Black Mirror?

For the past two weeks I’ve been watching Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror on C4 and I honestly don’t know what to think.

For those who don’t know, Brooker is an English Jounalist, Satirist and script writer with a flair for the savage, sometimes cruel and more often than not downright mean types of humor. I’m a huge fan of Dead Set, which Brooker wrote the script for. It has zombies, makes fun of the public’s obsession with reality TV shows and a friend of a friend was in it as a zombiefied extra.

Black Mirror on the other hand. I don’t know whether to love or hate it. My boyfriend’s reaction to the first episode sums it up well. ‘I can’t tell if Charlie Brooker is a genius and I just don’t get it or if I wasted an hour of my life’. A friend memorably put on Facebook that he would gladly have a sex change operation if it meant that he could marry Mr. Brooker. So opinions are clearly split.

To sum it up, Black Mirror is a series of three one off drama’s depicting stories based on Modern technology and where it could lead to if we’re not careful. The second one was a little more fantastical and futuristic so I’m not going to go into it here, but the first one is somewhat relevant to my Social Media studies.

We’ve been discussing how Facebook, Twitter and the internet in general have been changing the ways that people communicate, and what the consequences of this could be. These ideas where the concept of the first episode’s plot. A fictional beloved Princess was kidnapped and the kidnapper threatened to kill her unless a rather… unusual demand involving the Prime Minister and a pig was met. The twist? The kidnapper uploaded the video of this demand to Youtube for all the world to see and it had received millions of views before it was taken down and it had become the most popular trending topic on Twitter. Rather than discuss details let me link you to Channel 4’s On Demand website  because despite my reservations it is a very interesting look at how powerful some of these platforms have become.

In a way it reminded me of the video by Tom Scott about the (fictional) Flash mob gone Wrong  that we watched in class.

I just couldn’t tell it if were meant to be darkly comic or hard hitting drama, and I don’t know whether I liked or hated it. But it has certainly been something to talk about

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Sophie

www.sophielancasterfoundation.com

Illamasqua S.O.P.H.I.E

In today’s Social Media class we talked about morals, rights and wrongs and different ways that people look at them (the ends justify the means, do no harm etc) and I couldn’t stop thinking about something that happened that is just plain wrong. While the point of today was to understand about Online Communities and the morality thing came up as a part of that this is where my mind went. I’ll do another blog post that’s on topic a little later.

In August 2007 Sophie Lancaster was beaten to death by a gang of youths simply because she was a goth. The worse part in my eyes is that she was trying to protect her boyfriend from being hurt by cradling his head with her body. When I read about this back in 2007 I was sick. I was a bit of a goth myself back then too. I’ve had my share of the taunts and mockery from narrow minded idiots thrown at me for no other reason than it made them laugh. I’ve toned down because life happened, I grew up. Not because of anything anyone said or did. But this story still makes me sick.

I don’t wear much make up in uni these days because it’s too much effort and I have enough to stress over these days. I still love to play with make up and when I have an excuse I love to dress up for things like parties and nights out. Illamasqua, my favourite make up brand, supports the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. A charity set up by Sophie’s mother after her death in order to raise awareness of this tragedy and teach respect and tolerance towards other cultures. As well as charity wristbands, £3 from every sale of their bestselling black eyeliner pencil, named S.O.P.H.I.E in her honour is donated to the charity.

…come to think of it, it’s about time I bought a new eyeliner pencil…

Social Media Classes are about teaching us to use the Social Media platforms at our disposal to communicate things, raise awareness and share things with each other. I hope that by sharing this story I’ve helped to raise a little more awareness

Identity for Sale

It has recently come to my attention that H&M are launching a range of clothes inspired by the character Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larrson’s incredible book series. (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. Collectively known as ‘The Millenium Trilogy’)

…ok

…so, Goth, black, leather… fair enough… but a fashion range? Errr… anyone who has read the books or seen the amazing movie can tell you that Lisbeth Salander doesn’t care about fashion. She wears clothes because they keep her warm and mean that she doesn’t get locked up for public indecency. As for what she wears… old jeans, scruffy t-shirts, piercings and tattoos… hardly the stuff to make a fashionista’s heart beat faster

I did try to find the original owner if this pic. If it's you please get in touch so I can give you full credit

This is a picture of actress Noomi Rapace from the original Swedish Girl With The Dragon  Tattoo movies and you can see what I mean. It works but it’s not meant to be stylish. I’ll admit I had a very hard time picturing anyone else but Rapace as Salander, so when I heard about an American remake I had my doubts, but judging from promo pics Rooney Mara can scruff up nicely. Whether she can pull off the attitude or not remains to be seen

You see, it’s not the clothes, make up or piercings that make Salander such a unique character, it’s her attitude. She’s anti-social, non-conformist bitch and is completely unlike any other fictional heroine that has came before her.

All this reminds me of a class discussion I was part of a few years ago back in Gateshead. The idea of being able to just ‘buy’ an identity off the shelves may seem stupid and unrealistic but just look at what happens. A kid who wants to be accepted as part of a peer group goes out and buys clothes and music that conforms to the rest of the group. As if having the same jacket will change who they are. Likewise a rebellious kid will go against that and choose to buy non-fashionable, shocking clothes in order to distance themselves from one group (I’m going to say ‘the popular crowd’ having been the teenage goth). Yet this becomes a way to find other people who have the same sort of interests and form new social groups.

Somewhere down the line someone has decided ‘That’s cool, I want to be a part of it’. Whatever ‘That’ is isn’t important right now. What is is the fact that the person has found something they want to be identified with. In this case, Lisbeth Salander is cool and edgy, and people who want to be identified as being cool and edgy will buy this stuff as it has the name ‘Lisbeth Salander’ attached to it. It doesn’t change who you are as a person. A woman wearing a Lisbeth Salander jacket probably is’t going to be able to hack into any computers, just like a kid who’s got some Nike trainers isn’t going to be able to run faster or jump higher. What these people want is for other people to look at them and think ‘That’s cool’.

Just for the record, if Salander was a real person, she’d probably hack into the companies bank accounts and help herself to the profits from the range. They are making money in HER name after all

As for myself… it goes on sale December 14th. I may have a look to see what the fuss is all about. I’d prefer to see for myself whether it’s worth spending my money on regardless of the name on the label. And if I can find something better somewhere else… Well, that’s my decision to make now, isn’t it?

Raynauds

This is a horrible time of year for me.

I have a very big problem with cold weather. You see, I have Raynauds Phenomenon. Some medical websites refer to it as Raynauds disease which I strongly dislike. A disease is something that you catch like the common cold. I’ve had Raynauds for as long as I can remember. I don’t consider myself to be disabled or anything because of it. I just have to take extra care when it gets cold out.

So what is Raynauds?

It’s a circulation condition that affects the extremities. I get it in my fingers and toes. My toes usually aren’t too bad since I can wear thick socks and don’t normally have to take my shoes off while I’m out and about. The fingers are usually where its at it’s worst.

What happens is an exaggerated reaction to the change in temperature. When someone is badly exposed to the cold their body goes into shock and the blood supply will shut down in the hands and feet to go towards keeping the chest and organs warm. You can live without a toe, you need your heart. In a person with Raynauds this can happen by going outdoors when it’s snowing.

Image from nhs.uk

I’ll be honest, the guy in the picture has it a LOT worse than I do. But yes, my fingers do turn white and go numb when they get cold. I have had occasions where I’ve picked up a hot cup without realising just how hot it was and not been able to feel it. Not pleasant. Thankfully this only last a few minutes in my case.

However, after this comes the stage where my blood vessels effectively go ‘Oh $$%^@£, we made a mistake. Sorry!’ and try to make up for it by sending too much blood back to the fingers. This makes them turn purple and the only way I can describe the feeling is like slowly throbbing and burning from the inside out. This part hurts.

I don’t take any medication for it since there aren’t any that really exist. But it doesn’t really bother me that much. Remember, I’ve lived with this for 26 years and I’ve learned how to cope.

Gloves are teh awesomness! I usually end up spending a small fortune on new gloves every year. Also in times of emergencies carrying around a cup of coffee from one of the various coffee shops that are always around works wonders. The paper cups with the extra layer (like the Costa cups, or the brown sleeve that you get from Starbucks) work wonders as I can’t burn myself without noticing on those. I’ve heard other suggestions like carrying around re-usable heat pads, but I find those things annoying and I keep losing them.

So, warm gloves, plenty off coffee and staying indoors when the weather gets bad are all good things. So long as there’s no Annual hike up the mountains in the middle of winter in the pouring rain and snow I’ll be just fine 🙂