Is there such thing as privacy in 2019?

As adults, we make conscious decisions every day to be recorded, wherever we go. And as adults, we are able to make these informed decisions, no matter how much they make us cringe, because we are aware of the ramifications of our choices.

If we didn’t want to be recorded, we simply don’t have to go to that place. Of course that would mean that you likely wouldn’t go anywhere anymore. Nevertheless, I digress.

Where does that leave children?

I ask because I believe that it should be a parent’s choice whether or not they choose to share pictures of their children online. And I don’t believe that anyone should post a picture of someone under the age of eighteen without expressed written or verbal consent from that child’s parent.

A friend of mine works a relatively public job. He’s no Justin Bieber or anything, but let’s just say that he’s ‘google-able’. Because of the nature of his job, he’s aware that he’s in the public eye and that it could be harder for his kids to lead a normal life. He and his wife have a policy that they’re not going to share photos or videos of their children online. They want their kids to be able to make the decision if they want to lead public lives when they’re old enough to do so.

My friend has been to the school, to the baseball association, to the gymnastics studio, and so on and so forth to inform all of these places that he and his wife don’t want photos of their children appearing online. He does this to make sure that the places they’re taking their children are either: okay with this, or if they’re not okay with this they are informed so they can pick an alternative option for their kids.

Last week as my friend was dropping his son off for his first day of Kindergarten, two mom’s took pictures of him and his son in front of the classroom and posted them on facebook.

These weren’t innocent ‘caught in the background’ style photos. These women went out of their way to take photos of my friend and his son to post them to Facebook and brag about who’s child is in their child’s class.

My friend, simply trying to give his kids as normal of lives as he possibly can, was hit with snide remarks and a swift ‘not a chance in hell’ from the mom’s when he asked them to please remove the photos from their Facebook pages. One of the mom’s went so far as to say that if he doesn’t want photos taken of his children then he ought to home-school them.

As I mentioned earlier, I think that the only person who has a right to post a child’s photo is that child’s mother. Clearly, though, not everyone thinks the same way that I do. I can’t lie, I’m having a hard time seeing the other side of this argument. When he told me the responses he got from the women after asking to have the photos removed, I honestly couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Does privacy is exist in 2019? Do we forgo any privacy we might have, even for children, if we leave our houses? I don’t have kids, so I’m not seeing this from a parent’s perspective, but to me it’s a little creepy to purposefully take a photo of someone else and their child to post to Facebook and brag to your friends.

I don’t think that my friend was out of line in requesting the photo be taken down. But I’m curious where other’s opinions lie with respect to the subject.

*Please Note – I am all for parents sharing pictures of their children. If you want to share pictures of your own children – go for it! I love pictures and videos of cute kids. It brightens my day. I just don’t think anyone should have their decision to not post pictures taken away from them. Each parents decision should be respected.

How to not be an asshole.

A list and reminder of how to be a decent human being.

  1. Understand that you can disagree with someone and still respect them.
  2. Understand that everyone on this earth is entitled to their own opinion.
  3. If you feel like insulting someone, don’t.
  4. If you want to talk down to someone, remember that you, too, live in a glass house.
  5. If you dont like someone, for whatever reason, you don’t have to he friends with them. Go be friends with someone else.
  6. Remember that just because “they” say it doesn’t mean that it’s true.
  7. If you consistently get the urge to punch someone, take up kickboxing or karate or some sort of physical activity to help get out your aggression in a positive way.
  8. Try to not judge, wherever possible.
  9. If you disagree with someone’s parenting, unless the child is in danger of severe harm/abuse, butt out(this is a very clear distinction). It’s not your child. Whether the parent has rules about screen time or junk food or lacks curfews or anything of the sort, it’s not your child.
  10. If you do not agree with the choices someone is making keep it to yourself.
  11. If you feel the urge to yell, try waiting until you’ve calmed down to have a conversation like a mature human being.
  12. If you dont like the way someone is leading their life, remind yourself that it’s their life, not yours.
  13. If you find yourself bullying someone and you realize you’re doing it, stop. You can make the choice to change.
  14. Operate based on facts, not personal opinions.
  15. If you dont have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
  16. Road rage is not productive. There are bad drivers all over the world. If you feel like swearing or screaming or gesturing, remember they likely won’t hear you or see you. And if you get the urge to do something more drastic, pyerhaps you should worry more about your anger issues rather than their lack of driving skills.
  17. Don’t drive with your high-beams on in traffic at night. Also, don’t tailgate people on the highway.
  18. Do not push your religious beliefs on anyone.
  19. Apologize. Always apologize.

Why you shouldn’t buy followers.

Do you ever notice how some people on youtube can have millions of subscribers and only get 10,000 – 20,000 views per video, while others have millions of subscribers on youtube and they amass 500,000+ views per video?

Do you ever see someone with tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of WordPress followers post something to their blog only to get three or four likes… and rarely ever have someone comment on their page at all? You may not be able to see their analytics, but you can see the responsiveness to their blog and it makes you wonder… why no one cares what they’re posting if they have so many followers.

If you do notice this, do you ever wonder why this is?

I have a theory. A theory that I cannot prove, but a theory that I am certain is what’s happening.

About three months into my blogging journey was when I amassed my first 1,000 followers (which was a huge day for me!) on WordPress. About that time was also the point in time when I began getting inundated with messages from people who promised me things like: 5,000 organic, responsive followers for just one single payment of the low, low price of $49.99!

$49.99… that sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it?

Actually, one offer that I got for just $200 was for followers on my WordPress page, Twitter account and Instagram account! Good little leeches saw all of these accounts connected and got creative!

These messages come in through my ‘Contact’ page on WordPress and through DM on Twitter and Instagram. I’ve never paid a whole ton of attention to Twitter, so being bombarded with these messages there was… interesting. I guess if you meet their criteria, they really do want to sell you their ‘product’.

In case you’ve yet to figure out, their product is not ‘organic, responsive followers’. These followers are bot accounts, made in masses, created to be sold to people wanting to get ‘InstaFamous’ quick.

How do I know this? Because I’ve purchased followers for Corporate accounts before.

About three years ago I was put in charge of Digital Marketing/Online Engagement for an international event that was happening in Ottawa. This event, while very familiar to people in certain parts of the world, has failed to garner the international attention it desires for being an international event.

My boss wanted a larger following on the social media platforms – specifically twitter and instagram, so that he could promote these mass groupings of followers to potential sponsors to gain more sponsorship money for the event. How do you get a larger following on social media on Friday when your boss’ first sponsorship proposal is being pitched on Monday morning? You buy them of course.

I didn’t like the idea at the time. I didn’t feel right about the idea at the time. We really didn’t know where the money was going, or to whom it was going to, we just gave over the corporate credit card for the promise of 50,000 new followers.

It’s worth noting that when you buy followers, you’re buying the number alone. Engagement is not guaranteed, or even likely.

We went from 6,000 followers on Friday at 4:00 pm to 56,000 followers on Saturday at 4:00 pm.

My boss was happy. He got what he wanted. He could make his pitch on Monday proclaiming that we had a massive following of people to which we could influence through social media to buy their products, and for that reason, they should sponsor our event.

And he did that.

He sold the crap out of our social media following and brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue as sponsorship for our event.

The problem was, we could not actually provide any return on investment. To the outside eyes, we had 56,000 followers. In reality, we had 6,000 followers. 6,000 concentrated followers from one area of the world.

It’s also worth noting that when you purchase followers it distorts your performance metrics.

My boss went to these International Corporations selling ROI for a following of 50,000 plus when in reality our following was 6,000.

He got the sponsorship revenue that he wanted, but in return, we could not provide these companies any ROI. Actually, in the end, he wound up having us ‘fudge’ the analytics to make it look like we had larger responsiveness than we did. This caused a rift in the relationship with these sponsors because he essentially blamed lack of investment in this companies on these companies. Let’s just say… they weren’t interested in sponsoring more events after that.

The purpose of this story? Don’t always believe everything that you see online. My theory is that a lot of these major Youtubers that people might be watching, they bought a lot of their followers. If someone has 1.2 million Youtube subscribers and are making an average of 10-15 thousand views per video, something’s not right. If someone has 10,000 WordPress followers and garners 5-10 likes per post, something’s not right. You may not be able to prove they bought their followers, but you can think twice before you accept any recommendations for products or advice they’re giving you.


REASONS TO NOT PURCHASE FOLLOWERS:

  1. It’s dishonest. Whether your accounts are for business or personal, shouldn’t your main goal to be honest with the people you’re interacting with?
  2. You’re not purchasing organic, responsive followers for your page, you’re purchasing bot accounts to make it look as though you have a lot of followers when in reality. If you think your content is good, these bots aren’t going to care.
  3. Purchased followers distort your performance metrics. If you have have 100 followers and a 60% read rate, your performance metrics are what I used to call ‘Bomb.com’ in the marketing realm. If you purchase 1,000 followers, your performance metrics are still 60 followers of 100, but your metrics look like you get 60 of 1,000.
  4. Instagram and Twitter have people on staff to purge fake accounts. This purging of bots has gotten even more strict after the last Presidential Election in the United States.
  5. If you have a desire to give ROI with respect to your social media platforms, you’re essentially lying to any companies you’re doing business with. You’ll be lying to get their business and you’ll need to lie to them (and ‘fudge’ the analytics) once you fail to meet the designated ROI.
  6. If your goal is to influence, you’re not going to be able to influence bots.
  7. Bought followers can often bring spam with them.
  8. What you lack in credibility after purchasing followers, you’re going to have to lie to cover up, or let people see the truth… you lack credibility.

I wholeheartedly believe that purchasing followers is wrong. I wish that brands would pay more attention to the people and companies they’re doing work with. I want them to look beyond the number of followers that someone has to ask for real time analytics and proof of engagement.

I won’t name any names, but I can think of at least a dozen people off the top of my head I feel like would struggle to show real time metrics/analytics to any of the companies they do business with. That being said, there seem to be a lot of companies in this world who see that follower count and don’t look beyond followers. I guess you could say that’s the company’s fault, and yes it partially is. But then you get into the ‘fool me once…’ cliche.

If you’re really wanting to be organic, open, honest and real with the genuine people who do choose to follow you on social media, buying extra followers isn’t going to do you any favours.

Reminder: you are enough.

Dear Self,

You really ought to be nicer to yourself more often. Take a look at yourself in the mirror and remember that you are the glue holding this together. Remind yourself of your intelligence, of your humour, of your good moments and your strengths. Because you have them all in stride.

You really ought to remember what you’ve been through in your life, not as a negative, but as a positive. You did it. You survived. You got stronger. You made it through that and you can make it through this. Nothing in this world is insurmountable so long as you believe in yourself and your capabilities.

Also, you really ought to quit with the excuses. Exercise is good for you, so stop finding reasons to not go. Eating healthy keeps your body properly functioning, so stop eating crap. Your well being is what is most important, so don’t ever deny help when it’s offered, or when you need it. We all need help sometimes. Your family loves you, so stop avoiding them and your friends want what’s best for you, so let them know you appreciate them.

Self, I wish you could know how great you are. I wish you could quit thinking poorly about yourself and direct some of those compliments you like to give to others towards yourself once in a while.

Don’t ever try to hide who you are. Don’t lower your standards, don’t dull your shine. Don’t think that you’re too much or you’re not enough because who you are is good enough. Good enough for you, good enough for friends, good enough for family. Those that love you love you just the way that you are. And the great thing about being human is that good enough can always get better, so long as you believe in yourself.

You’re talented. You’re insightful. You’ve got a way with words that you really ought to start using more often. You’re open-minded, you believe the better in people and yet somehow you don’t believe the better of yourself. You really ought to change that.

Promise me self, in the latter half of this year, I want you to be better. I want you to think smarter and stop putting yourself down. I want you to see the good in yourself and make a conscious effort to smile every day. Because you deserve to smile… even on the crappy days. Nothing in this life is perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a bright spot.

You are enough. Love yourself, please. Love everything about yourself. You’re this way for a reason so it’s time you start appreciating that and understanding that you are enough.

The Good Folks

You know those people in your life that just make you better? Goodness, I am so thankful for them.

Without even trying it’s like they just completely understand you, they appreciate you for exactly who you are and they bring out the best in you. They want to see you succeed and they do all that they can to help you get there. They’re the best kind of people in this world.

They’re also a rarity. They’re hard to find and easy to lose, so when you do find those people you hold on for dear-life, knowing the good that they spread is just the kind of good you need in your world.

I have a few of those people in my life. Those people whether I’ve known them 15 years or 1 year, it feels like I’ve known them forever. I admire them. I adore them. I dream of being like them and I hope that I can do for them even a fraction of what they do for me.

But the good folks, they don’t care about that. Because they don’t help you to ask for, or expecting anything in return. They don’t want reciprocation. They’re just that good. They pass along their goodness like a light to your life and to everyone’s lives that they touch, just because. Because that’s who they are and that’s what they bring to this world.

I got a phone call this morning and it wasn’t a request, it was just to talk. He knew that I wasn’t in a happy space and he just wanted to talk. He wanted to make it better, to make me feel better. And I can’t even stress enough how much it helps when someone calls just to say hey. So few times in life do people reach out just to reach out. More often then not, they’re reaching out because they want something.

If you have someone in your life who calls to just talk… remember that. Remember them. The good people in this world, they’re hard to find. If you’re lucky enough to find them, hold on for dear life! They’re worth it. I promise they’re worth it.

Some people, they just make your life better. They make you better. That’s what I want to be for someone. That’s who I strive to be.

Lose-Lose Conversations

My aunt called this afternoon. She called once, I ignored it. She called twice, I thought she might have been calling back in hopes my parents had an answering machine. The third time that she called I figured she obviously does not know my parents are in Denmark. Since she has a terminally ill husband, I thought I ought to answer the phone in case she had something important to say that I needed to pass onto my parents while they’re overseas.

Boy, not only did she have nothing important to say, but she’s really good at picking me apart and making me feel like a piece of shit.

I am someone who keeps my family at a distance. Not because I don’t love them but more so because we have different beliefs… we have different values, we have different understandings of the world and how it works, so if I don’t keep myself away from them, fights happen. A LOT OF FIGHTS. A lot of my family members are exceptionally judgmental people. And though they live in glass houses and really shouldn’t be throwing stones, they do it all the time.

My aunt really laid into me today. According to her, I’m lazy. According to her, I just don’t try. According t her I lack the motivation to find success so I won’t ever do so. She gave me a lot of ‘advice’ of how I need to take my resume into Wal-Mart every week once a week and they’ll be forced to hire me because I just won’t go away. She told me I’m thirty years old and I’m a disappointment to the family. She told me I had so much potential and it’s such a shame that I threw it all alway.

Throughout all of this, I was kindly trying to tell her I was busy. I was kindly trying to tell her that I had to go. I was kindly trying to tell her she could call my parents on the 23 when they’re home. And she just kept cutting me off and telling me what she thought of me and how much of a screw up I am.

My anxiety went through the roof as I was listening to her. I reached a point where I thought I was about to burst out in tears. Since she wasn’t letting me talk to tell her I had to go, I eventually just hung up on her.

I know I’m going to hear about that later, but I couldn’t just continue to let her beat up on me.

Now I’ve just spent the past few hours trying to calm myself back down.

Everyone’s got an opinion. Everyone wants to give you their opinion. Sadly, some people know diddly squat about your life and still feel they have the right to pass judgement on you anyways…

Sometimes you just really can’t win.

The beauty of the beast.

I wish that I could be edited. I wish that what the world could see were a perfectly curated collection of a beautiful life with sweet moments and loving family and friends. I wish that I could be one of those people that makes life look effortless, or one of those rare people in this world to which life is actually effortless.

I cannot do that. I can’t.

Life is messy. Life is filled with disappointment and heartbreak, sad moments and struggles. Life is not easy. It’s not effortless and I refuse to paint a picture of life that just isn’t rooted in the truth.

That’s not to say that there aren’t happy moments. The good moments are there and they do exist. But I’m the type of person to which, when I experience the good moments, I am living them… not trying to instagram them. And that’s not to throw shade at those who do, that’s just to say that the best moments of my life, you likely won’t find proof of on any phone or camera. The proof is that which lives on in only the fondest of memories that never dim nor fade, no matter how many times I upgrade my phone.

Current messy bits going on in my life are big bouts of anxiety. I’m talking BIIIIIIIIIIIG bouts of anxiety. Worries about money, about relationships, about forever falling short of the desires I have for work and success and life are filling my days that no amount of road-tripping seems to be able to solve. I’m getting through though. I’m still trying.

I’ve opened up a lot about my anxiety this year. The reactions that I’ve gotten have definitely been mixed. I think that’s why it’s important to continue sharing, though. If someone’s never dealt with mental illness before, it’s hard for them to understand what exactly someone is going through. I get that. But I think it’s time they learn. I think the best thing you can do for yourself is open up about your struggles. And if they don’t hear you, open up again and again and again until they hear you. Because education about mental illness is the biggest thing we do towards ending the stigma.

We don’t need curated lives to look perfect for the world to see (at least I don’t). I think what we need is to be open and honest with one another about the struggles it takes to just be human. Because if we’re human, and I presume we all are (I’ve yet to see any proof of aliens) then being open and honest about the struggles will make the good moments, the beautiful sights, the happy days, feel so much better. We’ll have people to share them with who will truly appreciate them with us.

The more that I see the edited lives of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and so on and so forth, the more I think we’re losing touch with reality in hopes that we can portray our lives to look ‘better than the next person’.

I don’t want to be better than the next person. I just want to be me.