Thursday 22 November 2018

Millennial Diary

Jennifer Aniston Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage
Jennifer Aniston Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

Ciara O'Connor

Poor old Jen. The operative words being: 'poor' and 'old' and the overly familiar 'Jen'. Because everyone knows that Jennifer Aniston is aged, childless, and just cannot hold down a man. For shame! And we millennials feel protective of her, having grown up on Friends and her subsequent silly and wonderfully terrible rom-coms. Our benevolent pity for this barren, lonely old lady knows no bounds.

But the spinster has spoken: and she's fine, everyone. So wind your necks in. After splitting with her husband, Justin Theroux, earlier this year the 'Poor Jen' narrative that launched with gusto after Brad Pitt left her for Angelina all those years ago was revived.

Justin was supposed to be her happy ending, you see. We felt strongly that Jen DESERVED a man, and maybe even a shot at having a baby.

In the greatest 'f*** you' moment of modern times, Jennifer did an interview with InStyle about her career and personal life, accompanied by black and white photos where she looks the human embodiment of the fire emoji (with a dash of the dancing lady, and possibly the curled bicep).

A 'source close to Justin' told the illustrious Hollywood Life that the pictures made him 'miss' her. "He's blown away by how sexy Jen looks. He kind of misses her and is suffering major FOMO. She looks hot!" Sounds legit.

Over and over again, Jennifer Aniston has told us to stop fretting about her. Every few years she is forced to do one of these 'tell-all' interviews to tell us all to back off. But we didn't get the message. Last week she spelled it out once again: "With all due respect, I'm not heartbroken."

And as for our creepy and retrograde obsession with her womb? "No one knows what's going on behind closed doors. No one considers how sensitive that might be for my partner and me. They don't know what I've been through medically or emotionally. There is a pressure on women to be mothers, and if they are not, then they're deemed damaged goods. Maybe my purpose on this planet isn't to procreate. Maybe I have other things I'm supposed to do?"

It's time to get back in our boxes. Jennifer Aniston is a ludicrously successful actress, producer, business-owner and multimillionaire. I suppose we could save our pity for someone else.

Like those who do have a house full of children in these interminable summer holidays - r u ok, huns?

******

Naturally, we were devastated and bereft when Love Island reached its gloriously camp anti-climax last Monday. But at least we knew that we could still rely on Bloggers Unveiled to serve us our daily helping of bitching, backtracking and bare-faced lies.

But our relief was short-lived; a few short days after the Mallorca Flack-festivus, the Instagram page that had become a 2018 institution, Bloggers Unveiled, closed down. The page had become something of a cult, with a reach far beyond its 220,000 followers. It was an unofficial Irish digital-media watchdog, calling out Photoshop, illegal advertising practices and rip-offs, exposing the layers of bullshit that cocoon many social-media stars and their favourite shops.

But as speculation about the identity of the anonymous blogger behind the page reached fever pitch, allegations of death threats and harassment against women suspected to be the BU mastermind lead the actual BU mastermind to close the account as they "do not want someone's blood" on their hands.

Since its inception, the page had been the subject of much debate and criticism - it's been accused of intimidation and inciting bullying. However, even card-carrying snowflakes like me couldn't really find it in themselves to care too much. In a time when social media and Insta-commerce feels so opaque, it felt like BU was doing an important public service.

This wasn't how we, the people, wanted it to end. The person behind BU had always maintained that they were prepared to be unveiled, too. That they had a plan. And I had a plan, too - the minute they came out, I was going to stand up and announce: I am Bloggers Unveiled. My valiant and reckless proclamation would inspire others to rise to their feet and cry: I am Bloggers Unveiled. Soon, the streets and our Twitter feeds would be pulsing with the same words, the nation's hearts beating to the rhythm of one sentence: we are all Bloggers Unveiled. You can't threaten all of us. We will resist.

But, like Love Island, the end of BU turned out to be disappointing and tediously inevitable. In a very Irish detail in a very Irish story, a threatening Mass card was sent to a beautician in Co Offaly who was suspected to be the legal-mind behind the account. She feared for her life. The account's existence became untenable. This is why we can't have nice things. Goodnight, sweet prince, and flights of clearly labelled ASAI-approved sponsored content sing thee to thy rest.

******

As for those of us who will remain on social media even after our favourite mega-bitch has bowed out, even Instagram is worried about us. A new feature for Insta and Facebook has launched in the US to help us curb our time-wasting on the apps and even tackle cyber-addiction.

The dashboard, which will eventually be rolled out on this side of the Atlantic, will document activity and allow you to set daily limits. The idea is that you can set what you think it an appropriate amount of time to spend scrolling through pictures of bodacious beauties in bikinis selling laxative-tea, and when you've reached that time Insta will give you a 'gentle' reminder that you might want to wrap it up.

The link between excessive social media usage and poor mental health has been well established by now - but this new feature kind of misses the point.

A poor relationship with Instagram or Facebook is characterised less by time, and more by how your time is spent. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom knows this; when the feature was announced he tweeted: "We're building tools that will help the IG community know more about the time they spend on Instagram - any time should be positive and intentional."

But the dashboard doesn't distinguish between 'positive and intentional' time and 'mindless passive scrolling' time. And it's the latter that is bad for our heads. Failure to utilise the 'social' aspect of social media, to actually interact, is what is making us all miserable.

Possibly gentle reminders to not be a creepy stalker, even just for an hour a day, even though you know your boyfriend's ex was stalking you, too, because she accidentally liked a photo from 2015, might be more in their line.

Sunday Independent

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