Is PRIVACY possible and how BRAVE are you?

In today’s age, almost everyone is using the internet. We use it for online shopping, online bill pay, to send greeting emails to family and friends, to file our taxes, and most frequently to social network via Facebook, Twitter and the likes. The problem is, with every click, our information is shared and our privacy is at risk. Is privacy possible in this digitally-consumed world? And how brave are you?

I believe, like many other millions of people, that Facebook is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) culprits in the invasion of our privacy. Let’s take a look at this video. It shows how and what Facebook does with your information and most of us aren’t even aware.

Do you really have privacy? Facebook stores and shares your private information like your IP address, other online activities, your statuses. For instance, if you change you relationship status to engaged, you will start to receive bridal info, vacation destination packages and other related wedding information. The same “technique” applies when you are online shopping or when you give your email address to retailers for coupons.

Another problem with Facebook and other social networks, as shown in the video, is that they have privacy policies but if you don’t view them frequently you will miss the constant changes. No emails are sent to update you or millions of others on new additions or subtractions to the privacy policies. Most often you must log in to your account, to see that changes have been made. facebook-thumbs-down-190x135-jpg_213453More recently, New York Times reported that about 61% of Facebook users have voluntarily taken a break and of those who have taken a break, 4% have left due to privacy concerns.

We must realize that companies are not always to blame for privacy invasions. You have to consider who you are sharing your information with too. Friends share your pictures, videos, and posts to their friends, then their friends share with their friends, then you are on Good Morning America (ok, that was drastic but VERY possible). This next video shows how “personal sharing” affects our privacy.

Scott McNealy, Sun MicroSystems CEO, is noted for saying, “Privacy is dead, deal with it.” But is it really? Is there something that we can do to make sure that our privacy is protected? In my opinion, privacy is dying but it is not dead yet. Privacy is possible if we, as internet users, take the necessary actions. Below, I have listed my recommendations for making sure that privacy is somewhat possible.

  • We must stay up to date on privacy policies, whether it be for companies like Facebook, Target or Turbotax.
  • We need to make sure that we are surfing under a secure connection.
  • Take action in the judicial system, if needed. Sometimes legal action is needed to make sure that companies are taking the appropriate steps in keeping our information private and being held, by law, to not share our information with third-parties or advertisers. The ACLU has really made an effort on advising individuals on the necessary actions for protecting our privacy.
  • If posting personal things, ask yourself, “do I care if others that are not my friends see this?” If there is any doubt, simply don’t post.  Limit sharing strictly to friends where possible.
  • Think before giving out your email address to receive store/retail coupons. Is the savings worth your privacy?

Protecting our privacy is an ongoing battle and can be difficult for many people. People are turned down for jobs because of their personal pictures or posts, many are “cyber-bullied” because of their personal opinions by people they don’t even know and if I google my name right now, my address and home phone number pops right up. If you choose to be an internet user, you must be brave. You must understand the consequences in participating. It is our duty to know how our privacy may be at risk. If we don’t protect it, who will?

Suggested Readings:


What is good storytelling?

Before anyone can understand the principles of good storytelling, you first must first know the definition of storytelling. The National Storytelling Network defines storytelling as, “the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.”

As children, one of the very first storytellers that we are introduced in our lives is Dr. Seuss. In my opinion, next to grandmother, he is  the best storyteller! Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination. Please read the excerpts below from Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat.

“Then our mother came inThe Cat in the Hat
And she said to us two,
‘Did you have any fun?
Tell me. What did you do?”

And Sally and I did not
know what to say.
Should we tell her
The things that went on
there that day?”

“Well… what would YOU do
If your mother asked you?”

-Quotes from Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat

There are some key ideas in Dr. Seuss’ style that could lead us all to being good storytellers. Let’s take a look at three very important factors in good storytelling:

1. Your reader or audience must be engaged.

Most importantly when telling a story, Dr. Seuss is engaging. When your reader or audience is engaged, they want to know more. Your story can engage audiences/readers through interaction like questions or it can engage your audience by a personal connection to a story about personal experiences. When telling a story, especially in a blog, you should paint a picture for your audience. When they are using their imaginations, they are more likely to stay engaged.

2. Your story shouldn’t be too long that you lose your audience’s attention.

Dr. Seuss’ or Theodor Giesel was once dared to write a children’s short story with 250 words or less using a selection of certain words. He won this dare with a short story that that we now know to be “The Cat in the Hat” which is one of the most popular children’s books to date. In Dr. Seuss’ books he gets to the point quickly and the stories still remain enjoyable and most importantly memorable. William Lee and Rick Patrick, co-creators of Talkingstick, suggest that stories should be kept simple because the brain could get overwhelmed when processing too much information.

3. Be aware of the flow of your story.

Your story must have a beginning and end. The beginning of story is very important because this is where you first capture your readers attention. The end of a story is where you can you can conclude any important points. The core or spine of the story should also flow. All parts of the story should tie together, continuing to create a picture for your reader or audience. If you go astray, so could your reader.

When following the three suggestions above, you are definitely on your way to a good story. Always remember to engage your reader, never have too much information and make sure you story flows. When blogging, it’s also helpful to include pictures and videos to aid your story. Visuals yield memory.

Social Media Round 1: Personal Use vs Professional Use

Lets’s just be honest, social media has taken over our lives whether it be personal or professional. Either you are tweeting about what Kim Kardashian is wearing at the MTV Music Awards or you are posting new volunteer opportunities on your organization’s Twitter page. We can’t avoid it, it’s there.

Each use of social media is incredibly important but they should remain as far from away from each other as possible. When the two are merged, you may need a boxing ring because a fight is destined to happen. Personal use of social media really has no boundaries. You can post pictures from your beach vacation in Cancun, you can blog about your religious beliefs and you can like or dislike posts on other social media participants’ pages. The possibilities are simply endless.  When using social media personally, you can be who you want and say what you want. Your main goal is to let your friends, followers and readers know about YOU and your thoughts and opinions. This is very different from the professional use of social media.

Professional use is full of boundaries and requires guidelines in order to be effective and of course…professional. Unlike the goal of personal use, professional use serves a very different purpose. It makes a cause, organization or company’s presence known to millions and millions of people. Either an event is promoted, a product or service is marketed, a cause/stance is made clear or questions are answered. Professional use really isn’t about “making friends” or being “social”, it really is about presence. Before newspapers/magazines and television were the only outlets to reach people but now that social media is so big, professionals and professional organizations have to participate. If they don’t and remain silent, it is possible that people will lose interest or react negatively. Training is also very important with the professional use of social media. Any volunteer or employee who will be controlling the social media activity must have proper training. They need to know what to say, how to say it, when to say it and who to say it to. It’s almost like you only get one shot and it better be GOOD!

Truly understanding the difference of the two uses is cloudy for some and could possibly lead to some tough consequences. I think everyone should really examine their purpose before posting. Ask yourself, “personal or professional?” and remember the playbook is very different for each one.


Further reading: