Author Archives: Alina Sirbu

Is social media impacting our self-perception?

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Image: Free stock photo

Is social media a blessing or a curse? Not long ago one of my friends decided to delete her Instagram account and as a person who loves the app and uses it constantly, I couldn’t understand her decision. Her answer was simple: it’s the pressure.

The pressure of posting the perfect picture, with the perfect filter and outfit and so on. You will never see someone advertising their negative traits or posting an unflattering selfie. Nowadays, social media is all about projecting our best, unrealistic self. We spend an awful amount of time trying to create a digital identity that would only show how good we look or how funny and interesting we are. In our battle for likes we forget how forget how social media can wreck our self-esteem and how we perceive ourselves.

But then it’s not just us who put on the pressure of portraying the ‘perfect life’. It also comes from celebrities or brands, who are the main promoters of unrealistic standards. Studies show that all those lean figures and perfect faces that we see all over Instagram on a daily basis, only lowers our self-perception. Comparing yourself to others becomes a habit and if someone’s life looks remotely better, we start thinking low of our own.

Although the negative effects of social media can impact both genders, women are the main sufferers, especially when it comes to fitness or beauty ideals and expectations that they encounter online. According to a study made by the brand Dove “82 percent of women feel the beauty standards set by social media are unrealistic” and “almost three quarters of women believe social media comments critiquing women’s beauty are destructive to their self-esteem.”

So what is there to do about it? First of all, people should stop comparing themselves to others. We are only comparing ourselves to an ideal, unrealistic figure and not a real representation of a person. And when it comes to the things we share online, they should be a reflection of our offline persona, of our true self.

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Image: Free stock photo

In conversation with a rising blogger

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Credits: Maria Joynson

Maria Joynson is a 19 year old blogger from London. In January 2016 she started blogging about beauty, although now she turns her hand at everything including fashion, food and a series of posts filled with helpful advice for new bloggers. With over 10.000 followers across her social media platforms and amazing feedback on mariaj.co.uk, Maria’s tiny hobby is becoming a huge part of her life. Together we discussed about her experience with blogging, standing out in the community, voicing your own opinion online and changes that need to be made in the blogging world.

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London left gasping amid record pollution

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Credits: The Telegraph

London surpassed the annual air pollution limit five days into 2017, according to data from King’s College London’s Air Quality Network, the capital’s main monitoring system.

A site in Brixton Road, South London exceeded hourly limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) 24 times so far this year, breaking the European Union’s annual allowance of 18 breaches. The pollutant comes from factories and vehicles, with diesel engines playing the biggest part in the NO2 emission on roads in urban areas.

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London last month was put on a ‘very high’ pollution alert, as the cold and windless air failed to clear the toxic emissions caused by diesel traffic. London mayor Sadiq Khan said that the capital’s ‘filthy air’ is now a ‘health crisis’. He has pledged new measures to tackle the problem, including new low-emission bus routes that will deploy the ‘greenest vehicles’.

Mayor Khan also announced the introduction of a pollution charge for those who own more polluting cars and it is expected to affect up to 10.000 vehicles every week day. Owners of diesel and petrol engines, registered before 2006 will have to pay a £10 fee to drive in central London starting from 23 October.

The Guardian reports that half of Britain’s private cars are diesel. Despite the health warnings, the latest figures show that the total number of diesel vehicles licensed in London grew from 601,456 in 2012 to 774,513 in 2015, a 29 percent increase.

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Infographics: Alina Sirbu

London has encouraged its citizens to use bicycles more but there has been a debate whether bike lanes make congestion and pollution worse. The will end up being pushed into fewer lanes which is increasing the amount of time they stay in stationery. People are also concerned that bicycle commuters will be exposed to harm by being too close to pollutant-emitting vehicles.

Ever since 2010 the UK has been at the leading edge of resistance to laws aimed at suppressing air pollution deaths and violations of the EU’s NO2 limits. Britain has been served with a ‘final warning’ from the European Commission over the exceeding of air pollution restrictions. Amongst London, there are 16 other regions like Birmingham, Leeds or Glasgow who are targeted by the warning because they failed at addressing continuous pollution offences.

Air pollution is responsible for about 40.000 early deaths a year in the UK, with 9.500 happening only in London. This problem is also linked to health effects including asthma, heart and lung diseases, and people living near busy roads are more likely to experience these issues.

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Report: Alina Sirbu

Some cities, including Paris and Mexico City, have banned diesel vehicles altogether and it looks like London needs to up its game and follow this lead.

Corruption decree sparks mass protests in Romania

Thousands of Romanians have spent eight nights marching in cities across the country against a government proposal regarding pardoning of certain committed crimes and amendment of the Penal Code.

Despite the negative reactions, the newly sworn-in government secretly approved the emergency ordinance, regarding the pardoning and amnesty of committed crimes on the night of 31 January, which was not considered constitutional without an input from the parliament.

The prime minster, Sorin Grindeanu, said it will ease the overcrowding in prison but the opposition raised accusations that the ordinance was intended to help current and former politicians to escape ongoing criminal investigations and or prison sentences, including Liviu Dragnea – the leader of the ruling Social Democratic party who was given a two-year suspended prison sentence for vote rigging.

After turning up at one of the protests, the president, Klaus Iohannis, said: “A gang of politicians who have problems with the law want to change the legislation and weaken the state of law … Romanians are rightly indignant.”

The day after the ordinance was passed, more than 150.000 protesters, including elderly people and children, gathered outside the government’s headquarters whilst thousands of others protested in cities all over the country, making these demonstrations the largest since the fall of Communism back in 1989.

So far, the protests have convinced the government to withdraw the ordinance, pending approval or rejection by the parliament, and the country’s justice minister, one of the architects of this document has offered his resignation.

The government hoped that after scrapping the ordinance calm will return to the country, but that hasn’t happened. Despite the emergency corruption decree being revoked, Romanians have continued to protest against the government, with many calling it to quit.

However, the prime minister has stood firm, showing no sign of resignation and saying that his government has a responsibility for the people who voted for them. A revised version of the bill was sent for debate in parliament, where it might be forced through, a fact that is worrying the protesters.

Many in the crowd are afraid that the new legislation, promised by the prime minister, might contain some of the same elements in a different form. “This government is organised from the high level to the low like a mafia, and we don’t want something like this,” one protester, Profira Pop, told the Associated Press news agency.

The Embassies of Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands and the United States released a strong-worded statement against the passing of the ordinances, both in terms of how it was passed, as well as their content. The statement explained that these actions have undermined the rule of law and stifled the fight against corruption. They further explained that the government’s actions risk damaging Romania’s partnership with Europe and NATO.

A protester told Agence France-Presse: “It is obvious that society is becoming unified. We are together … People are coming from other cities to Bucharest in order to change things. We are ready to make Romania a clean country, for our children and for our future.”