The 30 best comments from my Daily Mail article

Today, the Daily Mail published a piece by me about trying to get my tubes tied on the NHS, similar to the one I wrote for the Guardian in January. As you can imagine, the comments section was a riot. Everyone told me not to read the comments, but why would I do that to myself? I’d miss out on so much gold.

The title is a slight lie because there are over 2,000 comments already and I did not in any sense read them all, because I still have to find time in the day to glare at children and milk the National Health Service dry. But here are some of my favourites, and my responses. Which I won’t be putting in the comments section, because that’s like trying to debate with a floor lamp.

The best of the Daily Mail comments

1.

cakeThis is 100% true.

2. breeder

 

If anything was going to change my mind, it’s definitely the thought of having Rod Stewart’s spawn.

3. unloved

Every night I cuddle a cold, unfeeling house brick, and wonder what it’d be like to have emotions.

4. dont 4

Is there a formula yet for the number of comments before someone invokes Katie Hopkins?

5. journalism

I’m glad I could help you discover what ‘journalism’ means.

6. hips 1

The irony is not lost on me, especially when I’m trying to fit into airline seats. Though that may also be the cake and pies.

7.

oh

I think what you’re trying to say here is that I’m thick, but the problem is that if I’m thick then I don’t need a lobotomy because I’m already thick. Do you see? Or have you had one yourself?

8. puddle

Man reads Daily Mail, accuses others of being shallow

9.

my fault then

I don’t appear immature or unconvincing to the doctors. I appear female. That’s the difference.

10.

simpleton

BRB, buying business cards that say “Holly Brockwell, Simpleton.” I’ll start giving them out after my lobotomy.

11.

terrible

I’m so glad we could agree on this.

12. what

Of all the women to perv on in the Daily Mail, you choose me? Dude.

13.

true

You should meet my ex. You’d get along.

14.

vagina

You haven’t lived until Daily Mail commenters have debated the relative size of your vagina.

15.

wont

I really hope you missed a word.

16.

attractive

This is definitely the debate I was hoping to inspire.

17.

condoms

I’m sorry to break this to you… LOL GEDDIT?

18.

dave

Please email nope@nope.com

19, 20, 21, 22.

dont 1

dont 2

dont 3

dont 5

These people have only ever had sex when they were actively trying for a baby.

23.

er

I think this lady read a different article.

24.

leaves

That’s a whole lot of life advice from someone who can’t spell “you’re”

25.

CD0-OsSXIAEJf4-

 

Ooh, are we making sandcastles?

26.

satc

I’m extremely flattered that this dude thinks I have a “Sex and the City style life.”

27.

sleeping

Is this a stupid comment I couldn’t be bothered reading fully it

28.

doctor

Username suggests this person is totally unbiased

29.
boring

Have children! They’ll keep you from getting bored*

*although so will Scrabble and that’s quite a lot cheaper

30.

women

True. I’ve just changed my mind about reading the comments. Thanks, mate!

 

Honda shows Hyundai how it’s done

Most people who read this blog, follow me on Twitter or know me in real life remember the time I had a somewhat high-profile disagreement with Hyundai.

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BBC World News

For those who didn’t see it, Hyundai made a really badly-judged ad that showed someone trying to commit suicide in one of their cars, and failing because the car only emits water. As I commented at the time, there were many more creative and interesting ways to deliver this message without sucker-punching people who’ve lost loved ones to suicide, or showing them how to do it (there were details in the ad that would help people die effectively).

Honda – a brand I’ve worked on and have a huge soft spot for – have just come out with their answer to the water-emissions brief. And isn’t this just a world away from someone ending his life?

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Image and story via PSFK

 

Honda-branded bottled water, created entirely from the emissions of their FCX model.

Simple. Effective. And it didn’t make me cry.

Wasn’t so hard, was it?

Why Facebook’s ‘Trending’ section is like that one really annoying friend

Troll-face

“So I saw Titanic at the weekend”
“Oh yeah? Is it good? I’m going tomorrow”
“Yeah, it’s not bad, I mean I knew Jack was going to die from the start, obviously…”
“FLARGH why would you tell me that?!”

(Apologies to anyone who was unaware of Jack’s demise, but come on).

Facebook now has a ‘Trending’ section. I’ve had it for a while but all the big sites just announced it, so I think it must have just finished rolling out to everyone.

It’s a useful section in that it makes you aware of big news stories and exciting developments in the world.

It’s a terrible section in that it instantly spoils major plotlines in popular shows.

It’s done this to me twice now. First, when Brian died in Family Guy, and now:

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See, I don’t watch Coronation Street, but Facebook doesn’t know that. For all Facebook knows, I’m a huge Corrie fan who recorded the big episode and hasn’t watched it yet. This story appeared within an hour of the episode ending – is that the statute of limitations on spoilers now?

I don’t believe the internet should be spoiler-free. In fact, someone once berated me for giving away the twist in a film from 1973 (Soylent Green – which has one of the best-known twists of all time) on Twitter. But I think it’s only fair that we get a few hours of breathing space – I’d never post “Well, Hayley’s popped her clogs” the same night the episode aired. I might subtly refer to how emotional the episode was, or how brilliantly-acted, but I’d never just give it away. If you’re wondering why I’m OK with revealing Hayley’s demise in this post, by the way, it’s because A) it’s been a day now and B) Facebook’s told everyone anyway.

You could argue that I’m very likely to see the same spoiler in a tweet or a friend’s Facebook status. Completely true. But in that case, it’s a person choosing to spoil it for me – being a dick, in other words – as opposed to a corporation. There was outcry when the Metro newspaper posted details of a Game of Thrones episode two days after it aired – now we don’t even get two hours?

I don’t disagree with the Trending section itself – I think it’s a good and useful thing, and I’ve discovered several stories through it. But Facebook, you’re not my spoiler-happy ‘friend’ from high school who thinks it’s hilarious to ruin it for everyone else. You’re a social network. Do you think you could at least manage a spoiler warning? A ‘click-through-at-your-peril’? Or, dare I suggest, a subtle summary that hints at the big reveal without beaning me in the face with it?

I thought Facebook might have something to say about this, so I clicked ‘Learn more’ on the Trending panel. Here’s what it told me:

trending

Oh Facebook. You are SO hard to love.

What the hell, Twitter? Why the block changes need to be reversed, now

Update: in one of the quickest backtracks ever, Twitter has reversed the changes (see their blog post here). We won! #RestoreTheBlock

The rest of the post will remain below as a record of what happened.

Today, Twitter made a small but incredibly significant change to the way blocking users works on the site. In their own words:

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The bit in blue is the really crucial part. Previously, blocking someone meant that they automatically unfollowed you, and if they went to your page, they couldn’t see any of your tweets, photos, videos, links – anything.

Now, since people with unprotected accounts (and I would argue that most people should have unprotected accounts on a social website) tweet publicly, you could get around someone blocking you by logging out and viewing their profile, viewing it in an incognito window, or even making a whole new account if you were bothered enough. People defending Twitter’s new block stance keep trotting this out as a reason why the change doesn’t matter.

BUT.

In my experience, most of the people dim enough to get themselves blocked by me were nowhere near smart enough to know that they could still see my tweets by logging out. And even if they did, it’s a lot more effort than your average troll is going to go to.

With the new policy, for the blockee, nothing changes when they get blocked. They can’t tell they’ve been blocked, they still see your tweets in their timeline, they can still retweet you and tweet at you – it’s just that you don’t see these in your Interactions column anymore.

I have to ask… what the hell, Twitter?

Have you never been harassed?
Have you never had a person obsess about you to the point that you wished you’d never met them?
Have you never wished someone would just. Go. Away?

One of the very best things about social media is the ability to make people disappear at will. That probably sounds a bit Stalin if you’ve never been hassled, but when you’ve had someone follow you for a long time, carefully amassing information that they can use to tear down everything you hold dear – you start to understand why the power behind that little ‘Block’ button meant so much. Even if it was only superficial, clicking that button felt like putting up a shield, and that feeling makes all the difference when you’re being targeted.

Here’s an example. Earlier this year, when my Hyundai blog post went viral, I got four blog comments from the same troll. From what he wrote, it was pretty clear he’d followed me on Twitter for a long time and knew a lot about me – although only things I’d been willing to share on the site.

So after reading about the suicide of my father and how an advert reminding me of it had moved me to tears, he wrote this:

You are a sick fuck for using your old man’s mental illness and subsequent suicide to coldly further your own career in advertising. Fortunately your book says more than “Boo hoo my dad is dead” whining, and your book says one thing: “I am a shit creative”

Fuck you and die you fat ginger cunt. No wonder you can’t get a job, or a boyfriend.

Yesterday, I could have blocked this person from seeing anything I wrote on Twitter ever again. Today, I can’t.

I can only assume the people who work at Twitter are lucky enough to never have been stalked, trolled, or harassed by strangers – or worse, people they knew – on the internet. I’ve long railed against the fact that you can’t block people on LinkedIn (a creepy ex-boyfriend still likes to look up my page every so often, and I can’t stop him) but this is actually worse. Twitter had that functionality, and chose to take it away.

Why would you do that? Who’s benefiting here? People who’ve been complete and utter tosspots to other human beings, and… that’s it. I fail to see how this in any way improves the service for non-trolls. Please, someone enlighten me.

Social media vs. the real world: why Kellogg’s got burned and Pampers didn’t

Last week, Kelloggs UK tweeted something they’ve been regretting ever since:

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Twitter users were quick to pounce, calling Kellogg’s out for what they saw as a cynical attempt to promote themselves through emotional blackmail:

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Kellogg’s pulled the tweet and apologised twice – once blaming the “wrong use of words” and one more comprehensive apology after the first one was badly received.

But all this left me wondering why Kelloggs’ campaign was so reviled when Pampers have been doing essentially the same thing – to widespread praise – for the best part of a decade:

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The Pampers/Unicef “one pack = one vaccine” campaign has been running for eight years, with messaging explaining that for every pack sold, Procter & Gamble will “provide UNICEF with funding for one life-saving tetanus vaccine to protect a mother and her newborn in the developing world.”

Twitter barely existed when the campaign launched at Christmas in 2006, but surely if this approach was so abhorrent, other media outlets would have risen up in the same way? Hardly. In fact, far from a backlash, the Harvard Business Review comments that “consumer enthusiasm has been so strong that the partners now expect the disease will be eliminated, as measured by World Health Organization standards, by 2015.”

The most I could find in terms of dissenting opinion was one abandoned Facebook page complaining that $0.07 is not a high enough donation considering the pack price. Where are all the angry people saying “Wait, so if we don’t buy your nappies, you’ll let a child die of tetanus? You monsters!”.

So why the difference?

Why were Kellogg’s berated and forced to apologise while P&G are held up as an example of a generous corporation?

My instinct is that it comes down to the medium. A retweet is a purely promotional entity – it doesn’t serve any purpose other than promoting the tweet and the tweeter. Buying a pack of nappies, on the other hand, is something people do anyway – not to promote the brand, but simply to care for their baby. So the Pampers campaign is seen as an attractive extra – you’re already buying these nappies, why not help while you’re at it? While the Kellogg’s campaign is seen as “advertise us and we’ll do something nice”.

The difference is really immaterial, though, because the intention at both companies is the same. Pampers gets more people buying their nappies than the competing brand, and Kellogg’s gets promoted into people’s timelines. There’s a clear business benefit in both cases, so the difference is entirely on the consumer’s side – doing something they’d do anyway versus feeling used.

There’s also an element of precedent. The idea of buying something to help a cause is deeply entrenched in society – the charity cake sale, the face cream with the pink ribbon packaging – whereas using throwaway social media interactions to help a cause is associated with chain emails and manipulative, spammy Facebook posts.

mm1“Thank goodness – we finally have enough likes to pay for my son’s operation”

At their core, both campaigns are exactly the same, and both have merit in my view. Neither organisation had any obligation to do something for vulnerable people, and lord knows they’re doing more than most companies. The difference is purely in the way they’ve gone about it. Perhaps Pampers can learn from Kellogg’s experience and avoid extending their offline campaign into social.

Good thing they haven’t just launched a “1 view = 1 vaccine” campaign on their YouTube videos then, isn’t it?

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Here we go again.

Update: looks like Private Eye agree with me:

unnamed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of the brilliant BetaRish

Self-promotion on 9/11 is worse than ever

How many times do brands have to backpedal and apologise before things like this stop happening?

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How many times do we have to say “don’t slap your brand all over tragedies”? How many times do we have to ask who approved using mass grief to sell products? How many more times?

Retweeting is not a way to pay your respects

Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist when 9/11 happened, and it’s hard to imagine what the reaction would have been like if they had. The volume of grief and disbelief might well have crashed Twitter. But while it’s perfectly OK to tweet that you’re thinking of the people who lost their lives, this kind of thing is not:

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This year, an account sprang up just to do that. It already has eight thousand followers despite its four tweets. It appears to have no association with any of the victims’ charities, and it’s not accomplishing anything. All it does is ask for retweets. It’s a parasite, frankly. 

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Just in case anyone is unclear on this, retweeting does not in any way show respect to the dead, or ease the grief of their families. Asking for retweets is a shameless, selfish way to promote your own account and nothing more. If you want to pay your respects, pay them. Send up a prayer, visit the memorial, or by all means tweet your sentiments. But adding “Retweet to show respect” strips your message of any humanity, and turns it from a genuine statement of grief to a shameless plug for you.

Probably the most egregious example of this was perpetrated by MSN when BeeGee Robin Gibb died:

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That call to action actually makes me shudder. How can anyone reduce grieving for the dead into such a mindless, meaningless action? And how do brand and community managers of huge, worldwide companies keep making this mistake? Why is it always down to the twitter community to point out the huge failing of humanity here?

I thought AT&T’s inevitable apology might provide some explanation of what they were thinking.

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Clearly, what they were thinking was that their image of a great big honking smartphone taking up the foreground of the tribute to a mass grave was somehow “paying respect”. 

Somehow, I doubt the families of the fallen would agree.

Potluck: a worse social network idea than Google+?

The creators of Branch have launched a new social network called Potluck. Depressingly, they call it “The best house party you’ve ever been to… on the internet”. I really hope that’s not true.

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From what I’ve seen of Potluck, I don’t see it taking off at all. The aim is to get the 86% of the internet who don’t post or tweet to start sharing things – but this assumes that the non-sharing is because they haven’t found the right social network yet. I think it’s because they don’t want to share.

And why should they? The fundamental dynamic of humanity is that the minority create and the majority consume. If the majority created, most content would go unseen. We don’t run around trying to persuade everyone to make TV programmes or write books, do we? It’s just accepted that most people won’t and the best people will. What’s wrong with that?

How it works

On Potluck, you’ll see a news feed of links, none of which say who originally posted them. You can click through to find out, then comment or ‘heart’ things.

I do not understand the point here.

This quote from the site suggests you’d use it to share things you wouldn’t share elsewhere, like your My Little Pony mashups:

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But if the point is nameless sharing to remove the ‘stigma’ (one article actually used this word – since when has sharing online ever been stigmatised?!), then clicking through to find out who posted ruins it. If the point is sharing with your friends, then the semi-anonymous part is redundant.

People share stuff online for glory. They share to be the first to break a story, to get likes, to get comments, attention, validation. They don’t share just to share, and they don’t not share because someone might see that they shared. I mean, what?

When you sign up to Potluck, it asks you to promote it on your other social networks:Image

No, Potluck. Twitter is where I go to talk about cool things my friends and I find on the web.

So I have to ask, what’s the point of Potluck? If I want to share anonymously, I’ll set up an anonymous twitter or use Reddit or any other forum. If I want to share with friends, I’ll use any of the existing social networks (even Google+). If I want a weird hybrid of the two, I’ll have a word with myself.

Nonetheless, I really hope Potluck takes off, because the lack of users means I got a killer handle.