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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Think (and maybe research) Before You Post!

Warning! There's an extremely common, discouraging affliction affecting a large percentage of Facebook users: its symptoms include the blind acceptance of highly questionable information and the delusion that global problems can be solved and serious diseases, cured, with a few simple clicks. 

The symptoms of this affliction result in re-posting riveting videos, powerful photos accompanied by heart-wrenching tails, and many other pieces of unverified (or debunked), yet emotionally compelling information that promise positive action upon sharing. 

Fortunately, there is a cure! 
If you find yourself compelled by the various chain letters and heartfelt causes on Facebook, so much so that you feel the desire to share that information with the rest of the world... look it up first! Visit Google and type in a line or two from the text accompanying the picture or video, hit enter, and search for reliable sources confirming the validity of the information you wish to share... if you can't find any, or you find that it is nothing more than a new-age chain-letter, don't re-post! You might also consider notifying the friend who shared the information about it's veracity (or rather, lack thereof).

If you have been affected by this affliction, I hope you are now cured. Want to help cure others? Re-post this announcement! ;-)

Joking aside, I really find it annoying when people blindly share posts that make great claims, while neglecting to verify the information before they post. You know the posts: little Susie has cancer and her parents cannot afford treatment, but if you "like" and share this picture, $1 will be donated to her healthcare fund. Or, Facebook is going to start charging for access. If you "like" and share this post before this date, however, you won't be charged! Well guess what? Facebook is not going to start charging for access, and if it was, it would be a site-wide notification, from Facebook administrators. Oh, and you're not donating any money by liking or sharing a picture, because it is just not a function Facebook offers... you're simply spreading sadness by exposing people to heartbreaking tales that are either not true, or years out of date.

 "I shared this, so I made a DIFFERENCE!"

The caption in the picture above states that if this picture gets 10,000 shares, this 18 month-old girl will receive a heart transplant. Sadly, this little girl did receive a heart transplant, but died in 2008 - before this picture was circulated on Facebook, with the request to share with others. Think about that for a moment... people who are most certainly good-intentioned are posting a picture of a deceased baby girl and her mother that plays on people's emotions. They are sharing a picture and story that is virtually a slap in the face to the child's mother and family! Sure, they are well-meaning, but they are also being foolishly uncritical and inconsiderate of others in neglecting to take 2 minutes to research the story before they share with others.

My other complaint is concerning awareness campaigns ("It's Autism Awareness Day! Share this post if you know and love someone who has autism!" Is it? Really? Funny, I saw someone else post the exact same thing last week!). There's nothing wrong with raising awareness, but make sure you're actually aware of what you're posting... most of the time, a quick Google search shows the actual date of various awareness days.

It all boils down to one thing, folks, and if you didn't pick it up here, I'm not sure you're going to: research what you share! It doesn't take more than a moment and it cuts down on the amount spam flooding Facebook. So please, don't be lazy, and please, question what you read when you find it compelling... if you're passionate enough to want to share the information, you're passionate enough to verify it first.

I intend on making my next post less rant-y. ;-)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tanned Mom; Burnt Nation.

Know what piece of popular news has got me really pissed off lately?

Patricia Krentcil and daughter, Anna.

I'm pissed off about all of the fuss surrounding admittedly over-tanned mother, Patricia Krentcil, who stands accused of bringing her daughter into a tanning salon, causing severe sunburn. 

First of all, there's no reason for us to really assume she actually did bring her fair-skinned, red-haired six-year old child into a tanning salon (which happens to be illegal and likely would have been noticed and stopped by salon employees). The owner of the salon has reportedly claimed that staff witnessed Mrs. Krentcil's daughter waiting outside with her father.

Second, why do we get off on persecuting those who are different than we are? Why do we poke fun at the, obviously, mentally ill? This woman, who doesn't seem to be guilty of actually putting her child in danger, is most likely only guilty of suffering from issues with her body image (as she displayed in her response to TMZ in regards to whether she felt she was the target of a witch hunt: "Yes. Yes. There's somebody out there on my whole life that doesn't like me because they're jealous, they're fat and they're ugly"). And really, don't we all have concerns about our bodies? Her words may have been defensive and indicative of her own issues, but she also makes a good point: we're obsessed with her body, more than likely, because we're obsessed with our own bodies. So are we really that much better than she?

I'm not really as disgusted by the fact that we're wasting a lot of news-time on a minor, shallow issue (that's news, isn't it?) as I am by the sheer display of self-righteousness and judgement concerning a mother who clearly loves her daughter (and clearly also loves to tan). Shame on us... shame on us for projecting our issues with this women onto her daughter... shame on us for reporting in ways that show a strong bias against this mother and painting her as a demon.

I've got an idea!

Let's let the court decide!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I've come out of hibernation!

Hello, friends...

I'm back! Did ya miss me? I sure missed you!

I was poking around in my e-mail and found a message reminding me to migrate my blog to Google if I didn't want to lose the entire thing. So, I decided if it's worth saving, it's worth updating.

Please bear with me as I have not been writing regularly for some time now, so I've become a bit rusty. I have so many new and wonderful things to share (from the mundane to the spectacular) and I look forward to hearing your input as I start posting again. Time goes by and people and things change, so keep an eye out for some possible changes around here.

Much love! <3

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Facebook: does the good outweigh the bad?

Everyone has their beef with Facebook. Since the recent rising of much ado over Facebook and their newly revised terms of service, many of those beefs have been voiced. I, for one, happen to have a few more beefs with Facebook; I, for one, happen to think it helps people become more self-involved and impatient & inconsiderate with others, rather than bring people together. Not too long ago, we would visit someone's website to see what they were up to or how they have been. Maybe now and then we would fill out and forward one of those surveys everyone posts on Facebook, partially due to narcissism, but mostly due to the desire that others would fill them out so we could learn about them.

Now, on the other hand, we visit Facebook to see if anyone has commented on our page, a photo, or a posted item... or if anyone has tagged us in a photo or video. We spend hours filling our profiles with information about ourselves, but little time viewing the entire profiles of our friends or family, as illustrated by the number of people who whine about how much "junk" everyone else has on there. We check notes to see if anyone has filled out one of those surveys... but not really to see what they're up to, rather to show everyone what we're all about. Many of us spend more time scrolling through our "friends'" list of friends than we spend on their actual profile page, seeing whom we may add to our own list (or if you want to identify this with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, treating people merely as a means to an end rather than an end in their selves).

Not only has Facebook (as well as similar social networking sites, such as Myspace and Friendster) helped us to become more self-involved and narcissistic, it has completely reshaped how we interact and how much personal information we share now compared to how much personal information we shared in the past. Ten years ago, for instance, you wouldn't dream of discussing the drunken bash you went to on the weekend with the dorky co-worker who sits 5 rows down from you at the office, let alone show them pictures (or your boss, grandmother, or the cute, but "proper", girl who sits behind you in class); nor would you openly discuss your religious, political, or otherwise personal views with every person you vaguely knew. Today, however, no information is sacred. Besides, if you don't post the photo, your best friend or the snot from your gym class will post it for you... and everyone is doing it anyway.

Not all of us, admittedly, are there for self-centred purposes. But, however, be warned:

(would you really want this to be you?)

it's probably something that will soon be used (and most likely already is) in hiring and college admittance practices... so reckless behaviour probably isn't advised. Even if you sober up and remove the picture/drunken text/overload of information the next morning, it stays in the system forever. That's probably not a great idea if it ever happens (and this isn't highly unlikely) that government gains control over (or during this recession, companies offer to purchase) information stored in social networking sites.

Although it has its flaws, Facebook still offers a great opportunity for friends and family to stay in contact and positive business connections to be made. I'm not saying people should avoid the site; I am saying people should use the site carefully. It may help to note that Facebook has many privacy features that are fairly easily accessed through the privacy settings link that shows up when you hover over Settings in the upper right-hand corner of most Facebook accounts. You may customise your account so that no matter how much information you give, only certain friends put on certain lists can see only the information you allow them to see (although I shall neglect to go into full detail). Even still, you may recall I mentioned Facebook's recent change in their terms of service: Facebook reserves the right to use your information for virtually any reason it sees fit and will keep your information in is system even if you clear and remove your account... regardless of your privacy settings.

What about you? What's your beef with Facebook? Or, is it all wonderful in your eyes? I'd love to hear your side!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

So I'm in the Hot-Seat!

Hello, Blogosphere! It's been awhile since I've blogged, and even though I made a recent promise to continue blogging, I haven't really fulfilled the promise. So, Da Old Man from Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars has given me an interview to help get this little corner of the web back into full swing.

1. Where did you get your name?
Shadow Crystal, unfortunately, does not have a very interesting or romantic origin. I was stuck for a name, not wanting to use my own name in case any future employer decided to run a Google search and came across some of my more controversial opinions.

'Shadow' was chosen as the result of comparing my desire for a semi-secret identity (after all, I still uploaded my real picture and I don't go to great lengths to hide my name [Katie]) to 'hiding in the shadows', whereas 'Crystal' was chosen partly because I was simply told it is my aura colour and partly because I thought of a crystal reflecting light and wanted my name to hint at the representation of reflecting a little bit of light amidst the shadows we live in.

2. You've been missing from the blogosphere lately. Anything exciting
going on?

I'm a full-time student whose goal is to make straight A's (not for the 'snob-appeal', but for the scholarship appeal so I don't graduate up to my arse in student loans). When you mix that with a tendency towards poor time-management, blogging kind of takes a backseat. Last semester I decided to write for our campus newspaper, which is why I never brought myself around to making some time for blogging (sadly, I was beginning to grow sick of writing). But this semester, I have decided against writing for our campus paper (partly because of time and partly because of a vicious, un-professional front-page article that was just published about one of our students, which is actually the topic of the next rant I'll be posting), so I really have no excuse to not allow some time for blogging.

But yes, you could say there has also been something exciting going on...

Brewing, if you will...

I have started making some natural skin-care products and have been spending time researching the health and legal mumbo-jumbo. My list of products, so far, includes lotions, massage oils, lip balms, shaving creams, sugar scrubs, salt scrubs, bath salts, bath melts, bath bombs, perfumes, solid colognes, deodorants, hair gels, and even incense (but I don't make soap). ;-)
Within the next few months, you can expect to see some posts about these products - if there is interest, I'll post some basic recipes. I plan on having products for sale within the next few months, although it would be through a separate site (and most likely, just local to start). This blog will never become a sort or advertisement.

3. How do you find all those great videos?
Well, the fun 'n' freaky flash videos are generally the result of a twisted mind, warped friends, and hazy nights in smoky rooms (hey, I did say I was a university student, didn't I?)... just don't ask us what search terms we came up with and why. ;-)

4. You seem to have a lot of posts about music. What is your

That's a tough one! I don't have a particular favourite artist or band, so I'll just list off all the musicians I think of when 'favourite' comes to mind:

Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, Loreena McKennitt, Dar Williams, Kate Bush, The Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Sarah Brightman, Isobel Campell (especially with Mark Lanegan), Tracy Chapman, Melissa Ehteridge, The Rankin Family, Bob Dylan, Barenaked Ladies, Norah Jones, Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel, Nightwish, Type O Negative, James Blunt, Joan Osborne, Joni Mitchell, Indigo Girls, Radiohead, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Reba McIntyre, Pam Tillis (and outside of the artists listed, I despise country music)... and I'm sure there are more. ;-)

5. You also inject a lot of humour into your posts. So, what's the deal
with all the extra u's that Canadians use?

We're slowly making the transition to speaking American, as we've already bastardised the letter "s" and turned it into a "z" in words like 'realise', 'globalise', and any other '-ise' word. In fact, some papers here have begun eliminating our u's. But up until recently, we prefered to speak and write in English. ;-)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009 Has Arrived

It's been more than awhile since I've posted and I think that's rather unacceptable. In my defence, my computer has been running slowly and my browser has been hardly running at all. Today I decided to blow a little steam and play around with "StumbleUpon". I was quite disappointed to discover my "Stumble" button was no longer working, although the rest of the toolbar worked fine (if you are unfamiliar with StumbleUpon, I recommend checking it out - it's channel surfing for the web!). That was the last straw - I caved and installed the latest version of Firefox and updated to the latest version of StumbleUpon... and was left to wonder why I had not done this sooner! Not only did my "Stumble" button work once more, I was once again able to access messages in my Hotmail inbox and function normally within Facebook... I don't use many other sites daily (what an exciting lifestyle I lead), so after spending a great deal of time fighting with those sites each day, I didn't much feel like blogging... or even logging into Blogger and opening the editor.

Today, however, things change. During the past few weeks I decided I want to, and should, continue to blog; after some of the discoveries I made today, I decided I have no excuse to not blog.

What discoveries have I made, you ask?

Epic discoveries... and by epic discoveries, I mean the mothers of all discoveries... the discoveries that make our browsing lives just a little easier (okay... a LOT easier)...

I discovered Firefox Add-Ons. If you use Firefox, these plugins can truly enrich your browsing experience. If you do not use Firefox, you should click here to see what you're missing and download yourself a new browser... one that, unlike Internet Explorer, doesn't leave you as open to viruses and irritatingly intrusive
ads... and, I swear, runs faster. Up until the last year, I was never much of a computer person... aside from looking stuff up on Google, checking my e-mail and playing with photoshop, I couldn't be bothered. Sure, I went through a few years in juniour high and high school where my life was spent in a chat room, but I never cared to 'optimize' my performance. Even after I discovered Firefox, I couldn't be bothered to glance at the add-ons. Now I'm kicking myself in the ass for spending so much time fighting with my computer when my browsing life could have been made much easier.

Over time I'll highlight some of these fantastic add-ons (as many are actually services available outside of Firefox). But, not today... today you're probably still wondering about the discovery I made that makes it harder for me to avoid blogging. You've probably guessed that it's one of the add-ons I've just been gushing about... and you're right. The add-on is called "ScribeFire". ScribeFire is an add-on for Firefox that allows you to update your blog, from your browser, no matter what site you're on at the moment. In fact, you can even surf the web while you're blogging (and if you're anything like me, you'll find that that a very useful feature as it can be a bit of a pain to bring up multiple windows so you can try to find information you need for a post you're typing at that moment). There is, apparently, an option to use ads to gain revenue (I would assume it is much like Google Adsense)... I am not trying the feature, but if you have a lot of traffic, it might be worth checking out. What I appreciate is that I am able to use the service without inserting their ads. I also appreciate the ease of use. Although I've finally developed a stronger interest in new technology than ever before, I have not developed an aptitude for such. When it comes to computer, I live by the K.I.S.S. philosophy.

So, I leave you with wishes for all the best in 2009 and a promise that I will continue to (try to) provide you with entertainment. :-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Racism, sexism, and ageism, oh my!

Sarah Palin.

I am beginning to get considerably sick of that name (I'm sure you all are, too!) I must admit, I haven't been following politics very closely as of late (I'd rather not wake up every day feeling pissed off with the world). I won't try to remain objective; I think Sarah Palin is an idiot. But, this is not a political blog and I am not a person who has a really extensive knowledge of politics, so I'm not going to discuss my views on actual politics. So, what I've noticed with all this talk about Palin, is that we are really, really, really primitive.

As I said, I haven't really been following politics (in the sense of policy... and really, I can't vote in the U.S. election anyway, so there isn't a whole lot of point). I have, however, taken notice of the attitudes towards this election. We claim to be evolved... an intelligent species even. Yet when we're presented with a chance to control (to some degree) the very issues we pretend are important to us (e.g., taxes, childcare, healthcare), we sweep it all under a shroud and everything becomes a big jumbled mess of racism, sexism, and ageism. What does this have to do with Sarah Palin (other than the fact that she's been a huge target of sexism during this campaign)? Nothing much, really... but the constant media exposure she's had has been what made me think about this a bit more.

Is there hope for us? Will we always find something to be prejudiced towards? There has been massive outrage over any racist commentary or imagery against Barack Obama... so there's one step in the right direction... but what about sexism and ageism? Aside from flat-out sexist remarks (e.g., "bitch"), we don't seem too bothered by the fact that Hilary Clinton's and Sarah Palin's abilities have been judged largely by their gender. Personally, I think it's ridiculous to question the fact that Sarah Palin has children at home... I mean, really, can't her husband watch the kids? And ageism? Well, that theory may as well not even exist... virtually no one seems upset by the comments made against John McCain... speculation on if he'll be able to stay awake during meetings or if he's wearing adult diapers... 'cause apparently anyone over the age of 50 can't stay awake for more than a couple of hours at a time... and Depends are a major political issue.

Has anyone else noticed this? Has anyone seen where people are beginning to combat the constant barrage of ageism and sexism (I left out racism, not because I don't think it's an issue, but because it's [thankfully] an issue we actually seem to be taking seriously now)?

What do you think???

Monday, August 18, 2008

(Mis)Fortune Cookies

Keeping with this year's Olympic theme, I decided to order some Chinese food for dinner on Friday night. Okay, I'll be honest... I have not watched a single Olympic event, or even read/watched any news to do with this year's Olympics (and not because I'm protesting... I seriously just don't give a sweet darn... are they over yet??). I simply was not feeling well and did not feel like cooking.

Bring a vegetarian, I went to the only Chinese restaurant in town that offers something more than plain fried rice (okay, so there is another restaurant, but I didn't feel like forking over $20 for a bit of fried rice with mixed vegetables and poorly cooked plain chunks of tofu). Of course, dinner still cost an arm and a leg... so to top it all off, I added a fortune cookie to the bill. Not feeling well, I was able to rationalise such an extravagancy; I needed a pick-me-up.

Now of course, I can't hold my hand on my ass. We live in a world of personal television and internet access, so I have come to appreciate (and rely on) instant gratification. In other words, I tore into that fortune cookie before I even glanced at my dinner. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered the fortune cookie contained no fortune. Seriously, who would fork over $0.75 for a stale, crappy cookie if it didn't have that tiny slip of paper inside? Actually, why would anyone fork over $0.75 for someone's $0.02 worth? I certainly began to wonder what it might mean to discover a fortuneless fortune cookie when you're coming down with a cold. Should I be worried? (for anyone who is concerned, I'm feeling MUCH better now!)

Although the cookie was a let-down, the meal was most excellent (even though, or possibly because, I couldn't taste it).

Have you ever had a bad fortune cookie experience?

Have you laughed at any of this? If so, drop by to vote for your favourite posts and visit some hilarious blogs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

'Me' Before 'We': A Fine Line Between Self-Help and Narcissism

A wise friend once said to me, "it does not help us to think about how others have it worse off when we're going through our own trauma. We can only go by our own experience, so what may be petty to others can be rightfully major to us"... and, I agree... to an extent...

First thing's first: this is not a warm and fuzzy post about how truly wonderful you are. I'm not going to tell you how to love yourselves... 'cause really, I don't think that's the problem. So, if you aren't prepared to hear that you're not the be all and end all, you might wish to surf elsewhere.

So, what is "the problem"?

The problem is that we do not know how to love one another. In fact, I'm willing to bet there are some of you who grunted and/or rolled your eyes when you read the previous sentence. I don't blame you, if you did. After all, all of the leading experts in the field of bullshit popular psychology will be quick to let you in on the secret to happiness (all you have to do is buy their book)! According to many of these 'experts', the secret to true happiness is self-worship.

Okay, so maybe that last statement was a little extreme... maybe... but I doubt it.

Think of it... we're told, more and more, how we need to take care of ourselves... which is great (and very important)... but now that we're used to that idea, we're beginning to accept the idea that we shouldn't put our energies into others. Instead, we're being taught we should allow others to fend for themelves; we're being taught to walk through life without the weight of the world on our shoulders. Problem is, we're being taught to walk (or rather, sit) through life without any weight on our shoulders. We have become emotionally delicate in regards to ourselves, yet emotionally hardened in regards to others... and I really fail to see how that's made any of us happier, or healthier.

I am a huge advocate of taking care of your own needs. I believe you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. But, we seem to forget the importance of taking care of others... and we almost act as though it's ridiculous to put the needs of others, no matter how pressing, before our own. We have become so self-centred we actually believe anything that causes any sort of discomfort or feeling of unpleasantness should be completely avoided. I'm really not surprised though... as long as the pop. psychologists keep telling us we come first, we will continue to ignore those around us. So, when we need someone to turn to, we can go and pay the "doctor" who told us to shut out the outside world. And really, problems are not discussed over a cup of tea, with friends, nearly as much now as they are with doctors... we've grown to think it unacceptable to help each other out (or ask for help) without some sort of fee.

So, how do we start loving one another? Well, we bite the bullet and realise we are not the centre of the universe. We meet our basic needs, then we help others meet theirs. We listen to that friend with the crisis... especially after they just listened to ours! We listen... period (turn off the mind chatter when other people are speaking to you). We really mean it when we say "how are you?". And, we take the time to think of those we love even when they're not in front of our faces... among many other things. Honestly, I'd hope this would be obvious to anyone reading.

Some of you (who took the time to 'listen') will remember my opening quote... about the friend who told me we can only see the world through our own eyes. She's right... and like I said... I agree... to an extent... the fact that people have problems worse than yours does NOT make your problems any less severe... and I'm certain that is what my friend meant.
However, for anyone who may take from the quote: "disregard the experiences of others", I believe it is our responsibility, since we have the ability, to force ourselves to see the world through the eyes of others. Yes, our problems may be severe, but it does not give us the 'right' to diminish the problems of others. If we want sympathy, we'd best give it.

So, what do you think? Do we really put selfishness above selflessness? Do you think we should? If so, why?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Child labour and spam? Go check it out!

I was surfing the blogosphere, checking out some of my favourite blogs, and came across an article I just had to share...

Jenn Thorson, creator of the blog "Of Cabbages and Kings" has discovered the secret behind spammers - why they never tire.

So, I'm sending you all over to her blog today, since you just have to read her post...