How teenagers use social networks, not written by a teenager

I really can’t stand articles “written by a teenager” that every now and again go viral. These articles — written by real-life teens (the main selling point here) — give you the definitive outlook of all teenagers with regards to social media.

I was recently a teenager. I am admittedly a year out of touch, but that still makes me relatively well qualified to comment here.

Here are some pointers:

  • “Teenagers” is not a single homogenised group who all think exactly the same way, all use their phones and laptops in exactly the same way and all think in exactly the same way.
  • “Teenagers” refers to a literally everyone between the ages of thirteen and nineteen. During that period teenagers grow up significantly; it’s probably one of the most significant six-year periods of their lives. There is absolutely no way you can draw generalisations about nineteen year-olds that still apply to thirteen or fourteen year-olds.
  • Even if you could homogenise smaller age ranges, there’s no consideration of gender, social class, social status and so on and so forth. It’s relatively little coincidence that overtime I’ve seen an article like this it’s been written by a white male middle class kid.

The next time you seen an article written by a real teenager that tells you some startling fact about how teenagers use a single social network slightly differently to how they’re perceived to use said social network, and that teenagers actually use this other social network you hadn’t heard of in a way you don’t quite understand or expect, just remember it’s only relatively absurd to make sweeping generalisations about a relatively small group.

Rant over, that’s all.

New Year, New Habits

“Building habits” is all the range these days. Instead of new year’s resolutions if one is a cool kid one should have habits for the new year.

People like Leo Babauta write about habits, James Clear writes every week on habits and Lifehacker‘s posts on new year’s resolutions all advocate some form of habit building. So habits are the things that anyone who’s anyone is advocating.

Continue reading New Year, New Habits

2014 In Review What I've Done/What Have I Done

I’m about to hit two years of sevenironcows and possibly one of the things I’m most proud of is deciding to name my annual here’s stuff I’ve done post “What I’ve Done/What Have I Done”. If you’re interested, this is what I wrote a year ago.

2014, I think, has been an excellent year. If in 2013 I learnt a lot, in 2014 I developed a lot. I’m a lot more confident, I feel better, I’m a lot more adventurous. I don’t know I’ve been more creative, but I’ve certainly continued to pursue my creative endeavours and developed new ones.

I said a year ago I wanted to travel more and that’s been a major success this year. I’ve visited a ton of places, with my major excursion being a month-long trip around Europe this summer. I went with my friend James and he was great at making sure I pushed boundaries of what I’d normally do and I’ve certainly kept some of that spontaneity and yes attitude with me.

Having done one backpacking trip I’m absolutely going to be doing more and I’m a lot more confident about going to more adventurous places. Next Summer I’m hoping to spend a much longer time travelling in one go, hitting Morocco, Istanbul and the bits of the Mediterranean I missed this year. Travel remains very high up on my agenda.

I’ve always vaguely prescribed to a kinda minimalist attitude, but living out of a backpack for a month really demonstrated how much stuff one needs. I’ve not been very good at really applying any of this thinking/philosophy/whatever you want to call it either at home or at my house in Coventry. I’d like to get better at that in 2015.

Along similar lines I started using Headspace at the same time as I started my European travels. I’d always been curious about meditation and it was definitely a very positive move to start doing it and applying mindfulness to everyday life. So that’s been a plus. Negative has been I’ve not been very good at regularly practicing, going in fits and spurts and never managing more than two or three days in succession.

I’m toying with the idea of being unnecessarily aggressive in goals for doing Headspace in 2015. Literally every day? It’d be an interesting way of doing it.

I announced that I launched my new blog a couple of months ago, but since then I’ve not actually published anything. I say this ever year but I’d like to majorly fix that in 2015.

We’ve also reached the two-year anniversary of sevenironcows. I started this site up at the start of 2013 cause I wanted my own little space of internet and I whilst I initially planned on blogging once a week (and did so for the majority of last year), this year I’ve become less fussed about frequency of writing; I write a lot more when I’m at home and that’s fine. I would have liked to have published a couple more posts this year, but I’m pretty happy with my content output, especially the adventure posts.

University obviously dominates my entire existence during term time and the first term of my second year (ie the most recent one) was extremely busy. Being on the executive committees of both Warwick Labour and BrassSoc meant my evenings were always busy and whilst I like being busy and will always fill whatever quantity of time I have available with stuff, one can be too busy and I think I reached this point a couple of times last term.

I’ve been really enjoying my degree, though, and I’ve definitely allayed the fears I had before I joined that it would be a bit of a waste of time. Whilst arguably my learning about the abstract workings of capitalism doesn’t really help anybody, I at least find it interesting to better understand the world and whatnot.

All in all, good work in 2014 Alex. It’s been a very exciting year and I’m very much looking forward to what 2015 has in store. Onwards!

I read way too many travel blogs

Like any self-respecting twenty-something geek I subscribe to a lot of blogs and use Feedly to collate all of them into a convenient single place (side note, I also use Press on my phone/tablet which is a really really nice RSS reader). Feedly is a pretty good at organising all of these sites into categories and naturally one of my categories is travel.

So I read a lot of travel blogs. Significantly more travel blogs than any other type of blog. Over the last couple of weeks with “best blogs of 2015 lists” making an appearance I’ve significantly widended my reading, too.

I read quite a wide variety of travel blogs and I’ve come to the conclusion that nobody has yet nailed the travel blog.

Continue reading I read way too many travel blogs

Four terms down, five to go

So I’ve completed another term at Warwick and I’m now 4/9 of the way through my time there. Which is kinda a crazy statistic. I seriously hesitated about going at all, given I was having a great time at Miniclip during my gap year, but I’m so glad I did. Not to be pretentious (a sure fire way to be more pretentious), but having spent a year and a half studying politics and international relations I feel I’m getting somewhere better understanding both myself and the world which has been constructed around me.

Continue reading Four terms down, five to go

Visiting Bristol 2014

Last weekend I headed down to Bristol with Warwick’s PhotoSoc. I’d only been to Bristol once before and it rained more or less the whole time, so it was good to experience the city properly.

I soaked up some culture, drank a lot of coffee, caught up with friends but the huge highlight was being there for the fireworks to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The bridge is the iconic symbol of Bristol and the fifteen minute display launched off the bridge was fantastic.

Naturally I snapped some photos. They are below for your visual enjoyment.

Work is boring, Adam Smith said so.

“The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects too are, perhaps, always the same, or very nearly the same … has no occasion to exert his understanding … His dexterity at his own particular trade seems, in this manner, to be acquired at the expence of his intellectual, social, and martial values. (Smith 1998 [1776]: 429-30) “

Visiting Manchester 2014

I’ve made my way around a lot of Great British Cities in the last couple of months and now I’ve got Manchester to add to the list. After visiting a place and snapping some photos I’ve got into the habit of uploading them here and labeling them as my “adventures”. I can only kinda do the same for Manchester. I didn’t actually take any photos of Manchester.

So I drove up with three friends from London in my trusty Skoda last Sunday for Labour Party Conference. Despite getting off to an appalling start and scraping my front bumper whilst reversing out of my parents’ drive, the journey was fine and we got to Manchester in good time and in one piece.P9980821

It was my first Conference and once there I quickly learned the tricks of the trade. Go to exciting fringe events, don’t feel bad about taking free wine and don’t be nervous talking to anyone — and look confident, ’cause confidence gets you into just about anywhere.

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Whilst we explored the pubs around the conference center, we didn’t really go much further than that, hence my difficulty in putting together this post about Manchester. What I did see of the city was very nice, though. Lots of culture and I’m gonna have to go back.

On the last day of Conference we shamelessly got pictures with everyone and anyone. Below are those pictures. Thanks Manchester, let’s do it again sometime.

On Scotland

Nationalism is a limiting philosophy which erects barriers where none need exist. It divides friends and families. And it goes against the sensible trend, in a world where instantaneous global communication is now the norm, to realign former nations into larger power blocs. It is self-regarding,where localised self-interest should no longer be being thought of. It is reactionary: the nineteenth century idea of the proud nation state, operating alone, is no longer valid.

Scottish independence is a chimera, a distraction from the real problems that exist in all the countries of Britain. It is a utopian dream that uses nationalist ideology to placate people; to make them suppose that their problems can be solved, not by engaging in the politics of the Union, but by cutting themselves off and leaving themselves out to dry.

The polls closed for Scotland’s independence referendum a couple of minutes ago. We should know the result by the morning. The above are two comments two of my friends have made on Facebook over the last couple of days.

A decision has already been made and it’s probably slightly futile to comment at this stage, but the comments I’ve seen from people voting “yes” in the last twenty four hours has left me feeling obliged to write something.

I wish to make two very brief comments.

Echoing my two friends above, history has shown again and again that nationalism is a dangerous philosophy which unnecessarily divides people. The Scottish Nationalist Party has been very successful at creating and then exploiting these divisions.

Second, the idea that Scotland’s problems are a product of the Union and thus can be solved outside of the Union is not correct. An independent Scotland will not become a more equal society overnight and economists have warned again and again we simply do not know whether an independent Scotland — a claim peddled by the Yes camp — can achieve this.

Too many questions remained unanswered and any attempt to make this point has been dismissed as scaremongering. Currency and EU membership (specifically with regards to Spain’s potential hostility and the likely non-transfer of current UK EU opt-outs, which include items such as the Euro and Schengen Area) are two huge unknowns. If I was voting those would be absolute deal-breakers.

Fundamentally, we do not know, but we do not need to be further divided. I’m going to bed now, and I very much hope I wake up to find Scotland has voted to remain part of the Union.