The news is a scary thing

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I was shocked when I opened up my Facebook last week and saw a local newspaper was requesting to be my Friend. Now I am all for newspapers having Facebook pages to promote their newspaper and news stories, which people can choose to like but I didn’t like that they had set up a personal account. Through this account they seemed to be actively friending people through it with no perceivable connection to the newspaper besides living in the area of which the newspaper covered.

Access

Should newspapers be allowed to have access to people’s personal updates and should they be actively wanting it? The only reason I could see for wanting Friends instead of Likes on Facebook, is to gather news without having to leave the desk in the office. With access to peoples Facebook profiles, it gives the newspaper quick access to people opinions and personal stories, which they may not want shared in a newspaper and spread to the community in which they live.

If a newspaper was to directly quote from a person’s Facebook account or base a story about information they share, then it could negatively impact that person in their community and could do untold damage to their relationships and mental wellbeing. The news shouldn’t be about invading our lives, it should be a reporting of things happening in the world, that we can choose to engage with at whatever level we feel comfortable.

Moving in the wrong way

I know newspapers are trying to move with the way the world is moving and trying to do everything as efficiently as possible, but I think this is a step too far. The newspaper market has come under massive attack from the digital revolution, so anything for them to grab attention and do things cheaply I’m sure appeals to them and I can’t blame them for this, so this is why I think we need industry standards, laws and government to look at things like this.

Now you mustn’t get me wrong, I have no problem with news companies searching the Internet to look at user generated content that users are happily sharing with the public. I think this is wise as it helps gauge opinion and helps get the human side of stories to put them in to balance. What I think is dangerous is this want for more and this thirst to know everything and to know more than competitors, which leads to things like them trying to connect with people who don’t share information outside their friends groups.

Information is dangerous

Why should a news company get to choose what information you share is relevant and worthy of using? Information in the wrong hands or used the wrong way is very dangerous. So my message to news companies would be to stop and think about the damage that could be caused before they think of doing something similar.

I voted with a click of a button and declined their friend request and all I can say is that I hope others do the same. I don’t want to live in a ‘news state’ any more than I want to live in a ‘police state’ but I fear things like this are bringing us closer to that.

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So, I’m different! Aren’t we all?

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One thing I love about life and the world is how we are all different. There are not two of us 100% identical inside and out. I think the fact that we have different personalities, interests, thoughts and looks, makes this world an interesting place to live.

One of the ways I stand out is my hand tremor that I have as a result of having Arnold Chiari Malformation. Now I bet you have never heard of it and I hadn’t too until I was diagnosed, so here is a bit more information on it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold%E2%80%93Chiari_malformation

Assumptions

Thankfully my symptoms aren’t as severe as most but it has led to a lifetime of meeting people who before getting to know me, were more interested in finding out why my hands shake or making assumptions on why my hands shake.

Some of the most common questions I have been asked by strangers are: “Are you nervous?” “Are you cold?” “Have you taken too much of your inhaler?” or just the simple “Why are your hands shaking?” In these situations I have been made to feel like people think it is more important to find out why my hands shake, than getting to know who I am and what I am about.

Visual People

I think as human beings many of us our visual people and like to question what we can see and we start doing that right away, whether we verbalise those thoughts or not. It normally takes people longer however to start questioning what they can’t see about people and I personally think its what inside of us that is more important, not what’s on the outside.

Because of my hand tremor I stand out and I think the reason people question it, is because we live in a world where the ‘normal’ exists and it seems that there is this pressure to conform to it. I think this unseen pressure stifles a lot of creativity and stops a lot of people from standing out and being the world changers that this world needs.

Standing Out

I’m not making a conscious effort to stand out with my hand tremor; it was just something I was born with, so for that reason I dislike when it is what people notice about me. I want to be noticed for the reasons that I am trying to stand out, not those enforced on me.

I think when you take the opportunity to get to know people on the inside, you get to know the reasons that they want to stand out for, as these maybe quite different than the ways you think they stand out.

I know everyone is different when it comes to the physical ways they stand out from others, some want the chance to talk about it, some don’t want it referenced and some don’t really care. To me I would rather my physical difference was something that I didn’t have to over think, or make a conscious effort to talk about.

Handling Situations

Whenever I know I am meeting someone new, doing a presentation or going for an interview, I have to think to myself whether it is best to bring it up in discussion or not. I can’t just concentrate on the situation in hand by itself. The decision I make whether to bring it up or not, can then impact on that situation which I don’t think is fair. Will talking about it put the people I meet at ease? Will talking about it worry people or lead to more questions? Will people be able to work it out for themselves? These are just some of the questions that go through my mind.

I don’t think anyone with something that makes them different from others should be forced to talk about it. I have experienced this many times in my life when I have either been forced or felt forced to mention it and I think this is wrong. People who don’t have conditions like I have aren’t forced to talk about things that they may not want to talk about, so why should I be?

Sometimes I think my hand tremor is the elephant in the room when I am in social situations, which can affect the atmosphere. I should feel confident to go in to situations and it not be something that I was born with that affects the atmosphere. I also shouldn’t have to tell people before I go somewhere “just so you know I have a hand tremor” but sometimes I feel like I have to. My choosing to talk about my hand tremor or not shouldn’t dominate my life.

After saying everything that I have, I am not oblivious to the difficulty people have when knowing whether or not to bring up someone’s physical difference. Being able to figure out whether or not someone wants to talk about it can be very difficult and you yourself shouldn’t feel bad for not doing the right thing if your intentions were good. I just wanted to put you in my shoes and the shoes I’m sure of some others who feel like I do.

My personal opinion is whenever you want to talk about something that makes people different, make sure it is a thing that person wants to stand out for and not what you think they stand out for.

Are you listening?

The older I get the more I notice that we live in a world where there are more people that want to talk than want to listen. The art of listening has been lost for many I believe, with people fighting to make sure theirs is the opinion voiced and that no one else can get a word in edge ways. Talking a lot and talking about what you want to talk about seem to be some badge of success in professional and social realms.

I am a listener and I believe without listeners this world and the people in it wont be as successful as all of them could be. I also think there is much to applaud in those people that actually think before they talk and that are able to say the right things at the right time. Quality and quantity are two very different things and if you have a lot of quantity in what you say, the quality will be lost.

We’ve all been in those meetings when people are just talking for the sake of talking, because they need to be seen to be leading the conversation or having opinions on things to justify their involvement. In meetings I think it is always important to ask the opinions of the quieter ones because normally they are the ones listening and the ones that will have interesting insight in to the issues at hand.

We’ve all been at those parties and social gatherings where people are trying to dominate conversations to try and be the ‘cool’ one, trying to show off or just trying to make sure they get to talk about what they want to talk about. Sadly I think its these people that struggle to notice when people aren’t listening, so they might as well be talking to a brick wall. In many cases the more you talk the more people around you are switching off.

Some people think that by talking a lot you can hide an inadequacy, a lack of knowledge and that it impresses. I personally think it just highlights these things and doesn’t impress.

So remember, just by talking it doesn’t mean people are listening. Communication is a two way street, the more you show that you can listen the more people will want to listen to you. The art of talking should be about people listening. Don’t forget its not just about the words coming out of your lips its about your relationship with the people you are talking to and how they perceive you. I would work on these things first before opening my mouth to speak as if you do, the words coming out of your mouth are going to mean so much more.

Ask yourself this question – did you learn more by listening or by talking today? To improve as a person I always think it is more important to learn about more things than you could ever get round to talking about in your lifetime.

Raising money has never been this much fun

For a lot of my life I have been heavily involved as a volunteer with various charities. In all these organisations I have been involved in fundraising as fundraising is one of the key things that any charity does. Because of this I am always interested in ways that charities raise funds and how they engage with their supporters.

Another passion of mine is social media so when I see organisations using social media in a creative way to raise funds and awareness it always grabs my attention. One great campaign earlier this year was from Cancer Research UK with their “No Makeup Selfie” where females posted photos of themselves without makeup to their facebook, instagram and twitter accounts, at the same time making a donation to the charity. This really captured the imagination, was empowering to those that took park, became a trend and raised a truck load of cash.

The campaign recently that has caught my attention is the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.” This involves people being brave enough to either tip a bucket of ice over their own head or have it done to them by someone else whilst it is being filmed. The video is then uploaded to social media with the person who does the challenge then challenging 3 other people to do the challenge and most importantly donating money to the ALS charity.

You can draw a lot of similarities between this craze and the “NeckNominate” craze which was headline news earlier this year, both involved posting a video of yourself performing a challenge on social media whilst challenging others to do their own. The “NeckNominate” craze however endangered people’s lives as they tried to pull the most outrageous stunt whilst downing a pint of alcohol. Although the ice bucket challenge is slightly risky the worst you’re likely to get from it is a cold.

I think it’s great when charities see what works on social media like selfies and “NeckNominate” then putting their own spin on it to create positive campaigns that engage people and raise valuable funds.