What`s Instagram coming to?

I used to really like Instagram, and actually prefer it to Facebook. However, I am starting to get quite frustrated with it recently, and actually for pretty much the same reasons as Facebook. I used to think Instagram was for enjoying good photos, but this no longer necessarily seems the case.

The “follow/unfollow method” is so popular, that it`s actually got its own name, which comes up on Google. I actually started to take the time to find my unfollowers and do the necessary. I could name two which have followed and unfollowed me twice more after that. I`d lie if I said I do not care about the number of followers I have, but I do care about the reasons and want to be followed for genuine enjoyment of my content.

Another word which I didn`t know existed until rather recently is “thirstbait“. I already knew exactly what it was and was glad to see that`s got its own term, too. I try to entertain my followers with good quality photography relating to a few recurring themes, and I was proud when my followers reached a three digit number and my likes reached twenty, but when i compare myself to the, often very mediocre, accounts of those girls who post little else but close-ups of their own body, I just cannot help but wonder… No, not jealous at all, just a bit sad that narcissism (and its encouragement) seems to have arrived here, too… 😦

Facebook: More on Befriending Co-workers (part II)

(continuation)

But that`s just an illusion that people never really go away if they`re on your facebook – if you`re not careful, they drift away right in front of your eyes. Without it, they would either disappear completely (rather than keep popping up as a niggling reminder of unkept promises) or stay close (if you both make the effort). Everything in-between is just superficial and usually not worth it in the long term.

I am leaving my job, and although I get on really well with and will miss most people, I am actually grateful that we are not linked on facebook, and I don`t intend to change this when I leave. I don`t want our relationships to be reduced like that. At the moment, we don`t need facebook (and it`s actually nice not to feel pressurised into keeping up with everyone`s personal lives), and starting this now would feel… contrieved?

But how lovely would it be to bump into each other in the supermarket when you truely haven`t seen each other for all that time? (We all live close – it will happen!!)

I very fondly remember the banter I used to have with my old colleagues on facebook, the little insiders that noone else would get. Here, I have none of that. I also remember the banter from which I was excluded, the allusions to things that happened when I wasn`t there and which noone would ever bother to explain. I have none of that, either. And then, I see the banter of others, people who don`t and never worked with me, and I usually find it childish – and I have none of that, eihter.

We do have banter. So much. Just not on Facebook. We probably have even better fun without it. Because where there is facebook, people inevitably get (and therefore seek!) attention for what they do outside work. But where we don`t (over-?)share our personal lives like that, we are more focused on what we do at work. Our personal lives do not matter: no showing off our drunken party photos, no unhealthy competition about where we go on holiday. Whereever people come together, you cannot totally avoid those things, but there`s definitely less where there is no facebook. And if we do share something personal, it feels special. If you get close to one another, it`s out of genuine interest rather than because it`s expected.

In my current work, I`m finding it easy to be friendly with people without being over-familiar, for various reasons. I`m now moving back to a set-up where I`ll be sitting within a team of other women who are all doing the same job, and who I was told are very supportive of one another in relation to work and personal lives. Sounds very pleasant, but part of me feels anxious. I really don`t want facebook any more. If the topic comes up, I may feel I`ll have to add people, but I will probably say right from the start that I`m a very unrewarding friend over there, because I`m never on, and then ensure I`ll stick to that.

After all, I never met anyone who was regarded or included any less within work beause s/he was not connected on facebook. If anything, the opposite.

 

 

 

Facebook: More on Befriending Co-workers (Part I)

Last year, while I was settling into my last job, I wrote this blog about becoming facebook friends with work colleagues.

How did I do between then and (soon) leaving my second job since I resolved not to link in with co-workers any more?

I never added anyone from my last job until I left, when I requested the girl I wrote about in the blog. We still interact there on a superficial basis, and occasionally chat about joint interests, but, as expected, she did not react on my hint re meeting up.

In my current job, I said quite early on I do not add colleagues on facebook. This felt appropriate as facebook has caused, and is still causing, trouble (of several kinds), and our managers actively discouraged my young colleague from linking in with colleagues.

In February, I added one of our agency workers, who I already knew from my last job. One day, she suggested linking me something via Facebook, we friended each other, and that same night, we found ourselves playing old music to each other and laughing so much that she immediately got her reputation with my other half. Most interactions we have there are still PNs, including about private things, which we would never make time to discuss at work. Facebook did bring us closer, but what irritates me is that I now get friends suggestions of other agency workers who, in turn, may see me and my holiday snaps (my Instagram shares are public, but of course, this is my choice which I know how to fix).

In March, I proceeded to add my room mate. We didn`t have the best of starts, but had already improved, and that day, we really bonded and laughed a lot, which felt special enough to share this on facebook with her tagged in. I noticed that she was linked with other colleagues, too, but none too close to me, so no pressure to request them, too. (One requested me, which I did not react to and which she never mentioned offline.) What however irritated me was that she is linked to the girl whom I`m providing maternity cover for, and they sometimes talked via comments about her coming back and how much they were both looking forward to this. As if she had forgotten that I was reading. Sadly, our relationship deteriorated again after my room mate resigned, and I knew for a fact that a particular complaint had been dealt with when I found myself not only deleted, but actually blocked. I was fine with the deletion, but the blocking, I perceived as a, work related, act of aggression. Much to my own surprise, it bothered me, and I felt childish when I spoke out and was reminded of how silly and overrated facebook is. Her leaving do was also being organised on facebook, and by being deleted, I suddenly found myself un-invited to something I was already “coming” to, which I found humiliating in front of other colleagues, who (at least from me) knew nothing about our difficulties. She, overall, wasn`t a good experience at all on facebook either.

A couple of months ago, I met an old colleague in headoffice – it was her first day with us, and although we never got close in our old work, we had a really nice chat, and I spontaneously said I`ll request you on Facebook. I did, but she never accepted me, which is okay. We really don`t have much in common, and this was the first and only warm conversation we ever had. I`m actually glad she didn`t. I think she posts a lot about her kids, who are both about 20.

The one colleague, who is extremely special, is not on facebook (any more), and, rather than being disappointed, I found that he rose in my esteem, probably because by separating himself from facebook, he also separated himself from everything that annoys me there.  I almost felt silly admitting that I`m still on it. In some way, “no facebook” makes our relationship feel more special – we don`t need it, and an occasional text, just for you or me, feels so much more personal than a broadcast or comment on social media. The importance of “no facebook” really stroke me when he announced he was leaving, and we spoke about what this would mean for our friendship. Never mind how deeply moved we both were when we agreed that we wanted to keep in touch and that this should include actually meeting again, rather than just texting a few more times – with facebook, we probably wouldn`t even have had this conversation. It wouldn`t have felt necessary, because who you have “got” on facebook, will never really go away, or so it feels, at least.

(to be continued…)

 

 

A Study of my Drink (A Blog about Photography)

I have a confession to make: I`m a serial offender for ordering my food and drinks for their looks, so I can photograph and, if I find them particularly appealing, post them on social media.

The prices in certain places used to annoy me, but ever since I started photographing, I have become more lenient, considering all the added value I`m getting.

Worst thing (apart from dealing with the impatience of fellow diners) is usually to determine which ones of all those many shots of the same thing are actually any good. The following are 10 out of 29 shots of the same white sangria I enjoyed in our favourite wine bar in Lisbon at the weekend – Bar Bica half way through, and with a stunning view onto, the very famous and much photographed Ascensor da Bica (and with free WiFi seducing you to post the first picture right away, which, of course, I did :-))

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All photos were made on an Iphone 7 Plus (with the background blurring portrait mode, which was a major selling point) and, apart from Chrome and said Portrait Mode, not edited.

Feedback would be much appreciated – while I do think I progressed in both technicque and composition, I often seem to have no idea of what a good photo is. (It always amazes me on Instagram how people like the pics I was not sure about and almost ignore thoe ones I`m particularly pleased with).

Lifestyle Month: the Facebook spring clean

Albeit with trembling fingers (always – as fully aware there`ll be no way bback!), I had a look through my friends list again this morning and deleted a few people.

While I`m not one to un-friend people after a disagreement, etc, I periodically do a “spring clean”, which somehow feels less personal – I delete people I no longer interact with. (Most of us seem to agree those days that “friend” is not a good term for a facebook contact, and I suppose it does raise our inhibitions to delete, as how can it not be personal to “un-friend” someone?)

There are several (predominantly younger) people I`m connected to who have close to 1000 facebook “friends”, but we share very personal stuff there (not just what we post, but also whom we know, etc!) so I feel a facebook list should be dynamic. If I had 1000 friends, I would find it impossible to keep track of them, and I then may as well post everything publicly. This is how people end up coming back from their holiday finding their flat was burgled. Or get sacked for complaining about their boss, even though they`re not friends with anyone from work. Some people use lists and Restricted Profiles, but I never liked the idea.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, someone recently suggested this phenomenon of large and outdated friends lists as one of the core reasons for bragging (which is, btw, the most cited reason for un-friending). If we don`t have any more offline contact, this can be seductive, particularly if the ex or high school bully are reading.

Because I don`t want to offend (or seem offended), I chose my disconnection moment wisely – another reason why a general “spring clean” works best for me. Do I send a farewell message? Never. .It never seems appropriate. I wonder when they`ll even notice. I really only ever delete people who are, online and offline, already far, far away from me already.

Bye. Part of me is still sad when I click that button, as it is, sometimes at last, a honest, final and now also clearly communicated recognition that those relationships are really over and will not be resumed. They all used to be nice, otherwise, they wouldn`t have been there in the first place.

Airbrush apps and thoughts about beauty and perfection

Below, a fab post about a topic which I was wanting to write about, too, for some time.

It`s about apps which beautify your selfies, and about what they do not only to our own self esteem, if we cannot keep up with our own selfies or if they show you “imperfections” of your natural self, which you never cared about before.

I also think it raises expectations which are both unrealistic and dangerous. As Paleica writes, social media became so popular, because it was authentic. But is it still?

There was that rather catty remark from a colleague about a friend, whose facebook photos were always looking so  much better than her real self: “I saw her in the street last week, and she looks nothing like that!” My initial thoughts were to defend her – if you are really that plain, but once in a while, you get a really good photo of yourself, of course, you`ll want everybody to see it.

On thinking a bit deeper however, I don`t think it`s all that cute. The woman who saw her in the street was now, in other words, telling everyone she was an imposter. And imagine she was invited to a class reunion and felt she could not live up to her own selfies. Would she still go, or would she find an excuse? Even though we all know about the apps, we kind of expect each other, and ourselves, to look like that in real life.

What I often think is that there now seems to be an expectation that you photoshop yourself. Everyone can do it, the tools are for free – there is no “excuse”. If you don`t you stick out for being mediocre – not only don`t you look good enough, you also cannot possibly value yourself, otherwise you`d at least try. It`s the same phenomenon which has been raised numerous times in relation to cosmetic surgery. The sheer availability of it has raised standards for everyone.

BTW, apparently, the selfie culture has significantly increased demand for facial surgery…

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Heute stelle ich euch eine App vor, die mich selbst sehr zwiegespalten hinterlässt. Auf der einen Seite finde ich sie genial, auf der anderen Seite aber “horrifying”. Warum stelle ich sie euch dann überhaupt vor? Weil ich selbst bis vor kurzem nicht wusste, dass es diese App gibt und ich denke, dass es nicht schadet, wenn man sich dessen bewusst ist, dass es heute kein Photoshop und ausgefeilte Retusche-Kenntnisse mehr braucht, um entweder das Beste aus sich rauszuholen oder im Kleinen und auf die Schnelle ein sehr unreales, halbwahres Bild von sich zu erschaffen.

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If I Didn’t Post a Picture, Did It Even Happen?

The New & Old: Internet Gold

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In a world with an endless amount of social media platforms and communication outlets, it seems almost necessary to update friends and family on simply every exciting adventure in your daily life. But, only the positive things tend to be published for the world to see, leaving your life story on social media nothing but perfect.

If you do something cool, you post a picture. The better picture the more likes. The more likes, the more popular you feel. That’s the world we live in. Our perceptions of people are often based on their social media presence. How often do you find yourself referring to Instagram or Facebook accounts to figure out what people are doing/who they are dating/where they are in the world. Some people would quickly claim that they don’t participate in this behavior often referred to as “stalking,” but it’s there for the world to see…

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On Social Media and Holiday Snaps

I` m deliberately spacing the Israel photos out, and neither did I post many elsewhere. Somehow, I didn `t feel the need, even though it was such a special trip. I can` t quite put my finger onto why this is. Maybe because I split from most of the people who themselves post at least half a dozen pics per day, maybe because I thought more about my use of it since I took time out last year (BTW, I`m considering to do it again – even though I went back, I thought it was so good for me!) – but maybe, they` re simply too special to me to be thrown in between all the other stuff that`s on facebook.

I had a really lovely experience with a close friend of mine, which really underpinned the last thought. This friend passionately opposes social media and never ceases to impress me regarding how she still maintains relationships around the globe.

Last year, she went on a special trip to South America. When I asked her for pictures, she said she didn`t want to spoil her holiday trying to find a computer, chose photos and then reply to replies. “When I come back,” she said, “I` ll have you all round for coffee, and then we can look at them together, and I` ll tell you all about it!” And that` s what we did, and it was lovely.

Three days after I returned from Israel, she phoned me: She was dying to see my pictures. If she could come round for a cup of tea. Like, now. She came, and we were pouring over the tablet for 2 hours. We didn `t even manage 3 days worth, because she had so many questions and about photo.

“I` m so glad, I` m not on facebook,” she said when she left. “I wouldn`t have wanted to see them there. I wanted you to be there when I see them and really talk about them rather than just scroll down a tiny screen.”

I said they aren`t on facebook, just four or five of them, and then she said she now felt even more privileged.

I thought about this for quite a while. None of those, who are on facebook, came round to see my pictures or hear the details. They` ve seen five pictures and the video of Masada, all without the stories. Those who aren` t on facebook have seen and heard about the whole trip.

Today`s photos show a magnificent sunset over the Holy City – probably one of the most overshared motives in the world, but I just can` t resist the allure of it either. I love nice architecture and interior design and clothes and things like that, but here` s some even more stunning beauty, and it`s all natural (no photosphop – just filters!) and not man made at all!

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In Defence of the Selfie

(Repost from August 2015 for Youknowwhoyouare❤)

Although definitely a trend that`s been staying, selfies keep getting slagged mercilessly. They`re considered vain, narcissistic, attention seeking or just plain unnecessary.

I like taking selfies. There, I`ve said it. Most of them won`t ever make it online, and they usually get deleted entirely after a couple of weeks. But every so often, I feel a spontaneous need to take a selfie. I don`t keep a diary other than my blog, and I usually don`t find it important enough to blog or mention to others how I felt in a particular moment. But every so often, I want to capture it, even if just for myself.

I took a selfie while I was waiting to go into a difficult meeting. A very carefully made up woman with big fearful eyes, looking vulnerable despite evident efforts not to show it. And this was exactly how I felt, captured accurately, with no words necessary. I also took a selfie after, totally unexpectedly, bumping into someone I hadn`t seen for ages. I was beaming, wind in my hair, and the sun was shining on it. Such a happy picture!! I could almost see myself running towards her like that. Those were both for myself and not put online.

Then, there`s the selfies that want to speak to others. When I go on holiday, there`s usually pretty soon a picture of me raising a glass of something on facebook, and that`s me telling all that I`ve arrived safely, had no problems (that would have taken precedence over this glass of wine), that it`s nice here, and that I`m greeting them. I also posted a selfie from in front of the Sheriff Court where I was called for jury service, telling friends and colleagues: “Look, I`m really getting to go this time, and I`m going NOW!” The same day, I also photographed myself in a fitting room, in a nice summer dress. It was almost hilarious how many likes I got for that, but it was probably quite an innovative way to say: “Just bought my first summer dress for the season!”

Some messages don`t need words; words wouldn`t have conveyed it as well anyway. In all those three cases, they would have seemed rather dull, actually.

What annoys many is those sexy pre party selfies, usually of young and beautiful females. They are generally considered fishing for compliments pictures. I only agree in part. They are fishing no more than making yourself up in the first place. Of course, you do so in order to look presentable to the outside world, but also to feel nice within yourself. And it`s only natural that you`re more likely to want to go out and show yourself if you feel attractive, just as we all know those days where we just want to stay in our bed because we just feel… fat, usually. Selfies and social media, IMO, are merely an extension of this rather than a phenomenon itself. It`s how we behave offline, too.

It`s also natural that you`re more likely to feel sexy when you`re young, but even (or maybe especially) the young and beautiful do have their down days where they think their bum is too big, or their hair is not right, or they are simply not as hot as their ex` new flame. I`m sure it`s very comforting in such moments to look at a good picture of yourself, only taken a couple of weeks ago, which reminds you that you are indeed beautiful if only you smile. Maybe, we should all have a folder of sexy selfies just for those moments – cheaper than shopping and healthier than chocolate!

Oh – and another thing. The last two times I was on holiday I did the unthinkable: I posted a couple of bikini photos of myself (not selfies). It took me a few days and some courage, but eventually, I posted them and it has, of course, been mentioned. I don`t understand (although I half expected it). I post loads of pics that I find beautiful, especially when on holiday. But as soon as those includes oneself, and worse still, one`s own body, that`s considered rude. Why? Tell me. Please. I genuinely want to know.

Me immediately before of that meeting (which went well, by the way)

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Me en route to a rather nice meeting:

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Me retaliating to a colleague via WhatsApp:

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Me at Elafonisi Beach:

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43 Facebook likes for a 40-year old in a dressing room…

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I would have added the Court selfie, but I deleted that. Messy hair 🙂

scared of the telephone

I used to be one of those teenagers who was constantly reprimanded for spending too much time on the telephone. At one point, my parents seriously considered getting me my own number and having me pay for it. (This was the Eighties!) When I was physically with my friends and didn`t need to phone them, we phoned other people, playing pranks. I used to do telephone marketing in foreign languages, and then, of course, I moved to another country and relied on the telephone to keep contact with my family.

Then email arrived and slowly but surely replaced the telephone. I found it less intrusive. Sometimes, I would spend an hour emailing back and forward with my sister, surfing other websites while doing so and munching away without her complaining about the noise. Then came messenger, and then facebook, and phone calls became less and less. Someone once said he didn`t like facebook because it dilutes personal contact by seemingly replacing it. Although I kind of agreed, I didn`t take the warning.

Last year, I was organising my own big birthday party. I never usually celebrate my birthday, but this was a big one, so everyone was invited via facebook. Unless they worked with me, in which case they received a group email.

And then people started to phone me about it and asked for me to phone them back when I wasn`t in. And I was scared. I dialed their numbers willing them not to be in, so I could leave a voicemail, which would then prompt them to leave a message on facebook. Although both were relatives, we never phoned each other, and we hardly saw each other either. It wasn`t necessary. We were all on facebook. I was surprised myself at how stressful I found the prospect of phoning them now; and how relieved when both conversations “went well”.

A few months ago, something happened at work. My colleague texted me on a Sunday before I came back from holiday, and I just couldn`t wait to speak to him, so I asked for permission to call. It felt weird talking to him actually two good colleagues from my own living room, as if we crossed a boundary. We drank from the same cup and spoke about our periods, but we never ever phoned each other outside work or work related nights out.

I wonder how I could allow this to happen. Being scared to telephone people I`m related and close to. And I honestly think social media has done this. If it wasn`t for facebook I would have seen or phoned those two relatives more often. If it wasn`t for texting, we would all phone each other to arrange nights out and would feel less awkward doing so on occasions when texts won`t do. And if we didn`t have email, I`d have those hour long phone conversations with my friends at home much more spontaneously and rather than schedule them just because we can. Phoning feels intrusive now, but it never used to. Smartphones meant to bring us closer together, but I really wonder whether they made us grow further apart instead.

I have one friend who always phones me rather than text or email, and she`s a self confessed technophobe. I sometimes phone her, too, just to prove to myself that I`m still brave enough to do so.

I wonder who`s still visiting friends and family without calling ahead? We don`t. But we used to all the time.

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