Category Archives: social media

A grassroots movement to change our Homeowners Association Board

Karol and I purchased a house in a very nice neighborhood about 8 years ago. Before that she was stationed in Pennsylvania, and I was living in a little three-bedroom house I had purchased after my divorce. I loved that little house because it was something I bought on my own with my own credited and just my income. It felt like a major accomplishment to be able to provide that for my kids. It was a very small house in a working class neighborhood and I loved it.

I was a single working mom, and my kids went to daycare at a Baptist church just outside the neighborhood. While at the daycare my younger son became good friends with one of the other boys and was invited to a birthday party. When I took The Genius to the birthday party I just thought their house was the most elegant and beautiful home I had ever been in. I drove around the neighborhood and just fell in love with it. The houses were pretty, there was an elementary school in the neighborhood, a pool, tennis courts, and it was clean and tidy. It was just a very pretty place, and I wished I could live there.

Fast-forward about 6 months, and Karol was up for orders. We wanted her back in Virginia, so she chose to go back to sea duty and was able to get orders back to Hampton Roads. We were ecstatic and I started looking for homes. Of course the first place I looked was in the neighborhood that I had fallen in love with and a realtor and I started looking at houses. There was one house I really liked, but unfortunately by the time my realtor was able to write up a contract and get it to their realtor, the house was already under contract. What a bummer. So Karol and I expanded our search area and started looking in Hampton as well as Chesapeake and Suffolk. We actually started looking into building a house in Hampton, and gave them a down payment, and then I realized (thank goodness) that the house was being built on wetlands, so although we were promised a ¼ acre lot, 90% of the ¼ acre was on wetlands and we could not utilize it as a backyard. Since this was not disclosed to us when we made our down payment we were able to get out of that deal, and found ourselves back at square one.

However, as it turns out the house I really loved in Suffolk was available because the buyers had not been able to secure financing. Their loss was my gain, and Karol agreed to let me start paperwork to buy the house. It is the house we live in now, and it was in the neighborhood I fell in love with, Burbage Grant. We moved into this neighborhood in July 2006, and spent that summer getting acclimated to a new neighborhood, and a new town. The next summer our youngest two kids joined the neighborhood swim team, and had such a great time hanging out with their friends from school during the summer. It was a wonderful experience for my kids, and we became a part of the swim team “family”.

HOA

Unfortunately there was some pushback from some of our community leaders against the swim team and we had a very bad experience with the Homeowners Association Board, which I wrote about. Because of the negative, and very public way the HOA Board opposed the swim team, the parents got together and decided to start a grass roots movement to unseat the board and oust the negative board members who had been on the board for at many years with no opposition. In fact, the people who live here had become so apathetic because we did not feel the HOA Board was reasonable, that no one even bothered to show up to the annual meeting to try to make a change. It wasn’t until a group who has a shared interest in something they value felt threatened, that we were able to get the ball rolling for change. One of the parents stepped up to run for a seat on the board, and other neighbors who supported the swim team but did not have kids on the team also stepped forward. The team parents gathered their momentum, and proxies, and we successfully voted in a new HOA Board that was more positive towards the team. Democracy is a beautiful thing.

We thought this would move the neighborhood forward in a positive way, however we were wrong. The previous HOA President took every opportunity to speak negatively about the new board, and even started quite nasty threads on a Facebook page. He made snide comments about the newly appointed board president, and called him out publicly on several occasions. He accused the new President of not understanding the HOA finances, and spending money thoughtlessly, and not being a team player, amongst other things. He rallied supporters and they would attend each monthly Board meeting with the intention (at least that is how it appeared) of undermining the President at every turn. This caused a very clear divide in the neighborhood and people started bickering publicly on Facebook. Talk about a public way to bring down our house values!!!!

Well, I am glad to report that just this week we had our annual meeting. It was extremely well attended, and both sides of the debate brought in people and proxies so they could attempt to sway the vote one way or the other. The old guard was not successful, and again for the 2015 year we have people on our HOA Board who believe in community unity and family activities, as well as fiscal responsibility. I can only hope that with this second round of the community speaking quite loudly the troublemaker will finally slink away and realize his time is done.

I love democracy, and the ability to make changes with voting and canvassing. This is our democratic process in action, and it makes me proud that I believe in something so much that I am willing to fight for it!!

I used the leaked celebrity nudes of Jennifer Lawrence and others to teach my kids about internet security.

A few days ago nude pictures of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, Victoria Justice, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Kate Upton, Lea Michele, Kirsten Dunst, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and others showed up online.  I happened to see them on a friends’ Twitter account.  When I saw them, I was like, “no way those are real.” But apparently they were.

As the facts of the story emerged it appears a hacker with the name of “OriginalGuy” hacked his way into cloud storage and stole these pictures and then proceeded to put them out for mass viewing.  In fact, it seems as though he alleges he has hundreds, if not thousands more pictures and he will be leaking them out over time.

photo credit: www.gawker.com

photo credit: www.gawker.com

While some celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton admitted the pictures were authentic they were obviously and rightly outraged that their private information was splattered all over the internet, others denied the authenticity of the photos and told their fans the photos were faked. These photos were private and personal. They belonged to the owners of the photos and no one else. Except of course anyone they chose to share them with, if they did.  Someone breaking into your storage and stealing your private property is no different if it is photos or computers, or jewelry, or anything else you own and maintain in a private place.

I remember when my oldest child (who is now 22) got her first phone with a camera.  Her mother and I repeatedly cautioned her about taking inappropriate pictures of herself (revealing or nudes) and keeping them on her phone.  We explained that people could get your images off of your phone.  We warned her against sending nudes to anyone because once out there, they may end up in places you don’t want them.  Even if deleted, they are still accessible.  In fact actress Mary Winstead commented, “To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves.”  She went on to say that the photos had been deleted years ago.  Yet somehow they were still available to be hacked??

Thank you Ms. Winstead.  You just made my point!

Once these photos have been taken and stored anywhere they are potentially available ANY time someone wants to use their skills to hack and steal them.  Now while I will admit that the likelihood that someone will want to hack and steal nudes of my kids is low, it is still possible.  Nudes are nudes.  They fetch high prices.  Someone out there might want nudes of people, famous or not.

My first reaction to this was: “So don’t take nude pictures on your phone.”  And for goodness sakes, if you do, don’t share them or store them anywhere.  In fact some people have argued that people have the right to take nude photos of themselves and expect privacy just as women have the right to wear short skirts in public and not expect to be harassed or ogled or touched.  While I agree that they should have complete agency over their own bodies, once that agency is shared with others you are at their mercy as to how those photos can be used in a negative way.

So don’t give your agency away.

If you must take nude photos of yourself because after all it is your body and you have that right, then go for it! But please keep them just for your own enjoyment.  If you want to share them with someone, the do so by showing them the pictures on your phone while holding it in your hand.  Don’t send them to someone via the internet.  Don’t send them to someone via your phone service provider .

The internet is not as secure as some would think.  Cloud storage is not as secure (apparently) as we would like it to be.  My home is not as secure as I would like it to be.  Thieves are out there.  Given an opportunity and a motive some people will steal and do nefarious things with the stolen property.  This is the way of the world.

Should that stop you from living your life?  Absolutely not! But it should make you aware to take precautions with the things you value, or that could potentially cause you embarrassment or anger if shared.  Be smart about your security and your private information.  Hopefully this horrible situation will give people cause to think about their actions and their internet security and how they choose to share and store private information and pictures.

Maybe my kids will take some of the lessons I tried to teach them about internet security and sharing private things with people to heart.  If anything good can come from this unfortunate situation I hope it is that people (including my kids) will be more aware of how little security the internet has, and be mire cautious of the information and photos they choose to share.

How honest are we on Social Media?

I am blessed with a few very good friends.  I also have lots of friends I interact with every day thanks to Social Media.  Of course, just like everyone else, I interact with some more than others.

I think Facebook is interesting.  Everyone always wants to brag about their kids’ accomplishments, and how talented they are, or how athletic, or how smart. etc.  People don’t usually talk about the fight they had with their spouse or that their kid is a horror, or that life just isn’t really as rosy as their FB wall would have it seem.  I just can’t believe that their lives are always rays of sunshine and unicorns, but that is the way it seems.  Maybe they only want to share the good stuff, and never let us see the not so good stuff, but life is not all god stuff, at least in my experience.  Life is about good, and bad, and shitty, and pain, and mess.

However, in the opposite spectrum are the people who only post the bad stuff that happens to them.  I haven’t figured them out yet.  Are they just sympathy seekers, or do they really NEVER have anything positive to say?  Ever. I tend to unfriend them after some time, because although I don’t believe the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” thought is a reality, I also believe that you can be proactive when faced with a difficult situation and at least try to do something to turn things around.  Or ask for help.  That is one amazing aspect of social media.  I have 321 Facebook friends, who have at least 100 of their own friends, who have their friends, etc etc.  So I have literally thousands of people available (many whom I don’t even know ) that may have a resource for me.

Recently one of my FB friends put out there that he was looking for a second job.  I and a few others gave him ideas of places we knew in the area that were hiring.  To my knowledge, he did not look into any of these jobs and is still complaining about needing a job and being broke.  I don’t know him that well, but I wonder why you put things out there like that, and then just sit and wallow in your misery.

Then there are the political people.  Oh, I love the political people!!  They are so passionate about their cause or party or stance.  Many of them never see any other side besides theirs, and are so convinced their version is the only possible version of the truth, that they cant even hear anything anyone else has to say. Now I will be completely honest here.  I am a person who has convictions, but I am also a person who can be convinced my version may not be completely accurate if I am given factual information that cannot be refuted.  I am a scientist at heart and tend to be skeptical about anything that cannot be proven. So when people say things that they “believe” to be true, and I can find a Snopes review that shows it is a hoax, with these types of people what I get back is “well, you know Snopes is run by a liberal group of people, so even Snopes isn’t accurate.”   Come on people, do you have your heads so far in the sand that you cannot even fathom another point of view as plausible if it doesn’t match yours???

Interestingly, I think people are more honest and forthright on Twitter.  I have often wondered if this is because you cannot write as much simply because of the way it is designed.  I think maybe the inability to post over 140 characters requires people to be concise and say what they want to say in fewer words.  This can go either way.  People can be quite nice, or really nasty.  It never ceases to amaze me what people think is okay to say to others.  The anonymity of the keyboard makes it that way.  People will say things on social media that they would probably not say to someone’s face.  We get behind a keyboard, or a smartphone and think because they cannot see us, or maybe don’t know us personally that we then can say whatever we want.   Jimmy Kimmel does a bit where he has celebrities read some of the mean tweets from people.

I wonder how social media will evolve, and if people will ever start being more real? It will be interesting to see if that ever happens.  I will do my part to try to be honest n my social media.  I try to be the same person in real life, and on my blog and on my FB page and on my Twitter, Pinterest etc.  To be honest, to try and maintain a different identity for social media is just too complicated for me.

So my challenge to you is to be the same person on social media that you are in real life.  Can you do it?