Thursday, 30 October 2014

Having Your Opinion: Social Faux Pas and Laws

     A few busy weeks have passed, and although not much has changed on the website, wheels have been in motion. Home life had to take a front seat for a little, online projects on hold. However, online presence will increase as we get closer to christmas, as my external studies wrap up for the year.

     This week new articles are coming to the website. The feature article for the week is about Social Network faux pas. In an era where the Internet is a primary source of self-expression, it's no wonder that it's also a major influence of social opinion. Recently Ray William Johnson, vlogger on YouTube, broke up with his partner, Anna, who is also a vlogger. The break up was publicly amicable, however, when Anna place a video up about her new decision to stay single for a year, the comments she gained were surprising. I wanted to document the situation and why such comments were made, when the people who broke up themselves were polite towards each other. I wanted to discover if there was some Anna hate campaign, if the online world is too tempting for trolls, or if it was just bitterness for another reason, such as the theory that over-sharing online makes people feel threatened or even expected to make personal comments.

     The second article is a piece of legal investigation. Being an online writer, one of the first cautions faced is your rights of expression versus the rights of those you are writing about. Granted, I never openly express my own opinions, only show the evidence or information I found based on both side's opinion. That is the way I choose to conduct my articles, as I think the experts are those involved. The question of rights seems to be a very cautious one, as whistleblower laws that are active in "real life" are not active for online materials. There are certain legal representatives who hope to change this, but they are still in the process. I think it's an article that anyone writing anything online should be wary of. What are your rights? How does freedom of speech work online, when the laws are completely different to those we know in real life? The world is ripe of defamation cases, and legal professions predict they could be on the rise.

     Article three is a piece written on behalf of my profession. Being a counsellor, you often find people have certain beliefs about you -- certain stereotypes. I wanted to write an article to dispel the myths. My motivation for this is because there are often instances where people don't see the mental health professional they require because of these irrational beliefs, and then find themselves in more complicated negative emotional states when things become overwhelming. As an advocate for people getting quality medical care, and as a volunteer in the mental health profession, I care that people get the help they need -- when they need it. As I have stated previously, the world is a difficult place, and I rather people know their rights and services that might help, and limit their suffering.

     Myths about the profession don't surprise me, particuarly when the field itself is currently trying to evaluate how different education levels and experience determine "quality" of service. In Australia, several associations are pushing for bulk billing to be available for counselling services, with studies showing that earlier interventions mean better mental health outcomes. At this point, the government are working with industry leaders to decide what level of education/experience/speciality a counsellor needs to be deemed worthy of a provider number. In some non-profit areas, counsellors are only given a few weeks of training, meaning that sometimes they are not fully aware of their roles, and might give the wrong impressions to clients, so no surprises the general public often get the wrong image.

     The last is about Bubbling, which is being coined an Australian trend, for Australian people, myself included, to shrug our shoulders in confusion. The details of the phenomenon, I shall briefly describe as directing a particular body fluid in a particular way to create an effect. I decided to research this "trend", after the reports of Todd Carney's dismissal, but also the analyse where it originated from.

     For this week I'll close it here. There hasn't been any subjects I wish to fully explore in my blog, as my mind is busy with a new project that will be soon launched. I know -- so many projects! It's less than three months until Christmas and I have so many things on my to-do list. I want to work hard and achieve so I can feel satisfied as the new year rings in and I realise that's another year gone.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

What's The Motivation?

   How to start a website and get readership? I'm sure millions have asked themselves that before, and I don't want to be just another website with "answers." Nor am I someone looking for fame or fortune. I'm just. . . different.

     I grew up in a world that was always about labels. "Right", "wrong", "healthy", "sick". . . and I learnt by the age of 10 that such labels were only useful in brief introduction. My father almost died in an accident and he became a label magnet. Disabled, dependant, coping, damaged, stubborn. And as I got older, more situations happened in my life, and I began to realise, the labels are just the outlines of who we are -- who we were before the transformations. It's been 23 years of learning so far, and it made me realise the world is not what it used to be.

     The world is cruel, people want to live within their outlines, and they often want to ignore the facts that break those wire shapes. My own silouhette has sharp edges, and what those would consider faults, but reflecting I wonder what I want to be remembered for one day when I'm gone. And one answer becomes clear: I want to be seen as a contributor.

     If people want to be cruel, let them, but I still want to believe in pockets of people who care. They want to see within the outlines and silouhettes that walk this earth, they want to understand their reasons and thoughts, and they can be brave enough to think, 'maybe I didn't have all the answers after all.' Having that thought is frightening, but as much as education helps, it never teaches us everything about people. I want my website to "expose" what society is, in every little pocket or division, behind every silohuette, and behind every system in society that is meant to retain order.

     I've been putting the beginnings of the website together since July, when a life situation meant that I had to face not having the conventional future I intended on. I wanted to give up and I thought life was over. But it's not. Instead, I decided that I would contribute to this world -- in whatever way I could. My skills in counselling and writing seemed to marry together in the plan I came up with. I want to help the silent parts of us speak, despite being in a world where money, bling and prominence seem to be the measures of success. I want to help the minorities and the majority speak, in a safe place, where their viewpoints are correct without having to prove it first.

     Our society is so much about "right" and "wrong", and I always wonder who gets to create these distinctions, when humanity is not a precise science. The first thing I learnt when I began to study psychology was it was beyond a mathematic principle. The forefathers of the trade will tell you, 1 + 1 does not equal 2, if the person had suffered a particular tragedy or x genetic trait might have been at play. Get anyone talking beyond their labels, and they have a story where what was wrong for others was their choosing because it was right for them.

     Since July I have been researching so many ideas and writing articles. It's not a simple case of throw some facts together and post the information -- I wanted to take the opinion of real people from their own perspective. The website isn't about my beliefs -- it's about sharing other people's. To be honest, I rarely give my opinion because if I'm an outsider of a subject, my input will not be as important as the people involved. Consider me a commentator on the world. Hence the name of my website:, which depicts the two sides of every story, and the terms "we" and "they", because it's not about my thoughts -- it's not "I say." "We" and "they" also denotes a group of speakers, because at some point, there is unity in every movement, opinion or choice, be it a small or large group of people.

     I'm not looking to make people change -- it's a fact people rarely change quickly or easily. Change is often a smooth glide to the left or right, and unable to be forced. Trying to change someone is like the paper aeroplane thrown into the wind, which normally is turned away from the breeze, and will return back to its beginning location. My goal is for people to gain understanding or think about the alternatives they may have never considered, but also protect themselves with knowledge. I will not be naiive and say the world is friendly everywhere -- it's not. Anyone who tries to believe that is turning a blind eye to the way society has to lock its doors and guard their privacy from strangers. Today's world is almost afraid of debates and look upon their viewpoints as "right" and 'wrong," rather than opportunity to be proven that maybe you need to look further than your own backyard.

     For the opening week, I had to pick articles that gave an idea of the subjects I will cover. Those are many, because society is excited and plagued by many. This isn't just a news website where the stories disappear as quickly as the print dries, this is a living website where everything that shapes individuals -- current and past -- is documented. I'm covering social interactions and phenomenas, popular culture such as television and movies, health subjects, mental health subjects, animals (they are our saviours and providers sometimes!), amazing new creations, art, music, literature, business, education, civil rights, social trends, relationships, religion -- nothing is taboo because nothing is criminalised on this website.

The first week I have chosen to feature three articles.

* Amy's Baking Company vs. Gordon Ramsay
Amy's Baking Company was a business in trouble when Gordon Ramsay arrived. It wasn't so much what happened in the business -- although there was a lot of contraversy -- but also what happened after. The story was covered by a lot of news headlines and their reactions caused great debate, memes, and drama, but I thought the story was interesting to cover as a question on how does one react when they feel their business is being attacked? At the same time, I thought the story had overtones of the power of majority, and the power of television being such a consumable medium. I have not been involved in the millions on ABC's side, or Gordon Ramsay's side -- I simply wanted to commentate on the happenings, and maybe consider what could have been changed had time moved backwards.

* Men Experience Childbirth.
This began as a random find on youtube, where two men experienced the pain of childbirth through a simulator. While the footage is hilarious, it made me wonder how far men had evolved since the days when the cliche husband shared a cigar with his buddies at the club, while the women of the family rallied around his labouring wife. Society has turned many corners since those cliches, and I spoke to Professor of Midwivery of University of Sydney, who is a currently practicing midwife. Her insights about childbirth and its potential positive and negative affects on both men and women were a new insight in what people consider everyday events.

* My Stuff: A materialism experiment.
I love social experiements and analysing social phenomena. Petri Luukkainen's documentary really caught my eye. A man, who put all of his "stuff" in storage for a year, only allowed to return one item into his life per day. So at the end of the year he had 365 items, however, what was more surprising than what items he chose first and how he used them, was the emotional transformations he took. It was an amazing documentary and I rambled on and on about it to my family.

     And so closes the first week of my new website, which I will start promoting heavily over the next few months. Part of me is nervous, because society teaches us success is based on numerical content. Will I get many readers? I hope so. At least having hits or readers means the content is being seen. That said, I read a blog where a woman said she used to get 7 hits, until one story shot her populus to over 80,000. Maybe success in the virtual world isn't an IF, it's a WHEN -- if you have something important to say. I was reviewing a documentary the other day (I have so many articles ready to go! Over 30!) about a man who was stalking a girl and he made a website all about his plans to kill her and her family. Even more concerning, the website had 100 hits on it. Someone was reading that website, but never reported it. Who was reading it? Why didn't they come forward? And if such a website can gain hits, then why not