Online: Be Yourself not Anonymous

I don’t know about you, but when I see a comment by “Anonymous” I automatically discount its worth. If you don’t value your time and words enough to put your name to them then why bother? Be yourself online, not anonymous is what I’ve always believed, until I began thinking in earnest about marketing.

I believe to achieve online equanimity, one’s words need the check of accountability provided by owning up to your true identity. While this is true in theory, it doesn’t hold up when viewed under the lens of marketing scrutiny. Whether you’re selling a product or yourself—for what is our online community now but one big concession stand–does anonymity hurt or help sales?

What began as a reflection on the troubling vileness of comments left by incognito voices, has now morphed into a marketing inquiry. If you’ve read any of my political posts you know I don’t shy away from expressing my opinion. Surely this could potentially costs me readers, but will it cost me customers as well as I seek to publish? Should I be more mindful of how my personal views could influence the buying power of the public whenever I blog, tweet or post to tumblr?

Doesn’t transparency makes for better discussions? My want for openness is not a call for any person’s voice to be muted but rather a plea for clarity, civility and consciousness. Sure, being yourself online is hard, but if it can cure what infects the comment sections allover the internet, wouldn’t it be worth it? While (evidently) it may not keep me you from embarrassing myself yourself, I believe it does more to keep one honest and reflective than hiding behind the mask of anonymity.

Consider this—isn’t it equally important to be yourself when you are your own brand and proprietor of your own company? You can’t market YOU anonymously, can you? Or should you be a fictitious, more marketable you? How much of yourself can you reveal before you risk repelling clients, customers, or readers with your personal views? What about when those views have nothing to do with your product?

We’ve seen what can happen to companies that support political candidates or issues that don’t comply with social mores. Calls of boycotts, twitter blitzes, even in-store protests have made headlines. Much to their credit, JCPenney stood firm in its support of choosing Ellen Degeneres, an openly gay woman, as its spokesperson despite some hater’s protests, and then there were the protests and counter support of Chick-Fil-A when it funded anti-gay groups.

Recently the stink is hitting Hobby Lobby for purporting to hold it’s anti-abortion, anti-contraception ideals as religious rights sacred enough to take to the Supreme Court, when if fact they are heavily invested in those products through their company financial holdings, and made a lot money doing so. Hypocrites with a capital H.. When do the values you promote personally, or as a private company, matter to customers enough to effect your bottom line or reputation? Even more recent is how this effects it’s employees and potentially all employees with bosses who think they can rule over your personal life.

Do you as a consumer consider a company or individuals politics, values, or religion before making a purchase? Do you have a list of companies you won’t do business with because of their carbon foot print or quality of life standards for workers don’t met your expectations? Do you make a purchase if  your wants or needs of a product countermand your convictions against the companies policies?

Does a company like Chick-fil-A, whose religious agenda is clearly and proudly part of their companies purpose statement— “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us.” —risk losing customers that don’t support their views? Or do people just not care when it comes to filling their bellies?

What does this mean for me, a blogger, sole proprietor, a writer who one day hopes to sell a few novels? Or you, the account exec who secretly writes a popular romance series of novels, or middle school teacher who is a skilled erotica poet and earns half her salary in affiliated links?

Apples and oranges isn’t it? A secret identity to sell your wares in some instances is commonsense. A secret identity to be ugly, repressive, and argumentative is not. Hiding your identity to promote an agenda that is counter to your public face-uh, no.

Anonymity does nothing but give one a false sense of entitlement to say whatever one wants. Aside from the few instances when this is a necessity to protect yourself from harm, it seems to me that we’d be better off without the ability to hide from ourselves or others.

Like the rules we set for our children when teaching them personal responsibility online “Never say online what you wouldn’t say to someones face or their mother.” That’s what I taught my children, and I’m determined to adhere to this maxim myself.

I never comment online under another name. I am always me, and I believe it keeps me from saying much of what needn’t be said, out loud, to anyone. Though I do not shy away from expressing my opinion, I’m learning to temper it with an understanding of how it reflects on me.

That’s why I promise to always be me online. When I find my message or responses becoming vitriolic I know I need to step back and let my anger abate. If the message is still something I need to express, if the anger is justified and makes sense after I’ve cooled, then I’m prepared to stand behind my words, but I intend to be responsible for what I say and I hope you’ll hold me accountable for it too.

Freedom of speech is not freedom from accountability. You should have to own up to what you say, write or preach. whether you are an individual or corporation.

Addendum: I’ve been working with this post off and on for months. Many news items of late feel like prescient warning of the impact our words have. Given the results of Donald Sterling’s deservedly quick and complete ousting from NBA, the Hobby Lobby court case, and pretty much every misogynistic statement the Republican party makes, our words will matter to someone-how many someones, and how much an impact their response has remains to be seen.

 

 

 

 

 

Rape Culture

Rather than my own ranty nonsensical post I’d worked on all day, I’m redirecting you to Lauren Nelson’s blog. In particular this post SO YOU’RE TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT “RAPE CULTURE”?

Why? Because it is important. My daughters will soon to be off at college and I resent the fact that I am compelled to teach them how to NOT GET RAPED. That should not have to be one of Momma’s little life lessons.

But it is, so there you go. Read about what “rape culture” is so you can recognize it. Women have the right to EXPECT not to get raped rather than worry about HOW not to get raped.

Men—rather than being outraged that women have the audacity to expect you not to rape them, try channeling your energies into keeping your fellow man from raping your mother, grandmother, sister, cousin, aunt, girlfriend, etc, etc…follow that old adage “If you aren’t part of the problem, be part of the solution,” instead of arguing that you poor guys are being unduly picked on, speak up against those who defile, denigrate, and demean women.

And I am not as patient or eloquent as Lauren. How she’s kept her temper with those men who tried to subvert and suppress the conversation by bringing up facts not in evidence—I’d have just kicked them off with a F**k-Y**! But she’s keeping a civil discourse going, so more power to her and boy am I impressed.

After a long week of reading way too many misogynistic, racist, crap, I’m just too pissed-off to hold my temper. It took all my self control not to enter a verbal war over some lame ass guy bringing up prison rape as a response to another conversation about the rape culture. He was adamant that there couldn’t be a conversation asking men not to rape a woman without addressing the fact that there are more men raped in this county than women. Like that has anything to do with it.

The troll was repeatedly asked to provide the data to support his assertion not just interject speculation, but refused to comply, instead remaining pious as if he was adding anything salient to the conversation. But that’s the way those with nothing to say operate. They can’t engage in the real conversation, they have no real point to make. Their only purpose is to stir ire. I find it very difficult myself to disengage from these attacks so—fair warning, you’ll have no voice here.

As it says in my Disclaimer above-if I deem your input heinous, you’ll be deleted.

 

 

 

100 Things I Love (and social media isn’t one of them)

I trolled the web for years skirting around the fringes of engagement. My first encounter, more than 16 years ago, was on a gardenweb portal. I inadvertently offended someone—unlike now when I do it on purpose, and I was genuinely horrified they’d mistook my inference for something mean spirited and lambasted me personally to the nth degree. I refrained from commenting on any site for years afterward.

I believe that encounter was one of many moments that niggled at my self-esteem and pushed me to go to college, the last straw being the inability to write a retort to an editorial in the local paper. If you’re really bored, happen to be snowed-in and have already perused the entire wikipedia, you could read about my trials and tribulations in my culminating study, which I’ve posted under Books (it’s a pdf).

My, my, how times have changed.

Now, I have to stop myself from writing too much on other blogger’s comment sections. Yes, it’s nice to have your post recognized by your readers but leaving comments longer than the original post—that’s just rude.

I’ve learned to restrain myself, but I am often inspired by what other bloggers are discussing and wish to keep the conversation going.  Lucky, for me I have my own blog.

Today, I pay homage to Brenda and Chris.

Certain ladies have a knack for touching on things that either, I too have been ruminating on. Like Chris Dean’s post How to Fail at World Media Domination, which I am exemplifying, or identify with—like Brenda Moguez post about Drama—that old attention hog, and how she refocused her mind by setting it to task on a list, 100 Things I Love.

Naturally, I had to put everything else on hold and write out my own list.

100 Things I Love

  1. The smell of spring rain on warm pavement.
  2. The sound of wind whipping through the trees.
  3. Birds fluttering outside the dining room window.
  4. Patterns in nature.
  5. Peonies, herbaceous and tree.
  6. Gazing into a baby’s eyes.
  7. My husband’s hands
  8. Also the crinkles around his eyes when he smiles.
  9. Daughter Lillian’s hearty laugh.
  10. Daughter Eva’s creativity.
  11. Pam’s colossal chocolate chip cookies.
  12. Brunch, in all its iterations.
  13. When all my friends sleepover and we eat and drink all weekend.
  14. Martha’s Vineyard with BF and family.
  15. Unexpected friendships.
  16. My orange bedside lamps.
  17. Finding the correct word that exactly expresses what I’m trying to convey.
  18. Books, that’s a given, I can’t narrow it down any further.
  19. The learning process, which allows stretching my mind, imagination and boundaries.
  20. Craftsmanship. I used to be a jeweler/lapidary and respect the talent it takes to master handiwork.
  21. The aesthetics of my habitat—not materialism but how form and function influences us.
  22. A properly set table—china, silverware, linen. Get it out and use it.
  23. Evening, when there are clouds stretching across the sky and they appear dark with linger light-blue sky behind them.
  24. Typography as art.
  25. People who aren’t afraid to act the fool to entertain their children. I will sing in the supermarket.
  26. Selflessness, just because you can.
  27. Vases filled with flowers the girls cut from our own garden.
  28. Libraries.
  29. Fabric.
  30. Paper, especially handmade.
  31. Sharp scissors, knives, Exacto blades, chisels.
  32. The right tool for the right job (don’t drink O.J. from my mug)
  33. The incredulous remarks from my daughter’s friends (You can make whipped cream?)
  34. Growing food. The incredulous remarks from my contractor’s son (You grow carrots? Purple ones—mind-blown twice!)
  35. Long, hot, steamy showers.
  36. Maine, coastal or lakeside.
  37. Pearls. Big South Sea mothers I’ll never be able to afford. Check any Sotheby’s catalog.
  38. Seedlings. Really, that tiny little seed will produce a family’s worth of tomatoes.
  39. Witnessing kindness.
  40. Baked ham with scalloped potatoes.
  41. My in-laws. Never take for granted the genuine gift it is to marry into a loving, smart, funny family.
  42. Cocktails. The whole process of making them, sipping them, pairing them with the right appetizer, the correct glass.
  43. Those who persevere. Despite, odds, discouragement, and setbacks, I admire the courage it takes to own ones convictions.
  44. Red flannel sheets.
  45. Modern medicine. It gets a bad rap, sometimes deservedly, but as I’ve benefited from its progress, I owe it one.
  46. My neighbors. I’ve lucked out, not only by having a supportive, loving family, but with best neighbors you could hope for. I want to grow old with them.
  47. Salt.
  48. Chocolate. Malted. Frappes.
  49. New England. We have it all— beaches, mountains, theater, universities, museums, grand cities, country towns, fall foliage, maple syrup season, fine dining, clam shacks, easy access to NYC, and Montreal, etc, etc, etc.
  50. Antique stores. Rummaging through junk to find a treasure (kind of like editing!)
  51. Thanksgiving. The ritual of passing into winter with a feast of what you’ve harvested, surrounded by family and friends, acknowledging the bounty in our lives.
  52. I do not posses any musical ability so I adore being around musicians, especially at home, everyone joining in to create a joyful noise.
  53. When I’ve been helpful in anyway. Almost nothing, makes me happier.
  54. Observing children discover something new. I once brought a hosta plant I’d dug from garden into my preschool class. I plunked it down on the table—worms, beetles, dirt and all for the kids to explore. Best day ever.
  55. People who enjoy their jobs no matter what they are doing.
  56. Belonging to a CSA.
  57. Sidewalks, granite curbs, trees, that collectively evoke a feeling of belonging and home.
  58. Graph paper.
  59. Hand lettering. I wish I had a picture of the door to my former lapidary shop that had my company name hand lettered on it.
  60. Access to nearly every and any type of music.
  61. The ability to laugh at ones self.
  62. Baby shoes—they’re so tiny and cute!
  63. Blueberry picking, then eating them by the fist-full for weeks. Strawberries and raspberries too.
  64. Pulling out those blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries from the freezer in January.
  65. Cuddling on the couch with my daughters, watching a foreign movie that is unexpectedly good.
  66. Red wine, juicy, ripe, fruity, not to dry.
  67. Led Zeppelin
  68. Immersion in someone else’s creative work. I could be viewing their paintings, or listening to a concert, or even witnessing their work being created, like a glass blower.
  69. A photo of Eva on Crane’s Beach, Ipswich where she is stomping through the surf, swishing her hair side to side.
  70. A photo of Eva reaching in to touch Lillian’s cheek while still in the bassinet at the hospital. Their first connection.
  71. A photo of Lillian in the tub (In a fire, those three photos I’d grab off the wall.)
  72. Meteorology. Fair warning saves lives.
  73. TED Talks
  74. Beads.
  75. Calligraphy
  76. A man wearing cologne. I will break my neck someday snapping my head around to follow a sweet smelling man.
  77. Risotto
  78. Old-fashioned musky roses.
  79. Planning. Goes with the graph paper. I obsessively design and redesign everything from the master bath to the herb beds.
  80. Jeez, are you still reading this?
  81. Fog. Okay, it’s dangerous to drive in but I have fond memories of a foggy night with my husband early in our relationship.
  82. Sitting on my front porch during a storm.
  83. Gas fireplace. All the ambiance without the smoke.
  84. Roasted asparagus.
  85. Heirloom tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and basil drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
  86. Blood orange gelto
  87. Watching children try to catch frog, fireflies or grasshoppers.
  88. Stained glass.
  89. Fine wood furniture.
  90. Museums of all type.
  91. Sharing in another’s culture.
  92. Architecture.
  93. The idea that I could still learn to do anything I put my mind to.
  94. Meeting and getting to know other writers.
  95. Board games. Let’s play! Scrabble, Dominion, Blokus…
  96. Screened porches with bead board and garden views.
  97. Swimming in a heated pool.
  98. My girl’s art works.
  99. Dark chocolate butter creams.
  100. Bamboo

It’s interesting how setting your mind to a task frees your imagination. I noticed when I’d finished this list that I already had the plot forming for the next chapter I was working on. I think the list served as a primer. Often it is recommended to writers that they prime the pump so to speak by free writing for ten minutes to alert your mind as to what you want it to do. It turned out to be a very useful exercise.

Social Media Failure

As for social media, I like to tweet occasionally but won’t follow people who don’t engage with others. People who are just tweeting about their books are nothing more than ads, a complete waste of my time. I’m not saying don’t ever mention your work, but timed pitches spamming my feed every two hours get an automatic block.

I’m on Facebook, but have always considered it a family place though I’ve added some on my writer friends. It’s not been a very satisfy way to engage. Maybe mixing of business with family and friends, the public you and private you are too at odds to work effectively.

I do like Pinterest, mainly because there is little personally engagement and I don’t use it for anything other than a fun way to curate what I find interesting.

Tumblr started out as a place for me post the odd poem, short fiction or essay. But I found I enjoyed reblogging there too so it has become a mix of original work and curated interests.

Other than that I can’t be bothered. I’m a novelist not a blogger, or copywriter, or marketer. Everything that is not novel related is just a distraction from my real work. I guess I better get back to it.

 

 

 

Ban Viagra!

Women unite! It is time to take a stand against artificial erections and take control of our right to decide which men should in-fact get to procreate. BAN VIAGRA.

It shouldn’t be too hard to amass support against the use of Viagra since it goes against nature and God’s will that man not maintain an erection and therefore the ability to procreate.

When the shoe is on the other foot, let’s see how long it takes the GOP members and their  financial supporters to start protesting and spouting off that we have no business interfering in their sex lives.