The PewDiePie situation part 2 – the weakness of “doing it for the LULZ” humor


The massive problem with PewDiePie’s humor is that there is no / no obviously noticeable layer of satire. Whilst I do have my problems with South Park (especially later seasons) it has consistently being able to maintain it’s layer of satire. The most important thing for a joke is context. When someone like Cartman on South Park screams “death to the Jews” or tells an a particularly distasteful joke it is definitely communicated to the viewer that this is a work of satire and this is not the guy they should be rooting for. He almost always gets what he deserves eventually.
When Neo-Nazi websites are cheering on in support maybe, just maybe the joke fucked up? 

Some will argue that the joke was nothing to do with hate towards Jewish people. The fact that the “joke” was meant to highlight the things people will do for money is even more problematic. It’s very reminiscent of Bumfights – a series where a wealthy white man goes onto the street to dehumanize homeless people (who are desperate for money and alcohol) for profit. PewDiePie paid two men in India five dollars to hold a sign with an Anti-Semitic message that they didn’t fully understand. He (a man who according to Forbes in 2016 made $15 million) fully exploited their need for money to get them to do something provocative for views on social media. If that doesn’t sound ethically wrong…?

PewDiePie is a huge example of the limits and disadvantages of inane “doing it for the LULZ” humor (which is completely separate from satire; satire such as the artwork of Charlie Hebdo). “Doing it for the LULZ” humor can be done well but it is hard to pull off. The normalization of this kind of humor is bad for comedy and bad for society. Racism and anti-semitism for the LULZ most of the time (especially during a time when “alternative facts” is a thing) contributes to the climate of hate and makes people such as Neo-Nazis, white supremacist groups, Islamic Extremist groups and others on the far-right feel vindicated. Whether the joke is said it in earnest or in jest, the negative effect is the same. People can be put in danger all because somebody wanted some LULZ and didn’t think about the effects of their material and how it could be interpreted.

I feel that there are a lot of YouTubers supporting him for their own selfish reasons. Of course there are those that definitely support him, but I don’t want to ignore that YouTube is not just a bunch of amateurs in bedrooms anymore. To some people YouTube is their livelihood and a business. There are huge opportunities for an increase in viewers and subscribers (and therefore income) by simply kissing PewDiePie’s ass.

I acknowledge that he may have apologised for his actions and recognised that the joke was in poor taste but actions speak louder than words and an apology doesn’t have to be accepted. Trust and respect has to be won back.

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Brexit and black people outside of the Northern ‘big cities’

Often enough I’ve been told that race isn’t an issue here and that a focus on the racial aspect of Brexit itself is somehow racist towards white people.  Of course the whole issue is incredibly complex but facts cannot be ignored.  What the British media often miss is that the ‘other’ biggest divide other than age was race: 53% of White voters wanted out and 73% of Black voters wanted to stay in the EU.

Myself, I voted to stay in the EU, but was my vote really about the EU?  Not really.  I’m no expert on the EU though I recognise that there are many benefits to membership and that Britain is in no position to leave.  I recognise that a lot of funding my area gets is through EU money which should be a big push towards staying, though I also recognise there are a lot of problems with the EU also.  The benefits I recognise the most from the EU are with regards to policy (such as worker’s rights), freedom of movement and economics (funding for projects in my area).  A lot of my decision to remain came from the fact that racism and xenophobia was a huge driver for people round here to vote leave. 

Often enough I will refer to myself as from ‘the black community’, but what is this ‘black community’ in areas such as mine in Doncaster, South Yorkshire?  How does it differ from the ‘black community’ in areas such as London, Manchester and Leeds? 

Currently the north is split into two in my opinion. You have two types of places –

  1. 1)    Economic powerhouses and university towns that have managed to survive the recession – places such as Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool.
  2. 2)    Towns and cities that have suffered due to decline of industry and have struggled to recover – places such as Hartlepool, Barnsley, Burnley, Doncaster, Sunderland, Worksop and Rotherham. 

What really confirmed this split to me are recent depictions of Manchester as some sort of Northern London and the face of a new prosperous north; a city that is experiencing a fast paced regeneration (which I would argue is actually gentrification).  Watch a lot of TV and you will see Manchester City and wider Greater Manchester as an area that is highly represented on TV after London.  After all with the decentralisation of some BBC operations from London to Manchester other media and broadcasting organisations have been attracted to the city, meaning that we have seen an increased representation of areas ‘up north’ (meaning only Greater Manchester) outside of the economic capital (London). 

Meanwhile you have places such as Barnsley depicted as being declining industrial wastelands that still look like they could be settings for a remake of Brassed Off or The Full Monty.  The kinds of areas depicted as being still full of backwards thinking bitter and lager sipping working class (white) people without further and higher education and are still bitter about the Miner’s Strike of 1984-1985. 

The depiction of areas that are just full of white people who never ever interact with other ethnic minorities in my experience is even pushed by people from ethnic minorities.  Often in my interactions with other black individuals from London, Manchester, Birmingham and other big cities there is often a sense of disbelief that I live in the location I do – an ex-mining village. 

“There are no black people here”

The media only speak in extremes.  The message mainstream outlets want the masses to get is that in those towns and cities that have suffered due to decline of industry only white people live; the words “working class” often meaning “poor white males”.  Often in reports there has often been an absolute failure to give representation to ethnic minorities in these places because of course – black people and Asians only live in inner cities in large regional centres like Leeds and Manchester.  The alleged ‘all white’ population of these insular towns up north are simply screaming at clouds because they are just poor angry white people who do not know any better.  They are angry because they have no jobs and because… well… Polish people are taking all their warehousing jobs and there are too many Polski Skleps established by those ‘pesky entrepreneurial Poles’ in the neighbourhood for their liking. 

Of course all of that is bullshit, though what cannot be ignored is that compared to the economic centres of Leeds and Manchester, areas especially with a history of mining such as Barnsley, Doncaster and many areas in Wakefield have historically being relatively more homogeneous.  Even though there were black people and Asian people working in mining (who have had their contributions ignored), much of the immigration to these areas has been domestic, for example – the immigration of Scottish and Welsh miners to areas of Doncaster due to collieries in their area closing, thus leaving them with no jobs. 

Often enough in my own experience two areas often come up when mentioning the ‘black community’ in Northern England – Moss Side in Manchester and Chapeltown in Leeds.  These are two places historically where a high number of the Afro-Caribbean people in these areas decided to settle between Wold War Two and the 60s (My Grandparent’s generation).

I do feel the need to say however that there however has never ever really been a ‘black community’ in Britain… well not like the Americans would define it.  The Americans would see a black community as an area which is exclusively black people; areas which you will rarely see ‘whitey’ for miles.  This has never been the case in the UK.  Though there are some areas like Moss Side and Chapeltown which have relatively higher numbers of black people, the areas remain relatively mixed (white British, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Eastern European, etc). 

In comparison the ‘black community’ in declining towns and smaller areas is much more spread out and smaller.  There is no real area which can be defined as being a centre for the ‘black community’.  You’d just have families dotted around the town and your odd event here and there.  For a large chunk of my life I felt as though I was one of the very very few black boys in the whole village.  I would look at images of London on the TV and romanticise the place as being a better place to live as a black male (when the reality is that it is just as, if not even more tough to survive in).  There was a constant feeling that I was missing out.  Especially during the late 90s and early 2000s when I started getting into hip-hop and started listening to reggae, funk, soul and learning more about my own history; realising I wasn’t like the other kids. 

Even though I did feel pretty much isolated at times there was a sense of support though the understanding shared experiences across different groups.  In my area there was and still is terrible discrimination towards Irish Travellers and Gypsies.  At times I would experience the odd bit of racism and ignorance from those communities in particular but for the most part I got on with a lot of them.  At times I would feel a sense of that that they know we have some things in common (mainly that we’re both from groups that are discriminated against) and that we’re both in the same boat, therefore I wouldn’t get much bother from them. 

There is a huge disadvantage of being a black man in a place outside the big economic centres –  a lack of a social circle to share similar experiences and there is a massive lack of culturally sensitive and appropriate support services and facilities.   Even where these exist (usually provided by social enterprises, the third sector or churches – a huge problem for another day) they are relatively more spread out or based centrally (as in town centres) due to the geography of these areas, as a result making these services very inconvenient for a lot of people.  A lot of these services post-economic crisis due to austerity measures have gone under and as a result have left many without support.  This is something I really feel as though I can relate to.  During a tough time where my mental health took a sharp decline and I found mental health services provided by the NHS in my area not very useful in supporting me.  Differences in race and culture always felt like the elephant in the room; a result of the ignorance or lack of knowledge of the person delivering the service.  It was only because I was a university student in another location I could access a service that were knowledgeable and discussed issues related to my cultural background and race. They made me feel comfortable.  

Conclusion

It’s important that black people outside of established and larger black communities in the “Economic Powerhouses” are not left out when discussing race in Britain Post-Referendum and in the future as in a lot of cases black people in these areas are the most vulnerable to racism, feel more isolated and have less access to culturally appropriate support services.  Things are very very slowly improving with regards to media representation and culturally appropriate and sensitive services in these areas, but there still exists a perpetuation of the myth that black people only live in certain areas of Northern England such as Chapeltown and Moss Side and could not possibly have been born in *insert declining northern town here*.

The simplistic and regressive depiction of the northern white working class as the main face of ‘working class Northern Britain’; a salt-of-the-earth, oppressed group that has been left behind only exacerbates racism, white exceptionalism, obscures ways that can actually help them (as in understanding the complex factors as to how racist attitudes develop) and also ignores poor whites in large urban areas such as London and Manchester.  It ignores the privileges that the white working class have over ethnic minorities of the same and lower economic status. Of course there are problems in these communities but racist and xenophobic attitudes should not be left unchallenged, excused (“oh, these people are racist because there are no jobs and foreigners are taking them”) and should always be condemned.  A “not on my doorstep” mentality with regards to diversity, change and ethnic minorities has been allowed to fester for years and years in these areas ( the “maybe in Manchester but not round here” mentality).

What I fear is that with no opportunities to receive funding from the EU there will be a decline in funding opportunities.  This has the potential to hit everyone hard though has the potential to exacerbate the problems ethnic minorities have in these areas with regards to bringing culturally appropriate support and projects to these areas; services that are usually provided at community level.  In my experience as a youth and community worker the first services to usually experience cuts and reductions in services are services targeted at marginalised groups; service providers usually cutting these and providing more ‘general’ services to cut costs by lumping all ethnic minorities in the same category.  Of course it is much cheaper and convenient for the powers that be to focus on general equalities in a centralised location, than commission work to investigate and improve services for specific groups, especially in areas that are much more ‘white’.  The experiences of a Bangladeshi woman, Afro-Caribbean man, Nigerian woman and Pakistani man would all be vastly different. 

 

The PewdiePie situation – is it ok now for white people to say the “N – word”?

I’ve never really been a big fan of superhero movies, but one quote from the Spider-Man film (starring Tobey Maguire) has always stuck with me:

“With great power comes great responsibility”.  

This quote can be true for a lot of things and especially applies to celebrities and people who in society are seen as being particularly influential. Whether they like it or not they have power and have a lot of responsibility in their hands. Your Kim Kardashians, Justin Biebers, Jennifer Lawrences and Robert Downey Jrs of the world.  

Whether we like it or not also today social media personalities are now celebrities. The way we consume media and communicate with people has evolved. Traditional media audiences such as TV audiences are declining. We have gotten to a point where there is greater audience participation and creatives are held to greater account regarding the material they release for mass consumption.  

What I am not saying that accepting responsibility means sacrificing artistic integrity and rights to freedom of speech; having to agree with everything people say to ‘keep the peace’. Challenging ideas and introducing new ones is important. What I want to get across is that it’s a rather ignorant and a childish frame of mind to have to ignore that every action has a consequence and that freedom of speech doesn’t equal freedom from criticism and a ‘free pass’ to break social prohibitions without necessary criticism.  

When you are at the top of the ladder there is a bigger responsibility to those below you and those who don’t have the same privileges. It comes with the territory. Freeloading on society without contributing to society is not how progress is achieved; locking in those golden coins like Scrooge McDuck.  

What I am trying to say it is important for those who wield privilege to listen to those who are marginalised and oppressed within our society to create a better world for everyone. Yet, (some) white people don’t seem to get it:  

It is not acceptable for white people to use the “N” word and whites will never from now on be able to have a say with regards to whether it is acceptable to use it. I do not care how unfair whites think it is, how much they want to be able to say it because it’s ‘cool’ or how they use it as a term of endearment. The “N” word is a word which was used every time my ancestors were whipped, beaten, raped, spat on, shit on (yes it happened), murdered, insulted and humiliated in various ways. It is a word that when used by white people makes me reflect on a past which seen black people violently repressed for rebelling or even questioning a system which forced them to do and act as white society said.  

All too often I see white people on the internet coming to assumptions regarding a general consensus in the black community regarding the word (which all to often relies on one black person’s opinion regarding the issue and using this as gospel). This matter is not a simple matter. Just because your ‘black friend’ is cool with you using that word it doesn’t mean you are right to use it. It is a very complex issue that needs to be discussed within the black community. Yes, you can have your opinion on the ‘N’ word too, but at this point the white opinion on this issue does not mean a thing.  

Squat. Nada. Zero. The privilege was lost.  

If white people really are interested in this debate they need to listen to black people first and not just engage in selective listening and just listen to black people whose opinions reflect theirs so that they can simply approve their own actions as there are differing opinions and feelings regarding the use of the “N” word, especially amongst generations, classes and communities of black people.  

The mentality of “every door should be open to me whether you like it or not because we are all equal” and “I can say whatever I want because I have freedom of speech so back off man” are the epitome of white privilege. This is the belief that every debate should welcome the white opinion with open arms and that the white opinion should be the most prevalent (because “those ethnic minorities really don’t know what is good for them or that they’ve never had it so good?”). There is a great bitterness and anger amongst a lot of white people when I tell them that the discussion regarding whether it is ok to the use the “N-word” is simply a discussion they are unwelcome in. I am aware that there are groups of white people especially here in the UK that have and still experience discrimination (such as people from the Irish, Polish and Traveller communities and broke white people in declining ex-industrial communities screwed over by Thatcher), but some white people need to face it that some issues just aren’t about them.  

I don’t think PewDiePie is a racist at this moment. He is not even on the level of people higher on the ‘bigot scale’ such as Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond. I have massive respect for him with regards to how he has been able to create success for himself. I however think he is uneducated, misguided and even ignorant regarding this issue. He screwed up hugely and needs to apologise.  

It’s know it’s hard (especially as a man) to admit that you are wrong, but sometimes it is needed. It doesn’t make you less masculine. A simple apology and education would go a long way. Of course people don’t have to accept your apology, but effort to become a better person is always respected.  

White people, you were born with great power but with your great power comes great responsibility.

Kim Kardashian is a victim of a crime – the internet is horrible as usual 


Oh Kim Kardashian… no other celebrity currently alive attracts so much criticism and hate.  Some of it legitimate or at the very least with positive intentions (e.g. Chloë Moretz), but a lot of it is mostly of the incredibly hateful and distasteful kind.  

It’s ok if you dislike her or dislike what she stands for or whatever (disliking her for allegedly being a ‘whore’ and for shamelessly ‘exposing’ her body is another topic for another day). I’ve learned myself that you can’t please or be liked by everyone. 

Where I have drawn the line however is the mocking and jokes aimed at her because she was a victim of crime. Honestly, what has she done exactly to deserve to be robbed at gunpoint?   I dislike a lot of people in my community, but would i laugh at them and mock them if they were a victim of crime? 

Do i like James Corden as a host, a comedian and an entertainer? Not really. I find him incredibly unfunny. Would i make jokes and almost celebrate if he was a victim of a violent crime? No.  I also could not agree more with this tweet he posted which criticises many of the hateful comments on social media about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West:


That’s a very important point that a lot of angry irrational people on the internet tend to ignore. Kim Kardashian no matter how big of a celebrity is a human being (a human being that i have never met).  What happened to Kim Kardashian could have happened to anyone – my sister, my mother, my friends or even someone i like at work. Believe it or not, people other than celebrities can be potential victims of armed robberies, muggings and violent assaults.  Not long ago a woman was subject to a violent armed robbery at an ATM machine and as a result needed to be taken to hospital. That could happen to anyone around the world. 

To all the men – How would you feel if some guys in baraclavas burst through your door, threatened to kill your wife / girlfriend and kids, tied them up and robbed them while you was at work? How would you react? I can’t even imagine the thoughts going on in Kanye’s head when he found out what happened.  In the middle of a concert too.  I am currently single myself, but if i had a girlfriend or a wife i would travel to the other side of the world to support them. I would be incredibly upset. I would definitely abandon a room full of rabid and crazy fans to get to the scene.  

The Washington Post rightly states that the reaction by many has been “unkind”, though avoids outright condemnation of these actions of these people by stating “But that’s not because people don’t have empathy for a woman, a mother, a wife. They just don’t have empathy for a hollow brand”.  By mocking and almost celebrating the fact that a woman, a mother and a wife (who has clearly done nothing with the intention of huting anyone) has been robbed they are clearly showing a lack of empathy.  

It’s a situation that reminds me of the lack of compassion shown and condemnation of the theft of personal nude images of female celebrities that happened during the so called “Fappening”; social media treating the situation as some sort of joke and like celebrities somehow don’t have feelings or emotions.  Celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence who openly condemned the perpetrators of the crime whilst witnessing mocking, accusations of a ‘publicity stunt’, jokes, support of the perpetrator and the usual “you deserved it” comments on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, 4Chan and Reddit:

“It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change,” she said. “Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world.” – Jennifer Lawrence

Whlist I am aware that there is always the danger of treating celebries as people that somehow matter more than a non-famous member of the public, the internet needs to realise that famous people are human beings too.  

Politics and geek culture – A Peter Pan generation

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If we are to define a lot of things within geek culture art (comics, games, TV shows and movies) then what must be accepted is that art has never ever in it’s lifetime detached from the world it was created in and the person who created it.

It is a well known fact that the world of the Moomin created by celebrated Finnish artist Tove Jansson is deeply inspired by her experiences of war, her childhood and the relationships she had with her family, friends and particularly her female lover.  Would we continue to discuss these stories and the characters we fell in love with as a child if all these never reflected the artist’s experiences and beliefs?  We continue to be intrigued and amazed still after all these years by Tove Jansson’s life, her inspirations for the imaginative and deeply personal stories she created and the political environment they were created in.

There are a certain group of people in geek culture that like to assume politics lives in some sort of separate realm; the belief that politics can be separated from everything and anything and that politics is just about political parties, political campaigns and mostly ‘boring’ and ‘extremely formal’ discussion among middle aged and old white men in old buildings (and in some cases middle aged and old white academics in old buildings). The belief still surprisingly exists that the only way to ever engage politically is to participate in elections and engage in organised activities related to party politics.

The reality is that politics is everywhere.  It affects us is every part of our lives.  Politics cannot be escaped.  Politics is around us from the day we were born and sucked milk from our mother’s breasts to the day we die.  Politics is that powerful.  To wish to not live in a world where nothing is inspired by the politics of the time or past you would literally have to kill yourself.  Everything we choose to create, participate in and consume either contributes to achieving the goal of a progressive society, exacerbates injustice and equality around the world or both.  Politics is so powerful we take on particular stances sometimes without even realizing it.

That is where the label of “Social Justice Warrior” puzzles me.  What does it exactly mean when you ignore the internet’s use of the term (which it is now used as a mere snarl word used by those on the right of the spectrum of beliefs)?  Art with political messages are older than modern geek culture itself. Who doesn’t want a just society?  Even in what I would define as my golden period for gaming, there have always been games where to goal is to fight for social justice by “fighting the power”.  Heroes in games have always represented particular ideologies and the villains representing everything the creators believe is wrong in our society.  This theme is present in the most memorable game characters in history.

A perfect example of politics in older video games is the Sonic the Hedgehog series.  Looking at the Sonic the Hedgehog games now as an adult you can see beyond what people assume is a simplistic “fighting against villain who wants to take over the world” story and see an environmental message and criticism of modern day capitalism.  Here we have a ‘hero’ in the form of a blue hedgehog fighting a ‘villain’ in the form of a fat egg shaped human scientist called Dr Robotnik whose ‘greedy’ capitalist ventures have little regard for the environment and wellbeing  of the animals in it.  Robotnik is a radical representation of  how little the human race can care about the environment and the wildlife in it, all because of our desire to make money, achieve instant gratification and gain power.  It’s no coincidence that the first levels of the game are relatively green and the later levels of the game looking more polluted and industrial with little in the form of plant life.  Even in the later games such as Sonic Colors darker themes such as slavery are explored with Robotnik enslaving the population of an entire planet so he can convert the planet into a gigantic theme park; using the power of the alien life there to realise his own selfish capitalist dreams.

This is why I see most people who scream “SJW” down the internet not as people who are actively out to beat down the oppressed but as a generation that denies responsibility and the fact adults do not look at the world through child eyes.  A generation that is stuck with the mentality they had when they were reading comic books, watching movies or playing games in their bedrooms during high school. A generation that when watching a show like Firefly will scream “shut the fuck up with your feminism, race and class discussions, I’m trying to watch a movie about spaceships, space cowboys, and shit!” In complete denial that maybe, just maybe the people behind the show were deeply inspired by their own experiences and political beliefs and ideologies.

It’s all well and fine to see a show like Firefly as “spaceships, space cowboys and shit” but those who wish to delve deeper should not be beaten down and silenced.  The problem with this is we are simply giving in to media pressure to revert to childlike mentalities where we are drawn away from real world issues. To ignore the power that art has to change or conserve the current political environment for the status quo is ignorant.

There is nothing wrong with relating art to the real world and it’s impact on it. Geek culture has become two sided; two sides which are all out extremes: one which believes that art exists to be consumed for the purpose of escapism (to stop us from thinking about issues such as inequality and corruption) and one which believes art should relate to the real world and discuss societal issues such as inequality and corruption.  There is nothing wrong with all out escapism, but we eventually need to be brought down to earth.  Just like we can take drugs and experience trips, one must eventually come out the trip and analyse the real life damage we have done as a result.

The reality is that we didn’t discover the world through our own creations.  We mostly discovered the world through the ideas that those who created the material we consumed most likely were consuming and were inspired by.  We were brought up by fictional characters.  Spider-Man, Iron-Man, Goku, Sonic and Batman aren’t ours.  They can’t become a large part of our lives.  They represent the ideas of somebody else.

Currently the impossible goal by some franchises and artists is to give the audience back the feeling they got from consuming something as a child.  The problem is children in school are not taught to be critical.

We are all adults now.  We can never ever again get the feeling we had from e.g. watching Pokemon for the first time as a kid.  Our innocence as gone and we are much more aware to the cruel world around us.  Nostalgia is a powerful phenomenon, but the truth is the best things grow up with us.  Even with regards to music the best artists have evolved with their audience.  For example, De La Soul have sustained their fanbase and gained more fans through constantly evolving their sound, material and image; opening themselves up to new ideas.  Even artists such as Immortal Technique and Brother Ali have addressed their changing political beliefs and the changing of their stance on particular topics.  Progression means change.

Why invest in your health? My experiences

 

investinhealth

“They are killing us with the things we don’t even know are coming into our hands.  You see a Popsicle, that shit is diabetes” – Immortal Technique

Whilst I am pretty critical of Immortal Technique’s occasional pushing of conspiracy theory BS, at times I see truth in his comments.  Instead of a government that wants to kill us however I see a food industry and government that do not give a shit about us and want to make money by any means; even if that means sacrificing our health.

You see we allow this to happen as we do not take our health seriously enough.  We do not think hard enough about what we are eating.  Food is a means to survive instead of being an investment.  I believe our body is a temple and it should only be the purest of foods that we allow into that temple.  My approach is probably different to that of average Joe and Jane.

When average Joe and Jane on the street are forced to name a few things we will invest in though our lifetime we have the usual suspects such as cars and houses and even increasingly a university degree.  What is often missing is health (I decided not to bore people with statistics in this blog post because they will mean nothing for the majority of people).

Why isn’t making investments in our health up there?  Why isn’t that the most important investment we make in our lives.  We can always buy another car and we can always move house or go into the rental sector even.  We are stuck with the body we have for life.

In the mainstream media I have witnessed a lot of reports regarding the shambolic state of the UK’s housing market and how there is a decline in young people (people below the age of 40) investing in housing, especially in big UK cities such as London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, etc. There are many factors to take into account as to why home ownership has fallen amongst my generation especially, but may I suggest though to my generation and all before and after that maybe we should invest in our health before we even think about investing in a house?  Especially with the state the NHS is in and the likeliness of further privatisation under the Tory government we are under seems pretty likely, ensuring we don’t have to use NHS services becomes more essential.

In my experience this is quite often a new concept, especially with the older generation.  You see I live in a society that lives for today.  This is a society that constantly preaches to me that “you could be dead tomorrow” when in reality there is an incredibly high chance that I will make it to the next week and the week after.  This possibly in the area of South Yorkshire where I am based has roots in the dominant industries of the past; the fact that I live in a village that was set up solely for the purpose to house miners and their families.  Mining was an incredibly dangerous profession that gave the people who went down the pits the constant possibility that they could die down there.  Even the housing situation for many people working in these industries was very uncertain as the colliery company often owned your house and had the power to throw you out at any time if they wanted to.

Today the majority of the population here works in relatively low risk (of death anyway) occupations, though the attitude of ‘living for today’ has been passed on and continues to be, though there are signs of a decline in this mentality.  Health however continues to not been seen as an investment.

Initially achieving a state of good health for me was purely for aesthetic reasons and also to get attention from the ladies (admit is guys, we all dream of looking so good we turn heads when we walk down the street or prance around a bar).   I was always the chubby and fat black kid who lacked any female interaction closer than a friend relationship up until university (when I felt the area).  Obviously as a young uneducated man with a lack of a father figure who was incredibly insecure with his masculinity getting ‘hench’ was the solution to my problems.  While there is nothing wrong with being motivated by female attention and having aesthetic goals it took me a while to find out that these cannot be the sole motivators.

I got a kick in the balls by reality as I got older and I noticed the declining health of my peers and noticing as others were getting older their health appeared to be worsening.  This really intrigued me.  These people I looked up to before as being the guys so damn good looking they could get any girl in the school started to look like shit, but hey, that’s what discovering the club scene and having as a result a diet of lager, takeaway and staying up late does.  As I was basically an outcast and pushed away from that particular scene all I did was get out the popcorn, watch and reflect on my life.  What would I look like in the future, what would I like my health to be like?

I am not even thinking about starting a family at the moment.  At the moment do not wish to have one (to put it bluntly I hate children and want to live a life free of the weight of parental responsibility at the moment), but if one day I decide I want to settle down, meet the woman who I want to spend my life with and start a family do I really want to be out of breath when I’m playing football, basketball or even running around with a boomerang or something with my children?

Health became more than looking good for the ladies and being ‘hench’.  I genuinely wanted to look good and at the same time sustain a great level of health.  This meant a long period of research and reflection regarding my diet.

I started digging through the confusing wealth of resources on the internet regarding diet.  I learned about macros (carbs, protein and fats) and micros, the basic lifts from the Starting Strength programme I need to master.  I made the decision not to touch any processed food and to eat as purely as I can.  I actually saved money through all the savings I made through planning my meals not buying junk food, using my local market to buy vegetables and buying lean meats in bulk.

I won’t lie.  Buying healthy food might actually cost you more, but the cost of not taking care of your health will cost way more.  With the high presence of discount superstores, local markets (which arguably have higher quality and cheaper produce than the big 4 supermarkets) there is no excuse.  Starting your cutting diet might cost you even less than the trash you was forking out for in the past.

As I work part-time now in the health sector I meet so many people who I believe could do more to take care of their health.  So many people who do not even drink enough water in a day (which to me is the most overlooked aspect of our diets) or eat even a spoonful of nutritious veggies or fruit.  I think about how they could change their lives whilst support workers give them what they wish for and further fuel their declining health.

What if instead of medication Doctors actually prescribed vegetables, lean meats (or vegetarian / vegan friendly sources of protein) and water?

I am aware that sales of protein bars and shakes in the UK have had a rapid increase lately amongst particularly younger consumers.  The media have suggested that this is a generation that has become more conscious of their health, though I am very sceptical as to whether these people are taking the correct actions.  Is the food and health industry now increasingly accepting fat as part of a healthy diet and instead demonising carbohydrates (I think declining sales of bread and pasta products might speak for themselves)?

I’m not trying to shake my finger at people regarding their food choices and lifestyle and dictate what people should be doing with their lives.  What I suggest is that people should be more critical, reflective and look towards the future regarding the way they see themselves.

I am also not telling people to stop eating things like cake.  Life wouldn’t be worth living without the occasional chocolate and cake 🙂