Keeping Busy

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It’s been many months in between blogs, and in this time I’ve learnt some profound, life-changing lessons, which may forever transform the way that I write. Well, maybe for a month or two at least..

I’ve learnt that it’s possible to finish a writing project, and have discovered some fantastic resources to help stay on track to keep writing almost daily, such as The Write Practice, which sends snippets of writing goodness to your mailbox, and a very practical and easy to use book on outlining called Take off Your Pants, by Libbie Hawker.

And although this may not work for everyone, the simplest motivator for me has been to work to a deadline – not an arbitrary one such as whether it’s possible to write a story in the time it takes to consume a family block of chocolate, but a deadline set by another human being, such as for a writing competition.

By focussing on getting that story finished in time to submit, there’s a real, time-based goal to work towards, and one that you know that other people are also working to – so it’s a goal which is humanly achievable (because if ten thousand other people can do it, then why can’t you?). Another great thing about competitions is that they usually come with a theme to write on, so you won’t be stuck for inspiration.

I’ve set a realistic goal of one short story a month for myself, which is reasonably achievable in between work, babies, and life. You might want to set a more ambitious goal for yourself, but whatever you want to work towards, a quick online search will give you more writing comps than you can throw a laptop at.

And there’s no need to be overly harsh on yourself about your literary prowess. You’re writing to finish here – who cares about winning? It’s reward enough to see your story to its end. Don’t worry about it looking, sounding and smelling (for a full sensory experience) like doggy doo, because a) you’re probably just being too hard on yourself, and b) there’s always someone out there who’ll be polite enough to give it a smiley face, or a thumbs up at least.

If anyone else uses competitions or any other form of coercion to finish your stories, I’d love to hear what works for you.

 

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Three reasons why Facebook and children don’t mix

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As the mother of two young children and the holder of a Facebook account, I am often tempted to update the world on the latest antics of my little munchkins.

What stops me are the following:

  1. My paranoia that some creepy stranger out there is looking at photos of my babies;
  2. They haven’t consented to having their photos posted on Facebook; and
  3. My concern that my children will grow up thinking that they, like a member of the Jolie-Pitt clan, are special for doing nothing at all, and will develop some kind of narcissistic personality disorder.

My reasoning for this shocking deviation from the norms of modern day parenting is as follows:

  1. Lack of Consent

Cast your mind back to the immense joy and pride you felt each time you brought a boyfriend/ girlfriend home to meet your parents, and the old family albums were dredged out to expose you in your unadulterated, gummy grinned/ saggy nappied/ buck toothed/ monobrowed/pimply glory.

Imagine if those photos were available to your boss, your workmates, a prospective employer, or your arch nemesis back in high school. Now imagine that a random stranger got hold of one of these unflattering photos, turned it into a meme which was viewed by millions, and you are now a laughing stock around the world..

As parents we don’t tend to ask our children if we can photograph them, nor do we ask them before we publish these photos online.

Older children may be in a position to say yes or no, but many of the millions of babies and toddlers whose photos are posted on Facebook everyday can barely talk, let alone grant a considered approval to having their images posted online.

Sure, some kids may look back at the images of themselves posted online one day and thank their parents for this electronic repository of their development, but they didn’t really have much choice in the matter, did they?

As a parent, I just think we owe our kids some degree of respect by protecting their privacy until they are old enough to make their own choices about something which could have a major impact on their lives later down the track..

2.Privacy

Facebook’s security settings allow you to select who can see your ‘stuff’, and this can range from your friends to practically anyone on earth. It’s legal terms provide that you own all content and information that you post, however, how this information is shared depends on your privacy settings. So for example if your privacy is set to allow “everyone” to see your information, then anyone and everyone can see your photos and comments. By not locking down the privacy setting of your account, you’re also granting Facebook a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License)…”

And then there’s the risk of your account being hacked and images being accessed and downloaded without your knowledge or consent. Just a quick online search shows how easy this is, with numerous sites offering you tips on the best way to hack into your girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s/son’s/daughter’s/victim’s account.

If the recent experience of female celebrities having their cloud accounts hacked has taught the rest of us one thing, it is that it would be naive to think that your privacy is safe on the Internet.

  1. Everybody loves a narcissistic threenager

I worry that the over zealous photography of our progeny may give them the impression that they are some kind of Aryan uberchild. Afterall, why else would every moment of actual and/or perceived cuteness need to be preserved for the betterment of future generations?

Constant snapping photos of your children could lead them to feel superior to other members of the family. Some experts are also worried that being constantly photographed might make a child become critical about their appearance, or perhaps even attribute an unnecessary level of importance towards their appearance or behavior needing to be ‘cute’ in order to attract more attention to themselves.

The raising of children is such a personal and sensitive process, and I probably won’t know until my kids are old enough to tell me whether these concerns are valid or unnecessary. I just know that the reason that I take photos is to preserve memories of my family as a private process, shared on special occasions with loved ones yes, but not as a daily advertisement of our lives..

A taste of the Hipster Business Model

We recently had lunch at the coolest place in Sydney. It was clearly the coolest place to be, based on the number of beautiful, bearded, beanied, skinny jeaned and tattooed people in there. Being so cool, the place was naturally very popular, with people lining up to wait over an hour for a sit down meal. Having our three year old with us and me being very pregnant at the time, we chose the takeaway option which meant having to eat standing up along the outdoor tables provided in the garden. Now we’ve all had an interesting dining experience at some stage, but what I found unusual here was the sheer scale of the mayhem which confronted us. There were people milling around waiting for food, people milling around eating, people milling around patting the fluffy animals, people just randomly milling around to add to the crowd scene like extras in a movie. The end result was utter and absolute chaos. Now you don’t need to be a Henry Ford, or even a Ronald Macdonald to realise that a great product needs just as effective a delivery for optimal success. The Hipster Business Model (HBM) however, appears to operate on the premise that you the customer are paying not for a dining experience, but for the opportunity to immerse yourself in the uber cool organic vibe (chaos) of the universe..

While the stuffy old ‘conventionals’ tell you where to sit, and gang up to ban cell phones, at an HBM establishment, tables don’t need numbers- patrons are left to roam free and sit wherever they please. Fluffy animals frolic in chic little hutches for your amusement. The staff are super busy and super friendly, and their main purpose appears to be for fist bumping and taking photos – because you’ll be wanting to tell your friends and your friends friends when you’re at the coolest place in town.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as much a fan of organic free ranged clean eating as the next person, and am totally concerned for the welfare of the various creatures which we affectionately call food, but the urban consumer of today appears to want more than just wholesome food and great service. They want to go somewhere that they can tell everyone about while they’re there, not afterwards.

It was also clear from the hordes waiting to throw their money at this place that HBM, despite its unconventional approach is a hit.

But will it last? Is it possible that HBM could one day rule the world??