The New Face of Campaigning

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Gone are the days (thankfully) that our Facebook feeds would be littered with heart wrenching photographs of suffering children; the post claiming that 100,000 likes would miraculously cure them, or that if you did not share you would be forever branded Satan’s minion.

Instead it would appear a new trend in social media campaigning is emerging- one that seems to be a lot more effective. There are two prominent examples: the #nomakeupselfie and the Ice Bucket Challenge. I do not know the specific name for these types of campaigns, but it involves being nominated, doing whatever dare is required, donating to a specific charity, and then nominating friends and family. It is always remarkable just how quickly these trends can spread: celebrities are getting involved, politicians are challenging one another, and the most hilarious of examples quickly become viral.

There are many complaints about these challenges involving how many people remember to donate, and what percentage of the donations go towards benefiting the charities involved. There are even people who have taken the Ice Bucket Challenge too far- there has been at least one death. But there is no doubt the outcome of these campaigns are impressive: the #nomakeupselfie raised £8 million in six days for Cancer Research, and The Ice Bucket Challenge has generated a huge increase of interest towards “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” (ALS), previously an often overlooked disease. (It has been suggested there is a lack of research into this disease because to develop a drug for patients would not be profitable, this however I am not sure of.) How on earth can campaigns like these dwarf petitions and sponsored runs so incredibly?

I think the answer is quite well-known: it comes down to our humble, human ego. In the age of social media dominated lives, our internet presence is a polished version of our own selves: we appear more exciting, more attractive, more funny and just downright more interesting than our daily lives would reveal. And so to have a presence on the internet for the price of a few pounds and perhaps some slight embarrassment, these campaigns to some are just irresistible.

Is it a bad thing? Respectable charities gain a surplus of funding to carry out care and research they dedicate their lives to. Patients feel that yes, people care, and they are not alone in their struggle. And we the public get a good laugh. I do not know enough to form an opinion of whether the benefits outweigh the flaws, but it cannot be denied a humongous amount of good is coming out of our easily tempted selves.

My question is, is this the new form of campaigning? It seems more effective than collecting money in shopping centres, or to phone supporters for more donations. Could more charities get on board and soon every month there is a new campaign, a new challenge- from Greenpeace daring people to dress as polar bears, to NSPCC asking everyone to post photos of their childhood selves. (I have a feeling if the frequency increases we would all soon get tired of the endless campaigns).

In some ways it is a depressing view of humanity: that we need the assurance of Facebook likes so we can prove we care by stepping out of our routines to do something for someone else. Is it possible to support a charity that holds special meaning to us, providing regular support through donations and membership, and not inform everyone we know of our kind, generous hearts? I agree with the notion that there is no such thing as a selfless act, but can our self-worth ever be decided by ourselves, and not how we wish to be perceived by others?

In the mean time, for as long as trends like these raise millions for charities: I for one will support the changing face of campaigning.

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21 things to achieve before I’m 21 (or at least, be on my way to achieving)

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I turned 20 a month ago, and it only really hit me last night that I am actually in my twenties. What always seemed like a fun grown up thing to be, is actually reality. Whilst TV shows such as Friends and HIMYM lead you to think it’s all about hanging out constantly in bars/cafes and having quirky, interesting jobs (unless you’re Chandler), you already know it won’t be much different to when you’re 18. Still going to spend too much of the day in bed, still going to spend too much of the day on social media, and occasionally going to burn a microwavable dinner. Just hopefully, it’ll all be done with a little more money in the bank (jokes I live in London).

I am still in denial that adulthood doesn’t properly start until you’re 27, but there’s no denying turning 21 is a milestone, more so than 20. And I was thinking recently that there are things I should really strive towards achieving when my next birthday comes up. Because I am at the age now where we are all starting to get depressed about getting older. Although grey hairs and wrinkles are still a far off reality, we are already expecting them. So here is my list of 21 goals. I won’t aim to accomplish all but at least can be on my way towards doing so, meaning next year when jokes are made about me getting old, I can look back and think “well at least I made it relatively worthwhile”.

1. Graduate. Hopefully with a good degree classification. (a BA in English Literature if anyone’s interested).

2. Have an idea of what to do career wise. I’ll be graduating, this I feel should already be a thing. Do I want to pursue journalism, or publishing, or work for a charity such as Amnesty International? Or shall I just write a travel blog of the different teas of the world. Would need money for this. Maybe I should stick to doing a Masters. That also required money.

3. Get a nose piercing or dip dye my hair. I’ve been meaning to do both since I was 16, I’m just really lazy. Plus getting older will mean both will become less socially acceptable. Horrifying really.

4. Get the tattoo, or be saving up for it. I want a dragon tattoo, I shall get a dragon tattoo. Just petrified of telling my mum.

5. Bake a pie. I’m northern, this skill should be essential.

6. Go to a top London club but not on student night. Fabric or XOYO, it’ll be expensive, but oh so worth it.

7. Get a part time job, keep the part time job. Last year I worked as a zombie for Halloween. It was awesome, but brief. This year if I want to have fun, I should make the job last longer.

8. Improve my writing skills. I have just written an article for an online magazine, an article which I hate and do not want to submit to the editor. I may have been writing since I was a child, but I guess there’s always room for improvement.

9. Invest in a pair of heels. Even if its just wedges. I am nearly 6 foot and haven’t worn heels since my high school prom, but if I could strut my stuff and not fall over, I would over come my fear of those evil, pointy shoes.

10. Find an anti-frizz treatment that works. I have tried this all my life, so probably will never achieve. Currently have been using cider vinegar as part of my shower routine. It really stinks. Girls with naturally smooth hair are so lucky.

11. Practice and perfect the eyeliner flick. This is something I have never attempted. I am terrible at being feminine, but sixties siren here I come.

12. Become better at Polaroid photography. I am rubbish, but Polaroid film allows for such beautiful photos. Maybe then I would treat myself to a SX-70 camera… one can dream.

13. Get into a regular exercise routine. Hahahahaha good one Eleanor.

14. Improve my Spanish. I have been learning for a year. It’s going okay, but I’m very far from being fluent.

15. Drink whiskey without coke. Bourbon and coke go great together, but I’m sure every true whiskey lover would want to see me in hell when I add the soft drink to some scotch. Having it neat or on the rocks makes my lips go funny though…

16. Cut down on the fried chicken after a night out. It’s drunken deliciousness but it’s becoming a too regular occurrence.

17. Stop drunkenly bumming cigarettes off people. See above.

18. Learn how to edit this blog’s layout properly. I want to make it look super pretty but I don’t know how. The fact that my profile picture is sideways is not on purpose, that just happened somehow.

19. Be less shy. Something I have been told to do since high school. Maybe one day.

20. Take up playing instruments again. I was a keen(ish) violin and bass player once. Knowing how to play an instrument is an awesome skill.

21. Live in the same continent, maybe even country, as my boyfriend (or at least have it occurring soon). He lives in Brazil. Hopefully one day soon we’ll be drinking tea together every day. In person, not through Skype.

So that’s it. And as internet shall be my witness, I’ll accomplish about three of these.

Childhood Revisited

I had polaroid film that was expired and I wanted to use up. I decided it would be fun to do so when spending lazy days in Wakefield, the city I was born and raised in. The result was a mixture of good and bad, and the black and white film gave a haunting feel to them. This being appropriate as they hold vivid memories of youth, only of course everything feels different when you return as an adult.

All shot on expired Impossible Project Black & White film for 600 cameras, using my Polaroid 600 Impulse camera.

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Swan Lake

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From A Bench

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Drawing Faces on the Ground

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Pugney Lake

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Dancing in the Dark

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The Shoe Tree

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For Sale: One Family Home, Slightly Worn

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Tree Tunnel

London: A Melting Pot of Style

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Under no circumstances could I be considered a ‘fashionista’, or someone who oozes style and is always two steps ahead of the fashion pack. Being a student on a budget my wardrobe consists mostly of Primark, accompanied by cheap market finds or what I found when spending too long on eBay. It ranges from band tees, shorts and tights combos I lived in during my mid teens, and the colourful dresses I buy in a panic when I realise I can’t spend summer holidays wearing constant black. You won’t find designer pieces, or something I made myself. Nor am I a collector of vintage (unless you count the leather jacket my dad gave me from his punk days that makes me look like a giant sofa).

In spite of this, since moving to The Big Smoke I’ve noticed I have definitely become more conscious of what I wear, what impression it gives, and how I want to look. This is partly a result of heading deeper into adulthood, and understanding first impressions hold more importance than we would wish. Adulthood also has gradually created more confidence in me to more or less accept how I look (think upside down mop: long, thin, with a messy head of hair), and to use this to dress to impress.

Living in London also plays an influential part in how my wardrobe has changed. It is one of the fashion capitals of the world after all, and quite possibly one of the most interesting. What caused me to consider this topic is when flicking through a magazine recently, there was an article about London fashion. One designer was quoted saying it is more quirky than other fashion capitals, as it has given birth to some of the most historically momentous styles; one example being mod fashion. To put it simply, London fashion is unique. It is unique because it is so different: from person to person and from place to place. When in the Sloane area you can find girls stylishly dressed head to toe in Jack Wills, with perfect hair and make up, but then travel to Shoreditch and girls of the same age there will be dressing darker and bolder. As a student of the East End I am more biased to the (sometimes too) crazy and daring outfits you can find there, but these exemplify the daring and creative attitudes to fashion that I suppose is what makes designers admire London.

In other words, London is fantastic. There are so many markets to visit; for finding locally handmade gems among the Made in China usuals (which are still nice and often cheaper). There are pop up stores, cheap second hand and expensive vintage stores to explore. Like everywhere else, you find groups of people who dress boringly the same, but there is always the opportunity to shape, explore and reinvent your personal style so that it is a head-turning reflection of your unique personality.