Friday, 30 September 2016

Ctrl Alt Delete ; a review and chat with Emma Gannon.

I have a lot of heroes in my life. People I am lucky to know, and worship accordingly. My family, obviously. Some friends. A few of the teachers/tutors/lecturers I've encountered throughout my time in education. The medical team who fixed my brain and then helped me recover. Authors, so so many authors. And, of course...bloggers. 


Emma Gannon is one of these blogger heroes of mine. I aspire to reach her level someday, both job-wise and general human being-wise. She writes a perfect blog and has a legendary podcast that's being recommended by all the best mags and people. I've been to one of her (now many, wonderfully varied) events, the IRL Panel (read my blog post about it here!), which I found fascinating and fun. I receive her weekly email newsletter, which always fills me with joy - and the list of links to recent articles she adds in every time gives me endless new reading material. 

Emma recently had her first book published, 'Ctrl Alt Delete: How I Grew Up Online', which I read while on holiday - and briefly reviewed in this post here! I don't think I did it justice, though, I didn't quite communicate just how amazing it was and how nostalgic it made me - while also exciting me about the present and giving me hope for the future. 

I couldn't possibly sum up in just one post how much I loved this book, nor how much it meant to me to read it, but I will try to cover all my favourite things about it. As you can see in the pic below, I broke one of my ultimate bookish rules while reading Ctrl Alt Delete on holiday and I folded over the corners of pages so I'd remember precisely where to look when I needed guidance or just a giggle. 


The first page that I felt the need to fold was #81, because a certain chunk of text in the section about the specifics of 'online identity' and what we hide from others got me super excitedly yelling 'YES YES THIS THO!'...

'We know that we're good at displaying, hinting, suggesting what our lives look like while leaving lots of puzzle pieces out of frame. The dodgy-looking bits: the arguments, the spaghetti down the T-shirt, the greasy-hair days, doctor's appointments, the super-plus tampons in the trolley, bills, Post Office trips, grocery shopping - all these things are never usually posted. We'd probably never do a post-STI check-up selfie saying, 'I'm all clear, guys!' Social media has never been a natural place for sharing the real stuff. Us human beings have a lot of boring life admin, so we're very good at hiding it online nowadays and only sharing the happy, bright, emoji-filled chunks of our lives, in order to give the illusion we are very happy, well-put-together, mentally stable individuals.' 



Another folded page was #134, because Emma and her friends perfectly captured what I'd like to see instead of a lot of the readily-available porn online these days -

 'Clive Owen entering the strip club in Closer. Magic Mike, obviously, any of the dance scenes...A freeze-frame of Johnny Depp in Chocolat (that lovely ponytail)...anything involving Idris Elba (maybe not Mandela though)...'

Then on page #173 Emma explained perfectly how it feels when a person compliments your blog...

 '[a blog is] a carefully built digital environment, a place you can have a lot of control over. It's your domain name, your rules, your content, your words, your little personal magazine that documents your life. I often wonder if I am 'better' on my blog than in real life. It's definitely prettier and neater than I am. It is also the way I share my soul with the world. Seeing as there are over 150 million blogs on the Internet, for someone to see you and tell you they like yours, well it felt quite amazing.' 


I am so grateful to have read this book - and to have come across this blogger in the first place, obvs. After being a fan of Emma's for a good while, I knew that the book would be special for me, and sure enough I was 100% in it and in love with it from the second I opened it. Actually from the first mention of MSN messenger and the fact that it was totally an after school activity when everything that couldn't be communicated in person was actually said (gurl, same), and then the descriptions of a Picasa editing obsession (ughh, I once edited out my eye bags very convincingly and then shrunk my eyebrows, the result was basically a plastic alien), the trouble with cybersex (most of my experiences with that took place on Gaia .com, anyone else?!) and lying about your taste in music to suit the boy you fancied (I now love so many pop punk bands thanks to the skater dudes I crushed on when I was 14, though, so...)


I was lucky to catch Emma via email recently and send her some cheeky Qs. I tried my best not to freak out and fangirl when I received such amazing responses. Play it cool, guys...


- What advice would you give to a blogger just starting out right now? 

Don’t be afraid to be different! Take inspiration from other people you admire, but don’t hold back from putting your own unique spin on things. Stand out! There are so many blogs that look and sound the same and I personally don’t see the point in blending in. If you can help it, try not to be so much of a perfectionist; the beauty of blogging is that each post doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. As Nora Ephron once said: “You don’t really have to believe what you write in a blog for more than the moment when you're writing it." I love this, it takes the pressure off. It's from this book, "The Last Interview with Nora Ephron".

- What was your favourite blog post to write? Like, ever? 

The blog post announcing my book deal. It felt so surreal writing that post, like REALLY? THIS IS HAPPENING? It was fun to give some behind the scenes of how the idea came about, how I met my literary agent Robyn Drury and how I found the perfect home for my book.

- Same question as above, but with chapters of your book?

Probably the earlier chapters, the cat-fishing and dating chapters of my book. They were so fun to write. I was chuckling and cringing to myself re-living it all.


- What would your #1 policy be if you were put in charge of the World Wide Web? 

GOOD QUESTION! It would definitely be accountability. It would be for people to not get away with using hate-speech online or making illegal threats. Have an opinion, yes, but there are currently so many people getting away with doing stuff that IRL they would definitely not get away with.

- What was your best (/cheesiest) MSN name back in the day? 

It was probably an Incubus lyric. (*) Whatever tomorrow brings I'll be there (*) - CRINGE!!!!


- If you had to change your username right now, what would it be? 

I actually just changed my Twitter username from @girllostincity to @emmagannon. I’m a grown up now! My old blog name is no more. I guess it’s the same as when I got rid of my hotmail account supachic23@hotmail.com. My old blog name has brought me so many amazing things and I was quite emotional getting rid of it, but we all go through different chapters and I'm on my exciting next one, now! 

*

Thank you so much, Emma, for letting me chat with you. And for the book, and the podcast, and the blog and ALL OF THE THINGS. I really hope someday we can go for coffee/cocktails and talk about life. Yep, that's the dream. xo

P.S. I am pasting in your recent vlog with Hannah Witton, because you two are just my OTP in terms of career goals, y'know? 


(I also recently changed my Twitter & Insta handle from @gracieactually to @_gracelatter. Because it was time. I hope all you readers and followers can support this change, and accept me for who I am - who I always was.)

2 comments

  1. I've wanted to read this book for a little while and I'm really interested in it, thanks for your review Grace :)

    Mel ★ www.meleaglestone.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You MUST read it! It's gorgeous and hilarious and enlightening. xoxo

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