Brilliant Mind

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I am noticing a disturbing trend on Social media. I hope this is just isolated incidents, and the people involved realise that there’s a very fine line to be skirted here that maybe, possibly, is being overstepped by the zealous.

There is an increasing feeling that some people are using mental health as a way to sell themselves.

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First off, let’s be clear: having mental issues being discussed openly is NEVER something I want to stop. It’s an important, nay essential part of removing the stigma and increasing awareness. However, as has been the case in the last few weeks, I’m seeing people using mental health issues to promote websites (that aren’t anything other than personal portals) and to sell items, where I’m told the money goes to help mental health charities, but the implication remains that they’re also allowing individuals to profit from the exposure. I appreciate the sentiments behind sites like this, but honestly? That’s not the way this works.

Twitter wins with charities like Time to Change whose presence is 100% not about selling me something or offering suspicious advice that may only work for a minority of people. The sometimes broad-brush nature may annoy those who feel there are better ways to deal with these illnesses, but the fact remains the generic nature of their campaigns reaches the widest possible audience. Accepting you have a problem will be the hardest thing most people ever do. After that? Then you get the chance to work out the details.

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Watching other people using mental illness as the means by which to further themselves has always been a prickly subject to address, especially on Social media where it is almost impossible to tell who’s being honest (or not.) I know where I stand on this, that my mental issues are very much real and historic, but can’t speak for anybody else. What I would absolutely never do is use that as a means to market myself. I make headers for posts to alert people to the discussion, but you won’t see it used in the Patreon as a selling point at any time. My personal life is something I talk about, but which doesn’t get sold. If I help somebody by sharing, then great, but there’s no way that becomes my stock in trade.

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Without the Mindfulness Course, my life would be a lot more stressful right now. I’m very grateful for the lessons learnt and an ability to step out of myself objectively. I just hope those people jumping on the coattails of the mental health ‘revolution’ currently taking place are well aware of the depth of responsibility everyone shoulders when they talk about their illness. Using it to sell your product is wrong. Using it to sell yourself may be even more insidious.

Hope for the Future

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I didn’t get my mentorship. It wasn’t a surprise. In good news, they sent the e-mail nice and early, so I didn’t have to stress about it all day. Not that I would have, of course, because I already know how this is going to pan out.


What mattered more this morning was bettering my own standard.

I woke up at 7am with a mission.

I’d written an essay for today’s Internet of Words site that, frankly, I was less than enamoured with, far too similar in tone and outlook to the one produced a week before. I realise now that what works best in my four week format is a general essay on the book, and then a more detailed assessment of a portion of the subject matter, but seen through a wider lens. I have tried since the weekend to get a handle on what that view would encapsulate, and yesterday morning it came to me: time travel. So this morning I’ve taken a day’s worth of notes and a week’s worth of general research and produced something new pretty much from scratch. I’ve yet to do my re-read but honestly, I already know it is 1000% better than what I started with.

Today therefore is a resounding success, because I didn’t just stick with what was good. I created something better.


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Talking of creating something better… Bond 25 had better not be Diamonds are Forever or Die Another Day.

PLEASE DON’T FUCK THIS UP, SQUIRE.


Last night, the Real World crashed the party on Social media, and today lots of people will be REALLY cross. Be nice, and accommodate discussion. If your mental health won’t support remaining in public places, leaving’s perfectly fine. There’s plenty of us left to give the alt right, extremists and anyone else with stupidity running through their veins a run for their money. A smart person might even consider capitalising on current events.

I think I’d pay good money to see that happen.

Copy Me

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One of the first words my daughter learnt at her new school was plagiarism. From the beginning  to the end of the School year, that concept was drilled into her: just copying from the Internet and passing it off as your own work is wrong. I was reminded of this yesterday when reading, of all things, a Teen Vogue article. I followed the site after the US presidential campaign, and the resulting output turned out to be one of the best things to come out of 2016 for me and many others.

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This story, of a woman on Instagram effectively plagiarising another (far more high profile) user’s work gave me genuine pause for thought. I know this stuff happens all the time, have seen artists that I follow complain that their work has been wholesale lifted and copied without permission. With the size of the Internet, it is no surprise that even my own work’s been duplicated and used by ‘scraper’ sites: added as filler on websites who’s existence is dubious at best. One of the reasons I finally left Google’s Blogger site after being there since launch was the amount of site hits which went through me that was clearly spam, other people using the URL as a means to direct suspicious traffic. However, it isn’t the nature of this kind of plagiarism that makes me uncomfortable. In the case of our Copycat Instagrammer, there’s almost an artistic reverence to the work which, once upon a time, might have been considered acceptable. Now, with what I know about how the Internet works? It’s just plain creepy.

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The note at the bottom of that Teen Vogue article is the real takeaway from any story like this: in my mind I imagine the copycat ‘grammer had done this simply to try and gain new followers by dupicating shots she knew would be popular. The fact she went to the exact same places to do so is no surprise either, because if all that matters in your mind is a simple reproduction? Then you require the same backdrops. In a world where image is everything (and it is if you’re playing the aspirational lifestyle card) then one assumes the effort expended will be, in the mind of any copycat, worth the reward. Except here’s the bigger problem: thought. If you have all the money you need and the time to simply scrape someone else’s life and pretend that you’re living it yourself, does this provide any real notion of satisfaction? Do you get kicks and thrills simply by pretending you are that person? If that is the case, is this ever going to be mentally healthy long term?

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I know people online who live like this. There is evidence to support that case too, in at least one case from multiple sources. I’ve considered the wisdom of pursuing an individual but after a long and very interesting discussion with a member of the legal profession, any case comes down to whether your evidence is prosecutable. As soon as it is possible to gather sufficient concrete proof that your copycat/stalker/abuser is just that, Police and Law Enforcement are becoming increasingly willing to take cases to court. For everything else, gaps in international law between countries allows crazies to quietly slip through the cracks. You teach your kids to be careful, watch for the signs, but grown ups rarely do the same for themselves until it is often far too late.

For some, however, online plagiarism has become what they’re best known for. Copying others has evolved into their own ‘signature’ move… and can you blame people, when Hollywood will reinvent itself every 10 years, a movie’s not really a classic unless it’s been remade several times, and fashion relies on recycling trends each season allowing magazines to roll out decades old stock photos of when that trend was popular the last time. Everybody’s guilty from time to time of seeing someone else’s work, going ‘oh yeah I could do that better’ and doing just that. Without that turn of events I doubt that man would have invented the wheel, learnt how to plough crops or how to use plants to make people better. Like it or not, borrowing from others is a basic part of human nature.

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The problems inevitably surface when you cross a line, which is often far more clearly defined than many copycats might like to believe. Do it once and you’ll probably be smiled at and the duplication acknowledged (especially if you do a decent job) but keep on repeating and people will eventually and quite rightly accuse you of not having any of your own ideas. In fact, if you keep doing it to the point where someone notices and then you stop and simply latch onto something else? Perhaps it might be time to take a look at yourself. If all of this ultimately is an attempt to keep people interested in your life, then maybe the real issue isn’t having an adoring audience to hide within. Speaking as someone who, for many years, never considered the consequences of her actions, you may not be lucky enough to be forgiven. The better option, undoubtedly, is not to fixate on someone else’s life as being an aspiration, and to focus on fixing your own.

In the long term, it will be better for your soul.

All or Nothing at All

Obsession really is a mug’s game. I can recount every point in my life where it has gotten the better of me, and how I am less of a person having succumbed. It’s a step away from jealousy too, all anger and petty blindness to anything except the fact that she’s a bitch/he’s a wanker. On a day where spinning fiction into truth is the norm, I feel I should act as counter. There’s a good reason early man was handed a set of Commandments by its storytelling elders, after all: learning to live your life well is the central tenet of pretty much every Religion, essential to keeping your followers happy. It is how not only you guide a person through existence, but means to make sense of the life they have found yourself within. You may not agree the with the concept of an all-powerful being making your planet in a week, but loving thy neighbour, especially in the current climate, holds a fair deal of merit.

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The reason why this works is simple: everybody has a nemesis. Fixation is as much a part of modern existence, the warped consequence of having good and bad in the World. Freud will tell you fixation is sexual (well what wasn’t, Sigmund?) but there’s all kinds of obsessive behaviour, and the Internet has those fingerprints all over it. Twitter is terrible for allowing you to decide somebody has got it out for you: never replying when you talk to them, ignoring you help and support, and simply not registering your existence. That ‘notice me Senpai’ thing isn’t just a meme, people, it has a root in some quite complex psychological behaviour. The counter to the devoted is, of course, that person who exploits or warps innocent behaviour for their own ends and enjoyment. That’s the person I used to be before my kids were born, and why I probably find it a lot easier to identify the obsessives in my timeline.

It’s why this morning I’ve decided, with a new month here, to reiterate some truths.

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It is impossible to live a perfect life, however superb some people might paint theirs as being. There was a joke, a while back, about people who’d go take pictures of themselves about to go on long runs in obscure places and never do it, just so they could show off on Facebook. I’ve never understood this need to pretend you’re something you’re not, because eventually, like it or not, you’ll get caught. There’s a couple of people who I interact with, for instance, who work very hard to maintain internet personas which are a very long way from what I know is reality. I draw this conclusion because of the number of people who’ve warned me of their obsessive behaviour, or have found themselves in direct conflict with the person because of clashing personalities. I won’t take sides in such debates, and everyone is welcome here. If, however, I feel people are becoming a toxic influence on my personal well-being I will address that, but don’t expect a big, public meltdown if it happens.

If you want that form of entertainment, I’m no longer the woman you’re looking for.

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I promise I never lie to you here. My life is amazingly boring and terrifically mundane, the only issues I have are personal, and I’m too old now to sit and let other people wind me up… except this morning, someone did, and I realised that it was time to start putting money where my mouth is. I really am enjoying my journey right now and what I don’t need as distraction is petty jealousy. As a result, here’s the deal. There won’t be any drama of my own making. I’m not going to start fights or block people for the lulz. I can promise a distinct lack of fixation on anything except what I think matters, what is decent and adult and WORDS. LOTS OF WORDS. We’re just going to carry on in the same vein for as long as we can, and enjoy the life we have for what it is.

Time to get cracking.

Don’t Tell Me

These are disturbing times we live in. The value of expertise is being rapidly devalued. People would rather save money than consider consequence: as a result of linking this news story from the Guardian yesterday, a friend revealed a reasonably horrifying truth he’d been exposed to in a meeting from a global consulting firm:

Right, let’s just stop the bus here, shall we? First off, I was surprised it’s as low as 44%, especially looking at the Amazon supermarket ‘concept’ that only appears to need an App as a basis. Of course, all this food has to be made somewhere, and Robot Sushi creators are a long way off, so in theory not everybody in the associated service industries should be worried. At least not yet.

However, when you consider that replacing humans with robots would save companies (according to this presentation) a staggering $2.2 trillion dollars of overall wages? Yeah, you can see why that shift forward would become so attractive… except of course, robots aren’t cheap. Someone needs to repair them, or at least maintain software, and with Russian Hackers being blamed for influencing the US election? I wonder how Amazon would police a potential hack that reduced the price of all food in Chicago to 1 cent in the poorest areas during the Winter months? How would you effectively cover the FTSE 100 to ensure the robot bankers didn’t start colluding due to a judicious hack or two to bring down global economies and level the playing field for the disadvantaged? The politicians who don’t like the ideas that prevent them from making money might one day rue their desire to automate, quite apart from Skynet-style predictions of dystopian futures…

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Right now, we don’t need people doing stuff without a plan. You cannot affect long-term and consistent process by pretending you’re an expert when you don’t have a fucking clue. That last line in the meme above says it all, really: ‘No-one wants to do any research, they just want to be right.’  It could be the metaphor for my Government post Brexit where STILL nobody has a fucking clue what happens once we invoke Article 50. It could be the Republicans, repealing Obamacare but promising to replace it with something (presumably called Trumpcare) which makes more money for big business (somehow) and stops anyone with a gender deviation or a disability from ever being able to use it, because that’s what freedom is all about. As long as you’re not different, everything is fine. As long as you don’t want to understand and be a free thinker, the new World welcomes you with open arms.

In fact, if you could just whine and complain about everything, that would be even better.

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I’ve spent the week coming to terms with an intractable truth: these people won’t go away. They’ve always been here, it’s just now they’re in charge of governments and my kids future, I’ve got a bigger axe to grind than was previously available for me to chuck. All I can do as a result is make sure I keep highlighting the hypocrisy at every turn, keep my eye on the ball, and Never EVER EVER be the person who just wants to be right. I’m happy being wrong, I enjoy being corrected. In fact, I positively encourage people to pick up my failings at every opportunity. Being wrong is what more people need to do. Without that, you never grasp the intractable truths which bind Humanity. You can live in the dark, if you choose, but the light’s not only far more fun, it’s a better way to exist.

Do the research, people. Never leave the house without it. One day it might save your life.