Assumptions


To quote Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird,

“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”


Over the years, it has come to my attention, assumptions are made about people. To be clear, I’m not writing so much about obnoxious popstars, selfish billionaires and politicians who are informing the nation to drink or take a highly toxic substance.

No, this is a general emphatic commentary written or said in a public domain, without thought or consideration.

A few days ago, I was surprised by a fierce reaction to an ironic online article relating to positive elements of the lockdown (which did end on a serious note about mental health).

The assumptions from the article (which obviously has been read in full by the commentator) are numerous but to sum up the article the writer (a journalist) has copious wine delivered, doesn’t work, is middle class and doesn’t think or care about others. Plus, we should remember about people who are working and or have lost their livelihoods…

All this may be true. It also may be untrue.
In fact, ask yourself whether you have drunk wine during lockdown? Do you have to be middle class to have alcohol or anything else like beer or food delivered to your front door? Might there be a reason you don’t want to saunter around Sainsbury’s during the present time?

Yes, of course, we are all aware people are working in difficult situations. Plenty of people have not only lost their livelihoods but lost their loved ones, which is far more important and horrendous.

How do you know his circumstances? Or mine? Or anybody?
He may have parents with dementia, a sister in a care home thanks to a momentary lapse of judgement by a drunk driver, isolated or ill family members and so on.

Oh, but is the comment really talking about the journalist?

Assumptions are a popular thing at present. Armchair posturing about all kinds of things. Fair enough, if they are being inconsiderate, giving fatal, false advice to millions of struggling people, and in a position of authority, etc.

The trouble is, is the commentary. Behind a screen. Bitching.

Does the person offensively complaining online write to the local MP? Turn up to community meetings? Partake in volunteering?
Are you taking responsibility at all?

How do you know the journalist doesn’t? Or me?

Are you just letting off more steam derived from bitter resentment because an interesting life is different from yours? Or you think the person voted for Brexit or this government?

I’ve seen a video (below), read posts, comments, friend chat about how there are elements of positivity about the lockdown. We have all slowed down and found time for lunch with husbands/wives/relatives/friends via zoom, cleaning/decorating homes, reading, gardening, etc.

Yes, people write frivolous things about fashion, music, politics, exotic holidays, decorating, cleaning, etc. during a pandemic.

This doesn’t mean their close friend hasn’t been unconscious on a ventilator in Intensive Care because of Covid-19 or they are not worried about the lovely person stuck in a care home through no fault of their own.

People need a release. They need to watch a box set, read a book, walk, run, eat crap too. Oh, and having the odd bottle of wine and a laugh helps. A sense of humour helps too. All good for one’s mental health. It doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten.

Very few people know about someone’s life and the older you become, wisdom shows, unless you are very close to a person, you probably don’t know what really goes on in a person’s life. A person’s perspective and reasons for their life we cannot control or envisage. The rest is just smiling and chitchat about beer, weather or a recent holiday.

Comments are preceded by a judgement which is from our perceived understanding of a state of affairs. Writing comments which are direct and endorse underlying messages based on assumptions appears negative, disapproving and narcissistic. This creates, distance, versus connection because you aren’t displaying empathy.

It also says more about the writer of ignorant opinions. They come across as condescending, superior and judgemental. Don’t get me wrong, we all form judgements and opinions but the method of expressing them is important. Do not make the complaint personal and public. If you feel the need to enlighten the nation with advice, knowledge, opinion or wisdom make sure it is procured with respect and personal integrity.

Assumptions become a habit and aren’t necessarily grounded in reality and distort opinion.

I’m happy to receive comments on my articles. Constructive criticism (which I’ve had), feedback on content but not insulting views with underlying messages based on ill-conceived opinions.

Make no mistake, people mainly write about frivolous stuff on Social/Media. Some share advice, some don’t. Don’t believe their content documents suffering, worry, stress and their whole life or the appalling things that are happening worldwide. We watch the BBC news for that!

My friend sums it up:
Everybody has their crap, it’s just different crap.

#WeRemember Video
https://www.prolificnorth.co.uk/features/2020/04/weremember-hopeful-video-thats-viral-sensation-coronavirus-crisis

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Musings on the crisis and a rant!

The Crisis

It is important to acknowledge the enormity of the Coronavirus crisis and the subsequent devastation on so many levels. I don’t discuss it much here whilst blogging, but it is, as with everyone, constantly on my mind. The heart-breaking medical situations, the loss of our liberty, the financial burden, employment/business fallout, the media and the anxiety and stress of our mental and physical health are not going to end imminently.
It is good to have time to think, clean, exercise, read, decorate, etc. but it is a challenge to remain positive much of the time. This blog has become a journal of my experiences and I’m glad to say writing this, has been rewarding for me and I hope, interesting to others and fascinating to look back on.
At present, I can’t see a return to normal for some months to come.

Facebook

I’ve decided to take a break from social media and particularly Facebook. The final straw was when someone posted something moaning and referring to someone as Sicknote ….. The person had been in Intensive Care. Now normally, I just scroll past when someone posts/shares an ignorant view but this lady rarely posts so I thought it could be interesting. It made me angry because the content was so disgusting and I was shocked that this FB Friend had posted it. Anyway, it serves no purpose. None at all. Enough is enough and apart from occasionally posting on my blog page, I won’t even look at Facebook for a while. So far, it has been a couple of weeks and I feel much better for it. Yes, know I can mute/unfollow but really I need a break from all the noise. This has been coming for some time as it has become the platform to moan about who is doing what, and why they shouldn’t be doing it during lockdown or any other time! At present my main concern is my family and the surrounding community. Certainly not Gotcha armchair opinions and politics. Especially now. Oh, and it is possible to have this view on all content whether you favour the political/celebrity/friend’s views or not. I’ve been known to be irritated by daft attacks on politicians I’m not keen on (understatement). If the views are vicious and twisted and just someone launching into a cruel diatribe then it is better left unsaid. Twitter and Instagram are far more interesting in my humble opinion. Rant over. I’ll be more cheerful in future, I promise.

Positive News
At least there is some good news; the one person I know who has had this dreadful virus is now recovering in hospital having been seriously ill in ICU on a ventilator for many weeks. It must be such a relief for her family and is such promising news. Hopefully, she will be able to rest, have physio and eventually make a full recovery. Also, I have a family member in a medical care situation and she seems to be happy and well looked after by the devoted medical staff. Thank goodness we have the NHS. I’ve always been an advocate and am even more so now.
Hope you are all well. Onwards and upwards 🙂 
Take care,
Andrea x

See the source image

Back to Blogging…

Sorry, it has been so long! I’ve been meaning to return for some time. Obviously, with all that is going on in the world, now is a good time to blog.

Deciding what to write isn’t as complicated as you would envisage. Focusing on what you can do rather than what you can’t, is my intention. We are, at the very least, social distancing or even self-isolating. Or, as I am, somewhere in between.

Topics will be the usual MISHMASH. The content will be suggesting and exploring ideas rather than telling you what you should be doing! The aim is to be as helpful as possible, in these troubling times.

As the whole business, is so worrying at present, I aim to inform, entertain and maintain wellbeing. The content will be researched, informative but also just fun.
Here are some topic which I will be investigating:

Health, Fitness, and Wellbeing
Gardening
Cooking and Food Shopping
Podcasts
Books/reading
Social Media, online education and virtual tours/life
Photography, films, telly, etc.

Hopefully, my new chatty approach will be interesting and if you’ve any ideas let everyone know in the comments.

#Blogging Course and The Ivy, Tower Bridge, #London – Part 1 (Blogging)

I recently went on a blogging course in Whitehall, London. Christine and I, agreed to meet on the train and travel together. The trains were chaotic and we had to keep changing the route but eventually took the next one to London Bridge and then to Whitehall via the London Underground. We arrived, exhausted but dived into the cloakroom, knowing full well this would tip us over the lateness line. I absolutely hate being late, but we were not the only ones, due to the transport problems.

Luckily, the lecturer was just starting and we plonked ourselves down and listened. As usual, with these things, they don’t give much away, but the content (below) did remind me of what I should do in order to be a tenacious blogger. I’ve listed the key features at the end of this blog, as they may help remind others what you need to do to improve your blog.

I found this information useful, but without much substance. On the plus side, the tips I liked helped refresh my mind about what I need to do to improve my blog. My main wish is to interest people and maintain their interest. The main reason for blogging is because I love writing and researching stuff. On this basis, I will continue, and it doesn’t hurt to remind oneself what needs to be done.

I’ve decided to have another look at blog themes, although will keep the rolling blog format. I need a strategy for social media as I want people to read my blog. I find reading other blogs, interesting too, so will keep an eye out for fascinating blogs to read and follow. As far as improving my skills, I am taking a photography course and may decide to do a Photoshop course too. I already use CANVA.

Another thing I plan to do is look at old blog posts and do some updates. I like the ‘break a story’ idea as I get out and about so could do more of this so long as it will interest people and remain relevant.

Anyway, after this event, we rushed back to London Bridge for our delicious meal in The Ivy. To be continued…

 

Blogging Course (Key Points)

Checking up

Look at your blog and check colours, fonts, style and branding. Compare to others. Have a responsive layout. Plugins, links, platform?
Have a Media Kit (with case studies, traffic, engagements) – This is when you have lots of traffic!
Skill Up – Html, editing (photo shop), etc.

Branding

Is the theme consistent with your brand? Imagery/photos (you could be known for your pink, filtered photos). Know your style. Have a dialogue with followers. Go to networking events.

Enhancing

How are you doing as a writer? Tone/style…is it consistent? Visuals – Are they good enough. Photos should be very good. Text over pictures – CANVA is good for this. Search engines love videos. User experience – check for broken links, updating blog posts and make sure dates are relevant. No popups (although some disagree with this advice).

Promoting

Traffic
Networking and ask peers to share (something that I won’t do). Meetups, trade shows and FB groups. I haven’t found FB groups all that good. Collaborations, link ups and identify similar blogs.

Subscriptions, giveaways, competitions, list posts and check your headlines. Be controversial (finally found something I’m good at).
Break a story (e.g. review a new restaurant/exhibition).
Evoke an emotional response. Be personal and find new content/ themes.

Social Media
Have a strategy and be methodical. Post three times a day (Twitter), once on FB, once on Instagram but keep it the same and scheduled. Engage others through content, peers and brands you like. Use news stories that are relevant to what blog about. I often use studies to back up what I am blogging about. Network with journalists. Pitch stories to local newspapers.
If you write about a product encourage the business to retweet (promote) what you have written.

Monetising

Advertising with Google Adsense. Free to sign up and put the code on the blog. Affiliate marketing. Instagram is good with links.(This is not applicable to me at present.)
Sponsored posts – Someone pays you to write a post, newsletter or podcast. In other words, go freelance with your writing/photography. If you are an expert on something, then write an ebook/course.

Effectiveness

Check to see how effective you are with Google analytics, FB insights, Twitter insights, reader surveys, etc.

Secrets of Silicon Valley – Review and Opinion

It does not matter whether you watched the above programme, you will read here about the far-reaching effects of social media on society.

The Persuasion Machine

The above documentary is a fascinating insight into the realms of a futuristic world that is here now, in Silicon Valley, and makes you think. Yes, really makes you think. Jamie Bartlett, a cool, bun wearing hipster, sets out on a expedition of self discovery concerning the effects of social media on society, culture and most importantly, you.

America has become a contemporary idyll that has to be sustained for many reasons but mainly, these days it appears, political aspersions by rich and powerful men. We were shown many interviews where Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook Founder, is forthright in his hope that Facebook will connect everyone globally and will also help society create a globalised world. Barack Obama was said to be a kindrid spirit and felt the same way and was shown on stage joking that he was the man to get Zuckerberg in the shirt and tie. By his second term he had mastered the ubiquitous social media and enjoyed the capabilities of the online platforms.

Ultimately, Facebook has helped Trump come to power and without Facebook, his Facebook writer, Theresa Hong, Cambridge Analytica, tells us “he wouldn’t have won”. Cambridge Analytica used data relating to around 220 million Americans to target potential voters and possible donations. These few words clarifies the effect of using social media for not only social interaction, but also fostering political influence. The social media campaign was submitted by teams of computer personnel from Google, Facebook, YouTube and other ‘creatives’. Hong even shows us the empty offices where they used to sit during the Trump campaign.

Facebook, with other platforms, finds out your intimate traits including political views, sexual orientation and personality. The concern is obviously the disruptive power occurring and a new unpredictable world throwing us all into a political turbulence, never seen before. The technology community has, indeed, “opened a can of worms” that it was, evidently, mobilising against. Freedom to connect doesn’t just let us share holiday snaps and family news, but also provides a world of targeted advertising and bombarding political views.

Jamie Bartlett finds out just how powerful Facebook is. It has huge repercussions for our society as the data informs how we think, what we like and how we like it! A psychologist Michal Kosinski shows Jamie how Facebook and internet driven data cleverly informs about personality, background, education, etc. here so people like Trump can turn the statistics into votes. The persuasion machine can now secure you a place in the White House. Allegedly, Trump spent eighty-three million dollars on his social media campaign. One hundred, almost identical ads, were placed in one day, to see which one did best. This constant stream of cosy ads aimed at families, must have driven the public mad. You can imagine what they thought -*All right! I’ll vote for you, just stop the ……. Ads!* Cambridge Analytica were using data on around 220 million Americans to target potential donors and voters. Armed with Cambridge Analytica’s revolutionary insights, the next step in the battle to win over millions of Americans was to shape the online messages they would see.

 

“An algorithm that can look at millions of people and […] hundreds of thousands […] of your likes can extract and utilise even those little pieces of information and combine it to a very accurate profile,” Michal Kosinski tells Bartlett. “It can also use your digital footprint and turn it into a very accurate prediction of your intimate traits, like religiosity, political views, personality, intelligence, sexual orientation and a bunch of other psychological traits.”

 

Just in case, you were smugly thinking they can’t find much about you because you don’t use Facebook, think again. Amazon, Google and other internet sites, drive data to inform the nerds, all about you. Well, that is what Jamie Bartlett appears to discover.

A clause relating to media legislation The Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was designed to make the internet safer, confirms the lack of responsibility of any media platform: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by anther information provider.”  This means the platform is not responsible for the content that is posted on it. Facebook does not own the information like Uber doesn’t own cars and AirBnB doesn’t own any property. Is this not just business and the formulation of an economy? The difference is the tech giants are not drilling for business they are generating it.

The trouble is this is infiltrating out lives and manifests a persuasion machine that is being exploited by, shall we say, unsuitable beings. As our visible footprint appears to revolutionise how democracy works, fake news is infiltrated online by emotion. It is not all about the written word but also inducing emotion by imagery. A picture of a sad looking Theresa May, which is easy to find, and a jolly Jeremy Corbyn, acting like he has won the election, plays on your psychology. This, I find hard to believe, but the point is illuminated by focusing on the fake news about Hilary Clinton, which may have lost her the election.

Social media and the internet seems to be having a profound consequence and projects negativity and misinformation that we haven’t had before. However, we’ve always joked never to believe what you read in the newspapers and the internet does provide us with an array of useful information. It is difficult to evaluate but maybe we will all become tired of social media. In fact, a recent study denotes that this is already happening with under 18 year olds choosing other platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. Funnily enough, I spotted the article on my Facebook feed by Mashable UK here. My Facebook newsfeed shows a definite slow down of posting by ‘friends’ and more articles and ads. I find myself reading books more and getting out and about so although they reckon that people spend fifty minutes a day on Facebook, this I think, will change as we get bored with it. Maybe I’m kidding myself, but look at Twitter and how people got bored with that!

Also, this wide reaching knowledge has been around for a long time and probably for longer than we realise. Information has always been extracted by ten yearly census, loyalty cards, where we live, if we go to a posh school or university. I’m not sure that the internet can be blamed for everything. Although I am continually shocked about how much people look at their phones and wonder what books are not being written and art not being created because of the mobile phone addiction.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed social media for connecting with other people. It is a way of joining an interesting conversation but it just has to be contained. These days, blogging is my favourite way of communicating although originally, I favoured Twitter due to the micro blog element and fast moving commentary.

It is our responsibility to read and educate ourselves on these matters. There are plenty of outlets providing information on all sides of the political spectrum and if we, as a society, rely on Facebook then maybe we should broaden our horizons. Don’t you think?

 

Watch the programme here: Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0916ghq

 

Criticize (plus a way to do it properly)…

via Daily Prompt: Criticize

The first criticism is that this is spelt wrong. It should be criticise! Do you take criticism well? I do not. I have taken this somewhat innocuous word prompt to address the problem.

My issue is that with the age of social media, which, incidentally, I love, everyone has an opinion. Often a hysterical one. Although, to be fair at the moment, with all that is happening in the world, I understand.

However, if we debate some of the world’s most exacting problems, maybe perspective and new ideas can be made and resolutions established.

When someone gives you constructive criticism, in a well informed manner, are you happy to take this criticism? As long as the person can back up their comments, this is fair isn’t it? Particularly, if they are addressing a situation sensitively.

This is what is missing in the media and social media. Articles and commentary are often destructive. For example, I find myself irritated by the hysterical coverage of Brexit. This, I can assure you, is whether I agree with the article/post or not.

People accuse others of racism, greed, selfishness, ignorance, stupidity and so on. In my opinion, this is just as bigoted as the people they are accusing of being racist, or whatever.

Often the posts lack substance or evidence and are offensive. Surely we can follow our ideology and not always criticise politicians, women, men, the ageing population, millennials, etc, without reasoning and of course, being proactive.  Isn’t it best to write to a politician, magazine, online forum, or join a political group rather than moan aimlessly and publicly without substance? We make ourselves look stupid if we just rant constantly. Yes, we all moan but not daily and publicly. (Rant over.)

Recently, I’ve been reading about https://yougov.co.uk/ and will explore this avenue. It is a community where we can all share our views and share opinions. The information is analysed and the results are submitted to the yougov website. Maybe this is the answer…

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Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow….

 

Being Social – Improving Twitter

copy-of-being-social

So with the demise of Vine, we are left wondering if Twitter is dead?  No, because Twitter still has plenty to offer.  For example, the latest news and opinions of top commentators, updates which cultivate connection and the way users can engage with random tweeters, without knowing each other. It remains easily accessible and a powerful way of real-time communication. Vine did not watch the competition and react fast enough when the platform, Instagram, began their video uploads and recent launch of Stories in August 2o16.

Social media changes at a rapid pace but it is important that everyone focuses on what they do best and not all become the same.  Twitter has always been innovative and to be fair, Facebook changed their format to include a news feed (2011) in the way that Twitter has always had.  So who is copying who?

Twitter, is still  improving and reacting to what users want.  The platform has developed many new aspects including Periscope, the live streaming video, the Hearts feature, which to my dismay replaced Favourites, and of course, Moments, to show us the best tweets in various categories.  The “In case you missed it” interrupting our timeline and the analytical information about specific tweets, are useful too.

However, it could improve further.  Twitter should cultivate subject pods.  Tweeters could write and interact about specific interests and events and enjoy conversations with like-minded people. This will support and capture an audience and enable it to spontaneously voice opinions thus creating intelligent Twitter conversations again.  The propagation of debate will seize back the purpose of Twitter and synchronise topics and news with the particular audience.  At present you have to make sure you follow an “influencer”. More subject pods will encourage Twitter to become the conversation platform, as it once was.

Furthermore, The Moments section could be updated more often, with in-depth analysis pertaining towards current news.  This could interact with twitter users thus making the platform even more interesting by observing other users’ opinions.  Additionally, Twitter is an excellent source of information but it could improve by providing more detail on why something is trending.  The #hashtag formulae still provides a vital tool for implementing the collection of tweets and tracking of interest, but the grabbing of popular, relevant tweets, on specific subjects, could also be stimulating for the tweeter.

At least Twitter is well aware that it needs to raise its game and is proactively making enhancements. It has introduced Hearts, Moments and In case you missed it. Also, increased tweet characters, as from now on, the use of various media attachments will no longer count as part of the word count.  However, the word count is part of the fun on Twitter so they should not to go too far with this.

Augmentation of the above is vital and although exacting to process, will make Twitter rise towards the dizzy heights it once was by accelerating growth and maintaining curiosity, awareness and responsiveness.  By retaining the short tweet but capturing emergent subjects, news and events it will stop the decline.

Don’t forget to follow! Thank you for reading my blog.  #Twitter #SocialMedia

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