Being serious in a world that doesn’t want to be

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More and more I am seeing a world where people online (especially on social media) want to be the cool, funny one, putting up gifs and memes to point fun at serious situations or people who take things seriously. This to me has been highlighted by the recent EU referendum in the UK.

It seems caring or being passionate about something is some how wrong to the Internet community. It is like playschool all over again. Serious matter or serious people seem to be easy fodder to be ridiculed. I wish more people took things seriously and were supported by others. When a situation is a serious one like the EU Referendum, with so much importance to the future of this country it just shows how unimportant it is to some people when there is a reaction like this. It was like winning the vote was all that mattered to many people and now that it is done, nothing else matters but making fun of those that didn’t and twisting the knife.

Being told to shut up

On my Facebook after the vote I did not see anyone from the leave side of the vote discuss what positives it meant for the country in their eyes, all I saw were memes and people complaining about the vote being told to shut up or being called sore losers.

Just because we lost we don’t all want a second referendum like the Internet seems to make you think. The vote happened and I respect the majority, but that has happened, that is now the past and all I care about is the future of this country. I think caring about this country and the future is something we all need to do and something we should be encouraging others to do, not belittling them for it.

A world of instant communication

Lets be less quick to jump to humour. Lets read, listen and reflect, lets sense the tone and respond appropriately. It is so easy and quick to type something and send it before you have even had time to read something properly or think about what you are saying. This instant communication world we are in can be so good for so many things but in these instances I think it contributes to the more divided society we currently live in.

I love a good joke, good comedy and funny banter but I think timing and place is everything. Being comical to be the cool kid is not the way to go to, I think being comical should be about making people happy, not just to annoy others.

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How social media has blurred and damaged relationships

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How much time do you spend talking to people online? How much time do you spend looking at peoples pages and feeds? When scrolling down your newsfeed to do you linger longer on some people’s updates more than others?

I think these are all important questions, that anyone using social media needs to ask themselves. For many people the real world isn’t enough and social media is treated as another life for them, which they think is better than the real world away from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Some people now look forward to getting on social media more than they do spending time with those around them.

Constantly logging on

I use social media and I am the first to put my hand up that I use it too much. I tend to however just use it for promoting things and sharing news, rather than talking to people on it. I think it is dangerous when you are constantly logging on to see if you have a notification and to see if someone has messaged you back. I get how it can be exciting, but when we start thinking that it is more exciting than what’s happening around us, I think it is a very sad place to be.

When you start your day thinking of something to say to someone on social media that is not communicating or having a conversation, as real conversations should come easy with real friends. Conversations shouldn’t be about just saying something to get noticed and that’s what I think social media is at times – a place for attention seekers wanting to be noticed.

Getting carried away

I think for some people it is too easy to get carried away on social media and let their thoughts get carried away. Sometimes I think people try to hard to get peoples attention and misinterpret feelings when someone pays them attention. People think it is ok to get carried away, as it isn’t real life and they may not ever meet the people they are talking with. I think it is important to always try and read the signs on social media when someone might be paying you too much attention or when you are paying someone too much attention and be wise enough to do something about it.

When social media is getting in the way of work or home life, I think your use of it is out of balance. My message for anyone who uses social media is – don’t take your home life for granted, just because it is always going to be there don’t treat it like it’s not the most important thing.

Secretive

If you are secretive about your use of social media, or if you only use it when away from your friends and family then you need to start asking yourself why you do this and you need to be honest with yourself.

In this modern age I think social media is the biggest destroyer and creator of relationships. We need as a generation to be able to build relationships and keep relationships without social media. Social media should be treated as another way to communicate and we should behave in the same way as we would with human interaction. When you spend more time talking to people on social media than off it, I think life is out of balance.

Don’t let yourself be fooled in to thinking life is better on social media than it is away from it. The most important investment you can make is in those people around you, those people who are in your life and those that you don’t just talk to on social media.

The best way to win an argument is to avoid them

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I think one of the most futile things in the world is an argument. In the instant world we live in, people seem to make arguments out of anything these days. People seem to go online with a want to argue with people or the want to try and start an argument.

If you seriously care about educating someone or changing someone’s opinion I think having an argument is one of the least effective ways of making a difference. If someone thinks they are right and you try and argue with them, all that it is more than likely to do, is get their back up even more and for that person to dig their heels in further. The problem with the internet these days is that you can literally find something to back up any argument and then you wait and watch, when you argue with someone online, for them to come running back with some links they have found.

Relationships

Arguing only leads to break downs in relationships and makes it even harder for you to get your point across to the person you are arguing with, as they are less likely to listen to you. Remember what you say only matters, if the person you want to listen is listening.

Nobody wants to look stupid or be embarrassed. No one likes to get things wrong or be ganged up upon. This is why so many of us are afraid to lose arguments. Taking that step of admitting defeat or being wrong is a step too far for many people, because instead of treating it as learning or being better informed they can’t get past the not wanting to be seen to be wrong.

Challenging

When trying to challenge someone’s views or change their opinions I would always advise of doing this out of the public sphere. You are more likely to be effective in person, talking to someone one-on-one and someone is more likely to listen to you, as they don’t have the worry of other people watching or getting involved, like you have online.

When you are arguing with someone, even if they keep coming back at you, the person might be being affected by what you are saying but they will never admit it and you will never know, these are more reasons why I think arguing is futile. The dangerous thing with arguments is that sometimes the smallest disagreement can lead to the biggest argument and the argument then grows so big that you lose perspective, on how it started and what you are arguing for.

Approaches

This is why I dislike it when I see people out and about whilst on a high street on a busy shopping day who are from churches and ministries (or more often one man mission) who are handing out leaflets and telling people they are going to hell or that they need to repent. The reason I hate it is, more often that not all that approach starts is an argument. If arguing with people worked, every church would be doing it and everyone would be a Christian.

Instead of rushing to an argument when someone says something you disagree with, why not take a moment and ask yourself why you think that person thinks the way they do. Try and understand the person’s past, because normally there are clues there and then try and work out what is the best way to engage with them. Timing is also key, as when someone is feeling emotional about a topic its probably not the best time to bring it up with them.

I’m not saying avoid the hard topics and the hard conversations as I think these are the most important ones to have. There are so many views in this world that need to be challenged, but challenged doesn’t mean argued. To me the more you have to argue the less strong your point is, as it is normally the views that don’t need an argument to back them up that are the best.

An important thing to do is not to take everything on your shoulders; it is not your job in life to change everyone’s viewpoints. You have to be wise and know when someone else might have a better chance than you of changing someone’s mind and leave it to them.

Just remember if you show someone you love them they will be more likely listen to you.

Getting Your Voice Heard

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I think it is easier today than it ever was before to share our opinion with the world. A post, a tweet, an email, a status, a blog, there are now many ways that we can instantly share how we are feeling, our opinions and our thoughts with anyone who wants to read them.

Back just twenty years ago there weren’t these opportunities that we have today to communicate with the world around us. To complain about a newspaper article you would have to write a letter and post it, now you can post a comment online underneath the article. To complain to a company about poor service you would have to phone them up or go to the business premises, now you can tweet them or message them on Facebook and get a response.

If you had an opinion about something it used to be a case of just verbalising them with your friends and family, now you can write a blog or post them on social media to start conversation. Your opinion can then quickly get exposure to millions of people you will never meet and before you know it people are talking about it.

It’s a jungle out there

The problem we have though is that because there are so many people, trying to share so many opinions, it is so easy for them to get lost in the jungle, which is the online world. Sharing your thoughts is very easy now but trying to gain an audience, I believe is harder than ever. For a thought or opinion to make a difference it needs an audience and a pretty big audience to make an impact.

When you have an audience, you then need the right people in your audience. Online there are so many automated, bot and spam accounts, you never know how many actual people are reading your words. There is a huge difference between viewing and reading. So many people just scroll through their social media newsfeeds, just scanning and not actually reading, that many people will just scroll on past what you are trying to share with the world.

Real world engagement

For your voice truly to be heard you need real world engagement, not online engagement. A like or a favourite on social media isn’t going to get your voice heard. What will get your voice heard is someone reading what you type, taking it on board and doing something about it in the real world.

Don’t think just because something you said got a bunch of retweets that it is making a difference. With social media and the Internet the term ‘5 minutes of fame’ must have been taken down to ‘a few seconds of fame.’ What trends this morning probably won’t this afternoon.

If you’ve got an opinion that you want the world to hear, don’t get complacent with it. Couple your opinion with some action and keep going with it. Make sure you are talking to the right people, not just anyone. One right person hearing your thoughts and opinions can be worth more than a million of the wrong ones.

Share what you want to share

I would encourage everyone to share what they have a burning passion to share, just make sure you are always aware of you are sharing it with. Just because we have the ability to share so easily these days lets not get lazy with it, as I think in todays world it is even harder to stand out, as with this new power at our finger tips everyone is at it.

I think social media is too much about encouraging us to have our own personal accounts and I think this just leads to more isolation. I think it is more important than ever to actually work with people and band together. It’s a big world out there online and just because you are a member it doesn’t always mean you are connected or feel connected.

So, I’m different! Aren’t we all?

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One thing I love about life and the world is how we are all different. There are not two of us 100% identical inside and out. I think the fact that we have different personalities, interests, thoughts and looks, makes this world an interesting place to live.

One of the ways I stand out is my hand tremor that I have as a result of having Arnold Chiari Malformation. Now I bet you have never heard of it and I hadn’t too until I was diagnosed, so here is a bit more information on it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold%E2%80%93Chiari_malformation

Assumptions

Thankfully my symptoms aren’t as severe as most but it has led to a lifetime of meeting people who before getting to know me, were more interested in finding out why my hands shake or making assumptions on why my hands shake.

Some of the most common questions I have been asked by strangers are: “Are you nervous?” “Are you cold?” “Have you taken too much of your inhaler?” or just the simple “Why are your hands shaking?” In these situations I have been made to feel like people think it is more important to find out why my hands shake, than getting to know who I am and what I am about.

Visual People

I think as human beings many of us our visual people and like to question what we can see and we start doing that right away, whether we verbalise those thoughts or not. It normally takes people longer however to start questioning what they can’t see about people and I personally think its what inside of us that is more important, not what’s on the outside.

Because of my hand tremor I stand out and I think the reason people question it, is because we live in a world where the ‘normal’ exists and it seems that there is this pressure to conform to it. I think this unseen pressure stifles a lot of creativity and stops a lot of people from standing out and being the world changers that this world needs.

Standing Out

I’m not making a conscious effort to stand out with my hand tremor; it was just something I was born with, so for that reason I dislike when it is what people notice about me. I want to be noticed for the reasons that I am trying to stand out, not those enforced on me.

I think when you take the opportunity to get to know people on the inside, you get to know the reasons that they want to stand out for, as these maybe quite different than the ways you think they stand out.

I know everyone is different when it comes to the physical ways they stand out from others, some want the chance to talk about it, some don’t want it referenced and some don’t really care. To me I would rather my physical difference was something that I didn’t have to over think, or make a conscious effort to talk about.

Handling Situations

Whenever I know I am meeting someone new, doing a presentation or going for an interview, I have to think to myself whether it is best to bring it up in discussion or not. I can’t just concentrate on the situation in hand by itself. The decision I make whether to bring it up or not, can then impact on that situation which I don’t think is fair. Will talking about it put the people I meet at ease? Will talking about it worry people or lead to more questions? Will people be able to work it out for themselves? These are just some of the questions that go through my mind.

I don’t think anyone with something that makes them different from others should be forced to talk about it. I have experienced this many times in my life when I have either been forced or felt forced to mention it and I think this is wrong. People who don’t have conditions like I have aren’t forced to talk about things that they may not want to talk about, so why should I be?

Sometimes I think my hand tremor is the elephant in the room when I am in social situations, which can affect the atmosphere. I should feel confident to go in to situations and it not be something that I was born with that affects the atmosphere. I also shouldn’t have to tell people before I go somewhere “just so you know I have a hand tremor” but sometimes I feel like I have to. My choosing to talk about my hand tremor or not shouldn’t dominate my life.

After saying everything that I have, I am not oblivious to the difficulty people have when knowing whether or not to bring up someone’s physical difference. Being able to figure out whether or not someone wants to talk about it can be very difficult and you yourself shouldn’t feel bad for not doing the right thing if your intentions were good. I just wanted to put you in my shoes and the shoes I’m sure of some others who feel like I do.

My personal opinion is whenever you want to talk about something that makes people different, make sure it is a thing that person wants to stand out for and not what you think they stand out for.

Are you listening?

The older I get the more I notice that we live in a world where there are more people that want to talk than want to listen. The art of listening has been lost for many I believe, with people fighting to make sure theirs is the opinion voiced and that no one else can get a word in edge ways. Talking a lot and talking about what you want to talk about seem to be some badge of success in professional and social realms.

I am a listener and I believe without listeners this world and the people in it wont be as successful as all of them could be. I also think there is much to applaud in those people that actually think before they talk and that are able to say the right things at the right time. Quality and quantity are two very different things and if you have a lot of quantity in what you say, the quality will be lost.

We’ve all been in those meetings when people are just talking for the sake of talking, because they need to be seen to be leading the conversation or having opinions on things to justify their involvement. In meetings I think it is always important to ask the opinions of the quieter ones because normally they are the ones listening and the ones that will have interesting insight in to the issues at hand.

We’ve all been at those parties and social gatherings where people are trying to dominate conversations to try and be the ‘cool’ one, trying to show off or just trying to make sure they get to talk about what they want to talk about. Sadly I think its these people that struggle to notice when people aren’t listening, so they might as well be talking to a brick wall. In many cases the more you talk the more people around you are switching off.

Some people think that by talking a lot you can hide an inadequacy, a lack of knowledge and that it impresses. I personally think it just highlights these things and doesn’t impress.

So remember, just by talking it doesn’t mean people are listening. Communication is a two way street, the more you show that you can listen the more people will want to listen to you. The art of talking should be about people listening. Don’t forget its not just about the words coming out of your lips its about your relationship with the people you are talking to and how they perceive you. I would work on these things first before opening my mouth to speak as if you do, the words coming out of your mouth are going to mean so much more.

Ask yourself this question – did you learn more by listening or by talking today? To improve as a person I always think it is more important to learn about more things than you could ever get round to talking about in your lifetime.

Facebook

I have to admit to checking my Facebook feed about 50 million times a day. At the end of each day I would hate to think how much time of my day had been spent reading it. Every once in a while I learn something about a friends life but for the most its words and photos that I won’t remember tomorrow.

I use to be guilty of putting a post or update up just to see how many likes I got. I think for many people Facebook is a place to show off, to validate their own existence or to try and make them look better than other people. They don’t care what names and what people like their status they only care about the number of likes.

Why should a post about me going to work at Wembley Stadium get more likes than a post saying that I am having a good afternoon with my family? At the end of the day or the end of your life what is more important? To me I would say its spending time with your family. I think we need to start liking people living happy and fulfilled lives and not just people showing off.

For me life is about relationship and I think Facebook should be the same, the more you care for others, hopefully the more they will care for you. Instead of just stalking people online or just liking statuses all the time lets work on our relationships, as clicking a button does not a relationship make.

Don’t take peoples Facebook accounts at face value. A Facebook profile for many is a projection of what they hope or want life to be. So don’t just like what they say, engage with what they are saying and connect with them properly so you know how they are really feeling. Lets enjoy the good moments together and be there for the hard times and lets know how people are really feeling.

Recently I had a huge cull of friends on Facebook and it was easier than I thought it would be. I had lots of people on there that I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years and is that really a friend? Yes I may get a lot less likes to the posts I put up from now on but after re-evaluating, that is not what I am on Facebook for.