From Tracie

Monday, July 21, 2014

What I Am Not Sharing On Social Media

Just like I have boundaries for what I will post on my blog, I have boundaries for what I will share on social media. Facebook has that handy share button under every post, and I spend most of my day not using it.

What I Am NOT Sharing On Social Media

I won't share inspirational pictures that feel more judgmental than inspirational. Those messages that deliver a judgmental punch in the face, telling us all the ways we are failing at life, while cloaked in a veil of inspiration aren't helping anyone.

I won't share pictures that ask me to click like or share if I truly love Jesus. I do love Jesus; I don't need to interact with this picture to prove it. Especially when this picture probably originated on a facebook page that has nothing to do with Jesus, and is just trying to build up their interaction by preying on your sense of religious guilt.

I won't share a picture of food with the entire recipe written out in the description. This is partly due to the fact I don't cook, so recipes aren't useful for me, but mostly because these pictures and recipes have often been stolen from bloggers. There are many facebook pages out there who get all of their recipe content from blogs without asking permission or giving credit to the photographer/recipe author in any way. A red flag for this kind of theft is when the description says, "Share this picture so it will be saved on your timeline." They just want you to share it to increase the engagement rates on their page, not so you can easily find it later.

If you shared a story about child abuse, and I didn't hit that share button, it is probably due to one of these reasons:
  1. There is a graphic picture of the abused child.
  2. There is no link to an actual news story, but rather, a graphic picture of an abused child with a story written out on facebook without verifiable details.
  3. It contains a video of parents abusing their child - especially one that plays automatically in my newsfeed.

I don't believe it is appropriate for the picture of a child taken during or after an abusive and traumatizing event to be distributed on social media without the child's consent. Especially when it is accompanied by identifying details like their name or location. I don't believe this is in any way giving a voice to the child. When you share these pictures, you are actually taking away the child's right to choose when and how their story will be shared.

If an abuse survivor has pictures of themselves with bruises or scars, and wants to share them to help tell their personal story, I am supportive of that. I can share the link to their story while ensuring the pictures do not show up in the link preview, and state in my link description that there are potentially triggering pictures accompanying the article if they are graphic. I don't want to silence abuse survivors in any way, but I also want to be sensitive to other survivors who might not need to see graphic pictures pop up in their newsfeed, as well as to people who may have children in the room who don't need to be exposed to those pictures.

When there is a picture being shared and reshared on facebook with a shocking story written in the description, I am wary of the truthfulness of the picture and account. More than once I have had friends share these kinds of pictures, and with a very small amount of research, I have found them to be hoaxes. But even if the picture and story are true, I just go back to my first point, that I will not contribute to the distribution of a child's picture when it immortalizes a period or moment of trauma in their life, and when it was most likely not shared with the child's consent. It is possible to share a story of abuse, to bring it into the light, without identifying the victim through pictures, names, and locations.

I've seen several youtube videos floating around lately that have parents abusing their children. I will not share this. I do not need nor want to see children being abused to know it is happening. This is not an effective tool to combat abuse; it is nothing more than a constant revictimization of the child.

Those are just a few of my social media sharing boundaries, and the things I will not share. What are you not sharing on social media? 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

ICLOAK Stik And Online Privacy

Do targeted ads freak you out? I remember the first time I did a google search for a specific product, and then for the next two weeks saw it come up on ads on almost every website I visited. It was a little scary (maybe even a lot scary, really), but now I barely notice it when that happens. Not to say I like it, but just that I've become used to it. I think most of us have. Being tracked, watched, targeted for ad campaigns, and basically followed wherever we go online has become our normal.

Our information is being sold every day, and potentially tracked for much more serious reasons than just a few ad sales.

There are steps you can take to protect your privacy online, but when I start reading about changing IP and MAC addresses, encryption, and key-logging software, my head spins. This is why I'm excited about the ICLOAK Stik. It is super easy - you just plug it into your USB port, restart the computer, and you are ready to go online anonymously.

how icloak works

ICLOAK creator and CEO of DigiThinkIT, Eric B. Delisle, is clearly more tech-savvy than I am. After the revelations about the NSA and the Edward Snowden information came out, he wanted to create something that anyone could easily use to protect their online privacy. In a recent interview, Delisle said, "When you reboot the computer [with the ICLOAK plugged in] it turns that system into a completely safe and secure operating system that can not be tracked online."

The ICLOAK Stik will sell for $50 with a PRO version coming in at $100. They are currently running a KickStarter campaign, where you can get an ICLOAK Stik for a $35 pledge. Check out the website and the FAQ section at the bottom of their KickStarter page for more information about how the ICLOAK helps you to protect your privacy online.

*This post is in no way sponsored. I heard about ICLOAK from a friend, thought it was a cool idea, and wanted to write about it.

Monday, July 14, 2014

It All Sounds Like Bitch

Have you had one of those days when everything anyone says to you sounds like it is coming out full-force bitch? They usually come after a very bad day, or maybe several very bad days in a row.

"I have good news," sounds like, "Hahaha! In your face, bitch!"

"Can I get some clarification?" sounds like, "I am pretty sure you are either lying to me right now or totally incompetent, bitch, so let's see if I can trip you up."

"The store doesn't open until 8am," sounds like, "You are such a stupid bitch; the store isn't even open yet."

"Here's the contact information for the person to whom you need to speak" sounds like, "You have to ask someone, bitch, things aren't just going to magically happen like unicorns sliding on rainbows."

"That means..." sounds like, "I know you are too stupid to understand the words coming out of my mouth."

"Thanks for asking," sounds like, "I can't even believe you are bothering me about this right now. Seriously. What a bitch."

it all sounds like bitch

This is where I am today. Every word that comes near me sounds like bitch.

Even when most of them probably aren't meant that way at all.

I have lost the ability to parse typed sentences without feeling offended.

But that isn't the worst of it.

I think I've lost my filter.

It disintegrated under to the pressure of stress.

I was in a group facebook message this morning. I asked a question, and was a little offended by the responses. Then I typed a response. I let my message sit for 30 minutes while I tried to calm down before actually sending it. Because you should never type back angry - especially in a group conversation with ten people. But at the end of the 30 minutes, I was still angry. Frustrated. Defensive. And possibly a little hurt.

I did the thing I should not have done. I hit send on my response message.

And my message? It was full-on bitch.

The biting sarcasm was thinly veiled. Very thinly. Invisibly veiled, really.

The spirit of my words was very clear: Don't mess with me, because I will take you out, bitch.

I'm not proud of it.

In fact, I'm more than a little ashamed of the words I used, even though I didn't actually curse or call anyone a bitch.

The worst part of it is that all of us in this group conversation are stressed. We are all working towards the same goal. We are all feeling the frustration of not being able to control bad circumstances or other people's choices. And we all really do love each other. But it is often those you love who can hurt you the most. This is especially true on a day when everything is coming out bitch.

So, if you need me for the rest of the day, I'll be the person hiding in the corner, in a self-imposed time out, trying to avoid everyone. I clearly need some time alone to practice using my nice words, and to compose an apology - one that doesn't include the word bitch. This might take a while.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Blessed, Thankful, and Married For 12 Years

I have so many reasons to be thankful this week. Some of them are thankfuls in the midst of something hard, and some of them are just great things I'm excited to share.

1. This is the twelfth anniversary of the day Thomas and I got married (we loved it so much, we had two more weddings that year). Even though we sometimes forget which day to celebrate, I like to think we celebrate our marriage every day by loving each other. And I'm so thankful to have Thomas in my life forever. He is an amazing husband and father, and a blessing to me every day.

This is what 12 years of marriage looks like...

Thomas plays along when I say, "I need to take a picture for a blog post."
12th anniversary picture
Then another picture. And another picture. And another picture.
Until he says, "I'll try not to look angry in this next one..."
Angry Face
And then, when I say, "Just one more, and this time smile for real!" he does. Because he loves me, too, even when I am driving him crazy.
Thomas Loves Tracie

2. My grandma went into the hospital this week. I know that isn't really something to be thankful for, especially when said grandma is 90 years old, having extreme asthma issues, and doctors are throwing around words and tests about potential heart problems. But I am thankful, because each step of the way there has been so much love and support poured out on her (and me, and the whole family), and I know that the many prayers that were prayed contributed greatly to the good news that her heart is pretty much okay, and her breathing is much better, and she will probably get to go home at the beginning of next week.

3. I'm also thankful for group facebook messages that enabled the whole family (even those of us who live on the other side of the country) to stay in touch easily, and get updates as new information about Grandma became available. And that my mom, aunt, and cousins were able to stay with her at the hospital, so she didn't have to be there alone.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Grandma.

4. Since we are talking about my grandma, I have to show you the fun hairstyle Katarina gave me yesterday - Paper Towel Curls. It came out great, because Katarina is much better at doing hair than I am.
step by step paper towel curls
As Katarina worked on my hair, we talked about Grandma, and prayed for her, and celebrated her love of curls. Because something all her daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters know is this: Grandma likes it when you curl your hair. It is pretty much a necessity.

5. Frozen Snickers Bars. Enough said.

6. Katarina had her end of the year teacher evaluation on Monday, and it went great. There is always that nagging voice in the back of my mind asking, "Are you doing enough; is she learning everything she needs; can you really do this teaching thing?" I don't know if other homeschool parents have that voice, but I definitely do. I really appreciated having someone else go over her work from the year, and shutting that voice down with her enthusiasm for Katarina's progress and the work she completed.

7. Talking about Katarina and school, I have a number for you: 112.
One hundred and twelve. That is number of books Katarina has read since last August. Not even a complete year has passed, so she still has the rest of this month to add to that number. And that list didn't even take into account books she had read previously and reread this year, so technically it could be even higher. I track my reading from January to December, and last year I only reached 101 books, so she has beaten my record. Normally I hate to lose, but this time I felt very, very happy to come in second place.

All this book reading is inspirational, as you can see in these two Rainbow Loom figures Katarina created this week. Original creations made without a tutorial. Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland.
Rainbow Loom Harry Potter Alice In Wonderland

8. I slept in every day this week. While I don't want that to become a habit (well, I do, but it wouldn't be the best choice), it was definitely what was needed this week. I'm thankful for the win that is good self-care.

9. Silly text messages that make me laugh at exactly the right time.

10. The provision of God. This week was high on anxiety and stress, but I can look back at it and see how God had prepared a way for me to be able to focus on my grandma as needed, without feeling the pull of other things. That was a blessing.

11. This is technically not from this week, but I wanted to share it, and it is still making me smile, so I'm throwing it in as an extra. Two of Thomas' aunts, an uncle, and cousin came to visit Orlando, and we got to spend the afternoon with them. Even though Thomas and I have been married for 12 years, I had only met one of them, and that was way back when Katarina was a baby. There were a lot of those "first time meeting the family" butterflies, but they weren't needed at all. The visit was great, and I loved them all.

I took approximately 100 pictures, but this one is my favorite because I snapped it while everyone was laughing, before they had a chance to get their serious picture faces ready. It is a great representation of the afternoon, because we all did a lot of laughing.

Thomas' family
Aunt Jackie, Cousin Deborah, Katarina, Thomas, and Aunt Brenda

Plus, I snuck into a quick picture with Thomas and Katarina.
Nall Family

Even on a hard week, there was so much for which to be thankful.
What are you thankful for today?

Ten Things of Thankful

*Do you have a blog post speaking out about child abuse? We are currently accepting submissions for the July 2014 Edition of the Blog Against Child Abuse. You retain all rights to your work, as we do not republish it, instead we link to your original post with a short introduction. Old or new posts will be accepted.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Looking At Life From The Outside

She answers the question of time like this, "Ten until 2 o'clock." Until, occasionally after, but never with exact minutes. She lives in the place of almost; longing for what might be, what might come, what is next. Now is only as real as you make it.

She is jarred back into place after realizing she was observing herself again.

More time is spent looking at her life from the outside. But even as this outsider, she observes what is inside her mind - the very thing an outsider could not know. Never does she observe her life like a real outsider, taking in all that is around her, because long years of training herself to look past those things are hard to surpass. Even for the outsider portion of her soul.

She knows all the things she should do. They weigh on her every day. But she is too tired, and maybe too lazy to do them very often. She sometimes thinks mediocrity is a choice, maybe even a valid choice, but secretly knows it is the result of not placing much care or attention on the things that really matter.

She writes about herself like a fictional character. For, often, fiction is easier than reality. Especially when you look at life from the outside.