Tag Archives: social media

Keep up with my adventures in Santorini, Greece

13781984_1404395226243813_6842262180543153672_nBy the time you read this, I’ll have already been in Santorini, Greece, for a week of sun, sea, sand and… cocktails! After years of fantasising about ticking this incredible beauty spot off my bucket list, the dream has become a reality and I’m out here enjoying the full Greek experience. It’s been years since I was in Europe and it’s given me a whole new appreciation for this amazing place. I won’t talk about what I’ve been up to too much – there’ll be lots more posts coming up when I’m back in the UK. For now I’m enjoying some well-deserved relaxing and some quality time with my family.

If you want to keep up with my adventures on the island – you’ll want to check out my Instagram takeover for Travelex UK – I’ll be taking over the channel today until Wednesday to share some highlights of this incredible place with you all.

Click here to check out the Travelex Instagram page!

Click here to follow Absolutely Lucy on Instagram!

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#CancerConversations & becoming a Big C Ambassador

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Today I’m really excited to announce that I’ve just taken on the role of Social Media Ambassador this summer for a local cancer charity, The Big C. I’ve written about the charity countless times before in my role as a journalist in Norfolk, but now I’m going to be even more involved in their summer campaign #CancerConversations by blogging for charity and I’m so excited to be involved with such a great local cause.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love to talk. I’ve lost count of how many people have told me I have the gift of the gab, that I’m the kind of gal who could start up a conversation with anyone. Even more so, I love to listen – I love to hear people’s stories, to know where they’ve come from and where they’re going. Two traits that are incredible important, both as a traveler, and in life – these have taken me through a career as a journalist, into travel blogging and has helped me no end in my world travels. Communication is what we humans live for, and yet sometimes it can be so hard to talk about the things that it is most important to discuss, whether relating to our feelings, or even more importantly, our health. For someone who is so vocal about everything else, I sometimes really struggle to talk about very personal things – so often I am listening to the problems of others and find it tricky to slip in what I’m going through. Travelling has changed that, I’m more open than ever before about what is going on in my life and try my best not to bottle things up anymore.

Keeping with the theme of conversations, I’ll always remember a string of interviews I had a few years ago while working as a journalist in Norfolk. It started with a former teacher of mine who had been diagnosed with cervical cancer, then there was the chap who came in with his wife and their baby daughter who had just been given months to live after doctors found a brain tumour. All of these brave individuals were doing their bit to raise money and awareness of the disease whether they were going to survive or not – they were inspiring and fought the illness every step of the way. But then there were the tributes – talking to the families and friends who were left behind after several startlingly young people died of the disease very suddenly. Hearing them describe their mothers, brothers, daughters and uncles as these vibrant individuals was hard, very hard. It was heartbreaking and brought a tear to my eye more times than I can count and really made me realise how short and unexpected life can be. Even now, after years of journalism, these are the interviews that stick out the most in my mind, and in life, these conversations will stay with me for the rest of my days. Teaching me the value of every second we have on this Earth and making the absolute most of it, now that’s all I dedicate my life to after giving up life as I knew it to travel the world.imageWhen it comes to health, I’ve always been lucky and had a huge support network of friends and family I could go to about anything. This makes such a huge difference when you actually have a health scare, just knowing you have people to talk to about it, just knowing you’re not alone and being able to seek help can change your whole experience. It’s sad to think there are people out there who feel they have no-one to turn to in these situations, or who wouldn’t feel comfortable seeking the help they are entitled to, but there are so many like this. Just recently, I’ve had two uncles hospitalised in a serious condition, one of which was put on life support, and saw how our entire family came together despite being spread across three continents. The beauty of phones, email, Skype and even Whatsapp made it possible for us all to keep in touch across five different time zones and brought us closer together. But if you have no-one you feel you can turn to, it could be such a lonely and terrifying time to go through something like that. I think guys find it harder to open up about health issues so it’s essential for campaigns to help them discover the support that’s available to them.

This is why The Big C have launched their summer campaign, #CancerConversations which is aimed at those across Norfolk and Waveney who are not taking advantage of the free cancer support available to them, men in particular. The team behind The Big C said: “Chaps – don’t bottle up your cancer health issues. We can help support you through your treatment! We have a range of free services we can offer including: financial support and welfare advice, counselling services, pharmacy support and complementary therapies.”  It’s so important to get the support you need while going through something like this, I know so many people who couldn’t have coped with going through cancer alone. A lot of these services were not available when my grandmother died of oesophageal cancer around a decade ago, but even then we were grateful for any help to deal with the condition. Now anyone going through the heartache and suffering of coping with this disease, or supporting someone through it, has a wealth of free services at their fingertips! If you’re a woman reading this, why not take the time to make the men in your life aware.1563

Where can you get help?

With free support centres in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and my home of King’s Lynn, there are plenty of places to start if you’re seeking help. Join one of the cancer support groups to share experiences at the Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn Centres for men who are living with and beyond cancer. These provide an informal, non-judgmental, open environment where men can support each other.

A range of free welfare advice is available with a specialist adviser, helping you sort the practicalities so you can concentrate on getting better. Information on benefits, loans, housing, employment issues, travel expenses, childcare, blue badge applications, help with form filling and much more is available.

The Big C also provide a range of complementary therapies in the Big C Centres. If you are a cancer patient, you and one carer can have up to six sessions each of reflexology, massage or reiki. There are also relaxation classes and nutritional workshops available, contact your nearest Big C centre to book.

Available for both you and your family, free counselling is a more structured form of support which may be appropriate when things seem so overwhelming that your usual ways of coping don’t appear to help. Up to six sessions can be arranged for each patient and carer.

For more information about these services, contact one of the following centres:

Norwich – 01603 286112 or cancer.information@nnuh.nhs.uk
Great Yarmouth – 01493 855297 or yarmouthcentre@big-c.co.uk
King’s Lynn – 01553 818737 or kingslynncentre@big-c.co.uk
The Louise Hamilton Centre, Gorleston – 01493 453100

Click here to go to the website – and here to find out more about the #CancerConversations summer campaign

Have you used any of these services – how have they helped you? Tell me about the strangest or funniest conversation you’ve ever had.

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Travel | How social media can change your travelling experience

12642819_10153831469220535_5654254995325141544_nThe world of travelling has changed immensely in the last twenty years – not only has tourism completely changed the cultural experience we have in certain parts of the world, but we are simultaneously more connected and yet further separated from each other than ever before. Travelling twenty years ago, there was still the opportunity to get completely lost without ever straying far from the beaten track. Now it has become far more difficult – but not impossible – to get away from it all and really switch off from the world around us. When people are planning a trip away, whether for a weekend break, a two-week holiday or a year long expedition, their main reason for doing so is usually because they want to get away from it all and experience something new. “Getting away from it all” is such an interesting phrase – I used it myself when I was planning my travels. I needed to get away from everything I knew; from my job, my relationship, my life. I needed to gain space, to give myself time and to escape the world that was keeping me pinned. Now, over a year late, I’ve had everything I dreamed of and more – I’ve completely lost myself over and over again in beautiful landscapes, fascinating culture and incredible moments.

It’s interesting to look back now with fresh eyes, with perspective, and to think about how much I wanted to escape everything I left behind. And yet, my biggest project since travelling has been this blog – I’ve finally had the time, energy and inspiration to throw into turning this into something greater than I ever envisioned. And despite my claims that I wanted to cut myself off from all that I knew at home, I have put all of my energies into communicating every moment of this journey through writing, blogging and social media. It’s a passion of mine and I think it has had a huge impact on my travelling experience. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve given myself plenty of time away from the screen and the internet – I think that’s something that screams out of the pages of my blog. It’s all about fun – about life coming first and the amazing things that happen when you switch off the laptop and leave the phone at home. That’s what I love to document, the moments that happen when you truly switch off from your old life and open yourself up to these amazing new experiences. For me, capturing it all in my memories and camera is made all the more special when I sit down to write about it and get to relive it as my thoughts come pouring out of my fingertips.12790884_10153322205697617_5531639679795986980_nI’ve had those amazing moments when I’ve called a tiny hut on a beach in Cambodia home, when I’ve sat watching the sunset all by myself and realised that no-one in the world knows exactly where I am at the moment. It’s an incredibly empowering feeling to be entirely alone and know that it’s nothing to be afraid of, to know that you have only yourself to rely on but that’s okay. I’ve loved those moments of feeling completely lost in the world and I’ve also had moments when I’ve felt more connected with the people I love at home than ever before. I stay in constant contact with my family and speak to them almost every day thanks to social media and the huge range of communication options available. If I had been travelling twenty years ago it would be reduced to a phone call, or perhaps an email every now and again, but now, they can be with me every step of the way. Knowing that my mum is at the other end of a WhatsApp message, that my sister will always tweet me back or my dad’s emails can be relied on like clockwork completely changes the travelling experience and perhaps thats why I never get homesick. Because there’s nothing to miss when you’re just as close to the ones you love as you were before you stepped on the plane – because they’re never far away and you can have the everyday conversations with them whenever you want.

Social media doesn’t stop at family and friends on the other side of the globe – I’ve lost count of the amazing new friendships that I have developed over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram since travelling. Some have been random meets that have led to travelling advice, recommendations for accommodation, places to eat or trips. Others have been a comfort in a time of struggle – my own gang of cheerleaders that kept me going, inspired me to write and travel, made me see the amazing things Ive achieved through their eyes. And then there are those that started out on social media but grew into something more, the ones who I have been lucky enough to cross paths with along the way. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have the opportunity to meet up with people I have only spoken to online, to explore a city halfway around the world and to build an actual, human friendship. I have made so many amazing new friends since travelling – many of them started out as fans of my blog and the next thing we know, we’re perusing the markets or exploring the sights in some far off land. It’s extra special because I often wonder whether our paths would have crossed were it not for our online presence. When you hear so many negative things about social media on a daily basis, it’s so lovely to see such huge positives come out of it. This is what social media was invented for – to bring people from all walks of life closer together.11138129_10153831391510535_3163373187428997590_nFor backpackers, social media has completely changed our concept of travelling and our attitude towards it. Backpacking culture seems more accessible than ever before because now it is all available at the touch of a button. Particularly when it comes to Facebook groups for those travelling Asia and Australia – I’ve found these amazing for when you are travelling solo. They are packed full of tips, advice, recommendations, friend requests, invitations to join trips, opportunities to buy or sell items ranging from camping gear to vehicles, the list goes on. I’m sure backpackers managed twenty years ago without the conveniences we have now, but I just love the way these channels open direct communication from backpackers cross the globe. The Australia groups I’m currently a part of have an open dialogue between travellers who are currently scattered across the country, those travelling Asia and heading this way, others in New Zealand, and many who can be found across the rest of the world – with eagerly anticipating their trip or happy just reminiscing about travels gone by. It’s a beautiful mix of people and really does help bring people together – I’ve seen many travelling groups formed for road trips or even to head overseas, I’ve seen many people organising meet-ups and nights out, and I’ve seen so many inspire others to step outside their comfort zone.12803150_10153322205417617_6528009646211249083_nIt’s so important to let yourself switch off from Facebook and Twitter (and Snapchat for all you addicts!) when you’re travelling. To not let your status updates stand in the way of your fun – trust me, no-one will notice if you switch off for a while! But at the same time, social media can have a fantastic impact on your travels. Manage it well and it can really help to nurture precious relationships while encouraging you to build new ones. After all, we’re all just here for a good time so why not have a good time together?

How has social media shaped your travelling experience? How do you use social media to make your backpacking life easier? Has social media had a negative impact on your travels?

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10 signs your relationship needs to go offline

boom1I don’t talk about my relationship often. My friends always say they know something is really wrong if I actually talk about what is going on, because the rest of the time I like to keep my cards close to my chest. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve no problem with talking about the good stuff as well, I just like to keep my relationship private. I’ve always thought that what goes on between a couple should stay between the couple – I know that isn’t always the case, but for the most part I believe it should stay that way. Just like I don’t tell all my other friends about all the stupid stuff me and my best friends get up to and all the rubbish we talk about, I don’t see the need to tell everyone about the moments that mean the world to my boyfriend and I – because quite honestly, who cares other than me and him? After well over eight years together, we have no need to tweet how much we love each other, we don’t need to publicise every romantic moment on Facebook, and I certainly don’t need to blog about every argument I win.

I realised not long ago that we’re not actually even listed as “in a relationship” on Facebook and I’m not even sure how long it has been that way… Pretty funny that I still get complete strangers coming up to me sometimes asking if I’m Wolfy’s girlfriend! But it made me realise that no matter how Facebook official things are, it isn’t proof of a good relationship, nor are soppy tweets or sickly sweet Instagram pictures. For me, the proof comes in radio silence. The happiest couples I know are the ones who barely communicate on social media because they’re too busy talking face-to-face. The ones who you could almost miss are a couple until something big happens like an engagement, a new home or a baby. They are the ones whose love transcends the world of social media, which is basically just communication on performance-enhancers, and they are the ones who happily go under the radar. Amusingly, all those pictures and quotes that are posted about what women want, holding out for a hero and all that tosh, are usually the things posted by the ones who wish they were in relationships like the ones splashed across our newsfeeds and rammed down our throats at every opportunity.shanns-planOf course it is wonderful and great to be in love, to have someone who cares about you and wants to make you happy. But does that mean you have to status update every meal at Nando’s, every date at the cinema, and every lazy Sunday spent in bed together? If you ask me – that’s too much OPDA for my liking (Online Personal Displays of Affection) and you need to step away from your phone. If you’re spending more time checking in on Facebook and tweeting about your date than talking to them, or if you’re thinking about the Instagram photos you’ll post later while he’s talking about how much he loves his dog – you need to sort out your priorities. I’m not saying keep everything off social media, it is a place for sharing of course, but when your relationship updates are the only thing you post, or people start commenting on how much you’re flooding their newsfeed – perhaps it’s time to take a step back.

10 signs your relationship needs to go offline:

  1. Your relationship status is always the first thing to change when things get rocky, and you’ve been known to use “it’s complicated”
  2. You’ve had Facebook friends comment on a post saying “u ok bb?” or “inbox me bbes”
  3. The first thing your friend says to you when she sees you is “TELL ME EVERYTHING” about a cryptic relationship status/post
  4. You’ve posted a status or a photo of your beau captioned “my world” or “my everything”
  5. You’re sharing everything, from stories about the wart on his bum to pictures of you both lying in bed together…naked
  6. You spend all your time together on your phones, or your other half actually has to ask you to put your phone down during a date
  7. You check the pair of you in on every single date, supermarket trip, and even your phone calls…. when you are NOT even in the same room!
  8. You row on Facebook or Twitter, and even involve your friends
  9. EVERBODY knows your business, even the postman
  10. You have a joint Facebook account. Need I say more?

facebook-relationship-statusNow I have to be honest, being a blogger I spend a lot of time on social media and there have been times when my boyfriend has had to tell me to put my phone down. But I love that he does that. He is the complete opposite of me, he never posts on Facebook or Twitter, I think he’s forgotten he has Instagram, and that is so refreshing for someone who spends a lot of time blogging or sharing online. So it is nice when we go on dates, or have an evening together, that he makes me put my phone down and stop talking to the rest of the world so we can spend time just the two of us. Because that’s what a relationship is – just the two of you. And when it comes to those lasting memories – nobody remembers the time they tweeted about a date, but they do remember the way you made them feel and the laughs you shared. Priorities – that’s what it comes down to and, if you ask me, if social media comes first, you need to question whether you’re really meant to be together. So next time you head out for date night, try leaving your phone in your bag. Stop snapping every moment for Instagram and start appreciating the time you have together – you never know when it could run out.

Are you guilty of having an online relationship – how do you strike the balance? Do you have too many OPDAs crowding your newsfeed?

Ab Lucy sign off

PS. I’d love it if you would vote for me in the UK Blog Awards by following this link!

Race & Religion: Ignorance and the danger of uninformed opinions

denise carbonellNormally I try and steer clear of topics like race and religion, partly because I know millions have already written on all different aspects of each and partly because they are such sensitive topics. I have seen on other blogs and articles how one  tiny comment can so easily be blown out of proportion and can be turned against a person, and that is just not what Absolutely Lucy is about – I aim to share positive and constructive opinions that add to bigger arguments, and until now I felt I had very little to contribute to such topics. It hasn’t been one thing in particular that has fuelled this post, but rather the accumulation of lots of little comments, beliefs and opinions that I just find absurd in this day and age. I don’t understand why prejudice exists, and I’m sure that no matter how much we try and fight it as a society it will always exist to some extent. But I do believe education is a great tool for fighting ignorance and prejudice – and yes I do lump the two in together because so often the prejudiced comments I hear are from people with uninformed opinions and nothing to back them up.

As an Anglo-Mauritian, I have been the target of racist and religious intolerance in the past – despite not actually being a religious person I have still been on the receiving end of offensive comments for apparently being Muslim or Hindu. I have to say, I have been very lucky and have never experienced anything too serious, but that’s not to say it doesn’t hurt and anger me when I get the comments or the looks. Sadly, once again it is often the rather uneducated who are lacking life experience outside their tiny bubble in society that are the ones making comments. The ones who haven’t experienced the beauty of other cultures, and the values that can be found in religion. Being a non-religious person doesn’t mean I am unable to appreciate the values and beliefs of my family’s temple worship, of the images of deities on display in their homes, it doesn’t mean I don’t bow my head in prayer when attending Catholic services with my boyfriend’s family. It just means that these ceremonies have different resonance within me.

Your race and religion is something that is so unique to yourself, and as the world gets smaller and we become more multicultural, it is more likely than ever that you will come across some incredible combinations of cultures that perhaps wouldn’t have been possible a century ago. Travel has made the world so much more accessible for us and as I have read over and over again in posts by travel bloggers – travel gives you life experience that makes you humble, it makes you aware of how insignificant your part is in the world. But for those who have never experienced other cultures in any way other than to fear them, hear propaganda and speculation about extremist behaviour or read those silly headlines in the newspapers about a tiny minority of a social group. This can be hugely damaging for both the individual who believes all they hear and has no experience of the reality of the situation – this is damaging for those minority groups who later come into contact with someone who fears and doesn’t understand what they stand for or believe.

It makes me sad to think that in a world that is a multicultural as this one is, that there can be those out there who still feel it is appropriate to make comments about the colour of a person’s skin or about their choice of religion or belief system. It makes me even sadder when I read stupid comments on Facebook that are further fuelled by other ignorant fools.

muslimI’ve kept the names off to protect these individuals’ privacy, when really I think they should be named and shamed for their comments – and trust me there were a lot more that I couldn’t post on here. I was absolutely horrified to see such pathetic and uninformed opinions spattered across Facebook and couldn’t believe how the woman who posted the initial status could possibly believe that a Muslim should not be teaching her child religious studies because of the colour of their skin and religious beliefs. Throughout school, I have always been taught religious studies by a religious person – whether they were Christian, Hindu or Buddhist was another matter, but I certainly did very well at both GCSE and A level. In fact, I found the topic reached a greater level of depth with these teachers because you were able to experience parts of the culture first-hand while getting a balanced view of the counter beliefs. For a start, the fact that this woman seems to not understand that there are plenty of Muslims living in this country who were born here, concerns me even more. But the fact that she actually reverts to the standard “we’re being taken over as a country” makes me worry for her child who will be picking up these uneducated and uninformed opinions directly from her – and if she has her way about it, will not be getting taught by someone who can really show them a different side to the world.

Sending your child to school should be a way of letting them experience as much of the world around them as possible, of educating them in all manner of ways so that they are prepared for the big wide world, so that they are informed individuals who can formulate useful, constructive and valuable opinions without making damaging comments like these that actively harm our society. “Bomb School” in particular was a rather stupid and unnecessary comment that added nothing and further fuelled more stupid words. I don’t understand how anybody could think that a religious teacher would shove their own beliefs down the throat of pupils – my favourite religious studies teacher of all time was a devoted Christian and although I did not share his beliefs, I could understand his values and he taught me a lot. He remains one of my favourite teachers of all time and I still remember the ethics arguments so clearly because he worked so hard to make sure we understood the full belief systems and how each morality code would deal with certain situations. It was fascinating to learn from him and although he obviously favoured Christianity, he obviously went to so much trouble to see we had the whole picture. Having a religious teacher does not mean you will join this “cult”, just as having a black history teacher on the subject of slavery will not turn your child into a slave.

I just hope that the individual who felt it appropriate to post such lewd comments on their social media has learn something from the experience and will not repeat it. I hope that they will learn from their child the true Muslim beliefs and not limit their knowledge to the extremist acts that are published across the newspapers and news channels. I hope that they will think again next time they decide to post something like this, but thank Facebook that their delete buttons and privacy settings mean I will no longer be exposed to this nonsense. So many talk about weeding out Facebook friends because of pictures of their food, boring posts or pictures of their cats – I can only be bothered to do this when something actually offends me and I refuse to look at any further posts. I sincerely hope that this will not happen in future.

Have you got someone like this who posts offensive comments on Facebook without thinking? Have you done anything about it, or did you just turn the other cheek?

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Facebook Experiment: Are we still entitled to privacy in a world where we share everything?

MKH MarketingHopefully you’ve all heard about the Facebook experiment by now, and are either suitably outraged or intrigued by the whole concept. Of course, as usual, the news stories have sparked a lot of backlash and criticism from those who feel their privacy has been invaded and their data used unfairly. Pretty standard really for anything like this, and as a journalist, I should know the angle we use on stories like this and how the whole things is played up to the audience they know will be the most vocal about the issue. It’s been interesting to read various posts on the topic, particularly because so many have been furious and angry to hear that their data and personal information might have been used in this way. This post by Be Young & Shut Up is an interesting read and I particularly love the part where Solomon describes Facebook as a game we are all pawns in.5684115572_55bc83414f_zI personally don’t understand the outrage over the experiment – I’m fascinated by psychology and love to watch the behaviours of people, even just walking down the street! So in this modern age of technology, where better to take a closer look at the emotional effects of social media than within social media itself? And how better to do it than by using the biggest social media site in the world where millions post their every move, feeling and thought directly online? It’s genius and those who thought Facebook workers would never do this are muppets. The man behind the experiment – Adam Kramer – explained his reasons for doing it and I think they are actually valid ones, except for the fact that he should have mentioned that Facebook is essentially a giant social experiment that we choose to be part of when we sign up.9386166498_db00d1357c_zAnd that’s the other big issue at play here, we “choose” to be part of this giant experiment. No-one forced us. Yes they might not have sent you a personal letter stating their intentions and asking you to sign a contract, but the fact is, we all signed a contract upon signing up to the site. Those terms and conditions boxes we are asked to tick in order to sign up, much like if you were signing up for a loan, to buy a house or anything like that, we are expected to read the small print and not just to sign up haphazardly. Of course, none of us really bother to read the small print, we just prefer to complain when it doesn’t go in our favour. At the end of the day, if we are to sign up to something that says they can use our data then we must expect it to be used and possibly in ways we are less keen on. This is a pretty interesting experiment and although I don’t like the idea that I could have been manipulated like this, I’m also completely of the view that we should have expected this a long time ago.MKH MarketingWe put it all out there on social media and yet still expect a level of privacy, and as a blogger, I’m particularly guilty of this. But we need to remember that once we offer up all our information like that, it is too late, it is all out there and there is no getting it back. In the same way we have to post responsibly with jobs/careers in mind, and remind ourselves of the likelihood of our bosses seeing those drunken pictures, we should also be wary that yes, people could perform psychological experiments on us without our say-so – if we put the information out there, people can use it and manipulate it. Not necessarily in a nasty way, although sometimes yes, but as a form of learning about society. And like the scientist says – this is the biggest and most fascinating live model of society – kind of like a micro-climate where everything is in one place and heightened – a perfect place for studying emotion and interaction. We always have the option to opt out and delete our information – but so many of us prefer to share!MKH MarketingWhether you love it or hate it, Facebook is a pretty powerful business and users need to remember that they are taking advantage of the website, but no matter what you post on your account, it remains in a public domain that is owned by Facebook. Essentially, it all comes back to Facebook having a certain level of authority and ownership over what you post – just because it is your own account, doesn’t mean you have complete control. I think Facebook are well within their rights to run an experiment like this – if I owned a site like this, I would do the same out of fascination with the human psyche. It’s not nice to be manipulated, mainly because it makes us feel foolish and serves as a reminder that we are not as in control as we believe. But if we sign away our material, we are limited on what we can actually protest about the matter. Perhaps the responsibility needs to come back to the individual a little more, rather than blaming it on the company who actually did ask permission.

Let’s be honest, it all comes down to advertising and the way that Facebook hopes to make more money. All the millions who sign up to use the service actually contribute nothing to the moneymaking side of the company, but advertisers want to know how they can use the service to manipulate users into buying their produce or signing up to use their services. It is fascinating really – how Facebook are using their control of posts to enforce different emotions on us – and just shows how serious money could be made through the use of this by advertisers. Not really that different to the use of billboards, TV and print advertising but provides a more whole effect which could open up a whole new era of advertising. Genius.

What do you think – are you mad that Facebook might have manipulated your newsfeed as part of the experiment? Or do you agree that the individual should take more responsibility for the breach of trust?

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PS. Like this topic? Why not check out this post I wrote previously on Gogglebox, government surveillance and 1984

 

My rules for following the etiquette of blogging and social media

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The explosion of social media and the internet during my lifetime means that unlike our parents, the online generation have been exposed to a whole new world of social politics through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and various other apps and sites. It’s actually crazy to think that in my lifetime, things have developed from that huge box computer in my dining room, which was ridiculously slow and blocked the phone line, to a world of laptops, iPads and smart phones. But it has happened, and with it has come a whole new social etiquette that can make or break friendships and career opportunities – as us bloggers know only too well.

twitter_follow_meNow there is the complicated web of retaining boundaries by separating personal accounts from professional, through dividing friends across Facebook and Twitter depending on your relationship, and even having a system for following people back. It’s just crazy that this is something we even have to think about – but I’ve noticed as my blog has grown over the last seven months that I have had to think more and more about these types of things, and I’m sure that many others have felt the same. So, after a lot of thought, I have come to a few conclusions over blogging social etiquette that I think might help out other bloggers who might have found themselves in a similar position.keep-calm-and-add-me-on-facebook-graphic

I’ve noticed that as my blog and social media sites grow with more followers, readers and comments daily, that while most of them are people interested in my writing and reading what I am putting out into the world, there are also a small proportion who are just interested in gaining more followers. This to me is just sad. I absolutely love when I get new followers because they have seen a post of mine or they have engaged in discussion of a topic with me. I love meeting other bloggers through the FBL and Lbloggers chats because we all engage with each other and talk about topics we share interests in. So when people just follow to ask for a follow back, or they follow you and if you haven’t returned the favour within 24 hours they unfollow you – I just find this a) incredibly rude and b) just plain ridiculous. I just don’t understand what these people think they are gaining by having high numbers of followers or “friends” who are not interested in what they have to say or are posting.

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Ironically, I received this email this morning..

I am lucky to have so many Facebook friends and Twitter followers because I have so many who do interacts with me on a daily basis both about day-to-day life and about my blog posts. I value my readers and appreciate their comments and feedback – so I just can’t understand why some would rather have faceless and nameless masses of followers who never speak up or give you any feedback.

So, I have made myself some new rules that I thought might also help my fellow bloggers:

 

  1. I will no longer be following back those who ask me to follow them, but if you ask me to check out your blog I will happily do so and if I like what I read I will return the favour, as I do often.
  2. If you comment or message me asking me to follow you so that you will follow me – it is an instant no-no because what is the point in that?
  3. If you follow me on Twitter, I will check out your Twitter and any blogs – if I like what you post and have to say, I will return the favour but only then. I love my newsfeeds on all of these sites because they show up the topics and information that I find interesting and inspiring. I refuse for them to be clogged up with spam and rubbish instead.
  4. I will continue – as I have always done – to leave three lovely comments on other bloggers’ sites every day. This is something I have done from the beginning because I think it encourages us to be more of a community and I love to give positive feedback to great posts. I expect nothing in return – just to have put a smile on someone’s face.
  5. I will very rarely become Facebook friends with those I meet through blogging or work – this is because I have a Facebook page for my blog and would prefer to use that. But also, because my personal Facebook page is for close friends, school friends and family. I will on occasion break this rule if I have become close friends with other bloggers – but this just helps me retain a little privacy.

follow-meI hope this hasn’t come across negatively, but I think that when we are all as busy as we are, not all of us have time to sift through the genuine followers and friends as well as the true ones. I would much rather spend my time talking to those who are genuinely interested in reading what I have to say and discussing it instead of those who just want to up their digits. I have a wonderful core following of readers and I appreciate every comment you leave, every tweet you send and every Facebook like. It is what keeps me writing these posts and excitedly waiting for feedback – everything you guys have to say is what fuels my mind and my hands to want to type the next piece. Thanks for all your feedback guys and I hope this post will help my fellow bloggers in making their own set of rules for dealing with the follow-back demands.

What other social media and blogging advice would you give? Comment below and you could be helping other bloggers.

Stephen Sutton’s story is a tribute to the power of social media

suttonUnless you live under a rock, you will have heard the devastating news that the hugely inspiring Stephen Sutton passed away in his sleep yesterday. I still can’t believe the cruelty of a world where someone as pure and good as Stephen could be taken so harshly from his family, friends and from the rest of the world, but remain happy for him that he had achieved so much and could go having made such a difference to the world around him. Although incredibly impressive, I actually believe the fundraising £3.6million for the Teenage Cancer Trust is the lesser part of what he did for our society. Of course that money will save lives and will go towards creating a legacy in his name, but isn’t it so much more important that through the power of social media he managed to inspired a nation?

So many people were touched by his story, a quick scroll down Facebook or Twitter will see countless messages saying how amazing he was and what a loss it is to society. Importantly, not just those in full health were touched and inspired by him, Stephen also became an icon, a shining example, for those who are suffering from cancer, whether terminal or those in treatment. He showed them that cancer is not the end and that there is so much they can do from a hospital bed with the power of positive thinking. Having known a lot of cancer sufferers in my time, both those who have died and those who have survived, I can tell you that positive thinking really can make all the difference to those going through this. I write countless stories about those with cancer who refuse to let it get them down, who throw themselves into fundraising and who often beat the disease. Not saying these are related, but it certainly gives the patient a new focus and drive rather than just worrying about being ill.suttAfter the No Make-Up Selfie craze flooded Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds just weeks ago thanks to a teenage mum from Stoke, we have seen yet another incredible use of social media thanks to Stephen Sutton. The teenager used Facebook and Twitter to spread word of his bucket list and to eventually raise £3.6million, which has been referred to as a credit to humanity. I can’t help but agree. In a world where Facebook and Twitter seem to be mainly used as ways of showing off, putting people down, or worse, trolling others, it is refreshing to see social media used to do good and unite a nation. The whole point of social media was to bring people closer together but with all the news reports on disgusting uses of the sites cropping up in recent years, it seems that more often than not they are being used negatively. Finally, we are seeing a new craze of using social media to help others and to make a difference.

The amazing thing about social media is that it is so easy, whereas before if you wanted to help charities you had to organise events, donate money or volunteer, now you are contributing just by sharing photos and messages. By sharing links to fundraising pages, you are already raising awareness and spreading the word. Online donation pages also make it so much easier to help, to donate to individual causes, challenges and to the larger charities. I’m just fascinated by how the No Make-Up Selfie spread like wildfire and the message of Stephen’s death is yet another incredible example – the Facebook announcement was shared more than 120,000 times within an hour of its publication.

Perhaps now more than ever it is important to take a good long look at the way we use social media and to make a concerted effort to be more responsible and to use it in the right way. I’d love to see a world where those using it to be nasty, to be perverted or to put others in danger just didn’t exist, but sadly I think where there is the technology there will always be these individuals. What I can hope for, is that the majority of people will continue to, or will start, using social media to really make a difference by raising huge amounts for charity by spreading these campaigns after being inspired by the work of Stephen Sutton. A far better use of our time than paying any attention to the Neknomination craze!

Click here if you would like to donate to Stephen’s campaign for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Happy half-Birthday to AbsolutelyLucy!

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Life has just been so crazy lately that I almost missed the six-month anniversary of my blog! I couldn’t let such a milestone go by without posting about it because in just six months I have gone from complete newbie to a full-fledged blogger and I couldn’t be happier about it.

My first post was published at the start of September 2013 – just a short piece to ease myself in, little did I know that it would lead to me posting four or five times each week and increasing both my daily and monthly views by nine times over the course of six months. I was soon addicted to blogging and couldn’t resist posting several times a week on a whole variety of topics including theatre, food, travel, literature, live music, festivals, university, relationships and countless other topics.

Reaction and joining the blogging community

I’m happy to say that I have had nothing but fantastic reactions to my posts, with regular insightful and thought-provoking comments being left by readers and plenty of discussion on Twitter. I’ve become a part of the blogging community by taking part in regular #lblogger and #fblchat Twitter chats, giving me the help and support I need to make decisions about my blog. I now have several fabulous blogger friends who I regularly chat with, despite them living across the country and internationally – people I would never have met or become friends with if it wasn’t for my blog.

Social media

I’ve learnt all about using social media to my advantage and as a tool to make friends and connections with the right people. I’ve more than doubled my Twitter following, created a Facebook page for my blog which also has over 130 followers and boosted my Tumblr following to more than 400! I’m so happy with these figures and it means that word is spreading about my writing. It has also given me the opportunity to be contacted directly by those I have blogged about, such as the guys at RAM Records, a member of Basement Jaxx, singer Ry X, the cast of From Here To Eternity, so that they can thank me personally for my words.

Awards

One thing I am absolutely thrilled to pieces about is the fact that within six months I have been awarded not just one, but three awards! One award I was actually nominated for twice in the same week! The first was the Versatile Blogger Award and this nomination came from a blogger who I had been avidly reading since starting out myself. The second nomination – The Lighthouse Award was for bringing light to a dark world. It came at a particularly dark time in my life from a blogger I had never met or spoken to before, and this really helped to show me that what I was doing was worthwhile. The Liebster Award is one that again, by bloggers I had never met or spoken to before, I was nominated for out of the blue – this time twice in one week! All three were such lovely recognition and all came from fantastic bloggers, which made me even prouder that they had thought of me when passing the torch.

Further writing

As a result of all this, and of my other work at This Festival Feeling, I have been asked to write two profiles – one about my course and distance learning journalism and another about what I have been up to since graduating. I have also been interviewed as editor of This Festival Feeling about the effect of social media on the festival experience. All of this extra writing has given me a great chance to further expose my blog to new readers which is only a good thing!

Following

Now I’m not one to look at figures as a mark of success and I definitely prefer a couple of followers who comment regularly and get involved with my posts, to hundreds of views. But, it is incredibly gratifying to know quite how many people are viewing my blog each day, and to see how much this figure has grown over recent months. I’m incredibly grateful to the people who do comment and get involved, but also to the wonderful people who have shared my blog with their friends. I’m so pleased that I started Absolutely Lucy because it really has become such a big part of my life, as have those who read it.

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Future

So here’s to the next six months, let’s hope they are as productive! I am really excited for the future of Absolutely Lucy because the success of the last six months has really helped to open doors for me in terms of branching out to cover new topics, working with other bloggers and with businesses. But as ever, I’m still keeping my feet firmly on the ground and will be blogging about the things that inspire, interest and irritate me. If you have any requests or any suggestions for Absolutely Lucy, topics to cover or shows to review – please do leave me a comment below.

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In your 20’s and don’t know which way to turn?

I read this article and it just seemed so completely ridiculous that I just had to share it with you. Written by Madeleine Dodd for the Huffington Post, it was entitled – Are you having a mid-twenties crisis?

Just the title was enough to make me laugh. It describes the “under publicised beast” that is the mid-twenties crisis, less obvious that the well-known mid-life crisis but describes those who are suffering as panicking when they realise they are too old to win the X Factor and then making huge changes in their lives such as quitting their job, ending a relationship, doing a Masters or going travelling. Dodd links these choices to three big differences between our generation and the last:

1.We know too much about what everyone else is doing thanks to social media
2.We’re the first generation to be less wild than our parents who lived during Woodstock times
3.We know our real value and it comes in at under 20 grand a year

What an incredibly negative and disillusioned woman. Such a shame to have such a jaundiced view of the world we live in at such a young age. Fair enough, times are tough and employment-wise we do have it a lot worse that previous generations, we are constantly aware of everyone around us and what they are up to, and perhaps some of us are having less fun – but perhaps this is more to do with what some people do with themselves. As a bit of a social media nutter (comes with being a blogger, doesn’t it?) I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress and Tumblr every day and am constantly seeing updates of what other people are doing and where they are in their lives. To be honest, my Facebook is packed full of three types of people – the ones who had kids/got married young, the ones who are still at university or are on gap years/travelling and the ones who have moved on to work, whether it is something they love or not. The only ones to be jealous of there are those travelling! Fair enough, if you haven’t got the job you want it can be hard to see how amazing some other people’s lives are, but chuck a bucket of salt over that and you might see a glimmer of reality when the ones with amazing jobs are having problems at home, work hideously long hours, actually get treated like crap in the office or their relationship broke up because the job moved them away. There is two sides to every story – Facebook sees the best side (or sometimes the very worst side) but there is always more to the tale.

As for point two, I think someone needs to get out more. Being wild is not about having money from said job or going off and taking copious amounts of illegal substances or dancing in fields naked. It’s about finding your passion and your love and blowing off some steam by giving into it completely every now and again. For me, it is going to see live music including DJs or heading to festivals. And I think if people really knew what a night out was like with me, they would realise this generation are wild enough, in fact if anyone tried walking around Boomtown Fair 2013, they would realise what wild really is!

Finally, we all know our worth and it comes in at under £20,000 a year? Okay, I understand it is very demoralising to come out of university and be forced to work in a job that you don’t like or that you think you are better than. I understand that I have been very lucky in securing such a good job and training to accompany it, but a lot of work also went into securing that. People really need to stop moaning about the recession and employment market, there are countless jobs out there that don’t have people to fill them because others are being too picky about what they want to do.

I have never been under the impression that I would walk out of university and into a job in journalism – I studied English and didn’t have my NCTJ – and I didn’t. I was unemployed for six months but in the two years before me finding my current job, I had done copious amounts of work experience where I impressed by getting front pages in my first week, I had filled in for the company when they were short staffed and contributed a weekly column – all my own organising and forcefulness but it worked in the long run.

Much as I love my job, I have realised that perhaps straight journalism is not for me and perhaps I would prefer online/broadcast or magazine work instead – most of all I would like to try different things but in the meantime I am making sure I am fully trained so that I have the journalism qualification for the future. After realising this, I managed to work it so that I was managing the website and entertainment section of the newspaper to help broaden my experience. I also started volunteering to write for a festival review website for free in order to gain more experience. I have since been made editor which is great experience and will look fantastic on my CV.

Knowing your value is not about how much you are earning – god knows that some of the most valuable people out there are the volunteers and those at the bottom of the heap who work endless hours to perfect things so others at the top can take the credit. It is more about making the most of your talents – by going beyond the call of duty both at your own job by making yourself invaluable, and at extra-curricular activities such as blogging/writing/volunteering/work experience that could benefit you in the long run by giving you extra experience. Sure you might not walk into a producer job at 23, but you’ll have a wealth of skills and although you might be working in a job you hate (back in retail after university is a killer) but you’ll be doing something outside of this that you love and that could lead to bigger things in the long run.

Put simply, the world has changed since our parents’ day and that may not be a good thing in every way, but it isn’t all bad. There are plenty of opportunities for those who are just starting out in their industries – just look at the countless people who have started up their own companies. They have been able to do so because the lack of jobs in their desired area has been lacking forcing them to create positions, and the low interest rates have given them the capital needed. Win-win. And the use of social media has only helped to develop this by offering free marketing and advertising of products to customers.

This is me at my graduation, full of hope and excitement for what would come next career-wise. I left university without a job lined-up but I wasn’t afraid of what was to come. I used the time off between university and starting work as time to relax after my hard work towards exams and to research jobs and journalism training. It helped me decide to start a distance-learning course instead of spending the huge amount of money on in-house courses, which worked in my favour because another journalist left the paper suddenly and they called on me instantly. I was clearly within their minds after all my hard work and it paid off. Patience is everything and a negative attitude helps no-one.

And since when was quitting your job, going travelling or breaking up with a long-term boyfriend seen as flighty or as signs of a mid-twenties crisis? Surely your twenties is the perfect time to start afresh, you have no real commitments and nothing to tie you down. It is a common time to break up couples if their careers or travel fantasies pull them in different directions, it’s the time to find new love and fall head-over-hells for the wrong people. It’s also the perfect opportunity to try out as many different types of work as possible to gain experience and use jobs as a chance to travel, move away and gain independence. As for going travelling, when you’ve just spent nearly 20 years in education and firmly under your parents’ wing, a taste of freedom at university can give you the desire to see the world and get out there. To experience it all for yourself, and with difficulties finding the right job, why not work  in retail, save some dollar and head out to Thailand to find yourself?

What do you think about life in your twenties? Are you having a bit of a crisis, or do you feel like you’re got it together?