Well, that's Christmas over and done with for another year. In less than a week, we'll be saying goodbye to 2013 and ushering 2014 in its place. And that's good. Change is good; it keeps us on our toes. With that in mind, I've had a think about a few changes I'd like to see in 2014. Being me, these changes aren't personal ones. In fact, my little list of changes came in the form of an internal rant whilst I was checking Facebook this morning. So, sit back and ponder the top five things I'd like to see the back of in 2014...
1. Couples who take selfies in bed and then post them online.
THIS IS HOW STUPID YOU LOOK!
How did this even become a "thing?" I mean, seriously. At what point did someone, all cosied up under the covers with his or her loved one, decide: "Oh my God, you know what this situation calls for? Photographic evidence, which we can share on social networking sites!" Newsflash: WE DON'T WANT TO SEE IT.
If you've never seen a bed-selfie, consider yourself lucky. In the last fortnight, I've seen at least three on my Facebook feed. Maybe I just befriend perverts... Who knows. All I do know is that if I never see a snap of a topless guy lying under the covers whilst his girlfriend (who is either also topless, or - ooh, how cute - wearing his shirt) snuggles up beside him, it will be TOO SOON.
Bed-selfies, or, to give them a suitably nauseating name, "belfies," generally fall into two camps, both of which are almost certainly liable to induce a fit of violent dry-heaving in anyone unlucky enough to witness them. First, there's the cute belfie. In these pictures, the couple are either snuggled up, smiling smugly at the camera with expressions that shriek "look at our love! Feast your eyes upon our adoration for one another! WE ARE SO HAPPY THAT WE FEEL THE WHOLE INTERNET NEEDS TO SEE OUR PRIVATE CUDDLING TIME!" OR the couple will be engaged in some sort of "cute" activity. This can range from a pillow fight all the way through to breakfast in bed. No matter what the situation, here's the thing: The "cuteness" is totally destroyed by the fact that a) you've had to stop what you're doing in order to photograph it, thus rendering the moment utterly lost and b) that glorious moment means something to the two of you and nobody else. By snapping it and posting it on Facebook or Twitter, you don't look all lovely and adorable; you look like you can't simply enjoy some quiet time together, without feeling a desperate need to include everyone on your friend list, when not one of those people has requested to be involved (and if they have, you probably need to take out a restraining order). Either that or you look smug, as though you want to forcibly rub your love in the face of every single person you know. Neither is a nice option, guys...
Of course, the other kind of belfie that couples force upon us, is the quasi-sexual snap. In these photos, the couple will be topless (hopefully with the duvet covering their baubles) and engaged in a kiss, or a passionate embrace. Again, there's no actual passion evident in these photos, seeing as at some point during the encounter, the couple have shrieked: "HEY, LET'S TAKE A PHOTO FOR FACEBOOK!" and subsequently posed, therefore totally killing the moment. Still, the message these photos give out is "WE HAVE EITHER JUST HAD SEX, OR WE INTEND TO DO SO VERY SOON." If that's a message you want to send to your Facebook friend list, then I suggest you reassess your life choices.
To summarise: By all means, do whatever you like in your own bedroom. Just please, for the love of God, keep it to yourselves.
2. And whilst we're on the subject of Facebook...
WHY ARE YOU STILL SCROLLING? BASTARD!
Anyone who regularly uses social networking sites will probably have encountered these vile, emotionally manipulative pictures. You know the type: "One like = one sympathetic hug. Share if you care. Keep scrolling if you secretly torture small animals in your spare time."
Here's the deal, people of Facebook and indeed the world: If I click "like" on a photo, do you know what happens? The person who put the photo on there gets a notification. AND THAT'S IT.
My "liking" a picture won't cure cancer. It won't tell a small child that she's loved. It won't rebuild homes lost to floods or other natural disasters. Pretending that it might is just ridiculous. Are we really supposed to believe that there are people out there in the world, who click "like" or "share" on these photographs and then rush to tell their families: "Fear not everyone; I've just eliminated AIDS! It was so simple; I wonder why nobody had done it before, to be honest!" If there are people like that in the world, I will lay money that they take belfies.
If you care about small dogs with only three legs, or homeless children, or whatever today's "share this or prove you have no soul" picture depicts, then do something about it, if you can - donate to charity, or volunteer at a shelter. Sharing that photo achieves literally nothing; not even awareness-raising. After all, we've all heard of cancer. We all know that illnesses are very sad and that animals should be treated properly. Not wanting to spread pictures designed to make people feel guilty for things that are entirely out of their control doesn't make a person heartless. It just means they're not going to fall for such blatant emotional manipulation.
And whilst we're on the subject, you know those "share this and something amazing will happen to you in five minutes" posts? They're bullshit as well. Happy new year!
3. Ppl who talk liek dis.
You know those posts that do the rounds on social networking sites, suggesting that you can read anything no matter how jumbled up, as long as the first and last letters of each word are in the right place? Well I don't think we need those. I think if we can decipher what the Hell people are saying when they use text speak or the equivalent thereof, then we can consider ourselves to be doing okay.
Cos, leik, dis makes no sens. It makes mah eyes bleed. Wot u talkin leik dis 4?!
When text speak first came about, it seemed to be because old mobile phones could only send a certain number of characters in a text message. To compensate, "you" became "u" and "to" became "2." It was ugly to look at, but necessary. A bit like the talented member of most modern boybands (oooh, burn!). Since then, however, phones have come a long way. You can send almost limitless words and characters all in one message. And yet, this horrible trend continues.
I realise that I'm a writer and therefore probably a little over-precious when it comes to words. But I pop onto Twitter most days and quickly have to disappear again, before I feel compelled to correct the spelling and grammar of total strangers. I get that some people have trouble with spelling and grammar. It's not always easy. But here, let me help you:
"Your" means that something belongs to you. "I like your jumper," for example.
"You're" is short for "you are." So you might say "you're looking great in that jumper."
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL I HOLD DEAR, STOP SAYING "YOUR" WHEN YOU BLATANTLY MEAN "YOU'RE."
I genuinely mean it when I say that this ridiculous trend of shortening words or deliberately mis-spelling them ("liek" being a case in point, along with "teh" instead of "the") is probably at least in part responsible for declining standards of writing in general. Nobody is correcting people when they write "there" instead of "their" online and as a result, they carry on doing it. You may not think that bad writing is a problem. But bad writing made EL James famous. For that reason alone, we need to stamp it out.
Which leads me neatly onto...
4. Fifty Shades of Grey
I won't go into too much detail on this, seeing as I've already written multiple blogs on the subject (*air-hostess voice* You can find them here, here and here), but Fifty Shades of Grey romanticises an abusive relationship, in which a naive woman is emotionally manipulated, psychologically abused, coerced into sex after saying "no," stalked, put in danger and physically assaulted (what happens in book 2, where Ana is dragged off a beach and has deep, red welts and bruises inflicted on her as punishment for sunbathing topless is NOT BDSM - ask anyone who practises the lifestyle).
As someone who survived an abusive relationship, I take enormous offence at the idea that Christian Grey - a man who embodies many of the negative qualities my ex had - is supposed to be the perfect man. He isn't. He's a tosser.
Also, I take issue with EL James' atrocious writing. She has her lead character speaking, then writes "I muttered, wordlessly." Yo, EL? When you mutter, you tend to use words. You know, like the ones Ana just spoke. There's nothing sexy about a heroine referring to her lady-bits as "down there," either. If you're getting off on this kind of "naughtiness," the Internet is going to BLOW YOUR MIND WITH FILTH.
Oh and EL? Your subconscious is, you know... sub conscious. In as much as we can't interact with it. If Ana is seeing her subconscious reading a book or whatever, then she probably needs to see a psychiatrist.
People, I beg of you: Read something else. Anything else. An official guide to arse-wiping would be better than Fifty Shades of Grey. In fact, arse-wiping is pretty much all those books are good for.
5. People who are famous for no reason whatsoever.
I'm sorry to my friends who love TOWIE/MIC, but yes. I AM going there...
Ask yourself a question: What are most of these people famous for? On the whole, these people became famous because someone shoved a camera in their face and put their ridiculously staged social lives on TV. That's it. And those people - cleverly, I must grudgingly admit - milked their five minutes of fame for all that it was worth, becoming glamour models or TV presenters.
But where is the actual talent? What did these people really do to deserve fame and fortune? Because I'll be honest with you and say that as far as I can see, it was very, very little. To me, the uninitiated boycotter of all faux-reality crap like TOWIE/MIC/Georgie Shore etc, their paths to fame went like this:
"So, I was like, going out with James and then he shagged my best mate, so I shagged her brother and then he was like, I'm still in love with my ex and I was like, well I still love James innit, so then I had like, a well emotional reunion with my best mate and it was, like, totes sad cos she cried and her false eyelashes fell off, but then... Sorry, you want me to host a daytime TV show on ITV2? And get my tits out in a magazine? TOTES AMAZE!"
Even President Obama has spoken out about "reality shows" teaching children false values, after several studies revealed that most youngsters dream of simply becoming "famous," with little consideration of what they actually want to be famous for.
And I'm sorry, but these people who are famous for being famous are so utterly dull, I'm struggling to keep my eyes open whilst writing about them. For a start, they all look worryingly familiar: Hair extensions, orange skin and fake nails. And that's just the men... Their love lives are splashed across the press, as though we should be remotely bothered about who's shagging who; it doesn't impact on our lives whatsoever, yet we lap it up like dogs with bones. Hehe, I made a "bone" reference in a sentence about sex...
Anyway, my point is: I would rather look up to or be interested in someone who had achieved fame by being amazing at something and working hard at it. My idol is Audrey Hepburn: She wanted to be a dancer, so she trained and joined chorus lines and eventually, although she was too tall to be a ballerina like she'd dreamt of being, she became an actress. She starred in small shows until she was spotted and catapulted to fame in Roman Holiday. She went on to become a huge Hollywood star. Her style made her a fashion icon, too. She then spent her later years as an ambassador for Unicef; using her fame to help those less fortunate than herself. Audrey is still a household name and her face can be seen adorning handbags, notebooks and items of clothing all over the world. She's still known and loved.
You won't be buying a purse with Joey Essex's face on, twenty years after he's dead. That's all I'm saying.
I think I might actually be in love with her...
And so, I have reached the end of my rant. If 2014 could do me a favour and be the year in which we stop fawning over z-list "celebrities," learn to write properly, throw 50 Shades in the rubbish where it belongs, quit taking belfies and realise that sharing a photo on Facebook won't cure cancer, I'll be a very happy girl.
Or I'll settle for it being the year in which I meet and seduce Matt Smith. You know. Either or.