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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Social Media Misuse and Abuse


Disclosure:  This blog contains affiliate links.  If you choose to click through and purchase a product through the link, I may receive a commission.  I value honesty and integrity and don't promote products that I don't believe in.  

I am a little behind the times when it comes to social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, MySpace, etc.) and except for YouTube, I rarely use it.   I was introduced to Facebook in 2006, but didn't start to use it until 2010!  I jumped on the YouTube bandwaggon in 2008 and set up a Twitter account in 2010.  Social media is a powerful tool if used correctly.  I strongly believe that social media should be mainly used for the following purposes:  

  • marketing and promoting a business 
  • promoting awareness of worthy cause or certain social issues
  • making or saving money  
  • researching products, services, health information, etc.
  • networking and keeping contact with people that matter 

Of course, you don't have to use social media for these purposes and you can probably come up with some positive uses for it. 

However, I feel that most people tend to abuse and misuse social media and it ends up as a huge time suck.   When I was introduced to Facebook, I got caught up in spending hours playing games like Bejeweled.  I truly regret wasting my time.  These are precious hours of my life that I will never get back.  It is time that I could have used to do something more productive. 

Another bone of contention that I have with social media is the privacy issues.  People have a false perception about their privacy and the internet.  With the computers and the internet, there is no real privacy anymore.  Some people don't get it, so they share their personal information freely over social networks.  They reveal everything that they can think of about themselves in status updates.   People upload family photos and files to the internet and once it is there, it remains on the social networks' s server until they decide to remove it (which probably means forever). 

Very few people will even take the time to read the privacy policies of websites that they visit.  Reading the privacy policy will tell you just how much social networks and other websites value your privacy.   You will learn how your personal information is used and shared with third parties.  I personally feel that Facebook does not care about its users privacy and that the members' information is used for the purposes of marketing.   This is why I deactivated my Facebook account and rarely log in.  

If you will recall, a years ago, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg was exposed for saying some pretty harsh things about the people that trusted him in the early days of his Facebook prototype.  He called the users of his social network, "dumb phucks" for trusting him with their private information.  What does that tell you about how much he values Facebook users privacy?

There are other people that choose to engage in social media warfare and trolling.  You would think that adults would find something else better to do with their time, but it is fascinating how many adults exhibit child like behaviors on the Internet.  Take for instance this woman that I know.  I will call her Naomi.  She was very active at one time on MySpace and she attracted a few haters.  

Some of the haters would drop by and leave a negative comment or two in order to agitate her.  Well, one of Naomi's haters rubbed her the wrong way with a negative remark, so she went all out in her revenge.  Naomi set up a fake MySpace profile and used her hater's profile picture as an Avatar.  

The fake MySpace profile, basically depicted Naomi's hater as a whore or slut, replete with pornographic images.   Several men responded to the fake profile and Naomi maintained the account as if she were a real person behind the fake profile.   

The crazy thing is that these two women don't know each other and have never met face-to-face.  Yet, Naomi allowed herself to become so consumed with rage against her hater.  Naomi's response was extremely immature.  If it were me, I would have simply deleted the offensive remark, blocked the hater, and kept it moving.  Who really has time to waste on that type of negativity and  foolishness?

Social media also tends to makes us more impersonal.  We sometimes call people that we have never met before "friends" on social media networks.   We don't know very much about some of these people that we call "friends".  It may be that some of these "friends" aren't who they say they are.  It can be difficult to determine whether a Facebook friend is misrepresenting himself/herself.  Whereas, if you meet someone face-to-face, you have a better feel for assessing that person's character.   

© Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt

Family ain't Ish? Lending/Giving Money to Your Family

I had a conversation with a good friend of mine recently about her family. I will call my friend Sandra (not her real name) for the sake of simplicity. She made a very disturbing comment to me in regards to her family saying that "Family ain't shit!". Part of Sandra's reason for saying this, is that she was in a financial bind and no one in Sandra's family was willing or able to give her financial help.

I quickly came to her family's defense, and reminded her that there were numerous occasions where her family helped her out financially. I also, reminded Sandra that it is not her family's responsibility to help her every time she needs money. Hell, people have their own money issues that need to be dealt with! 

Another thing about Sandra is that she borrows money from others and then conveniently "forgets" to repay her debts until gently reminded.  The quickest way to destroy relationships with those that you love is to lend them money.  I don't lend money to my family or close personal friends unless I don't expect to be repaid.  I will not lend money to family unless it is money that I can afford to go without.  In other words, you would never catch me lending out my rent money to anyone. 

Sandra is really a good-hearted person, but honestly, she is a "ghetto fabulous diva". She is financially illiterate and lives way beyond her means. Sandra would blow her paycheck on things that she doesn't need like toys and video games for her children, clothing, fast food, and professional pedicures or manicures. Then, when it is time to pay her important bills and to meet basic necessities, she has to rob Peter to pay Paul. 

She often finds herself in an endless cycle of debt that she can't seem to escape. I doubt that Sandra has any strong concept about the power and function of money. She doesn't have her priorities straight, does not implement a budget and frequently mismanages her money. This lack of knowledge in the fundamentals of financial literacy is one of the main reasons why most people will remain poor for their entire lives.

Sandra's lifestyle and spending habits are an indicative trend of the poor and middle class in the United States. The average person lives paycheck to paycheck and is a financial disaster or two away from filing bankruptcy. Americans have a serious issue with over consumption and overspending. Living beyond one's means is a big problem for many Americans. Many people don't understand the value of their money and they have addictions to spending. Thus, they buy things that they don't need and have to suffer the consequences of their frivolous spending binges later. 

Americans also have major issues in the their relationship to and psychology of money. I recommend that people read an excellent book that deals with this subject called "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert T. Kiyosaki. He breaks down the differences between assets and liabilities. He also talks about why some people are poor and why others are rich. It boils down to the type of financial education that one receives and mindset. The wealth mindset or poverty mindset can be passed down from generation to generation until someone decides to break the cycle.

When I hear people talk the way that my friend, Sandra did, I understand what is going on. People that think and speak this way are irresponsible with their money and lives. They try to shift the responsibility onto others and often feel that they are entitled to something from the world. Deep down, they don't want to stand up and live as responsible and introspective adults. One of my favorite finance authors, Suze Orman, would probably call this "standing in your truth". 

I am a firm believer that once we reach a certain age, we should be self-sufficient and take personal responsibility for the outcome of our own lives. The government is not responsible for us, and neither are our mothers, fathers, aunties, uncles, friends, co-workers, children, girlfriends/boyfriends or neighbors. Everyone will go through tough times in their life and will need someone to lean on. However, this shouldn't be a usual occurrence. If you are constantly asking others for financial help and not doing anything to prevent your financial woes, then it could be that you're not shit.

I have observed that some folks like to play the "family card" when they need a favor or some money. To their minds, relatives should always lend a helping hand no matter what. Take for instance, another acquaintance of mine. He complains that he has a cousin residing in another state whom is constantly calling him up and asking for money to support his family. This relative does not work and blames his unemployment status on the economy. We know this is nonsense, because if this person wanted to work, he would simply go out and create his own job. My acquaintance is frustrated and at his wit's end. He has his own financial and personal obligations that he has placed on the back burner in order to help out his cousin. Yet, he doesn't know how to tell his beloved cousin "No!".

This leads me to my next point: We must learn when to say "no" to those that try to take advantage of us. It is in my nature to help relatives in need, when I am in a position to do so. However, I place a few conditions on who I choose to help. In general, the relative must put forth his or her best effort to help himself/herself. Also, I would only be willing to lend a helping hand to a relative in need on very rare instances. In this way, I am not setting myself up to be perceived as a source of "revolving credit". At some point, needy relatives will need to learn to stand on their own two feet and manage their affairs in a wise manner. Otherwise, those that seek to lend a helping hand are enabling the needy relatives in their irresponsibility.  Think of it as administering some tough love.

© Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt

Miley Cyrus and This Phenomenon Called Twerking

As a general rule, I do not watch awards shows. One afternoon, I was casually watching an entertainment news/tabloid show and the hosts were commenting about the VMA's (MTV Video Music Awards show). Miley Cyrus's performance of "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke was the center of much attention and criticism. Although, I didn't watch the entire VMA's, I did get a chance to watch part of the clip from the Cyrus/ Thicke performance. Here's my two cents.

First off, I wouldn't be surprised if she weren't under the influence of some sort of substance during her performance. I think that is why she was able to pull off such raunchy moves and sexual gestures. Robin Thicke didn't seem to be all that aroused by some of her gestures, either. I am hoping that she isn't addicted to or experimenting with any drugs. If that is the case, then she needs a serious intervention and treatment plan, ASAP.

Secondly, the Internet is littered with commentary about how Miley Cyrus is trying to "steal" or "borrow" from Black culture through twerking. There has also been commentary to the effect that Miley Cyrus is trying to "act Black". Some people do not appreciate that she is using the popular dance move. Others, (mainly male) get off on it.

I've read posts from others saying that twerking originated from African dance. Well, if this is true, twerking does not have the same cultural contexts as African dance. There is no comparison between African women dancing in their native Africa and African Americans (or other ethnicity) twerking here in the U.S. It's like comparing apples to oranges. Somehow, I feel that twerking is a little more commercialized that traditional African dance.

In my humble opinion, I don't feel that twerking is so much a "black culture thing" as it is an "urban youth culture thing" or "ghetto/ratchet culture thing". Black women aren't the only ones twerking and you don't necessarily need a "dunk" to twerk. I've seen young gay males really rip it, far better than some females (including myself) can. More and more YouTube videos are sprouting up of people from other races and ethnicities twerking.

Yes, there is a multitude of young Black women that enjoy making twerk videos and broadcasting their ass cheeks clapping for the whole world to observe. It's as if these women don' t feel that they have much else to offer society besides displaying themselves as sex objects. Once you go the route of carrying yourself like a slut, it's pretty hard to redeem yourself after the fact. But, the multitude of twerking Black women, does not represent the whole group of Black women.

I am a Black woman, and I do not twerk. The vast majority of self-respecting, decent, progressive Black or African American women do not engage in public twerking. Even though it is something that I don't do, there is nothing wrong with it, as long as it is done so privately or in good taste. There is a time and place for everything. In addition, it is so telling that some media outlets delight in portraying ethnic and racial minorities in a negative light. Most media images or stories that can be found, which depict Blacks and Hispanics as criminals or in debauchery are favored. So, this notion that twerking is a "Black culture thing" is flawed and utterly ridiculous.

I am not particularly interested in seeing Miley Cyrus twerk, but she is an adult. She's not breaking any laws and I take the behavior for what it truly is: A cry for attention and a means to make money. I think that someone got up in her ear and advised her that she needs to do something in order to disrupt her "Disney Darling" typecast and revitalize her career in the music industry. If Miley Cyrus wants to expand her audience to hip-hop crowds, then this is what she may need to do in order to compete and remain relevant. There is a definite market for certain forms of trashy entertainment. I recognized that this is what she was attempting to do when she released the video of herself twerking in the unicorn onesie. If she wants to twerk the meat off of her bones, then I say that she should.

© Copyright 2013  Susan Broadbelt


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