BE CURIOUS | COVID-19 EDITION

We are living in unprecedented times. Times of uncertainty and times of concern. However, times like now requires everyone to open their eyes and STAY WOKE. COVID-19 has been the topic on everyone’s tongue now for the past few months… but who knows what to believe?

Some people think it was created through the consumption of a bat soup, some people think the radio waves through 5G cell towers is to cause… and then there are some people who believe that it was a government-imposed plan to release on the human population.

I am not saying that one is right, but I am also not saying that one is wrong. However, I am asking you, whoever you may be, to open your eyes, open your ears, and open your mind. Be curious and question everything. Curiosity and questioning are what finds truths in this world.

Read, watch, listen, and talk. If you are in one of the many countries at the moment that is in lockdown then you should now have the time to be able to do these things… if you want to. Think back to one of the many Hollywood blockbuster movies that had one of the many Hollywood blockbuster movies plots, suggesting that an entity or higher power wanted to ‘control’ the world. Now think of our current situation. If you’re like me, you listened to what your government told you to do… which is to stay indoors because you’re a responsible person that wants to limit the spread of this virus. But what you also did was prove to the government that you listen… the perfect dress rehearsal for the possible event that one day the government did decide that they wanted to control us on a mass scale. Well, guess what? They’ve just proved that they can do it. We now all stay indoors and do as we are told. Of course, we are aware that there is a very dangerous virus spreading that could cause serious damage if we didn’t follow the rules but what if those people who think the government was responsible for the creation of this virus were right?

There are two things going through your head right now. The first is that you’ll immediately stop reading if you haven’t done so already and think that the person who wrote this is a complete nutcase. The second is that you’re thinking nothing other than ‘hmmmmmm?’ And if the latter is your thought, then you, my friend are being curious and questioning. Be curious about the probable and question the absurd. Everything nowadays can be figured out as long as you give it the thought it deserves.

This current situation that we all find ourselves in will certainly change the way we think as a whole moving forward in life. This virus has caused many deaths, illnesses, and general burdens for people. But take a step back and look past the self-obsession of human consciousness. Look past yourself, your friends, your family, and humans in general. Look at the animals, look at the earth between your feet. Now look at the Earth as a planet. Look at the blue skies that can now be seen in Beijing, look at the Himalayan mountains that can now be seen from India, look at the fish, and the swans that are now swimming through the canals in Venice.

Now look back at yourself. Look at how you can learn from this time-out that mother nature has given you for destroying the planet or look at how you can learn from this lockdown that the government has given you because they want to control you. It doesn’t matter if you look at this as a punishment from mother nature or a means of government authority. What matters is that you ‘look!’

Look far, look wide, and always stay curious, always question, and always stay woke.

LOATHING LOCKDOWN | Mental Health and Mobiles

The introverts of the world may find bliss in the fact that for now, we must stay at home. Extroverts may hate it. The one thing that is for sure, is that we all must endure it. But none more than that group of people that suffer from mental health issues.

We should all know by now that mental health stability is a serious issue that can affect anyone at any time in your life. If you have mental health instability, then being alone with your thoughts is nightmarish, especially during a lockdown and especially during a lockdown when you have been forced to separate from your loved ones.

If you’ve followed #WhySoSocial, you’ll know that this is a subject that gets a lot of attention from me. Especially as it pertains to social media.

Read my article on data during the lockdown and you’ll know that one thing we all do a lot more of during this time is USE OUR PHONES… and when we use our phone; what do we like to do? Scroll through social media. Although it is has evolved into a human habit, there are a lot of things wrong with it. It has been ingrained into our nature since the introduction of smartphones. But it’s also opened up a dark side-effect of mental health degeneration. Especially within young people.

With the addition of more time on our hands, we search for instant gratitude or the next quick injection of entertainment to satisfy our needs. However, mixing this with a current or history of mental health issues is not a good idea. Now before we go further, let me say that I am no mental heal professional and I have no qualifications in the field but what I do have is a vast amount of knowledge through research.

Dr. Sandro Galea from Boston University said: ‘There will undoubtedly be consequences for mental health and wellbeing in both the short and long term” as a result of the lockdown, and this was further expanded upon by Roger McIntyre, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Toronto and Head of the Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit who outlines the life-threatening implications: “The anguish in staying home intensifies” that could result in rising self-harm and suicide rates. He then goes on to mention that “A lockdown can exacerbate these feelings of loneliness and depression, especially for the unemployed or the young who are also susceptible.”

Mental health issues are a serious condition at any level, but it is safe to say that life-threatening issues are undoubtedly the most serious. Now, I am totally aware that there are worse problems than scrolling through your phone and going on social media as a result of being unemployed and staying at home. The burdens of financial, interpersonal, self-worth, etc, struggles also come into play. But one thing is for sure, the correlation between young people, social media, and loneliness is one that we cannot ignore.

The question now needs to be asked of what we can do past the time in an effective manner to compress the mental feelings of isolation?

As a social media professional, myself for over six years, I know the importance of stepping away from this so-called ‘social’ entity which can often be very ‘unsociable.’ Video calling friends, participating in in-home activities, and exploring new and forgotten hobbies have been a refreshing way for me to past the time. But then again, I do not have a history of mental health issues and not everyone is me. I am not going to sit here and write what I think people can do to counter this growing problem but what I can write is that there are always people in your corner and sometimes all it takes is a chat. If there was ever a time to call a mate, that time is now. Stimulate your brain, your body, and stay active.

DATA DUMP | Our phones are getting smarter, faster during lockdown!

Data is an interesting subject. Some people find it fascinating; some people find it boring and then there are some people that find it darn-right terrifying.

If you own a smartphone which I’m almost certain that 100% of the people reading this do, then you’ll know these little hand-sized devices operate completely on nothing other than data. Why is a smartphone given the word ‘smart’ anyway? I mean, it’s just a device you use to message your mates or look at images of sunsets in Thailand or even listen to your favorite beats while keeping a second eye on a video titled ‘top 100 cat compilations’… nothing smart about that? Right?

Well, like me, you’re probably one of many people on house arrest… sorry I mean lockdown right now and maybe you’ve decided to binge-watch a series on Netflix or re-live the best sports moments from the last decade on YouTube. If you’re part of the former group or even do both then maybe you’ve watched the critically acclaimed series Black Mirror and if you have, then you’d probably understand where I’m going with this.

Your phone knows a lot about you… a lot. The more you use it, the more it learns. We all know this, this is nothing revolutionary but right now, this minute, this second, your phone is learning a lot more about you on an increased rate. Its brain is working in overdrive and it’s being stuffed with knowledge while still yearning for more.

What you may not have noticed is that, you (the average Joe – like me) are using your phone a lot more now than before COVID-19 attacked and when the world was a ‘regular’ (I use that word sparingly) place. By doing this, you’re subconsciously feeding your phones more knowledge about you than you ever did. Now, the everyday distractions of life have significantly decreased – I apologise if you have kids… I don’t! You no longer have to travel to work, you no longer get to visit your mates, you no longer get to well… do what you used to. So, what are we doing instead? We’re searching for the perfect holiday to travel after this is all over, we’re video calling almost every day and we’re looking at baking recipes.

All of this is making your smartphone salivate and it will soon, if it hasn’t already start telling you that you’re interested in things you never thought that you were interested in.

Scrolling through Facebook one day, my phone advertised and easy-bake oven for eight-year-olds to me. I thought, ‘why would I be interested in that?’ However, thinking about it properly, when this lockdown started, I was one of those eager people who ran to the supermarket to buy flour and guess what? I started baking. But most importantly, I scoured through the interned to find not too difficult baking recipes. I was successful and now I’ve baked three cakes so far and I can’t wait to use my easy-bake oven for eight-year-olds (that arrived yesterday) to bake some fairy cakes, topped with strawberry jam and powdered sugar.

Back to the point… although that was part of the point (if you’re paying attention). We’re living in a time of wanting to pass the time. My baking anecdote is only a small level example of the data I’m providing my phone during these times. Of course, I didn’t have to be in lockdown to start baking but I did start baking because of this lockdown and I did provide my phone with new knowledge and the longer this continues, the more knowledge I and also you will give our phones.

Is it fascinating? Is it boring? Is it terrifying? Maybe it’s all three. But one thing is for sure, our smart phones are getting smart… faster. And by the time we’re allowed to go outside and smell that July air. Yes, I said July! Your phone will probably know things about you that you didn’t even know about yourself.

That being said, I have to go… my blueberry muffins are almost ready!

#WHYSOSOCIAL | CYBER-BULLYING AND CRIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA (PT.2)

#WhySoSocial is a documentary series that looks at the forever growing trend of social media use amongst young people. In this three-part series, Nat Black-Heaven speaks to people that actively use social media, embrace it and live it to further understand its addictive nature.

Part 2 focuses on the prominence and rise of cyber-bullying and crime using social media and the dangers it can cause… sometimes leading to death! It also gives suggestions on prevention techniques, where and how to find help.

MORE TO WATCH

#WHYSOSOCIAL | ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION (PT.1)

INSIGHTS & CHILL | Is there racism in western privilege?

INSIGHTS AND CHILL | Should White People Be Allowed To Say The ‘N’ Word When Singing Along To Music

At What Age Should We Start Engaging With Social Media?

Social Media and Anxiety

What would happen if the internet shut down for a day?

Are you in control of your phone or is your phone in control of you?

Be Yourself and Let Your Creativity Shine

Social Media and Generational Values

INSIGHTS & CHILL | Is there racism in western privilege?

#prayformanchester, #prayforparis, #prayfortexas but why no #prayforkenya or #prayforafghanistan, etc. In this episode of Insights & Chill we explore certain western norms that don’t carry over when there is an issue facing the Eastern world. This is an oversight that needs to be addressed.

Is this a form of racism in not wanting to properly report Eastern travesties or does this content simply not have a place in Western media? If we flip the switch and look vica versa, does it still apply?

Europe and America are predominantly white, Chrisitan societies. This plays a major role in the way the media reacts to such news of terrorism in our territories although we commit the same scenes in the Eastern world. In some cases, to a larger extent. Insights & Chill discusses.

Netflix and Chill is taking over Cinema

Cinema once dominated the movie industry because it was simply the only player in the game. Society was fed a monopoly where there was only one place to watch big budget, fresh off the film movies.

As years past, the cinema industry has had to fight off opposition from illegal downloading, illegal streaming, DVD releases and television movies and have yet still managed to come out on top.

However, there’s a new kid on the block.  A digital streaming powerhouse that has got everyone talking. Netflix is the major player in the game that is on its way taking over the world of filmmaking and cinema. Along with the likes of others that battle it out in the industry like Amazon and later down the line, Facebook Watch. Netflix has the power to steamroll over the cinema industry.

It’s hard to fight against a service that only costs £6/£7 per month that allows you to watch anything they offer on their service with new titles coming weekly. In this day, an adult cinema ticket could cost you anywhere between £6 and £12 for one movie… Without the cinema essential, popcorn!

We are in an era where Netflix is producing big screen, cinema quality films for their platforms. These are movies that only a year ago you would have only been able to see at the cinema. They are now attracting big-time A-list, award-winning actors. Actors that in-turn help drive the marketability and advertisement of the films they make, driving more traffic to Netflix. A cycle in which Netflix simply keep winning.

People don’t want to spend their money to leave their house, travel to a cinema and watch a film on an uncomfortable chair with teenagers yelling in the background. Many people in the western world nowadays have access to a big screen TV, a comfortable sofa, a supermarket down the road where they can buy popcorn for £1 and finally, a movie and TV streaming service, allowing them to sit back, relax and enjoy a film in the comfort of their own home. A much more attractive proposition going to the cinema. Netflix and Chill is a thing!

At What Age Should We Start Engaging With Social Media?

 

Following on from the previous post, Olly and I thought it would be good to discuss at what age is it appropriate to engage with social media.

Oliver Campey writes his thoughts below.

A study back in 2014 conducted by Dr Richard Woolfsen and knowthenet.com highlighted that more than half of children had used social media by the age of 10. The report also found that 43% of these children had messaged strangers or engaged with negative comments by the age of 12.

The cynic amongst us may question the validity of the report or condemn certain elements in terms of how easy they are to measure. However, the fact does remain that children are engaging with social media at an increasingly younger age and it needs to be investigated as to whether this is safe.

Firstly, one the foundations of adopting any form of new technology or service is having an education on how best to use it. It’s a fact that when looking into the syllabus for younger age groups children are not educated by this stage on the positive and negative effects of social media. Personally, I think this needs to change. I wouldn’t say there’s an issue with the age that children are interacting with social media because as a generation we are adapting to new technologies at an earlier age than ever before. However, what does need addressing is providing children with an education from a young age so that they have a greater understanding of how to appropriately engage with social media.

Secondly, there needs to be further research into the negative effects of dopamine on the human brain and the formation of an addiction to likes and positive engagement across social platforms. As discussed in the previous post dopamine can be triggered by things such as gambling, alcohol, and smoking all of which are regulated and carry age restrictions of 18 or above. As highlighted by AdWeek, social media channels generally enforce an age restriction of 13+ and so there could be an argument to bring it more in line with the age restrictions for smoking, gambling, and alcohol.

Thirdly, social media is having a hugely negative impact on the younger generations ability to socialise and form meaningful relationships with their friends. Only yesterday was I sat in a cafe and I witnessed a group of friends all sat on their phones and not conversing with one another. To make things worse, when one of the group did spark up some form of a conversation, the others responded with a nod of the head or a mumbled grunt and continued flicking through their phones.

What kind of message does that send out to the person who initiated the conversation? It’s essentially saying, you’re not interesting enough for me to listen. I agree with Nat that we need to ensure that from a young age people are connected and have the ability to consume information whenever they need it. It’s common knowledge that teenagers are spending more time on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo to learn new skills and acquire new information.

I just think their needs to be a greater level of education on the safe and effective use of social media across the school system and for parents. A report by the NSPCC found that “More than half of parents are unaware of the age limit on Social Media”, this means they aren’t making well-informed decisions when allowing their children to roam free across social channels. If more work is done to provide children with a better education, it will eradicate so-called ‘social bad habits’ and allow us to become better communicators both professionally and personally.

Check out Nat’s vlog below for a greater level of insight into this topic!

The Takeover of Fortnite

This video game taking over a generation.

When we think about popular video games that attract a youth market, we think of such games like FIFA, Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. Games that are prominent with a male under 30 demographic and games that cause a wave of media outcry and popularity when they are released.

Well now, there’s a new kid on the block and this new phenomenon is not just a game, but a game-changer.

Fortnite is a game developed by ‘Epic Games’ and whether they knew it or not when creating this masterpiece, Fortnite has taken the internet by storm.

Firstly, Fortnite is free to download… Yes, free.

In an age where it is not un-common to spend £40-£50 on video games, Fortnite was released to the world for a grand total of £0. If you’re like me, you’d expect a free game to be subpar… Not the case for Fortnite. It’s a solid third person shooter that has a lot going for it. Sure, it’s not Halo or Call of Duty but it does offer a great piece of gameplay that is difficult to get anywhere else.

Fortnite is aimed at a younger, male audience that either still get pocket money from mum or simply don’t earn enough money to justify buying a £50 game that doesn’t come with years of accolades. So, when a free games pops up on the market, downloads go wild.

Along with the launch, came a wave of user-generated social media content that drove the publicity of this game to a new level.

People started using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch to talk about Fortnite. Bigger accounts that don £10m+ followers started to upload content because it is where the conversation lies. People didn’t and don’t want to miss out on what everybody else is making noise about. People aren’t addicted to Fortnite, it just has the same calling that any other new craze has. Young people simply do not want to get left behind. Heck, it’s the reason why I started playing it. It’s not an amazing game but it’s a solid game, it’s a free game that everyone is playing… So why don’t I start playing it?

But what do the developers get out of this? Sure, there’s a wave of free user-generated publicity, sure they have millions of users across the globe. But if the game is free, then how are they making money? There’s no advertising in the game so there’s no third-party income coming in through that traditional route.

The way Epic Games makes money through Fortnite is through in-game purchases. This has been a model that has been around since mobile gaming first jumped on the scene. You download a ‘free’ game from the app store and then once in the game you can pay for certain add-ons to make your gaming experience even better. The console gaming industry adopted this same model a while ago and it is still being used to extreme effect today. The best example of this probably comes in the form of FIFA Ultimate Team. Where you can physically use your own hard-earned money to pay for FUT points to buy or bid on players.

Fortnite allows users to pay for in-game add-ons that can make you a more formidable opponent when you’re up against your friends in the game. As more people play and the competition levels rise, people will want to outdo their counterparts and this is what Fortnite counts on to make money.

Fortnite is an online gaming example that has taken social media by storm and…

Sorry, Ryan’s online and asking me to play… Gotta go!

YouTube is Dangerous

YouTube is supposed to be a place where content creators from all over the world can share their most entertaining creations for a more interactive social community. It is indeed that place but it is also a dark place people and bots can exploit the minds of children without even knowing it.

If I were to hand my phone, unlocked, to a child (some as young as three years old). They would undoubtedly know how to find YouTube and navigate around the app.

Parents use YouTube to keep their children entertained. It is used as a tool of parenting and they subscribe to what’s known as ‘kids content’ with the idea that what their children are watching is child-friendly… But is it really?

When delving deep into some of these YouTube channels, you can find a lot of disturbing cartoons, animation content that has been knowingly or even unknowingly created by humans or bots on a mass scale for the simple reason of creating content quickly. A quick turn-around of content means more ads on your videos which means more money and humans cannot create videos as quickly as robots can.

When we let robots create this kind of ‘child friendly’ content we’re often seen with results that aren’t very child-friendly and it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

I have personally seen The Joker from the Batman series, kidnap and tie up Elsa from Disney’s Frozen onto a bed. This is found on a very famous kids YouTube channel called Animals For Kids. There is a lot of content our here like this and Google/YouTube needs to take a stand… Quickly!

Social Media and Anxiety

Anxiety within teenagers is a real issue, especially in the western world and more specifically America.

A lot of research has been conducted on this topic and although there are many reasons to why a teenager could become anxious one of the main reasons researchers suggest is due to a repetitive use of social media.

If young people use an extended amount of their time on social media, staring at a screen instead of getting out and experiencing outside life, they’ll learn about conducting themselves and positioning themselves as adults. Right now, the issue is that they are not doing this.

The simple answer to counter all of this is that teenagers need to put down their phones and experience life and it’s elements so that when they are put into difficult and personal building situations, they don’t become anxious.