Pointless diaries: Great War Diaries

I’ve always wondered what is the reason why people blog. In some way, people have always blogged– from cave paintings, to paper diaries, to the online community as we know it today. We have autobiographies published and other people write up biographies about people that they admire. But why is this all so common, and why has it survived for so long?

One of the things that I find really interesting is how diaries and journals are being used to create a better understand of World War One. Like the current BBC series which finished tonight, Great War Diaries, which depicted the lives of people in different countries and of different ages and their personal accounts of the War. For those of you who have read Anne Frank (which unfortunately is still on my to-read list) I can definitely understand why it is such a popular read. But seeing it all on screen– with the voice overs reading out the passages– is heart breaking.

What I found even more interesting was when one of the authors, a German girl in school, stated that the only reason that she was keeping the diary was because they had been told to do one for school. With teachers forseeing a “glorious victory by Christmas” it reminds me of my own teachers telling us to keep summer diaries for English class.

I don’t imagine an historian dusting one of those folders off in a 100 years!

Continuing with the theme of WW1, the Manx National Heritage group recently discovered diaries written by a local vicar during that period. But what was even more significant was that these hand written note pads were used to keep track of each man from his congregation who was abroad. Apparently he colour coded each of the entries so he was up to date with the individual’s location and status– presumably to pass on to the rest of his church for their prayers. But I assume that this man did not write these entries for the purpose of having them used 100 years later.

Personally I keep a personal diary, handwritten and hidden safely away from prying eyes, as well as this online blog– and yes, be assured that I don’t manage to keep either one regularly updated until motivation comes along! But I don’t see either as particularly significant. My personal diary is more of my random rantings whenever the mood takes me, which I find calms me down if I’m in an especially bad mood– but I highly doubt that’ll change over the next centenary!

What’s even stranger is the idea of online blogging being seen as historic the way that many younger children will now see pen and paper. Everything is done online nowadays, to the point that we are even entrusting our lives to computerised cars, so how far away is having some sort of device which records our day to day activities? I’m thinking a Black Mirror type chip in our head, but even the fact that many of us rely on our computers and smart phones for 90 per cent of our activities– will there be much point in a diary when we’re so comfortable writing everything on social media?

And given that anything on the internet never really disappears, I doubt there’ll be much point in whatever the future version of an archeologist digging around…

So if in essence our diaries and blogs are little use to future generations, do we write them for the here and now? For our own personal thoughts? Or just because that is what everyone else is doing?


International Best Friend Day

Whenever I see celebrated holidays like International Best Friend Day, I can’t help but be doubtful. I mean, I join in but I generally don’t see them as little more than a ploy from social networking websites* to boost usage for a day– I mean, how many people really celebrate National Cheese Day on the 4th June?

Anyone brought the wine? source: http://wwwcheesestorecedarhurst.com

Anyone brought the wine? source: http://wwwcheesestorecedarhurst.com

Though admittedly we are a nation which is all up for jumping on the St Patrick’s Day bandwagon as a excuse to stay in the pub all day so I guess it’s not entirely unusual.

Anyway today I clicked onto Instagram and came across an interesting hashtag: #nationalbestfriendsday

I love any excuse to browse through my old Facebook photos and create a picstitch (and also any excuse to procrasinate) so I immediately got to work on looking through the images.

Friendship’s important, I’ve come to realise. I’m not close to much of my family anymore so I enjoy the company of my friends at university, but with everyone graduating and moving I’m starting to appreciate the friendships which last through that. But then I was struck with one problem– who do I consider my best friend?

The answer has always seemed simple to me: my oldest friend who I’ve known since I was three and first moved to the Isle of Man. But I guess that’s not the case anymore, we’re not as close in the typical sense of the word. I mean, you have people who hang around with the same people every single day– you don’t invite one without the other, and if you never see them apart. Well, I guess I’m describing certain girl friendships but still…

I’ve had many of those kinds of friendships in the past, but I’m the kind of person who feels suffocated with that kind of constant attention. So I’ve come to be bit more of a ‘hanger – on’ with a variety of other friendship groups. That way I can mix things up and I have the ability to bond with people without feeling tied down I guess… Yes, I guess the commitment phobe in me is beginning to emerge.

So there was no way that my picstitch would be focused on a single person. Instead, I looked at the people I valued the most for many reasons and eventually came up with this.

(Inter)national Best Friends Day

(Inter)national Best Friends Day

Now, you might notice something in the caption of that picture: International Best Friends Day. Later on I decided to research a little about this holiday– like I said, I generally assumed they were social media antics and not of any significance in the real world.

Well, apparently I was wrong (that’s a rare occasion!).

International Best Friends Day has been recongised by the UN as the 30th July. So no, not today but I realised how significant it was on a personal level and I also noticed something else: coming to university has granted me the opportunity to mix with people I’d probably never meet otherwise.

No, I don’t mean those from rich families who I wouldn’t generally mix with.

The top photo in that picstitch has a variety of cultures in it including Romanian, Lithuainian as well as French. Not only do they all speak far better english than I do, but they have taught me so much about different countries and allowed me to gain an appreciation for travel and people.

Even since coming to university, where England counted as a holiday; I finally got a passport and visiting Ibiza (yes, it counts!) and spent a summer in America. Though it might seem like nothing to many people, in the past two years that’s more than I’ve travelled in my life!

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see some more– and one day I’ll fufill my dream of seeing Rome and Greece.


(* except National Hug a Tall Person Day, I know people who take that very seriously!)

Cheating on Facebook with Twitter

If any of you read my article on the Kettle Mag website the other week, you’ll understand my addiction to social networking websites- and if you haven’t, you should do here.

It’s a very personal account of the reasons I’m addicted to social networking site, but what it doesn’t cover is the positives of them. I guess that’s probably because I’ve only just started seeing that myself.

Now, currently I actively use Instagram (for pretty pictures), Facebook (for being nosy) and Twitter (for a million 140 character updates). Though I do sometimes overlap them- like posting some Instagram photos on Facebook and Twitter, I am more than aware that every social media website has it’s individual functions.

The main example of this is the whole Twitter vs. Facebook debate for me. People who link their Twitter accounts to their Facebooks, so that whenever they post a Tweet it appears on their Facebook feed. Not so bad I guess since many Facebook-loyal people otherwise wouldn’t see it and it saves you posting it a million times, but what about when you (like me) update your Twitter several times a day?

I used to get nagged about how many times I updated my Facebook status which is why I got Twitter in the first place.

But more recently I’ve seen many more advantages to the two social media websites. This is mainly from a professional and informal point of veiw:

Facebook is a private entity, by which I mean many people are far more likely to use this website to write about everything and anything. Uploading drunk photos from the previous night? You’d put them in a album entitled ‘University antics’ rather than posting them individually on Instagram. Need to write an essay to a friend- it’s more likely to go on their Facebook wall or their chat box because, in all honesty, how can you fit all of that gossip in 140 characters?

Even companies respond on Twitter

Even companies respond on Twitter

Twitter is a public entity. As in you can interact with celebrities, professionals and even Luke Friend’s hair (apologies for the X Factor reference if you’re a bit more cultured than that, but with over 4,000 followers it’s a business!) It can act as an introduction, you can learn more about them simply by ‘following’ them minus the stalking factor. I even know many lecturers at my university who are embracing Twitter to speak to their students and make them aware of upcoming events/valuable infomation.

Me, for example? I recently took my Twitter off it’s private setting since I realised the benefits of using it as a method of interaction rather than simply a tool to rant. This became especially useful when I had an article published in my student newspaper regarding the department of Social Work at the university having a book club. Within an hour the article had been retweeted, favourited and viewed by individuals not only with access to the paper copies available at the university but also by the online version in other universities. I had people ‘tweeting’ me about their thoughts on the article, and even had the author of the next book that the book club is focusing on, Lisa Cherry (@_LisaCherry), following me.

I can praise or critise businesses or individuals for their service on Twitter and have found that I am far more likely to get a response.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’ve finally given into the joys of Twitter. Though I still use Facebook, of course, I feel that I’m far more excited for any Twitter notifications that I recieve now rather than a simple like or event request on Facebook. Next step: getting to grips with Linkedin!


UCLan Goes Viral

Imagine that one night you go to a club and watch an American rapper. Then next thing you know, he is at your flat cooking you and your housemates a three course meal. Then your housemate pulls out his guitar and voliá you’re getting your own personal acoustic set.

Then within 48 hours you’re the cover story of the BBC, being interviewed by radio stations and you’ve become a viral hit on Youtube.

The internet is a wonderful thing, and not least due to the joys of social networking websites. The first I had heard of this whole thing was after our fortnightly meeting for the student paper. The editor posted on volunteers’ Facebook page that his friend had American rapper, Coolio, cooking for their flat. So of course, being typical journalists someone asked for a video and next thing we knew it was on Youtube.

Youtube… By the next morning it was posted in the Metro. Then today it was all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds, the local station Three FM back home had picked it up because two of the housemates were Manx. Rock FM, a local Preston radio station, interviewed everyone involved before ITV and even the BBC had hold of the story.

Personally, I don’t see why the story got so big but I can definitely see the how. Over a decade ago, journalists would have to witness an event or have a “reliable” witness telling them the goings on in the world.

But it’s not like that anymore.

Now journalists have the advantage of having the world wide web at their finger tips. Even better, they have a real time account of the current comings and goings on a global scale without needing to leave their computers. That Youtube video went viral within about 24 hours, and was picked up by local media within a day. The frenzy which was stirred up would ultimately force the nationals to take note, they want to sell papers and to do this they have to listen to their readers- and apparently their readers were going crazy over a recording of a 90s rapper in a student flat.

Not that I’d complain at the offer of a three course meal.

But I also think that this is the downfall of journalism nowadays. Journalists are getting lazy, as are their readers. The ability to have all this “news” at your finger tips, and for free, means that newspapers just aren’t that popular anymore. I know it’s been covered many, many times before but this viral hit just goes to show what a smart phone and a Youtube account can go to achieve. Throw in a share button, a few other social networking sites and a small amount of enthusiastic friends and you’re a (inter)national star.

The joys of the internet!

The woes of technology: Snapchat


I bet you know about it. If you haven’t already become obsessed with it, you’ve at least downloaded it. And if you haven’t, you’re probably an unfortunate Blackberry User.

But me on the other hand, with my wonderful Samsung Galaxy S3? Yes, I have finally downloaded the infamous app: Snapchat.

Now, for those of you who have been living under a rock here is the low down. Snapchat is an app. Following in the footsteps of Instagram and those social media sites, Snapchat takes advantage of the current geberation’s craze with weird and wonderful pictures.

You take a photo. Type a message. Select an amount of seconds you which the reciever to be able to see the photo and send.

The advantage is that given the extremely limited amount of time the picture can be viewed, there is less chance it’ll be uploaded onto Facebook and Twitter. I say less since I do have many friends who have managed this exact thing, much to their friends embarressment.

It’s addictive. It’s odd. And I have no doubt I will become obsessed with such an app. But admittedly I do fear how much my “mature and responsible older sister” reputation will die with my drunk photos …

Social Media: Keeping work and play seperate

Considering social networking began in 1995, it’s only recently that it’s boomed into life. And it has quite literally boomed. In 2008, Facebook had 34 million users and now they’re boasting over one billion users, 618 million of which are active daily. Digital Marketing Ramblings also points out that other social networking websites also boast huge numbers such as the professional site LinkedIn having 200 million, the photo sharing site Instagram claims 100 million users and Tumblr with 170 million.

Considering I come from an island which has the population of 80,000 those numbers are pretty unbelievable.

But something else is coming into play now. That’s the use of social networking websites and your employment. Earlier this year it was reported that 56% of employers check social networking sites when considering an applicant.

Of course, I have touched on this before in Social Networking Sites: the bain of my life but it wasn’t until recently that it really hit me. I got my contract for my job in America through my email and one of the conditions was regarding social networking websites: 1. All pages had to be switched to private and 2. nothing regarding the employer or place of employment could be posted online.

Now I’m not going to claim this is completely outragous, by now I’ve began to come to terms with the matter of privacy. Since I’ll be working with children, there is the potential of parents Googling who they’ve left their children with- admittedly, I think I would do the same thing. And ok, I don’t really consider this when I’m posting my tweets and statuses.

But when you start reading stories like how one professor chose to argue the possibility that the Sandy Hook tragedy wasn’t as bad as it was protrayed on a public blog you start to realise the potential damage there is in posting your opinion.