How to be a grown up 101 — the ‘DYI’ edition

I should have known my entire universe was going to come crashing down the minute I had to insert the L4 lever into B3. There was no L4, I looked in every single packet that came with my brand new plasma stand, every single one. And so, after 63 minutes of pure agony and frustration I stared at my unfinished work in defeat, I would never find L4 and my plasma stand will remain unassembled.

This is what happens when you grow up, the bright lights of childhood dim with resentment of playgrounds lost, the mischief of youth tries to groan on like a sluggish predator given up on the chase. Schedules become the norm, budgets become exciting activities and old lady pants are not just a thing but a cherished calendar item.

Welcome to the reality of the late 20-something.

My theory of what happens to people in their late 20s comes from years of watching sitcoms that made your 20s when things finally made sense and life became manageable — this is a big fat lie as we have already established. The reality on the other hand shows dramatically different lifestyles and world views from what we have been led to believe. As the assault of being a grown up looms, your inner child suffers and good sense is compressed to sense right now. In the quest to make sense of this growing up thing, this adulthood you find yourself trapped in something comes at the mercy of cruel and malignant being dancing at your every failure. Growing up is not easy they tell me, you have to work hard at life. Why, is what I want to know. What did I ever do to life that I have to keep working hard at it? Who is keeping score? Nobody knows.

The main curse of the 20-somethings is of course the Gwyneth Paltrows of this world, the women in their 20s who as one Buzzfeed writer described seem to have this life thing “sufficiently figured out as to be both enviable and mundane”. You often wonder who these women are, how on earth did they manage to do it and you can’t. Where on God’s green earth did they find the L4 lever that goes into B3 effortlessly, when you searched tirelessly and couldn’t. Who are these women, who are these people? These people that make you feel that while the rest of the works is winning at DIY you are failing at DYI because the instructions are all mixed up for you.

Incase you missed it: I am struggling a bit with this being a 20-something thing and giving adulthood a go. I am pretty sure I have everyone fooled and I am faking adulthood well, so I think. If things I read, watch and listen to are anything to go by, all you need is six things to be good at adulthood.

  • learning to make grown up decision
  • looking like you have it figured out
  • living an enviable lifestyle
  • understanding what is actually happening in the world
  • having a definite sense of style
  • finding yourself and knowing who you are

If all these things are indeed correct then I have failed with a soul-crushing grade of D- or more accurately an F, I am being generous. Somewhere along faking adulthood I seemed to have boxed myself into a corner that says I must be adult at all cost. No room for real play. Going out drinking does not count, if we are being honest that’s the worst inheritance of adulthood. Convincing ourselves it is okay to behave in an ill-mannered way, act with little dignity that even children are mortified and cause our bodies to reject everything it has ingested and possibly harm others because we think we are so invincible that drinking and driving is a contest — no not fun. No, I mean actual fun and play coupled with genuine laughter.

Though I easily allow myself to get lost in an existential crisis over why DIY instructions don’t add up. The ridiculousness of a pinch of something to a recipe (what is a pinch? Or a dash? Are these quantifiable measurements? Really?!?), I think it is safe to say, I am a grown up in my own way.

Everything in my home may not match or be fully assembled, I may still think the purpose of making money is to spend as quick as you can, I have yet to poison myself or set the house of fire. Adult supervision not needed. I feel there is a fine line between playing adult and eventually becoming one.

‘Damn You Instructions’

Thanks LG for widening the gender gap in tech journalism

m&f

So LG South Africa just launched a news device, apparently it’s great according to their Twitter account but I can’t attest to that. We will come back to this.

Something else that is happening in my universe today is that I am speaking on panel about women in tech and challenges women face. Tech is highlighted here as it is a tech conference but women face many challenges in the work place and we cannot deny this.

Back to LG South Africa and its device launch.

So imagine my surprise this morning when I woke up to see a conversation on Twitter that LG South Africa had a male only tech journalist launch of its new device. Why would this company do such a thing? I mean really?

Well it turns out no, they had two separate launches for members of the media. The female launch and the male launch. I didn’t realise this new device, of which I am not mentioning the name on purpose, was a gender biased device. Do mobile phones come with gender bias in their technical offering? If they do I also take issue with this.

Why would you create a device as such. LG didn’t, it just decided that perhaps women would prefer to talk tech during high tea while men would prefer to talk tech during a serious dinner.

If you ask me, this is a terrible waste of money and an insult to both genders. Being a female tech journalist already requires working extra hard to get the industry to take our thoughts seriously on gadgets and the generally state of technology and the business of tech. Why has LG decided that it was a good idea to separate the media as it discussed a device it claims is the on the cutting edge.

The conversation around women in tech can get so tiresome because it is viewed with condescension. We want to celebrate women on day and ignore them the rest. I do not care for tech celebration days, I rather you recognise and respect my contributions everyday.

There is a huge difference between hosting a women in tech event to discuss issues facing women in the tech space and having to separate events to launch the same device. Separate city and country launches yes, but gender launches? Really LG.

So thanks LG, you have done a cracker job in widening that lovely gap we all just can’t wait to make bigger.

If I was screaming for my life, I would want someone to save me

fear

“Help! Someone please call the police, he is going to kill me!”

Those chilling words penetrated by sleep in the early hours of this morning.

I live in a quiet neighbourhood, the most exciting thing that happens here is that my one neighbour really likes his dubstep, but we don’t complain because it’s dubstep.

However, last night our quiet little block of flats was woken up by a woman being attacked.

I heard a terrified scream, then another voice spoke, he was menacingly violent and then all of sudden I found myself shaking with fear in my bedroom. I thought someone had broken in downstairs and was attacking the lady that lived directly below me.

Three things happened very quickly.

One. I called the cops and they told me to stay calm and they could be along shortly.

Two. I called my “frack I think I might get murdered” contact — he was asleep, so no answer. Shit.

Girl screams again. I hear glass shatter.

Three. I grab a cricket bat my other neigbour had left lying around the other day and head downstairs to help. But before I do this I tweet to the world and let them know I am about to do something incredibly stupid.

Luckily I am not alone, my other neigbour heard the screams too and she is also out and we both confront the guy who looks murderous and ready to hurt someone. He calls her all sorts of names and gets very aggressive. We get girl away from him and get out. Cops show up, and he gets aggressive with them and they send us back to our flats and deal with him.

All this happened in the space of 30mins to 45mins. I stood in the middle of my hallway after: I was shaking with fear but somehow haven’t passed out or let it overwhelm me. Somehow I am sort of okay. I am still clutching the bat, I am not letting it go, I take it to bed with me.

Of course I was tweeting as this happens because if I was indeed going to get caught in a crossfire of domestic dispute at least someone needs to know. I have been asked by my Twitter friends, why I went downstairs after calling the cops. Why didn’t I stay put?

Here is why:

When I heard her bone-chilling screams and decided to go against every single instinct that said to me hide under your bed this instant, and pray for a miracle.

“You never investigate”, I heard myself saying.

“You call the cops and you hide.”

All that was true.

Then I wondered, if it were me or one of my sisters or my girlfriends on the other end of that scream, wouldn’t I want someone to save them? Save me?

So in the midst of crippling fear I summoned up courage and went to save her, knowing that the chances of success was slim because let’s face it the man that incited her screams was not to be trifled with. I went anyway and so did my other neighbour.

I don’t know who the girl was or what happened but she was hurt and bleeding and terrified and that should be enough for anyone who could to try and help.

Lessons learnt:

Violence is a dangerous reality, people are effed up and fear is both crippling and empowering.

Faces of feminism: the age of the selfie

Selfie collage

“The act of women taking selfies is inherently feminist, especially in a society that tries so hard to tell women that our bodies are projects to be worked on and a society that profits off of the insecurities that it perpetuates. Selfies are like a ‘fuck you’ to all of that, they declare that ‘hey I look awesome today and I want to share that with everyone’ and that’s pretty revolutionary.” — Lindsay Bottos.

The internet is a hard place for women. It is the place where slut-shaming has become second nature, the home of the self righteous and a cesspool of hate. You can pretend it doesn’t exist but you aren’t you tired of running out excuses for this stubborn denial? Yet more proof is Lindsay Battos, a 21-year old who dared to express herself the way she wanted. The internet’s response: vitriol and mocking. Battos didn’t ask those people to read her site she simply existed in the vast space known as the web.

The conversation of what is feminism seems to keep popping up in recent years especially since we have been gifted with so many ways of expressing ourselves. Our latest tool for express is Facebook-owned photo sharing app Instagram, a new societal favourite. The rise of Instagram has give way to an onslaught of self portraits (selfies). Some skeptics will argue that for feminism the act of taking a photo of yourself posing and then sharing it with the world is more an act of vanity than defiance against the status quo. I, like Battos, and many other women disagree. It can be said that “selfies” as a form of activism is simply setting up the gender debate to fail because what does beauty and photographs to do with feminism?

Everything.

One of the biggest failing in female representation is the “Media Woman”. The way women are represented in the media has left a society of impossible aspirations, abused and fragile self confidences. The Media Woman is both offensive and demeaning. So the personal selfie taken by young women to express their self love and appreciation of their bodies and their beauties is the ultimate form of rebellion. It’s not just women either, men too take selfies and express their mainlines and self appreciation so why is it bad thing that finally we have a society rising up to be themselves.

We are as society, not just women, have given up our control to make up our own minds. We have allowed ourselves to be bullied by the media, to be bullied by the state and the greatest disservice of all, to be bullied by each other. We embody complacency and acceptance. Cruelty has become common place and the internet has help amplify our vile. It is terrible state of affairs.

The selfie is liberating. It is friendship. It is caring and gentle reminder that there nothing wrong you with you.

As an often lone traveller, the selfie is a paramount component of my journeys through the globe. As an expat with most of my good and oldest friends all over the world, the selfie serves as a reminder to friends and from friends of where we are and what we are up to. We may jest about the selfie and its frequency but we dare not discredit its power.

When shared, the selfie is a tribute to the ferociousness of your personality, an ode to your mischievousness and a welcomed explosion of the youthfulness of your spirit. The selfie takes nothing from you but gives you freedom. It is an indication that you are who you have chosen to be and an incandescent salut to your soul.