In which my attitude to this election is the word ‘fuck’ whispered softly while cradling a strong alcoholic beverage

I didn’t think this election was bothering me until this evening, when I picked up a box of Heroes I bought to take to work tomorrow and ate half of them while I was watching the news. So it’s possibly time to admit I’m experiencing internal conflict. (I’m also really annoyed I’m furring up my arteries for something that isn’t Christmas.) For the first time ever, I don’t know who I’m going to vote for.

I live in Southend, which is Very Conservative and usually, I don’t care. It’s been Tory since, like, 800 BCE, so I don’t loose sleep, you know? I think I voted Green then Lib Dem in the last two elections, or possibly Lib Dem then Green. Mostly they were protest votes against the inevitable re-election of a middle aged white bloke. I went with those two because I’ve never held either of the main parties in anything other than contempt, and because if I have to pick a team, I’m maybe somewhere near the Lib Dems or the Greens. Ish. This is an accurate depiction of how I generally feel about politicians and the division of people into specific parties:

Frank Iero fuck off gif
from Tumblr

This election, the Lib Dem guy lives in Surrey (seriously) and the Greens aren’t standing. That leaves the Psychedelic Future Party (fun idea, waste of a vote), and independent (my spiritual home I think). The independent candidate is a GP, and we need more of those in parliament. He’s also South Asian, and we need fewer white people in Parliament. So independent it is! But. Buuuut. Because we have the first past the post system, and because the Labour candidate was very popular last time and is standing again, my constituency is a marginal. So I could vote tactically to remove the middle aged white guy.

Our Labour candidate is a younger woman, and we need more women in Parliament. We need a younger Parliament. She’s LGBT, and we need a queerer Parliament. But. Buuuut. I have about as much faith in Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to command a government as I did in Boris’s, and Theresa’s. I don’t think a Labour government is going to fix or solve Brexit, because Brexit is a black hole of fuckery whose outcome will please precisely nobody. I don’t think Corbyn has any more support amongst his party, or control over it, than Theresa did with hers. I’m appalled by the complete lack of action over anti-Semitism. But. Buuut. A vote for the independent GP is just a vote for the incumbent.

Does it even matter? The number of people who spoil their votes or don’t vote at all are going to dwarf the number of people who vote, regardless who they vote for. My constituency will likely return the incumbent regardless of whether I vote Labour, independent or Psychedelic Future. The government will be a shit government regardless of which party wins, Brexit will be a mess regardless, the Scottish independence issue won’t go away regardless. The only thing it comes down to is my instincts and a decision I can live with until the next election. Which could be in five years or could be in March. Fuck knows.

I thought writing this might help me decide. It has not. I also now have indigestion. I want a drink. I want a more representative voting system. I don’t want to distrust every  politician. I want a clear cut choice. I want to live in a town with a better funded hospital and no knife crime. I want to feel like my vote actually counts. I want to write ‘a plague on all your houses’ on the ballot. I don’t want to waste a vote that people died for.

Fuck’s sake. I’m going for a bath. See you on the other side.

In Which I Have Been Blogging Ten (10!) Actual Years

Today I have been blogging on here ten years. My first ever post wasn’t today, it was sometime in November, but Halloween always felt like a good day for a birthday. I’ve thought about writing something long and heartfelt, or doing a big old retrospective where I comb through old posts ripping the shit out of 14-year-old me. But to be completely honest, I can’t be bothered. Ten years is a lot of posts to go through. Although I’m fully expecting a shitty teen to dig something up and cancel me in the near to medium future and would prefer to cancel myself as a precautionary measure, I’ve got other things to think about.

Ten years is quite a while though. What’s changed in my life? Most things, since I was 14 a decade ago. What has changed on this blog? The quality of my writing has improved, mostly. I know what alt text does now, I credit my images and I’m less of a dickhead, mostly.

In terms of the wider world, I’m fairly sure we still had a new Labour government in 2009. Nigel Farage was just a bloke with a few weird opinions. Donald Trump was still a badly dressed businessman. Game of Thrones was merely a nerdy book series. Ugh, what a time.

Congratulations to me, I guess, for sticking with a project long enough for it to reach double figures! Huge props to you if you’ve been reading since the good old days of 10-long comment threads and arrogant teenage ignorance (oh the irony). Hi if you’re new – welcome aboard! Don’t look at anything from earlier than 2017.

I could say something about plans for ten years’ years time, but I am not where teenage me thought I’d be at 24, and it feels like too big a topic when I’m not even sure what I’m doing over Christmas. I mean, I hope Brexit’s bloody done or has been cancelled completely by 2029. I’d like Donald Trump to have been impeached and consigned to history, although since he’s not the picture of wellbeing, I’m not convinced he’ll actually be here in a decade.

I like to think I’ll be financially and mentally stable enough to have a dog, but beyond that (and the Brexit thing) I’d rather not look too far ahead. Wait, no, I want The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes to be an ebook. And to have written some other stories that are strange and kind of funny and a bit magical. I also like to think I will still be chatting away on here about whatever takes my fancy. Realistically about the dog and the stories. Maybe that’s the direction I should take Indifferent Ignorance. Dogs and books. Although now I think about it, it’s been about dogs and books more than it’s been about anything else, except maybe My Chemical Romance.

Frank Iero fuck off gif
still my favourite gif of all time. Found somewhere on Tumblr in 2017, @ me if it’s your work of art

I wanted to commemorate this almost-momentous day with an photo or sketch also I know why images are important for SEO now but in the spirit of looking forward, not back, I decided to make one instead of sharing something old:

Sharpie sketch of a sad looking ghost with the words 'I can't believe she's been doing this for a decade'

It’s clearly a gem, so I’ve signed it. I think it might outdate the little Boozy ghost Frank Iero draws on merch, but do ghosts even age.

What were you doing a decade ago? What would you like to be doing in a decade? Tell me what we should name the little ghostie, or I will be going with Little Ghostie.

Happy Halloween!

Update: I can’t fucking believe some band stole my birthday thunder.

It’s Not Me, It’s You | Why I’m Taking a Break from Instagram (and kind of staging a protest)

Bye Instagram, it's not me it's you

Yesterday I floated an idea with some fellow bloggers and Etsy sellers, and their response didn’t make curl up in embarrassment, so here goes. Last week I posted a photo to Instagram of the Kuang Si Waterfalls in Laos, with a link to the accompanying hilarious blog post. In the space of a few hours, which is the average lifespan for an Insta post, it got three likes. I work in digital marketing so I would have understood if I had tagged the post badly, or done a dodgy caption, or posted a photograph of an actual turd. But the Kuang Si Waterfalls are literally paradise:

My cousin even wrote some comments, so every point on the old ‘how to post a good Insta photo’ check list was ticked: funny caption, relevant tags, engaged audience, LITERAL PARADISE. I gritted my teeth and thought ‘maybe it is time to take a break from Instagram.’ I’ve been cutting down on my social media follows and posts generally lately because I’m busy, and if LITERAL PARADISE can’t reach my other friends and family, let alone potential blog readers, what is even the point? Intagram’s recent algorithm changes are making it harder and harder for people to see recent content, or even just… content. I think I see more ‘sponsored posts’ and ‘recommended posts’ than I do actual posts, and then photos from a week ago show up on my timeline that I completely missed a week ago. I’m not an expert but I did some Googling and here is the science behind why that happens:

  1. When you post a photo, Instagram shows the photo to 10% of your audience
  2. If within the first 10-60 minutes, your post gets high engagement (likes, comments, shares), Insta shows it to the rest of your audience (the exact amount of time seems to be debatable, but it’s definitely no more than an hour or two)
  3. If the post doesn’t perform then Insta, um, doesn’t show the rest of your audience.

TEN MINUTES. Here is a good article with more info, by the way. I dunno about you, but a lot of my followers are in a different timezone and a lot of the rest are spam accounts that don’t care anyway. No one sees anything in 10 minutes! Anyway, that’s not the point. Algorithms used by Insta and Facebook show you posts based on what the algorithm thinks you want to see, based on your history and previous engagement and whatnot, not on what you actually might want to see (again, I am not a computer expert, if anyone has a good explanation for how algorithms actually work, hit me up).

In theory this means all accounts (businesses, personal, robots pretending to be people) have to engage with followers by commenting, posting to Insta Stories, watching Insta Stories, etc. Officially, the new algorithm is a way of rooting out fake accounts that spam everyone. But it is also a sneaky unofficial way to get more people to use the app. To gain followers/readers/customers, we have to give Instagram more of our eyeball time, and thus give Instagram’s advertising partners more of our eyeball time. Small businesses or bloggers are more likely to pay for a sponsored post to reach more people, but how many of us see a sponsored post and immediately engage? I do sometimes, but not when I already follow that account and can’t see their organic posts!

Frank Iero fuck off gif
from Tumblr

Anyway. At first I was annoyed with Instagram as a regular person, then I was annoyed as someone whose job includes posting to Instagram for clients who expect results, and then I was annoyed as someone with a blog, Patreon and Etsy shop that deserve way more coverage than they get. But I don’t like moaning about a problem without trying to fix it, so I’ve had an idea for a little protest project.

As I said before, Instagram is fundamentally concerned about hooking users into spending more time on the app. It needs us to engage, because it’s a for-profit company that relies on advertisers paying lots of money in exchange for exposure to lots of people. And the only thing that really resonates with businesses is money. If users spend less time scrolling and watching Stories, there will be less exposure for advertisers and less revenue for the company. If lots of users spend less time on the app, citing the algorithm, the boss dudes might consider improving it.

So I’m taking a two week break from my personal Insta accounts, effective Monday 26th February. I can’t delete the app because I have clients who will want me to post for them, but I won’t be on my account, or the alternative Etsy account I run. If you’re annoyed too, join in! Of course, you don’t have to take two weeks. If spending an hour less a week on there is all you can manage because you have customers and friends to keep up with, that’s cool too. I am clearly not going to be monitoring you – this is a fun lil project that will stop me gritting my teeth so often, not Black Lives Matter or the gun control protests. I’m not really expecting to get through to a multi-million dollar company. There’s not really a time limit either – I can’t see this going viral and all 800 million Instagram users taking a two week break, somehow. And I’ll definitely be back on the app in a fortnight, because there are people on there I really care about. But best case scenario, Instagram’s bosses remember their audience is a community and worst case, I get a bit of headspace and meet some other disgruntled bloggers and business owners!

So if you’re taking part, hit me up in the comments – I’m also on Twitter and Tumblr, and my blog Facebook is here. You can email me at transmissions@indifferentignorance.com too. I wanted to hashtag #FuckInstagram but I think that might be too combative. I’m thinking maybe #ItsNotMeItsYou?

Bye Instagram, it's not me it's you