Are You Lonely?

And so it goes on. The pack on social media smells blood and suddenly complete strangers are praising Mary to the hilt and tearing Jane’s self-esteem into tiny pieces. The comments keep on coming and the night of Jane’s dreams has turned into a nightmare because it was shared with her online ‘friends’.

Loneliness is, apparently, felt more acutely in the US by people under the age of 30 than in any other age group. Can you believe it? How bloody sad is that! Young people have more chance to interact with others, through the internet and social media than at any other time in history and yet loneliness is becoming as big a threat to their health as obesity.

They can share every aspect of their lives with their friends and friends of friends and complete strangers, they have hundreds and maybe thousands of connections with other people. The thoughts and feelings they share will be ‘liked’ or commented upon or criticised ad nauseam and I can’t help but wonder how much this affects the things that they share in the future. The advent of ‘selfies’ means that our image is constantly popping up on social media and, again, the pictures we post can be ‘liked’, commented upon or criticised; how does this affect our self image?

Prom photoLet’s imagine that a teenage girl finds a dress she loves for her prom. She feels great in it, thinks that she looks amazing and feels more confident about her appearance than she has done for ages. She heads off to prom with one of her best friends who is also dressed up to the nines. They have that special bond that only teenage girls can have and are full of expectation as they chat and giggle about the night to come. They admire each others outfits, hair and make-up and describe to each other, in great detail, how they’ve imagined the wonderful night ahead; they’ve probably not thought about, nor talked about, anything else for weeks!

The inevitable selfies and group photos are posted online within minutes of their arrival; they get some ‘likes’ from their close friends but then the comments start:

“Not sure about that dress on you Jane but I love your hair”

“Mary looks so hot but Jane – what were you thinking LOL!”

“Yeah, Mary’s got an awesome bod why’s she always with that dog Jane?”

CyberbullyingAnd so it goes on. The pack on social media smells blood and suddenly complete strangers are praising Mary to the hilt and tearing Jane’s self-esteem into tiny pieces. The comments keep on coming and the night of Jane’s dreams has turned into a nightmare because it was shared with her online ‘friends’.

Her real friend, Mary, has become the centre of very positive attention but Jane is left isolated by mocking laughter and resentful of the girl that she was so unfavourably compared to. Their friendship may recover from this virtual assault but its unlikely; so much about teenagers lives in shared online that their attackers have the means to really hurt them readily available. Jane will drift away from someone that she was genuinely close to and will probably seek out those who defended her; they may well be complete strangers but they will feel like friends because they tried to protect her in her hour of need. The Worldwide web is exactly that so the chances of any of her defenders being in close enough proximity for her to have an actual relationship with them is unlikely so they chat online instead.

Jane will feel isolated in her real life because those around her will have been witness to her humiliation on prom night; they will have actually seen her tears of mortification and maybe even mocked her for her weakness. virtual friendFortunately she will have her new virtual relationships which will give her a chance to express herself and unleash her feelings so she will increasingly spend time in front of the computer in her bedroom or huddled in a corner somewhere frantically tapping away on her phone.

Unfortunately, the online ‘friends’ who really know nothing about you but were happy to jump on a bandwagon crusade on prom night will soon stop sending messages of love and support and may, instead, start telling you to “grow a pair” or “stop being a cry baby”. Jane will again feel like a victim, misunderstood and with self-confidence in tatters.

Eventually turning back to real life she will realise that Mary has moved on and no longer really wants to be best friends; after all she did nothing wrong and felt hurt and betrayed when Jane turned away from her. It’s at this point that Jane will start to feel truly lonely; she has access to virtually everyone on the planet but she does not love or feel loved – is it really a surprise that loneliness is becoming such an issue for so many young people?

Broken-Friendship

I’d really love to hear about your experiences, especially if you are under 30 and feel the burden of loneliness. The tale of Jane and Mary came from my imagination but please, tell me, is it really like that for some of you?

Lisa x

In Pursuit of Beauty?

…beauty is in the eye of the media

It would seem these days that beauty is in the eye of the media; there are millions of images on the TV, in magazines, on the internet etc. all telling us what we should or shouldn’t look like. Unfortunately, as with all things, the media is not exactly consistent.

How many times do we see pictures like these? ‘So and so celebrity has really piled on the pounds!’ Then the next day ‘so and so celebrity is too skinny’; ironically it’s often the same celebrity who was lambasted for being overweight 6 months previously.

If you type ‘celebrities who’ve let themselves go’ into google it will bring up hundreds of people who have simply got older or lost/gained a little weight. So celebrities are human huh? Shocker! (This comes with rolling eyes and a slight feeling of exasperation).

The question is where does this leave the rest of us mere mortals? Well, we now have young people who become anorexic or bulimic because their onscreen role models are a size 6. It doesn’t occur to them to question whether or not said idol is happy being that size or whether their job (and the media) demands that they are slim and actually they’d really like to be able to have a dessert occasionally. It doesn’t occur to them to question whether or not they will be healthy as a size 6; if you’re naturally slim it’s one thing, if you’re naturally a size 14 and shrink yourself down to a size 6 is another thing altogether. They also don’t consider the fact that many stars have personal trainers and spend hours in the gym with them every day; to lose weight without exercise will mean a big and potentially dangerous reduction in calories.

On the flip side we now also have Fat Acceptance (or Body Acceptance) which is essentially people who are overweight, and know that they’re overweight, fighting back against Fat Shaming. fat shaming 2(This is the charming past-time of being unpleasant to people considered fat by ‘shamers’ on social media.) There is even a Fat Activist movement which addresses the issue of, what they see as, society’s ‘bias’ against obese people.

This means that, on the one hand we have young people desperate to be skinny and, on the other, we have those who are obese calling for fat-shaming to be considered a hate crime. It’s well known that both anorexia and obesity come with massive health risks and yet both are on the increase.

Part of the obesity problem can certainly be attributed to the fast and convenience food that has become a staple for many people. Sugar is believed to be more addictive than cocaine and yet these type of food are absolutely packed full of it. However, another part of the problem is our attitudes to ourselves and our bodies and the fact that open and honest discussions are few and far between. The Government is seen as ‘the Nanny State’ if it advises people on the health risks of obesity and anorexia, schools no longer teach classes on cookery and nutrition, children are happier in front of a computer screen rather than being outside running around and the internet provides a safe haven for advocates of over-eating and starvation and the bullies that follow them. If we could all see the damage that’s being done to our insides maybe we’d be less concerned with how we look on the outside……….

 

Beauty and the Bitches

We have only one life. It’s very short. Love who you are and find happiness

THE BEAUTIFUL YOUNG GIRL IN THIS VIDEO SHOWS US, IN THE MOST HEARTBREAKING WAY, THE EFFECT THAT OTHER PEOPLE’S WORDS CAN HAVE UPON   US. SHE SAYS: “SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LET PEOPLE GO BECAUSE THEY ARE TOXIC TO YOU. LET THEM GO BECAUSE THEY TAKE AND TAKE AND LEAVE YOU EMPTY LET THEM GO BECAUSE, IN THE OCEAN OF LIFE, WHEN ALL YOU’RE TRYING TO DO IS STAY AFLOAT, THEY ARE THE ANCHOR THAT’S DROWNING YOU”.

BE HAPPY WITH YOURSELF.

LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND LOVE WHO YOU ARE.

YOU ARE UNIQUE AND THEREFORE VERY SPECIAL.

REMEMBER THIS, BELIEVE IT AND NO WORDS WILL EVER HAVE THE POWER TO HURT YOU.

If people attack you with words, it’s not because there is something wrong with you but because there is something wrong with them. They don’t like themselves and they can’t cope with that feeling or find a way to resolve the issues that they have so they lash out at others. Often you will find that the people who are the most cruel with words are the ones who hurt most inside.

Young women who are bitchy to other girls often seem to be very popular, not because they have the sort of personality that naturally attracts other people but because it’s easier to show affiliation than to risk becoming a target. For them there is the illusion of popularity which is the very thing that they need to boost their self-esteem but, unfortunately, it  stems from cruelty to others. Therefore, in order to maintain their own self-esteem they must bully others and so the cycle continues; pity them and don’t allow them to crush your beautiful spirit.

In order to be hurt by the words of others we must, on some level, believe that what they are saying is, at least partially, true. If someone says that we are ugly and that’s what we fear ourselves, those words will cut us to the quick. However, if we accept that the way we look is the way we look and there is little that we can do to change it, the cruel words have far less impact. Further, if we are at peace with ourselves and accept completely our personalities, flaws and all, we will find pleasure in the company of others, whatever their faults, and equal pleasure in spending time alone.

We have only one life. It’s very short. Love who you are and find happiness

#Not Waving But Drowning

It begs the question would Twitter would be so popular if tweets were not ‘liked’ or re-tweeted and if people could not follow each other? If that were the case people would just be airing their views based on their own moral standards and not as a way to gain acceptance or approval from others………..

“I was much further out than you thought   And not waving but drowning”.

This line from the poem by Stevie Smith seems, for me, to sum up many of the posts that we see on Twitter these days. Social media seems to have opened the floodgates for people to share their deepest thoughts and feelings, be they negative or positive, without restraint. What we have ended up with is a section of society who are so absolutely desperate for their voices to be heard that it’s pitiful. Abuse, bullying and foul language are common place and, in some instances, actively encouraged but why?

There are accounts which have obviously been set up to try and promote hope, tolerance and positivity twitter positivebut, unfortunately, they are far outweighed by those which seems to serve no purpose other than to stir up anger and hatred in others. DWPm_5oWkAETuiG I wonder what that says about the owner of the account?

People who are happy with themselves and their lives are rarely unkind to others so how low must someone’s self-esteem be for them to constantly hit out? The vast majority of people look for attention from others and what better way to get it than on Twitter? You receive a notification when someone ‘likes’ something that you’ve said; people will re-tweet posts and you’ll receive another message which, effectively, tells you your views have been validated however negative, unpleasant or inflammatory they may be:

“If we can fund Planned Parenthood to murder babies, I think funding our schools with armed security guards to keep our children safe is more than a reasonable suggestion”.

Added to that people ‘follow’ you which is indicative of approval and something that many look for in their friends.  This results in people of like minds ‘following’ each other and using their sense of unity to bully others. Celebrities are often targets of this type of online abuse but they are also part of the problem; they are ‘accessible’ and some people will literally do anything to attract their attention. From fawning applause of even the most banal comment to threats of injury and death, to be noticed by someone famous can be seen by some as a huge boost to their ego. If they had a genuine sense of self-worth would they still be so desperate?

If Twitter were real life the world would be in a state of complete anarchy and war would be the norm rather than the exception but it’s popularity continues to grow. Even the President of the USA is in on the act and, as a hugely powerful and influential man, his words could literally divide a country:

….If a potential “sicko shooter” knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!”

It begs the question would Twitter would be so popular if tweets were not ‘liked’ or re-tweeted and if people could not follow each other? If that were the case people would just be airing their views based on their own moral standards and not as a way to gain acceptance or approval from others………..