Tag Archives: cyberbullying

And the Beat Goes On

This week has shown some of the best and worst aspects of the human race – just like every week.

We lost a beloved performer on Monday, and the world wept; that was touching, and unifying, and we shared one another’s grief. But, of course, there had to be some people who felt it was their right and privilege to harass the family of the deceased online, posting mocked-up autopsy pictures to Twitter (one of which I inadvertently came across yesterday morning, and which almost made me physically sick) and seeming to enjoy the notoriety – because notoriety equals fame which equals status, in their eyes – which came with it.

I personally cannot understand what would drive a person to create a mocked-up autopsy picture, the single most gruesome thing I have ever had to see, and put it up online. I cannot. But I share my humanity with the person or people who did it, and so I have to conclude that they have cauterised whatever compassion or kindness they may once have had; I cannot accept that I have anything, besides my mortality, in common with someone who could cause such deliberate agony.

All the love the world shared, and all the remembrances, and all the shock, and all the beautiful tributes, may as well never have happened now.

Photo Credit: tanakawho via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: tanakawho via Compfight cc

For me, it’s not enough to simply shrug and say ‘well, that’s life. That’s human nature.’ I’m sorry, but that’s nonsense. It’s not human nature. It’s very much a human construct, and one which we’ve created. There has always been cruelty, of course, but now it has legitimacy, and a platform, and it confers infamy and gets people talking – and yes, I appreciate the irony of this, even as I post about it – and that, somehow, makes it seem less heinous. It makes cruelty seem like a career path.

What has happened to make us this way?

My mind has been swirling with thoughts like these for the past few days, and that’s not a good thing. My thoughts tend towards Worst Case Scenarios even at the best of times, and I find it all too easy to get lost down all the dark paths. So, I knew I had to do something to divert my thinking and make things seem better, even if the only person it benefited was myself.

So.

Earlier in the week I finished (after a marathon, power-through-it day) the edits on the book I’ve been calling ‘Web’; I’m not saying it’s done, just done enough for me to put it aside for a while. The end still isn’t strong enough, but overall I’m happy with the story arc, and I think I’ve fixed glaring plot holes and issues with characterisation. One of the main things I feel I had mis-handled with this book was its scariness – you may recall it features a ghost, and not one who is happy to sit in a corner and rattle its chains. This is a ghost set on revenge, and so it had to be scary. It had to have reasons for what it was doing, as well as a method. Giving it reasons and method was the easy bit. I mentioned a while back that I don’t really know the ‘horror’ genre as well as I could, not being a person who likes scary films and whatnot, and I had been spending too long forcing the ghost into a box marked ‘Wooo!’ by giving it a shark’s head, and talking about it screaming all the time, raising goosebumps and hackles alike. I reread those bits a few days after I’d first written them, and I rolled my own eyes in boredom.

Stop trying to make it scary, I told myself, by throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it. Stop and think about what makes you scared, and use that instead.

Well. I scare easily. Things like weird shadows where shadows shouldn’t, at first glance, be can make my blood run cold. The idea of a whisper in my ear in an empty room makes me lose my reason. A stifled sob from an invisible throat would freak me out more than a maniacal laugh. So, I went with that. It was out with the shark’s head (which, on reread, was ridiculous), and I toned down the screaming. And it was much better.

Then, I revisited Eldritch. It’s been so long since I worked on this book that I’d forgotten what state it was in, and that was brilliant – it was like reading someone else’s work. Polly – who, when I first submitted this book to her, wasn’t yet my agent but just a dream, a long shot – had recommended that I shelve my idea of having Eldritch as the first part of a trilogy and instead write it as a standalone book, and so I’d started the process of doing that, months ago.

But the best part is, I hadn’t realised quite how far into the work of rejigging the book I’d managed to get before something else – no doubt another story – had dragged me away from it. I was over 45,000 words into it, which felt like being given a present. That’s about three-quarters of the way through what will become a new first draft.

So, I began to read Eldritch, and it made me laugh.

It’s not David Walliams funny, or Andy Stanton funny, but some of the dialogue between the protagonist Jeff and his friend Joe pleases me hugely, and the chemistry between the two boys – their obvious long-standing friendship, and the comfort with which they poke fun at one another, fun which conceals a deep affection – made me happy. I am in the throes of writing a new ending to this story, which promises more fun ahead (as well as Peril and Danger and Derring-Do and Magic), and it was the best thing I could have done to lift my mind out of the mire of the world I have no choice but to live in. I have made a hurried, scribbled, general outline of what I want to happen, and ideas are drip-dropping into my mind all the time, slowly but with great richness, like balm falling onto wizened skin.

Revisiting Eldritch reminded me why I want to write stories. I want to create a little bit of magic, and stimulate wonder. I want to leave a little fairy-dust behind me so that when I’m gone, people will know I tried to help. I tried to encourage compassion and fellow-feeling and laughter, because in the end they have to win out over cruelty. Otherwise, what are any of us doing here?

We are Not Alone

Yesterday, I got a wonderful email. It was from the author of a book I reviewed a while ago, one that I had really enjoyed but about which I had a couple of small criticisms; the author wanted to let me know they had read and enjoyed the review. They thanked me also for my ‘wise’ reading of the book and my response to it, and complimented me on my own writing style.

Image: publicdomainarchive.com

Image: publicdomainarchive.com

I was so extraordinarily pleased, and surprised, that I may have clapped my hands in glee. (All right, so I did clap my hands in glee. There’s no shame in it. Right?)

It was extremely kind of this author – who is, I have no doubt, a very busy person indeed – to take the time to write to me, and also to tell me that they had enjoyed reading other posts on my blog. After the joy had faded a bit, however, I did a quick sweep of the posts they’d mentioned, to check for typos and infelicitous phrasing and the like; I also re-read the book review and winced a bit at some of my harsher sentences. I hope, on balance, that the author knew I loved their work. (I did, you know. Just in case you ever come back again and see this, dear author-person). Receiving the email was also a reminder to me that, even though writing a blog can feel a lot like screaming into the void at times, actually it isn’t; you’re making your words and thoughts as public as can be, and they are visible to readers all over the world.

So, yes. Simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. Much like publishing a book would feel, I should imagine.

It also reminded me of the importance of moderating what I say. It’s vital to remember that when you mention an actual, real-life human being on a public forum that they have every chance of finding your words, and of reading them, and if you’ve been cruel or hurtful, they will have every reason to be upset. Of course I try to never be cruel or hurtful to anyone, and unless absolutely necessary I don’t name names on this blog, but still. The principle remains. There are plenty of public events about which I’d love to comment, but about which I maintain silence because I either don’t trust myself to remain reasonable or they’re not relevant to the overall scope of this blog; that doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion, or that I don’t care, but I’m aware there’s a time and place for everything.

Having the freedom to keep a blog, and to live in a country where my thought processes and ability to express myself (within reason) are uncensored, is a luxury I do not take for granted. I have had access to education, and I have always been encouraged to think for myself; I value that more than I can express. I’m also aware that, while putting my words on a blog makes them public, nobody is required to read them; the fact that I have readers at all is a privilege. Because of the fact that, to me, my blog is just me in my office with my computer, it’s easy to forget that there are people out there reading what I say. It’s frighteningly easy to forget that what I say here can affect others.

But what is most terrifying of all is the thought that the concerns which govern my online behaviour – moderated content, careful phrasing, avoidance of personal attack – are not shared by a lot of people who spend their time commenting on the endless stream of information that is the internet.

Image: unsplash.com

Image: unsplash.com

I’ve recently read a book – of which more later in the week – which made mention of cyberbullying; characters in this story are shown leaving vicious messages for someone on a social media site, breaking her down with every word, forcing her to believe that she is worthless. In the news over the past few days there have been stories of mindless vandalism which almost had fatal consequences, and it makes me so angry that people can do these irresponsible things without thinking of how they might affect others – or, more frighteningly, knowing exactly how they might affect others, and not caring. The choices I make about how I maintain my blog will have zero effect on things like this, of course; whether I live my life with empathy, or not, has nothing to do with someone who feels they have the right to throw rocks onto a train track, just for kicks. It makes me feel a little better, though, about the state of the world, to know that this little corner of the web is a place which strives to do no harm.

That, I suppose, is the best that I can do.

 

Why Can’t We all be Friends?

I’ve just been reading an interview with an actor whose work I loved when I was younger, and who – as part of a funny six-piece ensemble cast – was one of the most famous and highly paid TV stars in the world at the height of his fame. Since the late 1990s, he’s fallen in and out of ‘favour’ with the press due to his publicised struggles with substance abuse and the consequences this had for his personal appearance (as if it was anyone else’s business, but I digress.) In recent years he’s kept a lower profile, but he’s still extremely well-known.

He is Matthew Perry, who played Chandler Bing (‘Bing! It’s Gaelic for ‘thy turkey’s done!”) on Friends.

Image: nadcp.org

Image: nadcp.org

It was an interesting interview, not least because Perry spoke about the terrible effects that negative reviews of his work had on his mental health. I’m paraphrasing, but essentially he says he doesn’t read reviews now because the good ones are never – to his mind – good enough, and they never last long enough in the psyche to outdo the damage caused by the bad ones.

I was a huge fan of Friends, and Chandler Bing was always my favourite character. He – or, rather, Matthew Perry – was witty, self-deprecating and intelligent, with an instinctive talent for physical comedy that I think has to be in-built; it can’t be taught. He had all the best lines. Even now, if I catch a re-run of the show, it’s Chandler I love to watch (well, and Phoebe. I loved her, too.) So, it’s weird to read about a person you consider extraordinarily talented struggling with bad reviews, and expressing how deep an impression they can make on a person’s peace of mind and self-esteem. I once read Oprah Winfrey’s recollection of an anecdote about Beyoncé, who is – as I’m sure you’re all well aware, a global multi-millionaire megastar – but who still comes off stage after a performance and asks people ‘Was that okay? Was I okay?’ Apparently, she does this even while her audience is still screaming her name.

We have to feel like we’re doing things right, even though we have nothing to prove to anyone. Matthew Perry has nothing to prove; neither, assuredly, does Beyoncé. Despite this, they still need to feel like they’re okay, that they’re enough, that they’re good at what they do; it’s a touchingly vulnerable aspect of the life of a superstar. But none of us are any different.

I’ve often read interviews with writers where they say the same thing – ‘don’t read the reviews.’ Newbie authors often can’t help themselves from reading reviews, steeling themselves against the bad ones, telling themselves they can cope with the excoriation of a person hating their work and spilling that hatred all over the web – but often they can’t. How could anyone?

Image: thezerosbeforetheone.com

Image: thezerosbeforetheone.com

I know I’m writing this post as a person who also writes book reviews, but I try – insofar as that’s possible – always to keep my book reviews positive. Even if I don’t like a book, I always find something to praise about it, and I never – ever – stoop to the point where I attack the author him/herself. I can’t even understand the mentality of a reviewer who would do something like this, but apparently it happens every day. It’s an abhorrent aspect of the print media which bases itself on destroying people – Matthew Perry, in his interview, recalls an incident where he was criticised for dating a particular woman, and then attacked for apparently being gay, on adjacent pages in the same magazine – and which surrounds us at all times. Reviewers, and Facebook commenters, and in fact those who comment on anything, anywhere on the web, are used to this sort of vitriol. It’s already spilling out into their personal interactions with others, to the point where sitting behind a keyboard and writing vile things about another human being is seen as hilarious fun. ‘Don’t read the comments’ is an oft-heard saying for a very good reason.

I abhor this.

I was taught as a child that if I had nothing nice to say, I was to say nothing at all. This doesn’t mean that I can’t respectfully criticise, or say that something’s wrong, or express anger if I need to, but I really don’t see the point of saying hurtful things just because you want to. In recent weeks, a mother posted an absolutely beautiful photograph of her young son, who has Down syndrome, to Instagram with the hashtag #downsyndrome. A commenter – who apparently searches for images of people with Down syndrome – wrote the word ‘ugly’ under this picture. The young boy’s mother replied to this internet troll in the most gracious way, at once spearing the troll’s own viciousness while also extending compassion to them, assuring them that all people – even trolls – deserve respect.

I’m so glad this woman’s post went viral, and that people all over the world have seen it. Such touches of humanity will never outweigh the vileness, but each tiny example counts. Wouldn’t it be great if, one day, we could learn that there are ways to express our dissatisfaction with something – whether it’s actions, or art, or politics, or whatever – without making personal attacks, and that we could start using our intelligence to find ways to build one another up rather than tear one another down? Maybe then nobody would be afraid to read their reviews, not because all reviews would be fawning and false and full of fake praise, but because they’d be respectful and constructive and useful and thoughtful.

Ah, me. It’s good to dream.

 

ISPCC Shield Campaign – Standing Up to Bullying

If you’ve been following me on Twitter over the past few weeks, doubtless you’ll have seen me making mention of the #ISPCCShield hashtag from time to time. In case you’ve been wondering what on earth that means, then wonder no more. Today is the ISPCC’s (the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s) National Day of Action against bullying, and the Shield is the logo they’ve chosen to symbolise their commitment to eradicating the scourge of bullying, once and for all.

The ISPCC is a charity I hold very dear. They work tirelessly – and without any significant government funding – for the betterment of the lives of all children, no matter where they live or who they are or how much money their parents have. They run Childline (available on the phone at 1800 66 66 66, via text message (within Ireland) by texting ‘Talk’ to 50101, or on webchat via their website), 24 hours a day 365 days a year, and all staffed mainly by volunteers. They were recently involved in setting up Ireland’s Missing Children’s Helpline, designed to give help and support to parents when their child goes missing, and also to reach out to the missing child him/herself, giving them a non-judgmental way to contact home if they need to. The Helpline is also designed to help children considering running away, helping them find better options to deal with their problems.

Pretty amazing, I hope you’ll agree.

Almighty BOD (Brian O'Driscoll) thinks so, too. Image: businessandleadership.com

Almighty BOD (Brian O’Driscoll) thinks so, too.
Image: businessandleadership.com

In March 2012, the ISPCC launched the Shield Campaign for the first time. The Shield logo itself is simple: a person wears a Shield pin (available in selected retailers across Ireland, or from an army of volunteer sellers who’ll be braving the weather tomorrow all over the country) in order to display their commitment to eradicating bullying wherever they see it. The Shield shows that its wearer will act as a shield between a child and a bully, and that any child being bullied can turn to a Shield-wearer for help and support. Children and adults alike can wear it to show that they will not be a bystander, and they will not allow anyone to be bullied in their presence without standing up and saying something.

Importantly, the price of the Shield pin – €2 – goes directly to the ISPCC to help them fund their vital work. The charity sector in Ireland has taken a battering recently due to scandals at senior management in a small handful of charitable organisations, but it’s important to remember that not all charities should be judged the same way. Charities still need help and support, and the ISPCC is one I particularly love. It’s suffering due to lack of funds, and if it suffers then thousands of children will suffer, too.

Because of that, I’m volunteering to sell Shields today, and I’m writing this post to let anyone who happens to stumble across it know that the ISPCC can accept donations through their website (if you’re not living in Ireland, or you won’t be able to get out and about to buy a Shield); more importantly, I want to say that I’m a proud Shield-wearer, and that I fully support any effort to stamp out bullying, in all its forms.

Image: ispcc.ie

Image: ispcc.ie

Bullying isn’t just picking on a smaller child and using your fists to hurt them. It’s calling names, or spreading rumours, or attacking another person’s reputation, or making threats. It’s making insulting comments on Twitter and linking it to your victim’s @account. A scandal involving this very thing happened – among adults – as recently as this week, and among adults who are intelligent and talented and who should have known better, at that. It’s writing hurtful things on their Facebook wall. It’s sending them text messages designed to hurt or frighten them. It’s saying things like ‘if you don’t agree with me, then I’m going to hurt you’ – I am dumbfounded by how often I see things like this on Twitter, or Tumblr, or in social media in general. If you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face, why would you say it on a social media account?

Image: ispcc.ie

Image: ispcc.ie

Bullying is ganging up on someone and pulling them to shreds. It’s laughing at someone because you think they’re weak, or different, or weird. It’s setting yourself up as the arbiter of justice, and deciding that other people – for sometimes nonsensical reasons – don’t measure up to your standards. It’s not thinking about your actions. It’s using words carelessly, words like ‘loser’ or ‘fool’ or ‘idiot’ or worse; words which make someone else afraid.

It’s not something that people ‘just have to go through.’ It’s not something kids need to experience ‘in order to toughen them up.’ It’s not ‘just for the laugh.’ It’s not acceptable, from anyone or in any situation. It’s not acceptable from adults, or from children; in workplaces or in playgrounds; in real life or on the internet. The Shield Campaign is designed to draw attention to bullying and to bring it out into the light, where it can be dealt with properly.

If you’re a bully, the urge to hurt others can come from a deep place of pain within you. The ISPCC’s Shield Campaign is designed to help bullies, too – because, sometimes, bullies need more help than their victims do. It can come from a sense of disenfranchisement or powerlessness or because of a history of abuse that you’ve suffered in silence – or for a whole galaxy of reasons. One thing is definitely true: taking it out on another person may give you momentary relief, but it won’t solve your own problems. Worse than that, it might end up really hurting someone else.

Image: ispcc.ie

Image: ispcc.ie

If you happen to have €2 burning a hole in your pocket, and you’re looking for a good way to spend it, you could do worse than buying an ISPCC Shield today. If you feel like donating a small amount in order to help in a more long-term way, that would be wonderful too – or, if you’re not Irish, and your own country has a similar organisation to the ISPCC which you’d prefer to support, that would be awesome. But – most importantly – try always to stand up to bullying, no matter where you find it, and remember to treat every other person with the same respect you would show to someone you love.

And, finally, try to show good example to any young people in your life, and show them the way to treat others through your own actions.

Here endeth the lesson.

(Incidentally, in case you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, writing-wise, lately, well… I’ll have more to say about than on Monday. Stay tuned!)

Image: wodumedia.org

Image: wodumedia.org

A Heavy Toll

A few posts ago, I mentioned that we’d (finally) purchased a box-set of ‘The Wire’, and that we’re slowly working through the episodes. We’re really enjoying them, and I finally understand why the show was so praised a few years back as being the best thing ever made for TV, and all that stuff. We’re still working through Season 1, so we’ve a long way to go yet, but I can already see the quality at work.

Last night, as we watched an episode before bed, I was struck by something which I found important. One of the characters, Major Rawls, was throwing his weight around the workplace and, basically, bullying one of his junior officers into doing less-than-vital work; he was also trying to derail another investigation in favour of his own, and using bullying tactics to get his own way. There was another show on TV here a few months ago, too, where a man in the workplace was mercilessly bullied by his colleagues. The show gave the viewer an insight into how much pain this bullying caused, but – importantly – the bullies got away with it. It was downplayed as ‘teasing’ and made to seem like it was all intended to be good-natured, and that the victim overreacted to some old-fashioned joshing, but – of course – it was more than that. It made me angry to watch it.

I’m writing this post today because, in recent months, there has been a lot of focus on bullying here in Ireland. There’s been a particular focus on the particularly insidious branch of bullying known as ‘cyber-bullying’, where the tormentor uses modern media to attack their victim. In the last few months, three young girls – all of them treasured, cherished and dearly loved by their parents and families – have taken their own lives, apparently because of cyber-bullying. The oldest was fifteen, and the youngest was twelve. Every death has been like a wound across our country, and there’s so much talk about what needs to be done, who needs to take action, what the government needs to do…

The truth is, of course, that this affects all of us, and that action needs to be taken by everyone. I can’t bear to think that a child, with loving parents and siblings, could possibly feel that nobody in the world cared about them enough to help them with their struggles against bullies. I can’t bear to think that they would feel so cornered and afraid that they think there’s only one option open to them – and that option isn’t talking to their mum or dad, or their brothers or sisters, or any adult in their life, but taking that irrevocable step into eternity. Every shred of me screams that this can’t be allowed to happen any more, but – like everyone – I’m helpless in the face of it. What can we do?

The reason the TV shows I mentioned above made such an impression on me was because, in my opinion, the way they depict bullying is part of the culture of our times. The bullies in these shows are seen as nasty, certainly, and horrible; we root for the victim, and hope that he or she will battle through. But, a lot of the time, they don’t battle through – they just take the abuse, and walk away. Their suffering is done away from the eyes of the bully, and away from the eyes of anyone who might be sympathetic. Bullying doesn’t just happen to children – I know what it’s like to experience bullying as an adult in a workplace, and it’s every bit as crushing then as it is during childhood. But children watch these TV shows, and they see bullies being depicted as strong and powerful, tormenting weaker people and getting away with it. They see characters manipulating their way to power, using strong-arm tactics to force other people to do their will, and they see a bullying mindset as being part-and-parcel of a strong character. I know these shows are fiction; I know that it should be clear that they’re not supposed to represent real life, and that people should be able to tell the difference. But maybe they just can’t, or won’t, tell the difference.

A lot of people have experienced bullying, of some sort or another. Nearly every child gets teased while at school. I am no exception, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say I suffered badly. My memories of school are largely positive, and most of what could be considered ‘bullying’ happened to me while I was young and at primary school. But, no matter how bad any particular day might have been for me while I was at school, I had the comfort of going home at the end of the day, closing our front door behind me, and being welcomed into the warmth of my mother’s kitchen. I didn’t have to worry about the nasty girls in my class until I was back at school again the following day, facing them once more. There were no Facebook walls on which they could write horrible taunts, and I had no mobile phone, beeping constantly throughout the night, each message carrying abuse and horror. There was no You Tube for them to make videos, visible to the entire world, about how ugly I was or how nobody wanted to go out with me. I didn’t have to suffer any of this, but modern teenagers do. Of course, when I was young, I could torment myself with thoughts about what might have been said or done to me during the day, and I could worry about what might happen the next day, but it’s nothing in comparison to opening a text message and seeing words encouraging you to take your own life because you’re a worthless piece of trash. How could anyone cope with pressure like that? I couldn’t do it now, and I’m a grown woman. I certainly couldn’t have done it as a twelve-year-old.

Bullying among children has been thought of as a ‘rite of passage’ for too long, and it’s often dismissed as something that kids just have to go through. That’s rubbish, in my humble opinion. Children who bully don’t just give it up as soon as they leave school – they can go on to bully throughout their lives. Children who are bullied can internalise all the abuse they’ve suffered, and it can scar them for the rest of their lives. Something does need to be done before the already heavy toll being paid gets heavier, and before more of our beautiful young people are lost. Something that can be done, by everyone, is to make it clear that bullying will not be tolerated in our presence, and that we do not reward bullying behaviour, either among children or adults. We can stop portraying bullies as heroes in TV shows and stories. We can give children who bully the same support as we’d give children who are their victims; children who bully can sometimes be in the depths of emotional turmoil themselves, and they bully because they need to exert some small bit of control over their lives. It’s not always as simple as ‘chastise the bully, and they’ll stop’ – if a child is bullying because they’re being bullied themselves, perhaps by a parent, then punishing them may only make their pain deeper, and they may take that pain out on their victims.

Most of all, we need to watch our children and how they use the internet, and other media. We can’t patrol the internet, and we can’t remove the websites that children are using to bully one another – but, maybe, we can help children to see that bullying is not a mark of a powerful person, but a sign of powerlessness, and not something to be emulated. If we can discourage their need to do it, it’s a start in helping them stay alive and get through their adolescence without suffering so terribly.

Any thoughts?

When Writing Goes Bad…

It’s Friday. It’s bright outside (for the moment). I’m going to a friend’s birthday celebration at the weekend. All these are good things, and worth focusing on. It’s important to keep your eyes on happy things when you feel like you’re struggling with something.

So, writing my Draft 2 is hard. Really, really hard. As I said yesterday, lots needs to be changed in this WiP of mine – I was in such a rush to get the story out last time that I didn’t take enough time to build the world correctly, or develop my protagonist as fully as I should have. I suppose that’s why it’s called a first draft! I’m rewriting some scenes and rethinking some key plot moments, and I suppose at the moment I’m just working through these changes and trying to get them straight in my mind, and the only way I can really do that is by writing. I know a lot of the words I’m currently writing will eventually be cut, but the effort I’m making does have value insofar as it’s showing me what’s working and what’s not working (at least, I hope so). It’s slow going, and I feel like I’m unpicking a lot of work I sweated over a few weeks and months ago, but I know there’s no other way it can be done.

I know I only have a little struggle to face today – a small mountain to climb. Others in the world have far more to deal with today than I do, and I’m grateful for my own troubles. My thoughts today are with the victims of Superstorm Sandy, the people affected by the scandals in the BBC (I can’t bring myself to type the names of the ‘stars’ involved), and the families of Erin Gallagher and Ciara Pugsley.

I’m going to keep this blog brief today, and leave you with an image of one of the only things in the world that’s always guaranteed to make me happy:

Take this wise baby’s advice, and go find someone to laugh with! And have a wonderful, happy and peaceful weekend. Thanks for reading.