Category Archives: Communication

Job (In)Security

We may live on a small island but our proximity to the US means that we’re made aware of its many controversies, so in the latest episode of “He said/She said what????”, an American sportscaster is starring as the newest person trying to pull his foot out of his mouth – since speaking freely sometimes ends up costing a lot.

Because some people are so thin-skinned that you expect it to tear at any minute, you really can’t call them names or say that you don’t like them or what they do. Add to them, the people who have suffered at the hands of others or who declare themselves to be minorities in some way, and you will realize that it’s a minefield out there.

There really should be something in there first Image credit: tumblr.com

There really should be something in there first
Image credit: tumblr.com

But as my husband would say, there doesn’t seem to be any learning taking place. Some people continue to only think several days after they’ve already spoken and then end up deepening the ruts they’ve made when they find that they have to back that shstuff up.

So this sportscaster guy decided to blame the victim by saying that when some women are abused it’s because they somehow brought it on themselves and that they really need to stop doing the things that cause it to happen.

Well, (as we say locally) “who tell he say dat”? Didn’t the comedian DL Hughley already put his foot in it a few months ago (on the very same topic) and end up having to prostrate himself on the media altar because people didn’t get the joke? And given that social media is where everything’s happening these days you can’t tell me that this guy didn’t hear anything about it.

So of course, after the twitterverse went crazy on his posterior, he did what everyone else who gets caught in that situation does and proceeds to put things in reverse while declaring, “Well what I really meant to say was…”

Now confidentially, I have to admit that I’m not shaking my fists and thumping my chest in indignation, but any fool can see that his words were poorly chosen. But I am going to get on with my day because I’ve heard this story before and I know how it ends. Either it dies down until the next outrage surfaces and/or his head ends up on a platter.

But the really confounding part for me refers to the reason for the sportscaster’s comments in the first place – a football player’s mistreatment of his fiancée in the worst way.

The only reason that there is any evidence at all of the incident (besides the bruises she would have had), is because an elevator security camera captured it. The video didn’t show this, but I’d bet that it wasn’t an isolated incident. Nonetheless it didn’t seem sufficient reason for her to call the wedding off, but maybe him sitting out a few games is penance enough for her.

I’m not aware of whether she pressed any charges, thought about pressing any charges, or dropped the charges, but it seems that she and a million other people believe that the ones who pay his salary are the ones who should teach him a lesson.

Not the justice system or even the person directly involved. Because a worker’s actions have to be corrected if he or she is to keep the job.

But you can’t please everybody, because even when he is reprimanded and he’s made to feel it where it hurts the most, some people still think the employer didn’t go far enough – since they’ve been keeping score. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t follow sports all that closely, but it seems like once you get to the big leagues these people can be all up in your bed grass.

So maybe it’s because of who he works for – or where he works.

Can you imagine if as an employer I said to my employee, “You know what? I’m aware that you’re using your hands/feet/mouth in ways that aren’t socially acceptable so I have no choice but to suspend you for a few weeks and dock your pay while I’m at it, because you have to be made an example of and besides, everybody’s looking at me”.

But I don’t pay my workers nearly enough to be able to do that. And I don’t make enough money to have that kind of clout. Or maybe we haven’t developed the right sensibilities yet.

However, in those utopias where everybody gets along, where people always play fair and where everybody’s rights are equal and respected, there is also the freedom to punish those who disturb the reflection of perfection. And most will feel secure in the knowledge that it’s the right thing to do.

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

Ray Rice and Stephen A. Smith – The Manifestation of the Hypocrisy of Sports – The Shadow League

Stephen A. Smith apologizes for domestic violence remarks – The Root.com

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Nazis or Ninjas?

Image credit: beautyramp.com

Image credit: beautyramp.com

I really try not to pay too much attention to controversial issues on social media, because everybody and her mother will have something to say – and I can almost always imagine what the sparring points will be.

In addition to that, there’s probably nothing I could add to the conversation that hadn’t already been said.

I’ve discussed the issue of hair somewhere else before so I’ve never felt the need to address it here. When I had talked about it previously, it was about the popularity of us women attaching hair to our heads that used to belong to somebody else and using it as one of the benchmarks of our personal beauty.

But the length (or at least longer lengths) of our hair is not the only thing that makes us beautiful – or so we’re told. Wearing our hair exactly the way it grows out of our heads should be everyone’s ultimate goal.

The natural hair movement, complete with Youtube tutorial videos on hair care, hair styles and hair typing adds to the confusion. “Natural Nazis”, or people who look down on you if you go near a hot comb or a tub of lye relaxer, may or may not be the same type of people who think that it’s okay to use a wig just as long as you sign a declaration that you’re only using it as a “protective style”.

With that brief background, you can understand why I chose to ignore the discussion centered around a Change.org campaign designed to get a popular American singer to comb her daughter’s hair. Joke or not (which the instigator initiator later claimed it to be), it was meant to show up a mother who decided that she would let her daughter’s hair be free – of (supposedly) a comb.

Image credit: BlogSpot.com

Image credit: BlogSpot.com

As a girl growing up in the Caribbean, and as a descendent of African slaves, I knew that my hair grew up and out, didn’t bounce and sometimes had to be manipulated in order for it to “behave”. Some West Indian mothers don’t discriminate between a boy and a girl when they’re babies, so you have to pay close attention to the clothing and not assume that the girl is the only one with her hair out.

These are probably the mothers who hold out for as long as possible before cutting their son’s hair, but that doesn’t mean they don’t comb it – even though it might look that way. Starting school means that boys get their first haircuts and girls enter the wonderful world of hairstyles – which for some mothers means seeing how many different ways they can put their daughters’ hair in “one”.

Over the years whenever I would see a little girl with disheveled hair I’d say to the mother (silently of course), “Wait, can’t you comb that child’s hair”? Because I thought that surely she could take a little time to wave some Vaseline over the child’s head and put in a couple of bubbles since, left to most kids, playing will always win over getting their hair done.

Even with all that, I never considered it appropriate to tell somebody else what to do with this thing called “hair”, but there does come a time in life when some things need to be dialed back – and we need to (gasp) conform.

This is how my determination to say nothing about this hair debate was foiled; it happened when I read that a woman is suing her former employer because she was fired for refusing to “tame” her hair. As a cancer survivor, she decided to eschew the use of chemicals that would make it easier for her to have a hairstyle that (to put it delicately), didn’t make her stand out as much.

Her large afro seems a bit on the unkempt side to me, but maybe she’s decided that a brush would mess up the look that she was going for. I’m all for being able to express yourself – even through your hairstyle, but I fail to see why the woman (who preferred standing on principle over having a job), didn’t just go to Youtube for a couple of tips, because some youtubers are really (hair) ninjas in disguise.

Image credit: onlinehairacademy.com

Image credit: onlinehairacademy.com

But who knows? Maybe she was afraid of the Nazis.

Privileged Information

One of the first celebrity "tell-all" books Image credit: Wikimedia.org

One of the first celebrity “tell-all” books
Image credit: Wikimedia.org

There’s really no way in heaven that I am going to have you people all up in my bed grass – as we say locally. But we can’t all be so circumspect. There are tons of others out there who have no problem speaking about things that should probably remain private.

Sure I’ve told you before about people who think that I’m a good listener, but those conversations are between me and them, and I’m not calling any names. And besides I realize that sometimes, some people just need to vent.

How does a person feel comfortable though, saying that he or she smoked an illegal substance, or had an abortion or had thoughts of killing himself or somebody else – without obscuring his face or altering her voice? But you can’t really do that if you’re hoping for a book deal or making the rounds on the talk-show circuit.

Most of us like to talk about ourselves and the types of people we are. How many times have you heard a person say, “Well if it had been me, I would have done so-and-so”?, because deep down we like others to know what we think. But some of us should really consider writing a tell-all book, since the details therein would let others know why we think it.

And why we do the things we do. And why we choose the wrong men. And why…

These days, everybody and her pig has written, is planning on writing or is in the process of writing a book. Some people are barely in their twenties and have already recorded for posterity, portions of their life (so far).  Maybe they think that the rest of their years won’t be nearly as interesting as what’s gone already.

But increasingly, the scourge of too much information or TMI is masquerading in memoirs of people’s lives where you get to know every nook and see every cranny of the person’s life – and it goes way beyond the person’s favourite colour and most desired food.

The authors who write personal stories of childhood abuse, molestation, mental illness and other tales of woe, probably do so with the intention of helping other people who may be going through the same thing. But I don’t think the publishing houses would waste all that paper if they didn’t think that somebody’s anguish was going to make them a boatload of money too.

There’s nothing wrong with telling your true story if you want your life to be an “open book”, but as a reader of other people’s blogs, I am sometimes amazed at how deep down some people go into their souls, then open up their hands to show you. It’s cathartic, I guess, but no amount of accolades is going to make me go there.

Sure I’ll tell you some stories, but I think I’ll keep the information about my dysfunctional family entirely to myself.

 

 

Enough is Sufficient

A lot of people (myself and Dr. Phil included), agree that allowing yourself to be continually disrespected means that you will continue to be disrespected.

As with most things, it’s always easy to see what’s happening to someone else. Not so easy when it’s all about you.

Some people close to me know that I am fond of saying that a person must “like it so” if what is obviously a bad situation for a person is encouraged by the very same person. And given that, it doesn’t make sense for me to be the only one who’s worrying about it.

A friend frequently remarks that most of us who live here don’t seem to have a problem with the disrespect and disregard that is sometimes meted out to us as voters. Because why else would we grumble under our breaths instead of demanding that they “come better than that”?

So you can’t really blame the politician then, for assuming that he or she, is doing everything right.

But just like there are many reasons why voters continue to suffer in silence (including giveaways, duty free allowances and next month’s loan payment), I’ve come to appreciate that you can never know what’s keeping somebody in a bad situation or a toxic relationship.

So I no longer judge, because realization is never late – it comes right when it’s supposed to. And when it arrives, by that time, “enough” has not just become enough, but to quote a family member, it has become “sufficient”.

This Just In

Before my husband and I were married, we were both students who went to school on opposite sides of the United States. Having been there for about two years before he visited me, I suppose that I had become accustomed to certain things.

Like subway muggings, bodega robberies, building collapses, murders and “accidental” shootings. All of which was regular fodder for the evening news.

A lot of what makes up the news can be the recounting of someone else’s tragedy, but when, during his visit, the news anchor announced that a baby stroller had been run over by a car that day, he’d just about had it.

And coming from an island where (back then), such things were the exception and not the norm, he made me realize that I’d actually become immune to the bad news, so much so that I wasn’t even hearing the sirens anymore.

Not much has changed since then. Bad news continues to sell papers and other information is merely used as filler. Startling headlines have become the thing to do, so now everybody’s doing it.

Take our local paper, for instance. On the day after a murder, shooting or robbery, you had better get your copy early if you want to read the story at all. It doesn’t matter if the details are sketchy, few or non-existent, the account will be read and re-read as if for clues.

If there’s a slow news day, you can be sure that a topic can be found – any topic at all – and it can be given a twist, because a really good journalist can make a controversy out of thin air.

Or an interview can be booked with a particular personality, but when nothing noteworthy is being said, the radio host may decide to cold call a person well known for having an opposing view and have him or her join in… and wait for the fireworks to begin.

I’ve heard some interviews where the reporter refuses to get bogged down with asking a question even though some of the things that the subject was saying made absolutely no sense. Because the sound bite was invented for a reason.

Does the story make the country look bad? No matter, because people deserve to know the truth and not be regaled with fairy tales. The people bringing you the news don’t ever want to be accused of giving anybody a false sense of security.

Even a read of some of the court reporting has me giving the guilty person the benefit of the doubt. Although in that case, I don’t think that they’re trying to enhance the story necessarily – they’re just a little loose with the actual facts.

Blogger alliepotts wrote about an Australian TV station that had a programme dedicated to reporting only happy news. She didn’t know whether it was still on the air, but it was probably a response to bad news fatigue that all of us experience at some point.

Now the “feel good” story is a regular feature of most newscasts. Usually at the end. Because even the bringers of bad news have to sign off with a smile.

You Can’t Say That!

Image credit: i95.photobucket.com

Image credit: i95.photobucket.com

The USA has many things I admire, but the constant need to be politically correct is not one of them.

 

For a country where free speech is considered an important hallmark, it’s funny that increasingly now, a lot of people have to be careful about what comes out of their mouths.

 

Not that there’s anything wrong with being cautious about your speech, because we all remember what our mothers told us, but this relentless requirement to protect everyone’s feelings must be extremely exhausting.

 

Careful what you say about black people, gay people, Latinos, Asians, dog owners, cat people, autistic children, people with disabilities, and people who drive on the left side of the road.

 

Mind you don’t upset white people, vegetarians, immigrants, Italians, Poles, hamsters, tattoo wearers and people who only listen to jazz music.

 

My eldest child is now at the age where I have to inform him that things in life aren’t always going to be fair and that not everybody in life is going to like him.

 

So I never understand when some people get upset whenever they hear that somebody isn’t fond of them because they’re black or gay or have a penchant for meat.

 

As if they didn’t already know it. As if they hadn’t already heard somebody express their dislike of them, or what they do, before.

 

Just allow a private conversation to be heard outside the bedroom. The person who spoke his mind when he didn’t think that you would hear him can be kicked out of an organization because he shouldn’t ever think, let alone say what he really feels.

 

Let slip a name, or a word that brings back uncomfortable memories of the past for someone else. You can lose your job and your endorsements because in private, you used an expression which others use, but didn’t know that you couldn’t use because you aren’t one of those people.

 

Say publicly, that because of your beliefs you don’t agree with somebody else’s lifestyle. You will incur the wrath of all those who believe that you don’t have a right to say what it is you disagree with unless it’s the same thing that they disagree with.

 

Get arrested for a misdemeanor; couple that with a few drinks which loosen your tongue and cause you to say what you really think about the members of a certain ethnic group. That will be the quickest way to become a persona non grata in your chosen field of endeavour.

 

What follows is everyone jumping on the PC bandwagon expressing dismay that someone would actually have something not-so-nice to say about gay people, cat lovers, meat eaters and people of a different race. Because the rest of us would never do that.

 

So it seems that the correct way to co-exist with your fellow man (or woman), is to smile and nod and say nothing that can be deemed even the slightest bit offensive.

 

Because you just can’t say that.

 

The Price of Success

You know what I think my biggest conundrum would be if I was a successful blogger?

What I would really do with 169 comments to a post that I wrote.

Lately, the folks at the Daily Post, which is the supportive arm of WordPress, (the site that hosts this blog, for you non-bloggers who read me), have been offering several helpful and informative tips.

Most of them are designed to help you become a better blogger, so they tell you about ways to make your blog attractive to readers and ways to get more readers – because face it, the bloggers who just blog for fun and only because they like to write, are few and far between.

I’m not saying that they don’t exist. I’m saying that there are probably at most two of them out there. Maybe just one now, because I used to say that it was fine if my voice just bounced off the wall and came right back to me. But I had to change that line in my “about” page because really… who was I fooling?

There are infinite posts about people not caring about the stats that WordPress provides, but since they allow you to track your progress (as if this is Jenny Craig or Jillian Michaels), they probably should feel obliged to tell you how best to improve them. Because nothing can beat that feeling of realizing that you’re up by4 from the 2 readers you had last week.

They tell you to not forget things like Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and Google+ and all the other social media outfits, because you can’t just sit there and write and hope that somebody finds you. Girl, you better werk. Your tail off.

You’re told to make sure you connect one to the other and make sure your tweets lead back to your Instagram which takes you over to LinkedIn and onto Tumblr . And if you write somewhere else, make sure you link that too, ‘cause girl you need to be FOUND, and you need to be READ.

If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. Because in addition to all of this, you have to read the posts of all the people you follow – and those you don’t – so that you can then follow a new set of people. And try not to just toss out a kiss-me-arse “like”, but leave a genuine and thoughtful comment that shows you actually read what they wrote which may allow you to engage another commenter as well.

By the time you’re finished reading the fifty-hundred posts (mind you, only one per blogger because there are tons of them out there), commenting on most and breaking down and liking a few, (because if you were to write something meaningful for every living post you’d be there all living day), you realize that you haven’t checked any news sites yet, or even done any of the work that someone’s actually paying you to do.

So probably the best thing to do is to look for tags that interest you, because frankly that’s the best way to cut your way through the clutter – ‘cause some of the stuff that you encounter can be “interesting” (you’ve got to sing that last word) – and may not be your speed at all. Sure I want to expand my horizons, but maybe not that much.

And then there’s Freshly Pressed. Don’t get me started. For the uninitiated, FP, as most bloggers refer to it, is where your post is pushed to the top of the pile because a group of people read it and thought it so good that everybody else should read it too. It’s like being singled out for an Academy Award.

But just like the blogger Blurt posited in one of his posts, when he spoke about figure skating at the Olympics, some events shouldn’t be judged, because doing so is entirely subjective. A gander at some of the “chosen ones” will show you what I mean.

One blogger wrote about being Freshly Pressed, having her traffic increase exponentially for a time and then like a drunk falling off a stool, landing back into the abyss where most of us reside on a daily basis. My words, not hers.

Of course, it’s the quickest way to be discovered, but for the rest of us it leaves us wailing as Effie did in Dreamgirls, “What about me, whaaat about meee?”

So you decide to write a post about the five, seven, fifteen or twenty-one things that you should do, or be, or know, or have. Because lists are HUGE. If that doesn’t get you in, then you write a “rant” about whatever irks you about what somebody did, said or wrote – respectfully of course, because we all have to play nice.

Don’t forget the open letter to absolutely anybody, because you want everyone to actually read it, or do as one blogger did  and write an open letter about why you don’t like open letters. Some people find that they can actually draw readers like flies with controversial topics or better yet, controversial-sounding titles that may or may not have anything to do with the subject at hand.

Or you can simply ask a fellow blogger to write a guest post on your blog – but there are all kinds of caveats and make-sure-you-do-this’s involved. Driving traffic to your blog is like taking on a second job, which the blogger Opinionated Man was willing to do, for a price of course. Or you can be a guest blogger for someone else. But I take it that’s something you wait to be asked to do. Because nobody likes to be called pushy.

I tell you people, I am learning a thing or three on here. I have to give thanks to blogger JustDeb who sort of inspired this post. It had been in the recesses of my mind but I just had to stop what I was doing when the beginnings of this post began taking shape in my head. There is something to be said for being in a community of bloggers after all.

So the answer to my original problem seems to lie in asking those bloggers how they handle it so that I know what to do when it happens to me.

Dang. This post was fun to write. I think I’ll do this again tomorrow.