Samsung Galaxy Note: My New Obsession

Hi all! I’m currently doing something very exciting. Don’t worry, its nothing dodgy. Promise. No, I’m actually writing this entire blog post from my new beautiful toy,  my adorable and totally impulse-bought Samsung Galaxy Note. It’s a bit tragic how, these days, I only go shopping for technology and never for shoes. But anyway, this entirewas about as much of an impulse buy as you can get. I went into Tunbridge Wells for two reasons and two reasons only. To go to the dentist for an emergency fix up, and to get some embroidery threads. Yes, I am a 90 year old spinster, but never mind that now. The threads are actually for friendship bracelets for my two little cousins, who fell in love with the ones I had on my wrist.

But to return to the point, we’d turned the whole thing into a family outing, as my dad was keen to go and check out some phones. We wandered into Phones4U and had a browse. Instantly, like a sexy man in a Barbour, the Note caught my eye. It’s gorgeous. Too big to look like a phone, too small to be a tablet, it’s a slab of pure beauty. The minute I touched it, I knew I wouldn’t be leaving the shop without it.

It was actually an extremely serendipitous impulse buy, all things considered. I’ve been wondering for a while about getting an ipad, but it’s a little too bulky for me. Essentially, I’ve been looking for something that I can access documents on, take notes and write blogposts on, run a business from, and still have access to the social tools I need. In the last week, it’s become apparent that I need to come up with some new ways of working. I have five Twitter accounts to run, two Facebook pages (not including my personal account), and five WordPress accounts. I also have clients on top of that who I write for, so I really need an easy tool to help me manage this.

My thoughts also turned to London Fashion Week. I’d been wondering if I could cart my Macbook about so I could start writing up between shows, but the thought of taking it with me on top of my heavy Canon DSLR,  spare pair of shoes, water, business cards and all the other essentials just wasn’t practical. Also, I’m very protective of my little Mac, and I won’t risk anything with it. So the Note seemed perfect for my needs! I’ll let the video below explain a little more about why it’s perfect for creatives:

We haven’t even spent 24 hours together, my Note and I, but I already love it deeply. If you want a Tablet with the capabilities of a phone and so many awesome features, I’d hugely recommend you look into it. Now I’m going to put her down and go and make some gingerbread. I know it’s not quite gingerbread season yet, but it’s cold and rainy and quite frankly, I don’t care. Ta ra!

p.s. On an unrelated note, if anyone wants to listen to the Vaccines album before it comes out, go here.

Exciting News!

So, I haven’t posted about my vegan challenge in a couple of days, have I?

Bet you thought I’d given up, right? Wrong! I’ve been having such a great time and enjoying myself so much that I decided to set up a new blog, publishing my vegan recipes. I’m enjoying cooking such an insane amount that I keep wanting to post loads on here, but I don’t want to annoy anyone following my blog as I feel it’d be too much of a change of direction. So I’ll be keeping up this blog for my usual ramblings and sillyness, and my new blog will specifically be for vegan stuff. So, it’s nouvellevegan.wordpress.com

I hope you feel inclined to go and check it out. Essentially, it’s for food lovers who just happen to be vegan. I’ve talked on here before about how many vegan recipes I’ve found tend to either be wildly unhealthy/calorific because they’re making up for the lack of certain ingredients, or be very healthy but not particularly yummy to eat. This site is where I’ll be posting my own recipes that fall somewhere between those two camps.

I’m not trying to convert anyone or preach at anyone. It’s a personal choice, and I’ve found that my body just seems to function better on a vegan, sugar free, gluten free diet. The changes I’ve seen have been amazing, and while I initially only wanted to do this challenge for two weeks, I can’t face the thought of letting go of how great I feel. Feel free to dip into my site – you don’t have to eat vegan at every meal and go crazy. Maybe you just want to cut down on some calories, or get a bit of energy back. Maybe you just feel like doing something different. However you use the site and the recipes is fine by me.

I’ll be back to posting about my normal rubbish on here very shortly, but in the meantime I’d love for you to go and check my site out. I also have a new Twitter account for it: @nouvelle_vegan, and a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/NouvelleVegan

Thanks for reading chaps! Hope you’re all enjoying the sunshine :)

All in all you’re just another idiotic Daily Mail writer in the wall

We all know that the Daily Mail exists in a parallel universe, don’t we? I personally use it for an effective eye workout. You know: as I read an article, I raise my eyebrows, then furrow them, and end with a healthy bout of eye-rolling. See? An effective eye exercise regime. Thanks DM. Most people I know occasionally click on purely for a bit of light entertainment, and best of all, to read the comments section. I’m sure there are people who read it for other reasons. Perhaps the health advice? I.e. Everything gives you cancer, and THIS JUST IN, beer is healthier for you than water, so drink up.

Occasionally though, something from Planet Daily Mail breaks through the space time continuum and penetrates my cosy little world, leading me to put down The Times and pay attention. Usually, that ‘something’ is so monumentally stupid and/or offensive that it goes viral, gets talked about an awful lot, and generally shoves a lot of traffic down the DM autobahn. I usually try not to encourage this, but there are times when I won’t let it drop. Usually Liz Jones is involved – c.f. her appalling and staggeringly offensive “article” on the Joanna Yeates murder, her late night sperm-stealing activities, her belief that – to subvert Orwell, sorry – ‘two legs bad, four legs better’. When I heard a bit of the furore, I was convinced that the high priestess of facelifts and bad taste had to be at the centre.

I was, shockingly, wrong. Nestled among the vital news stories of the day (Lohan partying again, Broken Britain, ‘Women! Get back in the kitchen!’) was a new star in the DM firmament. I didn’t read the article for ages, simply heard the stories about some woman who’d claimed she was too beautiful to lead a normal life, that she was constantly being given things for free, that other women hated her, and that ‘Ten out of ten men’ fancied her. Yes, it’s the Samantha Brick saga, what else?

The backlash was instantaneous, and most of it revolving around rude remarks about the looks of the author. Well, I’ve now read the article, and I’m going to attempt to pull off the feat of writing a riposte to it without actually commenting at any point on Brick’s looks, which I feel would negate or undermine my comments. So let’s unpack this, shall we? Because there’s, quite frankly, an insane amount for me to say. I’m doing two posts: one simply to unpick the article, and another to respond to it on a more personal level.

Woman writes article about how beautiful she is. At a basic level, that’s what this is. Opponents have said ‘ha! Well, she’s not, actually. What an idiot hole! Let’s laugh at her’, while defenders of Brick have claimed ‘It’s a woman being happy with her looks, what’s wrong with that?’ At the heart of it, perhaps it is just that. A woman who has dared to breach the code of the sisters, and has uttered the unspeakable. Because we’re not supposed to say it! We’re certainly not supposed to write an article about it for a national newspaper. Sorry – “newspaper”. And this really is simply an article on looks. Not personality, not being a decent, good, loving, caring person. Purely looks.

So if it is just that – a woman being comfortable with herself and stating it – then what’s the problem? Well, the problem is, there’s a whole lot more to it than that. This wasn’t a charming story of self-acceptance and inner confidence, this was an ill-considered, ill-judged, and dare I say it, poorly written article. From what I gleaned from it, it was certainly lacking in inner beauty. In my opinion, a truly ‘beautiful’ (in all senses of the word) person wouldn’t be quite so venom filled, so arrogant, or so indiscreet. It’s actually a fairly pugilistic piece: a couple of paragraphs in, Brick attacks the women reading her diatribe, saying she’s fairly sure they’ll have made their mind up about her already, and it won’t be flattering. That’s always a good way to get readers on your side, isn’t it, Sam?

And this is really where the article falls apart. It’s one thing to claim happiness with one’s looks, but quite another to state that one is more attractive than others. I found it faintly alarming that this woman seemed to coldly assess herself against everyone around her, always finding them lacking. That’s why this type of article will always provoke a reaction. Even as a reasonably rational girl, I read it and felt slightly affronted by it. I approve of having body confidence, naturally, but the article was…well, rather vulgar, I’d say, if I were to put my Nancy Mitford hat on for a minute. I love that hat.

Brick describes countless situations where she has apparently been the target of ‘girl on girl crime’, as Mean Girls so charmingly put it. The female boss who was almost driven to insanity brought on by jealousy. The chums who lock away their husbands. The fact that she has never been a bridesmaid. Brick attributes all of the above to her marvellous good looks. Ok, well, Dr Amelia will offer a solution here. How about, maybe, it’s actually nothing to do with your looks, Sam – marvellously good or otherwise. I reckon it may well have something to do with the fact that you seem a bit…well, a bit of a SELF-ABSORBED LUNATIC WHO BITCHES ABOUT HER ‘FRIENDS’ IN A NATIONAL NEWSPAPER. Sorry. “Newspaper”. I can’t seem to get that right.

Would that be a fair assessment, maybe? I obviously don’t know the woman, but writing in indiscreet terms about people you know is never exactly conducive to close female friendships. I think we’ve probably all known girls like Samantha, and the world that exists in their head is often not at all relative to the one that everyone else inhabits. The Brickster quite beautifully contradicts herself in the space of a few paragraphs. Initially she says ‘I’m not smug and I’m no flirt’, before going on to state that she’s ‘written for the Mail on how I have flirted to get ahead at work, something I’m sure many women do.’ Just the kind of stable, trustworthy lady who I’d have as a role model.

Quite frankly, the whole thing smacks of selective memory syndrome, or rather a selective, shallow way of viewing the world. Brick clearly focuses on the actions of the men who ‘fancy’ her, probably forgetting all the times she’s gone out WITHOUT someone buying her a drink, or that she’s been rejected. I’d hazard a guess that she has few female friends, if any, because she probably believes they’re all sickeningly jealous of her. I’d also speculate wildly that she’s a bit of a flirt, as she admits, and that while her female acquaintances may well disapprove of her behaviour, possibly a lot of husbands/men do so as well.

The piece has caused such an outcry because it isn’t just a woman stating that she’s happy in her own skin. What Samantha Brick claims instead is infinitely more worrying. She ascribes an almost superpower quality to her looks. Women who find this article offensive do not do so because ‘Samantha Brick is far too confident and that’s intimidating’. No. It’s because it’s so bizarrely expressed, and utterly tiresome. She ends the item by saying she’s welcoming the onset of middle age: ‘I can’t wait for the wrinkles and grey hair that will help me blend into the background’. This is what I find so insidious and distasteful. Like saying “Damn my superb looks, I just keep on making men fall in love with me. Take them away! It’s a blessing and a curse.”

But the other side, of course, is that the Daily Mail have allowed this poor, deluded, arrogant loon to spew forth hundreds of words of brain dribble onto the page, and set her up in a way that will potentially destroy her reputation. Of course they have. It’s the Daily Mail. They know what works for them, which is why I’m absolutely certain they’ve made sure they included a whole slew of photos of Samantha, positively effervescing over the thought that readers will totally slam into her. The Daily Mail have handed their readers all the tools necessary to make a hate figure of Brick, and that is exactly what has happened. I can’t remember whether or not they pulled the Liz Jones travesty on Joanna Yeates, but I’d doubt it. More comments, more tweets, more traffic, more hate. Well done, Daily Mail. Another big pat on the back for you for encouraging women to both hate and fear each other.

Twittiquette Special: Auto DMs

Or, Y U NO JUST TWEET ME LIKE A NORMAL PERSON?

Or, ‘How to Lose Friends and Irritate People’.

Auto DMs. It’s a sticky matter. A thorny issue. As one amusing tweeter pointed out to me, it also sounds “like a Tory MPs secret fetish”. Well, we all know how much I enjoy the secret fetishes of Tory MPs, but sadly that isn’t what it is. For those of you who don’t know what the source of my ire is (I think I’m turning into Charlie Brooker, slowly but surely…) I shall demonstrate in the following scenario. Our heroine – let’s call her, oh, I don’t know: Amelia – is sitting at her computer, whiling away a few minutes on everybody’s favourite social network (Hint: not Facebook)

INT/dining room. Amelia sits at the table, tapping away on her laptop. A ‘ping’ occurs; she has received an email. 

AMELIA: An email! How exciting. I shall do my excited email dance.

She does the ‘excited email dance’. It’s clearly highly derivative of both the ‘Birdy’ dance and also the Charleston. 

AMELIA: Let’s see. Could it be a book deal? A message from Benedict Cumberbatch’s agent, saying he enjoys my Twitter account and wants to meet me for tea at Sketch? A notification that my glam rock snakeskin studded trousers have finally been hemmed? Oh, no…it’s a new Twitter follower! Oh, HOORAY! I just love love LOVE new followers, how glorious. I shall look at their account forthwith.

She clicks onto Twitter, scans the account, and sees that the person in question sounds wonderful. A ‘wonderful’ account consists of some combination of the following: a profile picture of a moustachioed man, a girl with big hair, a love of ‘The Chap’, an obsession with tea, etc. This person meets the criteria, and AMELIA clicks ‘follow’. 

AMELIA: *Singing a little song* Ace, I am SO excited about my lovely new followers. I love Twitter.

‘Ping’

AMELIA: Another email! Oh! It’s a direct message from the person I just followed! Wow, maybe THEY’VE got a book deal for me! Or some hot tips on where to get macaroons! Or…well, there’s no end the exciting possibilities.

Peers closer

AMELIA: What? (Reads aloud) ‘Thanks for following my account? I look forward to talking to you?? PLEASE GO AND CHECK OUT MY BLOG?’ ARE YOU HAVING AN ACTUAL LAUGH?????? WHY? WHAT IS THIS ABOMINATION? I feel….used. I don’t feel SPECIAL. I feel like EVERYBODY ELSE. Waaaaaah!

She clicks ‘unfollow’ through the blind tears of rage, them proceeds to kick her computer in. 

- FIN -

Well, firstly, I think that was GREAT, and I have no doubt that the book deal will indeed shortly be winging its way to me. And secondly, I don’t actually shout quite that much at the laptop, but it does drive me nutso. And thirdly, that was an Auto DM. A little impersonal message that gets automatically sent to your account when you click ‘follow’. There are, of course, exceptions.  One tweeter told me earlier that she quite like getting notifications from a charity she followed, just saying ‘Thanks for your support’, and I think that’s rather sweet too.

But my issue is with business and personal users. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there is no need for a personal user to ever, ever, EVER send an Auto DM. It smacks of the user thinking they’re being charming and sweet by devising a 30 second message that everyone will receive. They also might think that it’s a fantastic way to promote their website/blog/shop. It’s not. I seriously doubt that anyone will bother clicking a link in a tweet. Get the net! We’ve followed your account, we’re already interested! We’ve probably already checked out your link!

And the same goes for businesses. We’ve followed because we like the sound of you, not because we feel obliged to. That means we’ll see your tweets, and probably engage in a dialogue with you. Do you know what the real world equivalent of the Auto DM is? It’s this: you go to a networking event, and instead of going up to someone and introducing yourself/talking to them, you take your business card and either shove it at them or put it into their jacket pocket, then walk away without saying anything. It’s intrusive, impersonal, false, and ultimately creates a terrible first impression.  Do you know what I do to anyone who Auto DMs me, boys and girls? I unfollow them, right away. So there you go – you had me at ‘Follow’, and now you’ve gone and ruined it.

It’s like the guy who goes in for a kiss when you haven’t given off any ‘I fancy you’ signals. It makes me CRINGE. Now, just to harp on a little bit more about it: I can understand businesses doing it (it’s clearly only the misguided ones though) but not personal accounts. It’s like yelling ‘THANKS FOR BEING MY FRIEND’ at someone. It makes you look socially inept. Hey, don’t cry! I know I’m being mean. Maybe you genuinely thought it would be a nice idea? A little ‘thanks for the follow’ card instead of having to reply to everyone in turn? I’ll admit, even I thought about doing it at some point. And hey, if it could drive a little more blog traffic, then, why not?

Why not? Because it isn’t nice. It’s spammy behaviour. It means you’ve misunderstood Twitter; that you’re trying to skip the lovely, warm, organic nature of the site in favour of leaping to the ‘important stuff’. So if you’ve done it, and you’re a person who has a soul, then please, stop. It won’t do you any favours. I’m sorry. I know you probably feel like it’s a good idea, but it’s not. Fact is, most Twitter users will either ignore it completely, develop a bad opinion of you, or unfollow you completely. For the most part, I take approach numero three. Why? Because you’ve already essentially spammed me. So that means you’ll probably be inundating me with tweets about your blog/business/product. Oh, look. I forgive you. Come and have a hug.

If you’re a Twitter newbie and seriously considering this, then I beg of you – implore you not to do it. Why not just thank the person directly? Or just engage them in conversation at some point? I’m sorry to be harsh, but you need to be shocked out of it. If you’re an oldie, and you’ve done this, then there’s no shame (well, not much). Just stop it now, it’s not too late. Let me be your Ghost of Christmas Future. If you do this and you think it’s a BRILLIANT way of running your business and refuse to change, then my @ symbol will never darken your door.

Once again, I have cracked my whip at bad Twitter habits. What do you think? Am I completely in the wrong? Send me an Auto DM and prove it. Go on. I dare you.

Twittiquette: The Commandments

On Twitter, as is the case in my personal life, I am a bit of an etiquette nut. I have a long list of pet peeves – things I see people doing on Twitter that are just so utterly silly, that it drives me nuts. A while ago, I wrote a post called ‘The 8 People You Meet in Twitter Hell’, and I had a lot of lovely responses. But bizarrely enough, it turns out that writing that post didn’t completely eradicate bad behaviour from the Twittersphere. Weird, eh? So I’ve returned with some hard and fast rules.

Twitter is great. I love it. I want to take it to Bora Bora and propose to it on a sun-drenched terrace. It’s great for making new friends, business contacts, finding out anything you could possibly wish to know…all in all, it’s fantastic on many levels. But some people use it incorrectly, and that makes me sad in my little techno-holic heart. Twitter is such a different beast in the world of social media. There’s a good way of using it and a bad way of using it. Ultimately, I believe you need to know why you are using it, and that means deciding on how you want to approach it. Determine what you want from Twitter – networking opportunities, readers for your blog posts, a stop to the eternal loneliness and silence of your tragic life, etc etc.

Anyway, I asked Twitter what got on their collective nerves, and the response was overwhelming. You poor people are at the end of your collective tether! Here are the results:

DO try to reply to tweets. (Proposed by @belledebrum) I’ve touched on this before – unless you truly are a superstar of epic proportions, and are getting a million tweets a minute – there’s not really a great reason why you can’t answer. Especially if you’ve actually asked a question to Twitter, and then you refuse to acknowledge polite and helpful responses. Look here, you. You’re on Twitter. Twitter is about talking to people and engaging with them. So sort it out. ‘Make up your mind and get in or get out’, as Hot Hot Heat once sang.

DO watch your language, jokes, and comments. (As proposed by @Alex_Franklin) It’s likely that you don’t personally know an awful lot of your Twitter followers, so you can’t possibly gauge what’s appropriate for everyone, or what will offend them. Don’t fill your tweets with swearing, or things that may be hugely offensive to people, even if it makes perfect sense to you.

DON’T make it personal. Hey. You! You with the endless chat about your amazing boyfriend! STOP IT. Save it for Facebook. On Facebook, you actually KNOW people, and they (hopefully) care about you, because they are your friends. They’ve sat with you and held your hand as you cried about your rotten ex, and they’re happy that you’re happy now. BUT WE’RE TWITTER AND WE DON’T CARE BECAUSE WE DON’T KNOW YOU. So please, for the love of God, just THINK before you post soppy stuff. I saw some adorable tweets yesterday about Valentine’s Day plans that walked the right side of the line. But things like ‘awww, he loves me sooo much, look at what he made me for dinner’? Nah, mate. I’ve already unfollowed you.

DON’T abuse the retweet button. When I listed ‘Chronic Retweeter’ as one of the worst Twitter “types”, I was inundated with friends who felt it was them. It isn’t you. Because you’re worrying about it, and that means that you have a SOUL. Why do people retweet a retweet of a retweet? Why? The worst is when it’s boring stuff! I actually – ok, I need to breathe here, because I am FURIOUS – I actually SAW SOMEONE RETWEET SOMETHING ABOUT MAKING ARRANGEMENTS. So, it went “@stupididiothole RT: @completenincompoop You cool to meet on Friday, mate?” What???? I DON’T CARE.

DON’T damage your business. Using Twitter for a business account is a very tricky…well, business. You need to do it just right. And purely offering endless promotions or constantly sending the same link over and over again? It’s bad form. And it’s more or less pointless even being on Twitter.

DON’T use ‘Who Unfollowed Me?’ Because we’re not six years old, and we’re not in the playground. I simply do not understand the point of these apps. It’s embarrassing. I’m embarrassed for you. Well done, you’ve ‘named and shamed’ me for unfollowing you, and in doing so, have completely proved why I was correct in doing it. Now get back to your game of hopscotch. Or drug dealing, or whatever it is kids do these days in playgrounds.

DON’T use auto-DMs. (as proposed by @RoseGallagherr) Why? Because the very use of them is a massive turn off. I’ve swiftly unfollowed anyone who uses an auto DM, especially if it’s a personal account. Seriously, there is no possible reason for you to use an auto DM if you are an individual. I once got this “Thanks for the follow! I promise to keep things interesting and not to spam you”. Well, you already have. Bye bye.

DO know when to drop someone from the conversation. You start off in a lovely Twitter conversation with two or more people. You eventually run out of things to say, but they go on, a huge orgiastic Twitter Love-In. And for the next half hour, you’re still being copied in on every single tweet they send. My rule is, if someone hasn’t replied for, say, two tweets, they’re out of the convo, so remove their name.

DON’T make digs at people. I really dislike this. It’s when someone sends a ‘general’ tweet saying something bad about you, or what you’re doing. I had this issue with one girl, who kept sending tweets that were very clearly about things I was saying. I sent a tweet thanking my blog readers, because I’d just got more views in 10 days than I’d had in the whole of the previous month. Minutes later, she sent a tweet saying ‘Just can’t understand why some bloggers are OBSESSED with stats. I’m just about the writing. Maybe I’m just different’. Nuff said. Reader, I unfollowed her.

DO keep it organic and DON’T flood. “Flooding” is the practice of sending tweet after tweet after tweet to promote your business or website. I suspect foul play, because there’s obviously no way someone could sent 20 tweets in a row without the aid of Lord Voldemort. You’re clogging my feed, maaaan. Plus, I’m REALLY not going to visit your website now, out of spite.

DO cheer up love, it might never happen. AKA, don’t send tragic tweets. “I always knew you’d do this to me”, or “I just can’t go on like this anymore.” Oh God, darling. Do I need to call the Samaritans? It’s not that I’m being hard-hearted. I hate seeing these tweets because I find it upsetting that the author feels that Twitter is the place for them. Again, Facebook is for personal stuff, Twitter is not. Actually, maybe not Facebook as much as, say, a therapist. Please don’t tweet like that, you make me feel all worried.

DON’T fish for followers with no good reason. Yeah, I’ve done this. We’ve all done this. Here are just two of the lines I’ve used: “I have 384 followers. Please help cure my OCD by getting me to 400”, and the other day, I offered a snog for the 600th follower, purely as a little comment on those people who keep promising giveaways at different numbers. It’s so tempting to angle for more followers, but ultimately, it’s a silly idea. The followers you get won’t be the right ones – or even real people. Specially not if you’re offering a kiss. Anyway, don’t keep pressing for more. If you’re a good Twitter user, you’ll get them by being amusing or informative, not by asking for them. Also avoid #FOLLOWBACK, #PIGGYBACK, #FOLLOWLADDER, and #FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GIVE ME MORE FOLLOWERS, I’M SO UNPOPULAR.

DO use “Proper English”.  (As proposed by @Captain_Char) Text speak is for texts. No, wait. Text speak is for idiots. Unless you are my current favourite Twitter account, which is the @Y_U_NOOO’ account (sample tweets: “GIRL WITH PRETTY GIRL ROCK AS YOUR RINGTONE – Y U NO PRETTY?” and also “VOLDEMORT, Y U NO USE MAGIC POWERS TO GROW NOSE?” Hilarious stuff) Otherwise, text speak is irritating, ugly to look at, and pointless.

DO watch your hashtags. (As proposed by @nbamford and @QueenB_Belinda) Unless it’s really hilarious, please take your finger off the hashtag button. For the most part, they are clumsy and overlong. Hashtags were originally used for bookmarking your tweets. I occasionally use them as a kind of non-sequitur, or something that negates the body of my tweet in a mildly humorous way. But overusing them is soooo frustrating. Like this: “Off out tonight #great #reallyexcited #firsttimeoutinages” AAAAAARGH. #annoying #soannoying #imcomingtokillyou

DO be humble. Cripes. Please don’t retweet every single compliment you get. Read the tweet, smile at it, and move on. I don’t want to read about how hot you look in your shorts, as commented by some random sleazy male. If you’re a business, then by all means do retweet, because that’s a customer testimonial and is nice to read. Just…don’t do it too much. But individuals? NO. Oh, and another one (proposed by @Wuthering_Alice) DO NOT RETWEET YOUR #FFs. I repeat. FFS, do NOT retweet your FFs. It’s utterly, utterly pointless.

DON’T retweet “celebs” who offer “life advice”. (As proposed by @CaptainChar)This seems to be a bit of a pandemic at the moment. “Will Smith” appears to have an awful lot of fortune cookie wisdom to be shared: “The only person who will love you is yourself, so go and love yourself. Right now. And take some photos” etc etc. Seriously. I’m pretty sure that ISN’T Will Smith, and even if it was, it wouldn’t be excusable.

DO use DMs if the conversation gets a little heated, sexy, or just long-winded. (As proposed by @aladyofseams) If you’re having a conversation with someone you know, and it’s about personal matters – or country matters – then hop onto DM. Seriously. Y U NO KEEP YOUR PRIVATE LIFE PRIVATE?

Yours sincerely,

Amelia, AKA The Twitter Dominatrix, AKA Adolf Twittler.

Chronic Retweeters will be punished as I see fit.

P.S. It’s a freaky coincidence that Voldemort got mentioned TWICE in this post. Or is it???

P.P.S This originally started as ‘ten commandments’, and spun wildly out of control.

Blogging Event

Let me start by saying that I’m not sure I’m at all qualified to write this ‘review’, because I was only at the event for about 30 minutes, and was in a corker of a bad mood due to having to travel for THREE AND A HALF HOURS to get there, with no information from Southeastern. So I turfed up at The Only Way is Blogging hoping that it would really turn my day around. I’d booked tickets for this blogging/networking event ages ago, and had been looking forward to it ever since – panels of experts, insider info, SEO chat, and lots of bloggers to talk to. It sounded perfect.

As I said, my train journey was from Hades. So instead of getting there nice and early and hopping around the British Museum for a while as I’d planned, I ended up arriving about an hour after the official start time, and snuck in at the back. The room was packed full – a very long, carpeted room with the panel set up on a table at the front, and row upon row of bloggers sitting down. As I was so obscenely late, I joined a group of people at the back who were standing. I didn’t mind this at all, as it was my own fault (well, Southeastern’s, but, you know) so settled in to find out some info.

I was already feeling a little stressed and harassed after my journey, but I decided I wanted to make the best of it having trekked such a long way. Despite standing up, I couldn’t really see the panel that well, but I could just about hear them – still, I was extremely surprised that they weren’t miked up. At the Magazines event I attended at the V&A, there were only about 4 rows of people, so we were close to the speakers but they still used microphones and a podium so everyone could see/hear clearly. A thoughtful member of the hotel staff set out some chairs for us stander-uppers at the back so, I gladly settled down.

Ah. Now I couldn’t see any of the speakers. And I REALLY couldn’t hear what was going on. But that was primarily down to the fact that a wide selection of girls at the back were just talking amongst themselves! What?! If you’ve come to a seminar, why aren’t you listening? TOWIB was designed to be both informative and to offer networking opportunities, which is why there were big breaks scheduled between talks for people to digest/chat to each other. Sorry, (actually, I’m not sorry) but I find it the absolute height of rudeness that people behaved like that. Not even whispering – two girls near me were having a full blown conversation amongst themselves. If they’d just taken themselves outside the room (a mere few metres), they wouldn’t have caused a problem.

It was bizarre – I’ve never before sat in a room where so many people were just rustling and chatting, while there were people speaking at the front! The problem seemed to be more towards the back of the room, so it might have been the case that people simply couldn’t hear. That’s why you need a mic. It instantly gives the speaker authority and makes the room pay attention.

From what I could hear, the matters discussed were probably of more use to those just starting out in the blogosphere, and for that, I think it’s a great event. A lot of good, basic points were covered in the segment I saw (I also subsequently read tweets from the day, didn’t just base it on the half hour I was there) and I think new bloggers would have found it useful. It was also geared primarily to fashion/beauty blogs, so I didn’t expect that everything would be tailored to me anyway. I’m a massive geek, and quite possibly know more about SEO/site building than your average blogger who has just started out.

I think that it would have been a great event for me, a while ago. These days I know with absolute clarity what my blog is. My blog is ME, through and through. I used to think I wanted to make it profitable, but I now know that a) I wouldn’t be able to do this and maintain my own voice, and b) that whatever money I made wouldn’t be worth it. I love my blog. I work hard at it. I don’t expect to make a penny out of it, and I hope that lends a certain charm and authenticity. I have no issue with blogs that do make money – I do pro-blogging as a part time job, and the site I write for is set up as a magazine, and it all works perfectly well. I strongly believe that bloggers should be able to make money from their work, but my blog isn’t in that category. It’s a scattered pile of stuff that I carry in my head. And please don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that by not having advertising, that makes me better than people who do. It isn’t about that: advertising just wouldn’t fit with my blog and the content I feature.

I’m also used to dealing with PR companies and various agencies, but again – for newbie bloggers, having that info is really important. I want to make sure I’m not criticising the event here: it did what it said on the tin, and I’m sure if I’d stayed around I would have met some really lovely bloggers and picked up some tips. I read some Twitter feedback about not being fed; which I think is a little strange. I didn’t expect to get food from a £5 ticket!

So I’m sure if I’d stayed I would have got something from it, but unfortunately, after such a hideous journey, I just wasn’t in the mood. I was so hugely underwhelmed by the behaviour of some of the attendees, I really didn’t feel like staying. It reminded me of the behaviour of people on boring school trips, the girls who loll around at the back of the coach and make sure they let everyone know that they REALLY AREN’T INTERESTED IN LEARNING STUFF. If you’re not enjoying it, leave. If you want to talk to your mates, wait for the break. Or leave. Don’t ruin it for anyone else, or be disrespectful to the speakers. Anyway, I stuck it for half an hour and got so furious at the constant chatter that I buggered off to the pub instead.

Those are my ponderings. I’m sad not to have come home with food for thought and lots of blogger business cards, but I made my choice. I don’t have any complaints with the event; I think the organiser did extremely well to get it off the ground, and I truly believe it’s an important service that will provide support for new bloggers. My main feedback would be literally just to get some microphones in. Unless a panellist has been to drama school, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to project their voice to the very back of a room. Hopefully, that would cut down on the problem of rude audience members too…Because as you all know, I am the Mistress of Manners, and poor habits will NOT BE TOLERATED.

Awareness

It’s started again.

To give them credit, it took me a while to get it, this time around. I genuinely believed that a disproportionate number of my friends were going abroad for sustained periods of time.

Then finally it clicked – a number combined with an arbitrary ‘thing’, a place, or a sweet, or a type of pony, whatever. Yes, folks. It was the return of the ghastly ‘awareness-raising’ update.

Check your inbox. Chances are you’ll have seen something like this:

“Girls! I just don’t feel like anyone is commenting on my Facebook wall at the moment, and it’s bringing me down. I feel unloved and devoid of attention. I’ve decided that we should all confuse the male population, poor things, by posting nonsensical statii (that’s a thing!) that will surely garner lots of comments and widespread bemusement.

Want to join in? Follow these instructions.

Oh, and if anyone asks, yeah….it’s like, raising awareness for breast cancer and stuff. “

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t exactly that. But I’m afraid I’m showing no mercy this morning. The general upshot is that people then post these ridonculous updates which in no way relate to the topic, and in NO way raise awareness.

Awareness of what? Breast cancer? Oh, what’s that? I’ve never heard of it. I think we all know what breast cancer is, and that, in general, it’s bad. I would be less brutal if the original message sent around reminded women to check the health of their own breasts, or to contribute something to charity, or….well, anything, really.

And I am not blameless (I am never, ever blameless.) I myself have done it. I mindlessly went along with it, not really engaging my brain, not wondering for a second how exactly this was doing anything for anyone. It isn’t getting people to donate. It isn’t getting anyone to give up their time to help, and as I’ve already mentioned, it doesn’t even remind women to check themselves. The messages sent round seem to be geared more at confusing the male population.

‘But it’s fun!’ you cry. Is it? ‘Fun’ for me is getting tanked up on pink bubbles and doing the Charleston with Cumberbatch. Not popping a random series of words on my Facebook page and pretending I’m doing something useful.

I Googled it, and it seems to be a bit of a ‘hot button topic’, as Adam and Joe are so fond of calling such things. It appears to totally divide the population, with half saying ‘what the hell is the point?’ and the other half going ‘but it raises awareness’. And sure, maybe at first it did, because it was originally about bra colour – related to breasts, see? – and might have happened around the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

But now, cycle after cycle has rolled by. It’s January and I’m still seeing it. I apologise if you devote hours of your life to fundraising or supporting the cause, and you happen to find it worthwhile to put on your wall. What I can’t forgive is what one blog dubbed ‘Slacktivism’. I Wiki-ed it (welcome back, Wiki!):

“Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism or slackervism) is a portmanteau formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist. The underlying assumption being promoted by the term is that these low cost efforts substitute for more substantive actions rather than supplementing them, although this assumption has not been borne out by research. [1]

Slacktivist activities include signing Internet petitions,[2] joining a community organization without contributing to the organization’s efforts, copying and pasting of Social Network statuses or messages or altering one’s personal data or avatar on social network services.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS describes the term “slacktivist”, saying it “posits that people who support a cause by performing simple measures are not truly engaged or devoted to making a change”.[3]

Crikey. Look, this is my second rant-y post in as many weeks. I appear to be turning into Charlie Brooker, but in a dress. I apologise for that, my blog is usually a place of positivity, good humour, and general inspiring bits and bobbles. But I feel strongly about this little conundrum, and I’m going to speak up about it.

My Google search revealed many people who felt the same. The worst thing was reading blog posts by cancer survivors, saying they didn’t get it. And worse still were the voices who spoke up about the ‘I’m 6 weeks and craving’ posts. Aggressive cancer treatments can leave survivors infertile. One woman described how she’d sobbed, convinced that by some weird coincidence a handful of her friends were all pregnant, while she herself would never have children.

Please, just think about it next time. Think about what it’s actually achieving, in real terms. Sure, for a minute or so you might get a smug glow of feeling like you’ve done something – I know, I’m sure I had that when I did it. But come on, girls. We can prove we’re more intelligent than this, surely? Let’s demonstrate to society that we don’t just loll around thinking up ways to annoy/confuse men, like some sort of play by Sheridan.

Let’s accept that we’ve all done it, and it was a bit fun at the time, but that ultimately, IT ISN’T DOING ANYTHING if that is all you’re going to do. There are so many easy ways of getting involved with helping a charity. Just give a bit of money. Can’t afford it? No worries, it’s a recession – how about doing a sponsored run? Not a runner? That’s fine. Donate a bit of your time.

Come on, guys. Don’t be a Slacktivist. You know, you can still post a status about breast cancer awareness? It doesn’t have to tell the world about your bra colour/imply to the social network that you’re pregnant. And please stop trying to confuse The Men.

Peace out,

Amelia