Friday, October 12th, 2012
When I first moved back to the UK in 2009, back to Leeds, I was meeting with some cool creative types up there. We would exchange ideas and put the world to rights. One of the people in that group was Shang Ting Peng. Quiet and unassuming, she had moved to Leeds a few months before me from Taiwan, via Barcelona. When I got talking to her, I found she’s super into fashion and works on all sorts of cool projects. She told me she had a Facebook page called UK Observing Diary, where she documents Leeds street style and culture. Pretty cool, I thought. Then she said it had over 120,000 likes and gets millions of hits a month. WHOA! I thought. Shang Ting may just be the most popular blogger we’ve never heard of! UK Observing Diary has such a cult following back in Taiwan that Shang Ting got a book deal. She just recently got back from a month long book tour in Taiwan. I caught up with her to get the skinny.
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011
It’s a murky world, that social media. New things popping up all the time – between the Facebooking, Tweeting, blogging, Tumblring and such like, we often spend more time communicating online that we do in the so called ‘real world’. As it all develops, we’re starting to notice what one might consider, online faux pas that get us momentarily riled to the point we might send an angry tweet and promptly forget about it 23 seconds later. So if you’re struggling to navigate the murky waters that are social media, here are a few hints and tips to help you get it right.
Thursday, May 26th, 2011
How intertwined are your work and professional life? Do you go for drinks after work with your office mates? Oh sure, we all want to make out like we love the people we work with and since we spend a great deal of our lives around them, it’s pretty essential for our survival, so we don’t totally lose it and go on an office rampage. But weather you’re genuinely friendly with work pals or just faking the funk to make it through the day, is it wise to buddy up with the competition?
Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
In my first relationship when I was 17, I’d just gotten my first mobile phone. Back then, you only used it if you were actually out and couldn’t be reached on your home phone. Texting was complicated and took us all a while to figure out. No one was really using email that much. Basically, the only way to know what was up with your significant other was to actually hang out with them. Fast forward to 2011 and managing your relationship has become a complete clusterfuck as we all attempt to navigate our way through the myriad of technology that now plays a part in our love lives. So, does blogging and social media ruin relationships?
Thursday, January 6th, 2011
I spend so much time at my computer, a friend of mine jokes that when we meet in person, there should be a computer screen between us to make me more comfortable. I blog, tweet, email and Facebook my way through every day. Phone conversations are kept short, if they’re had at all and meeting in person can only happen once I’ve finished blogging, tweeting, emailing and Facebooking. It was only over Christmas that I realised how exhausting my constant online life has become. I’m always connected and while I wouldn’t change my life as a blogstress for anything, I gotta admit, it ain’t always easy. So I decided to unplug. Yup, I would go cold turkey. No social networking for a while.
Truth be told, I was going through a bit of writer’s block. I reached a point where I honestly felt I’d said everything I needed to say. Try as I might, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to talk about. My usual methods of twitter conversations, following links, checking online versions of mags and papers for blog ideas were yielding nothing. Could it…is it possible….did I need to step away from the computer and actually….*gasp*…get a life? Then I might possibly have something to write about? Say it ain’t so!
I am a pretty prolific tweeter, guilty of tweeting whatever mind numbing nonsense comes into my head, so switching that off was pretty hard. Admittedly, I did roam around the house for a few hours just saying things out loud and expecting people to hold up an ‘@’ sign and reply to me. It was all a bit weird.
Right, I’ve unplugged from Twitter – what do I do now? Well, how about read a book? Heck, with everything I’ve had going on, it’s been a while since I did that. I picked up a big hardback and tried to dig in. Reading sentences that are longer than 140 characters is hard. I kept having to fight the urge to check Twitter. I felt I was missing out on whatever conversation might be happening over there. Before I knew it, I was 20 pages into this book with no idea what had happened. Clearly, I tried to do too much too soon. A meaty book with an interesting plot line was too much. There was only one thing for it, I had to go with something easier – ChickLit. This was an awful moment of realisation for me. I’d been sent a tacky ChickLit book a few months ago, so I dug it out and got to reading. It was every bit as terrible as I expected, but at least I could whizz through it.
Waiting at a bus stop, being on a bus, fighting through crowds of sale shoppers, enjoying a quiet hot chocolate in your favourite cafe, wanting to share a hideous fashion faux pas you just saw – all of these things are startlingly different when not shared on a social media platform. I only had myself to share my mundane thoughts with – and I’m a pretty harsh audience, I don’t laugh as much or anything, so the whole thing was unrewarding.
However, I did start to get some ideas and all of a sudden, I could string a few words together and write them down. Offline life ain’t all that bad after all.
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
As you are my hero of straight talking and seem pretty clued up on the old social netoworking, I’d really like a bit of guidance. You see, I’m having Facebook stress – I could do with a bit of a ‘Facebook Etiquette Guide’. There’s probably a whole book right there, but there’s a couple of issues I would really love your advice on;
De-friending – when is it appropriate? Should you inform the person of the reasons or just go for the ‘de-friend and block manouvre’?
Friend requests – should I just decline or can I send an email detailing how, as this person spent the best years of my teens bullying my flat chested self, they can eff right off?
Business Page – how do i politely decline my customers who add me as a personal friend (I just find it weird)
Also, I often find myself wishing there was a ‘dislike’ button for when (insert name here) is on it like a car bonnet, or (insert name here) can’t believe her little boy just missed the potty. Is there an appropriate comment ever to be made to these people? Or does it bring me back to point one, de-friending.
As you can see, I am floundering in a cyber-sea and really need Bangs to throw me a copy of ‘Facebook for Dummies’
Dear Face Stuck,
You’ve come to the right place my friend. I should warn you though, I’m a bit ‘take no prisoners’ in the Facebook game. Now that we all spend so much of our time online, friendships are changing, morphing and there is a whole new etiquette that comes along with it.
Alright, get your pen and paper ready and we’ll begin (that was a test – of course you don’t need a pen and paper. This is the internet. Keep up).
Defriending – When is it appropriate? Basically whenever you feel it. I take particular joy is removing all those Farmville and Mafia Wars playing mofos from my friends list. If I find people’s updates annoying, offensive, too frequent, non-sensical – they’re gone too. I don’t bother to give them an explanation. Fact is, most people won’t even notice. I’ve only had it bite me in the ass once when I deleted a guy who’d been displaying particularly douchetastic qualities – he sent me a series of messages about how petty I was being (which really only served to make him look both petty and insane). However, if you feel a bit funny about deleting your Aunty Jane from your friends list, despite the fact that she may annoy the bejesus out of you, remember you can always opt to ‘hide’ their updates – that way the person can think they’re still friends with you, without knowing you actually can’t stand their ass.
Friend requests – I decline without a second thought. Every now and then I do get the people who clearly hated me at school trying to add me. I simply say ‘bitch please’ out loud while declining said request. I wouldn’t give it any more thought than that – however tempting it may be to pen a four page letter detailing the various way in which they can go f**k themselves.
For customers who try to add you on their personal page rather than your business one – just straight up decline and if they ask, just say you use your personal page for close friends and family only. Not sure what line of work you’re in, but it’s usually best to keep the two separate.
As for a ‘dislike’ button for people’s irritating status updates, I have wished for the very same thing numerous times. Sometimes, when people do those stupid and unnecessary updates about their kid’s potty habits, I will leave a comment like ‘thank God I know the frequency of Lil James’s bowel movements – I can sleep easy tonight’ or words to that effect. But generally, those fools are the ones I don’t even think twice about defriending.
Hope that helps – for a few extras, I did a video blog a while back about Facebook etiquette. Enjoy!
If you need some no nonsense advice, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, July 26th, 2010
In 2005, just before I moved to Japan, I stumbled across a peculiar thing called MySpace. I was horrified. Why would anyone want to put themselves out there like that, I thought. A girl had put pictures of herself up and people were ripping her to shreds. I don’t want any part of that, I said and quickly navigated away. Fast forward to today, I have this blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Soundcloud…basically, there is no escape from me on the internet. I got sucked in.
What happened is, when I got to Japan, I saw my roommate was using MySpace. She talked me through the benefits and said it might be a good way to meet people. Hmm. I set up a profile and within a couple of weeks, it had basically become like my own personal dating site (hey, we were in Japan – there’s a lot of lonely American military men out there, what can I say?)
When I moved to Canada at the end of ’06, everyone was talking about something called ‘Facebook’. I don’t need that, I’d say, I have MySpace. But after a while, having MySpace was like being the last person at a party. Plus, the only friend requests I was getting on there at that point were from random death metal bands in Ohio. Yup, I had no choice, I had to defect – so, off I went to set up my Facebook account.
At the end of ’07, this blog was born. Last year, though it petrified me, I decided to start making video blogs. Gradually, one little thing at a time, my online life has grown to the point where I’m online all the time.
So why do we do it? Those who don’t ‘get’ it, say it’s just all so narcissistic to put ourselves out there like that. Do I think that what I have to say is any more interesting than anyone else? Of course I do! I wouldn’t waste my time otherwise. In reality, is it any more interesting? Of course not! First and foremost, as someone who spent much of my twenties galavanting around in other countries, it was just a way for me to keep in touch with my friends – if other people wanted to read what I had to say, cool.
People who don’t use any form of social media love to look down their noses at those of us who do. We’re just all sad little losers, living a fantasy life with no real friends. If that’s all they get from their internet experience, they’re doing it wrong. I’m happy to say I’ve met so many wonderful people through blogging and happily count them as friends now. I use Social Media to grow both my online and personal connections. For me, one is not really separate from the other.
It takes a while to get used to, as my blog grows, the barrage of negative comments that come every now and then, how people can and will judge your whole life off just one blog post, then click through to some other random portal of the internet without giving it a second thought. How people will make all sorts of suggestions about how you should conduct yourself on your blog or Twitter (how about I just stick these middle fingers up, that good enough?) without considering that they should perhaps start their own blog before offering up their armchair ponderings.
There are a million things about Social Media that drive me crazy (really? Another blurry shot of your drunken night out on your Facebook page? Yawn), but I can’t imagine my life without it.
Cosmopolitan has launched its Blog Awards and I would be so grateful and honoured if you would take a moment to nominate Bangs and a Bun in the ‘Lifestyle’ category. It only takes a second and I will love you long time if you do. Click here and make my day. Thank you!
Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
I love to write. I love writing things down. Often, I have to write things down and then type them up – that’s just my process. But I thoroughly enjoy the feeling of putting pen to paper. I love nice stationary. I love how when I write in a notebook, the print shows through on the other side of the page and it feels all crispy. I love the smooth glide of a nice pen.
I used to love to write letters. My beloved grandmother, who passed on to go party in heaven in 2004, was my penpal. We wrote to each other all the time, mostly about complete nonsense, but it didn’t matter, because it was our nonsense. Her passing left a huge void in many ways, one of which, was not seeing envelopes with her handwriting on my doormat anymore.
Last week, one of my friends put her address in her Facebook status update and said ‘I await your Christmas cards.’ It all seemed a little jokey, but I asked her if that was her real address, because if so, I would totally be sending one. She said it was. That sparked an idea in me.
I sent out a message on Twitter saying if people like receiving mail, send me their address and I’ll send them a Christmas card. After a few replies asking if I was serious, slowly but surely, addresses started to trickle into my inbox. By the end of the day, I had 31 people to write Christmas cards to.
Of those 31, I have met only two of them in person. Like so many bloggers, so much of my life is online. And I’m fine with that. Over the past couple of years, as I moved all over the place, these complete strangers have become a part of my life. They read my blog, talk with me on Twitter, one even sent me a playlist she’d made to cheer me up when she knew I was going through a hard time. These people, though most of us have never met, are my friends.
I love receiving mail and I figured other people love that feeling too. In an age where birthday wishes are now posted on people’s Facebook walls, I want to go back to putting pen to paper. I want to spend time in gift shops picking out the right card for someone. Every now and then we have to unplug and go old school.
I hope that when these people receive the cards I sent, it makes them smile the way my grandmother’s letters did for me. If so, mission accomplished.
Monday, November 16th, 2009
You may recall, I recently found out that my ex, has actually, apparently, been married for 13 years and has two children. Definitely a shock to the system. So, imagine my reaction when last week, Facebook suggested that I become friends with that vermin piece of shit, otherwise known as my ex.
The whole time I knew him, he never even had a Facebook page. Actually, didn’t really have any kind of web presence (ladies, consider it a warning sign when a guy isn’t on some sort of social networking site. Instant warning flag!) He told me that was because he was in the US Navy and they weren’t supposed to be on those things (*eyebrow raise*). Though, considering every facet of his existence seems to have been a lie, he’s probably just a cleaner at Walmart or something. Anyhoo, I find it a little strange that all of a sudden, mere weeks after him casually dropping the truth about his life into a conversation, his name, with no picture, no ‘shared friends’, no nothing, should be thrown out to me by Facebook, suggesting I should befriend him.
There are lots of things I would like to do to my ex: kick him in the balls, punch him in the face, drop kick him in the chest – all viable options, but be his friend, virtually or otherwise? I think I’ll pass, Facebook, thanks though.
What the hell is up with Facebook recently anyway. It gets on my tits at the best of times, but lately it’s been flashing me messages like ‘send so-and-so a message. You haven’t talked to them for a while.’ Um, what are you? My mother? Shut it Facebook! You’re not the boss of me!
I have two hundred and something friends on there and I am fully aware that I only speak to maybe, seven of them on a regular basis. You wanna make something of it Facebook?! Stop giving me grief. The whole thing has been becoming more Big Brother-ish and weird. It just makes me uncomfortable. But hell, what’s the point in deleting your page? They keep all your information anyway. We’re locked into this crap now whether we like it or not.
I just want to chat to who I want to chat to, be friends with who I want to be friends with – is that too much to ask? So respectfully Facebook, you can take your suggestions and shove ’em!
Thursday, October 8th, 2009
I was debating whether or not I should write about this because it’s a little controversial, but hey let’s just have a friendly debate. My intention here is really not to offend anyone so please don’t get your knickers in a twist. With that said, here goes:
I can’t take all the preaching on Facebook. There, I said it. I have a few friends who are Christians (I’m not sure if they fall into the ‘born again’ category) and every single Facebook status update is a lengthly prayer about how much they love their Jesus.
Now, let me make this clear; I’m not anti-Jesus, I’m just a catholic. We’re taught that your relationship with the Lord is a very personal thing. I get that in other faiths the aim is to ‘spread the word’ but I think there’s a time and a place for everything. I’m not sure Facebook is the appropriate place to be whoring out your faith. I go on Facebook to keep in touch with friends and check out their pictures, not to get slapped in the face with a bible and preached at.
I think it’s wonderful that these people have a relationship with God, I really do, but if I were to become a Satan worshipper, for example, and post lengthly odes to Satan in my status updates, I’m sure my Christian friends would be up in arms and the first people to call me out on it. So, in that same vain, you have to appreciate that not everyone wants to hear your message about how much you love Christ.
The appropriate place for you to spout endlessly about your love for the Jesus would be in church on Sundays. Plain and simple. For once, I just want to see one of my hardcore Christian friends have a status update of ‘Going out to dinner’ rather than ‘The Lord hath blessed me with the ability to walk and catch the bus to this restaurant where we will feast upon all his gracious delights. Thank you Jesus for all you have done for me, I’m not worthy to receive your gifts blah blah blah.’ We get it! You’re thankful! I think even Jesus would be saying ‘Enough already!’
I’d like to commend my Christian peeps, because it’s hard to have faith in anything these days, so more power to you. My only point is, you can’t be offended that not everyone is on the same page as you and you may want to pick a more appropriate forum for your worship, you know, like Church.
So, what say you? Am I out of line for finding preachy updates kind of offensive or do you roll with me on this one?