No News, no comment.

A couple of days ago, I logged onto Facebook and decided to unlike the majority of the news sites I followed on it. The result: I feel so much better for having done it.

It had been a long time coming. Day after day I had gone onto there, saw the news stories that had clogged up my feed and had found myself feeling everything from sadness to disappointment to anger. Not so much at the stories themselves (however, yes there have been a lot of awful stuff going on this year), but more at the comments that were attached to each of the stories. For as anyone who ventures onto Facebook knows, the average news item usually has a stream of comments from people who are at best ignorant and at worst, completely unpleasant human beings – especially if those news stories happen to include the words “Brexit”, “Trump”and “extremists”. Such contributions often include the use of the words “leftie”, “leftard”, “libtard” and “remoaners” in order to insult ones giving opposing views. To have compassion for others is seen as a bad thing, and the likes of Nigel Farage and Katie Hopkins are heralded as heroes. The whole level of intellectual debate in the average Facebook news post is anything but intellectual, to the point that if any of the angry mob who populate them were to engage in debate with a member of a high school debating society the latter would wipe the floor with them. That’s if the former not already been kicked out of the debate for insulting their opponent (if you have to resort to insults, you’ve lost the argument. Perhaps the only thing Margaret Thatcher said that most of us can agree with).

I occasionally commented on stories, and while I didn’t get a barrage of abuse for being a pro-EU, left leaning, feminist-ey liberal type (in fact, I did get a few likes for my comments), I did feel a bit uneasy later on. I didn’t wade in to get into slanging matches with people, I just wanted to give my opinion on an issue and hope that there was someone who would, if they did disagree, be respectful of my opinion, as I would they. Unfortunately in the world of Facebook and social media at large, this is a very rare occurence. Even I’ve bordered on the verge of trolling in the past – who hasn’t?


Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was getting tired how the news posts and the comments attached to them were making me feel, so I chose to stop following them. Already I feel less angry and sad about how people are. Sure I’m still down about what’s going on in the world, but by cutting it out of my Facebook feed I feel a little bit better. Let’s face it, in an age of 24 hour rolling news, be it on TV or online, we are being bogged down with information and it isn’t healthy for us, at all. In fact, it could be argued that the state of comments on Facebook, and on news stories across the internet are highlighting just how unhealthy it all is. We could all do with cutting down our news intake now and again, for the sake of our wellbeing.

I plan to mute any news accounts I follow on Twitter next.

Re. Stacey Solomon and smoking while pregnant.

When I caught a glimpse of the photo of a seven months pregnant Stacey Solomon puffing away on a cigarette on the front of a down-market Sunday rag while shopping, I admit I was really disappointed in her. I thought that she would be the last person I would see doing something like that, that she would more considerate of her unborn child’s health than some other celebrities. However after seeing the way the whole issue blew up across the media and of course on the internet, I did start to feel sorry for her.

At this point if I was writing this on twitter or FB I would probably get at least one person screaming “OH MY GOD HOW CAN YOU FEEL SORRY FOR HER SHE IS HARMING HER BABY THE SELFISH BITCH!” at me or maybe far worse than that. As is often the case when commenting on situations like this in a reasonable manner, it’s hard to say anything without the odd person immediately thinking you’re defending the behaviour of the person in question (these individuals often don’t actually read the thing as much as see the first sentence and immediately react).

Let me make it clear:

I do not condone Stacey’s actions. What she is doing is stupid and is potentially harmful to both herself and her unborn child.

HOWEVER, I believe that a lot of the flack she has received since those photos were made public has been uncalled for and could also cause harm to her child (newsflash twittermob and tabloids, stress is not good for pregnant women either).

I have little time for the people who say “it’s her life, her body and she can do whatever she likes with it” – yes it is true that it is her body and at any other time she can put what she wants inside it. But when you’re pregnant, it’s not just your body you’re looking after. That said, I don’t think that anyone who for example, has the odd glass of wine while up the duff is immediately evil for doing so. The way people have pilloried Stacey, you’d think that she was up there with Hitler and Bin Laden. Say what you want about the fact that she was caught fagging it in public, but she didn’t ask for someone to photograph her.

What also irked me about the whole reaction from some people, is their attitude to smoking – or rather towards quitting the habit (make no mistake, it is a disgusting habit and you’d be better off not starting it in the first place). The way some people talk about it, it’s as if they think that someone, pregnant women in particular, ¬†are able to stop just like that. Truth is, smoking is a hard habit to break and it’s harder for some than it is for others. I regularly deal with people who want to quit as part of my job and it’s not uncommon to come across someone on their third, fourth or even fifth attempt. On this I do have some sympathy for Stacey. I don’t think the fact that she continues to indulge in the habit is a big “fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” to those who advise that you shouldn’t, or to the general view that it’s wrong to. I don’t believe that she has not attempted to quit during the course of her pregnancy and she most definitely is not the first woman to smoke while pregnant, nor will she be the last. Feel free to disagree with me, but I don’t think that a woman with a bump is automatically a bad mother if they have a fag now and again.