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Internet Escapism


2020 was one hell of a year. And all of us have been pushed to our limits. Some have lost jobs, some have had to study at home and most missed out on the things we usually look forward to. In retrospective I would say in particular this has affected the young, and those who were already going through difficult times. Therefore it is only natural that many have sought to find more ways of coping, and considering the circumstances, the internet has been rather appropriate. Of course it is a perfect way to distract ourselves, but is it really healthy, or would it be ignorant to claim that it is “better than nothing”?

What Is Escapism

According to Wikipedia, escapism refers to “mental diversion from unpleasant or boring aspects of daily life, typically through activities involving imagination or entertainment.” This has probably been apparent for hundreds of years, although recently I would imagine it has been on the rise. This can also happen in numerous forms, including gambling, heavy drug use or even persistently reading or watching TV to the point that it strongly gets in the way of what people are going through in other aspects of their life. Often this is related to mental illness, or addiction.

However in recent years there has been a new form of escapism, being on the internet. This is known to be a “very powerful variable that links all psychological problems to addiction induced by internet use.”

How this is a Problem?

I hope you’re all aware of how much of a issue heavy drug or alcohol use is, or substantial gambling. Basically because often it’s extremely addictive, and can ruin people physically and mentally. However other behaviors can manifest into escapism, such as excessive reading or film watching. Obviously only when this interferes with day to day errands. Usually this stems from the person facing severe hardship in their lives as it stands, however escaping to the point that you cannot bear to return is never going to help resolve the problem!

So how does internet escapism come into all of this? Well everywhere. For a start people can use many gambling sites on the internet, which could potentially exasperate the problem. As unlike before where shops would close and people would have no choice but to take a break, now the day doesn’t end. Making it that bit more addictive. However there are other ways people can engross in the online world, in order to get away from real life. Which include in virtual worlds where people can pretend to be someone who they aren’t.

Is This on the Rise?

The lonely and difficult world which many face has probably only been strongly exaggerated by the effects of the pandemic. Therefore many people are likely to have resorted to the internet in a way to get away from it all. This has included spending more time on social media, or within virtual worlds. So you may contest that we have all done so, therefore how is it a problem. Which is certainly true, but it becomes a problem when it gets to the point where it stops one from facing the realities of their lives.

Can This Ever be Good?

Everyone deserves to get help with what they are going through, but come on! This is the real world and nobody is going to get the help which they deserve overnight, or sadly at all… Meanwhile I’m sure most will agree that a distraction can be very helpful at the best of times. Yet I’m sorry, but you cannot “distract yourself” constantly forever, without confronting what you are going through and hopefully getting help. While escapist behaviors can exasperate problems already occurring on one’s life.

Of course escapism is something that has been around, probably forever, and escapism online is just it’s newest form, which is likely to become increasingly apparent. On a small scale, I would say that escapism can be a positive, but not when it gets to the point when someone cannot face their “real” life. It is important to be wary of escapism relating to the internet, because it can look different and the effects of it can potentially be stronger.

Hustle Culture


What should I do with my life? This is a question that I expect you have asked yourself enough times, yet most of us have either already or will in the future may be asked this exact question by others. But how would we be expected to answer this? Work, work work. As the more that we do this, the more likely we are to become “successful”, therefore what other genuine options would there be? Just think, as long as we study hard, have a job, have some kind of “productive hobby” on top of many side hustles, then at least we have the chance of being ok!

Come on! Let’s just be honest and admit this is rather boring? As I would imagine that from deep down, you would not want this to be your life.

Hustle Culture

Described by Doctor April Wilson as being “about a human doing rather than a human being” hustle culture involves the American values being the national preoccupation with work ethic and individualism. Of course, there are many ways in which it can be interpreted, but generally it relates to working considerably long hours, normal than the “average” 40 hour working week. Often this can be in aim of becoming more well off, and can sometimes be as a rejection to working standard hours “to make someone else rich”, and instead involve the person working horrifically long hours, to make themselves wealthy.

Side Hustling

So if hustle culture is where all of us run about like chickens from from one task to another, then what on earth could a side hustle be? Well, the term side hustle originally came about in relation to the poor working conditions of black people in the first half of the 20th century. Traditionally used in black newspapers including the Chicago Defender, and described “what one did to survive in a climate hostile to the possibility of prosperity via traditional full-time employment.”

Now it is used to describe a job usually for additional income, which someone works alongside their full time job. Usually 6-15 hours are spent on it a week; while for 43%, it is a different job to their usual day job. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 Brits have a “side hustle”, on top of their normal day to day job. This “sharing economy” is increasing income inequality among the bottom 80 percent of earners, partly because some people working in the gig economy are highly educated, and performing traditional roles which would have previously gone to manual workers.

The Gig Economy

Ironically, markets within the gig economy have used hustle culture to idealize working for their companies. Which in reality, as most of us know, generally companies within the gig economy often get away with paying less than the minimum wage, workers are on zero hour contracts and workers do not receive the rights they would be entitled to if they were working for a different employer. An example of this would be with Uber, whereby their website had made a claim to the term, glorifying the term and portraying having a side hustle as freedom. This can lead to people seeing the Gig economy as a “flexible stepping stone to a better life”, contrary to the harsher reality, whereby most who take on a side hustle do it as they have no other alternative way of making ends meet; on top of the fact there aren’t usually any worker’s rights.

Furthermore it is estimated that 35 percent of the American workforce was a part of the gig economy. This may at first seem shocking, but considering the numbers of people with a “side hustle”, it is not too surprising.

Can Side Hustle Culture ever be Something to Yearn for?

One source likes to split a side hustle into two types. One as a “second gig”, which is basically something people would choose to do in order to make ends meet. The other, as the “life coach definition”, which would be another source of income, but it would also be something the person is passionate about. This way, many who may wish to pursue a side hustle, may actually be doing so because they wish to learn new skills or even be able to focus on a hobby, while getting paid a little. In fact, those earning £15,000 or less a year are significantly more likely to have a side hustle for their hobby rather than those earning £55,000 or more. However this could be because people on lower incomes feel that it is more important to be able to make money on their hobbies, however small the amount may be.

To sum up, the way I see it, side hustle culture seems to be about the “Gig economy” using the term to glamourise the harsh reality of it. This is seen by the way how Uber have adopted the term on their website. This has led to various elements of media, and really society to draw up upon hustle, and side hustle culture in a positive light. However, the way I see it, none of us were born on this planet to only work and do nothing else, it is exhausting and unhealthy. Instead, considering that we are human beings, it is important for us to be able to take time out and absorb our surroundings.

Side Hustle Culture: how poverty is forcing urban youth culture into precarious (and sometimes dangerous) informal employment – Bubblegum Club

3 Lies That the Side Hustle Culture Leads You to Believe (entrepreneur.com)

The ‘side hustle’ culture: Is this the new norm? – Hiscox Business Blog

The Startup Industry’s Toxic “Side Hustle” Fixation – The Ringer

Hustle Culture: Is It Time to Slow Down? | Daily Life

How can I trust anyone else, when I cannot trust myself?

April Update


Hello, first of all I need to apologise for not uploading or generally being as active on here as I am usually. Basically I have been pretty busy, and I have had less energy I guess to come up with some decent, hopefully interesting blog posts. This said, I have got some posts on their way😃

First things first, I literally have “mini exams” starting in just over a week (typing this now doesn’t seem real), and while I am fairly confident that I SHOULD get the grades needed for the university I want to go to, I am still sort of worried. Whilst I would like to do a bit better if able to.

Although what does annoy me as an A level student, is that pretty much most of us are basically having to cram for exams in literally 2-3 weeks, which we would have otherwise have had months to revise for, after being told that exams would be cancelled. Literally I am wearing a crystal to get myself through this, and I wish that I was joking…

With me, things still feel pretty weird. Not bad, but I suppose there are just a lot of mixed feelings. Without being too open here, there is a mixture of wanting to be more independent but also fearing it, wanting to work really hard in life then also wanting a lot of time just to relax and appreciate everything, whilst not really knowing who I am. As well as this, without getting too personal, I basically feel as if I am growing out of a friendship that’s been with me since a very young child,just as we are both going in such different ways (and other reasons which I won’t state here). I mean I know these sound like the sort of thing any teen would go through, but still!

Apart from that I am back at work, which is actually nice as I did kind of miss it there, and so far I have been surprised at the number of people actually going and sitting outside and eating, even though this last week has been pretty cold.

Finally does anyone else feel that this year, so far, has gone really fast. Perhaps it is only because for most if it we have been in lockdown, therefore it feels as if none of us have really done much. Felt a little like that last year as well to be fair, although at least now (I hope) we are going in the right direction. Now there’s probably quite a bit more I could say, but I think I will leave it here, otherwise my scattered ass brain will just ramble on about thing which no one is probably interested in.

But I hope anyone reading has a nice few weeks 🙂

The Working Class Aesthetic


Who here is either fed up of seeing multi-millionaire celebrities sporting a simple tracksuit, which you know would have been likely to cost them hundreds of pounds. Yet bizarrely, it resembles something similar to something which you might have wanted to wear to take the dog out for a walk. How about these apparently “hipster” coffee shops, where a few years ago, they seemed to be popping up everywhere. And even though they promoted a rather fun and laid back atmosphere, they were actually strangely expensive. Now let’s rephrase the question. Who likes to (or know someone who does) save up for some “casual” sportswear, which is rather expensive. And at the same time, you are probably not going to exercise while wearing it?

Now as random as this may seem, I am sure that most of us can relate to at least one of these scenarios outlined. Therefore why are basically more well off people falling for things which less well off people are interested in?

Why is there a Working class “aesthetic”?

Ask anyone who does any kind of menial work if they think their uniform is stylish, then they would simply laugh at you. And I can’t really blame them! Do you see anything attractive about an old, muddy, high-vis jacket? How about an old patched up hoodie? Yet somehow, the fast fashion industry has managed to successfully take images of Appalachia and re-brand them for profit. Meanwhile Nostrum, a high end department store, has somehow managed to sell “Heavily distressed medium-blue denim jeans… that’s seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating” also commenting that it “shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty”. A bit odd, but what’s stranger is that it was priced at 425$. The same sort of clothing is also featured on runways. For the majority of us, anything which is directly marketed on runaways etc is going to be well out of our price range! However it is a reflection of how dressing in a more working class way is becoming more desirable, and this too can certainly be seen on the streets.

Why is this a problem?

As easy as it is to point out how clothing for the middle and upper classes seems to be becoming more casual, it is harder to understand at first how this can be such an issue. But to start with, it basically enables the affluent to appear poorer than what they are, in order to look “cool” etc. However these people are not going to share the same struggles of the working class. This way, they are almost able to dress up, without facing any prejudice or discrimination as a result of their class. Meanwhile, it is as if the working class subsequently lose something belonging to them, as because they can no longer afford to wear their traditional clothing and fashion, because of the brands which are popularising it.

Furthermore…

Yes, working class clothing has successfully been monatised. No, this is not a good thing. However many would rightfully argue that this process has been kind of inevitable. But what’s been more problematic has been the lack of understanding shown by the approach some upper and middle class people have taken toward working class culture. It is said that the brand Puma, threw a party inspired by council estate drug dealing. Meanwhile  4,000 teenagers from London are being exploited and trafficked to sell drugs in rural towns and cities. Furthermore universities (and I imagine more so ones which contain a higher proportion of students from private schools), have thrown raves where people have dressed up in various costumes, such as that of a Tesco or Deliveroo worker. Throwing away the costumes after use…

Cultural Approatiation

Whilst not directly relevant, Cultural appropriation is basically where individuals from one culture adapt some of the more desirable elements of another culture, whilst ignoring other aspects of it. Often being the oppression experienced by those of that culture. In relation to class, this can be seen by how many will choose to dress accordingly to someone of a lower class, or adapt some of their slang (also true in relation to other cultures), whilst turning a blind eye and/or mocking other aspects of it.

Conclusion

In my view, I don’t see anything wrong with some middle class or upper class people choosing to adopt some features of the working class. Or people engaging features different to their own culture. However this should only be the case if people are more aware on the oppression which these groups of people face, and are respectful of other elements. While concerning things like slang, we should all really have some idea on the origins of the terms, before being subconsciously embarrassed to use some terms, yet happily and freely use others.

PSA: Working class culture isn’t a fashion trend (thetab.com)

Working class appropriation is the new cool (epigram.org.uk)

How Brands Appropriate Working Class Fashion (refinery29.com)

How Working Class Culture Has Become Monetised | by Isabelle Drury | Medium

Appalachian Clothing and the rise of the “working class” aesthetic | by Maddie Harrison | Fall 2018 VT Intro to Appalachian Studies | Medium

The Gentrification of Depop


Charity shops. You either love them or you hate them. But I will admit that I am a fan. It is the thought of being able to walk into a shop and spot something really nice at a great deal; among a mess of baby stuff, shoes that are too small and clothing which you could picture your old English teacher in! But it is more than just that. It is that gratifying feeling of not only donating to a charity which you think is good, but also the thought that you are doing something really highly commendable known as “helping the environment”. Which of course is very important. Therefore it is only great that online second hand stores like depop have recently emerged, where people now have such an enormous choice on what cheap items to buy. And not only this, but it is a bit of a win win situation, because why would no clothes lover not want to make a few extra pounds on reselling some of the items which they no longer want?

So What has Actually Happened?

Depop was launched on the 1st November, 2011. Originally most of the buyers on there were using depop as a cheaper alternative to purchasing first hand fashion. However over time, depop has drawn in buyers usually interested in vintage fashion, helping the environment or both. More recently, it has drawn in sellers wanting to run a depop shop as a part time, or even a full time job. Over the pandemic, these types of sellers have grown due to lack of job security, while there are certainly enough monthly active users to facilitate this! As you can guess, this is because highstreet retail shops have had to close as a result of the pandemic. Where in the midst of the first COVID-19 restrictions, Depop’s sales went up by 54%!

Who is this an issue for?

As a result of the increased popularity of depop, prices in general have increased. This has meant that purchasing affordable clothing on depop, has become increasingly difficult for those who rely on it, as in time the popularity has and is likely to continue to make depop more exclusive to those on lower incomes. Ironically this is the exact group of people who need apps like depop the most, forcing them instead to rely on fast fashion. Furthermore because many sellers source their items from charity shops, it means charity shops then have reduced stock to sell to the public. Meaning that Charity shops could face stock shortages (which many have been facing during the pandemic anyhow), meanwhile reducing the choice for those relying on charity shops for clothing. Shop owners argue that this is just how business works and how profit is made, however it cannot be right when it is preventing lower class individuals from accessing affordable clothing.

Why is depop like this

While it is extremely sad thinking of some of the consequences which come with the increasing popularity of depop, you cannot help laughing at the extremes which you may come across in depop. For instance, there are some buyers who will label a simply nice, but cheap looking top, as something like “rare Y2K gem!!” charging something like £80 for it. The reason why sellers do get away with this, is basically as a result of fashion trends. Over the summer of 2020, this white Slazenger tennis skort became the subject of much scrutiny after it became a widely-hyped ‘Y2K’ style staple on apps like TikTok and Instagram.  This is simply because when something is trending, then the more wealthy someone is, usually the less they care about the price. Also being a seller on depop is going to be especially popular at the moment, considering the affects of covid. Need I say anymore. And while I don’t agree with this, one source stating that many sellers on depop acted like hustlers and girl bosses, does suggest how it is becoming more of a site which people utilize to make good amounts of money, rather than as a way to get rid of old clothes.

Can you Trust Depop?

As good as making clothing last longer may be for the environment, some sellers have taken advantage of their potential customers, and have instead purchased clothing first hand from fast fashion outlets such as boohoo. To then sell them off at an inflated price. This is clearly a problem, especially when the buyer has no idea that they have done this. Also it could be said that the importing and exporting of second hand clothing can be just as bad for the environment emissions wise. And while it is very hard to judge, I feel it is important to bear this in mind.

But Wait?! Depop is meant to be good

The UK is the fourth largest textile waste producer in Europe, discarding over 1M tonnes of textiles annually. 20% of which goes to dumps and 80% is incinerated. All of us will suffer from this, especially those living in the developing world. This way, it is a good move to keep textiles circulating for longer, before they need to be thrown away. It is likely that unless wealthier people have done some research into this, they are not going to realise some of the consequences off choosing to shop from depop, and they will not realise that what may appear to be sustainable, isn’t as sustainable in reality.

What can we do?

Just like my similar post about “What they don’t tell you about sustainable fashion”, I am certainly not dismissing the movement toward more sustainable fashion, which includes the selling of second hand goods. As buyers, we can feel rather powerless however against the more negative forces of depop and the market in general, however there are some small things which we can all do. For a start, try to avoid buying too many essential items from these outlets; especially if they are very cheap, as someone else may really need them. Also, while it isn’t easy to tell where the seller of a big shop sources their clothing from, there is no harm in asking the seller this! And usually they will be really friendly about it.

Furthermore, if you are a seller on depop, then while there is no harm in labelling something as Y2K to help it sell, refrain from selling products at a badly inflated price, because many sellers doing the same can further contribute to the problem.

What is thrift cycling? TikTok users concerned reselling is gentrifying shops (intheknow.com)

Depop and the gentrification of second hand shopping – Studio Magazine® (saintandsofia.com)

Charity shops, Depop and the gentrification of second-hand clothes – That’s What She Said (twssmagazine.com)

The gentrification of Depop — City Live (cityliveglasgow.com)

Mukbang


Who enjoys eating food? Most of us I expect. Yet who else knows that it is rather unhealthy to binge on half your weight of chocolate in one sitting. As tempting as it may be. Because come on! Most of us do like to think about food, many of us quite a lot. It is the topic of many conversations. Thinking about it from this point of view, it almost makes the thought of hundreds of thousands of people choosing to watch people consuming enormous amounts of food in one sitting, pretty understandable. But we all know that this is not at all normal…

What is Mukbang?

If you are wondering what Mukbang actually is, then don’t worry, because I wasn’t actually aware of it as a term until recently. Although I am sure most of us are at least familiar with eating challenges or contests, generally posted on youtube. And before the internet, then people would (and still do) challenge themselves on eating a certain amount of food under a certain time constriction. Yet Mukbang originated in South Korea, and has spread globally.

“Mukja,” means “let’s eat”; and “bang song,” means “broadcast.” It isn’t common for people to eat alone in South Korea, when people are unable to eat with others, so the watching someone eat while eating seems to replicate this experience. Meanwhile I am sure that many choose to watch these videos due to pure curiosity or interest.

What’s in it for the eaters?

Anyone who is familiar with the internet will know that just because someone is doing something which seems rather ridiculous and unhealthy, it doesn’t mean that this goes undervalued. Instead it is the opposite, with many crazy, and rather wasteful (in my view) “challenges”, gaining a lot of attention. Therefore money. Mukbangs are no exception, with top broadcasters to earn as much as $10,000 a month, not including sponsorship. An example of a well known Mkbang would be Trisha Paytas, who describes herself as the “Queen of Mukbang.” Across her two channels, she has ramped up over 6 million followers, by consuming vast amounts off food including in-N-Out Burger, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and KFC.

Unhealthy🙄

We all know that eating vast amounts of junk food cannot be good for us. Although it is interesting to find that many of these Mukbangs actually chose to live super healthy lifestyles, aside from the time they spent filming themselves eating for entertainment. This could be partly why many seem to maintain a “healthy” weight, due to eating healthy foods the rest of the time, and exercising. Nevertheless, as healthy as someone may be between these videos, it is still likely that as a result of what they are still putting their bodies through, their health will still face drastic consequences.

Also this kind off eating, can encourage viewers to try similar things at home, or potentially encourage viewers to even develop eating disorders. However it was strange to see that for many who were already suffering with an eating disorder, it actually prevented them from engaging in the dangerous behaviors associated with them, such as binging in some cases. Or restrictive eating behaviors. However while it might help some, it is also true that it can encourage others to engage in unhealthy behaviors, due to the potential for the videos to encourage things like overeating.

My View on it

So I think it is reasonable to say that for most casual viewers, it is probably out of curiosity rather than anything else. Although in some cases, I feel that it can encourage unhealthy behaviors. While it is bizzare, once again it is not surprising considering that this is the internet we are talking about!

The Unspoken Dangers of ‘Mukbang’ Culture (theodysseyonline.com)

What is Mukbang and How Does it Affect Your Health? (bistromd.com)

Mukbang – Wikipedia

What is Mukbang? YouTube Stars Reveal Side Effects Of Bizarre Trend (menshealth.com)

Everything about Mukbangs: extreme-eating videos making YouTubers rich (insider.com)

March Update


Hello, hope everyone has been OK. For a little bit of time I was thinking of doing an update every 2 months or so, like I used to. However my personal posts do tend to be among my more popular ones. So I thought why not just stick to doing a personal update each month, especially considering that things are changing so rapidly at the moment!

If you are in the UK, you will be aware that schools are returning this week (as I’m writing this, it is the 8th). The first day in my case just being for testing (for covid, not academic testing😂). But as pathetic as this may sound, I was actually quite nervous about returning, firstly because of the testing. And no, I am not against testing at all, it would be even more of a potential disaster otherwise. But it is just the though of having to do it, but I am sure we will all get used to it. Going back to it now, the testing is literally fine. Apart from that, general feelings around returning are a bit of a mixed bag. I am of course looking forward to seeing friends and being with people again, and I think I generally get more work done when I am at school, compared to when I am working at home. And while it will be different to “normal”, things have been for over a year now. And as bad as things are, least we don’t have to go to assembly, and in my case, I probably will never have to again!😉

While regarding grades, I have kind of accepted that I may not quite get the grades that I want, although of course it will depend on how well I do in the exams, and on how nice the teachers will choose to be. But on the same token, at least I can be confident in that I should be able to get the grades I need for the university I’m most likely going to go to later this year. Really it is just the annoyance of not knowing what is going to happen!😡

In myself I have actually been pretty good, better than I felt back in late autumn/winter. Perhaps it is because of the weather, but who knows. Lets just hope it lasts! Like many young people I am pretty excited for summer, and I feel things by then should be better than they are now as a result of the vaccine. Although from saying this, I honestly dread to think of the more long term consequences of all of this. I mean I want to say it will be fine, but so many people will be affected by this.

I have been practicing driving, and I think it is slowly going in the right direction, although not to rant or anything, but there are so many bloody lunatics on the road🙄 As you can guess, I am still on furlough. Although I am quite worried that the pub may not want me back when they re-open, probably a rather irrational thought, but it has been a while (since the most recent lockdown).

From editing this now, I can see that a few things have already changed a little, although at the same time things are pretty much the same. I don’t know.

3Ts on Twitter: "If your head's all over the place this #MensHealthWeek  start by visiting: https://t.co/7kfKhVkx4X (RoI) or https://t.co/DO190L2S8m  (NI) @PaveePoint @SeeChangeIRL… https://t.co/nTPHOxAf3x"

Flex Culture


Haven’t we become so obsessed. With flexing what we have, what we have done and who we are! It is like this fat ass competition, as to “ohh, I wonder who here is able to afford this”, “ohh, I wonder who is likely to be so successful that they become super rich in the future”, and “let’s flex pictures of our homes, lives and holidays so that we look better.” This way, everyone can see what we have. However it doesn’t stop there. Because even when uploading on our personal social media accounts, it is as if we are branding ourselves rather than posting our genuine lives and selves. As students, one of the first questions we ask each other is “what are you studying?”, while as adults it becomes “what job do you have?” And while we should congratulate others for what they achieve in life, and of course we should be proud of ourselves for what we accomplish, surely there is also more to life?

Examples of “Flex Culture”

Usually I would begin with a definition, however it is one of these things which we all see so often. So instead, to make you aware of the extent of of it currently, let’s illustrate what it is with using a few recent examples. A recent one would be off good old TikTok, where mainly teenage boys would flex their wealth, via the “rich boy check” (yawn). This may also be a place to bring up Kim Kardashian’s $23,000 diaper (nappy!) bag (double yawn), as well as ridiculously expensive clothing hauls, like the $30,000 guicci haul. Whilst there are many who would count themselves lucky if they were able to spend a 100th of that amount on clothing, if that. Another time, Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson filmed themselves throwing away $1 million worth of expired makeup. Who would have that amount of makeup in the first place? As you can guess, many would mercilessly mock those choosing to partake in the “rich boy” challenge, meanwhile you can imagine that the amount of makeup thrown away would have also driven a lot of backlash.

Nevertheless, generally speaking, flex culture is rather more discreet, and can take way in a number of forms. Flexing has been apparent in music for some time, with artists usually rapping about how much wealth they have, or about the number of cars they have. Furthermore, as already mentioned, flexing extends far beyond wealth, and can often look like people talking a lot about their academic or professional achievements. Or even “success” attained in personal lives, such as young romantic relationships and marriages, when we are all different!

“Fake it ’till You Make It!”

As much as many may dream of attaining huge amounts of wealth, for most this is only ever going to be a dream. So to compensate, the cheapest and probably the easiest way would be photo shopping. However it can be fairly easy to tell if something has been photo-shopped in this way, so if someone has a little extra money to dash, then they may choose to rent “luxury” items. In hope that it will be assumed they actually own these items. However a more obscure attempt, was when someone photoed themselves near a toilet seat, to make it look as if they were by an airplane window (and yes, this has been turned into a meme, which I initially fell for)! There is also plenty of help available for those wanting to make it look as if they are very wealthy. Including “how to” guides posted online, like a video titled “10 Ways to Look Expensive on a Budget”, which gained 1.5 million views on youtube. Now as I run this blog, and as most of you reading this post are going to be bloggers, I’d like to point out here that especially on pinterest, there are loads of adverts stating how to make huge and unrealistic amounts of money from blogging, in a very short amount of time. It does seem that for many, how much we make from something is a large motivator behind why they choose to do it. And if that fails, then it is going to be about how many followers people can get.

Why are we like this

So as crazy as some of these apparent trends may seem to us, I am sure that many of us have at least related to some of the ways in which we may flex ourselves, without necessarily realising we are doing so. Nonetheless, this raises the question of what caused us to become so obsessed over what we have. An economic explanation would be conspicuous consumption, which relates to spending money on luxury goods and services to show status or economic power. And of course there are multiple reasons which could attempt to explain this, but a large amount of this could be down to the initial focus on attaining wealth, meaning there is pressure upon everyone to become more wealthy. Therefore if one is able to show this off, then it is likely they would choose to do so.

Why this is bad for us all?

We have all been taught in life, some to differing degrees, that success=money. Yes, I know this sounds really clique, but that is the case, sadly. A project called inequaligram, run by the City University of New York, which looked at 7.5 million instagram posts shared in Manhattan, showed that wealthy neighborhoods were dramatically over-represented in posts, including those from people who lived in poorer parts of the city. This highly suggests that while richer people are going to be in more of a privileged position to have the time to share on social media more frequently, we all are more invested in the lives of rich people. Yet it seems that very few of us like flexing when it is too obvious.

So most of you before will have probably already had the view that flex culture is actually pretty ugly. And that those who hugely engage in it, who the world seems to hate yet love, are most likely to live pretty sad lives. Nevertheless, it is important to recognise how much society encourages flex culture, which while it may be more discreet, it still isn’t going to be too good for us.

The Psychological Impact of Seeing YouTubers Spend Millions | WIRED

‘Flexing’ or bragging about wealth may stop you from making friends, study shows (insider.com)

It’s Time to Tone Down Flexing on Social Media | 34th Street Magazine (34st.com)

Appearing wealthy on social media has become its own industry (macleans.ca)

What is “Flexing”? And Why You Shouldn’t | Strategy Lab Marketing Regina

Girl Boss Feminism


“Hello Gals!” Look at all of you sexy wildcats; all part of the Girl Boss Feminism movement. Hope you are all ready to SMASH that glass ceiling today, so that you can not only be as good as those smelly old men working at the top of the building, but better! Look come on, if I can do it, then you can too. And with regards to any especially males who attempt to get in your way, just don’t have it! Push them out of the way, push someone else too out of the way if you feel the need to. As you don’t have to worry, because YOU are more than just some strong woman, but you are a Girl Boss!

Some of you reading this, probably are not actually too keen on this idea. But ask yourself, if you had the opportunity where you were guaranteed fame and fortune on the grounds that you worked for 16 hours a day, then would you take it? Yet you know that this most certainly is not going to guarantee you success, even if you are among one of the more privileged people in society. Because to actually become a “girl boss” in the traditional sense, usually means that people need to have plenty of money in the first place, whilst being white and having the correct connections is also certainly a help! Therefore it becomes pretty apparent that girl boss feminism may not be as promising as it may look to begin with. This way, we ought to all ask ourselves how empowering this movement really is, if its main aim is to seek out kind of equality in a world full of inequality…

What is a Girl Boss

Alright, so I have waffled on quite a bit, but if you hadn’t heard of the expression “girl boss” before, then according to the free dictionary, it refers to a “confident, capable woman, who pursues her own ambitions rather than working for others or settling down in life.” Although the definition doesn’t explicitly state this, it seems that a Girl Boss is generally used to describe a woman working in business. Generally a CEO or an entrepreneur. A prime example of this would be the role of Sophia Amoruso in founding Nasty gal, which resulted in a netflix show, based on her story. Many other women will have obviously been associated with this term, but many have also adopted it for themselves, including Lilly Singh, writer of “how to be a barister”, Nicole Lapin, author of “Boss Bitch” and Ivanka Trump, writer of “Women who Work.”

Constraining

While the idea of a girl boss may seem very empowering at first, as already mentioned, there are very few women who are in the position of having the opportunity of becoming a “girl Boss.” This means that the idea of being a girl boss is very limited to a negligible number of women, meaning it is hardly inclusive.

Not Really Feminism

From this, I cannot see how this can be a form of genuine feminism, when it excludes the vast majority of women. Now of course some could hope, but any woman of colour seeing this movement would immediately know that it isn’t for them, as the vast majority of all known “girl bosses” are white. Furthermore, anyone who is from a working class background can forget it. Feminism really needs to be about supporting and empowering ALL women, and about challenging the structural kind of “man’s world (click the link to get to a wonderful song) we are living in. Which has led to individual issues, based on sexism, which people of all genders have to face. The firm “cheer”, where many saw Monica Aldamia as the classic girl boss, shows how Girl Bosses may not be as feminist and “empowering” as some women would like to think they are. However the business showed a lack of commitment to feminist causes, which has arguably been obscured due to her simply being a female navigating a male dominated sphere.

Feminism + Capitalism=

So if you search the term “girl boss”, then apart from different articles coming up about it, you will also find there are a good number of “girl boss” products which you can buy. Yeah, not too surprising. As an example, a young women a few years ago may have felt empowered by wearing a “girl boss” Te-shirt, by associating herself to this term. The clear irony here is that women with very few, if not no rights and with barely enough pay to survive on, would have been behind making them. Moreover the broader message about girl boss culture, is of course about equating a kind of financial success, thus twisting feminism toward capitalism.

Do YOU Want to be a Girl Boss

We can all see how problematic this term is, nevertheless with the persistent pressures of accomplishing success, it is not too surprising why so many young women would want to aspire to it. Even if it is not something we are immediately aware of. Yet someone who is busy all of the time, even if they are working on things which they want to achieve for themselves, is not likely to be living the best life. Just think what they may be missing out on. And even if someone does manage to “break that glass ceiling”, ending up with millions of pounds in their pocket, and becoming well known, is not necessarily going to be happy. In fact, I can imagine it is an incredibly lonely life. Going back to the fonder of nasty gal, she stated that while she was managing to accomplish so much, she once got photo shopped into a group of people.

But at the same time, some do strive to become successful, and are likely to consider wealth at least as an indicator of success. White women are in this strange position of intersectionality, where their gender obviously acts as a constriction, yet their race is a massive privilege. Therefore trying to break boundaries may seem like a really inspirational thing to do. But before any of us try to work ourselves to death, or attempt to push someone out of the way, remember that neither of these choices will really achieve true equality,, or true happiness for anyone.

Productivity Culture


There is always something, isn’t there. Something that you need to get done. And there are two types of people. Those who keep a diary, jam packed with tasks which the owner needs/wants to complete before a certain time. While there are those who don’t keep a diary, and are equally as busy, yet instead their heads are carrying the things which need to be done. And if you don’t keep a diary, then I can make two assumptions. One, that your head is filled up with things which need to be done, and two, you probably wish that you kept a diary! Who else here is the latter?

Because let’s face it! Most of us know what it is like to be constantly busy, and in fact many of us too take so much pride in it, to the extent that we decide to track down literally everything we do. Just think, people tracking their steps, people tracking how much water they drink each day not to mention all these guides which enable and encourage people to get as much done as possible each day, ensuring that they stay up on their toes. From this, it is rather clear the general message is that the more we achieve, the more worthy we are…

Why are we Like This?

Before we begin, the reason why most of us are so good at chatting to others when we are supposed to be doing work, have this natural tendency to aminously scroll through our phones or just drift off into a daydream, is because we are human! So how come we are so good at shaming ourselves for being this way?

Partly, it could be down to a feeling of lack of control in the world we are living in, which means we choose to engage in productivity culture so then we can at least measure something which is within our control. Another reason is because we are in this world where there is so much pressure to achieve, that many feel that they must do whatever, even if it involves sacrificing their health, to achieve as much as they possibly can (which can actually be counter productive). A similar reason is that many highly link what they achieve to their self worth. In ways, this may seem like a positive, because it makes us feel as if we are in control of something that’s not only healthy, but really it is enabling us to become “better” versions of ourselves, and fundamentally more “successful”. Therefore it is not too surprising as to why it is seen as a much better alternative to engaging in physically unhealthy behaviors.

But What Actually Caused This?

The previous paragraph may explain why we seem to like the idea of being productive, but what was it that actually taught us how important this is? Well it is suggested that it could be as a result of neo-liberalism, which highly values output and productivity. Subsequently, as people grow up into a system which highly encourages being busy all the time, while trying to get more done in a shorter period of time, it means that as adults it is hard for us to step back from this culture and focus on the more important aspects of life. And of course if we are having difficulty in our lives, at least we can attempt to compensate this by being more productive.

Productivity as a Measure of Output

The economic system we are in highly focuses on the accumulation of money and possessions, which dictates the private capital. This can lead us to wanting to measure anything which we achieve, which can be dangerous because many can use this as a way of measuring their self worth. Just as an example, I know from experience that a lot of people (including myself in the past) have used grades as a way of defining their self worth. This is ridiculous when you think they most certainly do not begin to give the full picture of the person’s skills and capabilities. Not to mention, their value as a fellow human being!

Side Hustling

This has probably been exasperated as a result of the pandemic, as job security has worsened, and many have wanted to find other ways on how to make a little extra income. One of the ways this can be done, is by making our hobby into something which we can profit from, which can involve selling things like art online. Again, in my view there is nothing wrong with attempting to make a little money online from a hobby, especially when you consider the current economic situation. But when this becomes the key focus rather than any thing else the person gets out of it, then this does become a problem. Plus what happened to taking time for ourselves? Because as the pressure on people to try to make money from their hobbies increases, things which people do to supposedly unwind become less enjoyable and can feel more tiring. Which can potentially lead to burnout.

Why is this an Issue?

Thinking about it, it is ridiculous how anyone can think of their self worth as a measure of how much they get done. Yet I feel that this is the case for so many. Firstly it can mean that what we really get out of our leisure time is constricted, because instead of us really using it as a time to wind down, many are choosing to measure how much of a certain activity, such as exercise, can be achieved within a certain time. And while there nothing wrong with wanting to get better at something, it is not good either when we are unable to do anything just for pure enjoyment. In one instance, someone outlined how they aimed to read 26 books in a year, therefore chose to create a spreadsheet to track her progress. It became such a good idea among her friendship group, that she ended up sending this spread sheet to many of them as well. As already said, there is nothing wrong with us wanting to track our progress, but when we get to the stage where this happens with practically every element of our lives, not to mention the pressure on sharing it online, it can lead to leisure time leaving us feeling more drained rather than less.

Finally, at the end of the day, we are all human. And in-spite of all the pressure there is to get as much done as possible, we need to remember that this is not how we are naturally supposed to be.

What Is Toxic Productivity (and How Do I Avoid It)? — Create + Cultivate

Being obsessed with being productive … is unproductive – The Washington Post

The problem with productivity culture is that we aren’t robots (yahoo.com)

Problems with productivity culture | Lifestyle | iowastatedaily.com

Why Are We So Obsessed With Productivity? – The Gloss Magazine

Why Are We So Obsessed With Productivity? (fastcompany.com)

pacquing_june2017.pdf (kritike.org)

My Problem with Childrens Clothing


Anyone else find it slightly disturbing when seeing 13-14 year olds who could almost pass for 18? Alright, let’s rephrase this. So as an 18 year old, when I see people a lot younger than me, who also sort of look my age, it does make me feel a little uneasy. But deep down, we all know it is pretty sad that young teenagers are feeling this pressure to dress as if they are a lot older in the first place. And while of course there are going to be a good number of reasons for this, it doesn’t help that shops seem to be filled with clothing geared toward young children.

It All Starts From When you were Young

I imagine we have all seen it. Slightly short and very sparkly dresses, punchy pink ballet pumps, and tops which show half of someone’s mid section. All being sold in the under 12s area. Yeah, I know… However, after reading this post, this will sound like nothing… For instance, do you think that it is safe, not to mention practical for 8 year olds to be wearing 3 inch heels. It is certainly not appropriate when padded bras and padded bikini tops are sold for pre-puberty aged children, not to mention the “future hag” Te-shirt which was sold in Primark’s kids section. Just as one Mum states, “most daughters want to aspire a little more than to being a hag”. Especially when they are (hopefully) too young to know the meaning of such words…

What Actually Caused this

Obviously I don’t really have any idea as to what children’s clothing looked like 40 years ago, but I would imagine that it was; well, let’s use the term more practical compared to what it is now. But there has got to be a reason for this change. For a start, due to the “tech savvy” and “visual” world we are living in now, there is that bit more pressure on parents to be taking “nice pictures” of their children, to show them to friends. Which has never been easier than before, due to easily being able to post anything online where the pictures are likely to reach more than just the parent’s close friends. Along with “reality stars” and all sorts of adverts, be it online or on TV, this enhances the pressure on parents to go out and find the “right” clothing for their children. And with cheaper alternatives, which stores like Primark have to offer, it means that most parents don’t really have an excuse. Therefore in time, it only makes sense that children will be influenced by their parents buying habits, as well as images the children themselves are exposed to from a really young age. Meaning in time, they will naturally become more aware of, and choose to pay more attention to their appearance, leading to them to want to start picking out their own outfits …

But When does this Become a Problem?

The obvious argument for there being an increase in proportion of these rather “mature” clothes, would be because this is what the public want, therefore the market is going to have to respond. Nevertheless we know there have been, well “accidents”, where online brands have got it wrong, and have instead brought out something which is actually really inappropriate.

But if parents want their children to look pretty, then while these “accidents” are pretty gross, at the same time, a young girl wearing a short skirt really shouldn’t be seen as so problematic. Because they are of course far too young to be sexualised. Yet at least one Mum will disagree! She didn’t like the fact that these dresses were “slutty”, but she also stated that it wasn’t just about the dress in itself, but it was also about the way the model was “in a sexy pose, with tonnes of makeup.” Sadly this is just one of many times where in many cases very young girls have been sexualised. And while a model is a model, the poor girl shouldn’t have to be posing inn this manner considering her age, and it sends out a really negative message to other girls who may see this advert. Not helping how they view themselves, now or as they get older, and not helping with how young boys, then men may see them.

See the source image
Controversial young model who has been over sexualised in the media
Makes life harder in other ways

It makes my teeth grind, when I hear about so many schools prohibiting the younger years from wearing short shorts, vest tops and other items of clothing, on non uniform days. Including outings where the weather is hot, and there is a lot of exercise involved. Because these are literally practical items off clothing, therefore what kind off message does it send out for these young children? Because of this, it makes it increasingly difficult for young girls and then young women to be able to dress for themselves, due to the fear they will only be viewed sexually.

To Sum up

To sum up, I hope you can see why the market for kids clothing (especially for girls), is so problematic. Yet it really shouldn’t have to be. A large part of the inappropriateness seen and possibly unintentionally incorporated into the design of some of these items, is a wider reflection of the society we are in. With the hypersexualisation of many women, as well as the enhanced pressures to be keeping up with trends.

From saying this, it is also understandable as to why parents may want their children to dress up from time to time, yet the fact that a campaign, was even launched by “mumsnet” called “Let girls be girls”, calling on retailers not to sell inappropriate products, shows that parents really do not wish for their children to be sexualised. And after all, it shouldn’t be down to parents to have to complain when big brands seem to mess up. It should be down to the brands to ensure that no girls get shown in a provocative manner, and that “accidents” really should be spotted before the clothes get sold.

Sources:

Inappropriate children’s (particularly girls) clothing (netmums.com)

Too much, too young? Retailers still selling over-sexualised clothing to kids | Children | The Guardian

11 Inappropriate Pieces of Kids’ Clothing – Oddee

Are kids clothes getting out of control? – Today’s Parent

Children’s clothing increasingly oriented towards adult trends (lunajournal.biz)

Too many children dressing like adults (jamaicaobserver.com)

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