I’m struggling to get on board with this “influencer” thing

So Instagram used to be fun, and somewhere where you’d just post pics of yourself and your friends. My newsfeed would just be my friend’s photos or celebrities. Mixed in with a lot of cute animals and funny videos. Now my discover page is just young women In clothes. Look I love that women are making it in a way that’s interesting and appealing to them, and there are some people I love to follow.

But what do you mean, you’re an influencer??? What are you influencing exactly? My bank account yes, but what actual message are you sending? Lots of people are going to go and buy these outfits, which these people have probably gotten for free. It’s pretty clear who’s winning from this set up.

I love fashion, and I love that you can make a creative career from it. But there’s something I don’t like about using the term influencer. For me an influencer is someone who influences a positive reaction, positive change, awareness etc. Now that Instagram has this transparency rule where “influencers” have to say what’s gifted and what’s sponsored etc, its really made me realise just HOW everything I’m being told to buy, they didn’t buy. And what’s with this only wearing one outfit once? Negative consumerism people, that’s all that I see being influenced.

There are some fashion and beauty bloggers that encourage people to speak out about mental health, and are supportive, or some that encourage fitness. Then there’s those who have had their own personal battles and have used Instagram as an amazing platform to encourage people to speak up, support each other, and are being a great role model.

These are influencers.

Then there’s people like Camilla Thurlow. The Love Island star who used to literally clear landmines, and has gone back to do it again since. In conjunction with this she is always supporting charities, speaking out about what is actually going on in the World, and is a strong feminist role model.  In comparison to most reality TV stars, who basically just turn into the influencers mentioned above, she’s pretty great.

Again this an influencer.

If I wanted someone to influence me I’d want them to do it in a positive way. Educate me about all the bad shit that’s going on in the world, and how we can help. Influence positive body image, or a bit of reality.

Telling me to buy a bunch of clothes, that you either got for free, or have an “affiliate” link to, is not an influencer to me. And honestly, my bank account just isn’t feeling you anymore.

Brexit simplified: Planning the party, who’s getting the invite?

This post essentially summarises the aims of the EEC. Importantly, it also shows what the UK did, and did not want.

So we know that the European Economic Community (EEC) was the predecessor to the present day European Union (EEC). When the six key members: France, Germany (West, at the time), Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, were planning the party the theme was a relaunch of European integration. The UK didn’t think it would be successful, so when they were invited to check it out, they sent a mid-ranking civil servant to observe).

 

Fast forward to planning the party now (the Messina Conference was held). The only people present were Foreign Ministers of the six member states of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). So the countries listed above.  It went on from the 1st to the 3rd of June 1955. They all decided they wanted to be closer, and not just economically.  In factual terms, this meant that they agreed they all wanted to work towards setting up ‘a united Europe by the development of common institutions, the gradual merging of national economies, the creation of a common market, and the harmonisation of their social policies’ (cvce.eu). They also wanted better living standards for its population. They wanted to ensure that Europe maintained its position in the World and restored their influence. European revival was underway.

 

At the end of the conference, they decided to invite the UK along to take part (in the process of reviving European integration). The UK is associated with the ECSC but it’s not a member. The UK sent over a representative (Russell F. Bretherton, Under-Secretary in the board of Trade) to Brussels, where the plans were in motion. There were a series of technical discussions, but when it looked like all the members would have to commit substantially, the UK started to hesitate. A new party is organised, which showed that the UK still had links with continental Europe, so they were satisfied that they were close enough to Europe already without committing to everything.

 

In more factual terms:

These technical discussions covered the respective advantages of a union or a free trade area. This was an option that was preferred by the British. However, as the negotiations began to sway in the direction of a general common market based on a customs union with unified external tariffs, the more reluctant the British Delegation came to be in committing itself to its partners. On the 25th of September 1955, the Treaty of Association was entered between the ECSC and the UK, and for the British, it reinforced the sentiment that their links with continental Europe were sufficiently close already (cvce.eu-The position adopted by the United Kingdom).

So now you can see what the UK wanted from European integration, and why they hesitated in becoming more integrated with Europe. Can you see the correlation to today?

 

Now the Messina Conference was important because… This conference played a key role in opening negotiations, that led to signing of the Treaty of Rome on the 25h of March 1957. This treaty essentially gave birth to the European Economic Community, which was inaugurated in 1958.

 

Disclaimer: This blog is a mix of research and my own knowledge.  Where I have had to further research I have included a reference, not as you would academically source, but as a way for you to look further into the subject if you wish.

Understanding why we were late to the party – Churchill’s 3 circles

In my previous blog post I simplified that Britain joining the European Economic Community 16 years after its creation was a fundamental error. Despite this community transforming into the European Union, our decision to not be present during its inception, meant that not just our power, but crucially, our satisfaction with many aspects, was limited from the outset.

 

So why weren’t we founding members? This is something I touched upon before but did not explain in detail. Despite the devastating effects of World War II, Britain had emerged triumphant. It is not a new analogy, that Britain has a somewhat inflated view of itself, after all we did name ourselves Great Britain. This sense of World leadership, imperialism and the importance of maintaining the Empire, has seen numerous countries torn by our imperialistic nature in the past. This was a torch that we passed on to the United States during the Cold War, as Britain’s role in the World began to decline, replaced by 2 conflicting superpowers. At the time we saw ourselves as more of a parent of Europe, having to solve the squabbles between France and Germany. Being integrated with Europe however, was not, and never truly has been, on our list of priorities.

 

One man who laid this out the clearest, was war-time leader Winston Churchill, Conservative leader who became Prime Minster for the second time in 1951. He saw Britain’s role in the world as the crucial link to three concentric circles. To be excluded from one, was to be diminished in the other two. These three circles provide a shorthand model for a way that a lot of British politicians view the World. In addition, within the Civil Service, as they also advise a lot of British foreign policy decisions.3 circles

Churchill believed that Britain was unique, and history only demonstrated this fact. Throughout history Britain had fashioned her relationship within these three great circles: The U.S., Europe, and the English-Speaking World. Our military might and prowess had always been most acutely tested in the cockpit of Europe, whilst Churchill saw the Commonwealth as the heir to the empire, of which he saw himself a son. The United States, despite gaining its independence from the Crown, was shaped by the language and many of the values of Britain. I recently saw argued that Churchill’s vision of Britain’s role in the World provides the key to Brexit. If you recognise that deep down the British shared Churchill’s defiant optimism, it makes understanding Britain’s referendum decision of June 23rd 2016 just that much clearer.

 

But it’s not just the three circles splitting Britain’s spheres of influence away from being solely focused on Europe. The Crucial aspect is the priorities in which the circles came. Churchill himself states “The first circle for us is naturally the British Commonwealth and Empire, with all that that comprises. Then there is also the English-speaking world in which we, Canada, and the other British Dominions and the United States play so important a part. And finally there is a United Europe.” Britain’s priority was firstly the Commonwealth, with English speaking countries, namely the U.S. following second. Britain, since 1945, has had a “special relationship” with the U.S., which Is still present, and a priority, today. Europe appears to be mentioned as somewhat of an afterthought.

 

In the early 50’s, following Churchill’s reelection, Britain’s foreign policy aims were:

  • British sovereignty,
  • Armed forces independence
  • Sterling
  • Protecting themselves in the sense of avoiding conflict – not burdening themselves with too many responsibilities
  • Protecting interests overseas, particularly oil
  • Protecting commonwealth, particularly by securing the pound. This would ensure more prosperity to those nations
  • Protect foreign interests, avoid global war

Europe is not present in the list.

 

Britain still had a global and imperialistic outlook. This meant that they saw themselves as a global superpower, like the U.S. and U.S.S.R. They also saw themselves as a global leader, especially as at the time they still had their empire.  This portrays a diverging interest to those of Europe. Why would a superpower need to join an economic community, especially one that the British thought could fail?

 

The three circles have repeatedly impacted British foreign policy. The ideas of these 3 circles are still having impacts today. However, the Commonwealth is now not a big force, therefore the U.S. and Europe are the two major circles that still impact British foreign policy, with the U.S. taking precedence more often than not.

 

 

BRITAIN AND EUROPE SIMPLIFIED Why you shouldn’t be late to the party

Britain joining the European Economic Community 16 years after its creation was the fundamental error that leaving cannot resolve. For those who don’t know, the European Economic Community was the predecessor to the European Union, that was responsible for economic integration, for example, the establishment of the common market and free movement amongst member states. Under the Treaty of Rome, the community was established in 1957. This community included Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands.  Britain did not join until 1973, with the official referendum taking place in 1975. The European Union was not formed until 1993.

 

Now Britain didn’t join late through lack of trying, we launched our initial application in 1961, and then again in 1967. Both times it was denied by French President of the time Charles de Gaulle. But why were we not founding members? At the time Europe was not our priority. We also refused to join the European Coal and Steel community, marking the start of Europe embarking on its own united path without Britain. We changed our mind on this in the end too, and in 1967 when we launched our second application, we suddenly wanted a part in it.

But by then the conditions and agreements had been set, that didn’t fully align with Britain’s interests.

 

For the simplest explanation, let’s put it into picture.

Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands are planning a party. Britain could join in too but they have their own party with the Commonwealth, and they were also good pals with the U.S., so they’re not too sure that they need to be part of the other Europe party. The other party begins, and it’s starting to look pretty good, there’s good music, good food, they’re having a good time. Britain has tried its parties with the Commonwealth and the U.S. but they’re not going as well. So then they look at Europe’s party, and it seems like the only option if they want a good time. So they knock on the door and want to join in, but they need special arrangements for their commonwealth friends and other friends in Europe. They also want to make a few changes here and there. France isn’t having it, they didn’t want to come earlier, so now that their party has gone wrong, how are they going to add to ours? So we leave it for a bit and try to think of a few new ideas, but we still decide we want to go to the party. So we knock on the door again, this time we want to join this party and a couple of others, but we are a bit more diplomatic in our approach, we’ll let a couple of issues slip until we’re inside. We still want the commonwealth, but we’re not going to force it as much. Again France is not letting us in. The French leader eventually steps down and we get in. But once we’re inside, the music, the food, the decoration etc., is all decided on. We didn’t care about it initially, and now we want to change some parts, but how can we?

 

To this day we are still not satisfied with parts of the party that we didn’t create and couldn’t change at the time. So why did we want to go so badly?

Simply, we couldn’t afford not to anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re stuck in a rut

Turning 22

So this is a little different to my usual posts, but hopefully its relatable to some.

Do you ever feel like you’re just plodding through life? Like you’re doing a degree which you’re not getting full satisfaction from. And even though you’re doing this degree which is supposed to get you a job, you actually have no clue what you want to do with it. You have a whole load of ideas but how do you get a job that encapsulates all of those? And does that perfect job ever actually exist? Its the balance between wanting a job that earns money, and one that you actually really enjoy and feel fulfilled by.

 

I feel like this age has an unprecedented amount of pressure. There’s a silent pressure that you feel from your family, wanting to make them proud and live up to their expectations. And then there’s that immense pressure from yourself that hates failure and also wants to do really well. But at the same time, there’s that niggling lazy part of you that can’t always be bothered to make the time, or go to every class, or do all of the reading, even though you know that if you do these things your chance of excelling is just that much higher.

 

My motivation levels were at a low, and I had definitely lost sight of what I wanted and why. But then I received a birthday message from one of my closest friends and it made me remember not only who I am, but what I need and should never forget.

To quote a bit:

“You set your standards high for life and don’t settle for any less”

“Always be you, never make yourself smaller so others can be comfortable”

Recently I’ve been holding back. Holding back from properly looking for internships because what if I can’t find the right one? Or what if I don’t get it? And then fearing what the hell I’m going to do when I finish uni. What if I don’t get the right job? But why do we even have this fear of rejection? You don’t know what’s going to happen until you try. And try again, and then again, and again until one day it goes right. Because if we don’t try, are we ever really going to know?

 

So here’s to being 22, unapologetic, and trying to seize the day…always.

P.S. Get yourself a friend that can motivate you to be the best version of yourself.

Why I don’t agree with a second referendum.

To avoid any presumption, I’ll start by announcing that I voted to remain in the European Union. Like many others, particularly my younger peers, I was disappointed by the result of the 2016 referendum. However, just because I would prefer to remain, does not mean that I believe a second referendum is a viable option for the U.K.

 

Firstly, what does one mean when they define democracy, and to what extent was the 2016 referendum in coordination with it. Democracy doesn’t always allow for a simple definition, but in laconic terms it achieves a change in society without violence (Dahrendorf, 2003).   Of course this doesn’t take into account its rather complex implications, but essentially, it gives people a voice in the ‘exercise of power’ (Dahrendorf, 2003). This voice leads to the creation of institutions, which in turn control the government, making it possible to change it without any violence. Crucially, democracy protects us from tyranny.

 

It is not so easy to say whether the referendum was democratic or not, because the British political system is not based on the idea of having referendums. We elect MP’s who are meant to represent our political views in parliament. Having a referendum makes such a monumental decision very black and white, as they inherently don’t give you other options. French head of state Emmanuel Macron pronounced that the U.K. government may have erred in the execution of the referendum. Such a controversial national problem/decision cannot be concluded with a simple yes or no answer. But isn’t this exactly how we voted to join the European community in the first place?

 

The referendum certainly encouraged more citizens to engage in political dialogue. A positive of referendums is that make the population feel consulted and included. But in a more negative reality, they can heighten social tensions. A second referendum does not change the reality that such a problematic and monumental decision cannot be settled with a yes or no answer. But also a second referendum would only further heighten social tensions. The second referendum would, for the most part, be appeasing those who want to remain. What about the people that want to leave?

 

An opinion I have heard a lot recently is that the majority was too slim to justify the result that we would leave the EU. But this wasn’t a typical election, it was a leave or remain vote. Just two choices. In a typical General Election, you don’t just have to choose between what may currently be perceived as the two main parties: Labour and Conservative. You could vote for the Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Democratic Unionist Party, and so the list continues.  Therefore, the referendum can’t be calculated in the way that a typical election is, it’s not about seats or party majorities. The result was to leave, even if it only won by a little, you can’t compromise on it. How is a second referendum indicative of progress or even the notion of democracy? I wasn’t particularly pleased with the outcome in the recent general election, whereby the Conservatives could align with the Democratic Unionist Party to form a coalition. They didn’t hold a big enough majority, but they had other options, and they took them. Referendums undermine majority rights. There wasn’t another option with the Brexit vote and people knew that. Remain voters had no one to align with to allow Britain to remain in the EU. Therefore, as the result of the vote was to leave, that should be resolute.

 

Moreover, one of the reasons I’ve heard, advocating for a second referendum, is that people didn’t know what the outcome of Brexit would be. But with a second referendum, do we know what would happen in the future if we remain? It would be in the hands of the European federalist government. The unfortunate reality is that some people believe they voted on false pretenses, or from what was plastered on buses. Of course everyone’s reasons cannot be predicted, but we all have the access to further our research or understanding. With the high number of people that voted, a lot of people would have been well informed, responsible people from all walks of life. Therefore, a second referendum based on this has no credence. No one knew what was going to happen. The smartest man in the world could not have predicted what would happen when we leave Europe. What we voted on could basically be described like this: on the one hand, you have the European Union, something we have been a part of since 1973 (technically we joined the European Economic Community) which despite having its flaws, gave us the opportunity to sit at the European table and benefit from European trade, something both sides wish to retain. Or, we vote to leave, and what will happen is inside this little black box that we can’t open yet. We don’t know what’s inside. It could be good; it could be bad. People talk about being misled by partial truths, and how they were not properly informed before the referendum, or now. The truth is easy, but the whole truth is another matter. Yes, politicians exaggerated. But of course they were going to do that. Any election sees exaggeration from politicians, they are trying to get people to vote for their cause.

 

How is a second referendum promoting democracy? The West praises its democratic system and often attempts to enforce it on other nations. But in this case, all we are really showing is that firstly, we can’t stick to the decisions we make. And then we are promoting the idea that actually a vote isn’t final. We were given a vote. Just because we don’t all agree with the outcome, does not mean that just 2 months before we’re due to leave the EU, that another referendum is what we need. Personally I think politicians are failing us. They are meant to be the spearheads of this decision, yet they can’t agree. And in their disagreement they’re losing not only the public’s trust, but our confidence in them. Politics is based on compromise, and this is something that the public needs to see, and the politicians should lead by example. What we need now is not a second referendum, but a clear decision on the way forward.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Dahrendorf, R. (2003). A Definition of Democracy. Journal of Democracy, 1.

 

 

Where do we stand? The Intro.

I think it is increasingly easy for our generation to be overlooked, as one just absorbed in technology, out of touch with the real world. But this isn’t always the case.

From the age of 4 we are sent to school following a pretty regimented system, until we get a choice at GCSE and A Level to pick what we want to do. Then we get cherry picked to go to university from the age of 18. Everything before university is predominantly based on teaching us the right answer, not our answer. There is little basis on our actual opinion. Then when we get to university we are asked to consider our stance on a topic or debate. For me, this has allowed me to think a lot more freely, and truly find what I think my political position is on these topics. But now I have these opinions, and absolutely no clue what to do with them.

First and foremost, I think it Is important for young people to have an opinion on the World. And, particularly from studying international relations, my stance is growing and becoming a lot more educated. I want to use this platform to discuss, and give an educated stance on real issues in the world today, and to further my understanding on them.

Whilst my blog has a heavy focus on quite serious political topics such as the Palestine-Israeli conflict; and how it has affected the Middle East, dictators in Syria and Egypt, and my position on war etc. It will also explore the limited representation of young people in parliament, how social media has consumed our lives; and whether it can be used positively, and the rise of mental health.

I don’t want to be overlooked as a young person. We live in a world where there is so much to have an opinion on, and so much to learn about. I hope you enjoy learning with me.

Disclaimer: This blog is predominantly opinion based, and although I have tried to substantiate these with evidence, at the end of the day is just my opinion and is not there to offend anybody. Some of the topics discussed will be sensitive to some people but my objective will never be to offend anybody and I will always try be open minded and would appreciate any comments that you have.

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