On Men’s Jokes to Candid Picture Perverts

I get along very well with my male colleagues, mostly because I have pretty good understanding on how men are: what goes on their heads when they see a curvy girl, their body language when they are attracted to an opposite sex, and types of jokes they throw at lunch breaks. Sexist jokes? I’m used to them and I often play along without hesitation because I have known these guys for quite some time. I can laugh with them over their dirty jokes; and I even tell my dirty jokes and they would laugh with me. Why do I put myself in such ‘low’ conversations, you may ask? I don’t. I only do that with men I know well. Men I feel comfortable being with. Men I know will never cross the line without my consent. Men who never harass me because they know I will never allow them to do so. Men who are well aware that even if they do tease me sexually, I would do the same to them. This is Indonesia, anyway. People throw rough jokes from time to time with no harm done.

But men are men. Sometimes they can’t hold themselves. I can’t remember how many times I have felt annoyed, even angered, when my male colleagues do their male stuff with women who are not their wives in places flocked by men like them. Karaoke lounges, for example. A few years ago, my colleagues (men and women) and I went to a famous karaoke place after work. The so called premium package we purchased included three female lady escorts whose job was to make sure the guests were satisfied. Yep. ‘Satisfaction’ in that place expanded beyond tapping on the karaoke screen to choose songs and mixing our Coke with spirit; it also meant my male colleagues had the liberty to touch any of those escorts, even make out with them during the booked slot. That was the last time I went to such a place. I felt sick.

Even after I moved to another company, some men in the new company also exhibit a similar habit. Some of them are people I call friends. Sometimes, as friends, they would ask me to join them to chill out after work. Sometimes, as their friend, I would hang out with them, but only after I make sure we’d go to places I’d say yes to: an escort-free family karaoke or cafe. As wild as I may seem to be, I just can’t allow myself to see my male friends objectify female strangers the way they do in those shady places. It bothers me, of course; I wish they would stop doing that one day, but it’s their lives and I have no interest in meddling with their ‘behind-door’ businesses.

Going to a shady karaoke or shady spa parlor is one thing, taking pictures of a lady candidly then going on sharing the pictures with friends with a main purpose to objectify that unknowing woman is another. It disgusts me when men do this. Even if the lady wears a blouse that shows most of her cleavage, or shorts so short they reveal her thighs, what gives them right to take her picture without her consent? Not just that, some men even upload such candid pictures in a chat room. They may think it is funny, and yes, some people respond with grinning emojis and stuff, but I find this behavior repulsive. To me, this is harassment, albeit being done in a closed group where the objectified woman may never know she is being objectified.

I will not go on to discuss the laws in this country in regard to non-consensual picture sharing (yes, people may actually go to jail if found guilty). I just want these perverts to start asking these questions: What if this happens to your wives or daughters. What if a random guy posts a picture of your daughter’s butt online without her knowledge? Would you laugh?

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#KillerPost #NotTheSeries

#killerpost

I recently watched a TV program called #killerpost on my favorite channel CI (Crime & Investigation). The use of “#” on the title indicates that the series has something to do with social media. The fact that it is aired on CI and the term”killer” say what it is about  quite lierally: real cases where simple clicks on social media turn into murders.

Don’t get your hopes too high, though, I am not writing about #killerpost the tv program, although it is clearly correlated, but I am certain what I’m going to share is relatable to our daily social media habits. The internet seems to affect our lives and our relationships with others, more than we may expect. For better or worse.

Let me ask you these:

  1. How often do you feel irritated by your contacts’ posts to the point that you think this isn’t right and you have to say something?
  2. How many contacts have you unfriended?
  3. How many times have you reported a post or an account?

I have my answers:

  1. Too often, at least once a day in the past month.
  2. One in the past month.
  3. At least five, in the past month.

Now, you may think that most of those annoying posts are political or religious in nature. That may be right, given that this country’s political & religion-related tensions has been escalating, starting from the pre-Jakarta provincial elections to the aftermath of the governor’s 2-year sentence for blasphemy, a decision that has split the nation like never before. People figuratively kill each other with posts and comments to a post.

Let us not talk about it, at least not yet. Let’s go into more generic things we, social media citizens, decide to post. What we assume to be an innocent party picture can be harmful in the eye of some beholders. Somebody may feel left out and this can potentially lead to an open argument. I saw it happen. A jealous wife who goes beserk after seeing a photo of her hubby with female colleagues (I received a plea from such a husband to take down a picture I shared online). An employee who receives warning from a company after posting a disgruntled statement about a delayed payday. A daughter who needs to clarify to the public after being targeted for her celebrity mother’s Twitter rants. An angry girl whose insensitive Facebook post blamed a religious ritual for a traffic she was stuck into gets ousted from the region by angrier crowds. We have witnessed or read such ‘killerpost’ cases.

Family, company, society. At least these three should be our warning alarm when it comes to posting stuff on social media. Is it safe for my family? Does my family want to see this? Is it safe for my work? What will my boss say if he sees my post? Is it safe for my social welfare if I post this? Or will a certain group of people attack me? Will I be ready to deal with them? This applies not only to images or statuses you originally post, but also to your comments to someone else’s posts and what you repost online, thanks to confusing social media algorithms that decide what goes and what does not go to your contacts’ timelines.

We may be able to control what we post, but we can’t control what other people post. As the saying goes: bla… bla… bla…., but you can control your reaction. Your reaction is what you decide to do or not do after seeing a post that triggers a certain emotion in you. It’s totally everybody’s call. Human to human relationships can be hurt by killerposts. Some people have big hearts, they can easily forgive and forget. Some others take on the angry rants lane and get involved in long, exhausting battles of arguments online. There are  also people who do silent abandonment; they are familiar to ‘mute’, ‘unfollow’, ‘unfriend’, and ‘block’ features. I recently fell into the 3rd. I have unfollowed a few people because of the extreme nature of their posts: contacts who posted hatred toward others, those who shared pictures of dead bodies, and those who shared hoaxes (doesn’t matter whether they were aware if they were hoaxes). People with these gravity magnet tendencies. Even if you share the same religion as I do, believe in the same political figures as I do, and share a similar cause, if I detect an extreme or fanatic pattern in your posts that go beyond my logic, I may still unfollow you for my own good.

To a candle put off (the funny guy with the sad eyes)

Dead Poets Society

Like any other morning, I woke up earlier than my alarm this morning, a little perplexed by a dream I had. I remembered it vaguely; it involved a chasing scene I suspected having a correlation with The Walking Dead I’d been watching back-to-back the day before. I checked on my Facebook timeline on my smartphone only to find shocking news: Robin Williams is dead. I prepared my coffee, black and strong.

I don’t know Robin Williams in person, but I know he had done something very important in my life. That small highlight on my life timeline was when I was still teaching at the English Language Education program at a university in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I used “Dead Poets Society” as one of my teaching materials in my Drama class. We played the movie in our language lab several times, and I encouraged my students to rent the dvd from a local rental to further study the movie. I gave them topics they could choose from, such as character analysis, plot analysis, and symbolism, to be developed into an academic essay. It was 2001 or 2002, I don’t remember exactly; it was when the Internet was not as advanced and widely accessible as today, but it was the time when we, teachers, started to wonder why these younger generations seemed to develop impatience toward reading novels, textbooks, or any other longer materials.  I used films because films were definitely part of my students’ reality. Back to Mr. Williams, his portrayal of John Keating (easily a reference to the short-lived Brit Romantic poet John Keats) was bigger than life. Like little Todd, I was inspired. My Drama class students got inspired. They began to explore materials, both online and offline. They read. They quoted. They put down their ideas on paper. They learned from crosses and yellow marker highlights I made on their paper. They wrote essays they were proud of. I was proud of them. I learned one important thing from their initial laziness: TEACHERS SHOULD DEVELOP MATERIALS USING TOOLS THAT ARE CLOSE TO THEIR STUDENTS’ REALITY.

I went to work as I was supposed to, no longer as a teacher, of course. I threw jokes around my colleagues like I habitually do. I went to meet a travel blogger from New Zealand whom we hosted. We talked about how the Balinese lead their lives, about life twists, a book called The Journey of Souls, and Bali coffee. We didn’t talk about Robin Williams, but shortly after the meeting, I was suddenly reminded of depression, the silent killer: my own, years ago; a few family members’; a dear friend’s. We live a relatively happy life on the surface, but what goes on beneath is sometimes a wolf — conditioned, but not tamed.

Now, before you say that Robin Williams had done nothing to my life (that everything I felt was just an emotional outburst), think about the movies you remember he was in. How many of them gave you chills and touched your humanity? I think that exactly how he contributed to life: by choosing to be part of those moments when a fictional character is able to move something inside of the audiences. Through those movies, Robin Williams had made a decision after a decision to be an agent that helped us see how to be a better person. His portrayal of John Keating in DPS did that to me. 

“Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day… make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.”

Like Neil in Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams decided to leave the life he led. The funny guy with the sad eyes. I am sure that, like Neil’s, his death — and despite my own limitation in understanding such a fatal decision could have been made by someone whose existence had inspired many — will spark flames in others’ lives to carry on and contribute to life.

So I started to write again, starting with this one. I continue weighing a decision after a decision. Rest in Peace, Robin Williams. Thank you for your contribution to life.

On Sharing Online

 

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Certainly sharing something online has become a more and more common daily activity. I share, and even multi-share my selfies, pics of my food and office assignments, my blog posts, funny images, some-rocking-peep’s quotations on daily basis. I share interesting news pieces or practically anything that draws my attention and is, in opinion, worth sharing. What I post is mostly personal stuff; and by sharing them, I am more or less aware of the consequences of revealing some aspect of myself and that people may react differently to it. Funny comments, sarcastic attacks, retweets, likes, trains of conversations, or nothing at all — ready or not, I must accept that they color my social media existence.

Most of the time I am conscious of an image I want to project of myself whenever I post a material online. No, not so much because I am narcissistic (to some extent, hell yes, I love taking pics of myself and sharing some of them on my socmed), but because of measured social and professional consequences of who and what I am when I decide to share something online. Because people can read my professional identity online, I think I should behave responsibly online as well. I leave my accounts open so that people can look into my profile as they wish, and they will find that I don’t update on problems at work, or on how I feel about a certain coworker, nor would they find me an angry person by going through my online posts. There are certain times, though, when I blur lines between my private and social life, just to have fun with myself and let others see my silly side without having to make people think, “Oh geez, how could this company hire this witch in the first place?”

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How do I react to reckless posts made by my contacts? There is an excellent feature on Facebook and I love it so much I use it many times. If a post is annoying beyond belief, I will easily click ‘I don’t want to see this’. If the same person has a pattern of making stupid posts (such as controversial news pieces from god-knows-what media), I will unfollow or even unfriend this person completely. Life is too priceless, and your day is too beautiful, to be tainted by other people’s bitterness or weak judgment. It was when MH370 went missing and all social medias were flocked with shared updates of the search that I got really bugged with the fact that some people were mindless enough to share posts that looked more like a gossip than a reliable news piece. Of course everybody is dying to know, but, darling, let me tell you: it doesn’t help at all when your updates come from unreliable sources. 

If you care about your online credibility — because human beings are assessed in this manner too, nowadays — mind the sources you share your posts from, if what you post is an article or news piece. If you vent your anger online, and you think you can hide it by writing it in Swahili, please bear in mind that people do use Google Translate. If the post is light in nature, such as health tips and funny images, sources are less important than in the case of the missing aircraft updates. A note to keep in mind: we tend to take TIME’s or Huffingtonpost’s health articles more seriously than some teenagers’ magazine articles. Having said that, if you aim at entertaining, some cool sites like Buzzfeed have fun stuff to share on your contacts’ timelines just for the heck of fun (like the “Is Ryan Gossling Your Soulmate?” quiz).

End note: Follow any media you like, and start sharing wisely.

What’s Your LinkedIn Profile Picture saying?

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Are you aware of what you’re projecting in your picture on your LinkedIn profile? Did you put up the same goofy avatar you put on Twitter? Hope not, because different social medias take different approaches. It is acceptable to put up a picture of you in a creepy Halloween costume on Facebook and Twitter, but it may not be a wise thing to do on LinkedIn.

Unlike Twitter that allows you to write basically anything you like under Bio section on your profile, LinkedIn and Facebook structure your profile based on first: occupation, second: education. While Facebook goes on in detail with these two categories, also with ways to contact you (similar to LinkedIn), it also offers much room for personal details , such as family members and relationship status.  These later details are irrelevant on LinkedIn because LinkedIn is meant to connect professionals around the globe.

Because of the space allotted for personal information and relatively high level of informality, it is not surprising that pictures FB and Twitter users put up on their profiles can be goofy, silly, scary, sexy, nonsensical, anything! You can even put up your dog’s picture. Unless your industry wants to project this ‘unprofessional’ image on purpose, stick to the basic, simple rule when it comes to putting up your profile picture on LinkedIn: look professional. Imagine that a company of your dream comes across your profile and… ! Well, everybody has every right to dream, right?

  1. Unless you are running a company profile on LinkedIn, show most of your own face on your profile. People tend to look at the eyes, because eyes can say a lot of things.
  2. Forget old-fashioned, unsmiling, photo-studio picture. This kind only projects rigidity and poor taste!
  3. We know not everyone is lucky enough to have good looks, but hey, who cares? Charm has little to do (if any) with the shape of your nose, the smoothness of your skin, or the thickness of your hair. Project confidence, content, happiness just enough. Who wants to hire someone who looks insecure, or, on the contrary: someone who looks arrogant?
  4. Embossed, sketched, color-inverted pictures wouldn’t help, would they? They don’t help you look better. Worse, they may attract a thought that you’re ashamed of how you look. Stop worrying about your less-than-perfect facial features. Don’t fret that it’s easier to look confident when you’re good looking either. Even when it’s true, at the end it’s your skills, expertise and attitude that people hire. And attitude is somewhat projected on your profile picture.
  5. You’ve been around yourself for so many years that you know your best angle. Play with it.
  6. Use a camera that generates good results and minimize retouching. Outdoor or indoor, it’s your call, but outdoor settings may project a warmer, ‘openness’ feel.

More and more employers nowadays check on candidates’ social medias to give them some kind of assessment on these candidates’ personalities. While a Facebook profile that depicts you in the middle of a party – projecting your active and engaging social life – may be desirable for some businesses, LinkedIn, on the other hand, is your mini CV. Surely you want the focus of attention is undividedly: YOU.

What is your current LinkedIn profile picture projecting? Is that the intended message? 🙂

On using non-English in social media

language in social media

Is English the only language you speak? Don’t be ashamed because it means that you don’t need to be afraid of losing followers on Twitter who don’t speak your language. Put yourself in the shoes of someone whose timeline or newsfeed is stuffed with words or letters they don’t understand. Oh, you’ve been in those shoes? Don’t you feel frustrated? If English is the only language everyone is using, it will save a lot of problem, no? At least, nobody will feel abandoned because others write status updates in another language. Facebook understands the feeling! That’s why now you can always click ‘translate’ on every news feed they detect using a language other than yours. On the other hand, some people who are bilingual may wish otherwise. No more “talking behind” on contacts who speak only English – which we, bilinguals or trilinguals, sometimes do in certain cases to be safe, for example when we make political statements that may offend people from a certain country. Yes, being able to speak a foreign language means that we have the ability to screen our readers. So, no more secrets eh, Facebook? Hmm… not quite. Facebook has not been able to translate Javanese language, for example. If you are the secretive type and speak Javanese while some of your contacts don’t, you can play with the option!

I speak Bahasa Indonesia, Javanese and English (in proficiency order). I use English with awareness to reach wider audience. I want my friend who is a Thai, for example, to be able to understand and probably retweet my post. And who says I don’t need to practice my English? I’m not an English teacher anymore, and I speak Bahasa most of the time at work, so I have a mild degree of fear of losing my English proficiency if I don’t keep using it. Owing partly to social media, thank God, it’s still there!

I use Bahasa almost instantly in social media. I comment on current national or local issues in Bahasa and attract further comments from the Indonesian speakers on my contact list. I currently live in Indonesia and it’s my current reality that I observe and comment on from time to time on social media. I switch to English with consciousness to have a conversation with the English speaking readers.

It gets amusing with using Javanese in social media. It really does. It’s like going to a (‘Western’) cocktail party where you are the only one wearing a traditional batik sarong and somehow feel funky about it. At least, that’s how I feel. I often find tweets in Javanese made by people I follow very funny. I know that they speak Bahasa and could have tweeted in Bahasa, but they use emotive Javanese instead to better represent their mood. I also observe the rise of Javanese language (and other regional dialects) in social media that goes along with the rise of pride to be part of a nation with multiculturalism and multilingualism. Using Javanese in social media is a way to preserve culture.

Using a non-English language in social media sometimes has nothing to do with abandonment or talking-behind. As I mentioned, it sometimes is the case to be politically safe. Think of a Javanese speaking girl whose crush doesn’t speak Javanese, and on a frustrating day she wants to pour it all out in social media without being too offensive to the guy. That simple. 🙂

On temptation to social broadcast your locations (and your food!)

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Do you really have to always update your status (on BBM, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.) every time you enter a new location? Not always, you may say. Of course, not. We’re not always location-conscious. But my annoyed state-of-mind’s next question is: in what situations are you normally location-conscious, and resulting in social broadcasting your whereabouts? Here’s my guess list. Don’t get me wrong, I came to the list based on my own struggle to resist the temptation!

  1. When the location is so cool that you think some of your contacts may be jealous of, e.g., “In Ku De Ta“; “Party on on Recharge Night! (along with an image of a glass of red wine)”, “DND – at Thalasso spa, trying out the aquamedic pool!” 
  2. When the occasion is so overwhelming that you can hardly contain yourself, e.g., “At Changi airport, waiting for my next flight to Tokyo,” “At NOAH concert – OMG!! Ariel is sooo hot!!! (with blurry image of the artist).”
  3. When you sit there and don’t know what else to do, e.g., “In my sanctuary waiting for him to come,” “In Hotel X (while Hotel X is where you work every day!)”
  4. When you’re hoping that by sharing your whereabouts hopefully your crush will read it and, who knows, he’ll go there too! (Or at least, PING you!)
  5. Combination of some or all of the above.

As I said, it is often difficult for me to resist the temptation, especially since my smartphone is almost always in my hand when I go out. However, happy to share here, I manage to reduce the location-based social broadcasting to some degree. Reason #3 above is the easiest. Why would I update the same status over and over with the same, boring material as my own home? There’s no surprise in going to your own workplace, either (unless it’s your last working day there, or Forbes’ richest CEO pays your company a visit). Unless there’s an element of surprise, stop boring your readers!

Reason #1 makes me contemplate whether it’s the seed of inferiority that’s speaking. Why is going to Ku De Ta a big deal to me? Is it? If I make it public, will people think I belong to the affluent society (which I don’t), or will they think I’m just a annoying brat who’s reality is too ordinary and boring to share? Every time I stop short at the question, I stop myself from hitting the ‘Enter’ button. But when the dessert in front of me looks extremely enticing, and I can’t help photo sharing it, I know that I’m doing #2 which, in some cases, means that I’m allowing myself to be some sort of brand ambassador of that particular dessert  in case any of my contacts is curious to know more about it.

If the coffee shop around the corner is ‘that’ good, some people out there may be interested to go there too, so don’t hesitate to social broadcasting it. Sharing to your readers where you are can be less boring and less annoying.