Social Media ; My two Cents on Digital Influencers.

 

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Social Media; websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

Now that we all agree on the formal definition of social media, let me elaborate to you my thought on the above mentioned topic.

We are all online and interact on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and recently Snapchat (except me on the latter. I don’t see the point of it…). We all share our daily routines, outings, friends and now and then post some motivational quote and elaborate a personal input below it. We all do it,I too, except that a few reached a certain status quo with the number of followers and theme revolving around their online platform. The most famous of them all being the Fashionistas, then those lifestyle bloggers and not to forget the culinary experts.

I follow on Instagram a few of the above profiles and when I scroll down my feed, I do sometimes learn of events, new launches and openings in and around Lebanon. Fashion does not interest me, hence scratch all those blown out of proportion profiles of 2k+ dollars trendy mix and match outfits wore by 25+ missuses. I am by no means relating to the successful fashion bloggers with 50k+ followers. Those I admire for pursuing their passion for fashion and establishing themselves locally as well as internationally.

Social Media is exposing one’s personal life to a public that will or will not relate to you and follow. What you post should be who you really are and what message you want to convey to total strangers. I have come to notice that a lot of people direct messages and portray a lifestyle on a screen that is far from the reality they live in. Many motivational quotes are posted followed by large paragraphs of personal experiences leading to does and don’t that are actually not applied by the owner of the platform user himself. Anyone can easily write in good english some morality based script and give advice to a public. However, when facing the dilemma (again) not apply it to himself. I have seen a few cases of the sort and thought to myself, how hypocritical of them. Then again, they are human beings and human beings come with a default; emotional weakness. Furthermore,let me give a few examples I witnessed from such people; many of them criticized the trendy duck face, yet in their pictures (and selfies) pout slightly. When the TV series, The Sisters, started airing on a local channel, all of them attacked the silliness of the concept and made fun of the sisters’ lifestyle. What a shock when they started imitating the famous leg front pause while taking fashionable pictures. I am sure that if a series revolved around their life, they would have grasped the opportunity with arms wide open.

I am not a person who likes to brag and quite modestly I have come to differentiate an eager digital influencer from the other. The phonies are the ones that I do not follow no matter their successful presence online. The most genuine ones are few and I am sure they portray their likes/dislikes and does/don’ts added with advice with a certain tact. Their profiles are entertaining yet full of learnings (if such word exists, yet you got my point).

One of the profiles that I have come to follow and like a lot belongs to Mrs Roula Nahas aka The Sunshine Diary. I have never met her, yet I feel that she is one of the most genuine person out there on social media. I admire the fact that she tackles a family, a career and a social life all at once. Her shared pictures are always a joy to look at and her inspirational quotes a motivation. Quite a few times I related to the inspirational pushes she spreads to her public and gained free encouragement out of it. Don’t you agree that is simply a delight to see a person constantly smiling and spreading positivity around? That is what the Sunshine Diary aims and succeeded (within me).

Online, I have come to portray myself, Patyl.  Social media gave me the opportunity to post pictures, whether silly or not and build an online presence. People who know me in real life come to notice that my on- screen life and personality match. I abhor fake and distance myself from hypocrites. I do not have a target of followers to reach as I am content by the impact I have towards my friends and a certain number of followers through my quotes. As I have always said, it is the quality vs the quantity that is important. In the past couple of months, I have received messages and comment below a few pictures that gave me a smile. 2015-06-10 23.53.15

2015-06-11 00.02.13-2And Believe it or Not, that is enough for me.

Goodnight EveryOne.

and Sweet Dreams…

xo

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When in Cyprus…..I see Lebanon.

I did it. I finally got the opportunity to leave the Middle East behind and fly away for 20 minutes and enter Europe. The timing was perfect, not too into the summer season and weather wise bearable, as far as the region is concerned.

For those of you who don’t know, Cyprus is an island located in the Middle East with a European status. It shares the Mediterranean sea with its neighbors as well as the weather (among many other things). I am not going to go into details about the history/ geography of the country as there are many websites describing it perfectly. For those who know me well, they have come to realize on many occasions that my relationship with Beirut is rocky and often I need to getaway from it all. After 353 days my patience ran threw and I booked instantly a week long vacation to Limassol. It was my first time in that part of the country as I am more familiar with the famous party city of Aya Napa (during my younger years). To be honest I did not know what to expect. But what I witnessed took me by surprise. Cyprus, whether you like it or not, I believe you have a long lost twin across the sea. Lebanon don’t flatter yourself.

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Here are the similarities between these two entities:

– First and foremost, although Cypriots drive from the right side just like their British ex-colonists, they do break the law as much as the Lebanese citizens. I was shocked since I, with my naive view of everything European standards, thought they would be more abiding citizens. I witnessed many U-Turns, a double park and speeding on lanes with speeding limit. Furthermore, pedestrians seem to cross the street when they feel like with no regards to the traffic lights.

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(here a double park even for a few minutes).

– Cyprus and Greece share a certain animosity. I have no specific facts and figures on the subject matter. As a Greek friend put it not long ago, it is the same concept as with Lebanon and Syria’s relationship. However, you can notice more Greek flags around than Cypriot. Weird. But Cypriots we feel with you!!!

– Cypriots men reminded me a lot of Lebanese men. Physically they look alike. But most importantly they gaze at tourist girls intently and even cat call you when walking pass them. I wish I knew what those words meant so as to reply them back. Yet my vocabulary is limited to ‘malaka’ and ‘pousti’ which I kept to myself so as not to further give them an opportunity to engage in a conversation with me. I think having blond hair is a rare phenomena in this part of the globe. I need to mention the fact that being a blond in the Middle East (and Cyprus) will automatically label you as a Russian citizen.

– Limassol has its own two way avenue right next to the sea. It is the exact replica of the Lebanese Corniche, although I personally prefer Beirut’s lane (maybe because I am used to driving and jogging over there). I know I am shocked as well by admitting this to all of you, yet I believe that our corniche is more engaging and beautiful than the Cypriot’s. You can see cars driven by young locals passing with blasting music. Same concept with one major difference; local vs arabic music.

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(ok the picture does not do justice to the Lebanese coast but it seems no one has ever taken an aerial shot of the corniche yet).

– The funniest and most shocking thing that I saw while sipping my coffee at the local Starbucks was hearing a convoy siren. At first I was puzzled and thought that my ears might have been spoilt from the sea salt dip earlier, but then I saw less than ten cars all black with tinted glasses pass by, surrounded by motorcycles. Of course my jaw dropped. In Lebanon at such sight, I would have been alarmed since it can only mean that a politician is passing by and given their life threatening status, my presence would be endangered from a sudden God forbid explosion. In Limassol, all I could do, after my initial shock, was laugh for a couple of minutes. Funny, right?!

– Another similar venue is the La Marina Limassol. According to their website, its is “an exclusive waterfront development combining elegant residences, and a full service marina with exclusive restaurants and shops to create a lifestyle uniquely shaped by living on the sea”. Although deserted during the daylight, it is packed with tourists and locals combined at night. Zeytuna Bay anyone??

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– The clash between the Rich and Poor is obvious. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice the lack of luxurious cars in the streets. You rarely see any Mercedes- Benz and Range Rovers driven. And when you do, the men that come out of it act all high and mighty, kinda like back home. Even the architecture of the buildings connotes this disparity of wealth. Gorgeous villas are built in the outskirts of the city, compound- like, whereas short story building within the city itself. Do not take me for a snob, I am just stating what I saw. The development of limited luxurious apartments and villas around the Marina area is mostly directed to the rich foreign investors; Russians vs Arabs in Beirut.

– According to a friend , Cypriots way of life is the same as ours. They tend to live with their parents till marriage. I did not understand why though. It is very common in Lebanon since the rent is double the salary most of the time. But in Cyprus??? Furthermore, young adults love to spend their money on bling, show off and night outs instead of investing in a smart way. Struggle for work is the same. Nothing is easy as it seems. Living in Cyprus and being part of the European Union does not immune one from the struggles of daily life and survival. Hence, the rise of immigration and better opportunities abroad. I guess we all rock the same boat, at least in the same shared sea 🙂

– Cypriots working in the tourism sector are very charming and welcoming. They go beyond their way to help you out with directions and suggestions for sight seeing. They are surprised when they hear you are from Lebanon, especially when you don’t look like the typical Lebanese (Russian please!) and share their love to your homeland (clearly they haven’t visited nor lived long enough in it). Armenians living in Cyprus are not much but I did bump into a couple who instantly started talking to me in Armenian and gave protective advice on where not to wander (dodgy streets and all) and try a famous local restaurant. Souvlaki anyone? of course I cant not not mention the fact that they seem to want to introduce me to Armenian Cypriots….

– The villages around the mountains are cozy and small. The trees and the greenery breathtaking just like our Chouf mountains.. The rich history of each part of the rural area, a story out of an ancient book. Locals tend to spend their summer up in the mountains and the young  drive by on weekends for a Sunday barbecue with the family.

At last I want to point out a few things;

Although similar in many aspects, Cyprus is a change of scenery from Lebanon. The ratio of foreigners exceeds the Arabs. Yes I am not a big fan of arabs, as many of them behave in an unpleasant way with women.

The beach front is beautiful and clean. The water is transparent and cold but pleasant. The beaches are public and you only pay a couple of euros for a ‘chaise longue’. Most of the people opt however in throwing their towel on the clean sand and tan. Lebanon needs to restore its beach front to the public as it is every citizen’s right to enjoy the beach and the summer season without having to pay ridiculous exorbitant entrance fees to specific beach resorts.

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The internet is available to everyone anywhere you go. WIFI is free of charge. However connection is not always perfect. Yes Yes, there was a whole 12 hours of internet blockage in the area next to my hotel. It made me realize how hooked I am to social media. Scratch your disapproving looks.

The weather is amazing. Not too hot during the day but much available breeze to cool your tanning sessions. Nights are cooler. Just perfect for a winter lover (like yours truly!!).

I loved Cyprus and my getaway was much needed. Will I ever visit again? Yes probably but for a shorter period of time. The feeling that I conclude from my traveling experience to Aphrodite’s Island? Speechless & Amusing.

Note: Few of the pictures above are taken from the internet.

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Girl Friends; The Lebanese Clique.

Disclaimer: Girls put your pride aside while reading the following post. Anger/ bashing is not the solution. Namaste people. Namaste!

One of the most challenging aspect in this society, for survival purposes mainly, is to gather and maintain genuine friends around you. Add to that challenge, friends from the female gender. I know I am sorry I feel like I am asking you a lot to digest this morning. However, it is the sad truth.

Girlfriends are rare. We all have one or two best friends. Tackling more is just asking for too much (drama). For those who are not concerned and are happy with their surrounding then you are blessed and hopefully you will maintain your social circle close to your heart (and home). For the other ratio out there, lets stick together and shed some light on the subject while the first group sits and reads.

Most of the time, girlfriends are wired to be jealous from one another. I don’t know but I feel like its something that has been inserted in the embryo by the previous generation for generations to come. Its some sort of a Middle Eastern kinda thing. Rare are the girls that stick with one another through thick and thin. Rarer are the ones that genuinely care for your happiness and success in life.

I have noticed that in Lebanon, you have two types of groups of (girl)friends:

The first group is only made of women sharing one goal in common: getting hitched. Those are the ones that gather socially more than your average time per week. Whether its for lunch, dinner or some girls night out, their only interest is the latest photo editing apps, fashion statements and what trend to follow and buy. Shopping is a must (weekly). The latest gym technic a fad to try (and quit after a month).  Group photos are impeccable since being your best in public is your only tool to seal the man of your dream (whether he is married or not). If you look closely at their group pics you realize that they almost look alike; same hair color, length and style. Same eyebrows and smile. And the must branded hand bag perched on their hand + the huge sunglasses used as head bands. A certain feeling emanates from this kind of clique. I personally do not believe that these women are genuine 100% with one another. Since their goal is to land prince charming, jealousy, gossip and backstabbing takes its toll behind closed doors between one or two from the same group (and behind each other’s back). Note: these women do not work nor do they intend to in the future, baring in mind that a housewife is an already established job.

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The second group are working women. Their motto; Women should not compete with one another but uplift each other. They are ambitious and believe in empowerment. Whether they hold a job or not, their main focus is contributing to the society they live in with more than a selfie or two. They are cultured, active and have seen the world (not just the shops worldwide).They brought back the lessons learnt from their trips and integrated it to their daily life. They are confident and their presence socially is marked by their surrounding. Whether they have a man in their life or not, does not define who they are and especially does not stop them from reaching their goals one step at a time. Their social life is enriched not by posting pictures on social media and tagging them with motivational quotes but by collaborating and exchanging ideas and plans. But of course they do post pictures on social media, they aren’t pariah (undesirable). A night out with one another enriches ones mind and soul.

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Girlfriends, girlfriends….

Last year, I was living in London, met and made a lot of interesting friends. I was surprised that abroad, women do empower one another more than our society. We all shared one passion, the Arts, and were looking for a job that would let us live the London dream. Surprisingly, whenever someone heard of a job opening, she would alert the other students and encourage them to apply. More than one friend helped me to edit my CV. In Lebanon, you guessed it, competition does not permit for friends to be helpful and nice towards one another, especially in the workforce (I will let you imagine what it does to when competing for a love interest!).

I am happy that I set my priorities straight and surrounded myself with empowering and caring women.

I believe that women empowerment is fulfilling and more rewarding. However if you chose to be part of the hypocritical bitches out there, please get your silicon- ed presence away from me.

Thank you.