Huntsman prince came home
Saw a most surprising sight
Made a big mistake
Thought his baby died
Murdered by his loyal hound
Who saved baby’s life
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?”
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; 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.
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!”
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?”
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.
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.
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?”
She doesn’t know
The pain we feel when we see
The sadness in her eyes
That ought to shine so bright.
She doesn’t see
The tears we hold back,
The worry that racks our minds
Whether she is near or far.
She doesn’t understand
Why we should be concerned
About her welfare,
About her happiness.
She only feels
The anger deep within
That stems from knowing
She should have listened.
She only knows
That now there’s no way out,
Unless she finds the strength
To accept the help we offer.
And maybe, then, she’ll know
That all we said and all we did,
We did with best intentions,
For her protection and benefit.
She won’t accept
That we could know
Of a life thrown away.
So now she cries
An endless stream
Of tears that will not wash
The sorrow from her heart.
She only knows
That there’s no going back.
Her path is set
By pride’s compass.
I finally started my new business website. So now I hope I can get back to serious blogging!
“No, you’re not.”
“How can you say that?”
“Because I don’t know where I am.”
“But where’s here?”
“Why does it matter? Where do you want to be?”
“That’s the point. I don’t know where here is; and I don’t know where I . . . Well, actually, I do know where I want to be, and I’m not there.”
“How do you know?”
“I don’t. That’s what’s so confusing. I’m not sure I can really explain it.
“You see, I look around and I’m in a jungle between lots of trees with a dense fog, all around. There’s no clear path out. I can’t even work out how I got here. Yet I’m also not sure that I don’t want to be here. I mean, it could be said that I’m here by choice, couldn’t it. So, if I’m here by choice, I probably want to be here. But why would I want to be here?”
“Why do you think you want to be here?”
“I don’t know. Am I hiding from something? Or someone? Who? I feel like I’m hiding from . . . myself! Why would I do that? Am I trying to deceive myself? Why? There’s something I need to do and . . . and I’m afraid to do it; somewhere I have to go, but I’m afraid to go there.”
“”Where do you have to go? And what do you have to do?”
“I have no idea.
“Well, actually, that’s not quite true. I have to go inside and search.”
“Inside? Inside what?”
“Not what? Who? I have to go inside myself. And that’s scary.”
“Not many people can do that.”
“Tell me something I don’t know. Too many people go off to ‘find themselves’ and never come back. No wonder it’s scary.
“Yet, really, I know where I am. I’m here; wherever here is. I’m not really lost. I know where I am; I’m here. I just don’t know where here is.”
“If you did know where ‘here’ is, what would you do with that information? After all, you said there are no visible paths. So it would not matter which direction you go in.”
“True. But at least . . . at least if I’m moving, it would be easier to turn.”
“And I’ll never find my way unless I can see where I’m headed for.
“I suppose the real question is where I want to be headed for. If I’m searching for myself, and I know I’m here, then haven’t I already found myself? Haven’t I already reached my destination?
“No. That’s not quite true. The idea of a destination suggests that the journey will end. Yet the journey never ends, does it. Life goes on and the journey doesn’t end. After all, once we reach our destination we look around for somewhere else to go. The journey never ends. And, since I know that I’m here, this is just a stopping off point on my journey.
“So why can I not see which way to go? Because I have no clear direction? Where do I want to be? No. Why do I want to be here?”
“Good question. Why do you want to be here?”
“Because I need a rest. I need some time without the demands of other people tugging at my resources. Yet I also don’t want to ignore the needs of those who matter to me. That’s why I’m afraid to search for myself – I don’t want to lose those I care about.”
“And yet you know where you are.”
“So I don’t need to search! I’m here.
“And the mist is clearing. Mist? Fog? What’s the difference? It’s clearing. There is always a path between the trees. It may not be a well-worn path, but it’s still a path. It’s a path I have to make for myself. It’s my life; my journey; my path.”
“So what does that mean?”
“It means I know where I am. And I know where I’m going.
“I’m here, and I’m going to keep going. I’m simply going to walk between two trees and keep going.
“Where did that path come from? Did I just make that path? Yes. It’s my path.”
“Where does it lead?”
“Wherever I want it to lead. I am in control of my life. I can choose to stay here or I can choose to move on. It’s my choice.”
“And what have you chosen?”
“To move on.”
“Wherever my journey takes me . . . No . . . Wherever I want to go. And I want to go and look after those I care about; which includes myself. After all, I’m actually in a clearing between trees.
Now, look between those two trees. What do you see?”
“It’s not about what I see. It’s about what you see. But I see a path.”
“ Of course you do. It may not be much of a path, but it’s my path. It’s my way forward. Thanks for listening.
“So. Are you coming?”
“Do I have a choice?”
If you have seen this, previously, on my other blog, I apologise. I am moving everything to this blog in order to simplify my life in harmony with minimalist principles!
Sadly, resolutions are easy to make and easy to break. So why wait for a new year before changing bad habits? This article looks at a better way: Resolution–The First Day of the Rest of Your Life.
Disappointments happen; and we need to get used to it. We are going to have bad times as well as good; and the only thing we can really control is the way we respond.
I don’t know the full story, but this boat was obviously left to rot. Yet it could well have been recovered if only its owner had not given up.
When we fall, there is a temptation to think that we are failures. But that is not necessarily true. It has often been said that failure is successfully finding a way that does not work. That’s a good way to look at it. Psychologists call it reframing. It’s a matter of looking at things from a different perspective; changing the way we think about things; viewing failure as an opportunity to learn. It’s a matter of seeing the potential in each situation. As was once said, when you’re at the bottom, the only way is up.
Actors in the ancient Greek theatres would use masks to portray different characters. Even today, the international symbol for theatres is a pair of masks, one happy, one sad. The ancient Greek word for actor was hypokrites. It came to refer to one playing false, or putting on a pretence. It’s where we get the English word hypocrite.
We have looked at the value of solitude, confidantes, and support networks. We have looked at how to deal with other people’s choices when they impact on our lives. And we have looked at the things that we can control – our choices.
But that raises the question of who we are, because none of us would want to be known as a hypocrite.
Children need feeding.
Waking up is hard to do
After sleepless night.
We have looked at the value of solitude, confidantes, and support networks. We have looked at how to deal with other people’s choices when they impact on our lives. Now it’s time to look at the things that we can control. And it’s important to start with our choices.
Our gorilla knows that he needs to eat the right things. (And if anyone thinks that a vegan diet will make you thin and sickly-looking, take a look at the picture again!) He also knows the value of both solitude and company. Here, he is concentrating on that which he can control.
Beware of The Consequences