Climate change, Social media, Teen Novel

The silent victim of our online addiction

In the midst of the lockdown boredom a few weeks back, I resorted to mindlessly flicking through the TV channels when I stumbled across a programme that really grabbed my attention.

It was a Dispatches programme by channel 4 entitled ‘Is Your Online Habit Killing the Planet?’.

The programme title immediately didn’t sit right with me at all. This is because we often regard both elements here as two separate beasts.

Of course, we are well aware about climate change and understand that we need to cut our carbon footprint in order to manager it. We all know about social media too and the impact it can have on our mental health and human behaviour. 

Vary rarely however do you see both these monumental dilemmas latched together in the same context.

I’m sure if we all embarked on a journey into our thoughts, we could summon a bond between the two problems, but I’m sure (as I have done before) the thought could be dusted off as being a trivial one. After all there are much graver concerns such as plane travel and gas guzzling cars, right?

Well after watching this disturbing 30 minutes of information it would seem as though we should all be much more concerned about a momentous problem that we didn’t even know existed.

The bottom line from the watch is that pretty much all of us are motoring through a ton of climate damaging fuel in order to maintain our unhealthy habits with our devices.

What is such a big deal I hear you ask? Surely it can’t be that bad if there are less cars on the road and planes in the sky. Surely just a quick peek on our Instagram every now and then isn’t exactly the crime of the century. And when you consider the improving function of the batteries of smart devices, I pretty much felt the same way.

But here is the thing, apparently it is data storage which is the hidden killer!

It is not necessarily the constant usage of the devices which is necessarily causing the dire situation (although I am sure it doesn’t really help) but it is in fact your online footprint that takes an almighty toll on the earth’s resources.

Every time you stop to take a cheeky selfie or watch a video on Youtube, this data is stored and also activated on mass physical hard drives based in giant storage facilities which are powered day and night to maintain that one innocent little picture or load your favourite music vid.

Apparently, there are literally thousands of these machines, under constant strain to deliver our online demands. As you can now probably guess, these things are not run-on unicorn dust.

The documentary highlighted a few disturbing facts which to be honest blew my mind. The first related to our habits with emails. If anyone is the same as me, then you might receive a stack of emails on a daily basis. 99% of which are probably garbage that you don’t even read. The thing is (again if you’re a bit lazy like me) you probably won’t bother to delete them and stay on top of your inbox.

If I now told you that every single one of those (yet to be deleted) emails is stored on one of these machines that works non-stop 24 hours a day, what would you say? You wouldn’t believe me right. Well according to channel 4, that is exactly what happens. I found myself scrolling like a madman deleting hundreds of emails straight after learning that.

The next fact I learned which actually burst my bubble if I’m honest is that working from home, where we all meeting via zoom these days, may actually produce more greenhouse gas than the car drive into work. This depends on the length of the journey of course and also the amount of individuals on the Zoom call. I must admit this fact made me feel sad, learning that the one good thing to come out the pandemic (less car emissions) is actually not necessarily saving the planet at all.

Now I’ll leave you with this one final fact from the show. Apparently just one average Instagram post by footballer Christiano Ronaldo, uses as much energy as it takes to power 10 houses for a whole year!

You can check out the documentary on demand now @ https://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/on-demand/71182-001?fbclid=IwAR3SJGgfdIEz_a4ybqM9hfS4BivW55Z6S5t_oVRSo7NVxjpmlEg0TBVO1bk

This all sounds very sinister indeed I must admit and I’m sure you will agree. But on a positive note, the solution seems quite clear to me. We just need to stop using our devices 24/7. Let’s switch them off for a few hours. I do wonder how many of you will get straight onto the email accounts after this and start hacking away at the mass of junk. I know I would and obviously did.  

Maybe before reading this you haven’t even considered the amount of smart device usage as being an issue. If not, I do get it. It has become a way of life. But you might want to check out my book The Invite to see if this offers an alternative view on things? It is available to purchase now through Amazon at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invite-C-P-Riches-ebook/dp/B08MCDYPPL

Hopefully one day soon when this awful pandemic is over, we can go out and enjoy the real world again. But until then I would just try to remember one thing; make sure you use your smart device but don’t let it use you! Because if you do, it would seem as though it is our earth that pays the price after all.

Books, New Fiction, Teen Novel

I invite you to join my debut novel adventure

Seeing The Invite on sale for the first time

How on earth has a month passed by already since publishing my first ever novel?!

I mean seriously.

It feels as though I am frozen in continual state of disbelieve at what I finally managed to accomplish. And now that its over it feels surreal.

I’m awful for returning to my amazon account on a regular basis to see how things are going and to simply remind myself that it wasn’t all one big, crazy dream.

I’ve been so caught up in the madness of it all I’ve only just found the time to sit and reflect. This has also been hindered by my long-awaited return to work after my 7-month stint on Furlough.

It is safe to say that it has been a manic month!

On this cold, December night I can at finally cast my mind back to how the book launch unfolded on a night full of trick and treats.

Halloween was the day I decided to deliver the goods. It only seemed fitting as this frightful night of celebration 2 years back was the day I finished the first draft of The Invite. Scary how fast the time has gone.  

Myself and my partner Jenny had a jam-packed day of treats and spooky activities planned for the occasion. I was so excited for the big day but soon after it began this nervous energy began to boil over.

I had created a countdown to the big release for 12pm and it wasn’t long before I felt restless, nervous to ensure that everything ran smoothly for the big moment.

I had little time to dwell on my thoughts though as Jenny had me working like a slave in the kitchen as we prepped a wicked afternoon tea.

In what felt like an eternity (in spite of being busy) the clock eventually informed me that I had 2 minutes to go before the final mission. 

I took off my apron and fired up the laptop.

After a quick social media update, I began to undertake the final steps on Amazon to set my dreams into reality.

After years’ worth of preparation, I only had a few buttons to press, but my mind seemed to have melted like hot butter and it took longer than it should have.

I was finally greeted by the invitation to publish my book to the world and after a mere moment of holding my breath, clicked ‘ok’.

I was rewarded with a message congratulating me on the published work, but my heart quickly sank as the small print said it could take up to 72 hours to appear in the Amazon store.

I had promised excited family and friends they could purchase their copies in a matter of moments and now I was faced with the unbeknown and embarrassing job of updating my prospective customers with news of a delay.

I was furious but did all I could to appease people. Afterall it was only a couple of days added to many month’s of waiting. 

I posted an update on social media and then tried to force the issue from my mind and crack on with the fiendish fun.

After a couple of hours, I couldn’t resist having a cheeky check on Amazon on the off chance that The Invite had bypassed the waiting time and I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was there.

Clear as crystal my book shone out on my screen, patiently waiting for new customers.

Except it hadn’t been waiting at all. I further check on social media confirmed that a couple of people had already bought the thing before I even knew it was on sale!

From here on in the day was a whirlwind of excitement as I shared the news and people embraced my journey to make the event more of a success than I ever could have imagined.

I was pretty much on cloud 9 as evening approached, but this was soon shot down somewhat when Boris spontaneously invaded all of our celebrations with grave news of a second national lockdown.

Even this shoddy news couldn’t break my spirits though and we celebrated with fizz and our afternoon tea. I think this is the first time I have ever been toasted an achievement and it was a humbling moment.

Toasting the release

We then had fun all evening watching scary films, carving pumpkins (mine was Harry Potter themed) and then fancy dress before enjoying our latest zoom quick with the in-laws; Halloween themed of course.  

After what had been the most amazing yet bizarre day, the following days (or weeks in fact) were spent observing all progress and spreading the word before a nervous wait for feedback.

The first finished reader comments came from immediate family and friends who loved it. They could just be being polite, but I welcomed the kind words anyway.

During this time, I was busting a gut back in the office, enduring long days in retraining whilst helping to train a new addition to our team. It was so frustrating when all I wanted to do was shout about my book.  

Even though I couldn’t spend too much time promoting, the feedback has continued to trickle in and I’m ecstatic to state that I still maintain a 5-star feedback rating on Amazon. I can’t thank those of you who have taken the time to download a copy, read it and then leave your constructive comments.  

Now the initial launch is kind of coming to a close I am torn between spreading the word about The Invite some more or starting a new book from an archive of ideas that I have accumulated over the years.

As authors we can’t keep away from the pen for too long, so no doubt I will end up doing both. Looks like 2021 is going to be just as crazy as this one. Hopefully with a little less Covid this time though!

If you haven’t checked out The Invite already, you can grab your copy now @ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invite-C-P-Riches-ebook/dp/B08MCDYPPL