guyintheblue

Highlighting things we notice but never do anything about

Life lessons from a dying man

In my last post I made reference to an old man who made a lasting impression on my life. His name was Arnold and I met him as he came to the end of his life, suffering from dementia.

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Following the comments that I have received on Reddit and Twitter I thought I would follow it up with another post about the group of individuals that I worked with whilst undertaking voluntary work at a local hospital.

The reason for the voluntary work was that I was applying to go to university and course entry required that you participated in 300 hours of voluntary work. To meet the requirements I spent the summer working a local hospital by day and a soup kitchen at night.

I was a little apprehensive when I started my first day at the hospital; I knew that I would be spending half of my time with those suffering from dementia, and the rest of the time with stroke victims – two sets of people that I had never had dealings with in my life.

I began my shift on the ward with the dementia patients, and was overwhelmed with what I found; ranging from their early 40s to their late 80s they wandered around, lost in their own world. I was first confronted by a woman who was no more than 40, crying and screaming as she cradled her head in her arms. I asked why she was so upset and was told that she was going though the transition between controlling her thoughts and losing them altogether. It was a sobering thought, that someone relatively young could suffer from something you associate with much older people.

It was on my first day that I met Arnold. He was one of the older characters in the room and one of the quietest. I spent the majority of my time sat with him, in silence. At times he would recognise me and make a comment about the weather, but would quickly forget where he was and stop speaking.

One of the patients who would sit near Arnold, a woman in her late 80s, would just hold herself and rock backwards and forwards. She often mumbled to herself and periodically scream out. I sat and listened to her and it was evident that she was reliving childhood memories – traumatic ones. Her father had apparently abused her as a girl, and it was his name that she would scream, to stop touching her, to stop hurting her.

Another of the patients was not happy with me being in the room. He would take the arm off his wheelchair and wield it as a gun, commanding that I leave the room, telling me that Nazis were not allowed near the women – I found out that as a soldier in the war he had witnessed the murder of countless people, including many women and children.

I may refer to them as ‘patients’, but they were people: mothers, father, brothers, sisters. Those that were reliving the past may have been distressing, but they were a reminder that these people had a history. Dementia wasn’t what defined them, but for many it would blur their legacy.

If you haven’t read the previous blog I will just fill you in on a few facts:

Relatives would visit the ward and many would find the experience very trying; people that they had relied on and still loved dearly did not recognise them. Even crueller was when fleeting moments came that they did say the right name, to then forget seconds later – Arnold’s son was not able to cope well with this.

After he got angry with his father and walked out of the ward I sat with Arnold for around 30 minutes. After that time he turned his head and looked at me and said the words: ‘Never live your life with regrets’. As I mentioned previously, the words haunted me, as he was telling me something that he so desperately wished someone had told him. Arnold died shortly after, but his words have stayed with me.

Everything I witnessed has stayed with me. From the woman reliving her abuse, the former soldier and the young women entering a world of darkness. If you ever get the chance to volunteer then I’d recommend doing so, and you will no doubt take something away from it that you might not have expected to. Life is fleeting.

I mentioned that I also worked with those recovering from strokes and also a soup kitchen, but those stories are for another day.

When Reddit users came to the rescue of someone in need

I posted a blog yesterday about the problems you can face being bisexual. I placed it on Reddit in the hope that there might be others in a similar situation as me. There were.

It is easy to assume that you are alone in your thoughts/feelings, but the sheer volume of people thinking the same things as you can be surprising.

From a simple post on Reddit I received numerous comments about what I should do, and even what they thought about my state of mind – all very welcome advice/observations.

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After a thousand views of the post in 24 hours (pretty impressive for my blog) I realised that I’d probably hit on a subject that many want to talk about, but don’t necessarily have the resources open to them in order to make an informed decision.

Now I said in my blog that I had a girlfriend. Well, I have decided to take some time to reflect on things. It isn’t the best situation to be in, but until I have dealt with my feelings then I don’t want to hold onto someone for the wrong reasons. Now I’m not advocating that all bisexual people do this, but it’s important to weigh up the options.

For example, as a bisexual I have never really taken the opportunity to consider what it means to me and how I actually feel about it. Yes, I did the whole gay scene when I went out with my friends as a teenager, but now I have hit my 30s I need to consider rationally what I need to do in order to work through the questions I have.

Now that kind of phrase can cause people to jump to the conclusion ‘work out that you’re actually gay?’ That’s not the case. It is more about the emotional and physical attraction that you have with someone of the same gender, and whether as a bisexual person you would feel more comfortable in a relationship with them rather than someone of the opposite sex.

Now to many, a guy dating a guy or a woman dating a woman is the definition of gay. But that isn’t the case, as a bisexual you can still enter a relationship with someone of the same sex and remain a bisexual.

I’ll tell you a really strange story that has played a part in my decision:

A few years ago, before I went to uni, I worked as volunteer in a hospital. My role was to sit with those suffering with dementia and assist in their care. I remember one old man, Arnold, who I would sit with for hours just in silence. All that soothed him was the presence of someone, but to remain calm.

One day his son and his son’s wife arrived at visiting time. I was with another patient at the time, but had to remain vigilant at all times as many relatives would do some very devious things – such as getting the patient to sign over property.

I watched as Arnold’s son spoke very aggressively at him. This was a very common scene, as the children of the patients would get so frustrated that the person they loved couldn’t remember them.

The man was telling his father that he had always hated him, that he had never been a good man. The wife of the son then joined in and demanded to leave.

After they had gone I went to sit with the Arnold. For about 30 minutes we just sat, as he liked, in silence. Then he turned to me and said: “Never live your life with regrets” – it was the eeriest yet most poignant moment of my life. It was as if some mist had cleared and he wanted to tell me something he wished he could have told himself. I wanted to run after his son and tell him that his father did recognise his hurt, but it was too late – Arnold died shortly after.

Now, in no way do I consider my position to be the same as Arnold, but his words made me realise that one day you will look back on your life and question certain actions you took or choices you made.

As cheesy as it sounds you do only live once, but with Arnold’s words in my head I now that I can’t allow a situation to go ignored.

Arnold’s words have influenced a lot of my decisions over the years, including whether to leave a job and whether to move to a new place, but I think it’s time that I put them into action in probably the most important area of your life – your emotional well-being.

So, thank you to all my fellow Reddit users, and to those who said I sounded depressed I hope this reads more like someone who has made the right choice and is keen to move on.

Too gay for women, not gay enough for men – the trouble with being bisexual

I came back to this blog the other day after abandoning it last year. The reason for my negligence? I’d found a girlfriend.

Looking back over things that you have written can be quite depressing – such as what foods you eat as a singleton and the whole dating scene. The trouble is that I am faced with that prospect all over again if I let an influx of external factors suffocate the feelings that I have for someone very special.

The title of this blog may give you a clue as to the topic that I will start to explore, but let’s get straight to the point: I am a bi guy.

The issue with being bisexual is that people assume it is a transitionary stage to becoming a fully fledged gay person, almost like dipping your toe into the unknown to see what it’s like before you take the plunge. That might be true for some people, but not all.

I’ve know that I was bisexual for years, and I don’t keep it a secret in relationships and openly admit that it is who I am. I am not willing to hide who I am to ‘fit in’. I have to admit that the majority of women you meet can feel uncomfortable with it, but there are those who simply don’t care. They ask one question: do you want to be with me?

Now let me explain that when you are bisexual that you feel the same feelings towards the person you are with as would a homosexual or heterosexual. The likelihood of you cheating is the same. The difference is managing the feelings you harbour towards those of the same gender; it could be someone you see on the street or perhaps the television, either way thoughts pass through your head that make you feel guilty and ultimately insecure in yourself – and insecure in your relationship.

As your girlfriend innocently gets on with things you find yourself freaking out that you are somehow not good enough for her, that she is compromising for someone that can’t offer her everything she needs. You then are faced with society, the majority of which are not happy with the label of ‘bisexual’ – you’re either plain weird or just a gay man in denial.

When your girlfriend reveals it to her family you have to brace yourself for the awkwardness. I have had girlfriends fall out with their parents over my sexuality, after being instructed to split up with me. Now I appreciate that this is only done out of love, but it is also fuelled by ignorance.

You wince as your girlfriend tells you that she has ‘spoken to her friends about it’ – a mixture of pity and suspicion is then the order of the day. When you meet them you hold onto your beliefs, but are acutely aware the questions they would love to ask. The worst scenario is when they have a partner who you find attractive.

Now this may read like I am not confident in who I am. The issue I have is that I think too much about what others think. But the problem is that my fears are often validated.

You may have your own ideas and opinions on someone saying they are bisexual, but please remember that these ‘weird’ folk do exist, and they have no intention of identifying themselves as anything other than what they are, despite how convenient it would be.

Dating site nightmare

Last week I signed up to one of the leading dating websites. From its numerous ad campaigns I was fully expecting to be in a relationship the following week, or at least have a few dates lined up. How wrong I was.

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Since moving to London two years ago, I have been on two dates. I found the lucky ladies through one of the many free dating sites, but quickly realised that the type of girl you meet on a free site differs from those on paid sites (they don’t appear to be after a longterm relationship, and the ones I met appeared to have taken inspiration on dress to demeanour from Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl).

After paying an exorbitant amount of money for three months membership I began the monotonous task of trying to write about myself that would ultimately attract masses of woman. It’s not easy. Trying to say what you are like as a person and what you are looking for is surprisingly difficult.

After much deliberation I decided to make my profile as broad as possible as my female friends warned me about being too ‘specific’. I began filling in the optional questions the site provide incase you are completely devoid of things to say about yourself: Food that I like? What food don’t I like?! Do you want to travel? Certainly – everywhere! Favourite films? Action, fantasy (but of course I LOVE the odd chick flick). Do I want kids? Yes please!

When it came to saying what I wanted I decided to be really honest: I want a best friend as well as a partner, someone that makes me laugh and who is up for an adventure – who doesn’t want that?

I added some nice arty pics, along with a few of me looking into the camera (a requirement, apparently) and launched it. Age range 26-32, no smokers, normal to slender build located within London. There must be about half a million of them. It said thirty thousand women were online, so I was pretty expectant of a few ‘winks’ pretty soon.

I logged out and checked a few hours later. My profile had been viewed twice. I had received an email! It was from the dating site admins telling that I should expect emails now my profile was live. Again I logged out and logged back in the next day. Nothing.

After a week my profile had been viewed 20 times. I decided that it was up to me to be proactive, I started to email women I liked the look of and send the odd ‘wink’, now this would surely lure them to my profile. Nothing.

I had set a filter on my profile so that I was only viewed by my desired age range (26-32) but noticed that most of my visits were from women who were significantly older. I was certainly popular with women over 70 (if you are reading this Sheela, I appreciate the fact that you have viewed my profile, numerous times, but I won’t be taking things any further).

I noticed a few more emails pop up from the site admins: ‘Boost your popularity for only £5’, ‘Join one of our events for only £20’, ‘Let all women message you by upgrading your account’. So, the only way to shake off the Sheela’s was to pay more money. No thanks.

I think I will keep at it and try adapting my profile to see if I can increase my views (currently at 21), but I may well be soon trying the free sites again and meeting up with a few more power bitches, at least they say hello.

Can you develop a love of football in your 30s?

I developed epilepsy as a child and was told that getting out of breath could trigger an attack. So, I was pulled out of games at school, banned from swimming and my bike was sold. As a result I never found a place in my life for sport, something that I deeply regret.

Football

Talking about sport, especially football, acts as a social glue. It enables men (and very occasionally women) to have a conversation with someone about a topic that many people find enjoyment in. You will regularly hear people say “Did you see the game at the weekend?”, enabling the respondent to reply swiftly or offer more detail depending on how long they have available to speak.

Now when you are a guy who has never played football, or even watched a full match, conversations with other men can become stunted. I will give you an example: I was in a meeting with two other men who supported football teams, one Huddersfield Town, the other Arsenal. For the first five minutes of the meeting the two other guys spoke in a language that is alien to me: signings, transfers, first team and so on. As I sat looking out of the window one of them apologised. I then apologised for not supporting football, and the meeting began. But it was immediately evident that the two other guys had formed a bond, and I was the outsider.

I don’t want to seem paranoid, and I am fully aware that there is a life outside of football, but occasionally you don’t want to have to stop someone’s conversation or continually answer with “No, I don’t support anyone”. So, after another meeting where the topic of football was used to lighten the mood I decided that I would try and get into football – how hard could it be?

I went back to my desk and told the team that I was going to become a football supporter, and asked for them to recommend a club. This was at first met with laughs, but then suggestions were put forward and I selected Fulham. The only thing I knew about them was their location and that they had once had a statue of Michael Jackson outside the stadium (I think that’s now been removed).

Declaring my allegiance to Fulham was met with mixed responses; one friend said she had told her husband who had said that I was mad and football is something that should be ‘in your blood’, others laughed, claiming that you can’t just start supporting a football club through a recommendation, that there had to be a ‘history’.

Now this is the first blog that I will post on football, and I will follow up with how I get on. I have to say that I am already starting to experience conversations that I had never been part of before, and it is quite revealing. Do I feel like a fraud? Yes. Do I care? No.

So, Fulham you have a new fan. Shame you were relegated, but at least no one can call me a glory supporter.

5 ways to cope with house sharing in your 30s

If someone had told me a few years ago that I would be house sharing in my thirties I would not have believed them. As it turned out I landed a job in London and so getting a place to myself was not an option, so I began hunting for a place to share with other young professionals.

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Now house sharing does have its positives, such as giving you the chance to build a social life and saving you money, but then there are the negatives: people leaving a mess, excessive noise at unsociable hours, strange smells and bad attitudes.

Here are a few ways to lessen the chance of any issues arising:

Get a cleaner: This may seem like an unnecessary luxury, but not having to clear up the dirt of multiple people before you can take a shower or make a cup of tea is well worth the expense. Dividing the cost of a cleaner by the number of people in the house means that two hours a week costs you each only £20 a month (on average for a house share of four people). You could even negotiate it so that the landlord adds it to your rent and takes control of it for you. The ill feeling that can arise when someone leaves shavings all over the bathroom sink, or casually drops the comment ‘I don’t clean toilets’, is quite frightening.

Create a rota: This is an essential piece of evidence if you need proof that someone is being a lazy arse. Make sure that what needs doing is clearly labelled, with the date and time of when anything should be completed. Most importantly, get people to sign it once they have completed the task. It could be as simple as emptying the bin, or sorting the mail.

The place I find most effective to place the rota is on the fridge. This means that whenever anyone who ‘can’t be arsed’ opens up the fridge they are met by the signatures of their housemates participating in something that they should also be doing.

Have regular house meetings: Depending on the number of people you share with then this could vary on frequency and effectiveness. I have found it essential in the smooth running of the house share. It is amazing the transformation that you see in someone when they are confronted with fellow housemates who are frustrated with certain activity.

One person I used to live with did nothing around the house, absolutely nothing. Week after week he would use the facilities and not lift a finger to clear up or help out. He would get in from work, lock himself in his room, and re-emerge after numerous beers and argumentative Skype sessions with his partner. So, we had a house meeting and it turned out that his personal problems had blinded him to the way he was treating those he lived with. We were able to talk to him about them and the resentment towards him resided and he began to open up and help out.

Keep a kitty: Money is indeed the root of all evils, and the root cause of numerous issues within a house share.

A small dish that has a few pounds in it means that whenever the toilet paper runs out, for example, means that you can simply head to the shop without muttering how you are having to spend your own money on things that other people will use.

Simply get people to sign for when they have added a few pounds to the pot in order that everyone is aware that this is a requirement, not an option.

Socialise with those you live with: Whether it is simply a take out on a Friday night or drinks at the pub, talking to your housemates on a social level means that it is so much easier to deal with any issues you may have.

This doesn’t have to happen on a weekly basis, perhaps once a month. Just sitting down and having a laugh, maybe a moaning session about work, means that you can quickly become friends with those that you live with.

I realise that this post may sound like in order to have a successful house share then you a regimental routine, but that’s not the case. Sharing a house is great, and can be incredibly enjoyable. It is just good to sort out those things that can cause a problem to make sure your work/life balance remains as in sync as possible.

Food options for the single guy

When I paid a visit to my family the other week I stopped off to see my grandparents. The two have been married for almost 60 years, and have the stereotypical husband wife relationship that you see in films from the sixties. When I greeted my grandma she congratulated me on keeping myself looking so well, despite not having a woman to ‘look after me’.

Single guy foods

My grandma meant this. In her mind the role of a woman is to take care of her husband. As endearing as I find her comments it got me to thinking about how my life would be different if I were in a relationship; what would I eat, how would I dress, what would I say differently.

Now it’s not that I have never been in a relationship, I just haven’t been in one that you see in the films, the ones where people cry and say things like: “I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you”, “Look at me! I’ve loved you more than I’ve ever loved any woman and I’ve waited for you longer than I’ve ever waited for any woman” (bonus point if you can guess the movie titles).

The main thing that would change would be my eating habits. I currently eat whatever I like, and it is pretty mundane and at times obscure. I’ll speak to people at work who have shared a delicious meal for two and it consists of more than one of your five a day, sloshed down with a glass of wine. For me I tend to stick to steak. When it’s not steak then it’s whatever takes the least amount of time to prepare.

Here are my top four single guy foods:

Toast: This is the Holy Grail of foodstuffs. Not only can it be savoury, but with the addition of jam it turns into a dessert. Easily prepared at anytime of the day and complimented by sweet tea, could you want for anything more?

Cereals: Anything that can sit in a box for weeks and still taste great with the addition of a liquid deserves five stars. Not only is it acceptable to eat for either your breakfast or lunch, the whole promotion of ‘wholegrain’ makes you feel great.

Beans: As with cereal, these are a staple food for a single guy. The longevity means that they can be kept for weeks, and their versatility is second to none. Eaten hot or cold, on their own or as a meal, they are also considered one of your five a day.

Steak: I have already mentioned steak, but seriously even if I were in a relationship I doubt I could ever stop eating this as much as I do. For me the sirloin cut is the best and when cooked for a matter of seconds, the ruby red centre of a lightly seasoned outer makes for a top meal, especially when accompanied with salad (yes, salad).

The list may seem rather depressing and obvious, but it is true. When I was in a relationship I would eat these foods, but not with the frequency that I do now. I do appreciate there are single guys in the world that don’t eat like a student, but I am not one of them.

A recent study of over 14,000 Americans discovered that men and women have a completely different relationship with food. Another that surveyed participants in over 23 countries found that women will pick over the salad options, where as men will dive straight for the meat.

Whether this has to do with the gender perceptions of various foods, or the fierce advertising that promotes healthy eating with femininity, who knows. I would like to think that I was able to make the correct dietary food choices without the need of a girlfriend, but it looks like that won’t happen.

So, back to the dating scene. That sounds like a good blog topic, wonder if I should invite them out for a steak?

Is your degree worthless?

As a university student I remember sitting in a lecture listening to a very enthusiastic guest speaker. His message was simple: graduate and earn as much as you can. 

Mickey Mouse Degree

Now as a student in the UK I was experiencing my university days with a false sense of security. Tony Blair was peddling the notion that with a degree your future was set. With Labour’s target of getting 50% of students into higher education, there was no wonder it was promoted as essential rather than optional. According to the hype, upon graduating you would land one of the countless graduate vacancies – and earn a minimum of £25k a year.

It all sounded great. The decision on what degree to do was of no concern, flicking through the university prospectuses was like deciding where you wanted to go on holiday. We thought it didn’t matter what degree you did, you just needed to have one.

As a result of this disregard, the degrees focusing around media became more and more appealing; who didn’t want to learn how to be a TV presenter, write about the influence of Brit pop on mainstream youth culture or spend a semester in the States?

From media studies to sociology, David Beckham studies to outdoor adventure with philosophy, the options were endless. Within a short space of time it quickly became apparent that these degrees were of no real value, or ‘Mickey Mouse’. Ironically, it was Labour MP Margaret Hodge that coined the phrase. The sad fact was that they were, and still are.

I suppose an argument can be made that it is the skills you learn while at university that are what are essential for the economy. But seriously, landing yourself in thousands of pounds worth of debt for three or four years of studying to become a graduate in something there was little or no calling for in the job market? Really?

After my friends and I graduated it quickly became apparent that the abundance of jobs was founded on a lie. Not only did you have to compete with the other graduates in an already saturated market, but in 12 months you were joined by thousands more chasing the dream. The fact was the jobs were few and far between and those with degrees specialising in law, a language, a science, for example, stood a far greater chance of landing them.

Luckily I have been able to share my experience with my younger siblings, of the three only one has gone to university. The one that has studied hard to get into the best university she could and is studying for a degree that not only offers a grant, but that will lead to a specific profession.

Deciding whether to go to university is a massive decision, and with the increase in fees here in the UK it seems that more people are considering if it is the right choice for them, or at least looking at the longterm benefits of higher education.

Why applying for jobs on LinkedIn can be dangerous

LinkedIn has revolutionised job hunting. Gone are the days when browsing through the careers section in the paper was classed as a feasible way to find your dream job, even job sites seem dated in comparison to the opportunities that can be found through the professional social network.

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The key to its success is the sheer simplicity at identifying jobs and applying for them. Your LinkedIn profile acts as an online CV, and so with the click of a button you can ‘apply now’ for a multitude of vacancies – this is where the danger lies.

Recruiters are able to source a wealth of information about you from your LinkedIn profile, such as what you have done in your career, what you look like and even what other people think of you. Should you apply for a job they can reach out to you at anytime, knowing more about you than you will likely know about them (especially if you’ve been using the ‘apply now’ function a little too liberally).

As I sat working from home the other day my phone rang. Not recognising the number, I answered expecting it to be a salesperson. “Hello, this is Felicia, I am calling in response to you recent application to a role at LDH.” Crap, I couldn’t remember what company she was referring to, or what job. “Er, yes, hi, thanks for calling.” I quickly headed for my computer to see if I could find the list of confirmation emails I had received for the jobs I had applied for through LinkedIn.

“So, I take it you are well aware of what we do, so I won’t go into all that. I wanted to talk to you about your experience and how you would suit the role. Are you able to speak?” Felicia said, confidently. “Yup”, I said, sheepishly.

I was in a dilemma. Lie, and tell her I was unable to speak and to call back? But I had just said I could speak. I was sure that I had the email that would solve all this, and so tried to find it as she continued to talk.

“So, this role is very much around developing a team and helping us to achieve our wider business objectives through your involvement with multiple departments, can you tell me about your experience and how you would help us to achieve that?”

I heard only half the sentence as I was still on the hunt for the email telling me what she was talking about. “Yeah”, I said, “Could you repeat the question…it’s a bad line” – that one always buys you time. Felicia repeated herself, and as she did I found the email.

So, I gave her a text book response to the question, feeling quite smug that I could multi-task so well.

“Ok. It sounds like you have some good experience. So, what do you thoughts on the work we do at LDH?”

I was stuck and quickly headed for the website, praying that Google would return the answer I required. Bingo, I was on the website. I searched for the ‘about us’ section, but couldn’t find it. “Well I have to say that I like your website, it is really, really great”, I said trying to buy more time. “Hmmmm, yes, we are proud of it”, Felicia answered.

I picked a piece of recent work that was highlighted on the website’s portfolio section and quickly read what the campaign was about and what they achieved. Oh, I spotted the stakeholder policy, if I mentioned that she would know doubt think that I’d done my homework. It didn’t. It sounded ridiculous. I sounded like someone reading her web content back to her, and that is what she thought.

“Ok, well I’m not sure this role would be suited to you. We are looking for someone with, with, more of an agency background.” That was Felicia’s way of telling me I was an idiot.

“Well, it has been lovely speaking to you, good luck with your job searching”. “Yup”, I replied. Feeling like I’d just been told off. Why did I feel so bad – she was a woman on the end of a phone who I would no doubt never speak to again. Either way, I felt like a tool.

After I had put the phone down I remembered that I could see the roles I had recently applied for on LinkedIn. Shit. Why didn’t I think of that before?

I found the company and the role and sighed. I shut my computer, shook my head, and went to make a coffee promising to never again use the ‘apply now’ function with such disregard.

BTW, LDH is a made up company name. Felicia isn’t, sorry Felicia.

Are you a Facebook bragger?

I’m sure most of you reading this blog post are regular users of social media, most probably Facebook. It’s a communication tool that has infiltrated our lives and appears only to be growing in dominance. This comes at a price, as our newsfeeds are now choked with what can only be described as shameless bragging. 

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Whether it is a trip to the beach or a new purchase, people feel the need to tell each other. Throwing in an array of hashtagged words, some that bare no relevance to the image, the user knows full well how to maximise the reach of their day in the sun and the likelihood of people ‘liking’ their status.

The catalyst for this problem began last year when Facebook acquired Instagram. The integration of a social network based on imagery with functions that allow users to manipulate shots meant that the world acquired an army of photographers. All these enthusiasts were keen to start ‘sharing’ their lives, and what better way to do this than through a picture.

Now this post is making sound all grumpy, but I’m not, I swear. I am an avid user of social media, and have been guilty of taking the odd picture to shape my online identity. But the situation is now getting out of hand. Seriously.

Here are the types of updates that are most frustrating:

The selfie: Perhaps the most shameless type of image-based post. Despite the image often being crudely taken, the message it conveys is obvious: look at me, like me.

The baby shot: OK, babies are cute. But babies can be gross. Seeing multiple updates every day is tedious for the viewer, and can seriously put a strain on the friendship status you have with someone on Facebook. No doubt many ‘friends’ are now ‘acquaintances’ as a result of these updates.

The new purchase: So, you have just bought a new product that cost quite a bit of money? No one cares, and if they say they do, they are jealous. Or is that what you wanted to achieve?

Location location location: So the weather is nice and you have gone out for the day? Enjoy they day and stop taking pictures to tell us just how great the day is and #lucky you are in the #fabsunshine.

But why do we do it? I think that the ‘looking glass self’ is a great way to explain our actions.The term refers to people shaping themselves based on other people’s perception, which leads the people to reinforce other people’s perspectives on themselves. The originator of the concept, Charles Cooley said about us as humans: “I am not what I think I am, I am not what you think I am, I am what I think you think I am”. Ultimately a person’s self grows out of society’s interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others, meaning that selfies are here to stay.

Although you could try this: next time you head out for the day to make a purchase or visit the sites, try leaving your phone at home. Or if you have to take it with you, then remove the Facebook and/or Instagram app from your phone for the day – you can always download it when you get home. Remember, you’re an individual and you don’t need other people’s approval to define who you are. OK, this is starting to sound preachy, so I’ll end it here. But please, cool it with the bragging!