Are you making Emoji Misunderstandings?

Since the advent of mobile phones and text messages people have been taking things the wrong way, reading tones of voice and attitudes into even the most innocuous communications. The written word is ripe for misunderstanding. These days many text messages and social media updates are filled with emoijis which are causing communication confusion across the board.

This month University of Minnesota has published a study which explored how emojis look on different devices, from Android to iOS and whether the differences in emoji styling can lead to different interpretations. They looked in particular at the “grinning face” emoji which on some platforms looks like a genuine smile, on others an awkward grimace. 

Emoji usage has always fascinated me and I can spend ages examining the nuances of each smiley face to make sure I’m selecting the right one (sad but true), but the smiley face I send from my Apple iOS device may appear very differently on my friends Android phone. 

Earlier this week there was a murder in a town a couple of miles away from where I live. I was watching the tragic story unfold in a Facebook group and one commenter simply added three of these emojis to the post…Emoji MisunderstandingsI was naturally shocked at the Facebook users comment, which to me appeared that she’s found the fact that someone had just been stabbed to death in their own home amusing. It irks me that so many people use this emoji during sad circumstances and according to the University of Minnesota study, this is one of the most misunderstood emojis. I’ve looked at the chart showing all of the different versions of this emoji and it is clear on each device that this is a happy person crying with laughter. But maybe people can’t see beyond the tears.

Emoji Misunderstandings

Just to double check that it wasn’t just me who saw this as a crying with laughter emoji, I threw the question out to the crowd with a Twitter Poll.

Emoji MisunderstandingsI’m not sure how well my results would stack up against the University of Minnesota study, it was a Twitter Poll and I suspect Twitter users are slightly more emoji savvy than Facebook users, and have perfected the art of brevity in their tweets, with tweets being limited to just 140 characters.

Just 32 people responded with 94% agreeing with me that it means “haha so funny I’m crying” and the other 6% saying “Other” with suggestions including happy to be chopping onions and tears of mirth. It is clear from my less than scientific sample that 100% of respondents didn’t think it was the correct emoji to use as a response to a murder.

If a picture can say a thousand words, an emoji can be a handy shorthand to explain an emotion, a reaction or a feeling. If you’re using emojis it’s worth bearing in mind how they may be seen differently by others and and how getting the emoji wrong could make you look. Sometimes it’s easier just to type “that’s so sad”. 

I had a Twitter copycat

A funny thing happened to me over the weekend. In an idle moment I went to search my Twitter username “HodgePodgeDays“, it’s something I do occasionally just to see if anything comes up that I haven’t been directly @’d in. As I got to the end of the username another account flashed up with  my logo, so I clicked on it and found my account had been cloned. They’d stolen my logo, the background which includes a picture of my four year old son and my bio which reads “Lifestyle & Parent Blogger, Copywriter, Writer for Hire & Occasional PR”, and my Twitter name was almost identical, with just a couple of the letters transposed – I was livid!

twitter copycat

Naturally I had a bit of a panic. Who would do this and why? For what nefarious reason have they done this? Some suggested it was to blag “free” things from PRs using a similar name, maybe it was to send spam to people, maybe there was another reason. I’ll never really find out. I’ve spent over two years building my Twitter profile, making friends and establishing myself as a blogger and they were attempting to capitalise on this. I was angry.

I checked out the Twitter support page and filled out a report, citing that someone was impersonating my account. They sent me back this email…

twitter copycat

Before Twitter would even look at my report they needed government issued photo ID and evidence that HodgePodgeDays was me. It seemed a bit of a faff, but I sent them a copy of my passport, a screenshot of my blog dashboard, a screenshot of my domain registration, a screenshot of the copycat account and a screenshot of my Twitter account. I sent this off on Sunday afternoon as requested.

I then spent several days checking occasionally to see if the copycat account was still there. It was. The bloggers in the North West Bloggers group were brilliant, some reported the account as spam, I think most checked to see if they’d been copied too, a few found that they had and reported it to Twitter too.

Twitter had given me a report number, but for the life of me I couldn’t find a way to check the status of my report – which I think is a bit of a flaw in the system. In the meantime friends continued to report the account on my behalf as spam and I began to lose what little faith I had in Twitter to do the right thing.

This afternoon I finally got an email from Twitter, they’d suspended the account, specifically for being a spam account, which seems a bit odd, but at least it’s been removed.

twitter copycat

Going forward I’m going to be more aware that this kind of thing happens, I never really expected it to happen to me. I think it’s made me more aware and I’ll be looking out for copycat accounts on behalf of my fellow bloggers from now on.

It was a faff and a worry, but hopefully that’s the last of it. Keep your eyes peeled folks – there’s a copycat about!

How I made Twitter less annoying

I’ve been on twitter for over five years now, I’ve previously blogged that it’s been a life saver to me. It’s a social network with the emphasis on SOCIAL. I’ve made more true friends on there than I dare to count, it’s fabulous, but it’s also pretty annoying at times.

It’s the Internet, so you do get complete loonies, perverts and trolls, usually I wear my big girl pants and deal with these pretty well, by rising above it; throwing a snarky tweet at them; having a whinge or just plain blocking them. Blocking is always a last resort for me, so if I’ve blocked you, you really have crossed a line that can never be uncrossed.

A few weeks ago I updated the twitter app on my iPad and it finally gave me the feature I’ve been waiting for, the ability to mute people. Why not just unfollow or block them you ask, I don’t want to, maybe I like the person but not their constant rubbish tweets, maybe I still want to tweet with them but I don’t want them clogging my timeline all the time. The twitter mute button has massively changed my experience for the better.

I have a three strikes and you’re out policy when it comes to twitter, this is a new thing, made up by me, but it works.

Step one: you’re annoying me, I make a mental note that this is your first warning. You might be tweeting annoying stuff, too many selfies, lots of retweets about the same thing, maybe you tweet every single detail of your monotonous day without irony or humour. Any of those (and more) can put you on a warning.

Step two: oh you’ve done it, you’ve irritated me again with your stupid retweets. I immediately turn off your retweets, I no longer have to see every single retweet you do about sausages, street food, football bantz or “inspirational” quotes, this may or may not be your salvation. It’s worth noting at this stage that retweeting praise and #FFs may also put you in this category. It’s also worth noting that I sometimes do those things too, but I usually put myself on the naughty step and consider what I’ve done.

Step three: agh! I’ve snapped, I cannot tolerate you on my timeline anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve waved my finger over that twitter mute button two or three times by now, this wasn’t an easy decision to make, but take solace in the fact you’ve been muted and not unfollowed or blocked, we’re still friends, it’s just that I don’t want to see or hear you and your stupid whiny voice ever again.

It’s like I’ve reclaimed my timeline, I can check twitter safe in the knowledge that I won’t be seeing whole rafts of annoying tweets from the same few accounts, it’s a delight. I never, ever fell out of love with twitter, but I did sometimes avoid it to stop me getting annoyed. So if twitter is getting you down, why not try my handy three step plan, it’s saving my social media sanity on a daily basis.

Twitter mute

A New School for Didsbury

A little while ago I blogged my support for the bid to create a new free School in Didsbury. I know free schools have had a mixed reception, but there is some evidence that run well free schools can be an excellent asset to the community.

I have high hopes for Didsbury CE Free School, for a start it’ll be run by the team who run the massively successful and horribly oversubscribed Didsbury CofE (also known locally as Elm Grove).

In 2013 Didsbury CofE had 180 applications for just 30 places in their reception class. What we do know about the new school is that it will be two-form entry which will massively alleviate pressure on all the schools in Didsbury.

Didsbury CofE has been a part of Didsbury for 400 years and generations of my family attended the school, some of their names are on a memorial plaque dedicated to former pupils who died in WW1. It is an integral part of the community and a place that means a lot to me.

Not everyone wants their child to go to a church school, but some do, in fact there are quite a lot of us who do want our children to go to a church school and that’s our choice. It’s not that they’ll get the bible rammed down their throats, because I’m pretty sure that’s not what’s going to happen. What I am pretty sure about is that my son, should he be lucky enough to go to our local CofE school, will be taught to be polite, considerate and mindful of the world around him. Yes of course he gets that at home, but to me manners and respect are everything.

As for religion and religious education, they state that the school is open to, and welcomes children and families of all faiths and none, with their intake reflecting the religious and cultural demographic of the surrounding area. Which is as it should be.

I’m excited about the new school, I’m excited about the possibilities it’ll bring to Didsbury and the difference it will make within the community. It’s just exciting.

Apparently the bid for the school received the most amount of positive support for a new free school in the country, they don’t know where it’ll be located yet, the Department for Education will decide that, but it will be in Didsbury and it will be for me at least, an exciting and positive step forward for families like mine.

The school will open in September 2015.

You can find out more about the school and its ethos on their website and by following the Free School on Facebook and Twitter for updates and further information.


Why I Support My Local High Street

I’ve just been for a walk around my village, a place I’ve lived all my life. I popped into a few shops, I’ve stocked up my cupboards and started my Christmas shopping (eek). I love Didsbury with it’s strong community spirit and it’s great independent shops and businesses.

Didsbury is a suburb of Manchester divided into three parts, East, West and the Village. There aren’t many shops in East Didsbury, a small smattering maybe, but Didsbury village and Burton Road in West Didsbury are buzzing with independent shops and businesses. I think this makes the area so unique and vibrant.

I live in Didsbury village and my favourite shops, in no particular order are:

  • Giddy Goat Toys
  • Airyfairy Cupcakes
  • The Cheese Hamlet
  • Evans the fishmongers
  • Axons the butchers
  • Harriet & Dee

These are all fantastic local businesses which I make a very special effort to support. I’m married to a local businessman and I know how badly the economic downturn has affected local businesses. We try where possible to shop local and now I’m at home all day I can happily while away a few hours doing my shopping and having coffee somewhere lovely. I know that is a luxury that not everyone can enjoy.

Wherever you live can I urge you to support your local shops and businesses. Yes the big chains have their place, but if you shop locally then you’re essentially supporting your community. You’re making it an interesting, vibrant place, you’re helping to support businesses which employ local people, you’re reinvesting in your town. Most of all, you do get a nice warm fuzzy feeling from shopping locally and you’ll more than likely pick up some bargains too.

What’s your town like? Is it buzzing or does Mary Portas need to step in? Do you shop locally or are you supermarket mad? I’d love to know what you think.

Note: I’ve not been paid to write this post, I just really love my local shops!

37 things about me for my 37th birthday

Today is my 37th birthday so I’ve decided to blog my 37 favourite things about my life as well as some nice, positive (for a change) things about me.37 things about me for my 37th birthday

37 things about me for my 37th birthday

  1.  I have found increased confidence in my late 30’s which is empowering.
  2.  I have a wonderful husband (of 13 years).
  3.  I have an amazing, funny and adorable son.
  4.  I have a great collection of brilliant and caring friends.
  5.  I am honest, often brutally so, but you’ll never hear me lie.
  6.  I have a small but supportive family.
  7.  I am actually a pretty good Mum.
  8.  We have a place in Devon where I find ultimate peace and serenity.
  9.  I love to lie on the rocks and listen to the waves crash against them for hours. I love and fear the power of the sea.
  10.  I love a good storm, rumbles of thunder, flashes of lightening, the feeling of ecstatic foreboding is beautiful.
  11.  I’m a good cook, can make delicious meals out of nothing and I enjoy creating in the kitchen.
  12.  I love social media. Twitter has got me through some dark, dark times these past 12 months.
  13.  I love blogging. I’ve always loved writing and having my blog helps me get my thoughts and feelings out of my head.
  14.  Although I hate myself most of the time, I am kinda cute (but never beautiful).
  15.  I love to dance and go about it with gay abandon.
  16.  Music is my life and first love, though my tastes are mainly stuck around 1995.
  17.  I’m reasonably bright and excellent at Trivial Pursuits.
  18.  I am entertaining company especially on nights out.
  19.  I wear my heart on my sleeve and care a great deal about people.
  20.  I am a good listener and happy to lend a shoulder to cry on.
  21.  I am reasonably good at photography.
  22.  I love walking. With my iPod on I can walk for miles lost in my thoughts.
  23.  I am strong.
  24.  I am able to endure considerable physical pain.
  25.  I love Pilates even though it hurts.
  26.  I developed a love of film at uni and especially love Quentin Tarantino films.
  27.  My favourite sport is ice hockey. It is awesome.
  28.  I love Scandinavia and everything Scandinavian.
  29.  My favourite flowers are sweet peas. Their scent lifts my spirits.
  30.  I have an excellent sense of humour and the dirtiest laugh in Manchester (fact).
  31.  I no longer care what people think about me which is empowering.
  32.  I love trying new things and exploring various boundaries in my life.
  33.  I am a chronic underachiever but I’m cool with that now.
  34.  I pretty much always root for the underdog or at the very least I can see things from their perspective.
  35.  I am able to endure and have endured. And have survived.
  36.  The thing I am most proud of is my son.
  37.  I don’t fear being 40.
Happy 37th Birthday to me!

What are my Five Favourite Things?

Here are my Five Favourite Things so you can get to know a little bit more about me. I have decided not to include family or friends in this because that absolutely goes without saying. These are my five favourite things…

1. Music. I love music and listen to it all the time, it can equally bring my mood up and down. Key moments in my life are happily soundtracked on my iPod and just hearing a song again can trigger memories. I am a confirmed indie kid and my favourite bands are currently James, The Wonder Stuff, Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins, The Stone Roses and The Charlatans.

2. Exercise. I’m a real endorphin junkie. My physiotherapist described me as someone who binge exercises. It’s true, I’ve already spoken in a previous post of my love for dance, Zumba, yoga, Pilates, running, walking and swimming. I can’t do nearly as much as I’d like, but I make a point of walking every day to the point where the lovely happy endorphins kick in.

3. Writing. I love writing, crafting and twisting words into sentences. I’m really loving blogging at the moment and I’ve started writing the odd piece for publication. It’s a lost love, as a teenager I was a very keen writer and had lots of things published, I studied journalism at university and worked briefly as a journalist before I lost confidence in my writing abilities. I love that I’m writing again and hope I don’t lose my mojo any time soon.

4. Devon. We are incredibly lucky that we have access to a family cottage in North Devon so we frequently nip down for a holiday. Whatever the weather it’s always stunning. The cottage is near a cove and at night you can hear the waves crashing against the rocks. It is so peaceful. We love the ready access to beaches, great pubs, even the garden is lovely. It has it’s own orchard and that’s great to explore. It’s the only place where we all can completely relax. No TV, no Internet, very patchy mobile phone signals. Almost completely cut off from the world and that means 100% family time.

What are my Five Favourite Things?

5. Twitter. I am a Twitter addict, I’d check it every minute if I could. Over the past year it has been my saviour, my best friend, my source of distraction and solace and it’s been my enemy. I love it for keeping my mind off the physical pain of my operations and recovery. Twitter can be wonderful but I sometimes forget that reality is different to Twitter and that trips me up. It is one of my favourite things, but it can have it’s dark side.

Those are my favourite things. Simple things really, but the best things often are.

Just Ok

I don’t need your validation.

Recently I’ve been meeting a good number of my fabulous Twitter friends who have supported me over the past few months, I’ve got on famously with them all and had some really great times. But…

When you meet someone you admire and respect. Someone worldly and intelligent they can turn your head, make you think differently and view your place in the world from another perspective. That is usually a really good thing.

You admire them greatly, this wonderful charismatic friend who shares so much in common with you but broadens your horizons and helps to underpin some of your flagging self esteem. And then you meet them and they are as great as you think they’ll be.

But they know everything about me. I’ve poured my soul out to a select group of online friends over the past few months and they know my vulnerabilities and the chinks in my armour. They know how to wound, they know how fragile I can be.

I met up with a friend, a wonderfully supportive and open friend. They said I was ok. What the hell is that? Ok? I thought they were amazing and good company and said so. I’m just ok. Well I guess that’s me. Just ok. I’ve brooded on that for a few days. Just ok.

Tonight my husband shot me a look which said that I wasn’t just ok that I was his world. That’s all the validation I need. There is a caveat. That is all the validation I need when I’m calm and happy. But otherwise I’ll probably continue to brood on being just ok.


On The Ropes

That’s week one of my holiday done and dusted. Frankly I’m feeling much better already after the confusion, chaos and anxiety of the last few weeks. I’ve felt the need to blog a small update just because I’ve had so much love on twitter since I came out as an anxiety ridden worry-wart.

(I’m sorry if this looks terrible but I’m on some wifi in a pub and I don’t have my technology at hand to pretty it up. I will when I get home I promise.)
I’m on holiday in North Devon, the sun is shining and though I’m still tender of heart and quick to anger or tears I’m feeling so much better. My old and new twitter friends have rallied around me in a way which is unbearably touching and beautiful. Always checking on me and cheering me when I’m low and most importantly giving me a talking to when I need one.
I can’t change how I’m feeling overnight and this recent schism will take a while to heal, but I’m definitely feeling on the right road now. It’s not often I get fully in the grip of a PTSD/anxiety attack and I hope it won’t happen again ever, or in reality for a little while yet.
I’m feeling stronger and more positive and more like the me I was. I’m going to care less about the people who hurt me because if they really cared about me they wouldn’t.