Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Leave Leslie Alone!

Bitch, please! No, not Leslie Jones. I'm talking to you, the Twitter trolls. 

Like, really? You can't find a life of your own that you have to invest a group assault on one of the best female comedians of our time? Shame on you. 

Sadly, no amount of calling out or shaming a Twitter troll will change their behavior. If anything, it ignites them, because in their meaningless friend-less lives, their only source of being is to make others miserable. A pox on your houses.

I mean, have you even watched Saturday Night Live? Is this a woman you want to challenge in some dark alley known as your existence? She will beat the ever-loving crap out of you and not even have to stand up to do it.

That's probably the point. Chances are, the assholes behind these attacks are intimidated by the mere fact a woman exists, so in order for them to feel like men, they have to tear "the little woman" to shreds in the most heinous way possible: a rape of her digital footprint. They also know the chances of being persecuted are slim, if not none, because law enforcement is already light years behind technology and it will take them centuries just to catch up to now.

Closing a Twitter or Facebook account, turning off the computer and mobile device is not going to solve anything. The pricks are still online wreaking their wand of toxins, whether you see it or not. 

All you can do is be true to yourself, carry on with life as best you can. Yes, your footprint may have the smear (I speak from experience of a cyberbully troll) for a long time, and maybe forever. Women have a much harder time to recoup than men because, you know, misogyny. But still, we can only move forward, try and stay positive, live our lives, and beat the shit out of them digitally by posting positive shit to try and drown out their chasm of cancerous crap

The rest of us can help by sending digital love to the target to help lift their spirits.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hey, Kid? What's App?

Alternate messaging apps are a fantastic tool, convenient and easy to use, but they are also a pedophile's dream. 

WhatsApp, Snapchat, KIK ... these and other messaging apps have become a mainstay in the daily lives of both adults and children. The chat/browse/share aspect of technology is not going away any time soon. 

But in using KIK as an example, the app uses names, not phone numbers, to set up an account. While you can get away with creating a fake account in pretty much any media, in the instant messaging apps, it's a lot easier because you have direct online access without going through a browser, where your activity is tracked. 

So with over 275 million users in KIK alone, it is open season for anyone with an ulterior motive. Such as when a CBC reporter created a fake profile of a 13-year-old girl to see who might approach her. It took only minutes to receive a number of sexually-motivated texts from random people who even admitted their real age. 

Robert Cairns (@robcairns), who has 25+ years experience in the technology field as a programmer, network support analyst, and Internet security consultant, works with the Toronto police on cyberbully and Internet security issues. "Kids are ahead of their parents on tech issues. A seven year old understands search." 

You can blame the app, blame the Internet and take away your kids' computers, try and sue the messaging app companies or Google, but that is never going to solve the real problem. Education is your first line of defense. 

Yes, kids may know a lot more than you do about Internet things, but that isn't your excuse for not learning about it yourself. Cairns has some tips on how to help keep your kids out of the hands of pedophiles.

Check their Internet history, but first, you need trust. I can tell you first-hand that when I was a kid, long before the Internet was born, if my mother gave me an ultimatum and told me not to do something, I did it anyway just to spite her. It's all in the approach. Just think back to when you were your kid's age.

Cairns advises against policing as a tactic. Nothing beats a two-way conversation. Teach them what they can do that is positive. Ignite their imagination. Empower them. Teach them how to use block skills; go to someone who can help.

Do something together with technology just to try out stuff and not be afraid.

Set up computer/Internet mentoring where they can ask questions. Let the stronger kids mentor their peers.

Be aware of the dangers, but don't let the dangers control your fears. Education, learning savvy computer skills that include what to look out for, using that sixth sense, and using the block and report button for cyberbullies, that is how you beat the odds.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Nowhere Safe

Just because you can doesn't mean you should. That is the problem with the ease at which the Internet and all of its tools can play into the hands of those who seek revenge and incite mob mentality. 

Bullies bully to make themselves feel like they are more important than they are. They use the Internet because it can do the most damage to someone's reputation. It takes a special kind of psychopath to create an account in someone else's name and use it to publish their own thoughts, which are contrary to the person they are impersonating. It masks the psychopath's crime and it makes the innocent a target.

This is the true story behind the movie Nowhere Safe (2014), directed by Brian Brough and written by Brittany Wiscombe.

Ashley Evans (Danielle Chuchran) is a good student who becomes the target of two mean girls who create a plan to impersonate her and make her a cyberbully. Things get so ugly, that Ashley and her mother, who is a teacher her daughter's school, Julie Johnson (Natasha Henstridge) are forced into a midnight move to a new community where they hope to rebuild with a clean slate.

It's a lesson on choices. Do you run or do you fight? Ashley and her mother chose to run. When the past finds its way into their new lives, where the whole nasty journey looks like it may continue, they choose a different route. Ashley finds her voice and ultimately gets her life back in the process.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Racist Cyberbullies Who Target Olympic Athletes -- Their Parents Must Be So Proud

Somewhere along the line, some doorknobs of society chose to wake up on any given morning (more likely a late afternoon) to hate on Olympic athletes participating in the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Truth be told, it isn't just the athletes in the Rio Olympics. Assholes have no boundaries.

Yes, as the head of Rio's cybercrime unit Alessandro Thiers reports, this is how some people choose to be famous. 

Be careful what you wish for.

The beauty of this particular story in Rio is that these racist cyberbullies are getting a taste of fame -- of the big huge billboard kind. Yes, payback is a bitch, my friends. Their hateful tweets are being broadcast physically in billboards spread about the city. Perhaps a public shaming for public shaming is better than the weak Internet laws that are prevalent worldwide.

It likely won't stop the hateful tweets. How proud their parents must be when they drive by one of these billboards and see their son or daughter's name authoring such intense hatred for humankind. 

The thing is with the Internet, folks, there are ways to find you, even if you throw up a fake name. If someone is hellbent to pursue the ends of the earth to open a can of whoopass justice on you, once you are found out, your name will be linked to your actions for everyone to see, even your employer. 

Here is the full story about the campaign to stop these morons from their toxic attacks. It makes you think if these people are so well versed in athletics, that they feel they can hate on a Black athlete who lost an event, why aren't they in the Olympics?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Debt Shaming

When people are swallowed under a mountain of debt they cannot repay, they already feel shame, regardless of how that debt was incurred. To have others publicly shame them only adds insult to injury. It surely doesn't solve anything or make them miraculously find the money to pay everything off.

The U.S. household debt in 2016 sits at $12.25 trillion, where the average family owes over $90,000. Credit market debt to disposable income in Canada has risen 164.4 percent. That means for every dollar earned, Canadians owe $1.64.

The U.S. Department of Education has said that of the students who entered college in 2006, at least 59% didn't finish their degree within six years, and only one in three students graduate from community college. Student loan debt in the United States is at $1.2 trillion among 43 million with an average debt load of $37,172 per student. In Canada, the debt load is $28,000. You have to be out of school for at least seven years before a bankruptcy court will consider your student loan for discharge. Maybe five years if you can prove undue hardship. Hmm. For the average personal bankruptcy, doesn't financial hardship CAUSE people to file for bankruptcy? The bar is set pretty high to get this debt discharged. It also does not fall under the statute of limitations that other debt does.

The student loan business is a multi-trillion dollar industry that grows by more than $2,726 every second. Students spend the rest of their lives in wallowing debt before they can start their career. College tuition costs range $40,000 to $100,000, all for the sake of a degree, a degree that, may or may not be compatible with the real job market.

Since the 2008 recession, 50 percent of the job losses affected those aged 15 to 24. While there has been some recovery, for the most part, low wages, underemployment, and inability to save are just a handful of contributors to why someone cannot pay their debt.

So when Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Lee Siegel suggests that students who cannot pay back their loans should choose life rather than spend a lifetime of stress and hardship swallowed in oppressive student loan debt, the people with good paying jobs and careers have sharpened their pitchforks.

It is awkward when people openly debt shame others for defaulting on student or household loans.

Debt shaming does not cure or prevent debt. It is easy to judge others for their circumstances, even if they did it to themselves through bad decision making. To the people doing the finger pointing, imagine for a moment:

  • if you didn't have your life together
  • if you were all of a sudden laid up in the hospital without benefits or the ability to work
  • if your husband just left you with three kids and all of the shared debt after he cleaned out your joint bank account
  • if you were working three part-time jobs and still had to decide whether or not to buy food or pay utilities this month
  • if you were flying high with everything going for you: a great income, job or business, and all of a sudden, there is nothing (that is what happened in 2008 and what happens when a single entrepreneur gets injured or sick)
  • if the industry you have spent your lifetime building no longer exists in the new economy
  • and yes, if you made some stupid-ass decisions that created this mess

If you don't have Mommy and Daddy or friends available or willing to bail you out and you can't find a good-paying job that will lift you up, it is all but impossible to clear off your debt. Until you experience what a good percentage of your friends and family and fellow North Americans are experiencing, then you have no room to judge. There is the extreme rare example of someone who deliberately abuses the credit system and without conscious leaves a trail of debt, only to do it again. For everyone of those people, there 95 percent more who have found themselves in over their head or fate has dealt them a lousy card.