Facebook Fans or Friends?

A To Z Photography
A To Z Photography

In the past year I have received more page requests on Facebook than almost anything else. It would seem it is every day that I get a notification from someone who wants me to like their page and be a fan. Most of them are costume oriented pages (because I know many people in that hobby), however some pages are for local businesses, and even fan pages for normal people. At first I found this quite strange, but now it flat-out bothers me. Before we begin, I would like to note something. I am bound to hurt someone’s feelings with this post. However, I think it is time I say something. This week I have already received three page requests, and it’s only Tuesday. I know it is fun to count the likes on your page, however I think it is safe to say I am not a fan of this practice. I have been doing costumes and make-up for around six years now, and I just do not see myself as being high up in social standing. I simply do not think that I require a fan page. For me it is a hobby, and I only do it for myself. I really have no interest in expanding my horizons to show off my work, nor make a name for myself. I dress up as celebrities or characters for fun, not to impress someone who could be labeled as a fan.

At one point in time I actually had opened a page for my costumes, but I quickly disbanded it after deciding it was not an appropriate route to take with sharing my work. I had just started making costumes and doing make-up. At the time, I think I wanted to show-off my hobby, but I came to a several realizations after thinking about it for a few days. Mainly I wanted my friends to enjoy my hobby, and no one else. I was not in the market of sharing my work to gain a following; I simply I enjoy what I do, and like to share with my friends what I am currently up to. In turn I care for what my true friends are doing, so I believe the feeling should be mutual. This ties into my first few realizations about my Facebook friends list.

I had suddenly noticed that the number of my friends had swelled to almost nine-hundred people. I decided that I should go through and delete many of the accounts, because quite honest, I was not for sure who many of them were. Likewise some of them were just not people I would associate myself with anymore. My goal was to only have people who actually meant something to me be a part of my Facebook account. Over the course of two nights I went through and deleted well over three-hundred of people. Suddenly I found that I had a higher quality friends list. I downsized it to a more manageable number, and everyone on it were then people I knew personally or respected in someway.

At the same time I noticed I was “following” many accounts. I quickly realized many people I had been friends with had transferred my account to a different category on Facebook. I was no longer friends with them, however I still got their notifications. I was essentially now just getting their updates, but they were not getting mine. The interest these people had in me was obviously no longer mutual. I found this as being quite one-sided, disrespectful, and odd. Needless to say I unsubscribed myself from these people as well. Essentially, they saw me more as a fan than a friend, something I didn’t really appreciate.

I think a considerable amount of costumers feel the same way, which is not exactly a healthy thing for the community. I know right before I stopped visiting one prominent costume website a small group of people had stopped supplying any information on how they achieved certain looks or where they bought specific parts for their costumes. It seemed there was a power grab going on, and this small group was setting the trend for the entire site. I had not visited this website for a few years, but a couple of months ago I decided to take a look. Sure enough I found that many people on the site (old and new members) seemed more interested in stroking their ego than being a part of a helpful community. A new standard had been set on the site, and not for the better. At one point in time it had been a place that influenced open discussion and had reliable members, but it seemed to have taken a turn for the worst. It was now more commercialized in appearance, and the members were only thinking of themselves. All they wanted were more views, comments, and followers of their work. They no longer cared for one another like they once had.

Within the same time frame of a few years ago, a handful of people I know had started opening their own Facebook fan pages. Many of the people liking the pages were family or friends, and the pages were not really any different than their own person accounts. Perhaps it was more for fun than anything else. This was a few years ago, and I really did not think anything of it. Flash forward to today, and nearly every costumer I know has their own fan page, if not multiple pages. And believe me, they want you to know they have this page. They actively seek people to like their pages, and even invite you to invite everyone on your friends list to join them as well.

One young woman I know markets herself as a professional costumer, and has had multiple pages. At one point in time she and I had been fairly good friends, however we had not spoken to one another for a while. We went about two years with no contact, but I suddenly got an email from her. There was some small talk exchanged, and out of no where she asked me to give her a costume piece I owned. I told her I was not really in the market to sell it, and she said she would take it for free. I explained to her that I had planned to use it myself (hence owning it), however she did not let up. She then asked for a donation, as to afford said costume piece, but I declined that as well. She then offered several prints (pictures of herself in costume) in exchange for some money, but I still told her no.

To my disbelief, this is a regular occurrence with many of my fellow costumers. Not only do they seek donations for their costumes, but they sometimes rely on monetary assistance from their fans. These funds will either go towards an entire costume, or even a trip to a convention. Neither of these things are cheap considering this hobby, so it was shocking to me that this is a normal occurrence. Selling prints are also a feasible outlet for income, however I would never put a second thought towards buying a picture of someone I know dressed up. If anything I find it a laughing matter. Why would I want a picture of you dressed up? What would I even do with it? Why should I even care? I don’t have answers to any of those questions.

If you do not make costumes for a Hollywood production company, then you are not a celebrity. In fact, even if you actually do work for a business out of Hollywood in the costume or make-up industry, then you’re still probably not a celebrity. Either way, I do not understand why you expect me to enjoy your work so much that I should be one of your followers. I cannot believe how many people believe because they own a nice costume it gives them the right to a higher social status in the costuming community (or even social sphere). This had been a minor issue within the community, however TV shows such as Heroes of Cosplay seems to have spread the aura of D-List costume celebrity personas as being a real thing in the larger world.

Likewise, I think this has influenced costumers (even poor quality ones) to pursue their own little slice of fan following, as they see the same thing happening all around them on the internet. Boring people are making a so-called name for themselves by just owning things. They simply want attention, and for some reason people are giving it to them. I mean, I do understand that some costumes are way better than others, and some people look more like their characters than others, but why be a fan of that? If you like Captain Jack Sparrow, why would you worry about being a fan of costumer Joe Blow? Why not just be a fan of Johnny Depp directly, and cut out the middle man as it were? I understand that everyone want to spread their own brand and make a name for themselves in the process, however not everyone can be a celebrity.

With the advent of every other costumer on my friends list having a page or two, I finally had to ask myself, why are costumers even thought of as something you would be a fan of? Personally I think I would prefer the original as oppose to the knock-off. The thought of someone who dresses up even mildly resembling a celebrity is quite strange to me.  Especially when so many people think they are deserving of a page dedicated to their work. Wouldn’t you prefer to share your projects with your friends and family who actually care? Or do you prefer followers and fans?

Personally, I think I will stick to sharing my work on my personal Facebook account, where my family and friends that I care about can check it out it if they want. Thinking that I am worthy of fans does not settle too well with me, and I can say that I am above asking for donations to fund my hobby (nor will I try to sell you prints of my work). I know many people who would disagree with those sentiments, but I just do not look at my craft in the same way. For Facebook, I will stick to being a friend, not a fan.

 

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Is Honesty The Best Policy?

A To Z Photography
A To Z Photography

If I do not like your tie am I obligated to tell you or should I keep that to myself? Perhaps a robber has just held up a bank, and I have seen where he has gone to. Should I tell the police where he has ran to hide? These are completely different scenarios that bring into question the same topic: honesty. If I tell you I do not like your tie I will probably hurt your feelings, and then you would probably not like me much anymore. On the other hand, if I were to tell the police where the robber is hiding I would probably be praised for doing so, and they would catch him. These two scenes have completely different outcomes. The first outcome is negative, and the other is positive, yet both were honest answers. Therefore is honesty the best policy? Perhaps it is on some occasions, yet other times it may be absolutely out of the question. Let us take a moment to consider a scene where honesty is suitable and has a positive outcome, a few times when being honest has a mixture of positive and a negative outcomes, and a time when not being honest has a positive outcome.

First, we should take a look at a scene where honesty is in fact the best policy, and where it has a positive outcome. A little old lady has gone out for her usual store visit where she picks up her supply of food for the month. You are sitting on the store bench relaxing. While she is looking at the weekly advertisements, she puts her purse down next to you and forgets to pick it back up. She then casually strolls down the aisle to get her groceries. She has left her purse behind, and it is sitting right next to you. The temptation is strong. What do you do? The honest and nice thing would be to run after her and return her purse. This is the most ideal thing to do in the situation. You quickly chase her down and hand her the bag. She thanks you profusely as you have saved her a major hardship. Without the money in her purse she would have never been able to purchase her monthly groceries. You have been honest, and, as expected the outcome has been positive. To top things off she even gives you a reward to celebrate your honesty!

Next, let us consider this case where honesty actually has both a negative and a positive outcome. Imagine that you are a middle school student again. You have just witnessed your friend, a fellow student named Billy, commit some horrible act of rudeness in your classroom while the teacher was away. The teacher comes back, and finds the mess your friend has made of her classroom. She stands at the front of the room and asks, “Who has done this? Who had made this mess? Stand up and present yourself so that I can take you to the principal’s office immediately! If you do not stand, the entire class shall be punished for your actions!” Your friend does not stand up. What do you do? He does not seem to even flinch in his chair. You know he will be dishonest and hide his actions. Do you promptly stand up yourself and announce it was your friend who did the deed of wrecking the room? The honest answer here would be yes. If you confirm that he did the horrible deed then little Billy will face a negative outcome: going to the principal’s office. On the other hand perhaps you stay quiet. You are not lying, but you are also not being honest. If you do not come forth and say it was him, the entire class will be punished. If you choose honesty as the best policy, you would indeed confirm that he was the one who trashed the room. He would then be punished alone, but you will no longer be friends following your moment of honesty. The outcome of your answer has been negative for him (and partially you), yet by doing this you have spared the entire class from punishment, a positive outcome. In this situation the effect of honesty has been a mixture of both negative and positive.

Another scene with a similar consequence could be that your wife walks into the living room where you are watching television. She stands there moving back and forth until you look up and notice her. “Honey, do I look fat in this?”, she asks you sheepishly. After just one look you quickly realize the dress is way too small for your wife, and despite how beautiful she  is otherwise this so-called piece of clothing is not flattering in the slightest. If you tell her she looks amazing then she will wear the dress and think it looks just fine. That night you will go out to dinner and take a seat at your table with your wife. On the way to the bathroom she will overhear several tables talking about how ugly her outfit is. This will make her be upset that they said those hurtful things. She will also be mad at you because of your failure to mention she looked horrid in her lace onesie. On the other hand if are honest (and tell her she probably needs to change) then she will probably be upset with you instantly. However in turn you may have saved her from the embarrassment of public humiliation. This is yet another time when an honest answer could get you in big trouble, but save you from stress later due to the fallout of people making fun of your wife in public. Decisions abound in cases such as this.

Yet another scene of mixed consequences can be found on the work site. Perhaps your boss has decided to build a structure which he believes will stand on its own without any reinforcement. Most of the other employees always go along with anything he says, so you are not really worried about the project. However you later see a fatal flaw in the plans, which would mean the entire building is at risk for falling down. In the past your boss has fired people for questioning his authority, however if you do not say something then many people will be hurt or even killed if the building failed. If you make note of the flaw then you will surely be fired, but if you do not say anything you face a large amount of guilt in the future. Perhaps the need for money would overcome you, or perhaps honesty would be the best policy no matter what the consequences. You would have to decide.

Let us also take a look at an extreme situation where honesty is not the best policy, yet it still has a positive outcome. Imagine that you are living in 1940’s Nazi Germany. You are currently hiding several Jewish people inside a secret room that is inside your house. The room is impossible to find. One day, a Nazi raiding squad knocks on your door, “Tell us where you are hiding the Jewish people, so that we may capture them!” the officer in charge shouts at you. If you tell him the truth, the displaced Jewish people will obviously be captured. If however you lie, they most probably will not be found, and you will have saved all of their lives. This is a time where honesty is obviously not the best policy. The outcome is severely negative if you tell the truth. Several people’s lives (including possibly your own) are at risk. It is a time like this that we must weigh the effects of our honesty. To me the answer is obvious, you would never admit to harboring the people. By lying you have done a great deed, yet it was not honesty that played a role in doing so. The outcome has been positive because you lied.

We should always take the effects of our actions and words into consideration. Sometimes we may be tempted to lie to people, and to cheat them, but on other occasions we may feel we should be totally honest with others and disclose the absolute truth no matter what the consequences. Other times we should carefully weigh everything out, and consider each event on a case-by-case basis. Personally I feel that honesty is not always the best policy. I do not think we should look at things or events as either black or white. We should be mindful of the repercussions of what we say and do to each other. By doing so, and judging the final outcome of each event as either positive or negative, right or wrong, moral or immoral, perhaps we can make better life decisions. It does not pay to lie, but sometimes we cannot afford to tell the truth.

Every Decision Is a Big One

A to Z Photography
A to Z Photography

People do not like that I can take over fifteen minutes to decide what I want to eat. Some wonder why I put a lot of thought into which road I am going to drive, or which turn I will take ahead. Others do not appreciate how long it takes for me to reply to text messages, but I want to choose the best words for each response. People cannot stand my decision-making process because it takes so long for me, however I think all my choices are worth the extra effort. So why take that time to think about each decision so much? Why do I put so much effort into each choice I make? The answer is simple. I want to make the best decisions possible, even if it is only about the sandwich I am having for dinner.

Considering this topic of decision-making, as soon as you wake up to begin your day you face the challenge of making several choices. In fact you are assaulted by a plethora of decisions you must make within just a few minutes. What will you have for breakfast? Will you brush your teeth? What clothes are you going to wear? The blue tie or red tie? Are you driving? Will you carpool? What road will you take? When you get to work will you go up the stairs or take the elevator? Will you greet the secretary? Will you text your wife to say you made it to work safely? Should you eat a donut? Should you take off early? These questions can have different answers for each individual one, but they all matter. All of these small decisions may add up at the end up of the day, and you might not even know it.

For many people these are mundane subjects to consider. They do not really care about what they do in the morning, because it is always the usual schedule they have made for themselves. They make the same decisions all the time and do not give it a second thought. However they are still actively making a decision to keep doing the same thing each day. They put a minimal effort into their choices, and they do not expect anything to change by doing so. However I believe every choice a person makes should be one they try to make count. You should want to make the best decision you can every time, even for small things, because they do add up.

Every time you make a decision you create a fork in the road so-to-speak. The decision to do one thing will effect your next decision, because you may now have more (or less) options to choose from with you next decision. This continues for every decision you make. By giving each decision its own special time you should in theory be able to make better decisions as you go through life. Good quality decision-making should then in reason beget more good quality options to choose from as you go along in life, whether it be a small decision or a life changing one.

Consider this example for a moment, as it pertains to what people would consider an important decision. If you decide to finish high school you will have the option to go to college. There you can earn an associates, bachelors, masters, and finally your doctoral degree. This will eventually lead you to a good job which in turn will provide you with a good house, amazing food, financial stability for your family (because you met your wife while getting your associates), and many other positive outcomes. On the other hand you might decide to not finish high school. Then you would have to settle for a minimum wage job. You will receive a small amount of government aid to help you get by, but you will also need to pay child support each month (because you met a girl at a bar), and on top of that you still have to pay your attorney’s fees from that one time you went to court over stealing your cousin’s refrigerator. That one decision of staying in school may affect your entire life, either for the positive or the negative.

Conversely, think about a time in your life when a decision you made was not too important at the time, but in hindsight was a major aspect of change. Perhaps one day you decided to go out and buy some more jelly because you ran out. You decided to shop at a certain store which is a bit out-of-the-way. While shopping there you saw an old friend who you had not seen for a while. When you go to checkout all the lines are full, but you decided to wait anyway. When you get to the register a girl was working, and it just so happens the receipt printer had run out of paper. While waiting you talked to the girl, and suddenly you realized just how stunning she was. You gave her your number, and a week later you went on your first date. A month later you were going steady. A year later you knew she was the one you wanted to marry, and by your fourth anniversary you both had rings. The small decision to go by jelly changed your life, yet at the time it was not big decision. Likewise other minor decisions may change your life in other ways, so we should therefore give them the attention they deserve as well.

So how can you do this? When I make a decision, I try to take in as much information as I can about the topic at hand. If I am thinking about which way to drive home I consider how much fuel I have, how bad traffic might be, how much time I have to drive that way, and many other aspects. For other decisions such as college you will need to research tuition costs, how much you can afford to pay for rent, classes you need, and the like. Both decisions will impact your life, either immediately or down the road.

You should also consider the benefits and cost of each decision you make, as well as the long-term effects your decision may have. If you have that extra donut for breakfast will you be worried about your health? Probably not, but several weeks of having extra donuts may add up. Consider how your decision will affect you in the now, but also be cognitive of the lasting effects of your decisions.

Another way you can make better decisions is to pause for a moment. Sometime we need to stop and think for a minute before we do something. This way we force ourselves to consider the research, cost and benefits of our deed, and lasting effects our decision may have. Through these simple ways of thinking we can make clearer judgments, and have a more positive life.

For most people all decisions are not created equal. I have used examples of small and life changing events in my illustrations, but I believe when it comes down to it there are no small decisions in life. Every single thing you chose to do cannot be taken back. Each day we face hundreds of decisions we must make. From what to wear, to what we eat, to how much effort we will put into homework and how respectable we are to our significant others. Each of these so-called small decisions will begin to add up rapidly over time, and you will eventually feel the weight of them in one area of your life or another.

Through this way of thinking we can begin to shape our lives for the better. By putting more emphasis on judgment we can make better and more critical decisions for any circumstance that may arise. If we could just develop the mentality that everything we do will have a repercussion eventually, then we would be more accustomed to taking time to figure out each choice we made, and we would be better people for it.

For want of a single good decision, we may change our lives forever.

Masked Men and Women

A to Z Photography

Do people wear masks? Are the people around us playing pretend? When we meet others walking down the street are we seeing who they really are, or are we viewing someone else? Considered these questions every time you see, talk, or interact with another person. “Why?” you might ask. “Why should you have to second guess all the people you see, even those on a daily basis?” Because I believe the people around you are lying, and they are not just lying sometimes, they are lying all the time.

I have heard numerous people describe me in different ways. Upon first meeting me they have said I am driven, proud, amazing, funny, handsome, ugly, dull, horrible, careless, and lazy. They say I care for everyone, and that I care for nothing. That I am wickedly honest, and always lying. That I am full of love, and have a vicious wrath about me. They say that I think everything is a joke, and that I take everything too seriously. They think I embrace others, and embarrass myself. Sometimes they do not even know what to think.

They are all judging me. Every single one of those people is taking everything they see, hear, and know about me into consideration, and then making an overall assumption about me. There is no consensus, and every one forms their own opinion about who I am. Oddly enough they are all correct. I am definitely all of these things (and more), however it all depends on the day they met me, and who I was trying to be.

I know that people wear masks because I wear them myself. Everyday that I go out and see people I put one on. I have a bountiful amount to choose from. Some days I have specific masks crafted for special occasions. Other days you get to see the most simplistic of designs: happy, sad, or excited. They vary in range and ability, but I am confident they all work well. Every time you have seen me I have been wearing one. I can guarantee it.

Now you may ask yourself why am I just not myself around others? Why can I not just relax, take off the veil, and let the facade break down. It is because I cannot do it. I cannot let myself be exposed to the world like that, and oddly enough neither can you. Another shock is it? To think that I know you wear a mask every day, and that it might just match one of my own. Is this conclusion shocking? Well of course not. We should all know that you wear one. You get depressed when something bad happens, yet you smile. We all do that. You dislike your mother-in-law, but you greet her warmly. We do that too. You might even feel a slight glimpse of happiness for someone else’s misfortune, but you throw on a flesh-colored mask and give your condolences in an attempt to be more like a normal person. Because normal people do not wear masks, right?

Well it is unfortunate for you to find out under these circumstances, especially after you have most likely just slipped yet another mask on (the “I do not do that” mask seems most probable), however even the normal people dress up in masks. They are not as basic as you thought they were. It is just that their masks are not as decorative, shall we say, as yours and mine. We have woven ours more tightly, and used better care in preparing them. They probably fit us better too.

That is not to say that other people are boring or simplistic, but perhaps to allude to a more acceptable idea that some people just do not have as exciting masks at their disposal as we do. Sure I have met people in the past that I enjoy, but soon after experiencing them I can decipher that they only have a few masks to choose from, or that they have chosen to have a collection of ones that limit their emotions. They are trying to be normal in a strange way.

I know of one young man who is always happy. It could be the end of the world and he would find something to rejoice about. He has masks of course, but he has a shallow range. Almost all of his masks are joyful. Seldom does he get the masks of the sorrow and sadness variety out. He is always thinking in a positive manner. I know another young person who does the opposite. Many of her masks emote despair and gloom. She hardly ever gets the old mask of cheerfulness out of its dark corner, and as you might guess she has a generally negative outlook on life. Both of these people have a basic choice of masks to choose from, yet perhaps they choose to only wear a certain type. However both think their choice is normal, and would think their opposite’s choice as strange.

Other people I know are more varied in their choice of masks. Another young woman I know has such a variety she would make a suitable Scooby-Doo villain. One minute she could be excessively happy, yet in the next moment she could be crying her eyes out, which might in turn lead to rage. This change of character comes even more rapidly when she finds herself around certain people, as she must constantly fool everyone into thinking she is feeling one way or another. She must put a constant effort into tricking people that she behaves a certain way. I am sure it is hard for her to keep up switching masks so quickly, as she conceals her true self behind so many masks at a time, constantly switching them out, or wearing them over one another.

Meanwhile other people take it easy. They are normal. When they are mad they slap the angry mask on. When they are happy they slip the smiling face on. They do have highs and lows, but they maintain a level of normality in their lives that would not spark too much attention towards them. These people simply live life, and put suitable masks on for each occasion as it arises. They are trying not look as if they would be the type of person to hide an inner thought or conceal their true identity. They are just living life at a moderate pace, or are they? Perhaps we should still doubt them. It does not matter if they are neighbors with the Joneses or if their postal code matches that of Stepford, we should still wonder what truth lies behind their masks.

Why is that? I mean, they seem nice. They do not act too weird. They seem like a good family. The husband has a jolly face. He loves his wife. He tries to help out with anything you would like him to, and he even invites your pastor and his kids over all the time. He cannot be too weird can he? Let us consider this one brutal fact: even with the simplest of emotions these people are showing, they are still wearing masks. The husband will be angry sometimes, but he puts a mask on that limits how angry he will get. He may get depressed every once in a while, but he quickly remembers that he is trying to be normal, so he slips that seamless mask over his face which forces him to smile. He seems like a good guy, and that is just what his goal is. He wears a mask, and it is hard to see. We should not count him as normal, because normal people do not wear masks, right?

Next time you see someone, a person you consider normal, you should stop to consider why they are smiling. Consider why they are so darn normal. Just think about it, even for a moment. Normal people live, and that is it. They have no selection of masks to chose from, and have never considered picking one up to even try it on. Do people such as this even exist? I think the answer is no. I do not believe that is possible. For everyone who has resided on our planet, they all have at least one mask they like to parade around in. It might be hard to see, but I can assure you it is there. You just have to look close.