Is social media becoming a mean place?

So we were having a discussion in the office this morning about how sometimes it’s frightening to just make a passing comment on social media about something that’s happening, without someone jumping down your throat.

And I don’t even mean anything controversial.

For instance, during the last tube strike I tweeted something like “Just the thought of tomorrow’s commute is giving me a headache.” Someone then decided to very helpfully tweet back “Use your legs, lazy Londoner” or words to that effect…

Anyone who knows me personally knows I’m sarcastic and even if you don’t, if you look back on previous tweets etc, knows I’m partial to a satirical quip.

Taylor Swift

Picture courtesy of YouTube

Now I know that in this day and age, people couldn’t care less about doing a bit of stalking research or even engaging in a thing called ‘having a sense of humour.’ Equally I know sarcasm isn’t easily conveyed online but it feels like Facebook and especially Twitter have become a breeding ground for spiteful, judgemental trolls.

People seem to think it’s fair game to have a pop at journalists in particular. At the end of the day, there is a real person behind the words and it’s about time, people started transferring some manners to the online world.

You wouldn’t tell someone on the tube that you hated their outfit.

You wouldn’t tell someone in the supermarket not to buy a microwave meal.

And you certainly wouldn’t just go up to someone and call them all the names under the sun.

So why do it elsewhere?

I’m not saying that people aren’t entitled to their opinions, a bit of healthy debate is good for the soul apparently but to be outright mean or respond with “YOUR WRONG !!!” isn’t constructive nor grammatically correct…

Instagram appears to be one of the only platforms where people are actually nice to each other, to people they don’t even know, purely because they’ve stumbled across something through searching a tag.

Why fuel so much energy into being hateful? What do people actually get out of it? And why not actually explore the context around something first before commenting?

And if you can’t be bothered with that – if you’ve got no kind words to say, you should say nothing at all.

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Are your mid-twenties your make or break point?

It’s the time for finding yourself while trying to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life.

It’s the time for making mistakes but making sure they never happen again.

It’s the time when you essentially have ‘no responsibilities’ but feel like you have the weight of your decisions on your shoulders.

It’s the time for having fun but at the same time, to stop playing games.

No wonder, we’re all friggin’ confused!

Santa Monica beach

Living life carefree in LA on our trip

Your mid-twenties is a bit of quarter-life crisis for most people, I think. Most people are in their first/second job since uni but are still trying to figure out whether it’s the right thing for them while trying to scrabble up the career ladder that is missing a few rungs.

Most people are renting somewhere or living at home still, trying to decide whether renting is throwing money away for the sake of independence or whether to stick it out at the family nest to save up for a never-ending deposit while house prices are still rising.

Most people are in a relationship or heart-broken from a long-term one, where one person (in the middle of their own quarter-life crisis) has decided to call it quits because they don’t know what they want. Meanwhile, there’s always one half in a good relationship that’s trying not to fret over the future while still enjoying the freedom of how things are now, without a mortgage, wedding plans or babies.

Before anyone tells me how doom and gloom I’m being, I’m saying how it is. I love everything about my life as it is now, I feel like it’s an extension of my uni days, with a decent wage and more expensive taste in wine but with the same sense of ‘WHAT NEXT?’

There’s nothing wrong to looking to the future, there’s nothing wrong with having those days where you’re just like ‘Please can I just doze in my hoodie all day and watch my Big Bang Theory boxset’ because urghhhhh, too many thoughts and responsibilities. I guess it’s trying to figure out that life balance of having ‘THE PLAN’ and enjoying every moment of how things are now.

So, if anybody knows how to do that, leave your nuggets of wisdom in the comments…

The pros and cons of setbacks

Just when you think everything is running along too smoothly (literally in my case) suddenly BAM! Something will come along to throw you off-course.

I felt my shoulder blade pop at the weekend when out running and like the stubborn moron that I am, I carried on and thought it’d be okay. I’ve now spent the last couple of days/nights in absolute agony, taking alllllll the ibuprofen and heat patches I can find.

With only six weeks to go until the half marathon, this setback is making me panic even more that I’ll get behind on my training and won’t be able to complete the route. I’ve started doing that thing where I’ve been reading far too many articles on training schedules and do’s & don’ts and have begun to panic whether I’m doing far too little or far too much.

inspirational quote

As annoying and as painful as it is, sometimes we need set-backs to give us a bit of a shake-up, even if we don’t necessarily appreciate it at the time. Things can’t always be smooth-sailing afterall, life would be too easy (and boring) if it was.

I think sometimes your body also has its own way of telling you “Enough is enough,” and as rubbish as aches/pains/colds are, it’s a warning sign to tell you to slooooooooow down.

So from now on, I’m going to stop panicking (ha, easier said than done) and carry on doing what I was doing, after some rest and my umpteenth salt bath…

How do you conquer set-backs? 

Turning a Quarter of a Century

I turned the grand ol’ age of 25 at the end of January and previous followers of this blog might remember my little to-do list before I blew the candles out on my cake.

At the halfway point, I’d managed to tick off quite a few of them and I’m glad to say that I’ve done a lot more since, and probably outside of what I set out to do when I first created this list. Yeah I still haven’t been to Paris (wah) but the 365 days leading up to another mile stone birthday were pretty darn good…

  1. Visit Paris – TO DO!!! THIS YEAR!!!
  2. Take on another sporting challenge- Last year’s 5k has now turned into a Half Marathon… eek.
  3. Camp at a music festival- Festival season is long gone.
  4. Get more work published  I’ve been writing my gig panel for a year now, still getting in reviews and writing online. 
  5. Visit somewhere in the UK I’ve never been– Had a nice little jolly around the South-West in October, so much so that it’s my retirement destination.
  6. Try different foods (Big step for a fussy-eater!) Hmm…yeah, sort of. I likes what I like.
  7. Cook dinner for my family- Erm…I’ve bought a 30 Minute Meals cookbook, that’s a start right?
  8. Finish a TV boxset- On the last few episodes of Breaking Bad. I know I suck at life.
  9. Start saving for the future  On my way!
  10. Have two mad nights out in a row or go out on a school-night (Deal with the aftermath without complaint) Done on a couple of occasions (*cough* Christmas *cough*). I’ve only just started to drink white wine again.
  11. Experiment more with my personal style (Note to self: You can’t live in floral dresses forever)  Yup but I can’t pull off culottes.
  12. Host a charity event- We’re a charitable bunch in my office.
  13. Create a collage/photo album of “My Life 18-25″-  Needs an update.
  14. Move forward in my career BIG SMILEY FACE.
  15. Learn a new skill or take up a short course- You never stop learning.
  16. Stop worrying incessantly about EVERYTHING! Just STOP.- Well…I wouldn’t be me, if I didn’t.
  17. Develop and be consistent with my blog  I promiiiiiiiiise.
  18. Face my fear of public speaking- I don’t think I ever will, if I can help it.
  19. Buy a newer car- I still have Bella, my precious.
  20. Visit more of London’s landmarks   Of course. 
  21. Learn when to say “NO.” You can’t always be Super Girl Getting better at this.
  22. Be a bit more impulsive  I’ve learned to take a back seat with plans too (go me)
  23. Start writing short stories again – One day…
  24. Tick more bands off my Live Gig list Forever the music lover. 
  25. Be happy with where I am in life and enjoy living in the moment- Overall, yes, I’ve tried to stop getting too far ahead of myself, stop worrying about where other people are in their lives and concentrate on the here and now. Deep.

18/25

Y’know what? This list wasn’t ever really in the back of my mind throughout 2014 and I never sat there and thought to myself ‘Quick, I must do this before I’m 25 otherwise I fail at life.’ It was a fun thing to do and to look back on I guess.

Life isn’t a to-do list, it isn’t a series of tick boxes with JOB, HOUSE, MARRIAGE, KIDS on it. It’s about doing what you set out to achieve individually, whether that be working towards a promotion, taking up a post-grad course and even things like having some more ‘me’ time or visiting a place you’ve always wanted to go to.

I think with even more so with social media now, we’re into the concept of ‘Keeping up with the Joneses,’ in the sense we get FOMO and life-envy. For most people, social media is like an Instagram filter of their lives, we’re only seeing what we want everybody else to see. And that’s fine, why wouldn’t you want everyone to think your life is amaaaaazing?

Just take everything with a pinch of salt and think about everything you have that makes YOU happy the next time you see something that makes you go ‘Oh, why can’t that be me?’ Why would you want a regram of somebody else’s life when you have the option of your own, no matter how tough it can be at times.

Where have I been?

You might have noticed the blog has a new look…

You might have noticed that I’ve been M.I.A since October…

2015 diary and blog ideas journal

People change all the time and I guess life changed even more so once I knew I had a permanent job in an environment I love and with more responsibility.

There are a few of reasons why I stopped blogging for a while:

  1. When you live in front of a screen for around 10 hours a day and glued to your phone, the last thing I wanted to do was to drag my laptop out and come up with engaging content.
  2. Admittedly I’ve felt tired, stressed and I’m still trying to get the right kind of work-life balance but I didn’t want to come across as an ungrateful so-and-so in my blog posts, or a complete misery-guts for one!
  3. My blog started off as a uni project and then grew into a diary I guess, documenting my life to where I am today and everything I went through to get to this point.

I kind of want to start afresh with the blog without creating a new one completely, it’s still very much Essex & The City.

While I’d love the time to be able to incorporate video etc into my blog (the world and I are soooo not ready for my incoherent ramblings) monetising has never been something I’ve wanted to do with it.

I know it’s important to move forward with the times but for me, blogging is something I enjoy, something that’s almost therapeutic and if people enjoy reading what I write, that’s even better. I’m not going to try and plunge into the rat-race that is the blogosphere.

I’m hoping the site looks a little cleaner and I’ve been lucky enough to learn so much in the past six months in terms of social media, picture editing and stats.

Remember how I always speak about life is made up of little chapters? Well, I think I’m on to a new book…

Ten Awesome Scottish Bands

On topic of today’s news with the Scottish Independence Referendum and being the music obsessive that I am, here are some of my favourite Scottish bands. New and old of course.

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In no particular order;

1. Biffy Clyro

Mon the biff! Of course they’re probably one Scottish band that spring to mind first above all. Still haven’t seen them perform, massively jealous of everyone that has! From the growling vocals of That Golden Rule to the somewhat sweet Many of Horror (X Factor’s Matt Cardle- GTFO) they’re rock royalty.

2. Twin Atlantic

Having seen these guys twice now, I think they’re bloody amazing and well deserve to be going on their own arena tour in November. Creators of anthems such as Heart & Soul and Free, they’ve got a fiercely loyal fan base.

Oh and did I mention that front man Sam McTrusty is a bit fit? Just saying…

3. Chvrches

Little bit obsessed with these guys at the moment and they’ve become massive over the past year or so. Their synth drenched beats make for perfect indie dance floor tracks. Check out Recover and We Sink if you’re not familiar.

4. Franz Ferdinand

The opening bars to Take Me Out are unmistakable and if you’ve ever been in an indie club, when one of their songs are played, something very strange happens to the crowd. Everyone ends up doing some sort of march and air-guitar! Infectious music and one band I still haven’t seen live.

5. Primal Scream

Probably one of the key bands which started the indie pop movement in the late 80s. Movin’ On Up, Loaded, Come Together to name but a few. They’ve had few line up changes too, including The Stone Roses’ Mani.

6. Simple Minds

They’re responsible for the soundtrack to one of my favourite 80s movies ever! That iconic last scene where Bender walks across the football field, puts his fist in the air and says ‘Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club,’ before the drums kick into the chorus of Don’t You Forget About Me.

7. The Fratellis

Sadly they’ve gone off the radar now but the “lad” band were part of the soundtrack to my uni years. Many a good time was had to Chelsea Dagger, including falling over on my face in Propaganda…

And who can forget karaoke favourite, later covered by the late Amy Whitehouse – Valeeeeerieeeeee?

8. Glasvegas

“My name’s Geraldine, I’m your sociaaaaal wooorker.” You probably couldn’t get any more Glaswegian than these guys! With gritty lyrics about growing up in one of Scotland’s most notorious cities, you too will probably want to don the accent.

9. Texas

Bit of a 90s throwback but my parents had a couple of their albums and I remember my bro and I used to try and sing along in Spiteri’s accent ha! For all you Britpop fans, they’re touring again next April!

10. Prides

A fairly new band which I discovered via XFM a couple of weeks ago but I can’t stop listening to I Should Know You Better By Now. They’re playing in London next month so I might have to go along to see them! Also check out their other single Messiah, they have a proper retro vibe to them.

Those who didn’t make the cut- The Proclaimers…I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) was annoying the first time round, let alone the 2007 charity release. Soz.

What other Scottish bands/artists do you think are awesome?

Should you put photos of children on social networks?

Okay so before I begin, no I don’t have any children so I may be slightly one-sided in what I have to say. But hear me out; I understand both sides of the debate.

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We share pretty much anything on social media, which is a little frightening to be honest, if you ask me. While it’s a great way to communicate with each other and be nosey of course, there are some things which you should be careful about posting online.

People love to share pictures of their children on Facebook and not only does it give you a great momento for the future, it also allows you to keep friends and family updated about your little ones progress. It’s basically replaced the “Baby’s Firsts” scrapbook.

However, make sure your privacy settings are set to the strongest that they can be and never set your profile picture as a snap of one of your children. For a start, it’s your ‘social page,’ not theirs and do you know how easily it is to obtain images if you have a moderately open profile? There’s all kinds of strange people on the internet, fishing around for things and you wouldn’t want anyone downloading pictures of your kids (however innocent) without you realising, especially if you overshare with everything else. Think carefully about which images you share, for example, first day at school pictures. It’s horrifying but if your settings are not private, you could be providing all sorts of people with information, you wouldn’t want a stranger to know.

Secondly, does every single picture or video need to go on Facebook? Again it’s lovely for family members who live far away but a lot of people could make more use of private platforms such as google docs or drop-box where you can share files with selected people. Like everyone doesn’t want to see countless YouTube videos on their newsfeed, some of us don’t want to be bombarded with pictures of snotty toddlers. Pretty selfish maybe but should people just upload pictures from special occasions instead?

I do understand why people do get snap-happy, you want to capture every moment and show off your offspring to the world. Facebook is of course an online community and it’s always nice to see mothers calling out for advice of other mothers etc, especially in the first few months where everything’s daunting. Plus I can imagine that maternity leave can be quite lonely at times and Facebook gives you a platform to let off some steam.

We also take the instant sharing for granted. When my two youngest cousins were, we never saw them literally hours old. We went to the hospital a day or so after they were born to visit. Social networks ruin the element of surprise; no one is patient anymore, everything is accessible instantly.

From a memory point of view, it is sad that hardly anyone takes disposable pictures anymore and it makes me wonder how long Facebook will be around for? If it ever disappears, what happens to the millions of photos we share on a daily basis? That’s why it’s always important to keep physical memories for your kids as they get older. You can’t beat the nostalgia of looking through a box of old photographs.

So that’s my little two pence worth in on the debate, what do you all think?

You know you were a Tom-boy when…

I love doing these posts so much that I’ve decided I’m going to do them on a monthly basis…lucky you! Anyways in light of childhood memories and nostalgia, this one is for all girly girls with a scruffy tom-boy post that we like to forget…

1. Your mother couldn’t get you out of tracksuit bottoms, even on special occasions, there’s even photos of you looking like Mel C at a wedding reception. Oh dear.

2. You thought dance classes, gymnastics and netball were “girls sports,” and you still bear the scars of running around a football pitch getting booted by 10 year old boys. Ouch.

3. You thought boys were disgusting human beings and if you were accused of having a crush on one of your boy mates, you’d then make it your mission to be as horrible as possible to them.

4. As a result of the above, girly girls thought you were a ‘les’ and even certain family members questioned you…it was all an act guys gheez!

5. You still have no idea how to do a french plait or cart-wheel or one of those complicated ‘clap-your-hands-and-sing’ routines. Your future daughters are screwed.

Image courtesy of whiteturquoisechocolate via Pinterest

Image courtesy of whiteturquoisechocolate via Pinterest

6. You vowed that you would wear Converse with your prom dress but thankfully to your mother’s delight, by the time you were 16, you found your inner girliness.

7. You hate every single photo of yourself pre-girliness and pray that no one will upload a pic of your 14 year-old self in your Real Madrid football shirt with no make-up and braces to Facebook. Fit.

8. You didn’t wear make-up until you were 15 and your hair was constantly in a pony-tail- getting ready in the mornings was effortless…

9. If you made an attempt at being girly and your family noticed = life over. You needed to get your dress dirty and go beat up a boy to reinstate things.

10. From time to time your tom-boy past comes into its use, y’know with things like football but you pretend you’re far too engrossed in Elle magazine to care these days…

25 Before 25- The Halfway Point!

Hello! Right, as I tweeted earlier this week (@daniellestacey1- follow me!) I haven’t abandoned my little blog, I feel that we’d just started to get into routine and then I’ve gone a bit off the radar. Meh. It’s all because of a good reason though because I’ve just started a new role at The Mirror as a Social Media Assistant, yes I’ve gone to the ‘dark side’ with digital but I’m loving being able to learn more about something that I’m passionate about!

Anyways, before I go off again into my happy bubble, it’s time to recap on my 25 Things to do Before I’m 25 post that I put up in January. It’s a little over the halfway point but a girl’s gotta sleep! I haven’t looked at how many of these I’ve actually done before writing this post so by the end I’ll either pat myself on the back or tell myself to up my game.

Image courtesy of lifesatravel via Pinterest

Image courtesy of lifesatravel via Pinterest

  1. Visit Paris – its on the cards for October hooray!
  2. Take on another sporting challenge-  I raised £260 for my Canary Wharf run back in May hooray!BHF
  3. Camp at a music festival- In my defence, you couldn’t camp at the Great Escape festival. So there.
  4. Get more work published  Reviews in the Sunday Mirror and an exclusive. Boom. Tom_Williams_Review
  5. Visit somewhere in the UK I’ve never been- Hmm…I haven’t ventured far from Essex and the City sadly.
  6. Try different foods (Big step for a fussy-eater!) This one’s a work-in-progress but I’m getting there!
  7. Cook dinner for my family- Does scrambled egg on toast count?! 
  8. Finish a TV boxset- Halfway through Breaking Bad, no spoilers please!
  9. Start saving for the future  Getting there but not enough for a riverside apartment sadly!
  10. Have two mad nights out in a row or go out on a school-night (Deal with the aftermath without complaint) Done! But I did complain a little! 
  11. Experiment more with my personal style (Note to self: You can’t live in floral dresses forever)  Crop-tops aren’t just for size 8s and midi-skirts aren’t just for Grannies. Huzzah.
  12. Host a charity event- Hoping to do Macmillan Coffee morning in September 
  13. Create a collage/photo album of “My Life 18-25″-  Have started this and need to update it so I can use it for comedic reasons later in life.
  14. Move forward in my career
  15. Learn a new skill or take up a short course- Yeaaaaah, I really should learn to cook! 
  16. Stop worrying incessantly about EVERYTHING! Just STOP.- Ha! As if that was ever gonna happen! 
  17. Develop and be consistent with my blog  Ha! Up until this point. 
  18. Face my fear of public speaking- I did get out of doing a presentation at a conference. Oops.
  19. Buy a newer car- I can’t face getting rid of Bella Fiesta
  20. Visit more of London’s landmarks   I’ve had a fair few jaunts around the capital this year.St Pauls
  21. Learn when to say “NO.” You can’t always be Super Girl I haven’t beat myself up as much when I can’t do something, probably because I’m too tired to! 
  22. Be a bit more impulsive  I jumped on a Boris bike and drove through Brick Lane? How impulsive do I have to be?! I’m an OCD organised kind of gal Boris Bike
  23. Start writing short stories again – Find me the 25th hour in the day and I might consider this…
  24. Tick more bands off my Live Gig list Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, Wild Beasts to name but a fair blimmin’ few! TGE_TheSubways
  25. Be happy with where I am in life and enjoy living in the moment- I’m not going to cross this one off because its important to always do this! 

So there you have, I’m probably halfway through my list, so hopefully I’ll be a well-accomplished 25 year-old although you never stop learning of course!

You know you’re a Brit abroad when…

Sorry it’s been a while but as you may or may not know, I had a week off in beautiful Spain but I thought that it’s time for another “You know you’re a…” blog post! Hooray! Thought I’d make this one a holiday themed one after my little break in the sun, so without further ado, you know you’re a Brit abroad when…

1) You complain that nobody else in the world knows how to queue. Us Brits are champions at it; lining up politely and waiting for your turn. You tut at anyone who even dares to cut in but lo and behold, everywhere else in the world is a free-for-all with every man for himself.

2) The paleness of your skin blinds everyone on the beach (except y’know if you’re from Essex) and then there are the slightly pinker Brits around you, who feel smug because they’re three days ahead of you.

3) Post-day one in the sun, you are a shining beacon of sunburn, sunstroke, dodgy tan lines and/or freckles but you’ll be damned if you’re gonna sit in the shade for the rest of the week.

4) That quaint little hotel you booked for a bargain online turns out to be a contender for ‘Holidays from Hell,’ you wish you’d looked it up on TripAdvisor before you went.

5) Similarly the phrase ‘Good distance from local amenities,’ turns out to be a 15 minute up-hill struggle everyday and 30 minutes after a few Sangrias.

6) Speaking of sangria, you discover that your ’10 pints record’ at home is halved because of European measures…chundering’ell.

7) The irony of coming down with a case of ‘Turkey-belly,’ after avoiding street market food and drinking bottled water, you forgot about the ice in your Mojito…oops.

8) Realising that ‘all inclusive’ means you have to compensate on the lack of a decent meal, palma violet flavoured ice-cream anyone?

9) By the end of the week, you’re ‘dying’ for a propa-British-cuppa!

Image courtesy of Spain Buddy

Image courtesy of Spain Buddy

10) Going topless on the beach is a no-go unless you’re French or German

11) Talking to waiters in LOUD pigeon-GCSE-French, only for them to answer you in English. Merde.

12) Packing your whole life in your suitcase and having to rearrange it at the airport because you’re over the luggage weight limit.

13) Despite rearranging said suitcase, dividing it between friends and ending up with half your shoes in your hand luggage, you’re still slapped with a luggage fine

14) Actually only wearing half of the stuff that you’ve packed, making the luggage fine sting even more so!

15) Stealing the miniature toiletries from your hotel room…EVERY TIME. They’re too cute but will result in an attractive leg rash later on. Ick.

16) When being searched at the airport, assuming that you’re going to end up in a Thai jail à la Bridget Jones

17) There’s always that ONE friend that says something inappropriate going through airport security/on the plane. You know what I mean…

18) Hiring a rental car and immediately regretting it when you realise that a) no one else abroad can drive and b) everyone’s driving at 90mph

19) You’re lost for the fifteen-thousandth time

20) When returning to the office, being asked “Have you actually been abroad?” a gazillion times. Le sigh.