Friday, 26 September 2014

Dear Friend: What is best for you

Dear Friend,

In this letter I am acting as mother, father, family, friends and anyone else who may have used the phrase 'I'm doing what is best for you'...or anything similar. Sometimes it can be phrased as 'We want to do what's best' or even 'ok, do what you think is best'. Now this last one is particularly ironic as the point I want to make to you is that this phrase is rarely ever followed by what is best for you. It is a phrase used to justify doing something in the hope that any arguments you may have against said 'something' will fall flat. I mean, who doesn't want what's best for them? Well I can answer that simply. What someone else thinks is best for you is not necessarily going to be what is actually best for you. I suppose this then leads to the question of 'what does "the best for me" mean'?.

For me, if something is 'the best' option out there, it is the one that will make me happiest. In simple terms, when looking for temporary jobs for the Autumn of my gap year, I found myself recently with a choice of three job offers. In order to choose which to take I thought about which would make me happiest for three months...selling saucepans, selling menswear or selling chocolate? I would love to say saucepans won hands down but they didn't. Chocolate was the winner because I can't imagine myself not smiling on a daily basis working there. Surely that is what we aim for in life? To be happy and successful in what we do? Success alone is fine but how are you meant to enjoy it if you're not happy?

This is why when someone talks about what is best for you, and I don't want to cause any trouble, but you shouldn't just accept that as a faultless argument. The argument should end when a decision has been reached that leaves you (everyone else preferably but primarily, and most importantly, you) happy.

Yours hopefully,

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Dear Friend: #FirstWorldProblems

Dear Friend,

I am not sure whether you have heard of and understand what this title refers to but it is one that is thrown around all over social networks. It is a term used to identify when a complaint you, or others, are making, is one that only someone in a country classed as 'first world' would see as a problem. Let me give an example: someone might state 'My Iphone and Laptop are broken #firstworldproblems'. This is a problem that only one who lives a wealthy, successful and lucky life could have. It is a dilemma that can only be made by someone who is either wealthy enough to own two such luxuries or who is loved enough by others to receive such items as gifts. Both of these being luxuries in themselves. A sign that you are cared for in some way either through employment or the love of caring friends or family.

I decided to write about this when my dad triggered the memory of a conversation I had with a friend. She had been complaining about the difficulties she was having with customer service while trying to deal with her mobile phone before uni. After this first problem had been fixed, I then went on to wonder aloud to her how I should decline one job offer I had, having just been offered employment elsewhere. As we went on to joke about how completely 'firstworldproblems' these were, it got me thinking. Although people use this hashtag in a jokey way to identify that they know how lucky they are, doesn't this in itself appear almost mocking. It is a way of showing off to your friends that, even if they already live in that world themselves, you live a privileged life as well. To put it in terms that most would relate to, it would be like a small child with a new popular toy approaching all of their friends, after they've already got it, and waving it in their face. The child doesn't care that others probably already have that toy because the point they are making is that the child has it. This is clear because the use of this line is only found on social networking sites; on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It is found all over places where only the first world would be. This is what makes it irrelevant and ridiculous in my eyes. If you are living a life where every moment is amazing enough to be Tweeted or posted on everyone's news feed, then you have no need to be telling everyone how wealthy the life you lead is. In general, people will know.

So, my point is, next time your phone breaks, your credit card isn't working or your laptop has crashed, think about it. Is it really a problem? Is it necessary to identify it as a 'firstworldproblem'? Why do you need to include that hashtag? Because, for me anyway, it isn't so much you acknowledging how lucky you were to be born into such a lucky life, but a way of attempting to show off to those who weren't...and failing.

P.S. watch this

Yours Faithfully