Sunday, 29 January 2017

Why I'm Going Offline and So Should You

Firstly, apologies. I know no-one reads these things, but I would like to formally apologise to my non-existent readers for being so absent. The truth is after a year of writing, I seem to have run out of original, satirical studenty stuff (aside from writing about cone theft), so I will be one of the many millions of people who use their blogging as an online diary (as if I wasn't doing that already).

I had to break my silence because the truth is, social media has driven me to the edge. If I was in a thriller, I'd be the person in the car whose car is hanging on the edge of a cliff. I'd be Moriarty with a gun in his pocket, I'd be...well you get the drift.

I'm through with feeling bad about the fact that it's a Friday night and i'm eating Dominos while scrolling through people's Instagrams about how they're having such a good time and how they basically have the best life ever. Yes, I know this sounds like the most bitter thing you've read today (aside from Donald Trump's tweets) but the truth is, social media, be it Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook, in whatever medium, is detrimental to our mental health. If we try and live up to a false ideal, we'll never be good enough.

Social media is designed so we can show off the best things about our lives; our expensive hauls and our exotic holidays, and it achieves exactly what the original publishers of this content want us to achieve. We all want our friends and peers to be jealous of us. Jealous of our exaggerated lives, jealous of the things we CHOOSE to highlight. Now, at the risk of sounding like a Trainspotting monologue, it doesn't take a genius to work out what both us and our peers are trying to do. But if you're like me and treat social media as a hobby, spending this much time on it can do no good. Even though you know someone's ulterior motive, if you're looking at these things every morning. every work break, every night, you can't help but get brainwashed by the world of show offs out there.

But It's not just the showing off that's wrong, it's the constant need for validation. Posting an Instagram photo and then deleting it because you didn't get more than 11 likes is saddening and happens all too often. You should post a photo you like, and that you want others to see, not just for an empty double tap from a friend's friend's cousin's brother. We've even let third party apps where you can get dozens of likes from random accounts become a thing, because apparently we crave the validation of some stranger instead of those in our close circles who actually matter. We know it's crazy, we know it's wrong, but when you get sucked in to the fickle world of social media, it's hard to get out.

So this is why I'm choosing to go offline. I need to get away from all the posers concerned about their public image (yes, that includes me). I need to stop posting photos for people I don't care about to tell them what a good time I had. Instead of spending the whole night taking photos in a hilarious new Snapchat filter, I'll focus on enjoying the company I'm with and developing relationships with the people right in front of me, rather than on Whatsapp.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The Media Needs to Bring People Together in the Face of Terrorism, Not Drive Them Apart

A video emerged earlier this week of a man in a supermarket insulting a Muslim woman by calling her 'Batman' and then telling her how he knew a 'white girl who married a Muslim man and she had a poster of an ISIS flag on the back wall'. Just one day prior to this, an innocent Muslim woman was involved in a hit-and-run accident at an anti-Islam rally. This is just a number of recent Islamophobic incidents since Islamic State's attacks on Paris in 2015 and Brussels earlier this year. As tensions mount, the life of the regular Muslim becomes harder and the scapegoating of the media becomes more prominent.

Thanks to the power of media, they have been able to take innocent victims and turn them into the perpetrators. Regular Muslims are struggling to coexist in modern society without someone giving them suspicious looks or comments. In a BBC documentary entitled Is Britain Racist? a young Muslim girl dressed in a full burqa is faced with abuse from passers-by within 10 minutes just because of the stigma attached to what she is wearing. It's just not fair that everyday people have to be punished for the crimes of those who use the Muslim religion as a means for their hate.

Time and time again, the news makes it perfectly clear how terrorists are Muslim or non-white. Where's the news that white Americans are actually the biggest terror threat in the US? I want to hear about the Ted Kaczynskis and the Timothy McVeighs because they DO exist and in just as equal measure. While the blame is not solely on the media but individuals too, the media don't seem to do anything to help the already negative view on ethnic minorities.

It's not just the west affected by terrorism. In the tragic attack aimed at Christians this Easter in Lahore, only 14 of the 75 dead were Christians; the rest were Muslim. Yet where is the Pray for Pakistan profile picture? Where is the extensive news coverage? In what many people are calling 'selective sympathy', the event was treated as a fleeting moment for the major news stations as it didn't receive nearly as much coverage as the Brussels attack. Of course, not one catastrophe is more important than the other but just because it is further away does not make it less significant. I heard little about the only positive aspect of this story, how people from all over Pakistan were donating blood to the victims, be they Christian or Muslim.

Image: latuff2 / deviantart
 We are convinced by the media that the terrorists are the majority but not only are they the exact opposite, more is being done day by day to combat terrorism. While the media's intention is to inform the public of the events around them, by giving such terrorist groups the fear-mongering publicity they need to gain momentum, the coverage on terrorism ends up being counter-intuitive.

In light of the 2015 attacks in the French capital, we saw the benefits of social media in particular, with Facebook allowing locals to mark that they were safe to their friends and family. We need to see more of this, and less promoting Islamophobia, especially with ridiculous amounts of Donald Trump coverage, a man who wants to supposedly ban all Muslims from entering America.

The media has so much influence and power among society and tools such as social media can be used positively as it has done for movements like feminism. The No More Page 3 campaign gained significant following through Facebook and other social media sites, and thanks to their message, their petition gained over 200,000 signatures and topless models on page 3 of The Sun were quietly axed as of 2015.

This is exactly the kind of thing we need to hear more about. Instead of worrying about the spread of ISIS, we need more uplifting spirits. We must remember that we are the majority. Individually we may not be able to do a lot, but collectively we have the power to make a difference. It is up to us to filter through the sea of fear-mongering and ignorance and make a stand for the oppressed, regardless of race or gender.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

5 Ways University Helped Me out of My Shell

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Picture a lonely young teen, reading her Harry Potter in the corner while wistfully admiring those laughing with their friends in the playground below. Yep, that’s me.

Okay so maybe I wasn’t THAT bad but up until last year, I was a shy little Indian girl nervous about making friends and ‘finding herself’ at university. A year on and at a recent family meal, an uncle tells me how I used to be so shy and have really come into my own since starting university. I still think I have a long while to go, but I believe my time so far has provided a great head start. It can be hard being shy and introverted especially at university, especially in an environment which encourages openness and loud personalities. These are just a few things that helped me develop. And if the biggest sceptic/pessimist can do it (that’s me if you didn’t guess), there’s no reason you can’t!
1. Make an effort with flatmates
This is probably most applicable to first years but still relevant; after all, you do live with these people! Try as much to secure strong friendships with these people as you’re going to be seeing a hell of a lot of them. I was worried that I was too quiet (and quite frankly a little too weird) for my group of friends until we all became close enough to really be ourselves. You might think you’re an exception to the rule but give it time, trust me. 

2. Join societies
With regular meet-ups and induction events for newcomers, societies are the perfect way to meet new people and develop your social skills. If you’re like me and Ladies Hockey slightly intimidates you, join something more on your wavelength. I do believe the Cheese and Chocolate society is looking for a new president and has your name written all over it! If you’re worried about braving it alone like I was (and probably still am) then there’s no reason not to get your friends involved to help you gain confidence in large groups.

3. Make friends on the course
When you don’t think there can be anything better than the friendships you’ve made in your halls, your course mates can surprise you. I honestly feel I’ve made some of my closest friends on my course and it was with the people I’d least expect to get on with. It’s even easier to strike up a conversation because you can moan about how much you hate/dread your lecturer or how you haven’t done the seminar work. (Student life am I right?)

4. Engage in intellectual debate
If you aren’t the most outspoken person like myself, little victories such as participating in a mini debate between your peers or your friends can make you feel on top of the world. Voicing your opinions even if it’s not as much as others in your group doesn’t matter because it still counts as a personal milestone.

5. Life begins outside of your comfort zone
Lastly, whenever I feel nervous about doing something new I just think about how university is about trying new experiences. These three years of discovery won’t come around again and you’ll be filled with regret if you don’t make the most of them. Of course it’s about studying but it’s also a time for personal development before you enter that big, scary thing they call ‘the real world’. Why not make the most of it?

Original post found here:

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Boozy Britain: Are We Encouraging Alcoholism in Our Youth?

 Imagens Evangélicas / Flickr

Now I enjoy several drinks as much as the next student, but how much is too much? With many uni events solely based on alcohol, I find myself sympathising with those who don’t drink – there is very little left in uni culture if you don’t ‘down it, fresher’! I personally know people who just don’t like drinking or simply can’t for their own health, and I can’t help but wonder if we should do more to combat our overly boozy culture.

In a 2010 study, 83% of students in the UK classified themselves as drinkers, which means only a mere 17% chose the sober way of life. So why do we students drink our own body weight in liquor, I hear you eagerly ask?

I believe it boils down to a simple fear of missing out (or FOMO); when almost all social activities are based on drinking games and not being able to remember the night before, it’s no wonder we are a generation of binge-drinkers and budding alcoholics. What’s more striking is the way uni culture promotes this behavior, as if harbouring a hangover on a Sunday morning is almost expected of you. You’re labelled as ‘boring’, ‘no fun’ and a ‘killjoy’ if you don’t participate in Ring of Fire as opposed to your peers who can’t go one day without drinking.

 In the real world, this would be a form of acute alcoholism, yet in university culture, it’s acceptable. If you find yourself in the minority that doesn’t drink, I would suggest immersing yourself in similar company; heck, there are even some societies that dedicate themselves to not drinking, you shouldn’t be made to feel alien for not completely destroying your poor liver.

I’m not saying you should abstain completely, but maybe the Italians are on the right lines with their culture of drinking with food rather than shotting with Sarah (or any friend of your choice). By all means get to the merry stage, but is it really fun when Sarah is holding your hair up while you’re being sick in the grimiest club at three in the morning? Of course it is completely understandable when you’re bogged down with hundreds of assignments while juggling a social life to have a drink (or seven), but before you know it you’re being carried home on a stretcher (because every decent club has a spare stretcher going) and I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s not the way to end a night.

There is no shame in curling up with your favourite stuffed monkey (shout-out to Albi) while watching a bit of Benedict Cumberbatch in the evening. I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like heaven on Earth. Even the hardest party animals need a break and unwind with a four hour Come Dine With Me marathon especially when you’re watching sore losers. Even trips such as going to the theatre, or watching a movie makes a pleasant change and don’t come with the added plus of a hangover the next morning.

Maybe it’s different in other universities, but I feel like more of an effort should be made for sober socials. Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge the effort that is currently being made to combat this, such as the £90,000 spent on tackling initiation drinking, but I feel like this is an issue that should be more at the forefront for societies in general – especially those with a notorious reputation.

Enjoyment is fine in moderation, as is not wanting to drink at all. However maybe Universities should do more to combat student alcoholism, or at least supply more supervision to tackle dangerous coercive drinking. I’m not putting my Gin + Lemonade down just yet, but I’m thinking about it.

Original post can be found here: 

Monday, 4 January 2016

This Is the Post That Shows You I'm Lovable

So it's 2016!!11!! What did you all do for NYE? I had a wicked awesome time with my friends from home and we got so wavy but it was all good because we had fun playing drunk Twister and then Stacey got her head stuck in a bin lid. Here's a photo before things got a bit messy, just to rub it in your face that I'm really sociable and my squad is better than yours. #squadgoals #bingate #lefthandblue

Now I'm sorry to get all serious on y'all but 2015 was a very tough time for me. I chipped a nail (it was my favourite nail!!!) and to top it all off, my selfish sister sat on my favourite sunglasses! Now how will I pretend I'm outside sunbathing on a deck chair when I'm really in my bedroom with a lamp on my face?! I know you're probably sympathising with me a ton right now, but what I'm getting at here is that you should all remember to stay positive guys! I haven't shown anyone yet (hi mum) but to make myself stay constantly happy and ban myself from feeling any other emotion ever, I got this neat little tattoo on my wrist! Notice how the 't' is a cross because I'm not religious at all but it looks totes cute, right? What do you guys think?! Tell me in the comments below! #bigunveiling #deathofahashtag

Last week marked an important cornerstone in my life, I hit 1 million zombies followers! I'd like to take the time to not only promote my new clothes line but to thank my supporters. Without you guys I wouldn't be where I am today and although I have more money than sense (and am generally sorted for the rest of my life), I still think it's important to lull you into a false sense of security and act like I need your loyalty. I really appreciate all the love and support.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Where Do We Go From Here?

Where do I go next? What does the future have in store for me? What career will I have for the rest of my life? These are just an array of questions I ask myself from time to time, and now with the second year of my degree in full swing, alarm bells have started ringing as these questions need to be answered.

As melodramatic as it sounds, I used to think I knew what I wanted to do with my life - I had it all planned out from the word go. I was adamant that museum curating was my calling, therefore everything I had done thus far was done with this in mind; the time spent volunteering at countless museums, not to mention my recent British Museum summer school opportunity. Of course I value every experience, but I can't help but feeling it's a waste if I don't want to go down this career path anymore. It suddenly struck me that the job I had been working towards all my life may not be my dream job anymore, and I have to admit, my world was turned a little upside down.

This panic probably stems from the fact that I'm twenty nothing now (hello Instagram reference) and feeling the pressure to do something with my life instead of being the lazy teenager who is somehow socially permitted to slack. However, I can't help but think that the system is partly at fault here - this is what happens when we are forced to decide what to do for the rest of our lives from the mere age of 16. You suddenly find yourself doubting whether your dream job of pet food tasting or golf ball diving is the right career for you, as you leave university unemployed, living off mum and desperately clinging to the legs of an employer in the futile hope that if you grovel enough they might actually give you a job. Yet all of the begging and pleading is worth it, as it lands you a job you kind of like, for people you kind of tolerate, with money that is kind of enough for your cost of living.

As depressing as it sounds, I've come to the grim realisation that this is probably the likelihood of my future given the average age of moving from home is now 30 and this year alone, 60,000 students found themselves in "non-professional" roles. At school, you're told that it's fine if you don't know what you want to do in the future. It's fine for the sum total of about 5 months and then you're expected to get your act together and sort out several summer internships unless you want to face unemployment. The pressure can become too much, that sometimes you need time to take a step back and breathe.

Despite what's been said, it is key to look beyond the sea of crippling debt and rejection for your own sanity. Society seems to forget that there is more to life than work, or from a student perspective it certainly seems that way. I've learned to accept that my dream career is no longer the dream and that's fine - to expect a 16 year old to predict what they want to do in their 20s is irrational at best, and this gives me time to find out what I really want in life. In an attempt to rekindle my passion for the world, I've started taking up my hobby of photography once again. Taking up my cherished hobbies has opened up a range of doors for me, and it is important to keep your options open as much as possible at this stage.

It is all too easy for the world of work to become the be-all and end-all which is what university tries to subconsciously enforce. This couldn't possibly sound more teen fiction but what this 'career crisis' has taught me is that it's okay not to have your entire life planned out from day one. I'm learning to appreciate the finer things in life; I feel best when I'm experimenting with my creative side, be it photography or web-page designing. For those of you who feel like you're in the same boat - immerse yourself in what you love. When I find time, I like to take solace in my blog (whether or not anyone actually reads these things) or dabble in various other hobbies: it keeps you grounded and makes you hate life a little less.

Smile all you want you crazy drunkard, wait until you face the real world...

Thursday, 10 September 2015

When the World Needed to Show Some Humanity

Disclaimer: In a slight twist to my usual posts, I feel strongly about the migrant crisis and I feel I'd be actively ignoring an alarming issue by writing something trifling on how to avoid a hangover.  This article is just my opinion and is in no way right - please do comment if you feel the same way or want to dispute any of the points raised.

The recent refugee dilemma means that thousands of civilians are flocking to Europe in search for a better life. This year alone 448,000 people applied for Asylum in Europe; out of that 448,000, 25,000 applied for the UK, 188,000 applied in Germany, but Sweden surprisingly had 8 applicants per 1,000 citizens. (Source: BBC) These staggering numbers and a certain scaremongering by the media made people sceptical about allowing more migrants and made me in particular, shocked at the state of our society that we have such little sympathy for other human beings.

I can completely understand there is an economic strain on resources and even though Britain increased the overseas aid budget by an extra £1 billion, we can at least give these people some temporary refuge or transport while a long-term solution can be found. No, these people aren't looking to exploit benefits or take your jobs - they're just looking for a place to live without fighting for their own lives. They hear about a country in which they're not likely to be gunned down or bombed in their own homes and risk everything to travel on perilous European shores only to be told they're a burden and aren't welcome.  Who are we to condemn these people when their only crime is to have been born in a war-torn country? This is why it bemuses me that David Cameron was so bold as to announce that Britain was to accept no refugees, only to revoke that statement when the public were outraged due to the recent photo of young Aylan Kurdi. What happened to Britain's compassion and why did it take the single most powerful image of a young boy's body washed up on a beach to instil some empathy in people? Why does it have to be SO bad before we put our foot down?

It's a sad case when it takes such an extreme image (which I won't show for obvious reasons) to finally make us say 'well, the buck stops here!'. It makes one think, are we this de-sensitised to scenes of turmoil and struggle that it takes a corpse to evoke feeling? It's no wonder, when the news is filled with distressing scenes of terrorist activity one minute and teen suicide the next, followed by a weather update and cheeky banter in the studio. News is fleeting; people's hardships are presented as fleeting, but what we must remember is that this is a long, hard struggle and not something that can be easily switched off.

After the outrage, people are now offering their own homes to refugees as hashtag #refugeeswelcome trends on Twitter, but is it too little too late? Don't get me wrong, I think it's brilliant that an effort is being made because it's a lot better than nothing at all, but the fact that it took hundreds of thousands of deaths before we took a stand means that as a society we let things get to an absolute breaking point before we realise we should probably make an effort. It's a shame when morals we teach our children like 'put yourself in the other person's shoes' seem to be lost on our adults when they complain of the influx of migrants coming over and don't recognise their struggle. What these events teach us is that we should be grateful for what we have and to the multicultural people who enrich our society, despite whatever spin the media wants to take on it.