Saturday, 27 August 2016

Ctrl Alt Delete, How I grew up online: Book Review | The Small Desk

Emma's book with a selection of tickets from my teenage years

Ever since I've know that this book was going to be released I've been looking forward to reading it. If you've never heard of Emma Gannon or Girl Lost in the City you are missing out! Emma is a blogger, writer, podcaster, feminist, journalist, basically everything I aspire to be.

One of the main reasons I love reading what Emma has to say is because it is written so well. It's all very well having a blogger with fantastic ideas and unique points of view but if they can't articulate themselves well it makes for a rough reading experience. Emma writes so eloquently and has a way of arranging words into sentences that read so effortless. I realise this is going to sound weird but Emma's writing is like whipped cream: unpretentious, strong, consistent and smooth.

She's been blogging for six years and also recently started a podcast to go alongside her book. I've listened to the majority of the episodes and I'm hooked, I love her interviewing style and the women she chooses to interview. She's also one of the hardest working women on the internet and I don't know where she finds the time to do everything she does. Follow her on Twitter and you'll see what I mean!

Her book is her story of growing up online. I can't remember where I first heard about the book but when I heard it was about the story of a millennial's experience of growing up with the beginnings of the Internet I was so excited as I knew I was going to relate to it.

What struck me most about this book was how much Emma remembers about her teenage days using the Internet. So much of it I was like 'oh my God, yes! How did I forget about that!?'. For example, remember Etam!? Emma reminds us how the teenage magazines of our day used to sell 'Be yourself' and the t-shirts in Etam sold the same slogan. It reminded me of those 'I love me' t-shirts everyone used to wear. She also reminiscences about talking with school friends on the phone for hours after school even though you'd already spent six hours with them. I did the same! It reminded me of dial up Internet and how you didn't used to be able to be on the phone and the Internet at the same time, and your parents would yell 'get off the phone!' because they wanted the Internet! Emma also goes into a fair amount of detail about her first experiences with boys, which provoked mixed emotions in me and made for page-turning reading.

Towards the end of the book Emma starts to look at the troubles we face today in an age of Internet trolling and the impact it has on how she feels about the Internet. This leads nicely onto her chapter on feminism titled 'anonymous was a woman'. It is the penultimate chapter in the book, and despite being a subject I know Emma could talk about for hours is still left to the end of the book as though she didn't want to put people off. She knows as well as anyone that some people still find the idea of feminism tiring and don't want to know. I think this would be my only criticism of the book, that the feminism chapter could have been longer, but then again I am her core audience and I guess she wants to broaden her audience. That said I loved that she brings up how irritating and unfair it is that periods are still seen as something not to be discussed openly. Send me any blog posts on periods, I will read them all!

She also charts the troubles she has had convincing other people that a creative job is an option and how sometimes working for yourself is the best way forward.

If you're not a woman in your twenties or early thirties the book will read as fairly self indulgent but that's why I like it. Emma has also recognised that it is a 'me, me, me' book and states this is the reason for her podcast that interviews other women in social media – to balance things out a bit.

Sometimes I read or listen to Emma and do think – alright enough of the success bragging – but then I think hang on a minute why shouldn't she brag about her successes and why shouldn't I pleased for a women my age who has worked phenomenally hard and fought against the many barriers that stand in our way. One thing I agree with Emma wholeheartedly on is that you should never work for anyone for free and no-one should expect you to even if you find the work fun! I want to raise a glass to Emma and say 'Cheers! Here's to winning and believing in yourself! I love me!'


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