Still Here

So I wrote that we have moved to Grandpa’s Way I have decided on a better strategy.

I have always been in a bit of a quandary as to whether to have a multi-purpose blog or not. I have tried each option, but I have still not come to any conclusion.

So I have decided that I will put my creative pieces on this blog, and my prose, and a few poetic pieces, on Grandpa’s Way.

I hope you approve.

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Are You Sure You Want to Share That with the World?

The European Court of Justice recently decided that Google must offer the right to be forgotten. That decision, however, leads us to ask, “Do you really want to share your history with the world?” It also begs the question, “What does the world really want to see?”

A History of Communication

Let’s take a quick run through the history of sharing.

Communication has always been one of the most important features of human activity. In fact, people have been known to have died through a lack of interaction with others. That is why solitary confinement is such a cruel form of torture.

People love to talk. And they will talk about anything an everything. Have you ever looked back on an evening spent with friends? We often describe the conversation as “putting the world to rights,” or some similar local phrase. Yet, if we were to be asked to relate the contents of that evening’s conversations, we would, undoubtedly, struggle to list more than a handful of topics.

Along came the written word, and communication experienced an expansion as people learned to share news with people farther afield. Posting letters is an ancient activity, even if they were not called letters in those days.

When radio and telephone were invented, it was not long before people learned to communicate over the airwaves. They could now pass instant messages to the farthest corners of the globe.

Amateur radio arrived and people started to share personal matters with relative strangers. Yet these were still relatively trusted people. After all, they were a special community of like-minded individuals.

Then Came The Internet

Then came the Internet; or, to be more precise, the electronic bulletin board, used to post messages to people who lived in different time zones.

In its infancy, these were mostly messages of a technical nature posted on university electronic boards. But they soon started to become more personal. This led, of course, to Instant Messaging and Social Networks. Now, people can share their thoughts, knowledge, and experience with anyone and everyone, almost worldwide.

Still, as I mentioned in my post, The Hazards of Social Media, we have to consider any information posted on the Internet as being public, or easy to make public.

Social networks, of course, mean more than just instant short message services. They can include blogs and other forms of personal websites.

Putting Yourself in Danger

Consider some areas where you could put yourself in danger.

Let’s say that you just bought a new music system, TV set, or computer. It is a top-of-the-range model and you are proud of your purchase. So you post photos of these items online for your friends to see.

A few weeks later, you tell your friends that you are going on holiday for two weeks; and the local burglars say, “Thank you for that information.” You come home to find your house cleared of all those nice new items, and several more.

Worse, what if you published an item saying that you were a little concerned about being alone in the house while your mate was away on business. What dangers could you be opening yourself up to, now?

Also, what about those photos that you take on the way home from work, every evening. Do they say, “Look at the route I take from work, every evening. And I walk this lonely path on my own. Come and get me!”

Putting Others in Danger

I have long believed that many parents protect their credit card details better than they protect their children.

How many parents do you know who post photographs of their children on the Internet? Oh, they try to disguise the children by giving them false names. Some people only post the initial letter of the child’s first name. Others will use the pet name that the family uses for the child. You know the sort of entries: “This is my daughter, J;” or “Here is a photo of Princess.”

Now, what is to stop someone with nefarious intent approaching your daughter and saying, “Hello, Princess. Mammy asked me to collect you from school, today.” These parents have given away one of the key safety measures available to the child: “If Mammy sent you, what does she call me?”

Should It Be Shared?

Another area that needs careful consideration is the question of whether an item should be shared with others, anyway.

In my post, What’s with the Selfie? I asked why so many self-portraits make the subject look evil. Is it the latest craze that I have missed? Or do people no longer care what they look like? If you are going to share a photo of yourself, at least try to make it look flattering. Posting photos of yourself looking as if you are the evil twin do nothing for your credibility, and could even lose you your job.

Another type of post that I often wonder about is the sharing of personal experiences, whether happy or sad. Okay, this is more difficult. The entry that says, “Sorry I haven’t been too active, lately. I just found the new love of my life,” is probably on the safe side. But when the writer goes into the details of his blonde hair, blue eyes, and muscular stature, I often wonder just how true the story is. I also wonder whether I really want to now.

The opposite side is, “I’m sorry I haven’t posted much, during the last week, but we had a bereavement in the family.” This is a little more acceptable as it is reaching out for comfort. Yet I still wonder how many people really want to know.

Sharing personal experiences is more about sharing knowledge and wisdom. It is about helping other people to cope with their lives by sharing your story of successfully overcoming your trials and tribulations. It is not about seeking sympathy.

The Pity Party

Perhaps the worst kind of entry, then, is the pity party, especially when it is accompanied by photos.

I recently saw some blog entries, accompanied by photos, updating the world on the progress of someone’s operation. Listen people, these are not photos that I want to see on a public notice board! If I want to see the stages of repair and healing I will go to the medical websites. Seeing your stitches, and the resultant scars, is not top of my agenda; and I don’t know many people who do want to see them.

These blog entries also frequently mention the author’s illnesses. Look. I know you want to share your experiences with the world, but if that’s the world you inhabit, then fine. Most normal people really do not sympathize with the “Woe is me!” mentality. Just because you are suffering, there is no need to make the rest of us suffer, too. By all means, share your experiences on websites dedicated to these illnesses; but leave the more public forums alone unless you are going to share the strategy that helped you to successfully deal with the problems.

For example, the Reader here on WordPress makes it possible to select blogs based on key words or phrases. So if I want to interact with people suffering from fibromyalgia, I can. If I want to know how others cope with a child who has autism, I can. If I want to ignore those conversations, I can. Other Social Media sites, however, do not have that luxury. So, if I want to follow a certain person, I have to see their lives, warts and all.

To Share or Not To Share

So what am I saying, here? That I cannot control what I read on the Internet? Not really. That I am not interested in people’s petty ailments? No. I am concerned. I have my own health issues and I subscribe to channels that provide news feeds related to those issues. When I find a successful solution to my health issue, I share it in positive terms, telling people how it has helped me and encouraging them to consider whether it would benefit them, too. I do not whinge about every ache or pain that I suffer as a result of my health issues.

What I am saying is that we need to be careful what we share. By sharing personal, often intimate details, we are exposing ourselves, not only to danger of physical or psychological harm, but also to ridicule. There are plenty of obnoxious people out there who will think nothing of ridiculing a sufferer, just for the fun of it.

Worse than that, maybe, is the fact that we could be alienating even our long-trusted friends. These are the very people who could protect us from the ridicule; who would provide a safe haven in times of need. Yet, these trusted friends probably already know about our latest medical episode. So why broadcast it to the whole world?

Don’t get me wrong. There are some instances where sharing such information is invaluable. At times of disaster, the telephone network may be down, but we can still post to our social network pages. A message saying, “I’ve lost everything, but I’m glad to say I’m still alive,” is always welcomed. In fact, after many disasters, it was the amateur radio operators, in times gone by, and the social networkers, in more recent times, that have brought the news to the world.

So, before publishing your most intimate secrets, think about what you are saying. Read through what you have written with the eyes of a stranger; and ask yourself, “If this was about someone else, would I really want to know?”

Been Busy

Coed-Morgannwg-Way-Small.jpg

Well, hello, everyone. I hope you missed me!

You may (or may not) have been wondering where I’ve been. Well, I can now reveal that following encouragement from several sources, including Rita of The Anxious Traveler fame, I have finally published my book, Grandpa’s Way: Poetic Motivation on Amazon.

The book is a collection of my poems and photographs with some adjustments and explanations. It is designed to provide motivation and starting points for mindful meditation. I don’t consider myself to be an expert, but as many bloggers know, prompts can be found in all sorts of places.

So I hope you will forgive me for being away from my blog for the last few days. I have not been away from my keyboard. I am amazed at how much work was involved in getting the work finalized.

How does it feel? Well, when I was about twelve, I had a dream of taking my notebook and pen (no portable computers in those days) up the mountain to a secluded spot, writing a book, and getting it published. I have had several unsuccessful attempts at fiction, over the years, but never finished anything. However, thanks in great measure to the blogging community I have now published my first book.

And it feels fantastic.

So, if you feel like wandering over to Amazon and taking a look, that would be wonderful. If you feel like writing a review, then that would be even more wonderful.

Once again, thank you to all my readers for the help and encouragement. Now it’s time for some sleep, ready to work on the next book.

 

Self-Hosted Blog Issue

HELP!

I’m hoping someone can help me. I have a self-hosted blog here. It is one of a number of blogs using the same account, but I used my master Dashboard to install the Push Syndication add-on to try to get my posts to show up in the WordPress Reader. It worked, once or twice, in the early days, but now it has stopped. Several times, I have tried deleting the API application and re-created it, without success.

I have posted in the forums, looking for help, but it seems to me that there is a lot of conflicting advice in there, much of it very specific to the individual blog issue, but none of it specifically telling anyone how to get this to work.

So I’m looking to those of you with self-hosted blogs, and who have managed to get your posts to show up in the Reader. Any help that you can offer would be welcome. If you can help me to get this working, I will be even more grateful 🙂

 

Do You Really ‘Like’ Me? Or Are You Just Touting for Business?

Couple

Do you read every article you ‘Like’?

I ask because I have noticed a number of posts on WordPress suggesting that there are some people (and I hope they are in the minority) who scroll down the WordPress Reader simply clicking the ‘Like’ button, but who never actually visit the blog they are ‘liking.’ So I have started to take note of this phenomenon. Is it really happening? Are there phantom fans out there? Do people really use the ‘Like’ button to drive traffic to their own blog? After all, WordPress’’ advises us that the best way to get traffic is to get to know other bloggers.

Moving to a self-hosted blog, recently, has given me an opportunity to test this theory out, and the results seem to suggest that there is some truth to the rumour.

For example, I have been writing a series of articles looking at grandparents and their role in families. I have only posted the complete articles on my self-hosted blog, with links on my WordPress site. Recently, I posted a new article of almost 2,000 words using my blogging software. This has an option to post the article, and then automatically open the post in my browser so that I can see what it looks like. So, having posted this article, I duly waited for the page to load. Now, my internet connection is not over fibre optic, but it is not slow. As the page loaded, my first ‘Like’ popped up. Hey! I know I`m not a fast reader, but it would take a super-speed reader to get through 2,000 words that quickly.

Therefore, I had to conclude that this blogger had seen my post appear on the WordPress Reader screen and simply clicked ‘Like.’ This was rather disappointing, especially since it was a blogger that I not only follow, but whose work I highly admire.

It struck me that arbitrarily clicking ‘Like’ on lots of posts just to attract traffic to your blog is a bit like a politician voting for everyone else so that he will get elected. Is there not some sort of moral issue here?

Why Is This an Issue?

Why do I worry about this? Like many writers, I enjoy reading widely, and reading through other people’s blogs is an excellent source of inspiration and information. But, trying to keep up with all of the blogs that I follow is not easy. I’m sorry, but I don’t always get to read everything on the blogs I follow.

Yet there is a serious side to ‘Liking’ a post. Consider this: Let’s say that someone posts a rather controversial article. I will not specify any subject because that could sway your judgement in this matter. However, this article flies in the face of everything that you ever stood for. It goes completely contrary to your deeply-held beliefs. In fact, you would be outraged by the very suggestion.

Now, you notice this article in the WordPress Reader. It has a beautiful photograph attached and you really love this photo. So you click ‘Like’ to approve of the photo, but you don’t read the article.

What have you done? You have now agreed with the sentiments expressed in the article. You may even have condoned something illegal. And your next prospective employer could be a fellow blogger who noted that you condoned this activity and he may decide that on the strength of your apparent opinions, you do not qualify for this job. In fact, despite being the best qualified, you do not belong in their company. Believe me, this has happened. A young girl applied for a job and the employer checked out her social network page. She didn’t even get an interview.

What Are You Agreeing With?

My point is that clicking ‘Like’ just to get reciprocal traffic could lead us into trouble. As noted, above, we could be ostensibly agreeing with something that goes directly against our own moral compass. We could even be condoning an illegal act.

That is why I never ‘Like’ a post that I have not read. I have no intention of giving the impression that I approve of something just to get reciprocal traffic.

Also, I will not ‘Like’ a post that contains material which goes against my principles. So, for example, I may highly respect your blog; but if you post an entry about something that I disapprove of, I will not ‘Like’ it. I may comment on it, expressing my disapproval in a tactful way, but I will not ‘Like’ it.

The Value of Commenting

This leads to the question of comments. It is not always possible, or even desirable, to comment on everything a fellow blogger writes. After all, there are only so many ways to say, “Good article.” However, commenting on articles at least tells the author that you have read his or her work, especially if you refer back to something in the article. I’m not always good at this, but Beth at I Didn’t Have My Glasses On is a fine example of it. She regularly comments and her comments always refer to some point in the article. Plus, her comments are always constructive.

Yet, again, because it is so easy to comment from the WordPress Reader, we still need to be careful that our comments are appropriate, rather that just touting for business, as it were.

So, before hitting ‘Like,’ from now on, why not consider your motives. Do you really like this article? Do you honestly agree with what is written in it? Are you only trying to ‘encourage’ a fellow blogger? Or are you just being mercenary in looking for traffic for your own blog?

Random Posting – Please Help

Is it me, or my imagination
Or does WordPress only post
From self-hosted blogs
When it feels like it?

Seriously, I seem to have a problem getting posts from my self-hosted blog to show up in the Reader with any consistency. One day it works; then it doesn’t; then it does again. Is it me?

Any suggestions  would be gratefully received.

The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People

Brilliantly written article. By the time I read the first two habits I was crying with laughter, so much so that I couldn’t see to carry on reading. My sides were aching with it. This is so descriptive of so many of today’s miserable people. Absolutely brilliant.

Mind Chatter

How to succeed at self-sabotage.

  

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/aastock

Most of us claim we want to be happy—to have meaningful lives, enjoy ourselves, experience fulfillment, and share love and friendship with other people and maybe other species, like dogs, cats, birds, and whatnot. Strangely enough, however, some people act as if they just want to be miserable, and they succeed remarkably at inviting misery into their lives, even though they get little apparent benefit from it, since being miserable doesn’t help them find lovers and friends, get better jobs, make more money, or go on more interesting vacations. Why do they do this? After perusing the output of some of the finest brains in the therapy profession, I’ve come to the conclusion that misery is an art form, and the satisfaction people seem to find in it reflects the creative effort required to cultivate it. In other words, when your living…

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She Sleeps

Moon 100130 Web

She sleeps,
Drifting on through her dreams
Of lives that could have been,
Places she could have seen.

She sleeps.
Visions of the night-time
Blending subconscious thoughts
Into reality.

She sleeps,
Restless, as the views change
From what she knows is true
To scenes filled with wonder.

She sleeps,
Yet listens for the cries
Of children in the night,
In case they need comfort.

She sleeps.
Moon drifts across the sky,
Passing by her window,
Shining into her dreams.

She sleeps,
Gentle breathing signals
Pause for deeper slumber;
Needed for well-being.

She sleeps,
The worries of the day,
Laid to rest with the stars,
Resolved, effortlessly.

She sleeps,
Stirs, as dawn is breaking,
Knowing the new day brings
Its worries and trials.

She sleeps,
Gains energy to face
The day’s anxieties
With grace and dignity.

She sleeps,
Yet still she feels his arm
Curling close around her;
Draws them ever closer.

She wakes,
And lies there to enjoy
The warmth of his body
As his embrace tightens.

She sighs,
Contented with her life;
A life that never seems
The same as in her dreams.