A colonial city with a history of British White Rajahs befriending Sultans to fight pirates, Kuching has a bunch of epic stories to tell and a number of very friendly locals  to tell them. Located as it is on the North West Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo, at the bottom reaches of the South China Sea, the region has a long history of homing immigrants from an array of Asian countries. This means that native Malays from diverse tribes mingle with Chinese and Indian immigrants, mixing culture, language and cuisine. Curried Laksa is served next to Dim Sum at Hawker stands around the corner from western style bars selling everything from local Tuak rice wine to Korean soju.

Eavesdrop on any conversation and you’ll hear first-hand the intertwining of cultures, as locals change seamlessly from Malay to Chinese to English in single sentences. A faux-annoyed ‘laa’ serves as a cheeky reminder of the way locals appropriate and connect through humour in their shared languages.

Kuching is a place where everyone and no one belongs and it’s this unique identity that shapes the local’s cheery attitudes towards tourists. So although you might come for the food and the wildlife, you’ll stay for the charm of the local people and their easy-going attitudes. Many come here expecting Orangutans but they leave having discovered that Borneo offers so much more.

Source: BTA

Sarawak’s Monkey-filled National Parks 

While, sadly, large portions of Borneo’s rainforests have been sold off to make way for sleazy palm oil plantations, the rainforest still seems as abundant as ever thanks to numerous conservation projects and wildlife rehabilitation centres in the region, with as many as nine national parks within a day trip from the city, the most notable being Kubah, Santubong and Bako National Parks.

If you like primates, you’ll love what these parks have to offer; in addition to the proliferation of those cheeky, thieving long-tailed Macaques you’ll have long learnt to avoid if you’ve ever spent any time in South East Asia, there are a number of other more benign species. Various types and shades of langur monkey are also out and about across the region, including in Batang Ai National Park, a wildlife-lover’s paradise so big that it spreads its reach across the Indonesian border. While slightly further afield, Batang Ai is truly worthy of an overnight trip, being one of the few places in the world you might spot wild Orangutans.

In Bako meanwhile, a short bus and boat ride from Kuching, alongside the langurs, you’ll also find the indigenous proboscis monkey, famed for its 7-inch nose and domed belly. What the proboscis monkey lacks in accepted standards of beauty, it rather makes up for in charm and intrigue. Thankfully, they are also shy and wouldn’t dream of stealing your GoPro (unlike those infamous macaques). Some estimates say there may only be 1,000 proboscis monkeys left in the wild but in Bako, stealthy hikers can catch sight of tens of them during dusk outings, noses quivering in the breeze.

It’s not all monkey business either. Borneo bursts with life of all kinds, including myriad species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Some harmless; some best kept at a distance. Expect to lock eyes with bearded pigs, catch glimpses of mouse deer, gaze up at hornbills and curse the existence of the mosquito.

Breakfast with Orangutans at Semenggoh National Reserve

While wild orangutans still wander the vast forests solitarily, in Batang Ai mainly, for a more sure sighting, your best bet is to head to Semenggoh National Reserve, an easy Grab ride from the center, where ‘semi-wild’ orangutans appear almost daily expecting to be served up their regular smorgasbord of fruits and veg by the friendly rangers who howl hopefully into the forest at breakfast and dinner each day.

For the tiny entrance fee and the heady anticipation, the visit is more than worth it. Make sure to arrive early and expect to be kept waiting, listening to the alien, unknowable noises from deep inside the forest, before maybe being honoured with the sight of a peckish orangutan descend into the clearing, scoop up freebies and clamber off without ceremony. While short, the experience is a humbling one, allowing you to step into the world of these beautiful, intelligent creatures on the brink of extinction.

Source: Bamboo Travel

Iban and proud: Sarawak’s largest ethic group 

The Iban tribe are the largest ethnic group in Sarawak. They travel widely and while most now live modern lifestyles, many still live without much technology in longhouses under the same roof as up to twenty other families. While Christianity and other Abrahamic religions have filtered in to the culture, Ibans come from an animist background. Animism being the belief that places, objects and all creature possess a distinct essential spirit. This connection to the world around them allowed them to traverse the rainforest, sense danger from afar and hunt with skill. In more modern environments it allows them to connect with each other with deep emotion and understanding.

Judging from their sunny, welcoming demeanour you might never guess that the Ibans were historically a head-hunting tribe, with the bloody tradition of chopping off their enemy’s heads. Happily, the tribes have modernized and are now not much different than the rest of Kuching’s misfit society. The tribe’s warrior heritage is still noticeable however, most obviously on the skin of the men who are covered in various tattoos with distinct meaning. For the Iban tribe,  tattooing is a way for men not only to convey status and experience but also as a way to be seen and protected by the gods.

When an Iban male comes of age he will receive the ‘Bungai Terung’ tattoo, one on each shoulder, made using the traditional hand-tapping method. Known as ‘bejalai’, this tattoo is given before the young man makes his coming-of-age journey into the woods and symbolises strength to carry, protection and transformation into adulthood.


Header img source: Flashpack at 40

Post-spiritual awakening Jim Carrey is Carrey at his best. It’s further than you ever thought he could get from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and yet Jeff Pickles, the central character of Kidding, still holds a similar sort of intrigue. Distant from anyone we know, yet relatable and painfully human.

Deeply troubled about the death of his eldest son and the break-up of his marriage, Mr Pickles, host of an iconic children’s puppet show, must continue to record his show or risk harsh judgement of his father and manager, Mr. Pickles senior.

Struggling to crush the anger and trauma he feels, Mr Pickles spirals, acting out against his producers’ wishes; performing songs about depression to a studio audience of 5-year-olds; shaving half his head and moving in next door to his ex-wife. Slowly losing his sanity as the people around him drift further from him, Mr Pickles continues to live the motto of his show “Be True to Yourself”. Even if this means showing his cracks.

Much in the style of Transparent, starring Jeffrey Tambor, Kidding is much more than its main character; it’s about the lives of the people in the blast area, and how their family lives and experiences have shaped each of them differently.

Pickles’ sister and puppet costume designer, Deirdre, played by Catherine Keener, is remarkable. She herself nearing divorce, largely due to finding out her husband gave the neighbour a handjob in the driveway, Deirdre echoes a different kind of pain, a pain of always being overlooked, of never being enough. When Mr. Pickles San – the Japanese version of Mr Pickles – comes to town in order to learn from the master, so begins a mute affair between Deirdre and him, communicating only through puppets.

Directed by Michael Gondry who worked with Carrey on Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind, Kidding is an exploration of mental health and dealing with the grim realness of the everyday. At a time when many of us feel alienated from the world around us and are grasping wildly for any semblance of truth, Kidding gives us exactly that. It’s heartfelt, real and, despite everything, hopeful.

Comments sections are bitter lands. They run by different laws where no one’s safe and everyone’s a prisoner of their own poor grammar. An opinion, it seems, needs to be caps-locked in order for it to be valid. Bandying insults of nationality and lowered intelligence has become like signing off. People are judged blue or red by how accepting they are of immigrants. In comments kingdom there is no nuance, only you’re right, I’m wrong, here’s why. And whoever shouts loudest inevitably wins.

How dare those libtards have kneejerk reactions against Brett Kavanaugh's alleged assault of Dr Blasey Ford. Who are hell are they to judge the judge before he’s been properly judged? The repetitive typed cry of Innocent until proven guilty is the only true argument conservatives and woman-haters alike have. All of a sudden they’re siding with the law, as if they never smoked crack or voted to drain the swamp.

But what we’re essentially arguing about is the background check of a job interview; he’s not going to jail and public opinion doesn’t have to wait until the ruling is made before it casts its own decision. The public cannot be guilty of unfair trial. It has never held back from judging someone and it shouldn’t start now. Pardon us for having an opinion that isn’t supported by a verdict from a board of people I don’t know and who have other agendas throwing shade on their ethics – conservative and otherwise. 

Ford vs Kavanaugh - trust our guts

We should trust our instincts. We are not rational calculating machines, we are animals led by the combined forces of biology, psychology and culture and we damn well need our imperfect modes of judgement. They’re what allow us to run from the jaws of lions and to decide who to trust. I’m not saying lynch the guy, nor am I saying don’t make him Supreme Judge – that’s for the law to decide, sure. What I’m saying is, if you believe he is guilty then say it; load and clear. In caps if you must, but prepare to have a conversation about why you think this. Don’t let other people bully you into withholding judgement. If he’s one day allowed to make supreme, world-changing judgements, then you go for it and tell your buddies that, in your opinion, he’s definitely an entitled prick. It just might make you feel better when he’s busy ripping your reproductive rights out from under you.

I for one am almost certain that he did it. He was a drunk student at a party and it doesn’t take a lawyer to point out (even if they should probably mention it) he was also likely horny AF. We all know people who struggle to hide their biological instincts after a few beers – and it’s almost always men who cause the most damage; with stupid violence, sexual violence and sometimes just not knowing – or caring – about women’s limits.

Kavanaugh Assault #metoo 

The #metoo movement, while seeming like another excuse for narcissistic women to make a social media post, actually allowed us to see for the first time the full extent of how men overstep the mark all the time. Even if they don’t know it, even if it doesn’t affect them and even boys, even, if there were mitigating circumstances.

The sheer number of women who hold stories of men abusing power or taking advantage (not to mention more serious allegations) is staggering. I would pull up statistics of sexual assault but sceptics rarely believe these anyway. Of course, men are also victims of sexual assault but I defy anyone to say it’s a level playing field (although in this case we aren’t seeking equality, you’ll be pleased to hear). There are more male abusers for the same reason there are more male murderers. As a species you have an aggression problem – women, meanwhile, do not (although you might know a few individuals who do).

Both parties can rationalise an assault – we drank too much, I wasn’t wearing enough, she went to my room – but at the end of it all, only one person is fucked up by it. More than often it is women because men, for some seemingly biological reason, tend to struggle to control their sexual instincts more than women. Women throughout history have suffered from this and today still.

When you begin to appreciate the commonplace nature of sexual assault and stop seeing all women as lying manipulators (might it be because one denied you sex?), you realise it’s not that far out for Brett Kavanaugh to have done what he did. It’s almost conventional.

Dr Blasey Ford as a Political Pawn

So why the partisan divide? Why are conservatives defending the drunk penis-wielding sexual fury of the past and present and why are liberals now standing up against it?

I’d be an idiot if I said it wasn’t political; of course a little bit of sexual deviation is exactly what the democratic party needed to fight the conservative stronghold of the courts. Enrage the public and make sure the world is watching. Lacking any other ideas, it’s a good plan. Throw Dr Ford to the lions. What rational-minded, aggressive forum posters are worried about is that it’s all a ruse! It’s a democratic grab for power, a lie, a conspiracy against a good man!

If it is a lie, then it’s a fairly fucking stupid one. An irrational woman with literally nothing but her word and her residual trauma.  Since when has anyone listened to the unsubstantiated emotional pain of women? The democratic party needs to do better than that, it’s barely worth lying about. A better lie would’ve been tax fraud, or ties with Russia, or literally anything that could be proved with a little planted evidence.

The Kavanaugh vs Dr Ford trial came at a good time for democrats and literally no one else. Ford herself surely won’t be any better off for it – if not scarred further by the whole regretful ordeal – and the public suffer too. For as long as we argue amongst ourselves over the cold, hard factual evidence (of which there is none) we do no justice. We only make a bigger divide.

So let’s drop the pointless argument of whether she’s lying or telling the truth and have a different conversation. A conversation about why we need male politicians who don’t assault women, another about how we measure emotional trauma and another about how wealthy, educated men might better use their privilege and power.

At the forefront of my mind is the conversation about how males have dominated this planet for thousands of years, both politically and socially – and sexually – and now, as women find their voices (bloody women’s rights for you) the conversation is changing – sometimes not in the way you’d expect or want. Rational, moral people should allow for views that differ from the norm, views that cause us to question our own motives, desires and treatment of others – and possibly as we start to recognise our flawed animal nature, our shared unequal history and our own bad choices, we might just have a chance of bettering society. Just so long as we can have the conversation.
How do you get a boat load of 19th century young men to agree to risking their lives (real big time) for nothing but a state salary and a pat on the back? You make them believe in something; in their country’s goals, in the knowledge and the power of the British empire, in England’s sovereignty; in a good seemingly greater than themselves.

The Terror, produced in part by Ridley Scott for AMC, implicates the empire with this very insight. Over ten episodes the story of the crew on-board two Royal Navy ships seeking a Northwest passage to China is told. It’s a brutal survival story about mankind as well as the individuals will to survive. But moreover it questions societal motives and the reign of government over the individual.

In one instant, one character, Dr. Goodsir is explaining to a beautiful Inuit girl why seventy-odd sexually-frustrated, violently afraid white men have descended on her peoples’ lands. They’re here to find a passage to China, India, he says, they’re here because of trade. Even as he says all this to the girl who doesn’t understand a word of English, you can tell by the tone of his voice he’s not sure if it would be any more comprehensible if she did. Risking real lives for the sake of economic gain? And the Brits have the audacity to call her a savage!
The so-called ‘terror’ in the title has two forms, one more obvious than the other. What the men are terrified of is both the huge, white ice-dwelling beast that attempts to kill them at every chance and, also, the more intangible terror of dying. Maybe the former is really just a symbol for the latter.

In fact, everything in this show can be viewed as a symbol of humanity’s futile struggle to live. Which is why it’s the best thing on TV since Tom Hardy’s Taboo, another story about irreconcilable evils committed in the name of man and society (but the hats alone make it a must-see!). The Terror is not a run-of-the-mill horror, it’s not out to make you jump or enable you to escape from the mundanity of life. In fact, it does the very opposite; it puts a mirror up to humanity and makes you question what you would do to stay alive. And, really, what’s scarier than that?

If you like delving into darkness, The Terror is for you. It’s got hulking monsters clawing great chunks out of the main sails, it’s got arson, insights into pervasive loneliness, psychological instability, it’s even got some cannibalism and a good four or five deaths every episode. There’s a good guy and a very, very bad one and a few who show qualities of both. Then there’s Mr. Goodsir, who – if he’s not a symbol for humanity’s capacity for good – is then, simply, a very Good Sir.

It's 2017, the age of social responsibility, mindfulness and environmental awareness. Supposedly, we treat animals better than we've ever done before. At this point, over half of all households in the USA own a pet and the pet industry now nets over US$60 billion annually.

As well as spending billions on toys and novelty outfits, Americans are spending US$23 billion on pet food and US$15.4 billion on veterinary bills annually. In a free market this is not really that surprising or harmful. What is problematic however is the US$2.1 billion spent every year on live animal purchases, the majority being domestic dogs and cats.

While pet adoption continues to rise in popularity in the US, due to increased knowledge about the rising population of stray animalsbuying pets is still an accepted action, with 28% of all pets being purchased from breeders and over 70,000 new domestic animals being born each week. 

The 'invisible' problem of stray animals

It's easy to assume that if you don't see stray dogs or cats on your streets then your city or town doesn't have a problem. In reality though, within most developed countries, its more likely that the issue is invisible, with stray dogs and cats being dealt with swiftly, picked up by local authorities and charities as soon as they're sighted. The speedy removal of these animals from the eyes of the public however, is worsening the situation, and creating public denial or plain ignorance of the plight of thousands of abandoned dogs and cats culled each year in overflowing animal shelters.

In the US, 7.6 million abandoned and lost pets wind up in shelters every year (roughly, 3.9 million of this number are dogs). While the upside to this is that 2.7 million of this number are rehomed and many are reunited with their owners, the downside is that another 2.7 million are euthanized each and every year. That's 2.7 million stray dogs and cats that could've been rescued if the public weren't so unaware of the problem.

This is by no means just an issue for North Americans, and in many countries across Asia, it has become a very visible problem handled much less efficiently. In Europe, the situation is again often an invisible one, particularly within wealthy nations such as the UK.  It is calculated that there are around 100,000 abandoned and stray dogs at any one time in the UK, with 50,000 being ditched every year by irresponsible owners. With shelters and charities already stretched, this has meant that approximately 14 dogs are culled each day in the UK.

In Romania, one of the poorest countries in Europe without the robust infrastructure to hide behind, it is estimated that the stray dog population sits around 600,000, and, in the capital of Bucharest, there is almost one stray dog for every 31 Romanian people.

How is this acceptable? Why do welfare laws not extend to the free market? Why aren't more people aware that this is an issue caused by humans and yet also one that is easily prevented by humans? 

Puppies for sale and the insidiousness of 'cute'

Breeding animals has become, by consumer demand, a billion-pound industry, and, like all billion pound industries, there are a great number of people wanting in on the profits. Despite welfare laws, many breeders act outside of the law, breeding without licencing and advertising through classified advertisements or word of mouth. While many breeders are reputable and honest, the lure of easy money and the inability to police all breeders, leaves much opportunity for exploitation, particularly in places without robust animal cruelty regulations.

Despite illegality in many countries, so-called ‘puppy mills’ are commonplace around the world, catering to market demand, and are notorious for treating domestic animals as breeding machines in order to turn hefty profits. Just like poor, exploitative conditions for human workers means cheaper products and quicker profits for the company, puppy mills exist under the same principle; cut costs on care and quality and you will make more money, social responsibility and welfare laws be damned.

Sadly, often when consumers buy into the pet industry, both in stores and from unknown breeders, they are rarely allowed a true look into the 'manufacturing' process of their pet. Just as how meat-eaters will often not know how their meat was prepared, many people buying pets remain wilfully ignorant of their pets' origins. Or, perhaps worse, they prefer to see themselves as 'saviours', rescuing their new pets from hot, lonely shop windows or other bad conditions.

This only serves to strengthen an industry which profits heavily from the weakness people have for 'cute' things, such as puppies and kittens (a weakness known interestingly in the marketing industry as 'kinderschema'). This predilection is not such an awful thing in and of itself, but when it comes to the commoditization of young animals marketed to impulsive and unprepared buyers, our societal weakness for 'cuteness' is one we need to be aware of and attempt to control. 

The importance of spaying

Of all the animals which enter shelters in the US, only 10% have been spayed or neutered. This percentage is markedly lower in poorer countries and means that while these animals are stray, the production of unwanted animals continues, perpetuating an already huge problem.

Homeless or not, if just one unneutered dog has a litter of puppies, this can theoretically lead to the births of 67,000 dogs in just six years. An unneutered cat and a litter of kittens is even worse – capable of creating 370,000 cats in just seven years.

Somewhat ironically, in the minds of some people across the world, in Asia in particular, spaying is considered inhumane and cruel. Remembering that five out of ten shelter dogs and seven out of ten shelter cats are killed however – totalling almost 80,000 each week in the US – should be more than enough to convince you that spaying is crucial.

Adopt, never buy: here’s why…

Regardless of whether you have, or know someone who has, bought a pet, it is so important that we as a society move away from paying into an industry which profits from breeding domestic animals. Instead, we have a responsibility to help reduce the number of perfectly healthy, loyal and tame stray animals that are culled every year as a result of humanity's blasé consumer habits.

And it's not just a matter of animal welfare, it's also about sustainable economics. Despite the fact that the US is home to somewhere in the region of 70 million stray dogs and cats, an additional 70,000 cats and dogs are born everyday nationwide. On top of the two billion dollars Americans are spending on new pets each year, they are paying a further two billion in tax for the government to shelter, kill and dispose of unwanted and stray animals. This is a cycle of breeding, spending and killing which really makes humanity look senseless as well as wasteful.

But education is key and common sense is the solution. Tell your friends and anyone you know about the importance of pet adoption, neutering and never getting drawn in by 'puppies for sale' advertisements. Remember, cute doesn't necessarily mean harmless and buying pets only worsens the problem.

Learn more about pet adoption on The Shelter Pet Project website, which can help put you in touch with local shelters and pet adoption agencies.

Other educational organisations include The Humane SocietyAn Act of Dog and the ASPCA.

TTIP could be the corporate Trojan horse of the 21st century, giving more rights to self-interested international corporations, and less to those in favour of a future Britain that isn’t shit and reliant on mindless consumerism. So you should be taking notes.

Opinions on TTIP (short for ‘Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’) are scattered, some say it will make billions for the country’s economy, others say it is a sly deal that will hand over huge amounts of power to the corporate and the wealthy. More however, say “what the fuck’s TTIP when it’s at home?”

It’s fair to say there’s been a hefty amount of obfuscation in the TTIP deal, but, then again, hiding behind meaningless acronyms and long-winded sentences has previously worked when passing unpopular legislation, so why stop now? To try to put it as simply as possible; if the TTIP deal goes through, it will allow for international trade regulations to be downtrodden in favour of a global, free market economy. This sort of sounds like the way the world is heading anyway, but, you should also know that the majority of people involved in creating this trade agreement are the corporations themselves and their sharky lobbyists. This can only be bad news for those unwilling to live in a corporately governed world.

One failsafe example of where the British people will get fucked first is in the ass of the NHS. What TTIP will do is open up the NHS to competition, meaning that international health and pharmaceutical corporations will begin to build their businesses here, selling services that match, or better, our current ones.

Great, you say, but that’s before looking a little closer and seeing what this will mean for the authority of the NHS and free national health countrywide. Not only will these international companies be charging for their services – not a problem for the wealthy but an obvious problem for the poor – but they’ll also ensure that the NHS is left weakened, if not already weak enough from the £22 billion in cuts (or "efficiency savings") they are currently having to make under our current government’s ingenious austerity plan and the impossible 7-day services they are being forced to provide.

And, once this becomes a reality, the NHS will inevitably be underperforming – because of cuts, service strains, low wages and skilled doctors and nurses jumping ship – and any authority it once had over the future of UK health (its plans to push for sugar and alcohol regulations; things which aim to actually help the country) will be lost. After all, thanks to the insidious ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) clause, the international corporations (in the health sector and outside) have the freedom to sue the UK government when it infringes on their profits. How dare UK law be for UK citizens rather than us, the foreign corporations intent on milking UK citizens dry? How dare it try and govern itself!

Luckily then, for them, not us, quite obviously, the ISDS would rid UK law of its autonomy from corporations (admittedly it didn’t have much anyway, much of what is left is already rotting away in a HSBC vault somewhere), due to the threat of being sued if the government doesn’t work in the corporations’ best interests.

Consider this. Say there becomes a market for US and Canadian oil and shale gas here in the UK when TTIP becomes a reality (there will be). Say then, a few years down the line, the government finally concedes that climate change is as big of a threat as the scientists are telling them, and decides to make one final push for renewable energy before the earth becomes a fiery ball of Tsunamis and misery… what then? Well, the foreign oil and gas corporations sure to be making a mint from the UK under previous lax laws will sue the UK government – and they’ll sue it hard. Oh and the good-old UK taxpayers will get the legal bill.

You might think this mad; and it is, it’s fucking mad, but it will inevitably happen, and is already happening in many other parts of the world (see below image), across many sectors. As soon as the UK government has a flash of conscience and tries to change regulation (on alcohol, children’s junk food, fossil fuels, cigarettes, harmful chemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, you name it) there will be a small corporate whisper in their ear saying “don’t, or we’ll sue for billions”. And if you think that won’t change the shape of the UK’s future, then you’re sorely mistaken.
[Source: New Scientist]

For me, the problem isn’t with the promotion of global trade and the TTIP deal itself (as long as I never have to see a Twinkie on the shelves at the Co-op), the problem I have is with the ISDS and the huge amount of power that it gives profiteering businesses to fuck the UK over unless the government consistently considers corporations before people.

Isn’t it amazing that we have more concern over letting a few hundred helpless, moneyless refugees into the UK than we have of letting an infinite amount of companies, with an infinite amount of money, power and sway, have their say over where the UK’s future ends up. Perhaps it won’t be too long before we ourselves are at the French borders politely asking for refuge from the corporate destruction of our once free(ish) nation.

Either we push for some of our vital public services to be made exempt from the ISDS, which has already been vetoed, or, we deny the entire TTIP deal and wait until a better deal comes along that actually cares about keeping the nation’s liberty to fight corporate power. If we are impatient for change and growth we, alongside our money-minded governments, inevitably deny ourselves a say over how our future is shaped. Don’t go along with it.

Read more about how you can lobby against TTIP here.

Ice caps are melting, tuition fees are rising, health services are privatising, arts funding is diminishing, attention spans are shortening and no one cares. Except perhaps for the 30 or so minutes they’re trending on Facebook.

Activism on social media goes as far as a one-status rant and maybe, just maybe, the sharing of an online petition. And to be fair, this could be a good thing for getting people involved in current affairs and getting them talking about the big issues. The trouble with this though is that many of us simply don’t have time to prioritise these issues. As soon as the next trending topic or viral fad comes up it’s on to that before swiftly moving back to chatting shit about Kim Kardashian’s ass.

And all of it – especially Kardashian’s butt crack – is distracting people from looking deeper into important issues. You read one Buzzfeed article on your lunch break and consider yourself fully knowledgeable of an issue, when really all Buzzfeed is telling you is what large sums of people want to hear. Often not the unpleasant truth, which is that we’ve entered into an era of egotistical, numb-minded consumers, who, unless it can be shared on Facebook showing ourselves to be involved, humorous and as liberal as possible, the majority don’t want to hear it.

I don’t know about you but I’d like to see more controversy on social media – not the irrelevant, watered-down Cecil the Lion bullshit, but actual political stances that people are prepared to stand firm on and defend when called out by their friends instead of rolling over and posting a noncommittal gif. But I get it, no one wants to sound like a radical.

And while I’ll admit that there are many people beginning to get angry at the modern world’s way of seeing things, these are often the people intelligent enough to sit back and let the idiots battle it out to be the most progressive and/or knowledgeable. What this means though is that we have idiots shaping the future of our online media, where clickbait listicles and self-righteous ‘open letters’ to anyone who’ll listen are becoming the most sellable content on the internet, and the content we’ll see most of for years to come. This is not a world I want to live in.

And I don’t believe that anyone is incapable of framing their own insights and opinions, but rather, many lack the time, energy and necessary background knowledge needed to come to their own conclusions. I’d also argue that this isn’t really their own fault. It took until I was 22 and successfully tied down to a tedious office job before I found I had opinions on politics, religion and the sorry turn of modern society. Before that, I’d always thought I was incapable of having worldly arguments, because I assumed I just didn’t know enough. So instead, I tried to be as uncontroversial as possible, gave everyone the benefit of the doubt and continued to pay into the system like it somehow owned me before I’d even agreed to its terms.

Then I said screw that and moved to Taiwan, a place with it’s own problems like any other, but a place that would allow me the time to take scope. The very real threat of China over here really does put One Direction’s relationship problems into perspective. Oh, and I’m also paying less than half the rent in the heart of Taipei city than I was paying to live in London’s shittier bits, so already I’m better off.

If you are to take anything from this, it is that as a society we need to be thinking more critically about things. Things don’t exist for consumption because they’re healthy and virtuous, they exist to make someone that little bit richer, and work to make you that little bit dumber. Huge sections of our media are biased and although we’re moving away from traditional models, it’s ignorant to think online media has any less of an ulterior motive; there’s just more of it to sift through.

So, instead of basing your opinion on what will get you the biggest number of likes, try seeing the bigger picture. Is the problem social, cultural or political? Is there anything that can be done? Who is at fault? Who has the power to stop or enforce whatever it is? Should you be getting angry at your friends and followers, or is it really the government, the corporations and the people trying to take away your civil liberties (and those of future generations) who deserve your wrath?

LessEvolvedThanWeThink, then, is a space to talk about the stuff of importance to society, in the UK and worldwide, and to call out bad journalism, political agendas, popular distractions from bigger issues and anything which ultimately aims to dumb us down more. Follow me on Twitter if you think it could be interesting.