Selfies 2020

The ever-reliable Timehop has reminded me of a post I wrote five years ago today. I have shared it again since then, but as that was in June 2018 I’m guessing that most of the active current followers won’t have seen it before, so it’s probably ripe for re-recycling. It’s one I rather liked too, so here goes, with an edited and expanded version:

SELFIES

Do you ever feel like getting it all off your chest? Like having a really good rant? Yes, other forms of release are available, but ranting does have its uses. I’m a fairly mild person, so my ranting is probably akin to Dennis Healey’s description of being attacked by Geoffrey Howe: like being savaged by a dead sheep. But I feel a mild rant coming on…..

You cannot fail to have noticed the trend in recent years for people taking selfies. These vary from the ‘I’m in the toilet on a night out’ type, aka bogshots, via themed crazes (see later!) to ‘I was here’ shots in front of famous landmarks. Sadly, celebrity autograph hunting seems to have been replaced by forcing said celebrities to pose with a grinning idiot. Am I out of touch, or is this just totally and utterly stupid? It was even ‘legitimised’ in 2013, as this Timehop screenshot from 2015 shows: image

I’ll admit to having done this myself, in 2014 when I went to Wimbledon with one of my daughters. And they do have their uses, for example in updating the various avatars we acquire nowadays for social media. But are we taking this too far? I don’t want to sound like an old curmudgeon, though I probably am one, but I get the feeling that the human race is displaying its moron tendencies to extremes here. I was intending to admit to my own folly and share the Wimbledon selfie with you but I can’t find it. Yes, really! Count your blessings, though – as they say, I have a great face for radio! But if I was on holiday at an historical location, I’m sure the obvious thing to do is NOT to turn my back on it to take a picture of myself, like this… image

You do get the bonus of two huge arses with that shot, though: hers and him.

Such had the selfie craze taken off that they brought out those little extending handles to hold your smartphone away from you to get a better shot. Twatsticks, I think they’re called. And they even started making them for tablets too. I’m still waiting to see if they’ll produce one for the iPad Pro 12.9in: someone should fill the gap in the market for a portable crane.

I mentioned crazes. Sorry, but I really don’t see the point of covering my face in cling film before taking a picture of myself. WTAF! Can anyone explain this? image

I’ll spare you the bogshots, but these could have been taken in there…

A family selfie

A family selfie

 

Seek help! Quickly!

The best comment I’d seen on selfies in 2015 was this lovely video by Nina Nesbitt:

Cute, clever. And the song and video are good too! That song encapsulates everything I think is wrong about selfies: the addiction, the way they take over and can be distorted to project a desired lifestyle. But what do I know? I can’t see them dying out any time soon. As long as I can still find ones that make me laugh I suppose I’ll have to go with the flow!

I have a number of Instagram friends who post a lot of selfies, so I hope they’ll forgive this post. One in particular is beautiful so I have no trouble with her! And yes, if you find my own Instagram library there are some selfies in there. All taken as documents of historic record, of course (ahem). So, for my own historic record, and proving my ‘radio face’ point, this was how I signed off the original post:

image
In the interests of maintaining accuracy, I should point out that my Santa look is no more: that beard has long since gone. It made me look even older than I really am, and that would never do!

The beauty of revisiting an older post is that more material has since become available. One of the wittiest songwriters, Brad Paisley, weighed in with his comments on the selfie craze on this track from his 2017 album Love And War:

I’d hoped to find a movie video for that, as his are so good, but sadly it doesn’t seem as though there is one. Fortunately, this wasn’t his first go at the internet, and there is a typical example of his creative and funny videos to go with that one. This is Online, from his 2007 album 5th Gear:

See what I mean? Apart from it being a great song, there is so much packed into that, from the sly dig at William Shatner’s singing, to the running gags throughout, guest appearances by Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) and Maureen McCormick (The Brady Bunch), all topped off by getting Taylor Swift and Kellie Pickler to be his backing singers. As social commentary goes it’s pretty accurate, too: how many have created an online persona which bears more of a resemblance to their imagination than to reality?

One final one, also from Brad Paisley, who began mining this seam even before the two previous songs. On his 2003 album Mud On The Tires (sorry, British readers, but that is how you spell it in Simplified English) he had a go at the cult of people wanting to be celebrities, on a song called, of course, Celebrity:

Earlier appearances by Jason Alexander and William Shatner there, also featuring Little Jimmy Dickens (country singer, now sadly deceased), James Belushi (Saturday Night Live and loads more) and Trista Rehn (The Bachelorette). I think at least five ‘reality’ tv series are parodied, and the Michael Jackson bit is priceless.

This is a fertile field, yet people still want to get involved. We humans are strange creatures, really, aren’t we?

 

That Was The Year That Was

Around this time of year we find ourselves looking back at last year’s experiences and looking ahead to how we hope the new year will be. Do we ever really know? As I’m agnostic, with atheist tendencies, I don’t rely on that kind of life guidance, nor do I claim any supernatural powers of my own: I’m not Nostradamus, or even Old Moore (the Almanack guy). So I tend to rely on looking back at what happened to me to inform my way ahead – I’m a great believer in learning from our experiences. In my case, that means learning what NOT to do! I don’t keep a diary, so I tend to rely on my blog posting history to remind me of the past year, and that review is always accompanied by a look back at my blog’s statistics.

Last year was an odd one, in blog terms. I posted 53 times, which is similar to recent years, but not to any regular schedule: there were some gaps in there! Total views increased by over 40% from 2018, but likes and comments only saw small improvements. What am I supposed to make of that? Should I be pleased that so many more people read my posts, or concerned that the levels of ‘approval’ shown by likes and comments didn’t increase in proportion? Or should I ignore the statistics and just carry on regardless? Guess what – regardless continuation is the order of the day. I don’t blog for anything other than as a hobby, so it’s not as though I have commercial sponsors or advertisers to worry about. To be honest, I wouldn’t want that kind of pressure anyway: I suspect I could probably generate a better income from putting my non-existent predictive talents to work on the lottery and the football pools than I could derive from selling my blog (and my soul) for money.

I was actually approached a couple of months ago (via my Contact Me page) by a company wanting to use my blog as a vehicle to promote their product, but as that product was an expensive set of tablets with (in my view) over-generous claims for their general, sexual and mental health benefits, I made the decision to spare you from that, dear reader, and declined their kind offer. I trust that you are duly grateful. But if you are interested in that kind of thing, a quick internet search will furnish you with many companies who would be only too happy to separate you from your cash, with no help from me!

But I digress (as usual). I’m really looking back at what did happen last year with my blog, not at what didn’t. Using the number of likes as my criterion, I was pleased to see that four of my top five posts last year were mental health-related. Despite appearances to the contrary (e.g. all those music posts) the reason why I began doing this was to share my experience of depression in the hope that my small voice might make a tiny difference in the great scheme of things. So, whilst I have at times been indulging my blogging self with the more enjoyable aspects of life, it is heartening to see that people still take notice when I share the message that we need to be supporting those who suffer from a mental illness. Learning the lesson from that, I could make it a New Year Resolution to post more on mental health matters in the coming year. But, as I said yesterday to a fellow blogger, the only New Year’s resolution I ever make is not to make any other resolutions. That leaves me feeling that I achieve something every year! But even without a resolution you can expect more from me on mental health issues.

When I reviewed what you guys had deemed to be my top posts of 2019, it was very pleasing that my annual post for World Mental Health Day was the most liked, by a distance: so much so, in fact, that it is one of just two 2019 posts to feature in the all time top ten. If you haven’t seen it, or want another look, it can be found under the imaginative title of World Mental Health Day 2019 – I worked hard at that!

The second most liked post of last year was one for which I spent a little more time coming up with a title: 2018: They Think It’s All Over. Given that I’m sharing that with you in a post reviewing last year, I’m aware of the slight irony of that being the equivalent post to this one. But, like this one, it is a quick way for newer readers to pick up on what they may have missed before signing up for this drivel – and that one gives you a whole new set of links to follow. Sometimes, my generosity surprises even me!

The rest of my top five posts of 2019 were all mental health posts and, perhaps through no coincidence, they were all reworkings of posts I had originally written in 2016. As I said earlier, that is the primary reason I started blogging, and there is clearly an audience for posts on this theme. Those three posts were:

Time To Worry – An Update

I’m Still Me and

Reprise: My Top Ten Depression Tips

In its original version, the last of those is still my fourth most popular post in the seven years I’ve been doing this: as I said, there is an audience interested in mental health issues and I will never forget that. Even if I do stray off into other areas I will always return at some point.

You may wonder why I go back to those older posts and share them again. The answer to that is simple: I regard the words I wrote previously as being just as valid as they ever were, and the total number of people following my blog has more than doubled since 2016, so I would imagine that those posts were new to many. My apologies if I created a sense of déjà vu with you, but the message is important and, I think, worth reiterating.

Quite a few of my 2019 posts had nothing overtly to do with mental health. I’m thinking here of my December series of music posts – of which there were six – but, as music is regarded as one of the contributors to our mental well-being, there may be an indirect link. On a different theme, one of my favourite posts last year was Missing, Inaction – having just re-read it, even that had a passing nod towards mental health too, though its main theme was our dependence on the internet and the deprivation I felt from an enforced 15 day absence.

I’ll leave you with my own favourite post from last year. It was another of my musical ones but with a difference: its main aim was to show how talented musicians can be found on YouTube amongst all the dross on the site. I deliberately gave the post a slightly ambiguous title and, as you can see from the comments, a couple of people admitted to being drawn in by it. As I said to one of them, it was good to know that my MBA in Marketing (1980!) was still of some value, and who wouldn’t want to find out what Under The Covers was about? That was far from being the most ‘liked’ post, but is probably the one from which I derived most pleasure in writing.

Many thanks for indulging me in this little meander through my last year of blogging. I hope to see you again throughout this year though, unlike many other bloggers, I haven’t planned anything beyond this post. I’ve noticed a growing trend among bloggers to dedicate an annual theme, or a word (or several) for their blog. Having given this much thought, and in view of what I just said about my lack of advanced planning,  I’ve decided that my word for this (and probably any other) year should be: Whatever. It seems to fit me well: what you’ll get is whatever comes into my addled brain. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride – whatever it brings!

(PS New Year = new style: I decided to change the template theme for my blog, as I’d used the pre-festive period theme for several years and fancied a change. WordPress don’t offer one called ‘Whatever,’ as far as I can tell, but I hope you like the new look. It’s like me: simple.)