Starting a business as a stay-at-home mom is no easy feat – with the added responsibilities of entertaining and caring for kids, you might find your time (and patience) is limited. To thrive in the working world, you’ll need to prepare well ahead of time and learn to balance your tasks.
Coming Up With A Business Plan
Before you commit any time or energy towards pursuing a business, the first thing to do is confirm the viability of your idea. This means carrying out plenty of research, including an analysis of your potential competition and learning about your target market. The goal, at this early stage, is simply to determine whether your product/service is likely to survive amongst other brands and offer something unique that will draw in new customers. Your next consideration is financial. Even if you have an incredible idea that could revolutionise the market, there is always room for failure and you need to make sure you’re financially covered. The Small Business Administration (SBA) estimates that the average micro business requires around $3,000 of funding (although this figure can deviate, depending on what you’re planning to do). Ultimately, you need to make sure that you can cover the expenses, fund your first projects and survive any setbacks.
Finding Work-Life Balance
Founding a business is often easy in theory but difficult in practice. If you want to succeed in your venture, it’s worth considering some lifestyle changes to accommodate this undertaking. The first step may be to partition a section of the house for working – this could mean separating an area of the kitchen or living room for a desk or monitors. By doing this, you can create a clear divide between the place where you work and the place where you live. You may also decide that you need to reduce clutter or purchase a few new plants to invoke a more stress-free, productive environment. As a stay-at-home mom, one of the key obstacles when trying to succeed in business is going to be the kids. The trick is, not only to keep them occupied but to do so in a way that you feel is productive. If you can afford it, there are all kinds of extracurricular activities that they’re sure to enjoy and that will make constructive use of their time. Alternatively, you could invest in art materials, sports equipment, or musical instruments to help them burn off energy and learn new skills in the process.
Even when you’re surrounded by kids, the process of founding a business can feel daunting and isolating. It’s important, then, to seek out like-minded souls who are going through the same thing that you are. This isn’t just useful from an emotional point of view, it’s also a great way to improve your business prospects, as you collaborate with other small business owners, learning and supporting each other’s endeavours. There are plenty of online forums and platforms to help you connect with others, including Facebook groups and Instagram communities. It’s also important that you communicate clearly with partners, live-ins, friends, and family about what you’re trying to do and what it might take to get there. You’ll find the journey is far easier when you have the support of your loved ones than if you’re receiving resistance from them. It will help to get others involved in the work process – those who are personally invested in a project are less likely to disparage it and more likely to encourage it on to victory. There’s no doubt, mompreneurs have higher hills to climb, but if you can plan ahead and, if you’re smart about how you manage your time and energy, there’s every chance your business ambitions will come to fruition at no cost to your family life.
Solar-powered watches are able to charge themselves by capturing light energy from nearby light sources. This means that there is no need to replace batteries from time to time. In the grand scheme of things, this means less battery waste and overall is more environmentally friendly as compared to its battery-powered counterparts. The battery units of solar-powered watches often last for 5-10 years before needing a replacement.
They Are More Accurate Than Mechanical And Automatic Watches
Solar-powered watches utilise quartz movements and are known to be more reliable due to the fact that they will recharge constantly under the presence of light. They usually gain or lose 5 seconds a month while automatic or mechanical watches may gain or lose up to 30 seconds (this depends heavily on quality) in a day.
They Have Increased Durability And Better Water Resistance
It is true that other types of watches can also be made to withstand equal amounts of pressure. However, since solar-powered watches don’t need to be wound and are rarely opened (due to the fact that they don’t need to have their batteries replaced), they are less prone to deterioration and their rubber gaskets are less likely to wear out. They are perfect for people who like to travel outdoors in the great wilderness.
As taken from Wikipedia: Around a thousand years ago, Xu Wenwu discovers the mystical ten rings which grant immortality and godly powers. He establishes the Ten Rings organization, conquering kingdoms and toppling governments throughout history. In 1996, Wenwu searches for Ta Lo, a village said to harbour mythical beasts. He travels through a magical forest to the village entrance but is stopped by guardian Ying Li. The two fall in love, and when the Ta Lo villagers reject Wenwu, Li chooses to leave with him. They marry and have two children, Shang-Chi and Xialing. Wenwu abandons his organization and locks away the ten rings. When Shang-Chi is seven years old, Li is murdered by Wenwu’s enemies, the Iron Gang. Wenwu dons the ten rings once again, massacres the Iron Gang, and resumes leadership of his organization. He makes Shang-Chi undergo brutal training in martial arts but does not allow Xialing to train with the others, prompting her to secretly teach herself. When Shang-Chi is 14, Wenwu sends him to assassinate the Iron Gang’s leader. After completing his mission, a traumatised Shang-Chi runs away to San Francisco and adopts the name “Shaun”.
In the present day, Shang-Chi works as a parking valet with his best friend Katy, who does not know about his past. They are attacked on a bus by the Ten Rings, who steal a pendant that Li gave to Shang-Chi. Shang-Chi flies out to meet his sister, fearing that the Ten Rings will go after her matching pendant. He reveals his past to Katy, who insists on helping him. They find Xialing at an underground fight club in Macau, which she founded after escaping from Wenwu at sixteen. The Ten Rings attack the fight club and Wenwu arrives to capture Shang-Chi, Katy, Xialing, and her pendant. They are taken to the Ten Rings’ compound, where Wenwu uses the pendants to reveal a mystical map leading to Ta Lo. Wenwu explains that he has heard Li calling to him and believes she has been held captive in Ta Lo behind a sealed gate. He plans to destroy the village unless they release her. When his children and Katy object, he imprisons them. The three meet former actor Trevor Slattery, whom the Ten Rings imprisoned for impersonating Wenwu, and his hundun companion Morris, who offers to guide them to Ta Lo.
The group escapes and goes to Ta Lo, which exists in a separate dimension with various Chinese mythological creatures. They meet Ying Nan, Li’s sister, who explains the history of Ta Lo: thousands of years ago, the universe containing the village was attacked by the soul-consuming Dweller-in-Darkness and its minions, but was saved by a Chinese dragon called the Great Protector who helped seal the Dark Gate to the Dweller’s world. According to Nan, the Dweller-in-Darkness has been impersonating Li so that Wenwu will use the ten rings to open the Gate. Shang-Chi, Xialing, and Katy join the villagers in training and preparing for Wenwu’s arrival, using outfits and weapons crafted from dragon scales. Wenwu and the Ten Rings arrive and attack. Wenwu overpowers Shang-Chi and forces him into the nearby lake, then attacks the Gate with the rings. This allows some of the Dweller’s minions to escape, and the Ten Rings join forces with the villagers to fight them. The Great Protector revives Shang-Chi and bears him from the lake to battle the minions. Wenwu and Shang-Chi fight once more and Shang-Chi gains the upper hand but chooses to spare Wenwu. The Dweller-in-Darkness escapes the weakened Gate and attacks Shang-Chi. Wenwu saves Shang-Chi, bequeathing him the rings before being killed by the Dweller-in-Darkness. Shang-Chi, the Great Protector, Xialing, and Katy manage to kill the Dweller-in-Darkness. Afterwards, Shang-Chi and Katy return to San Francisco, where the sorcerer Wong summons them to Kamar-Taj.
In a mid-credits scene, Wong introduces Shang-Chi and Katy to Bruce Banner and Carol Danvers while researching the rings’ origin. They discover that the rings are acting as a beacon to something. In a post-credits scene, Xialing becomes the new leader of the Ten Rings, training women alongside men, despite having told Shang-Chi that she was going to disband the organization.
What I Didn’t Like
Where’s Doctor Strange?
This movie is filled with mystical elements. The Ten Rings are mystical artefacts themselves and we see that Xu Wenwu, together with his men, fought his way through the ancient village of Ta Lo to open a portal to the world of the Dweller-In-Darkness, a soul-consuming dragon which would become stronger the more victims it claimed. If the other-worldly creatures were to succeed, they would surely become unstoppable. One might argue that Ta Lo exists in a separate dimension parallel to that of Earth’s. However, wouldn’t the evil creatures eventually find a way to exit Ta Lo and so invade Earth? The fact that conventional weapons do not work on the aforementioned creatures further shows how dangerous they would be if not kept at bay. It was a job for the Masters of the Mystic Arts, who swore to protect Earth from extradimensional threats. Surely there must be a codex or record about Ta Lo at Kamar Taj. Dr. Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, who technically does not hold the title anymore due to his 5-year absence after the Blip (he lost it to Wong), is nowhere to be found. The only times we see Wong, the current Sorcerer Supreme, is when we see him sparring with the Abomination in a fighting ring in Macau and after the battle of Ta Lo.
Why Didn’t They Hide The Portal?
Well, if you don’t want anyone to open a gateway, don’t proudly display it for everyone to see. Though the villagers of Ta Lo knew that they would be doomed if the portal was opened, no one bothered to cover it. They should have just covered it with boulders and rocks. That way, if anyone outside of Ta Lo wanted to open the portal, the villagers could just deny knowledge of it and so avoid unnecessary trouble. Instead, they left it bare for everyone to see above a mountain.
Xu Wenwu’s Death Was Too Superficial
The title says it all. Wenwu died by just having his soul sucked out of him by the Dweller-In-Darkness, which was in my opinion too quick a death for a main character and a loved one of Shang-Chi. He never got to say any last words or any words of affirmation to his son. Marvel clearly missed the opportunity to highlight the bond between father and son or show how important Wenwu was to his son.
Most Of The Film’s Second Half Took Place Only At Ta Lo
Some people may not consider this a negative, but the fact that from the middle of the film, almost all events took place at Ta Lo bothers me. The small size of the fictional village also confined the battlefield to a small area and I didn’t like seeing the same environment over and over again.
The Film Was Too Reliant On CGI
We don’t see much CGI until Ta Lo comes into the picture and that’s where things start to go wrong. This movie was marketed as a film that would mainly focus on martial arts while incorporating superhero themes. However, we see the final duel between Xu Wenwu and Shang-Chi become a CGI battle with the mystical rings flying everywhere. The use of CGI here is still acceptable but things get worse after the duel. Right after the duel, the film straight up becomes a CGI dragon fight, with the village’s protector dragon going up against the Dweller-In-Darkness, the opposing dragon. In the end, Shang-Chi defeats the opposing dragon by using the rings to blow it to pieces – essentially CGI destroying CGI. Oh yes, before I forget, the entrance to Ta Lo, which is essentially a maze, is CGI and Ta Lo is littered with CGI creatures. The quality of the CGI can also be improved.
What I Liked
Perfectly Executed Choreography
The hand to hand combat scenes, especially that of Tony Leung, were amazingly performed. It was also good to see Michelle Yeoh who is famous for her martial arts choreography back in action again.
The soundtrack accompanies the film well and is a big positive. The soundtrack album contains 25 tracks composed by Joel P. West and spans approximately 68 minutes.
The Film Shows What It Means To Inherit A Legacy Or Heritage
At the beginning of the film, we see Shang-Chi working in San Francisco as a hotel valet to hide from his father and thereby detach himself from his family heritage. From a young age, Shang-Chi was trained to become a deadly assassin by Wenwu and his men. After he was sent on a hit by his father to kill the person responsible for his mother’s death, he began to view his father’s legacy as one filled with corruption and evil. It was only after his father “captured” him that he returned to him. His father implored him and his sister to return to his side, as well as to join him in his quest to free their captive mother, who was already long dead. Shang-Chi, knowing that his father would employ violent means to accomplish his goal, escaped from his father’s compound together with Katy, his sister and Trevor Slattery to warn Ta Lo of his father’s plans. Again, it shows Shang-Chi actively rejecting his father’s tyranny and oppressive actions, essentially his legacy and embracing that of his mother, who was merciful and kind. Later, he was able to defeat his father by embracing his identity as his mother once taught him in his childhood, finding inner peace and using the rings’ power against his father. In the end, we see Wenwu passing and entrusting the rings to Shang-Chi just moments before his death. The rings, the centrepieces of his father’s legacy, were used for warfare, revenge, conquests and power throughout its history. However, we see the rings eventually being used for mercy, good and justice by Shang-Chi. Furthermore, even though he had the opportunity to slay his father with the rings, he resisted doing so. Preserving and embracing the legacy of one’s ancestors is important, but shaping them to serve the greater good and to serve others is equally or if not more important. The legacy of your ancestors is dead and forever locked in the past. What you do with it now and in the future matters more than its history.
Considering the above points, I would rate this film a 6.5/10. It’s not that bad, but not that good either. I personally find the film vastly overrated, especially due to the fact that it relies too heavily on CGI. I was also upset that we didn’t get to see Dr. Strange or Wong get involved in the events of Ta Lo. What do you think about this movie? Did you find it enjoyable? Why or why not? Comment your thoughts in the comments section below.
It’s the time of the year again, folks! It’s the time to kick back and relax. It’s the time to wind down and spend more time with family and friends. Yet, many of get caught up with work, responsibilities and end up unable to enjoy this holiday to its fullest. That is certainly understandable, as we live in a fast-paced world where time is always against us. Many of us have a never-ending list of things to learn, endless responsibilities to attend to and an insatiable urge to achieve more – to attain a promotion, qualify for a raise or improve our skillsets. It is often hard to break free from this cycle and it often leads to burnout. This holiday season is a good time to put your things down and doze off for a little bit. Give yourself a break. You deserve it. In this article, we’ll be listing some of the things you can do to fully enjoy your holiday. Before you continue reading, do follow me and subscribe to my newsletter!
1. Spend Time With Family and Friends
This one’s pretty obvious, but it doesn’t make it any less important. In this age, it’s convenient to neglect our loved ones. It’s tempting to place work and ambition above them, but doing so would strain relationships and cause existing bonds to decay. Even if you’re facing mountains of work yet to be completed, it would be great to at least have a dinner with your family and friends. It’s a good opportunity to de-stress and reconnect with your loved ones. There are also multiple activities that your family can conduct together. They include setting up decorations, cooking and maybe even indulging in a movie marathon together. In fact, this may boost your working performance as you attain much-needed rest.
2. Gift Presents
This holiday season is not only a season of joy but also a season of giving. During this period, we should take a look around ourselves and think about others. The world does not revolve around each of us and as social creatures, we are never complete without the company of others. Gifting expresses a sense of appreciation to the receiving party and strengthens the underlying relationship. Here’s the thing, in most of life, we must first give to receive – a relationship requires both individuals to make sacrifices, while mastery of a skill requires a commitment of one’s time. Indeed, giving is one of the secrets to a life of happiness. It’s not necessary to spend large amounts of money on a gift, but it is an absolute must to consider fully the appropriateness and relevance of the gift – there are many people who just gift (more like dump) chocolates to the same person every year! The value of a gift lies not in itself, but in the intention behind it.
3. Help Others and Make New Friends
This holiday season is the perfect time to get to know new people. Don’t be shy, mingle around! Look out for those who need help or assistance this holidays, be it financial or emotional in nature, and lend a helping hand to them. Help to make this holiday season more enjoyable for the people around you and remember to be generous. Helping others goes a long way and helps to forge new friendships. Besides, the more the merrier, right?
Well, that wraps up this short post. I hope that you, my readers, enjoy your holidays and take the time to recharge. Time is fleeting and 2022 will be here in the blink of an eye, so cherish the moments you have to yourself and with your loved ones. Happy holidays!
Humour is an integral part of our lives that helps us to connect with others on a deeper level. Humour isn’t just about making others laugh. Through thousands of years, we have evolved to become social creatures that can pick up nuances and subtleties in language use that allow us to better understand the emotions of others. Through increased knowledge of other humans, we were able to form bonds and eventually communities, thus enhancing our survival in the wild. However, even though humanity has evolved to become a modern and advanced civilisation, the use of humour remains prevalent. Jokes and memes are constantly being shared and posted on the internet. I bet most of us crack jokes when texting our friends online. In other words, it remains as ubiquitous and as important as ever. There are reasons for this and we’ll be detailing them in this article. Before you continue reading, do follow me and subscribe to my newsletter!
The Brain: Complex Yet Primal
The human brain is one of the most complex objects in the universe. It is estimated to contain 100 billion neurones, which are connected by roughly a quadrillion synapses. Despite running on a meagre 20 watts, it can outperform computers in many respects. Yet, the brain retains many primitive components which were formed in the earlier years of its evolution. This includes the reptilian brain, which consists of the limbic system which is responsible for emotional regulation. Indeed, we remain social creatures. We are prone to mood swings, urges and require a sense of inclusiveness to survive. This innate need for care and love is the reason why humans constantly search for communities to belong to and seek to bring others to join them. Along with our abilities of speech and hearing, we are also endowed with the ability to understand subtleties in communication which help us to understand the intentions of others. Jokes and anecdotes helped to encapsulate the essence of cultures and conveyed a sense of connection between individuals. In many cases, such jokes and anecdotes were even passed down along many generations, thus cementing a sense of identity which would last centuries to come. The effects of humour are also significant at the neurological level. Humour activates the emotional reward centre of the brain, triggering a release of the pleasure chemicals dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals induce a sense of trust between individuals and serve to strengthen bonds. They tell the brain, “Remember these guys. They seem friendly and are great friends to have.” Though we may not realise it, the constant release of dopamine and other similar chemicals during interaction or laughter strengthens pleasure pathways associated with social interaction in the brain. As such, we begin to crave company when left alone for a while, thus giving rise to the common feeling of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
The Rise of Modern Comedy
In the days before television and film reigned supreme, comedy was mostly borne by paper. Much like how superhero stories were told through comics and graphic novels, comedy was mostly in the form of novels, such as Lewis Caroll’s all-time greats Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, which utilised both senselessness and incoherence to evoke a sense of humour. However, the development of comedy as we know it today began in early 19th century England. It was in the music halls of England where British comedians such as Charlie Chaplin and Dan Leno honed their skills and where slapstick comedy was pioneered. First portrayed by entertainer Joseph Grimaldi, slapstick comedy was eventually expanded and developed upon by Fred Karno, whose ideas last to this very day and can be seen in modern Hollywood. Now let’s fast-forward a few decades. The dawn of the twentieth century and eventually the twenty-first saw a drastic evolution of comedy. While comedy programmes back then, such as that of Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp which began airing as early as 1914, were mostly silent, they were enough to capture the attention of the world. Soon after World War 2, television systems began to modernise. Colour television was eventually fully developed by the Radio Corporation of American (RCA) in 1953. While it certainly took some time for colour television to replace its black-and-white predecessors, by 1970 colour television began to outsell their black-and-white counterparts. (At least in North America) Television, with its sound systems, now offered people an immersive viewing experience from the comfort of their homes. Sitcoms, such as that of the world-famous Friends, became prevalent. Unlike silent programmes of the past, viewers are now able to pick up changes in a character’s tone, which may contribute to the overall comedic effect and impact of his line. With colour filmography now accessible to most people, scriptwriters and directors had more space for creativity. For example, depending on local culture, the colour of a person’s clothes may be perceived as comical. As seen, these allowed story creators to better express long-standing or deep-seated cultural mentalities and relate them to current societal trends.
Humour as an Important Social Skill
As mentioned earlier, humour helps to catalyse and strengthen connections between people. Many know this, but fewer still understand it as a social skill in itself. The ability to leverage humour increased one’s chances of establishing weak links and eventually strong links with coworkers, newly-met colleagues and one’s superiors. In the modern world, the power of weak links is immeasurable. Compared to strong links, weak links allow you to reach more people and broaden your network. Think of a spider web. The centre of the web is what is commonly known as one’s inner circle while the outer edges of the web represent one’s acquaintances, casual friends and people who share a common cause or belief – one’s weak links. One’s social reach is determined by the tradeoff between time spent on bonding and the total number of people. It is simply impossible to maintain a close relationship with all of your coworkers at once. Maybe a handful will be selected to be part of your inner circle, but the others are usually delegated as acquaintances and weak links. An inner circle helps you filter essential information from the fuzz and buzz of the outer circle, helping you stay up to date with information most relevant to your circumstances. They also act as a reliable source of help in times of trouble and are the people you mostly spend time with. Humour not only helps to keep ongoing friendships fresh, but also increases your chances of garnering more acquintances and greatly enhances your social presence. In fact a study conducted by Bell Leadership Institute indicates that the two most desirable traits in a leader were a robust work ethic and an outstanding sense of humour.
Humour is often overlooked as unimportant and trivial. However, the smallest things can often mean the most. I hope that you enjoyed this article. Do follow me if you haven’t done so and stay tuned for my next article.
Habits are important parts of our lives. Without them, we are simply unable to function. In fact, according to cognitive psychologists and neurologists, 40 to 95 per cent of human behaviour can be categorised as habits. These habits are often executed unthinkingly and subconsciously with minimal willpower required. As such, habits are said to be the keys to success. However, not all habits are made equal. Some habits may have stronger impacts as compared to others. Some habits may even have the ability to completely change the course of your life. So which habits should we focus on and why? Enter keystone habits. Keystone habits are habits that cause the formation of more habits, which may, in turn, catalyse the creation of more habits. A domino chain, if you will. Thus, rather than focusing on changing your life all at once, you should identify and focus on one keystone habit and let its effects spread across your life. In this article, we will go deeper into the mechanisms of keystone habits and discuss how you can leverage their limitless powers. Before you continue reading, do follow me and subscribe to my newsletter!
What Exactly Are Keystone Habits?
As detailed in Charles Duhigg’s game-changing book The Power of Habit, keystone habits are habits that have the potential to slowly alter almost all aspects of one’s life and thereby pave the way to success. These habits often begin small and focus on one crucial aspect of one’s life, such as willpower. Going to the gym regularly is a good example of such a habit. Not only will your body be healthier through consistent exercise, but your mind will also be sharper, clearer and stronger. By utilising willpower every time you go for a workout, your capacity for willpower and self-control increases. These effects then spill over to other parts of your life. You become less likely to snack unhealthily and more likely to complete a diet plan. You become less likely to watch television for long hours and more likely to take up a book. You become less likely to procrastinate and become more productive. Just by cultivating an exercise habit, you will be able to enjoy increased willpower and, in turn, better able to take up additional habits and more likely to eliminate destructive behaviours. However, exercising is not the only keystone habit that you can have. Reading, if you didn’t know, can also be categorised as a keystone habit. The benefits of reading are broad and limitless. It increases your attention span and allows you to learn about anything you want. Some books may even inspire you to take up new habits. For example, reading about the importance of practice may inspire you to set up routines for practising an instrument while reading about the importance of financial planning may prod you into keeping track of your expenses regularly. Furthermore, with increased vocabulary and knowledge of the world, you will be better able to communicate your ideas, value-add to discussions and will possess greater confidence. For the above reasons, reading is seen to be a powerful habit that is not only simple to do, but also unlimited in potential.
How to Identify and Kick-start a Keystone Habit
So, how do we identify keystone habits? Keystone habits must fulfil the following two criteria – they must be foundational habits that empower other good habits and must be habits that stave offbad habits. For example, habits that aim to improve one’s willpower are likely to be keystone habits as willpower is a skill and resource that, in most cases, influences most of one’s daily choices. With that in mind, how should one start a keystone habit? My recommendation is that one should first start simple and small. You don’t have to exercise at the gym for 1 hour. Instead, in the beginning stages of the habit, you can opt to stay there for as little as 30 minutes, maybe even 15 minutes. It’s up to you. What matters is that you took the initiative to get there. Most of the time, getting out of the house to make your way to the gym takes more willpower than the workout itself. The key to building habits is not quality, but consistency. Focusing too much on quality may lead to burnout and dissatisfaction.
Going to the gym every day seems like a daunting and impossible task. If consistency is that important, how do you maintain it? This is where habit tracking comes in. Habit tracking comprises setting a schedule for your habits while recording daily the completion status of your habits. This allows you to be aware of your progress and motivates you at times when you feel like giving up. For this, I recommend apps like Habitify and Done, which help to automate the habit tracking process and provide timely reminders if you have not completed them. Such apps can provide you with additional insights such as streaks, the average habit completion rate within a specific period and even mood statistics.
Just as a drop of water can create ripples, keystone habits can create minute changes that when accumulated, can eventually overturn your life. Success doesn’t come overnight. Change doesn’t happen on a whim. Big changes come from small, consistent ones over a protracted period of time. Keystone habits help you to do just that, and I hope that this article helped you to gain a deeper understanding into the benefits of keystone habits and their underlying mechanisms. Before you go, do remember to follow me and subscribe to my newsletter! Stay tuned for more articles.
The internet and social media are twin inventions that have and will continue to shape human history. Almost every human has in one way or another utilised them to communicate, educate themselves or accelerate daily tasks. They have become so crucial that we would be in agony to live without them. We use them so much that we no longer question their safety and transparency. Many of us may never realise that our secrets and personal information may be being stored and accessed against our will. In this digital age, we have become so accustomed to entrusting third parties with our sensitive information, believing that they will live up to their promise of consumer privacy. However, it’s not all the time that these companies or third parties will respect our privacy. For example, in 2013, Edward Snowden revealed the existence of numerous surveillance programs headed by different intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency. Leaked reports and documents indicate that these surveillance programs, such as the Five Eyes network and PRISM, have been collecting consumer and personal data on a global scale for years. So, exactly how much freedom and privacy do we possess? How safe is our data?
Social Media: A Data Collecting Net?
As the internet advanced and mobile technology became widespread, the use of social media began to rise. Social media platforms such as Facebook, which was founded in 2004, offered us a space to share our lifestyles freely with others around the world. On such platforms, users can share and upload pictures, videos and recordings which are available to be viewed by everyone or a selected group of individuals, depending on the user’s privacy preferences. While people perceive social media to be a safe space to express their thoughts and feelings, many governments and their respective security services view the above services as a way to better monitor their citizens and thus enforce national security. The sudden influx of free-flowing data on such platforms offers governments, businesses and advertisers an unprecedented view into the lives of citizens, and those in other parts of the world. This has led to the creation of mass surveillance programs that record and analyse consumer data, often without the awareness of the consumer. While there are laws designed to protect personal information and privacy, the act of mass surveillance raises several pressing concerns. These include the reliability of such laws and in the event of absolute necessity, such as in the investigation of crimes, the extent to which relevant authorities may access consumer information. Meanwhile, there is growing concern among internet users that their private information is being sold to or utilised by third-parties without their consent or knowledge. A study conducted by the Pew Trust showed that 80 percent of social media users are concerned about businesses and advertisers accessing and utilising their posts. In 2018, the consulting agency Cambridge Analytics was found to have exploited the private data of more than 50 million Facebook users for the purpose of influencing the 2016 American presidential election.
Edward Snowden: Intelligence, Secrets and Spies
In 2014, Edward Snowden, a former CIA contractor, leaked several documents which revealed the existence of numerous, previously unheard surveillance programs. These programs, controlled by several nations, most prominently members of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance, ranged in capability from the tapping of fibre-optics to the interception of electronic communication. It is also notable that many of these programs have been undetected for years (PRISM launched in 2007 and remained hidden until 2013) and involved many telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Verizon. For his actions, Edward Snowden was charged with violating the 1917 Espionage Act and theft of government property on 21 June 2013. Two days later, he made his way to Moscow to seek asylum, which was granted to him one month later. When questioned about his motives regarding the leak, Snowden expressed that he slowly became disillusioned with the programs he was involved in and was troubled by their ethical implications. He is currently living in Russia with his spouse Lindsay Mills and his son.
In this 21st Century, who should we entrust our information with? How much of our data is truly private? While we still lack clear answers to these questions, it is important to understand the importance of prudence when utilising the internet. Although the internet is a tool that we use almost daily, it is also littered with dangers. Yes, we can “delete” our social media posts, we can “remove” our comments, but how can we be certain that this information will truly be deleted on the other end? In other words, there is simply no substitute for being careful. Anything you post online can be dug up and used against you. This includes your search history too.
So, will the world become the world as predicted by George Orwell in his best-selling novel 1984? One can only wonder how the future will be like.