Hatred hurts. Where did the social [media] go?

Edited to add: As I got a few few comments and questions I wanted to clear up any potential confusion [sorry for that!]. Neither have I personally been target of any online bullying nor is my post exclusively directed at any specific websites or forums though I do see a lot [like the threats mentioned below] of it happening on Instagram.

Warning ahead: Certain happenings go me thinking again and there are lots of words ahead. Yet it’s an important issue I feel all of us have an opinion on or experiences with.

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Faith in humanity. It’s constantly shaken aback by incidents that make you doubt its existence all over the world. However, it’s not merely through actual terrorism.  happening daily. Right around is in what is actually called $$ social $$ media but makes you wonder if some people leave their kindness at the login buttom or commenting form.

A few snarky comments aside I haven’t been victim of this very anti-social part of social media yet. But I’ve heard of and seen the reality of what is happening …

Gossiping and rumors.

Accusations.

Death threats towards people

The problem that can also be a blessing is: words are not just words. They’re powerful. Just like the unexpected surprise of a kind reader’s mail saying the enjoyed your recent post can brighten a bad day an accusing mail or overload of critical comments can turn said day even worse.

Think before you speak – the old rule applies still in the new age of social media. Or it should. Even if we disagree with others – and yes, I do occasionally, too – there are other options than hate. In fact, why not see it as a challenge and training for real life situations that enrage you: can you voice your criticism in a way that allows the other person a reaction other than tears and feeling hurt? A way that opens up a respectful discussion?

Truth is: yes, as bloggers we are opening ourselves up to criticism. But not all voluntarily. There’s no ‘social media light’ option: all the fun and community without the hate. If there was everybody would opt for that, thankyouverymuch. And: there’s [constructive]criticism and then there’s [hurtful]criticism. It’s okay if you can’t understand somebody’s choice and ask for their reasoning. But it’s definitely not okay to threaten to kill somebody’s dog [as seen on Instagram,yes] or the person herself [as read on a popular blogger’s media outlet]. Gossiping wasn’t cool in school and it’s definitely not on the much larger scale as the whole internet as your school yard. Or neighborhood.

Garden

In a food-centered social media world it’s not too surprising which topics leads to heated debates most often: diets. I’ll paint a slightly exaggerated picture for illustration of examples I actually witnessed:

If you choose to eat vegan/paleo/HCLF and talk about the amazing benefits nonstop you’re a superstar and have many devotees.

If, however, you do the above and suddenly notice you’re actually not feeling supreme anymore, hence decide to introduce a few non-diet-conform foods or – heaven beware – give up said diet for good: beware of the haters.

Once again: I talk about dietary-induced conflicts but the issue I’m talking about happens on a much larger scale involving criticism of people as a whole. Whatever you do and or/talk about – especially if you have a large following – you have to expect harsh criticism and bad rumors every minute.

What also makes me sad is knowing there are places/websites with the sole purpose of fuelling hatred and hurtful gossip. With the most popular one being the Lord Voldemort of the blog world I will not write out its name but I’m sure most of you know which forums I’m talking about. I’ll admit I’ve been reading up a bit every now and then there – curiosity always wins, right? – and became more and more disgusted. Like I said: criticism is one thing. But what these people feel they knew about others or try to find out borders on stalking. It is not normal to discuss somebody’s eating behaviours and doubt the truth of what they say or show. Not normal to make assumptions about a blogger’s family or the state of their relationships from a single picture of a few lines in a post. Not normal to discuss possble eating disorders or other illnesses of bloggers you don’t even know personally. Not normal to tear apart every post or comment somebody makes, dissecting it for some ugly truths worthy snarking about.

Everybody is entitled their own opinion? Absolutely, yes. But note the difference: everybody is entitled their own opinion not entitled unreasonable and endless hatred towards people of different opinion or living lifestyles you don’t approve of. But tnat is the reality of social media these days.

Candles

We’re all nosey, I get and admit it. But there’s a line to be crossed and it has been in many cases. Did you watch Mean Girls? It’s like that on steroids. Times ten.

If I was granted one wish for Christmas it would be for more kindness in the world. Or at least the world of social media. Especially as we know there’s a huge wonderful part of it, too. Let’s show the haters and the internet skepticals that love and respect still exist these days. We’re not that awful of a society and generation, are we?

 

Happiness-inducing today: Coincidentially receiving a letter from a fellow blogger. Call me old-fashined but real letters > e-mails any day.

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Hatred, hurtful gossiping and even death threats: how do you experience this on social media? Share any thoughts you have on the topic.

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Fear [not]! The marketing trick to be aware of.

Anoter Thursday is upon us and it’s time for …

Thinking-Out-Loud

 

Sex sells – we all know it [and probably are opposed to the sexism part of it but this is a discussion for another day]. You know what else sells?

Fear.

It’s a powerful emotion because nobody wants to be feel it and will do anything to avoid it. No surprise – but all the more enraging – that clever marketing makes use of this. My latest reminder came in the form of a popular media figure’s newsletter I signed up for eons ago and – don’t tell me you can’t relate – was too lazy to unsubscribe from. Anyway, aforementioned mail dove into memories of past holidays, nostalgia of indulging in the many seasonal treats available in stores. Only to abruptly go into the horrors hiding in these. All the nasty ingredients threatening to poison you.

But fear not: the wonderful sender of this mail obviously has a ton of recipes – actually a book, too, how neat! – to offer that will sub in for any of the bad, no, horrific treats you’re craving. As long as a) you can pretend a sugar-free whole grain cookie tastes as good as your favourite seasonal candy cane Oreos or chocolates and b) keep carrying a boatload of them around with you to any holiday party you’re attending.

Lindt_Easter_chocolate

If it was only about food: annoying enough. But it doesn’t end there. According to the source above you’re also putting yourself under an immense risk of disease every time you – take a shower. No typo. Shocking, isn’t it? So, tell me: of exactly how many people have you heard dying from toxins caught in the shower?

This is what irks me the most: the lacking proof to back up any of those claims. We all know that eating too much sugar isn’t healthy. We all know pesticides and GMOs aren’t our friends.If you believed every new study or article published there would be one thing left to consume. Or maybe not if we believe above shower horror story … I believe common sense gets us far enough. Even those just starting out on their journey to making healthier choices don’t need to be scared into doing so. Sugar won’t kill you and neither will meat. There’s no need for extremes but all the more need for consumers critically questioning sensational and shocking headlines and marketing claims.

Balance. Moderation. These are the keywords you need. No black and white thinking.

If you can still grab a bag of chips or bar of your favourite chocolate without at least a twinge of guilt after reading the many posts of healthy advice out there: congrats! You just proved that you’re not falling prey to the marketers that want you to shiver thinking about your next shower or attend a spontaneous get-together with friends.

Erdnusslocken_flips_peanut

It makes me ragey to see how big influencers abuse their power to scare people. Fear-force them into buying their products. Show me the long-term studies you found your statements on – but don’t try to lure people into buying your latest cleanse, books, vitamin waters or toxine-free pillows through fear or shame. There are enough real issues to worry about in the world so using fear as a marketing tactic is downright repulsive. What will eventually come about it – other than the cash piling up on the bank accounts of the holier-than-thou health ‘experts’ – is chronic misinformation, hypochondrias and confusion. Once you’re convinced all of these fear-mongering claims are true living a normal carefree life becomes a lot harder.

Say no to the fear-mongering. Eat your favourite childhood treats and your broccoli. Be a badass rebel and take all the showers you want. Because life is too short to worry about every step you take.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Other than some days, there was just too much to list here. One of the cutest was a child at my current ‘job’ cheering me on during a game of  Mensch ärgere dich nicht [similar to Ludo]. I almost won, too ;).

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Have you noticed this issue before? What are you thoughts on it? Any other marketing tricks that bother you? Shame is another one that makes me sad to see all around,

Why #goals might not be what they seem like

There’s one trend on everybody’s favourite platform for people stalking connecting with like-minded people that makes me cringe. Yes, we’re talking Instagram – endless source of post inspiration for me – and: #goals. In case you’re one of those who haven’t handed their lives over to an app 😉 [it’s too addictive]: #goals is a hashtag used to express admiration for physical attributes, material possessions or any part of another person’s life. Often found as #relationshipgoals [current uses: 1, 626,508 times], #bodygoals or even #lifegoals. It’s a phenomenon that gets me thinking about its influence on our self-worth as well as false asumptions made online.

Let’s pick one of the most popular and the first I stumbled upon months ago [or at least the first I noticed and intially inspired this post]: #relationshipgoals. Sure, the couples in those pictures looks perfect. Usually either dressed in designer clothes or hippie chic but always hugging, kissing, touching and seemingly forgetting the world around them. Only, you know, aware a picture is taken to be shared with countless viewers all over the world. That much for intimacy …

Just remember this before hashtagging #goals or getting lost in jealousy for others’ presumed perfect life: they’re showing their highlight reel. And not only that but a fraction of a second of their highlight reel. The seemingly perfect couple could have gotten into a fight later that day. The very next second that puppy looking all cute and innocent could have run off to do some damage like leaving a little unwanted ‘gift’ somewhere. If Instagram had existed at the time Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were dating they’d have likely been many people’s #relationshipgoals. Yet: later on separated in a messy break-up.

The #goals you’re admiring might not actually exist. The people embodying your goals might not have the lives they portray on social media. Even when somebody posts a million pictures of their day to day life: still not the full picture of their reality. Because there are 86.400 seconds in a day  and every picture captures only a single one of those. What happened right before or after the picture was taken? We don’t know.

There’s nothing wrong with setting goals. It’s only when tagging #goals makes you feel like the ugly duckling next to the Instagram swan. When it Strive for what is achievable in your own life and also notice how much you already have achieved. Grades in school, being a friend others value having in their life, : these aren’t goals as per Instagram’s statistic but these aren’t admirable goals as per Instagram’s statistic but achievements valued by real people in real life.

I’m 99 % positive the people who are many others’ #goals have struggles of their own. Have days of feeling blue. They might not feel they’d reached their personal goals yet. As Katherine recently stated so truly even having it all – whatever that might  in the particular case – doesn’t necessarily feel as good as it looks from the outside. Those who have it all can still feel lonely, lost in a sea of opportunities, wishes and insecurity about life.

While the lives of some people seem admirable to me, too, I can honestly say I don’t want to be anybody’s #goals. Much less many people’s. Because once you are public like – on Instagram or through a blog –  that you’re under a pressure to maintain a certain image of perfection. Have a bad day? Hide it. Breaking up with your long-term boyfriend and trying to  conceal the fact by simply not posting pictures with him for a while? Rest assured people will start gossiping.

Flower

I’m aware most of my readers have left their teenage times far behind and sure, some of those hashtagging #goals on others’ pictures of their flat abs, pittoresque homes and adorable children are probably meant in a joking way. But Instagram is [second] home to many impressionable young girls [and boys?] who might not be all that secure in their identities. What hashtaggin #goals does is not only showing admiration for somebody else’s life but in subtly voicing a feeling of mediocrity on the commenter’s part.Plus, envy for others’ lives isn’t reserved to Instagram or the times you hashtag #goals. Who hasn’t read blogs feeling another person had the perfect job/family/relationship/vacations?

Having goals and comparing is part of life and completely okay. Only not if it makes us feel lesser-than. At the end of the day, the people who are others’ #goals are humans, too. Like you and me. Perfect just the way we are.

Happiness-inducing today: Receiving a letter by a friend living far away.

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What are your thoughts on the topic? Have you noticed the #goals phenomenon? Are you aware of it as bloggers?

Why I didn’t #prayforparis [hint: it’s not lack of empathy]

This might be one of the posts I was most hesitant to post and there’s a knot in my stomach still. Yet it was this very bugger that basically forced me to write this in the first place. Do you ever have a topic stuck on the front of your mind and can’t shove it aside?

I tried to talk myself out of writing this as I’m afraid of coming across as: rude/unempathetic/insert other negative adjective. Which is not my intention and hopefully not what others perceive me as. Rather, it’s a topic on my mind which I see being the point of Amanda’s invitation to think out loud.

What I will talk about is a touchy subject so I want to be clear about a few things first:

1. In case you didn’t see my post on Sunday where I briefly talked about it: I think that what happened in Paris is horrible. And that’s not even expressing my feelings because there are no words for this.

2. I’m solely referring to the hashtag #prayforparis. This isn’t saying my thoughts weren’t with the survivors, victims and families left behind.

2. What I will talk about is my very personal decision and reasoning – not intended to say anybody posting this was wrong or shouldn’t have done so.

3. Prayers and solidarity are very much needed in times like these.

After I heard of the shootings and everybody posted on Instagram, Twitter or changed their Facebook profile I considered joining for a brief moment, too. But then I quickly changed my mind.

#prayforparis

Here’s why I didn’t:

Lack of words. I didn’t want to simply change my profile picture or just post a picture. That didn’t feel enough to me as my personal statement.

Who’s supposed to see this post? I feel that some – again: not all – people joined in using the hashtag and posting because [almost] everybody did and they felt they had to. For all of your real friends and people who know you it should be obvious that you would in no way support the assassination of Paris. No sane person would ever approve of anything as horrible as those shootings or any kind of massacre or violence.

It became like a trend and overused. And this is not what it should be. Yes, I might be an overthinker but I feel this topic is too serious to turn it into a hype and tag even your unrelated pictures #prayforparis. What I did appreciate, however, where people who really took the time to express their feelings.

If I prayed for Paris: what about the rest of the world and the remainder of the year? It’s a fact I think most of us are probably aware of but don’t consciously remind ourselves of every day: there’s terror happening in the world every day. Tragedies. Every minute. Every second. People die. People suffer. Families mourn the loss of loved ones. I’m not better than other people. I would feel weird showing empathy in this one event yet turning a blind eye for the remainder of the year. I’d feel wrong being selective in my empathy [or at least the part publicly displayed].

Can words make a change? As you might know I’m a huge believer in the power of writing. But with this tragedy I was both at a loss for what to say and unsure how much words would help the people affected. Sadly, you cannot send hugs out to the mourning families because I’d send thousands of those <3.

Once again, I’m not judging you for posting your feelings, using #prayforparis or changing your profile picture. If you did I’m genuinely interested in why and as always open to change my mind.

In my opinion, we should be empathetic every day. Starting with the way we treat those around us already. When I’m scrolling through Instagram and see some people’s unnecessarily hurtful and rude comments on others’ posts. People threatening others because they “dared” to change their diets: this isn’t a world I want to live in. If there’s one thing events like this should encourage us to do it’s: to bring more love and less hate into the world. It’s acts of kindness that will make a change.

 

Over to you: Did you join #prayforparis – why or why not? As well as any other  Please be kind and don’t hate. Like I said I do not judge anybody for joining #prayforparis. This is my very personal explanation on why I didn’t and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Being busier than usual and able to help others.

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Food with a side of guilt

It’s Wednesday. Or What I ate Wednesday for a large part of the blog world but I won’t play along today. Rather, we’ll talking about something that’s been making me a little sad in some of these posts. Again, I might be interpreting something others don’t see into these observations – in that case I will blame 12th grade German classes in school.

Let's talk

Why do we try to explain eating that piece of chocolate by stating we worked out extra hard that day and ‘deserved it’. Or when did we start feeling like we had to state a certain day shown was “rather carb-heavy” or “more indulgent day than usual”? Or making a point that we balanced out that piece of cake with plenty of vegetables at dinner? Or state that yes, we ate a lot but we also exercised for this and that long? Don’t hashtag your meals #cheat, #YOLO or #sorrynotsorry or state that you “don’t eat that way every day”. Yes, it’s called the healthy living blog world. But healthy isn’t about eating ‘clean’ all day every day. It’s not about eating vegetables at every meal. Not even about eating vegetables every day if you don’t feel them.

When I stumble upon your WIAW I don’t analyze your choices and categorize you: “glutton!”, “how can she eat grains for every meal?”, “geee, that’s a boatload of almond butter”. No. Rather, I – and I’ll make the advanced guess this is true for the majority of readers – am curious about seeing different people’s days of food. Actually, I might find you a little more sympathetic if you have a huge sweet tooth and heavy hand on the nut butter, too. Choose the foods you genuinely enjoy eating and that make you feel good. Again, I might be more sensitive here but I wonder if these defending statements hide an insecurity or shame for the choices these people made.

Vapiano

What would be the worst outcome? Strangers assuming you had a deep love for pizza, pasta or pie if that’s what you happen to have enjoyed on a given day? That doesn’t sound too awful to me and again: I don’t think people judge like this. Or if they do: never mind because: Those who mind don’t matter. Those who matter don’t mind. Just ask yourself how you read food posts. Do you make quick assumptions about people solely based on the food shown? I’d guess not. The same should go for everyday ‘real’ life. Aside from the fact nobody chooses their friends based on their food choices: Would we be more attracted to the girl ordering the salad with the dressing on the side or nothing [yes, that was me for too long] while you want to get pizza? Or the one who’s up for a spontaneous meal, doesn’t stress about macros and how much she worked out on a given day?**

** Please note that once again, I’m not shaming anybody for choosing a certain diet or lifestyle. My point are choices or statements coming – consciously or unconsciously –  from a place of guilt or shame.

eating out_Dean and David_curry_vegan

Let’s make more room to talk just about the food, not the macros. Tell me all about the deliciousness on your plate [by the way: the above plate was a vegan curry at Dean & David’s]. What I ate Wednesday: not about comparison [with yourself or others], judgement, restriction or guilt. All about enjoyment in food. It’s hard not to compare or push aside food guilt when one and a half million articles offering ‘healthy’ advice tell you to feel bad about carbs/fat/sugar. But we can make a start in stopping to explain our choices. It tastes fantastic and makes you feel good? It’s good for you. Because a free and happy mind can enjoy life more.

 

Happiness-inducing today:Seeing one etting one of the cutest puppies on my walk home and then spontaneously petting it. I’m not usually one to do that because you never know if the owners like it but I couldn’t resist. It definitely made me smile.

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Your thoughts on defnding food choices: Is it something you’ve noticed before? Do you find yourself justifying meals or treats through exercise or else? Let me know whatever comes to your mind on the topic.

Are protein bars actually fuelling your recovery?

Protein ice cream. Protein bars. Protein Bread. Protein Pasta. You name it – there’s a protein version for it out there*.

*Note that I am not saying any of these products were inherently bad, that people shouldn’t eat or I’d never buy them out of curiosity. The focus of my thoughts here is a different one as you’ll see in a minute.

While I’d been aware of the high popularity of a certain brand of protein bars – okay, Quest bars – among bloggers for a long time it wasn’t until I joined Instagram that I noticed a pattern. The seemingly biggest group consuming said bars, shakes and other protein cookies/puddings/ice creams? Not the body builders or figure competitors the companies probably created them for in the first place. No, people recovering from eating disorders. People whose intention [or at least this would be my assumption and personal goal] is to re-learn a normal and intuitive eating behavior. Call me quick to judge but I see protein treats as a potential barrier on the recovery road. Allow me to elaborate.

Carbs? Scary. Fat? Potentially scary, too. Protein? The least scary macronutrient ever to anybody in the #fitfam and people in recovery. But: recovery should be scary. It should mean challenging yourself and facing fears. Having a protein treat rather than a real one deserves the hashtag #cheatclean, yes. Because you’re cheating yourself by sticking to a ‘clean’, non-scary lifestyle. It’s like bargaining with your ED: Fine, you’ll eat more but you make sure it comes from the presumed ‘healthiest’ source of calories – protein. And yes, you might gain the much needed weight. But you might slow down your recovery process and probably won’t loose the fear towards certain foods [sugar, white flour, …].

Quest bar_s'mores_protein

If you’re thriving on a high-protein diet that’s cool. I’m not telling anybody to drop the protein bar and I will openly say I’m curious to try some interesting protein treats, too [see picture above; explanation to follow in my next post]. Yet for me this is merely curiosity and not the belief I’d need to monitor or manage my macros.I know what works for me and also that different people have different needs. I might be off here. There’s always time for diet experimentation but when protein bars or shakes are considered meal replacements, people apparently skimp on the carbs even at family gatherings or special occasions I do wonder about the reasoning. It could be because I – as somebody with a history of [and still in recovery from] an eating disorder – am more sensitive towards these things.

If you declare a protein cookie to taste ‘just like grandma’s’ than I assume/hope you do eat the latter on occasion, too. Or do you bring your own protein treats to family gatherings [and potentially offend grandma]? Recovery is about getting back a life you will be able to sustain in the long term. Is it realistic to find protein versions of all the foods people around you eat in every setting in your life? What about holidays in different countries? Traveling for work? Or simply living in a place that doesn’t offer easy availabilty of high-protein treats like Quest bars, Complete Cookies and what not all? At least from my experiences it doesn’t seem like an easily sustainable lifrstyle plus we don’t actually need all that much protein and can cover our needs eating real foods but that just as an aside.

Mint chocolate

The moral of the story? Like any other food [and what every package of supplements tells you] protein bars can be part of a balanced diet. Just make sure you’re not using them to replace real and/or fear foods. No choices in our lives should come from a place of fear. If you want a protein bar because you really enjoy the taste – go for it. Grandma’s cookies or that bar of chocolate? Same.

Happiness-inducing today: Talking to a friend on the phone while out on a walk. If we can’t walk outside together this is a good compromise.

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No questions but I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the topic.