling. I hate scrolling. Scrolling is not only harsh on the eyes, but you don’t retain any of the information seen during scrolling – nothing good has ever come from it. We should totally just stab scrolling! I’m going to write this because I know I’m not alone in this: a way I have been waking up for the past year at least has been by turning off an alarm (on my phone, or on my radio, but the following action is almost always the same) and scrolling through the news/Twitter/Instagram on my phone. At first it started as a way to get ‘up to date with the nuyooz!’ as I tried to figure out how to be a journalist, but it turns out scan-reading depressing tweets about #MeToo, even more depressing tweets about Donald Trump’s apparent good health and (pretty funny) tweets showing people slipping over on ice or whatever is not the way to a) be a good journalist or b) greet the new day.

Therefore, here are some things I have read this week that I reckon are actually worth your time to read all the way through to the end. In the meantime, I’m going to group all of my social media apps in a folder on my phone called Scrolling Sucks to encourage me to only log in when I’ve got something to say, a picture to post or have something actively active to do on there. Scrolling is so passive, and I have an ever growing Google Docs list of books I’d really like to read (this is a different post entirely). Here are some non-paper things for you, though:

1) Money Diary: A Freelance Writer Living In London On 14k

OK, OK, this has been doing the rounds on social media a bit this week because it’s the most lolz Money Diary yet and Ms Anonymous is an absolute dude for buying £12.50 eggs and £70 coke on NYE solely for the reason that it only comes but once a year. I read it all the way through to the end because, while not freelance at the moment, the self-deprecating quips mirror the tone of my money anxiety annoyingly derived from the time I *was* freelance, silently totting up each and every bus fare and foodstuffs in my head ’til it’s all I could ever think about. Everyone tells me I’m “so great with money!”, which I think is true, but some days I walk four miles across London to get home when I *can* actually afford a £1.50 bus fare home. I have not ever once suggested getting in an Uber – unless someone else can assure me they’re paying – so while I am *good* with money, I am absolutely terrified of it, too.

2) Editor’s Letter, Utopia by Tavi Gevinson

I’m a die-hard Rookie fan and direct every single person who speaks to me towards it because there is so much accessible, smart, funny content on there that is Definitely Not For Clicks. It shaped so much of my teenage years as it launched when I was 14, and I read it religiously three times a day until I was 18 or so. Tavi Gevinson has never disappointed me in that she is only three weeks older than me yet is so incredibly smart and perceptive. Imagine my joy, then, as I read her January editor’s letter for Rookie that discusses several ideas, beginning with the idea that the role of the internet has changed so massively, and is now so much about money-making click-y stuff, that it’s OK to want to find alternative ways to have thoughts/learn stuff/document life if being online is becoming more and more uncomfortable for you (holla!)

TG: ‘Whatever you need to do to create that space for yourself, do it this year. Do it now. Fight the new pace of thinking designed to keep us in Facebook fights and make Facebook more money. Resist getting so wound up by every story that you accelerate off a cliff into apathy. Lengthen the circuit between a candid thought and your anticipation of how it will be received, a circuit constantly shrinking in fear. Try your ideas out with people you are not desperate to impress, so there’s less ego clouding your discussion.’

It’s not all bad for the internet in this piece though, as Tavi writes about how the internet, as it was in 2011, was a wonderful place for the origins of Rookie: ‘I find it endlessly amazing that teens—particularly those whose IRL communities don’t offer such a space—can now talk openly about what it’s like to be living out what you’re told should be the best years of your life, while your brain is still developing and you’re more insecure than ever and sex is a new thing but you feel incredibly unsexy, and “just be yourself” is something adults say, not teens, and it’s never actually brought any reassurance.’

She also brings forth so many other ideas that I’m not going to plagiarise here (as I’ll do so badly) but I’ll instead direct you once more to the damn thing.

3) Perfectionism is destroying the mental health of my millennial generation

And this by the great writer Daisy Buchanan on why perfectionism isn’t cool whatsoever and is actually making us ill. Scrolling (look, scrolling!) Instagram is something that ‘intellectually, we know is all a lovely lie, but emotionally it’s a struggle. Feelings seem like facts.’

(And here’s ONE paper thing – I’m currently reading Mark Greif’s collection of essays Against Everything ((which Tavi coincidentally references in her January Rookie piece too)). Would highly recommend if you like interesting reading on subjects such as the sexualisation of youth, the rise and rise of YouTube and learning how to rap as a white person. Oh, and hipsters.)

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Feminism is not a club. Anyone who believes in equality, choice and freedom can be one – 14/11/2014

Lion’s mane jellyfish, August 1973 - National Geographic.
Lion’s mane jellyfish, August 1973 – National Geographic.

Okay, okay, after a silly but necessary inclusion of that beautiful jellyfish- let’s talk about feminism. Obviously. I mean, obviously we must talk about feminism, because we’re in the fourth wave, and maybe we should just all surf that wave, rather than fight against that current, lest we risk drowning.

What a fantastic surfing analogy to begin this post! I don’t consider myself a TRULY terrible writer (she writes, after writing that comparison), but this issue for me is SO important, so forgive me if I come across a bit teary-eyed, blabbery, and occasionally biased, but I just needed to get some things straight. My realest struggle is not being able to find a single argument against why one *wouldn’t* choose to be a feminist in this modern day & age, because it’s so simple and OBVIOUS, surely?

I am a feminist! I am a feminist! I am a feminist! I am a feminist! Feel free to say this doing a little dance, shout it in a nightclub at everyone who comes near you, in your Instagram bio, on t-shirts, at your little brothers and sisters, liked the Pied Piper of feminism.

There are no problems with this word, that’s the first thing we must DISPEL, my fellow insects called the human race, crawling on the planet’s face. I love language, because it holds so much power. It’s kind of like when the word friend, changes to BOYfriend. It’s a word! Haha! Lolz. Feminism is just a word. Yes, it has lots of weight, as it is so often misinterpreted and misunderstood, but if we keep saying it, over and over, it will become easier to admit that you ARE one (because, well DUH) and enable us to TALK about it more. For me, it is a magical word, because it is so empowering whilst causing lots of much-needed debate. It gets me so riled up, but feminism itself ALLOWS me to get riled up *and* write about it on the internet, on my own blog, which I am entitled to just as a man is, without the risk of being shot or imprisoned for it. Hooray! Feminism!

*aside* seeing as it’s just a word- how about we call it “gender equality” instead. Kind of like you can call your best friend, pal, chum, or matey – they all mean the same thing. The two words are interchangeably synonymous, and the definition of feminism is simply: the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. You knew that, though, of course. Not man-hating, just human-loving. Isn’t it a perfect ideal? I presume for those non-feminists, they fear how powerful this could be, and liberating for all. (yes, I’m looking at you boys.)

Emma Watson, spoke in her UN speech of how “If men don’t have to be aggressive, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive.” Guys are bound as much by gender stereotypes as we are, and perhaps the femin- part of the word feminism is what lots of men fear, as they haven’t been told that they can embrace their “feminine side”, for want of a better adjective – the things that are associated with being feminine, such as creativity, vulnerability, taking pride in appearance. Reading poetry. Liking musicals. You know.

Education is fundamental to this cause, and luckily, we live in a time with the GLORIOUS internet, and all these fantastic women writing about it (I’m looking at you rookiemag.com – which I can only thank and applaud for teaching me all I ever truly need know)

Unfortunately, the internet can spew out some hideous monsters, which encourage lad culture, and basically piss on everything the movement is trying to do. I was on @TheMenimist Twitter site yesterday, with a face like :O – not understanding the popularity, or the comments of support, etc. I’m not going to waste my typing efforts, on it- it’s ignorant and NOT cool, not at all funny, under-researched, totally not valid in any way.

It reminds me of a time in secondary school, where one of my male friends was walking through a door- and instead of holding it open for me, purposely shut it in my face. I was all, DUDE, thanks for holding it open for me! and he replied, “I thought you were a feminist? Why should I hold the door open for you? I thought you believed in equality?”

Which made me gasp in bewilderment for how this guy had tapped into some deep intelligent thought that had never crossed my mind! Wow, what a genius! By him, shutting a door on me, leaving me out in the rain, he has pretty much achieved gender equality! Because, OBVIOUSLY, I wouldn’t do the same for him, if god forbid, he was behind me, being a man-hating feminist and all.

Anyway, The Menimist Twitter page is the same kind of smug, cocky, misogynist thing, with ACTUAL comparisons such as:

If I woman hits a man, she is seen as brave. If a man hits a woman, he is seen as an evil, brutal pervert. *RETWEET! FAVOURITE! QUOTE TWEET! Lol! So true!*

I always hate it when a man is seen as a brutal pervert, especially when him hitting a woman is justified.

This is what baffles me when girls, especially, don’t see any place for feminism in their world today. Obviously, there is a HUGE need for specific focus on feminist issues worldwide, with FGM rife and little girls being shot for wanting to go to school- but sexism is there everyday, in some shape or form, and mustn’t we try to change that? Because we genuinely want to, and feel a bit weird if we don’t at least try to do something?

Yes, we can go to university and can study what we like, so why feminism? You owe feminism for those rights. When I was sixteen, a girl proudly announced in front of the class that she wasn’t a feminist because she liked playing Xbox and watching lesbian porn. Babe, say thank you to feminism for that fact you can say that in class. Surely. Thank feminism for the fact you’re in school, surely.

Let’s stay positive about it anyway. Imagine, we could be the generation that gets paid the same as men, has equal representation in Parliament, whilst all standing up for each other, helping each other out.

I have some further reading, for those who have stayed (thanks for that.)

For your boyfriends, male friends, fathers, brothers- this liberating and often unspoken of article on a man’s role in sexism: (and you too, it’s a fantastic and refreshing read.)

http://www.rookiemag.com/2014/06/the-boys-guide-to-not-being-a-jerk/

Also:

http://everydaysexism.com/

For those of you who don’t think sexism is a daily thing. If not for you, it might still be- you may have just become accustomed to it. Read about other women’s stories here, however normalised or ‘petty.’

I truly believe that  everyone who wants to be an advocate for women’s rights can, anything you do, big or small- whether it’s volunteer in third world countries to help women less fortunate than us in the Western world, or just have a conversation with your mum (or dad) about feminism – all helps to bring it into conversation, and the more we say the word, the less scary it will be to say it. We will no longer have to say “I am a feminist, but…”

“I am a feminist.”

There is lots going on to be happy and hopeful about though. My brother picked me up from work yesterday and sang Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off all the way home. I like to think he is subconsciously a strident feminist, but just doesn’t know it, yet.

“A feminist is somebody who is empathetic, who listens, who can’t stand hypocrisy and who loves to see people thrive. Lots of feminists are women, lots of feminists aren’t.”

– Eleanor Catton, 29, author.

Thanks for reading!

TAL x

“I want just to sit with him”

Cate le Bon’s Mug Museum is the first album I have ever downloaded. I know it’s odd because it’s 2014, but I just treated myself to a shiny new iPod touch with a lovely discount from work and wanted to ‘download’ something, in its entirety (rather than just a couple of songs of Pop Party 2, which is basically what iTunes is for.)

It sounds really ambitious, but I hope that with the addition of my new gadget, I will write more. I’ve got into the idea of writing again in quite a big way, since being chewed up and spat out by showbusiness 7 times over. It’s okay, I’m still going to work on that, but I don’t wanna lose this neither.

Firstly can we talk about the artwork?

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7109S59BLgL._SL1200_Oh no, on Googling it- I have seen the tracklisting and now I realise why I’ve refrained from downloading, cause you don’t get the whole package dude!

Anyway, I downloaded this album on my best friend’s bed, at about half past 3 on a Monday afternoon, totally wasted on rosé- and I really don’t regret it (perhaps the only recent drunken doing I feel OKish about.)

To be honest, I was not really at all familiar with le Bon’s work before this album, aside from hearing some of her work on 6Music – (and how the title came from her friend describing her room as a Mug Museum, as there were so many empty mugs lying around. Which I can relate to on the highest level possible.)

I don’t really want to write a detailed track-by-track listing, as I haven’t listened to it enough yet to do it justice. It’s just very good music to have on when your writing, or writing a blog post or texting a boy you’ve liked for ever. 

Track 5, is the standout, obviously- I mean have you HEARD THIS?!

So, so swoony.

In other news: Wolf Pupy wrote for Rookie, which is super cool teen girl representation if I ever did see it.

 

Christopher Kane threw the best outfit EVER WORN BY A BLONDE down the catwalk at LFW:

Christopher Kane: Runway - London Fashion Week AW14

 

I mean, everyone seriously step aside.

Hope you’re all doing good. I’m very write-y today, so maybe even pop back later.

Enjoy your days.

Tara X