Living in a Glass House

This blog hasn’t lived up to my expectations. It’s not the blog’s fault. It’s my fault. I see innovative behavior change everywhere, but I’m holdin’ out on y’all. Why? It’s really hard for me to live in a glass house online. I’m amazed by what some people share about themselves with the whole world online, seeming without any thought about it.

via philipjohnsonglasshouse.org 

I’ve blogged for many years about hobbies under pseudonyms, and that’s really easy. No one knows who you are. One fellow blogger in a circle of hobbyist bloggers does use her real first and last names online. One day she fired off a post blasting relatives who were reading her blog, then making comments “in real life” to her about things she made and the things she said online. She told them if they’re reading her blog and don’t like what they see, just zip it and don’t say anything to her because it makes it difficult for her to be her true self online. And their behavior was ruining the joy she had for her hobby. Many readers commented, then why the heck are you using your real name online? Anyone can find you via Google in milliseconds. I don’t think the situation was her relatives’ fault. Her free sharing online is an invitation to everyone to join in, whether they type a comment below her post or talk to her at the next extended family birthday party.

You give up much control online. In “real life” you can choose what you say to whom. After that, who that info gets passed to is fair game, but you can call the first shots. Online, we’re broadcasting to everyone from Chicago to Cambodia and everywhere in between. Some people thrive on this (why?) and others avoid the whole game altogether (why?).

Facebook gives controls to make the situation comfortable for all these folks, and the times when Facebook (and Google) mess up are the times when they’re flamed. Blogging platforms don’t give so much flexibility for varying privacy settings.

We all have varying tolerance levels for privacy. I keep trying to grow tall plants to make a “room” behind our house, so we have a somewhat-private patio “room.” Why I’m driven to do this is crazy, really. We have a big backyard on an acre and a half, and neighboring properties are lined with trees and greenery all summer. You can’t see anything. Yet I still feel exposed in this big backyard. The plants don’t grow as tall as I want in our shorter Zone 5 growing season, but I keep trying. I’ll try again this summer. I’m now plotting building a pergola to grow vines on. That oughtta do it!!

I wouldn’t spend a day in this thing no matter how beautiful the surroundings.

Online, there are no 6-foot tall miscanthus or pergolas draped with thick wisteria to shade us from the world. I was reminded of this when the WordPress dashboard showed someone specifically searched for my name under Blog search on Bing. The dashboard doesn’t tell who is searching, it just tells us someone did. So you’re lucky y’all get to stay anonymous. For me, it was a reminder that the online world is a glass house. I’ve always thought the Philip Johnson Glass House would be a house of horror, a nightmare to live in. No way. I’m not a narcissist or attention-seeker who photographs my outfits every day for thousands of people to view and say how great the clothes are. That’s not why I post. As I do in my job, I just want to share and help everyone to think and grow to do what we do even better to make some change in this world.

Can I can get over my need for privacy enough to share what I’d want to share here, I don’t know yet.

Anyone else have this issue? You can comment under a pseudonym if you’d like. :)

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The Problem Isn’t Just Your Government; It’s You

Yeah, this unfriendly title isn’t likely to make people want to read this. But if you are, the target of this post isn’t you. There is a specific target and he/she won’t be reading here.

You will get what you expect. You will get what you ask for.  You will get what you work for. If you expect very little, ask for very little, work for very little, guess what you get. There are people elsewhere on this planet who are pushing for change — and getting it — more than Americans sitting couches sucking on pacifiers by brand names like Jersey Shore. Think adults don’t suck on pacifiers? Sure they do. All the time.

I’d like to stick a pacifier in the mouths of people who infect others with their negativity about societal change, while prefacing their words with a proud excuse of “I’m opinionated.” Keep the infectious negative opinions to yourself. You are part of the problem. And why are you always the loudest?

Yeah I’m mad. Because I’m pushing against these negative people in a tug of war. Who will win? I really don’t know right now.

Comments welcome!! Do you recognize this? Did I tick you off? What would you do?

(Whoops. While I picked on people for having pacifiers, I have my own! I almost posted this on my interior decorating blog because I forgot to change the login name. Wouldn’t this have been a surprise to that blog’s many loyal readers who are only looking for pretty eye candy. But I think that has more value than things like Jersey Shore. I believe people live better lives when they’re surrounded by beauty. So don’t think that because you have a hobby, I have a problem with that and think every minute should be about work and change. Definitely not! If you’re positive about making things better for our world in some way, no problem.)

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Top 10 Mistakes in Behavior Change

Excellent advice from Stanford. Only 12 slides. Read. Weep. Or rejoice. I guess it depends on what you’re doing!

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Wellness ‘n Whiskas ‘n an Epiphany

OK, true confession time here. Do you ever have a moment when you’re just sitting there, nothing special going on, and suddenly you get a slap in the face? Then everything changes? You know, a true “light bulb moment” slap. Well that happened to me recently. I’ve had the worst common cold in 20 years over these holidays — nothing common about it, in my opinion — so have been doing more sitting than usual. And some thinking when my brain is clear of fog and congestion.

And one benefit of being sick is that you have valid reason to send your significant others to run stupid errands! :)  Such as the day we ran out of Wellness cat food pouches. Oh geez you’d think I was pricking our cats with needles all day, all the meowing and complaining. Being sick, I had less patience than usual for the whining and begging and dispatched my husband to get Wellness pouches pronto — the ones with the bits of food in gravy.

Well, he came home with Whiskas. They may both start with “W” but they are not the same. I won’t say much lest I awaken the Mars, Inc. Marketing Beast as I did with Domino’s a few posts ago. Let’s just say I try not to feed my cats foods with a lot of fillers, wheat, corn, etc. I try to be careful about their food because all their food comes from me. Thus if they get diabetes, cancer, kidney disease or any other health problem involving their diet, it would be my fault. So I feel entirely responsible for this part of their health. If they supplement their diet with the occasional chipmunk or mouse treat when we’re not looking, hey that’s their choice. Mostly they just proudly present these dead animals as a gift to us. In fact one chipmunk was given to my husband on his birthday! They’re so thoughtful that way.

I made an exception with the Whiskas and let them eat it so they’d stop meowing. Well actually, the real reason is, it’s highly doubtful at that point my husband would agree to go out again and return it for Wellness. Sympathy for the sick only goes so far. I joked that it was like the cats’ junk food, let them have their fun with their Doritos and Cheetos. It’s the least we can do when they’re so kind as to remember him with a chipmunk dinner on his birthday. And yeah they did wolf that Whiskas down and lick the bowls clean more than usual. In my household, 2 out of 2 cats preferred Whiskas.

A few days later, lobbed with a powerful right hook out of my subconscious, came the slap in the face while I was just sitting there enjoying the view of our snowy gardens:

Why don’t I take the same responsibility for what I eat?

I became aware that I pay way more attention to my cats’ diet than my own. In fact I can have a feisty attitude about food and use the “live it up while you’re here” excuse a little too often. Yet I truly considered not giving my cats even one pouch of food that I didn’t think they should have. Would I hold that same standard for myself? That was a real epiphany, and I use that word carefully because epiphanies should be rare. Probably 99.5% of our thoughts we don’t remember verbatim. But this was a major realization that will stick, word for word. With that awareness, I’m likely now stepping onto a Stages of Change path.

So … think about it … in what areas of life do we sometimes pay more attention to the health and care of our children, our animals, family and friends (even plants for avid gardeners), than our own health and care?

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True Influence for Behavior Change

­­To understand influence for behavior change, understand the difference between popularity and influence, and the difference between reach and action.

I wish I could claim that insight as my own, but I cannot. Instead I can claim recognizing its importance and sharing it. Someone wrote this in the comments of a blog post about marketing and behavior change. I suspect the writer was thinking about social media. Numbers of Facebook fans and Twitter followers does not necessarily translate into truly influencing people to change. Marketers are discovering this to be true, as those of us in public health could have told them. Health education and health promotion professionals know that the circle of people closest to an individual can have strong influence on that individual.

I’ll search for that blog post again and share it here. It was about “marketing economics.” But to me, it read very much like public health concepts. This is exactly why I believe these two professions can share and learn and benefit from each other when we are open  to seeking info beyond our professional boundaries. And that’s one premise of this blog. (I’ve been very busy and unfortunately sick lately and not much time to actually carry through on my intentions for this blog! Will do better through 2011.)

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