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… 😦

Charity

Obviously, I still don`t quite understand charity in Britain. My colleague has been around the village fundraising, and she came back upset because she left one small shop empty handed. It was not that they didn`t offer her anything, they just couldn`t establish who could make a decision.

“She`s looking for a wee donation…” one of the ladies said into a telephone, and my colleague self reported interfering: “No, it`s NOT just a wee donation, I am looking for, I showed you a letter on headed paper from (our organisation)!” I bet she shouted. The lady offered to take her phone number, but my colleague proudly cited herself: “It`s alright, don`t bother, but thank you for your support to your community!”

But it`s voluntary… Or isn`t it?

Political Correctness gone Mad

I had an email today, about a colleague from another department, obviously not known by name, needing something: “She`s always really chatty, with a big smile, always laughing…” Turned out she was referring to the only woman in the entire building (150+ staff) who is black. What`s the world coming to, if you cannot even use the color of her skin to give a physical description?

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…)

 

 

Palliative Care Training

The other day, I had the privilege to attend a Palliative Care training course. I`m saying privilege because I did not really need it, but that is another story.

One thing that came out was semantics. Apparently, Palliative Care is now often paraphrased to make it sound less harsh – professionals may speak about ongoing care or supportive care or continuing care. This however can lead to the family being confused about what kind of care (and outcome for their loved one!!) they can expect.

I know an example from my own life, from when my father was sick. His Catholic faith was very important to him, so there were repeated visits from a priest, and he eventually agreed to receiving the 5th Sacrament. This used to be called “the Last Rites” but is now re-termed Krankensalbung, or “the sacrament for the sick”. Like the term itself and unlike the English equivalent, the German Wikipedia site makes no reference to this being a sacrament for the dying, and that `s what his wife very fiercely insisted on. She was still talking about Christmas and all the holidays he had promised her after the sacrament was given, and when the priest addressed this with her later, she did not allow him to ever come back. Doctors were equally coy about his prognosis, and although I could read between the lines, I wished they had used clearer words to help her accept it sooner, too.

Another thing that was brought up was the lack of communication between patient and family. Often, the patient says to the practitioner “I know that I`m dying, but I don `t want them to know.” And then the family comes and says “We know that he is dying, but we don `t want him to know,” or “we don `t want him to know that we know.” I think that`s so sad, as it probably leads to so many important things not being said. This short film about the topic made me cry.

Lord for sale!

Were talking about this again today…

Albeit rather bewilderedly, I can now claim to know someone who has apparently purchased a title of nobility. Or, as someone suggested, simply changed his Christian name to “Lord”, so it didn`t cost him anything. Although it only costs £195.oo to become a Lord, Earl, Duke, Sir or Viscount.

The product is advertised to people who seek to increase their social status, and some claim to have received free upgrades on flights, in hotels and restaurants, but some reviewers also bought a title for other people, as a special, funny or romantic gift.

Hm. I wonder how “real” nobility feels about this…

About Salary Transparency in Britain

I`m from Germany, so for the first 26 years of my life, I`ve been living in a country where one`s salary is one`s best kept secret only to be disclosed to one`s bank and spouse (no, probably not even fiancee).

I used to negotiate my pay every time I started a new job (and then again when I felt I deserved a rise) and remember finding out by pure chance that I was earning significantly less, and then more (same woman, few years later – I got rises, because I asked, but she obviously hadn`t) than a colleague who almost did the same job.

It felt weird coming to Britain and seeing the salary already stated in the advert. My Scottish husband advised me not to question it – if it was written in the advert, it was non negotiable.

I fiercely disliked it, and I had loads of questions. So, did this mean that anybody could look up anybody`s earnings, and will this not inevitably lead to jealousy, comparison, stigma and “assessments” in work and in personal life, e.g. when looking for a prospective husband? Indeed I`m still finding the question “What do you do?” (for a living), and then “What does your husband do?” (I hate this question!! People ask this before they even ask his name or how long I`ve been with him), is posed far too quickly when meeting new people, and it is obvious what this is aiming at.

The longer I live here, though, the more I grew to like this transparency, for several reasons:

  • I don`t need to waste my or anyone else`s time applying for jobs who won`t pay as much as I want to earn.
  • Where adverts are brief, the salary gives a good indication on what level of skills they are looking for.
  • I`m reassured that my salary will not depend on my negotiation skills or gender, and that the male colleague doing the same work as me will earn exactly the same as me.
  • If a mistake is made with people`s pay, the member of staff will become aware of this, because colleagues openly speak about their wage slips, and can then be rectified.
  • Pressure on employers to pay a good, or at least not extremely low, wage, if they want to attract good people (and press)
  • People are more accountable, particularly those with a higher salary, because others know what they earn and expect them to really “earn”** this.

** Note: in German language, the word for “to deserve” and “to earn” is the same – could this be why we are more private about the matter, because there`s more emotional meaning just to the word?

  • The issue of women who only want to marry rich men seems a bit tricky. Instinctively, I dislike like the thought of sussing out each other`s finances at dating stage, but what if this is really important to someone (and I know people to whom it is)? It seems rude to reject someone based on their finances, but if this was me, and you would substitute “lack of wealth” with “strong desire for children”, I would like to know early and say that I may not be the one, rather than splitting over it later on. Or am I wrong here?

BLACK FRIDAY

a Re-Blog from last year. I just find it so crazy.

*

As usual, my husband was watching the news yesterday when I came down for my morning coffee.

When I saw the pictures on the screen, along with frenetic screaming of men and women, I paused and watched in horror. People were punching and pushing each other, and then I saw something that looked like a big ball of people, fighting. There were a couple of policemen armed with shields, but they looked powerless.

My first thought was of another terror attack.

“No.” My husband turned round and then said slowly: “This is Black Friday!”

I just don`t comprehend it. Most people say they don`t think it`s a good idea, but when the day comes, they become… obsessed. At 8am I overheard a conversation on the bus about a woman who got up at 4am to get three Kindle Fires, and then she phoned her other half to ask if she should get one for Josh as well, since it was such a bargain. Our computer system at work crashed, and a colleague received a message about discounted computer games. She quickly took orders and passed it on to her relative who was there right now. And a substantial numbers of guests in the restaurant I visited at night took a table for four for just two people, so they`d have space for all those bags.

What is this? I don`t think it`s just about the bargain – there`s bargains all year now. Is it competition, excitement, or simply wanting to be part of something which everyone is talking about?

The Christmas Consumer Madness is certainly alive and thriving: somewhere in or around Edinburgh, a male called Josh will now get a Kindle he may not otherwise have had. If he has a sibling, this kid will now need to be found something of equal value, and of course, they cannot receive less next year. So they`ll get used to getting shitloads, and when they grow up to become the givers, it`ll come natural to be equally generous. Even if bargains stopped, and even if they couldn`t really afford it. Because it`ll be expected now.

*

But last weekend, I had a chat which gave me hope. A close friend, who is wonderful but very different from myself in this department, said she wasn`t doing Christmas gifting any more and had already told everybody. She doesn`t want any  more stuff, she decided, and she feels her family don`t need it either. She much rather wants more breaks, so they`ll use the  money to book themselves into a nice hotel over a weekend when all the frenzy is over, and re-charge their batteries. Love the woman! Always did, but her… fondness of things was something I thought I`d never see change. But if she can (and all by herself, her husband swears he has nothing to do with it!!) maybe all hope is not lost.

Stay safe! 🙂

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…

episoden.film

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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