Tag Archives: media

Are You What You Want to Be?

Hello!  How are you this morning?  Yeah, me too.  Nearly the weekend, though.

Today I would like to ask you a question: are you what you want to be?  There are three possible ways to think about this question.

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Firstly, in physical terms: are you fit and healthy?  Do you like your hair colour?  Are you happy with your height and weight?  If you can honestly say that you are what you want to be in terms of your physical appearance, then good for you.  I think your pants might be on fire, though.
No one is ever totally happy with how they look, which is a massive shame (and almost entirely a result of the Western media), but I have good news regarding this.  Firstly, there are things we can change if we really want to: we can dye our hair, we can take up exercise and we can drink more water.  The second piece of good news is that how you look does not make you who you are, so let’s not worry about that.

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The next way to think about my question is in terms of achievement: are you in the right job for you?  Is your career progressing the way you hoped it would?  Do you feel that you’ve achieved significant things?
This one is tricky because it’s something that we decide by comparing ourselves to our peers, and that only ever ends in smugness or despair.  Once we leave school, the structure that kept us all on the same trajectory as our class mates is non-existent, and what happens to one of you no longer necessarily happens to everyone else.  Don’t waste time being jealous of other people’s success, or feeling superior about your own: just get on with what you want to be achieving.
This one is slightly more important than the physical one, but it’s still not the key way to answer my question.

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So, the third and most important way to answer my question: are you what you want to be in terms of personal attributes?  Are you kind, are you patient, are you polite?  Would your mother be proud of you?  What do your friends say about you?
I am not suggesting that the way other people see us is more important than how we see ourselves, but after all, the people who love us aren’t sticking around because of how we look or what our job is, are they?  (They’d better not be, anyway.)
This one is the hardest of all to change if we don’t like what we’ve got, but it can be done.  If you want to be less prone to losing your temper you have to practise staying calm under pressure; if you want to be more assertive then you have to speak up when you’re intimidated.  The best thing about this one is that it tends to be the one that your friends and loved ones are most willing to help you with, so you’re not alone with it.

Have a truly cracking Friday.  Definitely treat yourself to a muffin today.

P.S. The title of this blog is a reference to this song by Foster the People.  Good, ain’t it?

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Dull Young Things

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Good morning, dear reader!  How was your weekend?

Reality television is a double-edged tennis racket.  On the one hand, shows like Come Dine With Me are very entertaining, and you can get recipe ideas from them.  On the other hand, Made In Chelsea is an abomination before God and our eyeballs.

When we were first exposed to reality television, it was in the form of a socio-psychological experiment that had a few ethical grey areas, but was essentially an educational undertaking: the first series of Big Brother.  That show in particular has become hideously bloated into something that manages to be skull-crackingly boring and criminally immoral and a damning indictment on the state of television.  Almost an achievement, isn’t it?

The ones that worry me most are the geographically specific shows that follow a set of people around: Made in Chelsea, The Only Way is Essex, and now We Are Watford, which makes me want to burn my home town to the ground, just to prevent the show from being filmed.  The participants of these shows have sold their social lives and rights to privacy.  They have allowed a producer to tell them how to conduct their love lives and friendships, and they have the conceit to believe that a soulless, fabricated version of their petty little lives is television-worthy.  The worst thing is that we watch, and we validate them.

In the 1920s, tabloid journalists and photographers made a huge fuss of a group of socialites and aristocrats, referred to as the Bright Young Things (or Bright Young People).  After the huge losses suffered in the First World War, the young people of London decided to take life into their own hands and really, loudly, raucously live it.

The difference between the Bright Young Things and the cretins on reality television is that the 1920s counterparts didn’t sell themselves to producers who then orchestrated their lives.  Bright Young Things is an excellent film (based on Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh) that tells us what we should have learned in over ninety years: other people’s lives are not supposed to be pursued by the media.

Besides, you’re flipping brilliant.  Your life is immensely fascinating and important, and living it takes up quite a lot of your time,  so why would you want to watch a bunch of morons leading their own lives badly?  People tell me that it amuses them and it’s a case of “it could be worse; I could be him/her”, but I don’t think that that’s enough to waste a whole hour of your life on once a week. Have an absolutely spiffing Monday.