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Thursday 28 November 2013

Bianca Alsop and The Fact That UK Toddler Pageants Are A Thing

Today is Thanksgiving in the USA. I lived in America for a while, and was there to partake of this event last year. The food was nice, but faced with the lure of an amazing discount on a really big TV I decided I wanted, I naively decided to go out and queue outside Best Buy from about 6pm to when it opened at midnight. I should explain that the day after Thanksgiving is the official start of the Christmas shopping season in the US, and is known as 'Black Friday'. If you are wondering why it is called that, so was I, so I asked a guy who was in the queue with me (well, we had a long wait, it made sense to chat). This guy, who happened to be black, put forward the idea that it was because with the heavy discounts (which are limited to a set number of products and only on that day), it was the only time the black people could afford the stuff they wanted. This says quite a lot about a lot of things in the US, but fortunately it isn't anything that stunningly racist. Actually, the real reason, I discovered later, is that this was traditionally when most stores would go from the red into the black, fiscally speaking, for that quarter.

In any case, it did not go well for me, queuing there in the cold. Just when the store was about to open, with me and my new friend in a pretty good position to get the bargains we were after, some random lady told a passing cop that we had jumped the queue. We hadn't, but the cop decided to believe her because, I suppose, it gave him something to do, and told us if we didn't leave the car park of Best Buy we would have to go to jail. Yep, a cop with a gun threatened me with the cells for trying to buy a television.. The Boxing Day sales on Oxford Street look as simple and unthreatening as the inside of Justin Bieber's head compared with this annual bloodbath. Obviously I never got inside the store, but I imagine it was the nearest thing someone in 21st century Seattle could experience to being at the Somme.

What does this have to do with the crux of this article? Well, the US has offered us many great things, but there are some things they do there that other countries should be saying 'awwww, hell no' to. Black Friday is one of them. Fox News is another. And a third is the toddler pageant.

Sadly though, there are some people in the UK who have looked at this, at best, vulgar, and at worst, soul clutchingly frightening US phenomenon, and thought 'that is fucking awesome, I totally want to dress my kid up like a drag queen and put them in one of these'. This is why there is such a thing as the 'Miss Glitz Sparkle' pageant. This pageant for male and female children takes place in that well known home of glamour, Lincoln. And fuck me is it weird.

With toddlers in ballgowns and sparkly bikinis, it is a pretty odd spectacle to begin with. I don't want to get all Daily Mail about it and start on about paedos and the sexualisation of children, but it is pretty hard to imagine who else would be entertained by that. I wouldn't. I mean when I was a kid it was a job to get even your parents to come to your dance recitals and whatnot, on account of how boring it is watching some kids ponce about, and they didn't even have the creepy undertones of us all being slathered in fake tan, body glitter and swimwear. To any normal person, this, as an evening's entertainment, sounds about as much fun as going water skiing in shark infested waters with bloody lamb shops for skis, so these things must exist solely for the benefit of the molesty types, and Britain's twattiest mothers.

The mother who has gained the most press coverage over entering her kids in this and other pageants, is one Bianca Alsop. Her four year old daughter Ocean won 'Most Beautiful' at the Glitz Sparkle pageant, in which she also entered her twin baby sons. You'll never guess what she called these poor bastards. Milan and Madrid. Whether she was going for the Brooklyn Beckham angle and was just too thick to realise that nobody would think twins could possibly have been conceived in two different cities in two different countries, or whether she is just really fucking sad, we'll never know for sure (unless she lets me interview her), but there is a lot of evidence to support both the stupidity and the sadness as motivating factors.

You may think I am being harsh here, and I'm sorry, but it's going to get harsher. You see, this is someone who likes to put her kids, the boys almost certainly too young to know what the hell is even going on, into competitions where other people judge them on their hair, their smiles (Madrid won 'Best Smile', which is pretty fucked up when you'd think his identical twin Milan would have the same smile) and their ability to do a little turn on the catwalk, in the hopes that her offspring will be pronounced cuter than some other twatty woman's offspring and she can feel good about that. And that to me makes her a fucking jerk. So let's turn the tables and judge her instead. You may feel better about all of this unpleasantness if I tell you that I have a source who was bullied horribly by her at school, so this isn't conjecture, I have it on very good authority that she is a complete fuckwit.

Now, a lot of the stuff I am basing all this on is from an interview she did with the good old Daily Mail, which you can read here (it also has pictures of her which may help you appreciate this article. I don't put pictures up on here because copyright law baffles me and also, as a words person, I am to photography what Mother Theresa was to shoe design). I know that means looking at the Daily Mail, however, and since I appreciate you may not want to do that, there is another story here on some parenting site or other. In the latter she says:
"We've got dull, old-fashioned, apron-wearing mothers making their comments, but no one criticises them because their children are boring."
Yep. She honestly thinks the only people who would criticise her are some dowdy housewives who as far as I can tell exist only in her imagination and 1950's TV shows. Well, I'm not a mother at all, and I certainly can't be old fashioned because I've got an iPad and I know who Miley Cyrus is. And yet, mysteriously, I still think she's a cunt. Weird, huh? And besides, exactly how does putting make up on a kid make it less boring? I suppose it does make it more hilarious to look at, but it doesn't actually morph it from being a normal kid into a latter day Oscar fucking Wilde, does it?

Now, it may seem like really, this is all harmless fun and actually no different from normal stuff little girls do where they get to wear pretty outfits like dance or gymnastics or princess parties or whatever the hell the kids these days are into, and I can sort of see that argument - to be honest, when I was a little girl if my mother had said 'hey, do you want to prance around in a ballgown and full make up?' I would have pretty much been thrilled about it (yeah, it might weird you out if you know me but 'soccer girl' over here was really into Barbie). But it's the lengths Bianca and the other mothers go to to prepare their kids that makes this way more eepy-cray than your average kids' dance show:

"I like Ocean to be tanned so I don't put high factor sun cream on her. Instead, she sunbathes with me and I let her wear the tan-enhancing factor 15 that I use.

"Our family don't like fake tan but will use it on her if she hasn't been on holiday."
I bet that somewhere in her house she has her family crest with the Alsop motto beneath it: 'We Don't Like Fake Tan!'. Seriously though, I'm not the most responsible person in the world and even I think using weak sun protection on a little blonde kid is questionable as fuck. It gets sadder still though:

"Ocean has a sticky-out ear which she has inherited from her dad - we call it the family 'ear'-loom. As soon as she is old enough to have her ear pinned back, I will be taking her to have it done. That's no big deal. In fact, I would consider that a minor imperfection that just needs tweaking."
Now, aside from that unforgivable 'ear-loom' pun, have you seen the kid? Sure, if she was walking around looking like the bloody FA Cup and had a complex about it, the surgery to pin back an ear is relatively simple, but she looks fucking fine. Just keep her hair down until she's old enough to decide for herself. If you are telling a kid at that age that they have this fault that is going to hold them back in the world of pageanting, and that that simply won't do because pageanting is a thing people honestly give a fuck about your achievements in, then what the hell is that doing to their psyche? They're going to end up as one of those twatty girls who wants a boob job for Christmas when they are 13 or... Oh, wait...

"I put a boob job on my Christmas list from the age of 13. Dad finally gave in and paid for them on my 20th birthday.
"I get birthday Botox each year - I've been doing that since I was 23. "
Personally, when I was 13 I got an electric guitar for Christmas. I had asked for a Brazilian Butt Lift, but my dad didn't want to get me that.

Jesus fucking wept, woman. How would that conversation even go? 'Dad, my tits aren't big enough - sort it out, will you?'. Also, and this is a bit of a personal dig but if you have seen the picture of her in the Daily Mail piece, errrrr, you're 26 and you have been having Botox since you were 23? Why do you have all those crows' feet then? Seriously, it struck me as off that a 23 year old would bother to have Botox, I know some people who have it but they are all in their late thirties or early forties, but Christ, what would she look like without it, The Emperor from Star Wars? It might, possibly, have something to do with all that tanning...

You hear this kind of bollocks all the time from trashy celebrities with kids, like Katie Price or Kerry Katona or that one who's married to Steven Gerrard, but this is just some random Northern bird who used to work behind the counter in HSBC. It's fucked up. I'm trying to stay away from criticising her parenting too much because that really lacks any credibility coming from someone who doesn't have kids themselves, but I reckon there are probably crack whores out there who would nod sagely and say that this vain assed weirdo shouldn't be left in charge of raising anything more sentient than a Furby.

So, well, fuck you, pageant mums. You suck. Thank you and goodnight. Oh, and stay away from Best Buy tonight if you're in America.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Weird Italian Landlords

Those of you who have read this blog before will know I don't very often write about my own life. This is because the only people who care about my life are my friends, and they can read my mundane Facebook status updates (that's a callback to my last article). However, it was this or write about the John Lewis Christmas advert, and that would have just been several paragraphs of jokes about how Lily Allen singing Keane is a horrible abomination and whoever came up with the idea should have to go to prison.

In any case, people unaccountably love those stories about how someone they don't know moved to Italy and had lots of hilarious, adorable misunderstandings as they came to adjust to the local way of life, all that Under The Tuscan Sun dreck. Because I'm a writer and I live in Italy, people keep telling me I should write one of those books because publishers eat it up with a spoon and people who watch those stupid TV programmes where a smug couple buy a house abroad buy the crap in droves. And I might just do it. But to give you an idea how different my book would be to Under The Tuscan Sun, which I have admittedly not read because it sounds boring, but am certain contains absolutely no sexual harassment, I am going to talk today about my landlords.

For the past two months or so I have been living in a really nice apartment in a small town by Lake Trasimeno (revealing my location may not be wise just in case there are still any people left who want to murder me for what I wrote about Liverpool FC at the start of the year, but fuck 'em). I am bored of explaining why I moved here from Seattle, where I was living before, so now the only explanation you'll get out of me is that I saw iCarly do it on TV and I want to be just like her. My apartment is huge, has many balconies where I can smoke or pretend to be Juliet, and because it used to belong to an old lady who died, is full of really weird stuff. It's like a museum of old lady crap up in my crib, I'm telling you. There's a statue of the Madonna that changes from blue to red when it's going to rain. The first time it happened I thought it was a miracle and was wondering if I ought to inform the Pope or try and exploit it for financial gain, but it transpired, rather disappointingly, to be more a kind of 'mood ring' type arrangement. Even so, moving into a place fitted with glittery colour changing religious statues is fucking awesome. I like it very much. There's a bar over the road, too.

So, you might imagine I am living quite the life, writing, drinking wine, watching Serie A and waving my hands around a lot when I speak in Italian. And I would be. If it wasn't for my fucking landlords.

They are a fairly old couple, mid sixties I would say, and they live in the apartment upstairs from mine. Their apartment, like mine, has tiled floors, and I'm convinced they rearrange all of their furniture every single day just for the sheer fuck of it, because it sounds, from dawn till dusk, like there is a fucking squash match going on up there. 'Just sit the fuck down!' I plea in my head as I try and drown them out with MTV Italia, which plays the same four terrible songs over and over again. Oh good. Robin Thicke. I haven't heard Robin Thicke for 20 minutes. I was starting to forget how that song went. What rhymes with hug me?

But the noise is the least of my worries.

At first, it was just the constant disturbances (as opposed to the genuinely 'disturbing' stuff that has started happening since). I'd be minding my own business trying to write something or dancing around to Robin Thicke (nobody 'wants it', Robin, you look like Justin Timberlake's dad), and my buzzer would go. Because the lady who lived here before was 172 years old, it is very fucking loud, and scares the b'jaysus out of me. Once I spilled my sambuca. It would usually be 'her'.

She has a weird fascination with my eating habits. I always thought one of the upsides to being an adult was that you could eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and if that happens to be nothing until 11 o'clock at night when you might fancy some Pringles, then so be it. But no. She notices if she doesn't see me go to the supermarket for a couple of days (which usually means I have enough wine), and has to come down and bother me about whether I have eaten. This usually results in being force fed pasta and cake. I know this doesn't sound that bad, but it is a fucking pain in the ass when you have plans. It is impossible to say no. No excuse will be tolerated. I tried saying I was on a diet or going out for a big meal later or I'd already eaten or I was doing Ramadan, and none of it stopped the feeding. Being English, I couldn't cause offence by saying 'fuck off! I am 30 and have mastered such things as eating!', obviously, but I tried everything short of that.

While force feeding me, they would sit there and chatter away at me in Italian, and because I only understand about 50% of what they are saying I found myself nodding politely as I wondered if what he was telling me about a Romanian guy with two wives was a story, a joke or a racist tirade.

Of course, this stuff isn't that bad, it just sort of makes me feel like I have moved into a 1970's sitcom about European stereotypes, and that's quite a laugh in some lights, after a few Peronis or some of their God awful home made wine. But the disruptions to my day piss me off. I find myself in a catlike state of readiness throughout the day, just so if the buzzer from hell goes off I don't jump so much I drop my cigarette and burn the place down or poke my eye out with my mascara wand. It's stressful.

I have therefore tried to make it look as inconvenient as it is in the hope they'll think 'hey, maybe she's busy, let's not go round and ask her if she's happy with the curtains in the guest room she never goes in, maybe it can wait until the next time we see her on the stairs or something'. I spun some bullshit about working for American clients and needing to work at night and sleep during the day and then pretended I had been asleep every time they came round for about a week, but that meant I had to be completely silent all day and I missed my MTV Italia. So I started opening the door with a towel on my head in my dressing gown so it looked like I was in the bath when they disturbed me (because they don't actually go away if you don't answer or shout that you're busy, they just keep buzzing), but that just meant spending all day dressed like I was at a spa. Next I think I might get a man to come round and just walk around in his underwear and be all like, 'hey, you totally cockblocked me, bro' when they show up. Though I'm not sure how that translates to Italian.

In any case, the disturbances were just the start of what has become a far creepier problem. Not to put too fine a point on it, the old man has become a bit of a sex pest. To begin with, he would just sort of stoke my hair in a creepy way while he was talking to me, which I didn't like (really, you should only be touching my hair if you are my hairdresser or my boyfriend. And I don't currently have a hairdresser or a boyfriend), but which you could take as just being affectionate. Rather than kissing me on the cheek twice as is the custom in Italy, he'd do it about fifty times. This was annoying, and made me uncomfortable, but I thought hey, maybe I'm just being uptight and British and this is normal.

Then he started telling me weird stuff like how he and his wife hadn't had sex for 20 years because of some gross health problems I did not need to know about, and going on about how important it was to 'make love'. In a flash of inspiration I at this point announced that I was deeply religious and had no interest in such matters but that seemed to work as well in putting him off as that old ruse of pretending you and your best mate are lesbians when some douchebag wouldn't leave you alone in a bar worked – i.e., not at all. It was at this point that the ass grabbing started. Whenever he'd say goodbye, he'd try and grab my ass.

Now, I could give him the benefit of the doubt over the hair stroking and the cheek kissing and the 'too much information' conversation topics, but when you grab someone's ass that sends a very clear message, and the message is that you are a lecherous little monstrosity. You can't pass that sort of shit off as fatherly affection. You can't pass that shit off as anything but ass grabbing.

I was so genuinely shocked the first time it happened that I didn't do anything, but since then I have attempted subtle evasive maneuvers of the kind probably normally employed by men in the showers in prison.

So now he keeps trying to grab my boobs, which is worse. I'm not sure why, it just is.

Now, I'm not actually scared this is going to go from your kind of Carry On film level of sexual harassment to something worse, because the guy is a tiny little old man and I'm a 5ft 11 young woman, I am pretty sure I could take him in a fight or at the very least out run him. But I'm not really sure what a good approach is to stopping it. I can't really move out, because I only got this apartment despite not having residency and whatnot (in Italy, even if you are from an EU country, which I am, you are supposed to get residency before you do anything, and it's quite the faff) because the estate agent is my friend, and I can't really say, 'hey, can you do me another solid because that really nice landlord guy you think is great keeps molesting me'. And I can't really slap him, because that might cause problems. Also, he's ex-police, so probably not someone I want to be on the wrong side of.

I therefore think I am going to have to solve this sitcom style problem with a sitcom style solution, and so I am planning to get a friend to pretend to be my new boyfriend and glare at him, in the hope that some mild intimidation from another man will work. I got the 'fake relationship' idea from every sitcom ever, and it almost never leads to misunderstandings and terrible problems. It'll be fine. It's happy hour at Shenanigans again, people!

Still though, this brings me, finally, to the point of today's article. What the fuck is with old Italian guys? It's not just this guy, it's not just Berlusconi, there are loads of them that seem to think it isn't at all unlikely that women a small fraction of their age are going to be happy to be felt up by them. In England if an old guy talks to you in a pub or wherever, you assume he wants to have a chat with someone. You do not assume he has some weird idea in his head that you want to sleep with him. Since I moved here I've been hit on by more people who look like they went to school with King Herod than I can count, and where, when a young guy hits on you and you're not interested he generally accepts it and goes off to try someone else (sometimes calling you a lesbian first), these guys are weirdly persistent. Some of them even offered me money. Now what the fuck is that all about?

I just hope it's a generation thing because I am now concerned I may stay in Italy forever, marry some awesome guy, and then one day, when we're in our sixties, he'll suddenly turn into some kind of creepy sex criminal. I'll do you a deal, future husband – you don't do that, I won't start shuffling around in a dress like a sack.

Thursday 7 November 2013

That 7 Ways To Be Insufferable on Facebook Article

Shazam, bitches, I'm back. I was having difficulty deciding what to write about in my first post since January, and while I did ask for suggestions from my friends, half of them wanted me to write about how Liverpool supporters sacrifice kittens to Satan in the hope it would start another entertaining war (and I'm not that much of a one trick pony), and the others came up with stuff that wasn't really in keeping with the tone of this blog, like 'how nice orange Chewits are'. I even had a little look at The Daily Mail's website, but there was nothing there worth ranting about for once, although they do claim that payday loan companies are using adverts to brainwash your children, so, you know, be scared about that if you like.

Instead, I decided to revisit the subject of annoying Facebook usage. I first wrote about this when this blog was new back in 2010, and I still stand by the points in it, though some of the trends mentioned seem to have happily fucked off - I don't remember the last time someone asked me to do anything with a farm or become mayor of Yeovil. Of course, there are new annoying things, like those really big fucking yellow faces people use in chat windows now and of course the Bitstrip (I had a beer earlier that was really hard to open. It foamed up a bit and some beer went on me. That story would by some people be deemed interesting enough to warrant a representation in cartoon form). I must admit I have only just got on the 'finding them annoying' bandwagon, at first I found them kind of cute and not that bothersome, but a tipping point has been reached and I have to say I have only seen one that I actually laughed at, and I only laughed at that because it was an in joke I was in on. I'm not saying the people who made them are unfunny people, by any means, but there is something willfully unfunny about the medium. As an experiment, I have struggled for days to think of even a single joke I could turn into one, not counting inside jokes, and I can't, unless you can just make them not be about you and be about Luis Suarez instead, then I can think of loads. The worst part is they have started to remind me of that Nemi cartoon in the Metro, a cartoon that sucked with such astonishing ferocity (probably still does, I haven't seen a Metro in over two years) that even an advert for something really useless like, I don't know, a solar powered vibrator or Jamie Carragher would have been a better use of space.

In any case, another writer by the name of Wait But Why (possibly a pseudonym, though I prefer to imagine that's his real name and he just had a really batshit crazy mother) tackled the territory of the annoying Facebook status update recently in an article on The Huffington Post entitled 7 Ways To Be Insufferable on Facebook. This article gained a lot of traction, and a few other sites have already expressed their views on it. The ones I've read were all a bit whiny ('it's my Facebook, why can't I write that I'm having a banana or that it's sad that there was some flood and thousands of people died, you don't have to read it, unfriend me if you don't like it!' being the tone - yes, fair argument, but you sound like a gimp and you are basically defending your right, which you do of course have, to be bland. Plus, there was a load of stuff about how really we should all talk to each other face to face instead anyway, which sounds like something someone old would say and has, essentially, nothing to do with anything in the Huff Post article). So I thought I'd have a stab.

Wait But Why (I've only typed that twice and I'm already annoyed with him for not calling himself something proper) starts off with an example of what is admittedly, a stratospherically shit status update he saw somewhere. No problems so far, I was on board. But then he gets on to what makes the difference between a good status update and one that he doesn't like and wants to die, and this is where I do not agree with the fella.

His overarching point is that for a Facebook status update to have any worth, it needs to either be very interesting or very entertaining - to everyone who will see it. Well, actually, that is true. If you are a business carrying out some Facebook marketing and targetting a specific demographic. For normal, personal accounts, it isn't even possible for most people. If I post a link to an article I find interesting about football, a lot of my friends will not find any value in it - many of them couldn't give a jet propelled fuck what Eden Hazard is up to - but then many of them also would be interested in reading it. Equally, if you post a review of the restaurant you ate at last night, chances are many of your friends will not get anything out of this either, because you probably know some people who don't live where you live. But that doesn't mean these things aren't worth sharing. Sure, you can set it up so only certain people see certain posts but who can honestly be bothered to go through the hundreds of people they know and sort them into 'people who might like reading stuff about Eden Hazard', and other such categories? Not everyone is going to get every joke or give a damn about every picture of your cat or your children, but that doesn't make them worthless in terms of what Facebook is for.

He then gets into his list of seven habits of highly insufferable people. While he does acknowledge that he is as guilty as anyone of them, presumably thinking this stops him sounding all 'Ooooh, I am King Wait But Why, handing down life lessons from my pedestal of perfection' (though he still kind of does), this to me is why the whole argument he presents is kind of shit. In my 2010 article I said it annoys me when people intentionally spell words wrong and write shit like 'whoop whoop!' - these are things I don't do because I think they're stupid, and if you think they're stupid you don't do them either. These sorts of articles, the way I see it, are supposed to make the reader (if they agree), laugh and go, 'oh yeah, those things are annoying'. By going into detail about things, some or all of which just about every user does (except those weird people who only log on every few years to announce they've had a baby or moved to Myanmar or some other big development) doesn't make people feel entertained, it makes them feel a bit crappy. Are we all just annoying the fuck out of hundreds of people every day? Does nobody care that you got a speeding ticket or had a bad day at work or beat your best time out running? Does everyone secretly think you're a bit of a twat?


Firstly, he hates bragging. That kind of makes sense on the face of it, nobody likes a smug bastard after all, but what he terms bragging seems to be essentially 'saying anything at all positive about your life'. Saying you graduated, got promoted, are going on a nice holiday, or even just had a good weekend doing something fun, all of this apparently makes you quite the tosser. It doesn't though, does it? Of course it will vary according to how well you know the person how much you give a shit about their news, I'm not denying that, but have you ever honestly seen someone's post saying they got promoted (unless you were after the job yourself) and been pissed off that they deigned to bother you with their happiness?  He thinks people write this sort of stuff because they want people to be envious, to craft a certain image of themselves, or simply out of vanity. I'm sure some do. But are these status updates, in and of themselves, insufferable? I say no.

He does, in this section, also talk a bit about those kind of soppy status updates people sometimes post about their relationships and how much they love their significant other. Personally, I'm not a fan of these because I've seen a few people go from banging on endlessly about how wonderful their boyfriend is to a few months later banging on about what an absolute cock he is now he's an ex, and sure, you're going to be doing that to your best friends anyway but to everyone you know, all the time? Bit humiliating. Also sometimes it gets massively overdone and can be a bit gross. But again, he says people do this as a brag to try and make their friends jealous of their fabulous relationship, and that's a bit of a cynical way of looking at someone showing some affection for someone else.

Cryptic Cliffhangers

The next one he talks about I don't like either - the vague, cryptic status update where you are basically just sort of fishing for everyone to go 'What happened?" and give you lots of attention or sympathy. Now, while I do find these status updates annoying because, well, they are, I don't necessarily think it's that obnoxious to be basically asking for people's attention if you are excited to share something, or to seek out a bit of support from your mates if you are sad or pissed off, so I think it is a bit harsh to say that everyone who does this, albeit quite irritating thing, is just some high maintenance drama whore. I'd just rather they spat it out in the first place.

Mundane Status Updates About Your Day

I covered my thoughts on this in my previous article so, you know, you can read that if you care. Sure, I don't think anyone in the world gives a shit about half the stuff we all say, but it's a way to while away the hours until death, isn't it? However, I think Facebook would be more fun if, when you're bored and feel the need to say something, instead of writing the things you are doing if they aren't very interesting, you wrote the random thoughts in your head. This always leads to way more interesting comments because I find people tend to be way more ready to debate whether spiders have souls or what would happen to a mosquito if it bit an AIDS infected lion (lion AIDS is a real thing and I think Bono should be doing something about it, by the way) than engage with you about how you have just eaten a pear.

Inexplicably Public Private Messages

I do this all the bastarding time. This is the one where you tag a friend in a status that doesn't really have any relevance to anyone else, or you post something related to an inside joke or secret that most people won't understand. He reckons people do this because they think they are still in high school and looking popular is important. In my case he is absolutely right.

The Out Of Nowhere Oscar Acceptance Speech

This is Whatsisname's name for when someone randomly writes something about how much they love all their friends and how they thank them for all their support and whatnot. He says people do this for attention, or because it's Christmas. I think people only do it when they've been dumped and have had some vodka, personally. Sure, it's a bit cheesy and I take his point that it could be construed as insincere because it's unlikely (unless you keep your friends list small) that you actually are grateful to absolutely everyone, but these are pretty infrequent posts so they don't reach the level of insufferability of many things he doesn't mention, like 'if you don't share this you don't support X good cause that everybody supports and there's something wrong with you and you should be in prison', or its close friend 'share this if you love your kids/mum/dad'. What, really, are there people on my Facebook who think 'hmmmm, Melanie Jones didn't share that picture I shared confirming that she thinks guide dogs are good. I suspect she is a Nazi and a psychopath.'? I don't think there are. It's usually Twitter where people form those sort of deranged ideas.

Incredibly Obvious Opinions

This one actually does bore the granny out of me I have to say. You know the drill - something bad happens somewhere, whether it's a natural disaster, an accident or a terrible crime, and your news feed is suddenly full of people basically saying that it was bad and they are sad about it. Just as with not feeling the need to repost things mentioning that, yes, I do indeed think nurses are a good thing or it's bad when babies get meningitis, I just don't think there's any point in saying that kind of thing because it's sort of obvious (hopefully) that you don't like it when loads of people die tragically. I think you need to have something more to add if you are going to bother commenting on upsetting major news events, not because it's obnoxious to care and express that you care, but because if you aren't throwing in anything above and beyond 'mass murder bums me out' you are just adding to the hundreds of other identical comments in everyone's news feeds. I agree with the concept Whatshisname is raising here, but I would once again say that the motives he suspects people who write these, admittedly, unimaginative and boring, but far from unpleasant statuses come over as a bit harsh. Yeah, I sometimes feel like certain people are a bit like 'look at me, I'm a nice person, I care!', and sure, I suppose that is in some ways 'image crafting' as he puts it, but is it really that bad to want people to think you are nice? You know, if you actually are and you're not just trying to mask the fact you're a sociopath.

The Step Toward Enlightenment

Those inspirational quotes, well, they bug the shit out of a lot of people I know so maybe I'm with the guy on this one although it depends a lot on what the quote says. If it is that fucking Marilyn Monroe 'If you can't handle me at my worst...' one you can fuck right off for starters. I have to say though, that again, I think he's wrong about why people do it. It's not because they vainly think that they have the answers and want their friends to see them as inspiring people - if it was they'd post their own words not stuff anyone can find that the Dalai Lama might have said. I think generally people do it simply because they saw it and thought it was a good thing to say.

In discussing these points with some friends and seeing other comments from other people who had read the article, it bothered me how the knee jerk reaction was 'well, nearly all status updates fall into one of these categories'. If they do, why do we even read them? So, I've been paying closer attention to my own friends' updates and looked back over a lot of my own, and I have actually reached the conclusion that no, they don't. While all of these behaviours do exist, a lot of what I also see from the people I am connected to on there are witty observations, attempts to voice an opinion about something, funny anecdotes about things that happened to my friends that day, creative stuff they have done that they are sharing and statuses designed to start interesting conversations, or inevitably, arguments about football. Take a look at your own friends, chances are there's a lot of good stuff there too.