Frustrated

I have been finding a lot of things difficult at the moment. Like, silly things. Like messaging people, or making phone calls that I need to. It is so silly. It feels like something I should be over by now, but it seems that I am getting worse.

I always feel like an intrusion.

Like I am an annoyance, that people can’t get rid of. I think that the simplest way to explain it, is that I feel like such a negative person. Like, I know that my life isn’t bad, but yet I feel so bad every day. I upset myself over the smallest thing, other people don’t need that in their lives. I mean, especially this year, life has been so stressful for everybody, that people don’t need a wee rain cloud coming over too.

If my brain worked properly, it may tell me that this is nonsense. But that is not the case. So I overthink everything. Every message that I send, has been written and rewritten so many times. I scrutinise everything so much. It is so stressful. Sometime I type messages, and leave them unsent. I plan to look at the messages again, but my inboxes give me so much stress, that I forget, and never reply to people.

So, I feel like if I message people I am imposing myself, but if I don’t reply, I am just rude and not very nice. I spoke about this not so long ago, but it is still something at the forefront of my mind. I think that is an issue made worse by constantly been near things like my phone and computer. There are notifications everywhere, like information overload. And, a lot of the time, these notifications are because I haven’t done something. And that makes me panic, it makes the feeling of uselessness even worse.

I try to switch my phone off. Try to step away. But, it feels like I am still not doing enough. But, I don’t think I could ever do enough.

I Liked A Thing.

I have just finished working my way through ‘Sadie’ by Courtney Summers. I have mentioned that my attention has been difficult, due to my brain not stopping thanks to anxiety. So, I listened to the audiobook, which kept my attention, and allowed me to become engrossed in the story.

The book starts, with a podcast. The Girls, is a true crime podcast, presented by West McCray. It features West trying to track down a teenage girl, Sadie, who has been reported missing by her Aunt. Sadie, is 19. Her little sister, Mattie, has been found dead. Sadie is trying to track down the man she thinks is responsible for her little sister’s murder.

The narrative of the book alternates between West’s Podcast, and Sadie’s point of view. As Sadie moves her way through small town America, West follows, sometimes a few months later, and interviews the people Sadie meets. The story is unique in how it’s told. How the truth is fed to the reader in small tidbits, just enough to keep you hanging on. As said, I listened to the audiobook, which I believe helped me get engrossed into the book more. The podcast, however, does exist. Simply search ‘The Girls’ into your podcast site of choice, and listen as you read. Listening to the interviews actually brings a new dimension to the book, which makes everything feel so much more real.

You can always tell when you enjoy a good book, because you are thinking of it long after you finish. And that is what I feel right now. I have missed this feeling.

Poll: How do you find music?

I have created a poll, in a way to discover how people find music to listen to. It is something that I am interested in, particularly with the wide choices available today. Music no longer relies on the radio to sell it, people take to the internet to discover new bands. And I am interested to whether this actually has an effect on how music is consumed.

Speaking Your Mind

I have always had the belief that everyone should be able to speak their mind. That every discussion needs a pro and con side. And that by doing so, people should take all sources in account when considering what opinion to have on something.

This, however, is not always the case. People could form an opinion because of one thing someone said. They read a particular newspaper, and believe their propaganda to be fact, rather than being paid by some lobby. This is the United Kingdom, people’s views aren’t that as radical or as ill-judged as some in other countries. Or are they?

Throughout history, people have craved conflict. In the worst case senario, war and fighting can break out. This is something that can bring the people of a country together as the strive to get some kind of comradery to try and keep people strong. In the UK, this last happened in World War 2, when our country was in direct attack. Towns and cities were being attacked by Nazi bombing, and communities had to band together, to stay strong and rebuild communities after the War. People were pushed into co-operating with one another.

We are currently experiencing one of the longest peacetimes on British soil, and the need to band together is not really a requirement to exist anymore. People still want something to fight for, so start supporting various causes. This, fantastically, should bring some things into discussion, and make changes. But, as time goes on, people can start to look negatively about their personal situation, and get frustrated that their views do not get represented fully. They may start to band together with those who have similar points of view to themselves, and get could get pushed towards causes that they maybe never considered before. But the need for unity, and being heard, begins to cause conflict with other causes. People look for the differences in one another, rather than seeing why we are so similar.

The more frustrated people get, the more they want to change people’s views so that they can make the changes that they want. The frustration grows, and conflict becomes more and more common. People protest, the fascist right wing groups start to gain momentum, as the government struggles to keep a calm. Situations may arise like the Scottish Independence Referendum, where frustrated people want to change something, to try and better the situation for them and others. But all facts may not be considered, as people get more passionate and less considerate. They say what they say, and f**k anyone who doesn’t agree.

In the battle to get a fair society for all, the perception of what is ‘fair’ changes from person to person. To some, protection of the Church and Christian ethics are an important part of the laws of the land. To others, religion shouldn’t be a part of any government, and things such as marriage should be available to all people, regardless of sexual orientation. These two opposing view points are something that should be discussed calmly.

But increasingly, what people are being dictated to, in what to think. If someone believe’s in God, and feels homosexuality is wrong, shouldn’t he be safe to say his opinion? I don’t believe religion is necessary in government, as I believe some of the ‘rules’ can be out of date, should I not say that for fear of retaliation? How about another example, we allow a Iraqi family to come to the UK and live, they do and their kids go through our school system and become productive members of society. That’s great, isn’t it? They then learn about UK soldiers bombing Iraqi civillians, do they not have a right to speak out against the country that accepts them as inhabitants, and at the same time kills their countrymen? Surely they do. But these people will get told to leave the UK, for not supporting our troups. They work and pay taxes as much as the rest of us, shouldn’t they be able to speak their mind as much as their neighbours?

And that is the problem with free speech and speaking your mind. It is never really free to some. The efforts to stiffle those who speak more unsavoury thoughts, is painting an untrue picture of public opinion. If you let pro-choice people demonstrate, let pro-life too. Free speech in any society should allow people to share the opinions, without fear of retribution.

I know I have talked about this a lot reccently, but I am seeing it a lot in the media around me. And it is something that dwells on my mind a lot, because I feel I can say what I want, but that is because I have quite liberal leanings, but what about those who have more conservative views? I think increasingly those with conservative views are hushed into silence for being not so politically correct.

Check Your Sources

In a world where news is dominated by what is on the news overview onGoogleand the trending topics on Twitter, it is becoming harder for more traditional news outlets to remain relevant. Do people have to pay for what they want, or is free news part of a person’s rights?

I have just watched Page One: Inside The New York Times, which as someone with an interest in media and it’s progression, was something that I have been meaning to watch since it came out last year. It shows a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at one of the world’s most established and popular Newspapers. It was not what I expected. It showed that the Journalistic giant had made mistakes, and that it was struggling in the world of modern day media. But for a printed paper, created in 1851, the fact that this publication can still sell over 2,000,000 copies in a day, is phenomenal, no matter how you look at it.

The one thing that was highlighted in the documentary, was how the drop in advertising revenue, and the reader’s want to get free news, was damaging the paper. It is said, that papers who print, lose money with every copy of a paper that they publish, as the cost of the paper needs to be affordable, for people to buy it on a daily basis. In the past, this loss was covered by the money that advertisers paid to be included in publications. As the Internet has become stronger over the last 10-15 years, companies began to start up their own websites for promotion, which was cheaper and began to lean less and less on the traditional printed media. In a world, where profit margins are becoming thinner and thinner, you can see why companies would follow the path of self-promotion.

This caused a problem for newspapers, like the New York Times, which found that their main source of revenue was disappearing. It meant that changes needed to happen, and the paper and it’s journalists would need to be more interactive with it’s audience to try and stay relevant. This involved an introduction of a website where journalists could record corresponding videos with their articles. Readers were invited to comment, and share their views, and the company began to catch up with it’s competitors in other media, such as TV. This way of publishing stories helps newspapers get a broader, even worldwide audience. Whilst this seems like a more affordable way to spread the news, but there was still a big gap in revenue, due to advertising loss. This is where the site installed a ‘paywall’, which would ask heavy users to pay a fee to continue using the site. This model has proved very successful for many online services. And has helped plug the gap in revenues, created by the drop of advertising.

And that is what a lot of people have a problem with. Why pay for something when you can Google the news for free. Google is a site, which like the way newspapers used to operate, is funded mostly by advertising revenue. The issue with advertising revenue, is it gives the reader the belief that they are viewing something that is free. Accept, it isn’t really free. Google gets paid by how many people use the service, as advertisers will pay accordingly to feature under certain searches. When up to the ‘top 10’ of results you get on google, have paid for that high ranking, you begin look further into what you’re using. That every click that you make on a google site, is collated and sold to marketing companies. You then begin to wonder, are sites like Google really free?

Another problem with the internet, is that the source is not as important as it used to be. You search for a news topic online, and will click on the one with the snappiest headline. More often than not, the photos and story may come from a single source, a source which be mentioned somewhere at the bottom of the article, if you’re lucky. And this mixed nature of ‘search engine news’, means that all sources and all work just becomes a big muddle. Where as in print, you can sometimes say, ‘I’ll read the Daily Star, because I want to read nonsense’. Or the Independent for more serious news. That definition between different publications isn’t so relevant when you Google search, and just pick one out of hundreds of results. It’s like written journalism is losing its definition.

Where this causes a problem, that whilst the bigger publications like the New York Times and The Independent can sent journalists to specific areas to cover important stories, smaller, less serious publications can’t. This means, that you can get ‘piggy-back reporting’, where smaller outlets will rehash another publications story. They report news and events, without any first hand coverage. This leads to second hand stories, which can lead to inconclusive reports and no checked sources. The only way that true, first rate articles can continue to be published, is if people start to pay attention and pay for what they read.

Because when all the newspapers go under, a loss in advertising for Google, could send them down the pay route that News outlets are currently used for. Nothing in life is free, especially not the Internet.

So check your sources, and help them, or they will stop being reliable.

Purpose of Media

As I sat in front of my TV watching the tenth documentary show this week (yes, I keep count), I had a think about the purpose of media in society.  As much as we use various types of media on a daily basis, not much thought is put into it’s actual purpose.

Most of the forms of media that we use regular (television, radio, internet, newspapers, etc) were originally created to be a way of telling people information. It was to educate people about things like news-worthy events, or to get messages to other people. But somewhere along the line, media became less about communicating messages, and more about entertaining the masses.  The dictionary definition of media is-

‘The storage and transmission channels or tools used to store and deliver information or data. It is often referred to as synonymous with mass media or news media, but may refer to a single medium used to communicate any data for any purpose’

It is a way of communicating which comes from cave paintings created by cavemen. And postal services started from as early as 500BC, and became a crucial way of communications in the Persian and Roman Empires.

Times have changed, but still people feel the need to communicate to one another, now with the help of technology it is easier than ever. Rather than send a letter to loved ones and wait weeks for it to arrive, you can send them an email or call them on the other side of the world in seconds. These advances have mostly come within the last 50 years, and the world is better for it. When a news breaks, it would sometimes take days to get to all corners of the world. Now, within 30 minutes, newsrooms all over the world can be reporting on the same story. The rolling news networks (Sky News, Fox News, BBC News 24) are probably the best examples of media in it’s current form. No matter what time of day, news is constantly being reported, and it never stops. There is always something happening somewhere, and media helps a normal person see what is happening outside the borders to their country. Media doesn’t stop anymore. Rather than  waiting to buy your newspaper in the morning to get updated in current affairs, you can flick onto a TV channel or switch on a computer. Everything is online. And online services really can be updated at any time of the day. Everything is posted as it happens.

And whilst you would think this would empower people as they have a wider scope of knowlege in front of them, it doesn’t. Rolling news hasn’t had the effect one would think. People are constantly feeling the need to switch off from their lives, and now use media to escape. If they have worked hard, they don’t want to be ‘snowed under’ with the rest of the world’s problems. So rather than watch the news or documentaries, many more watch TV talent shows or play computer games.

And working for a media company, I feel I notice this more. You can see the things that people want to spend their money on, and it isn’t news or documentaries, it’s movies and sport. The leading methods of escapism. Something where you can shift your focus away from what seems ordinary, and fixate your attention on something else. As nice as it is that people around the world can see whether Manchester United or Chelsea win the Premiership trophy, I find it unsettling that people would rather watch that, than be educated. I touched on education a few days ago, and I feel that is the most important resource we have. To learn how things work, and what happened on this earth before us. To learn how countries were formed and fought for. To me, that is exciting, that is what media is about. It is about being educated, not just in formal documentary format, but to educate on how others around the world live. Is that not the biggest selling point of the World Wide Web, that it connects the world and shows how other people live?

Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe the purpose of the media is to give deluded writers a forum to express their mislead views and opinions? I don’t know really. I like to think that all this technology has a higher worth than football and computer games. But, I guess that’s me. That is what I want to take from the media that surrounds me. Not everyone is like that.

An Ode to John Green

I am half-way through John Green’s novel Paper Towns. Which is an amazing book, I recommend everyone to get it.

 

What I like about John’s novels as that there is always a female character in his work, who seems to be central to the storyline. He paints pictures of girls who are not only beautiful, but they are highly intelligent. And I don’t mean, in a Dawson’s Creek way where, the characters spouted long words, but didn’t really seem in their character to say such things.I mean, here are visualisations of teenage girls, and they speak using intelligence  as if they are extremely well-read individuals.

 

The thing is, in the media, woman are all too often written as being one-dimensional characters, who maybe long for a different life, but they don’t show any real intelligence. Even if you look at anything, which has popular High School girls, the girls are bitchy, stupid and only interested in sex and shopping. After spending my whole adolescence surrounded in horrifically stereotyped visions of women, I can only which that there alternatives available when I was younger. I mean very people I knew when I was younger had any interest in books. And although there was a lot of programmes aimed at someone my age, it was things like the afore-mentioned Dawson’s Creek or Sweet Valley High, all which left me with a rather dirty taste in my mouth.
I always have read a lot, I used to spend my summer going down to the library once a week rent new books. I loved it, which made me upset that there wasn’t anyreal  positive role models for teenage girls, that didn’t involve around boyfriends and becoming popular. So I would read horror stories,  and things, because the focus was on the situation more than the actual personality of the characters (which were still stereotyped).

I wish I had John Green’s books when I was a teenager, because, although the female characters are not perfect, and they never claim to be, they are clever and beautiful. They show women with their own mind, which is something that I believe that all women should be surrounded in.

I think my issue is, that most stories of ’empowerment’ come from stories which focus on sexual conquests. That isn’t empowering, that is degrading. To think that a woman is powerful because she has sex with some man, is not a positive image of a woman. A woman is powerful if she stands up on her own two feet, if she is not afraid to make decisions about her own live. No one should ever feel like they need to be in a relationship to be successful, and I think that the media is constantly telling us that’s what we are expected to do.

So thank you John Green, you may not be aware of it, but you have given girls positive role models with your characters. Thank you for showing that intelligence is beautiful.

Free Speech Comes At A Cost

Ok, this is a follow-up to blog I did about journalism and the media, a few days ago.

The reason I am back on this topic again is because of a, much publicised, piece on, fashion magazine, Marie-Claire’s website about fat people on TV. Journalist, Maura Kelly, who wrote about whether ‘fatties should get a room’. This is someone who as a journalist, feels that she should be honest.

“I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room.”

Which is brutal, but it’s the truth, to her. She is stating , not what anyone else thinks, but what she thinks. Bear in mind also, that Ms Kelly works for one of the biggest fashion magazines in the world. This is a branch of society where being stick thin is the norm, and any amount of fat is deemed unacceptable. So I would imagine, if you call a size 14, fat, then you would find someone obsese mortifying.

“I think obesity is something that most people have a ton of control over.”

This is correct. A lot of people with weight issues, do have control and do need to take responsibility. People are advised by Doctors to lose weight, and they choose to ignore medical advice. They just point the finger of blame at someone else, a wonderful product of our culture. Also, she is saying that she believes people DO have control over what they eat. And they do, it’s a person’s decision to watch TV, rather than exercise. As someone who suffered because of an eating disorder, she changed her life around, and believes that ANYONE can change things.
We are frequently told that we are so lucky that we have free speech, and that the media is not controlled. But I believe that it never will be free. Someone stating their opinion gets slated. It’s like, ‘as long as you aren’t offending anyone, then you can say what you want’. Well, that’s opinion, it helps you understand another viewpoint, and realise we are not all cut from the same cloth. So all these people, saying that a journalist should be sacked for stating her opinion, are a disgrace. If there were more journalists in the media, who expressed themselves honesty, then the media would become something worth being interested in. But right now, you have to stick to the same rules and have the same thoughts as everyone else. And, to be honest, I hate it. I hate that no matter which newspaper you pick up, it’s all the same neutered ‘opinions’ that just written in a slightly different way.

You can argue all day with who is at fault for the article. Is it the Ms Kelly, for letting out her harsh opinions? Is it the editor, for giving a vulnerable woman such a personal issue to write about? Is it the site itself, for allowing the story to be published in that state? Is it the people who read this and got so ‘mock offended’, and spread their panic across the internet? Or, is just that too many people want to continue to bury their heads in the sand, despite the fact the fact there is truth in the article?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. And I don’t believe that Ms Kelly should have had to apologise to some overly sensitive people for her thoughts on the obesity issue. If you truly believe something you write, then show some conviction and stand by it, no matter how large the occurring witch-hunt may become.

It does show that there are parts, within our society which need looked at. The fashion industry, it’s unbelievably size-ist, and I don’t think that Ms Kelly’s opinions are the worst out there. But only by confronting the problem, can we see how  bad it really is, and even educate people from an overweight person’s perspective.

But the main disturbing thing, which came out of this article and it’s notoriety, is the pure hatred being shown towards Ms Kelly. This isn’t people who are as self-righteous as they make out. I mean, they were all taking a personal attacks on Ms Kelly, wanting her fired. This is disgusting, and it made me feel ill. At the time I read the article, there was almost 2,000 comments on it, there is probably so many more now. But almost all the comments were negative. Negative because people on the internet have no idea about a journalists expression to be truthful to oneself. Negative, because the internet is full of it. anonymous people saying that Marie Claire is terrible for allowing the piece to be published. But, are the magazine  not brave, by posting such a ‘hot’ issue, it has opened debate, and is allowing people to see something from somebody else’s perspective.

I applaud Marie Claire and Ms Kelly, because you have ‘stuck your neck out with the article’. You have given a sense of depth into a very one-dimensional field, and should be thanked for it. If people are too arrogant to understand journalism and opinions, then I believe they should just disconnect their internet and stick to their bland, opinionless, newspapers.

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For the record, I am termed as overweight. I am a UK  dress size of 20, and although I am happy with me, I am aware I eat too much rubbish, and don’t exercise nearly enough. But, it is my fault, and only I can change this. And when I do, it will be on my terms.

More Than Just Words On A Page

I am not a journalist, not educated in the skills of the written word past my High School education. And by the stage I began to get interested in writing, I was in an anti-school state of mind. I hated exams, and that’s what it felt like school was like, one massive exam.

But this doesn’t mean that I am invalid to comment on the amount of tripe in the media, which is dubbed as ‘journalism’. If I went with my impulse, and followed a career into journalism, I would have been surrounded by the egomaniacs, who are hellbent on being ‘celebrities’. Something that sickens me. I would have loved to have a career in journalism, because I love writing and I enjoy discussions that follow one sharing their opinion on events. That’s it! I wouldn’t want to be on television, as I find that seems to be full of arrogance, and my day-to-day life is filled with that already, thanks very much.

Teenagers now follow a career in journalism because they think they will get on TV, so that they can become ‘celebrities’. That isn’t journalism, that isn’t reporting something true to yourself. I think it would have destroyed me, to have to communicate something, which wouldn’t be true to myself. Maybe this is a fault I have, that I can’t write about something I have no passion or interest in. I don’t know if I view writing too much of an art form. Because that’s what I think it is, I feel that it is an emotional release, where you have to be inspired write something of interest. Like, I have to believe what I’m writing about, or it just becomes very transparent and boring. Because I have always looked upon all types of literature in this way, I think that I find it alarming that so many people use it for nothing else, but to make themselves famous.

As a child, I dreamed of writing a novel, but that was more because I felt a bit of pride when I saw someone reading what I wrote. It made me feel so light-headed, if the reader enjoyed my creation. Now, I just feel jaded with media, because it seems that a lot of things seems to be lacking emotion or have an ulterior motive. This has been a thought that has bothered me within the last few years, particularly around the time of the General Election. I found that whatever, newspaper or TV news report I encountered, it seemed like they all had their own political alliances. Like this form of educating the Great British public, came with unavoidable propaganda for a Political movement. Maybe I am naive, but I am of the opinion that all media should be impartial. Ok, I know that seems like I am contradicting what I have just said, but I think that if you have all the journalists saying what they believe in, and then you have a variety of opinions, then you have platform for a range of views to be heard and then allow the public to make their own decision.

But that is giving too much power to the public isn’t it? We live in a society where it is dictated to us who we should admire. There are thousands of ‘celebrities’ who have won their ready-built fame through ‘reality’ TV. Why are we being forced to celebrate some mediocre singer, who fucked someone once? Shouldn’t it be the person who has spent her life crafting her own voice, who is still singing in local bars, getting all the attention? Shouldn’t we be celebrating the lives of the doctors who save a normal person? Why should we accept that a man kicking a ball for 90 minutes a week, is able to earn 200 times the salary of the normal working person?

It’s obvious that things in society are far more imbalanced, than just the media. The big thing I have an issue with, is the emergence of the ‘showbiz media’, the magazines, TV shows and blogs dedicated to telling the warts-and-all tales of famous people. I believe that the ‘celebrity’ culture was created, to take the attention away from more pressing matters, such as the more unpalatable parts of the news, which often goes unreported. Proof of this, is when a class of 8-year-old school children were asked who was Cheryl Cole’s estranged husband, 78 out of 83 kids correctly said it was Ashley Cole. The same children were asked if they knew who was Prime Minister, 12 correctly said David Cameron, 21 said The Queen and the rest didn’t have a clue. Is that the message we want our media giving to children? ‘Who cares who runs the country, some nonentity’s relationship status is what’s important’.

That is why I both want and don’t want to be part of the media. I would like to get the opportunity to tell all these mislead sheep what is important, to help them get a better understanding of the world around them. But, I know that the ‘words of reason’ would find it hard to break through the latest relationship woes of whatever overpaid footballer is the topic of the day. Which would make me feel worthless, that ‘real news’ would be overshadowed by gossip. It makes you wonder how much of the media is controlled by the government, are we being sold gossip as news to try to dumb us down. As they say, ‘ignorance is bliss’ so it would be easier for the government to hide as much as they can, and just fill the gaps with ‘celeb scandal’. This sounds like something from a George Orwell novel, but it could happen, and I wouldn’t be suprised if it already was.

Terrifying thought isn’t it? How much of our ‘free media’ is actually free?