Snapchat isn’t very snappy…

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To us millennials, time is our most valuable asset. Social media apps such as vine, Snapchat and twitter have ensured that we have an average attention span of about 15 seconds. We have become accustomed to streaming forms of information. Our instinct is to swipe, tap, like or ‘heart’ (as Twitter recently introduced). Even clicking (through the use of a mouse/mouse pad) has become a thing of the past as we move toward greater use of tablet and touch screen devices.

Early last year I decided to jump on the Snapchat bandwagon. As a social media junkie I expected the app to be just as addictive as my other accounts. However I quickly realised it wasn’t as easy to navigate as the other social media apps I was used to (primarily Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and even Tumblr – which these days seems to be becoming somewhat obsolete? The concept seemed brilliant; users uploading 6 second continuous videos which would disappear after 24 hours (hence the ‘ghost’ image as their logo I presume). Nonetheless, there are some ticks and kinks that could do with ironing out, in my opinion, in order to make the app more efficient…

  1. Users should not have to continue holding down on the circle in order to record their video. One tap of the circle should be sufficient as this would enable the use of both hands whilst recording.
  2. Once a user has tapped to view someone’s story, they should be able to tap out of that user’s story at any point
  3. Users should be be able to navigate through people’s stories and view the particular 6 second video they would like to watch rather than having to view the entire story – I suggest that a user’s story should be divided into a selection of still screenshots that you would be able to swipe between to find the particular screenshot of a video that you are interested in viewing – similar to the stills of photos at the bottom of the screen in the iPhone 6 and 6plus camera roll that you can navigate through
  4. The ‘Stories’ Page should in fact be a streaming procession of videos of the people you follow – similar to that of Vine – this would again save time rather than having to tap in and out of someone’s ‘story’; you would simply be able to scroll down the screen
  5. The above modifications should also be applied to the ‘Discover’ screen in the app

As stated above, this is purely my opinion and perhaps Snapchat’s format is the format of the future for social media and networking sites. One thing is for sure though, over the last year Snapchat has slowly but surely been proving itself to be one of the most dominant platforms in the social media landscape. It is no longer an app only associated with 13-17 year olds. Everyone is on Snapchat; and once everyone is on Snapchat, no one will be. The most coveted target consumer audience will see it as having become too mainstream i.e. once their parent’s generation are on it, it will no longer cool. The attention will shift and marketers will follow. I can in fact already see this happening as there is a growing trend toward the use of Periscope. Although for the time being, through its use of free and chargeable comical and entertaining animated facial filters, Snapchat is still very much in and at the forefront of ‘the game’.

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Flip a coin…

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Why do we ask for advice?

During my teens I recall seeing an episode of Frasier in which Niles presents a coin toss as the solution to helping Frasier make his decision…

Niles argues that before the result of the coin toss is revealed, the person attempting to make the choice or decision already knows which outcome they were hoping for.

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Whilst we could argue not all decisions can be made as simply as this, I do believe that nine times out of ten we already know what we want to do. So why do we ask? Why do we torment ourselves and over think our choices?

I think we do so for reassurance and for comfort. We want to justify how we came to the decision we ultimately know we will make? However we may also want someone to act as devil’s advocate and present the situation from a point of view we had not previously considered. Ultimately though, are we simply just unsure of ourselves? I remember a friend recently fretting over a decision and I snapped “Stop doubting yourself!’ which I think was rooted also in the frustration I sometimes feel at myself for doing precisely this.

I believe the decisions we make are usually true to our nature i.e. a timid person may be more likely to make the more comfortable choice or the choose the safer option. An example would be that I sometimes struggle to ask for help and when my brother asked for advice on a situation in which he was unsure whether he should, I wrongly advised against it. Thankfully he didn’t listen to me as asking for help on that occasion proved to have the most amazing and wonderful results. I learnt a valuable lesson that day, just as I had when I watched the episode of Frasier all those years beforehand.

The challenge lies in taking the road less travelled and stepping out of our comfort zones when it comes to making decisions. Only in doing so will we begin to trust in ourselves.

Confidence is comfort.

I think how we perceive ourselves and how we come across are two drastically different things.

I don’t think I exude self confidence and yet I am constantly told I do. Inside though, I feel like an awkward mess.

I’m clumsy, I ramble and I don’t think I’ll ever ooze ‘cool’. Sometimes I’m happy about that…and perhaps its my acceptance and comfort in my lack of coolness that translates into confidence.

Other times though, I feel I try to emulate what I think it is to be cool and in those moments I inwardly cringe. An example would be strutting down the street in what I think is a rather fashionable outfit and feeling somewhat smug, only for reality to remind me that I’m not the ‘catwalk’ type by either tripping me up (this happens a lot) or seeing either a pre-teen or an elderly citizen donning the same clothing.

The thing is, I’m worried we associate confidence with things like loudness and aggression. Meanwhile I’m sat in the corner being quietly confident? I have no desire to be a bossy b*tch and don’t believe I need to be in order to succeed.

I’m also not sure how I feel about the fetishism associated with quirks. Somewhere along the way we were sold the notion that it’s ‘cool’ to be the awkward girl, that our quirks are endearing and our clumsiness is ‘cute’ (see Zooey Deschanel, Jennifer Lawrence etc). Granted we’ve come a long way from the days in which the geeky girl needs a makeover in order to be accepted…

But have we now not just simply created particular parameters for what it is to be cute and geeky; for what it is to be cool?

 And do we define coolness as confidence?

I have gotten to the stage where I don’t think I believe in words like ‘cool’ or ‘hipster’ or ‘trendy’ any more.

I think confidence is comfort.

Being comfortable in your own skin allows others to feel comfortable around you. You don’t have to be loud, you don’t have to be quirky and you don’t have to be eccentric. You are simply just you. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

So if there was one thing I could encourage us all to do it would be to stop second guessing ourselves.

As cheesy as this may sound, I recently realised (with the help of a very good friend and a beautiful soul) that I am enough. We all are. We don’t have to try to be anything other than ourselves. What you if have to offer is good enough.

And while this post may seem rather corny, I honestly can’t stress how important it is to believe in yourself.

Death to the dating app! Let’s just all ‘stalk’ each other…?

Remember the olden days when a guy would see you out in public and ask for your number. Actually…remember the prehistoric days when a boy from school that you liked would call you at home on the landline and you’d have to yell down the phone “mum put it down, I’ve got it!!” before you could speak to said boy…(ahh James we could have been so good together, if it had worked out I could’ve told people I was married to James Bond – yes there really was a boy in my class called that and yes his parents clearly did hate him).

Alas, I digress. For you see, courting is much different in the world of today. There’s no more wondering whether to give your number to the guy at the bar whose been eyeballing you all night;  the one whom you can’t quite tell whether he resembles Chris Hemsworth or that’s just the ‘happy hour’ cocktails taking effect. There’s no anxiously drafting out that first text message and wondering whether sending it the following morning is too keen. I’m not even sure whether people use actual chat-up lines in person anymore; a personal favourite I once received was “Is your dad a terrorist? Cos’ you da bomb!”, although thinking back on this now, seeing as I am originally middle eastern, this may actually just have been a racial slur…
No, now we live in a world of swiping right or swiping left. I am of course talking about dating apps. I’m afraid to say I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having some experience in this field. We won’t name names because I think the admission in itself is shameful enough. Now you get to experience a different breed of the chat-up lines of yesteryear. They come in such delightful variations as;
“Nudes?”
“I like your feet” (surprisingly, my feet were not exposed in any of my photos)
and again a personal favourite…
“How would you feel about a relationship in which I bought you gifts and in return you humiliated and dominated me?”
I certainly attracted a ‘unique’ category of men online.

You see, the modern day dating app, or perhaps more aptly, the screen on which we use it, has eradicated the need for the initial physical interaction when expressing an interest in someone. And has thereby armed our society with a new found sense of bravery. People are daring to ask the questions no one wants to be asked… “What are the races of the men you’ve slept with and how would you rank them in terms of performance?” – worryingly, these were all genuine questions I received.

The specimen of bachelors and bachelorettes of course varies from app to app, as does the method in which one may express interest in a potential date-ee. I think a wonderful symbol of the times we live in is that some apps allow you to be judged by appearance alone.

As a response to the above, and despite the joys to be had from responding to such messages as “Baby I want to take you out and spend £50 on you at the cinema and a nice restaurant”, I have decided to opt out of my brief, but not so short, foray into the online dating world.

I am a realist though, and an active player in this digital world the majority of us seem to inhabit. I recognise the networking opportunities social networks provide. What I propose however is that we don’t just use them to network. Cut out the middle man. Why use a separate app in which you have to write out a profile and list your likes and dislikes, when your personal social media account already includes all of this information.

See someone you like the look of on Twitter? Follow them. I guarantee within a day of reading their tweets, you’ll know whether they seem like someone you’d like to get to know further or whether they’re a blithering idiot – sometimes their Twitter bio alone is enough to confirm this.
Perhaps Facebook is recommending some potential ‘friends’ to add. Why not bite the bullet and add that person that you have no mutuals friend with. If they’re going to an event you like the sound of, strike up a conversation about it. If they share a buzzfeed quiz about what Avengers character they are, be brave enough to click that ‘like’ button. Granted unlike Twitter you may need longer than a day to gain deeper insight into the person’s personality on Facebook but it may end up providing a more rounded picture into their character based on the places they visit and the dreaded photos they’re unwillingly tagged in.

Lastly (but perhaps most importantly) we come to the photo and video based social apps. The instagrams, snapchats and other variations of the sort. These perhaps provide the greatest insights into a person’s personality for they bear the deepest, darkest and ugliest secrets of them all.

The selfie.

If you can bear to see someone at their most narcissistic, and still like them, then there’s probably a pretty strong attraction there and that might be worth exploring.

These platforms are also great in that they offer visual insights. Want to know what kind of food the person likes…see photos of the type of cuisine they enjoy. Want to know whether they like to travel and where they’ve been…you’ll be able to see photographic evidence of their trips. Want to know what that person has been up to during that day…check out their ‘story’.

The advantage of these channels is that they provide real time visual updates. Perhaps you’re on the South Bank and someone you follow has just snapped a ‘selfie’ of themselves in front of the London Eye. Send them a snap back of yourself also stood by our monumental ferris wheel.

Why send numerous messages back and forth on a dating app asking what they got up to over the weekend or what kind of music they like when snapchat or soundcloud or Instagram already tells you all of these things. Why make inane small talk when you could actually be discussing something you’re both interested in! And let’s be honest, there’s at least one person you follow on social media you find intriguing and wouldn’t mind getting to know.  If there wasn’t I don’t think hashtag #oomf would exist or be used in memes to describe someone you possibly fancy!

You may completely disagree however and think it may seem like I’m simply proposing that we should ‘stalk’ people online, which I’ll admit seems rather creepy. However, I should note though that I have already heard people use this term. ‘Stalking’ your ex partner on Facebook is supposedly a socially acceptable concept? As is ‘stalking’ a new colleague online who perhaps you may like the look of, so you ‘google’ them or find them on Linkedin. One must then argue whether online stalking i.e. analysing someone’s social media accounts, has simply become another term for ‘researching’?
Does it therefore make sense to research the person you potentially want to date?

Here’s Buzzfeed’s take on the subject:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_748333311&feature=iv&src_vid=-MUis1VegwY&v=UVHyS8UbiOE

A letter to those who insist on the use of long paragraphs…

We live in a society where our attention spans are dwindling…fast! Following a rather stressful experience this morning I would like to kindly request that we all attempt to write shorter paragraphs.

I recently embarked on the journey of beginning a masters degree. During the enrolment process I was required to choose my modules online. However unfortunately the instructions on how to do so were unclear, to say the least. Buried deep within long paragraphs outlining the procedure were pertinent bits of information on the requirements for your selection. 

These key steps should have been written in a separate paragraph altogether (here’s one I made earlier…) 

Unsurprisingly this was not my first encounter with mammoth paragraphs. This was, albeit, the first time it pertained to the outcome of a rather important decision…which is what made the whole thing all the more worrying. The main point of the whole exercise had been lost in translation; in that it had not been communicated effectively. Ironically the degree falls within the media and communications department but I’m hoping this was simply an error on the admin side. 

I’m sure I’m not the first person to have been aggravated by lengthy pieces of text which fail to make a point (this may even be an example of one now), but I would like to use this post as a sort of public service announcement to all the official institutions out there (I’m looking at you Apple Terms and Conditions Department) to perhaps use more clear and concise wording in your documentation. 

Thanking you all kindly in advance…

Yours sincerely,

A millennial with the attention span of…well…a millennial 

London’s Gelato Festival was a bit Gela-NO

Last Sunday my friend and I decided to check out the London Gelato Festival (courtesy of not only a TimeOut recommendation but also several of my friend’s Instragram feeds).

It was mid-afternoon when we arrived at Spitafields market. We were immediately at a loss as to where to go to find the highly publicised ‘festival’. There appeared to be no signposts or directions, and the market seller we asked along the way also had no clue where the event was taking place. I was starting to wonder whether there even was a festival going on. Perhaps we had missed it.

Granted Spitafields isn’t massive so it would have only really taken 10 minutes of wandering about to find it, but surely that’s 10 minutes that could be put to better use enjoying tasty gelato.

Salonee and I eventually ran into a couple holding gelato ‘cups’. I use the term cups loosely here as what they actually appeared to be were tiny vessels in which one would struggle to fit anything bigger than a ping pong ball, and at £3.50 a ‘cup’, I felt somewhat short changed. The helpful pair kindly pointed us in the right direction at which point three beige camper vans came into view…

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Encompassing these vans were hoards of people whom I can only assume had only really half understood the definition of a ‘queue’. Yes I realise how quintessentially British that sounds but there was no order whatsoever! Most people seemed to have no idea what was going on. I overheard several asking one another where it was they needed to go and how the process worked in actually procuring the gelato they had all come to try. There were no flyers with instructions on where to buy the gelato from or even any general information on the various flavours on offer. Instead you stood in a ‘queue’ (again I use the term loosely here) of about 20-30 people, got to the front, and were informed that you were actually in the line to buy the coupons which would then enable you to stand in the other ‘queues’ to actually purchase your gelato. A handy sign was available at the front of this queue however;

1 cup = £3.50

1 gelato festival card = 5 cups + 1 additional cup if you vote for your favourite flavour = £19.99

At this point we decided to make a few enquiries, the first being; “Could you perhaps tell us how this all works?”. The Italian vendor, who didn’t seem to speak much English, simply pointed to the ‘self-explanatory’ sign beside him.

Our next query pertained to the flavours on offer at the festival. The staff member pointed to the TV screens displayed at the front of the various queues nearby and informed us that this is where the flavours would be shown. Worryingly, four of the six TV screens were switched off. Did this mean these flavours had run out? Why were there people still queueing up in the lines in front of these screens? Perhaps these were ‘surprise’ flavours? So many questions remained unanswered! Unfortunately our time with the vendor appeared to be up. We were hastily ushered aside by the people behind us in the queue eager to purchase their coupons.

As the TV screens only seemed to be listing a total of 2 flavours at this van and 3 at the other, Salonee and I decided to split up and tackle the queues separately. We’d bought 2 coupons each, which would equate to 4 ‘cups’ of gelato. We agreed I’d queue for the 2 flavours at this van; dark chocolate and ‘vanilla, brown sugar and cream’, or as I overheard one buyer state ‘basically just vanilla then’. Meanwhile Salonee went over to the other van to explore some of the more exotic flavours we’d seen patrons walking around holding; a dark yellow-coloured flavour which appeared to be mango. Although we couldn’t be sure…due to the lack of working TV screens, signs, or menu of any sort.

In the end I did manage to get hold of the two obscure flavours; chocolate and vanilla.

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Waiting for Salonee to arrive with her gelato ‘cup’ quickly turned into a sticky situation however, due to the warm weather we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in London as of late.

We thought it best not to overwhelm ourselves (or indeed our stomachs) with all 4 gelato flavours at once. Thus as Salonee returned, our duo became a rather colourful, albeit somewhat messy, trio.

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“So is this the mango flavour?” I asked Salonee.

“It was the fruit flavour” she replied despondently. I couldn’t really blame her lack of enthusiasm, the ‘queues’ for the other van were even more ghastly than those for the chocolate and vanilla flavours. In fact the lack of organisation seemed not only to be irritating the potential customers, but also the regular Spitafields market sellers. I witnessed this first hand as a frustrated market stall vendor angrily instructed us to queue further away from the stalls so they “could actually get on with their work!”

Despite being rather full after 3 gelato cups (both having had lunch not too long beforehand), we still had one coupon to spare and at £3.50 a pop, we didn’t really want it to go to waste. After a short while (allowing for digestion), Salonee decided to brave the queues once again and try out another one of the 2 flavours they had on offer; chocolate and mint or the intriguing ‘Black Pearl of London‘ which could have had black pudding in it for all we knew! Again, the lack of descriptions here proved most handy.

We opted for the mysterious flavour…

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The cherry (or in this case blueberry) on top was the pleasant surprise of the inclusion of a biscuit wafer. Although this small saving grace didn’t quite make up for the lack of organisation and general chaos of the experience. What did the highly speculated ‘Black Pearl of London’ taste of you ask…vanilla mostly, with very subtle undertone of Chai spices.

All in all the experience was rather underwhelming and much too chaotic for a hot Sunday afternoon, which would have preferably been spent lazily dozing off in the sun at a BBQ somewhere.

Please wait while attention span loads…

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How many apps do you currently have open on your smartphone or tablet right now?

I’ve recently started reading an iBook (Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk) and aside from the process causing my eyes to strain and often inducing headaches, I’m also finding it a lot more difficult to concentrate on the content. My brain is not used to allocating a large amount of time or attention to one thing on my phone screen for a prolonged period of time. If I’m reading a paperback, I can read 2,3 chapters in one sitting. With an iBook, I struggle to get through 10 pages. Every few minutes my mind wanders and I find myself having to open another app on my phone as a distraction. That’s not to say the book isn’t incredibly interesting. It’s actually the most insightful book I’ve read in a long while and is fast becoming one of my favourites. It has taught me more about social media in the first 50 pages than I’ve learnt through my own explorations in the past 3 years. Ironically, the book cites that we now live in an ‘increasingly busy disjointed ADD world’ so is it any wonder that it is unable to hold my attention?

When was the last time you did just one thing? I don’t know about you but I tend to multi-task almost every moment of every day, I think we all do to some degree (there goes the myth that men can’t multi-task eh). Whether at work whilst replying to emails and simultaneously having your breakfast/lunch at your desk or at home whilst on a call on your hands free and hanging up your washing or putting away the dishes. Perhaps I’m on my own here though and not everyone rushes around like a crazed maniac undertaking several tasks at once. Is that not effective time management though? Or as I like to call it, time utilisation?

I don’t generally have this issue if I’m sat watching a film in the cinema or watching a live music performance. Perhaps because to do so would be regarded as rude. One would be deemed inconsiderate. You would be committing something that (at this present moment in time) still had some sort of a stigma attached to it; a social faux pas so to speak.

Towards the end of last year mother discovered the world of social media. I helped her set up a Facebook account and downloaded various apps for her on her smartphone. She’s also become part of several WhatsApp and Viber groups with friends and family. As a result she’s constantly glued to her phone screen! (Much in the same way I was in 2010 when I first joined Twitter). It’s gotten so ridiculous that we all have to tell her to put her phone away at the dinner table! This is another social faux pas. If you’re constantly on your phone whilst dining with someone you may be implying that person is not worthy of your attention (or at least not as worthy as social media). Not to say it would be completely unacceptable to ‘instagram’ a photo of your meal. I have seen several instances of groups of people standing and angling their phones to get that perfect #foodporn photo, meanwhile their food goes cold. Thus social media has interrupted the dining experiences and infiltrated our dinner tables. One could go so far as to say it has surpassed our need for nourishment. Or perhaps, more accurately, we now prioritise social media above most things and thus allocate most of our attention towards it. Whether subsequently, this shortened our attention spans, is a topic for debate. Clearly ‘Christopher Hooton’ of The Independent feels the same way as I happened upon his article yesterday that discusses the subject and compares our attention span to that of a goldfish. Ironically, as a child I would tap on the goldfish tank at school and startle the fish, then wait 3 seconds and do it again stating “he’s just forgotten that”. I was a somewhat tiresome child…Lol.

Thus, in a world in which we have become increasingly prone to distraction, is it any wonder that 6-second looping video apps such as Vine and Snapchat have become so successful? Or that in 2013 Instagram launched a 15-second video sharing feature.

Perhaps the problem is not only that we are prone to distraction due to digital media, but also that it has enabled a culture of impatience. We are used to being able to access a vast amount of information almost instantaneously and as such want to know and see everything all at once. Subconsciously, perhaps we think it impractical to allocate too much time to just one thing.

The result, however, may be that you end up taking 3 days to finish a blog post rather than an hour.

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