I deleted my Instagram App

I feel like I should clarify that I haven’t deleted my actual account. I didn’t want to take that step in case I decide to return to Instagram, but I have deleted the app and haven’t seen an Instagram feed in about a fortnight.

I should probably explain why I made the decision to do this. I began to find that Instagram was just another stop on the rounds of scrolling through apps for whatever psychological reason it is that we do that (it’s certainly not fulfilling). I probably posted once every 3 months on average, and every time I did I would be glued to my phone waiting for ‘enough’ likes to come in so that I wasn’t as concerned about people judging me anymore. I remember when I was about 12 years old being allowed to create a Bebo account. Firstly I want to point out how much more creative and wacky Bebo was than any of the social media sites we have now, in many ways it allowed for a higher level of individualised self expression, but anyway… I think that was the first time I ever felt the panic of not having enough social media likes. On Bebo they were called hearts/ ‘luvs’ and you saw when you clicked on somebody’s profile how many hearts somebody had. I don’t remember how many I had at any given point but I remember clicking on some of the pages of the popular girls at school and seeing that they had hundreds. Actually, I remember at times this would put me into a panic and I think it was the same for almost everybody. People would practically beg each other for hearts and comment things like ‘luv 4 luv’ etc (late 2000’s text language was an abomination) on each other’s profiles to try and up their count.

Now, Bebo is long gone but it has been replaced with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The reason I decided to delete Instagram and not either of the other two is because, to me, Twitter and Facebook still have some inherent value that overrides the pressure and anxiety that comes with all social media. Facebook allows me to stay connected with the more obscure people in my life, to have a cheeky look at what people I went to school with are up to and Facebook Messenger is the main way I communicate with my friends on a daily basis. With twitter it’s slightly different, I don’t actually feel too much pressure to get a whole load of likes on my tweets. I also tend to find that there’s a genuine correlation between the content of tweets and how many likes they get. If the tweet’s shit it’ll probably get less than 5 likes regardless of how popular you were in school. The value of twitter to me is information. It’s a useful source of world news, pop culture trends and hashtags have become sort of a staple in the development of a lot of ideological movements.

Instagram, however, does not have any of these redeeming features for me. Personally, Instagram epitomises all of my anxieties with social media. One of my absolute least favourite things about it is that people are congratulated on physical attractiveness (whether it be false under a guise of makeup/filters/edits or genuine) as if it’s some kind of achievement. If somebody looks especially nice they “deserve” more likes. This is a mentality that many of us have without even realising, because when you actually think about it it’s completely MENTAL! Nobody EARNED the way they look. Angelina Jolie didn’t excel in some obstacle course before she was born that granted her the gift of good looks just in the same way that a baby with a deformity didn’t do anything bad to deserve it either. I’ve heard some of my friends say things like “if they look especially nice I’ll give it a like” and to be honest I’ve grown tired of the shallowness… I’ve also found Instagram to be a bit of a breeding ground for fakeness. We like other people’s content just to receive likes or portray ourselves in a positive light (kind of like the hearts on Bebo). The chances are people have only liked your picture in the hope that you will in turn like their next one. It’s not genuine and they probably didn’t spend more than three seconds looking at it, and what’s worse? You don’t care. You don’t care that it’s disingenuous as long as the numbers are there for everyone to see when they scroll past you looking for their own posts to fixate on. Really, what’s the point?

Lastly, but DEFINITELY not least, is the body image aspect of Instagram. The majority of pictures people post are edited at least in some way. You’re not looking at the face of your best friend sitting across the sofa from you each day, you’re looking at a construct. It’s easy to spot this with people you spend a lot of time with, but where it gets dangerous is when you begin to compare yourself to celebrities and acquaintances that you don’t see in person. You don’t have the reality to balance out the edited version and that’s when insecurities start to fester. I know girls that spend hours and hours a day just scrolling through images of toned girls in bikinis, this isn’t healthy.

I ended up finding that scrolling on Instagram was causing me more upset than any kind of rewarding sensation it was supposed to give me. I probably only spent about fifteen minutes a day (on average) on Instagram, but in those fifteen minutes I could go from feeling totally fine to feeling worse about myself, even if it was just a tiny amount. I’ve decided that, for now, it’s just not worth it for me. I’ve already had messages from anxious friends asking me to like their latest post and it’s only a reminder that social media can be a truly insidious way to make an enemy out of yourself and to commodify your friendships. Even though I’ve only deleted Instagram, it’s one less thing to worry about. One less thing to squander my time scrolling through.

 

Until next time,

J x

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The Addams Family Musical

I am currently lying in my bed, trying not to feel guilty about it because it’s Sunday, still suffering from Friday night when I went to see The Addams Family Musical (followed by a big night out) as my birthday present from one of my friends.

Since then I have been hungover singing the songs, thinking about the performance and what it must be like to perform in a professional touring show like that.

The opening number of the show “The Addams Family Theme” was an amazing number and the choreography was awesome. I immediately thought that the casting of Cameron Blakely as Gomez and Samantha Womack as Morticia was spot on. I’ve linked to a video of the opening number with the current cast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jum02Ku4ylU

I loved the story that was chosen for this musical, Wednesday’s sort of coming of age story which I don’t think has really been told before. Songs like “Crazier Than You” and “Pulled” are absolute classics and Carrie Fletcher’s (who played Wednesday and who I’ve watched on youtube since about 2012) voice was so strong and clear. It was amazing to be sat in the audience watching.

Going to see things at the theatre is not something I do often. I went to see Wicked in London a couple of years ago and going to see The Addams Family in Glasgow is the only thing I’ve seen since, however, I’ve decided I definitely want to go to more shows like this. The rush it gave me was amazing. I spend a fair bit of money on going to music concerts and the feeling I had when leaving the show on Friday night was the same feeling I have when I leave a particularly good concert (such as Lorde who I saw recently, but that’s for another time).

Actually seeing this show live took me back to when I used to take drama classes. I tried to imagine what it must be like to have thousands watching you every single night. I can’t even imagine the nerves of standing in the wings waiting to begin a show, I’m not sure if I could cope with that. I did a few shows with my drama group but only to an audience of friends and family. I remember one time I had a costume change where I had to put a shirt on and button it up in the space of like one minute and I didn’t quite get it done so you could still see my red t-shirt underneath when I went on stage. I don’t think anyone really noticed or cared but it was enough to nearly send me into full on panic. I also remember one time I was doing a short performance from a section of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with a few other young girls and we got on stage, the lights went up and one of the girls (who was to start the whole piece off) muttered under her breath “I can’t remember my lines”. Luckily after a few seconds of sheer panic she remembered them and began, but what if that were to happen on stage at an actual theatre?! Obviously these actors/actresses are professionals and have done it hundreds of times but there’s nothing preventing somebody from just having a mind blank one day.

Anyway enough of my rambling because none of that happened, the show went flawlessly and I left feeling exhilarated and wishing I could go again the next night (until I woke up with my hangover).

Until next time,

J x

Film Review: Dunkirk

A couple of weeks ago, after my 21st birthday, my cousin Ellie and I decided to get our asses out of our beds for once and go to the cinema. We’d both been dying to see Dunkirk because we’re both quite interested in history and I love going to see films. I had high expectations for this film which, to be honest, often leads to disappointment.

I am in awe of this film. From the moment Fionn Whitehead came onto the screen walking around the city of Dunkirk, looking in abandoned shop windows and drinking water from a hose pipe, I was on edge. There was a sense of foreboding. Next thing I know gun shots are going off, very very loud gunshots. I think one of my favourite things about the film was the level of noise. It was almost like they’d amped the volume up to increase the realism and shock factor.

Dunkirk

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When the planes flew overhead, about to drop bombs, and there was literally nothing the soldiers could do and nowhere to hide so they all just fell to the floor and hoped for the best. It really made me think about what is must’ve been like to be there. It must have been terrifying. I can’t imagine anything scarier than that moment when you hear the plane coming and realise your life could be over within a minute if you’re in an unlucky spot. The British and French were cornered into a tiny space by the German army and that area was being routinely bombed.

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Christopher Nolan’s direction was really the thing that made the film for me. His clever use of chronology in order to tell three stories within one 2 hour film was incredible (and slightly reminiscent of one of his other films Inception). He also managed to convey some of the difficulty the pilots faced, trying to tackle the enemy from the air, by filming from their perspective. It was clever, loud and apparently mostly filmed on location (and that means that poor Harry Styles probably really was suffering in the picture below). I don’t think anybody else could’ve done a better job.

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Speaking of Harry Styles, casting him was a massive risk for Nolan to take. It could’ve completely taken the focus away from the massive historical point of the film. Also, if done badly, it could’ve made a bit of a mockery of the whole film. I was VERY pleasantly surprised though. Styles seemed to take the role really seriously and actually pulled it off very well. He wasn’t a scene stealer, but I think for the first feature film role of his career post One Direction that’s the way it should’ve been. The only moment I found a little bit comical (for the wrong reasons) was when he was accusing Gibson of being a German spy and said something along the lines of “he’ll have an accent thicker than sauerkraut sauce”. To be fair to the guy though, that’s just not a very good line.

At points the plight of the characters felt entirely hopeless, as I’m sure things must have felt for the soldiers at the time. Despite minimal dialogue (another choice that worked brilliantly and built tension) I became very attached to most of the characters. When they boarded another boat hoping to finally get home only to be bombed again it was incredibly distressing. Sometimes, however, the film was heart warming. Mainly in Mark Rylance’s scenes where his character Dawson showed the real courage of civilians who headed straight into a war zone to try and save their men. At the end of the film, when Harry Styles and Fionn Whitehead are on the train and begin to read Churchill’s famous “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” speech while locals run alongside the train passing them cider through the window to welcome them home, It was just so uplifting and I found it quite emotional.

When I came out of this film I was pretty much speechless and it’s been on my mind since. I’ve seen it once again and would probably go see it again given the chance (and if it didn’t cost like £9 at my local cinema). Although I think it’s a little early to say, I feel like this may be one of my all time favourite films.

I would give this film 5/5 stars. I hope you all get a chance to see it.

 

Until next time,

J x

 

July Music Favourites!

Again this is slightly on the late side so sorry about that but this is a round up of what I’ve been listening to recently 🙂 I have to admit that over the past month I’ve been listening to slightly less music. I’m not really sure why that is but it might be to do with work and other commitments like trying to watch Game of Thrones right from the beginning 🙂

 

Ariana Grande – Sometimes

To be honest I’ve been listening to all the songs on Dangerous Woman. Ever since the Ariana’s massive charity concert in Manchester following the terror attack at her concert I’ve had a newfound respect for her as a person, and that seems to have affected me love of her music. She’s the queen of pop at the moment and every time she releases a single it’s a hit. Sometimes wasn’t released as a single but to me its one of the standout tracks on the album. Right from the get go with the “la la la” vocals (by an unknown person) I was interested to see where the track would go. It was something a little bit different, and more mellow, compared to the other big tracks on the album. Instead of being a cynical ballad about a failed love or a high paced hit chronicling flirtation and sexual tension, this song is unashamedly optimistic and is about a love that lasts. Sometimes it’s nice to listen to something like that 🙂

Tom Odell – Wrong Crowd

On a different note Wrong Crowd by Tom Odell is decidedly melancholic. It reflects on a turbulent childhood, failed relationship and essentially an inner turmoil that results in both a mentally and physically unhealthy lifestyle. The whistling and melody at the start of the song is what really captivated me (much like Sometimes) but Tom Odell’s effortless, understated vocals are what really carries the song and adds depth to his, already emotional, lyrics.

Twin Atlantic – No Sleep

I listened to Twin Atlantic a fair amount in July in the lead up to Belladrum Festival (which my last post is about, click here to read). They’re a Scottish rock band (with very noticeable accents) and are really pretty popular up here. I’m not sure of their success outside of Scotland but every time I’ve seen them here the venues have been packed out. No Sleep is my favourite song from their album GLA because of the roaring chorus. It feels quite epic, particularly when performed live. There is no getting away from the cringey lyric “I take pills and I drink alcohol”, I mean way to be subtle about it. Other than that though, I like this song very much.

Oasis – Don’t Look Back in Anger

Ever since I watched the documentary Supersonic about Oasis’ career and the… difficult relationship between Noel and Liam Gallagher I’ve been listening to Oasis a lot more. This was heightened when I began following Liam on twitter, I think I followed Noel as well but let’s be real Liam’s twitter is far more entertaining. Liam’s nickname ‘Potato’ for Noel ‘because he looks like a potato’ is pretty much perfectly catered to my sense of humour and I’m trying hard not to laugh writing this. Other than making me laugh these two have created some classic hits over the years. Despite Wonderwall probably being their most referenced hit I’ve been listening to Don’t Look Back in Anger and Rock n Roll Star a lot recently. Liam’s rendition of Rock n Roll Star at Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester concert was the most exciting part of the evening for me and, as per usual, his percussionist skills were impeccable (tambourine AND maracas).

Niall Horan – Slow Hands – wasn’t a fan of other song

I didn’t really have high hopes for Niall Horan’s solo career, probably because he always faded into the background of One Direction somewhat (at least from my perspective). When he released his first single This Town I wasn’t blown away. I found it quite forgettable and didn’t really make much further effort to keep up with his music. Then I heard Slow Hands on the radio once and it got stuck in my head. The guitar riff is catchy and I found myself thinking I had an old rock ballad stuck in my head, only to remember it was actually little Niall. Despite thinking it was “Small Hands” for a few weeks which, in hindsight makes absolutely NO sense and is pretty hilarious, I not have the lyrics right and enjoy this easy listener.

Harry Styles – Sign of the Times

Sign of the Times is just an AMAZING song. I couldn’t have imagined that Harry would release something like this. I firmly believe that he has the strongest career prospects of any of the One Direction leavers. Also after seeing Dunkirk for a second time last night I am massively impressed with not only his vocals and lyrics but has acting skills as well (who knew). I actually think Sign of the Times and Dunkirk have quite a few things in common. Mainly, they’re both understated and rely on the sheer quality of the content they’re based on (in Sign of the Times case, strong chorus lyrics and Harry’s vocals and in Dunkirk the raw, real story being told and the astounding direction). There’s no unnecessary eccentricities to either of these works and, in my opinion, that is the best thing about them.

London Grammar – Strong

I think I’ve spoken about London Grammar before on this blog but that’s because they are unique and brilliant. Hannah Reid’s clear vocals manage to make every song far more thought provoking and memorable than they perhaps would have been. Live, they are touching and a sight to behold. Hannah stands relatively still by her microphone throughout the performance and the boys (Dan and Dominic) do not move around much either. Their concert is a display of pure talent with no need for bells and whistles. I’ve been listening to every song on their album If You Wait but Strong (their most successful single) is the song I always find myself humming in my head and wanting to go back to the most.

I hope you enjoyed having a little peruse of what I’ve been listening to the past month. Please let me know what you’ve been enjoying as well, I’m always looking for recommendations!

Until next time,

J x

Film Review: The Shawshank Redemption

Spoilers ahead.

I struggle to know where to begin when trying to write a review of this film. The 1994 Frank Darabont film has gone down in history as a classic, despite initially not making as much money as some other films of the same year (Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump etc). This film is now wildly popular and I can COMPLETELY see why, it’s one of my favourites.

I love this film for so many reasons, one of which being my slightly strange morbid curiosity about prisons. It’s directed effectively, the narrative is strong and progresses the plot nicely, the casting is brilliant and, let’s not forget, the film is based on an incredible and gripping story by Stephen King.

I’ll start by saying if you have not seen this film and are interested in movies or the history of film at all GO WATCH THIS NOW (it’s on Netflix so you have no excuse). Seriously, I wish I’d seen it sooner. I feel like it’s the kind of film I could put right back to the start as soon as the credits start rolling and watch all over again.

Frank Darabont’s direction is excellent, he really captures what the microcosmic society of a prison is like and what day to day life can be like for inmates with different positions within the system. Not only this but Darabont forces viewers to empathise with protagonist Andy Dufresne in his most harrowing moments, whether they want to or not. An example of this is the tunnel scene towards the end of the film.

Andy Dufresne crawling through the sewers in The Shawshank Redemption

The camera is positioned inside of the tunnel opposite Dufresne. This really emphasizes the claustrophobia, desperation and panic of the situation and, personally, made me feel super on edge!

Another triumph of this film is the casting of Morgan Freeman as ‘Red’. Red narrates the film allowing the plot to progress just at the right speed. The fact that the story is told from a perspective other than Dufresne himself is effective in many ways but most of all because it protects the climax of the film which is, consequently, pretty shocking and exhilarating to watch as a viewer. Obviously, a large portion of credit for this goes to Stephen King, but Morgan Freeman’s performance achieves, in my opinion, a very difficult thing. It manages to be down to earth yet poignant and affecting at the same time. I can’t imagine anybody else being able to strike this balance so well.

I’ve heard people argue over whether the final scene of the film needed to be included or not. Whether is was effective or unnecessary. For me personally I found that final scene incredibly gratifying, and if it wasn’t shown I would definitely feel like I was missing out. So it’s just another positive really!

For me what elevates this film above the norm is its nuance. It hits the mark for me emotionally at every turn. It’s heart warming and devastating and awe inspiring all at once and isn’t that really what films are all about? Plus there’s just nothing like a great story of friendship 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this little review!

Until next time,

J x

 

What Can You Expect From This Blog?

So I’ve kind of decided that I’m going to start posting on Monday’s and Thursday’s (instead of just randomly whenever I have an idea). I think my blog needs a bit more structure to it and I want anybody who’s reading my blog to have an idea of what to expect and when to check back etc. Let’s face it at the moment it’s just random flurries of inspiration and occasional dry periods.

On Monday’s I hope to upload an Opinion Post, this could be reviews of books, films, music, concerts or restaurants and my take on current affairs. Then on Thursdays I’ll be uploading a Lifestyle Post. This will be more along the lines of beauty posts, life updates or even just a golden nugget of worldly advice from me (in other words the ramblings of my mind).

Earlier this week I posted my opinion post of the week which was a review of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and tomorrow I’ll be uploading a kind of introspective post about self-worth (the joys), but anyway, you catch my drift.

Just want to add a bit of structure to things now that I’ve been running this blog for about 4 months.

Until next time,

J x

Book Review: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I’ve wanted to read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath for so many years now. Ever since I studied Plath’s poetry in Advanced Higher English when I was 17 this book has been on my list. I just never got around to it… I think anyone who reads can relate to the feeling of having a pile of books you want to read getting bigger and bigger before you’ve actually managed to read them all.

Anyway, because I’m on summer break from university at the moment I’ve had the opportunity to read books of my own choice for a change. I’ve been reading other people’s blog posts about The Bell Jar and because of some changes I’ve gone/am going through in my own life at the moment I thought now would just be the perfect time to read it.

I won’t lie, I wasn’t initially grabbed by it. It took my a good 70 or so pages before I was truly invested in Esther Greenwood and the story, but when I think about it that goes for most books with me.

One thing I decided almost immediately was that I wasn’t a fan of the character Doreen, she seemed self absorbed, vain and obnoxious and, honestly, whenever her character was involved in the story it irritated me.

The first half of the book was, I suppose, establishing the situation Esther was in and the stage in her life she was at. For reasons that obviously become apparent she seems completely dissatisfied with her life and her relationships. As a reader I found this slightly uncomfortable to read (not in a bad way, it’s good when books evoke a reaction from their readers!) because I have this uncontrollable need to make sure people are having a good time and when I read about Esther being at parties or with friends and clearly having an absolutely shit time I just wanted to pass the girl a drink, put her favourite song on and get her to have a boogie… well, try.

One of my FAVOURITE things about The Bell Jar was Plath’s writing style. Her poetry is, perhaps, what she’s most famous for (unfortunately, other than her infamous personal struggles) and I was curious to see how she dealt with writing in such a different format. To my surprise her style of writing was incredible readable and easy to understand, but you could still tell that it was the same woman who’d written such brilliant poetry who was writing. The descriptions were amazing, at points I just had to pause and think “wow that was so well written”. She conveyed Esther’s experiences perfectly and this extended later into the novel when things became a lot darker.

When “the bell jar descended” upon Esther and her mental health really took a turn for the worse, that’s when I really became fully engaged in the book. Suddenly, we weren’t in this glamorous world of journalism and high society, we were in a mental ward with Esther enduring badly conducted electrotherapy. The visceral descriptions of this treatment were difficult to read but, to me, incredibly interesting as were the parts of the novel that took place inside different hospitals. I really think anybody who’s suffered from mental health problems, particularly depression, would find this an interesting read.

The ending of the story is bitter sweet. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers for those who haven’t read the book, but one of the reasons it’s so famous is because of Plath’s death just one month after it’s publication. So, naturally, this is a very dark read, but one that I think is worthwhile to anybody interested in literature and/or learning about mental health.

Until next time,

J x