The Impacts of Public Perception

All too often, we find ourselves on the receiving end of keyboard warriors. I suppose we can thank the wonderfully toxic world of social media for this.

I sometimes wonder if the ideology behind ‘freedom of speech’ has gone too far and been misunderstood.

Sure, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but sometimes taking to the keyboard in a fit of rage isn’t the best thing to do. Not only are harmful comments public, but they can impact someone’s mental wellbeing more than we might think.

In a society where openness about mental health is ever expanding, it’s saddening to know that there are people willing to bring others down for their own personal satisfaction.

Speaking from personal experience, receiving online hate about the way I look only brings a smile to my face. In a sense, I feel sorry that someone has decided to waste their time criticising me, because I know it will have absolutely no effect on how I see myself because I’m in a happy place surrounded by the best people.

However, the impacts of online abuse can be far worse on an international level.

Let’s take Love Island for example.

Millions of people tune into their televisions at 9pm every night throughout summer to watch this programme.

I think it would be fair to say that this year’s contestants received a plague of online abuse after returning home from the villa.

For example, Curtis Pritchard.

Prior to entering the villa, Curtis and his brother, AJ, had already been on the receiving end of violence. The brothers were assaulted outside a Cheshire night club by a gang of eight. Both brothers were injured, resulting in Curtis requiring surgery on his knee.

When Curtis left the villa with partner, Maura Higgins, after placing 4th on the show, the amount of online abuse he received was shocking. Particularly on this Instagram post:

The comments are awful. It horrifies me to know that people have no awareness that their remarks have consequences. Sure he’s wearing makeup for TV, so what?

Are the suicides of former contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis not enough to make people aware of the influence online abuse holds?

This year has been no different. One only has to look at some of the headlines written about Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury to see them littered with claims that they’re “fake.”

Like a lion hunting a zebra, online abuse stalks every post.

Last night, the following post came up on my Facebook feed:

At first glance, I thought to myself “Damn, I wish I could do my makeup as flawlessly as that.”

Then I looked at the comments:

My stomach turned. Honestly if you’ve got nothing nice to say then don’t say anything! Just imagine the impacts this might have on the model.

It’s like having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. The angel encourages us to be kind, but is overruled by the devil of negativity and hate.

(image credit: https://paranormalis.com/)

I am willing to bet my student loan that if these people were on the receiving end of their comments they’d be upset.

Treating people how you’d like to be treated is so important. 

Let’s move on to talk about some of the headlines written about celebrities. For example:

As a trainee journalist, I’m very familiar with writing headlines that captivate audiences.

BUT…

Why does it matter that Michelle Keegan flaunts her “tiny waist” whilst heading to the gym? Why does Carol Vorderman’s figure in “skin-tight leather trousers” matter so much?

Well, these key phrases draw in audiences like a spider on its web. If I were to re-write the first headline: ‘Michelle and Mark go to the gym’ it’s suddenly very boring and dull.

It’s the emphasis on her figure that draws in audiences and opens the door to criticism.

Fact is, Michelle is going to the gym wearing leggings and a crop top and Vorderman is wearing skin-tight leather trousers because she wants to.

Ultimately what I’m trying to say is think before you type. Online comments hold more negativity than we may realise. Online hate is one of the reasons so many suffer from anxiety and a lack of self-confidence.

Public perception kills. You only have to look at the tragic suicides of former Love Island contestants to know this.

It also serves as a notice to be kinder to people because you never know what’s going on inside their head.

***

Sources:

https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/8077773/strictly-come-dancing-aj-pritchard-brother-curtis-beaten-up-nightclub-attack/

https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/breaking-love-islands-sophie-gradon-12757402

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-47597561

Advertisements

Talent has no gender

In a world riddled with underlining gender biases, it seems that talent is one of the only aspects of life which doesn’t come with a gender label.

With this in mind, I thought I’d write an opinion piece on this topic and why, in some respects, I feel ashamed to be part of a society which still exploits gender biases.

It’s no secret that sexism, sadly, still exists in the 21st Century. Aside from the ongoing gender pay gap which continues to plague many professions, sport has mostly eliminated the idea of gender inequality.

Let’s take gymnastics as an example.

If I asked you to name a few of the great gymnasts of our time, you’d most likely name Max Whitlock, Nile Wilson and Beth Tweddle, to name a few. In a sport which requires precision, balance and an insane amount of core strength, gender seems to be of no importance.

(Photo credit: @nilemw on Instagram)

Gymnastics focuses on the sheer talent of those involved, their perseverance and hard work, instead of making leeway for narrow-minded perceptions that the sport is for one gender, and one gender only.

I admire many of the greats from this sport, I can just about touch my toes let alone do flips and tricks from parallel bars!

It’s refreshing to be able to escape in the world of gymnastics where talent is appreciated, and gender isn’t criticised.

Another sport which supports this ideology is horse riding.

Ah, the absolute art of trying to control a 750-pound animal with it’s own mind. And no, don’t even get me started on the “you just sit there” stereotype – I will personally come and lecture you on the work us riders put in to look flawless and get our horses working correctly.

(Photo credit: @benmaherofficial on Instagram)

Like gymnastics, horse riding is a sport for all. From popular figures such as Mark Todd, Ben Maher and Ellen Whitaker, to those sitting on a horse for the first time, the only thing that matters is the partnership you have with your horse – not what gender you identify with.

Yet, there are some sports which focus on gender, instead of the talent their competitors hold.

Athletics.

One of the most recent examples was the controversy surrounding South African middle-distance runner, Caster Semenya.

(Credit to @castersemenya800m on Instagram)

She caused concern amongst fellow athletes that her condition, hyperandrogenism, gave her an unfair advantage.

Hyperandrogenism is a medical condition characterized by excessive levels of androgens (male sex hormones such as testosterone) in the female body.

Yet, the fact it occurs in the FEMALE BODY was overlooked by the ethical debate regarding Semenya’s biological gender.

For me, this is definitely a face palm moment…

The Daily Mail published in their article: “Semenya, 25, has testosterone levels three times the normal level found in women and approaching those of a man. Furthermore, she has no womb or ovaries, and instead, owing to a chromosomal abnormality, internal testes. As a result, her appearance is startlingly masculine.”

If it’s all about appearance then please start calling me Andy because I probably share “startlingly masculine” aesthetic characteristics with my Dad!

Why must we always look upon gender as the ‘be all or end all’?

Yet (aside from the odd blip) talent remains genderless, and that’s the beauty of it.

Speaking of beauty, the make-up industry is an absolute gold-mine for the celebration of talent. I know I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs, so I’ll keep this short and sweet.

(Credit to @nikkietutorials on Instagram)

YouTube is a hub of make-up artistry, from NikkieTutorials, James Charles, Zoella and many others, talent is shared across this platform. Make-up is celebrated for what it is – a form of art open to interpretation and personal preference.

Men and women alike are celebrated on YouTube and other social media platforms for their artistry and talent. That is a real step in bridging the gap between gender stereotypes surrounding make-up.

As a society, I believe we should live and let live, encourage others to follow their passions whilst striving to bring out the best in ourselves.

In sports like gymnastics, horse-riding, rugby and football, where both men and women can compete (granted, in separate competitions/matches) is a fantastic advocate for equality.

Talent is a gift. Afterall, achieving Olympic medals and competing in world class competitions doesn’t happen at the click of a finger and shouldn’t be overlooked by one’s gender.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog! Please note, all opinions expressed are my own!

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperandrogenism

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3740682/Should-runner-allowed-win-gold-woman-Tipped-win-800m-no-ovaries-nearly-testosterone-man-sparked-huge-ethical-debate.html

https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/2568578/caster-semenya-gender-row-hyperandrogenism-iaaf-testosterone-wife-race/

What first year has taught me

As I sit here in my beloved student accommodation bedroom surrounded by a maze of boxes containing various miscellaneous items packed to go home for summer, I decided to reflect on my first year at University and what it’s taught me.

For those who may not know me personally, I have just finished my first year studying Journalism at University. And oh boy, what an experience it has been. I won’t lie, there have been many ups and downs, but that’s all part of the learning experience.  

It’s fair to state that the first year of University isn’t guaranteed to be plain sailing. There have been moments of doubt and upset. But they are far outweighed by the moments of self-assurance and enjoyment that University provides. I guess that’s what makes it all the more rewarding.

Now, I’m not going to lie, University is a huge step up from sixth form/college education. For me, thoughts of “Am I going to fit in?”, “Am I good enough?”, “What if I can’t do this?” flooded my brain like a tidal wave in the weeks approaching my start date.

But if there’s anything I want to emphasise the most, it’s that these feelings are completely normal! I guess feeling nervous about it is a good thing, because (in a way) it shows you care. It signifies that you want to achieve the most you can from your years in education. I suppose I made this transition fractionally harder for myself by choosing a University 194 miles away from home… whoops! But, if I’m honest, you hardly notice the distance.

Why?

Because University forces you to be independent.

You’re put with a group of random people whom you’re expected to live with, you have to cook for yourself, do your own laundry etc. But is that as daunting as it sounds? Heck no! It’s part of transitioning into adult life, and I can safely say I have met friends for life here: both in my accommodation and on my course.

Alongside this, University also teaches you two kinds of confidence.

The first of which is having confidence in your ability.

Think about it like this, everyone is in the same position at University. Everybody starts off University as either a hungover, or non-hungover fresher, just getting to grips with this change in lifestyle. Sure, there’s bound to be people who are better at a certain module than you, but that’s nothing to worry about. I have, and will, continue to stand by the motto that so long as you know you’ve worked as hard as you can, nobody can ask for anything more.

The second of which is being confident in yourself.

In a way, I’m disappointed in myself for going through the majority of my life (thus far) with a “can’t do” attitude which once gnawed away at my self-confidence like some demonic hamster. But believe me, this is thrown as far out of the window as possible once you reach University. There’s no time for that, it forces you into a “can do” mindset which I find I am adopting more frequently – good riddance!

Alongside confidence, University has also taught me patience. I guess one of the flaws of being a millennial and living in such technological advanced times, is that you expect everything to happen at the click of a finger. I suppose my lack of patience in some aspects of life form some of my biggest regrets. And no, I don’t mean regret in a sense of eating the rather ‘hunt the toast’ cheese toastie I decided to make for lunch today… somebody send me some digestion tablets!

Patience is one of life’s greatest lessons. I guess being impatient when it comes to the final 5 minutes before an exam isn’t all bad but being generally impatient never helps a situation. Afterall, what’s the point in getting unnecessarily stressed and impatient about something which will be ok in the end?

The third, and final, thing that my first year at University has taught me is independence. Now, I’m not talking about having to cook for yourself as I briefly mentioned above, I’m talking about the freedoms University provides. Growing up in a relatively small, countryside village has meant I’m not exactly acclimatised to a city environment. However, this hasn’t phased me.

The freedom to be your own individual person is a feeling I can’t put into words. The sense of finding yourself and where you want to be in life is worth more than words can express. University is home to a hub of aspirations. Everybody comes here with a passion to study a certain subject and start their career. In other words, the freedom to choose who you become later on in life is a feeling not even a good motivational speech or song could express.

You see, at University, everybody is original. Everybody has a certain subject they love and want a career in, otherwise they wouldn’t be here! To me, that’s all the inspiration required to bring out the best in myself, free from the prison of self-doubt that held me captive throughout my time at school and sixth form.  

I suppose what I’m getting at is that University allows you to be whatever you want to be; to uncover your potential, passion and enthusiasms in life. I can truly say that University has lived up to every expectation I held and I cannot wait to start second year come September 2019.

The Weird and Wonderful World of the 21st Century

Ok, here goes. I feel that the time has come for me to step outside of the regular instalments of the ‘Lambo Boys’ posts to something a bit more journalistic and opinion-based.

As much as I love writing about the club and its members, it’s time to write about something I initially mentioned in my introduction post – The Weird and Wonderful World of the 21st Century.

I endeavour to make this blog post as interesting and as thought-provoking as possible.

And yes, I am (of course!) accompanied by a cup of tea as I bring you my views on the weird and wonderful elements of our society!

Now, as a Journalist student, this first point is something that baffles me.

Face to face communication.

What is going on there?! I can’t put my finger on it, since when did it all become so hard? As my beloved parents would say, “back in my day…” this wouldn’t be as much of an issue as it is in modern times.

Nowadays, people are fraught with fear at the principle of talking to another human being. Now, I’m not talking about the struggles of social anxiety, as I understand that’s a sensitive problem, I’m focusing on passing somebody you know. Why do we think “oh gosh, it’s them, shall I say hi, shall I wave, is that too much? Shall I smile?”

I mean the questions are exhausting. In a world where we are alive for just the blink of an eye, just say “hello”!

I guess the same issue arises with the rather teenage issue of crushes.

What a drama!

If you like someone, message them. Simple.

Life, unfortunately, is not a Disney film. However great singing your way through life may sound, Prince Charming isn’t going to return your lost Converse shoes, let alone marry you!

Society is brilliant, don’t get me wrong, and by no means am I suggesting that we all have to be in relationships, because life is full of opportunities and experiences to be shared with a number of people. However, I wish simply saying “hello” to somebody wouldn’t be as challenging as figuring out how to phrase this post!

I’m a great believer in the cliché phrase “you only live once”. Why? Because it’s TRUE!

Along with this, is the matter of small talk. Since the introduction of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc. many find it hard to engage in small talk because the majority of our communication is done online. I cannot remember every time I’ve asked somebody how they are and get a blunt, single-word response: “fine”.

Where have the days of full, engaging conversation gone?!

No wonder people question why I talk to myself a lot!

The other day, I found I was talking to myself about how we don’t notice when we blink. How random is that?!

The point is, communication skills are decaying. Quite daunting when you consider that there are 7.6 billion people on Planet Earth…

Another ‘weird’ fact that baffles me is trends.

These have become such a prominent part of the online world of the 21st Century, especially social media. Trends seem to determine how ‘cool’ or ‘popular’ someone is. I remember when I was younger the ‘in thing’ was loom bands.

How strange is that?!

We used to sit there with our school pasta pots at lunchtime comparing small, multi-coloured rubber bands, seeing how we’d constructed different patterns or incorporated multiple designs.

Those were the days!

But, nowadays, trends have turned sinister.

The most prominent example being the ‘Momo Challenge’. For those of you who aren’t aware, this is a suicide game that encourages young children to hurt themselves. It originated on WhatsApp but has also appeared on YouTube.

The challenge has parents worried across the country, as children are encouraged to keep ‘Momo’ a secret.

A cruel ‘trend’ that I find absolutely appalling.

Especially since it made headlines again. On February 28, the BBC released an article, entitled “Momo challenge: ‘Freaky game’ described as hoax”.

A hoax?!

Seriously?!

I can’t quite believe that a cruel challenge that encourages vulnerable children to hurt themselves has been branded a “hoax”.

I suppose the way in which you interpret this is down to personal opinion, but I simply don’t see how a cruel challenge which installs fear into our younger generation (and has had tragic consequences) can be called a “hoax”.

Life is not something to be feared! It is a reality to be experienced and cherished.

Which brings me nicely onto the wonderful elements of our society.

Let’s start with the people we meet. I want you to take this moment to think about the people you’ve met in your life. There must be hundreds, right?

For me, I can’t quite describe the love I have for the people I’ve met. My family, my university flatmates, coursemates, lecturers, teachers. I mean, the list goes on!

The people you meet in your life impact you in one way or another.

For example, my old English teacher inspired me to take up Journalism at University level. My family constantly remind me “you can do it”! My flatmates keep me sane with their endless support and ability to make me laugh on the toughest days.

I think one of the wonderful elements of this is the variation of people we meet. Even the ones we may not see eye-to-eye with. And, you know what? That’s ok because we are all individual people!

I know this doesn’t exactly mean a whole lot coming from a Journalist student with a tea-addiction, but if there’s one thing I’d love to pass on from my ramblings, it’s this:

Life is too short to be anything other than yourself, so follow your dreams.

If anything, I hope this blog post has encouraged you to take a trip down memory lane and given you an insight into my views of this rather weird and wonderful society.

But most of all, I hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts and opinions as much as I have enjoyed writing them!

The regular ‘Lambo Boys’ blog post will be back next week.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this!

Introduction

Before I get into writing my first blog post, I feel it necessary to introduce myself. For those who might not know me personally, my name is Anna Parkinson and I am an aspiring journalist, currently in my first year at University.

I am a self-confessed tea addict, which I’m sure will crop up in a later blog post. One which will most likely start along the lines of “as I sit here on a rainy afternoon drinking my eighth cup of tea…” – oops!

Aside from that, let’s discuss the content of my blog.

I’m aiming to keep it as up-beat as possible, so it’s something you’ll enjoy reading and engaging with, whilst exploring the weird and wonderful world of the 21st Century.

I’m not going to deny that my blog will feature my main passion, horse-riding, at some point because it is something that I feel comfortable writing about. Apologies in advance!

But, it will also feature other topics – some more hard-hitting than others. Without giving too much away, I endeavour to write about the expectations of the online world, mental health, the pressures on millennials, current affairs, music and the latest trends that both fascinate and confuse the internet.

So, buckle up and enjoy the ride! I hope you’ll all enjoy the posts to come and I cannot wait to get into writing them.

First post coming soon 🙂