“Middle Class Christmas”

2012-12-22 23.15.28

This is the front page of ‘The Weekend’ newspaper this weekend. I don’t really have much to say about this picture. Other than the fact that it is SO true!

Originally posted on hutch PR:

I'm not quitting Instagram...

I’m not quitting Instagram…

Social media proves its worth when it comes to spreading news across the world but occasionally it can create it too. Yesterday (18 Dec 2012) it seems everyone was talking about Instagram and what they plan to do with users’ photos.

Instagram announced a few changes to their T&Cs and most people did the same thing they do with all T&Cs, speed-reading through them not really understanding or caring what had changed. A few however decided that they’d delve deeper and apparently uncovered an evil plot…

Instagram are going to sell our photos and make millions from our personal property!

What surprises me most about this is that I seem to be amongst the very few who weren’t outraged by this news and didn’t even consider deleting my account in protest. Many others though took to their Facebook accounts (the irony) and Twitter to complain about…

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The Media

media

So many of us think that we are above the media and press brainwashing. We think we can interpret advertisements and make our own decisions based on the product. We think that we can develop our own opinion regarding the news and we think that we cannot be manipulated by propaganda. However, I would argue the opposite.

First and foremost I would like to address advertisements. They have become all pervading in our lives. They are everywhere. There is no escaping them. This is mainly due to the variety of forms that adverts can take. They can be found on billboards, magazines, television, radio, on the internet and newspapers. Companies who develop adverts have established ways in which the product they are broadcasting can subconsciously enter your mind, even if you aren’t paying much attention. Technology has exacerbated this culture with adverts on social media sites, in particular Facebook, which are aimed at your search and profile history. Thus making the adverts that much more effective. This also continues the commercialised culture of society.

The attack on our subconscious is also undertaken in the news. The newspaper headlines naturally distort our view of the news. Emotive headlines are common and thus show the perspective of the newspaper and journalist that is then pushed onto the reader, often subconsciously. I have found many instances of this, one of which was in the Daily Mail today and stated, “This is legalised murder, claim family as judges rule doctors can let Grandad die.” The use of “Grandad” here is emotive as it suggested familial ties rather than using the more objective term “man”.

Finally, the use of propaganda for humanitarian campaigns also play on our emotions. This is through accusatory language such as the use of “you” which makes the reader feel as though they are the only ones who can help. Humanitarian campaigns also use images of suffering that evoke guilt and the desire to help, this is the same as quantifying things that you buy in your life compared to how much they can help in underprivileged areas. An example of this is the cost of a coffee a week can save a life. I’m not saying this kind of humanitarian campaigning is wrong, as it certainly works and it is vital that humanitarian campaigns raise money, I just found it interesting to assess their fundraising techniques.

It is important to remember that we live in a society that is becoming increasingly globalised and commercialised and the press, media and campaigners react accordingly. Advertisements and propaganda have become even more important in the last few years due to the economic climate not being conducive to spending or donating money. Thus, naturally, this kind of press and advertising has been exacerbated in recent years.

The Debt Crisis: Let’s just stop blaming people

I have just watched the BBC Three programme ‘Free Speech’ which focused on several main topics, one of the main topics was on debt, both government debt and debt in the general adult population. I was inspired to write a blog, so here it is.

It is obvious that debt is a serious problem, the government is sky high in debt, with it estimating that debt will rise to £1.5 trillion by 2016. This year alone the debt will rise by £138 billion and we will pay £44.8 billion on the debt this year, which is more than the UK’s defence budget and nearing our education budget.

There’s a lot of huge numbers when we’re describing the debt crisis, and I know personally how hard it is to fully wrap your mind around such massive numbers, like trillion and billions. However, the website http://www.debtbombshell.com/ is where you can see the UK debt rise by the second, a rather scary matter to witness. It also breaks down the debt into manageable numbers. The website states that the UK owes, £16,611 for every man, woman and child. This is equivalent of more than £36,458 for every person in employment. When you think that you personally represent over £16,000 worth of debt, and every person you pass in the street is the same it begins to hit home. Also, this year every household will pay £1,929, just to cover the interest on this year’s debt. I think these numbers allow the debt crisis to be more fully understood by those of us who aren’t maths geniuses.

However, it is not just the government who are facing debt issues, but also the general populatio
n of the UK. The government acknowledges that this problem is becoming more widespread, with the Prime Minister noting that more people under 30 are living with their parents than ever before. Indeed, 20% of British adults are in debt. This debt problem within the population compounds the economic situation that the UK is in, slowing the economy further and reducing the amount of growth. This in turn turns into a negative, vicious cycle as less growth tends to mean more debt.

However, what I think is the most important matter when discussing the debt crisis, is responsibility. What I have noticed, is that everyone has the tendency to blame everyone else when it comes to debt. The coalition government’s favourite phrase when discussing the debt crisis, is that it was the Labour Government who put us in this situation in the first place. The general population then like to turn the blame onto the government for their lack of policy about loan companies and their slow reaction to reducing the deficit and debt. However, nobody seems to be taking responsibility for the problem. It is not simply the government’s fault that debt among the general population is increasing. Times are hard, it means that sacrifices have to be made, not everything can be positive. Surely we should start to take more responsibility for our own lives and actions rather than blaming the government for what they are supposedly failing to do. At the same time, however, it is necessary to look after our country’s vulnerable (see http://louisepageblog.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/reform-needed-uk-benefit-system/).

I think that taking responsibility for the debt crisis, and the social and welfare problems that are having to be addressed as a result, is the first step in amending the current issues. I think we need to stop blaming institutions and people, we are where we are now, let’s accept it and try to move forward, working together as a country. Let’s face it, no government that has to reduce the deficit and debt, resulting in cuts in welfare is going to be popular. It is unfortunate that the government has to rely on being popular to be in office, making the difficult choices so much harder to make as a balance has to be struck between getting votes and support and facing reality.

So my conclusion is this. Let’s stop trying to place the blame on people or the government. Let’s get behind what the government is trying to do and let’s accept that dealing with the amount of debt the UK has is going to be a long process that cannot happen overnight, or, for that matter, in one 4 year term of government. I think, in order for there to be a serious and long term change in the attitude towards debt reduction in the UK, all the major parties need to commit to reducing the deficit instead of slandering and blaming each other.

London 2012 Olympics: Oscar Pistorius

As a Londoner I almost feel obliged to write something about the London 2012 Olympics. My topic? Oscar Pistorius.

There was an article on him in the telegraph that gives you a fair amount of background on him if you are interested beyond what I am going to outline.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/athletics/9452280/London-2012-Olympics-Oscar-Pistorius-finally-runs-in-Games-after-five-year-battle.html

Oscar Pistorius is a South African athlete who uses blade prosthetic legs to run. There was much debate over these biometric legs as some claimed that they gave him an advantage against other runners, leading to Oscar being disqualified from competing 5 years ago. However, it has since been proved that this is not the case and he is now able to compete again.

So this blog was inspired by a conversation a group of us had at a bbq when we were watching the race. There were several people who thought that he should not be competing in the Olympics as he was not ‘able bodied.’ They also thought that he should most definitely not be competing in both the Olympics and the Paralympics, claiming that you are either ‘able bodied’ or ‘not able bodied’ – you can’t be both. However, there was another side to the argument, several argued that it was good that he could compete and that he has proved that he is able bodied through his ability to run, furthermore, the blades give him no advantage so why shouldn’t he compete?

My opinion falls definitely in the latter. I think that it is a fantastic achievement that he fought to compete and has managed to do so, and not only that but make it to the final of the 400 metres as well. Personally, I think that his competing pushes the boundaries as to what we view as ‘normal’ and makes us think beyond the confines of the box that tradition draws out for us. Why shouldn’t we, with the plethora of technology we have available to us, take full advantage of it and let people compete in the way they wish. After all, Oscar has had to work extremely hard, if not harder than the other athletes to reach the stage that he is at now. I don’t know much about the physiological side of running but I would imagine that it puts more pressure on his other muscles as he has no calf muscles to take on the strain.

Therefore, I argue that Oscar should be able to compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics. It is narrow minded, I would say, to argue that we are defined by only one thing. Surely, we have progressed more as a society to be able to see round corners rather than just in a straight line.

Oscar has also brought the plight of the disabled and has shown that you can lead a fantastic and fulfilled sporting life despite a disability to the world wide stage, raising awareness across the globe. This is a priceless feat, one that should be commended rather than criticised.

louisepageblog:

I thought this blog gave an excellent outline of feminism and the issues that are attached to it.

Originally posted on Brute Reason:

Marissa Mayer is unquestionably a badass. But she’s wrong about feminism. (Photo credit:  Giorgio Montersino )

This piece was also published on In Our Words.

Yahoo! has a new CEO. Her name is Marissa Mayer and she is 37 years old, making her the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Mayer’s accomplishments in her career are incredible and she deserves credit for them. However, to some extent, so does feminism.

Mayer was born in 1975, as the women’s movement was really starting to take off. But at the time, it was still controversial for a woman to wear pants rather than a skirt, let alone to cohabit with a boyfriend, work outside the home after marriage, and so on. However, Mayer was able to benefit from the gains of feminism: she attended college (and not just any college, but Stanford University) and became Google’s first female engineer.

On…

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Is It Healthy To Be A Perfectionist?

Many people consider themselves perfectionists, but I question, is this a healthy mentality to life? Of course it is good to strive to better yourself, but surely life is also about knowing your limits?

Constant perfection is not a realistic goal, you are bound to fail at one point or another, quite often really. I’m sure that no one is flawless…

Not achieving a goal can be disheartening and demotivating, so striving for perfection may not actually be the best way to live. It might be better to set goals that are specified to your abilities that allow gradual improvement, rather than just expecting to be able to accomplish everything all the time.

Setting goals to achieve is an extremely difficult process, that has to be balanced between endeavouring to do better and setting achievable goals. However, if setting and actualizing goals can be done, then confidence and self esteem can be built and a better quality of life can ensue. I aim to do this.. another challenge…

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