I, narcissist – vanity, social media, and the human condition

Is social media turning a relatively modest species into a pack of publicity-hungry narcissists? Or were we already inherently self-absorbed?

The Guardian newspaper article examines these questions. Below is a smidgeon of snippets from The Guardian newspaper article.

In the US, diagnoses of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) have risen sharply over the past 10 years: the rate of increase is comparable to the rise in the rate of obesity.

Numerous studies claim to have made direct links between the increase in NPD and the ubiquity of social media. Behaviours such as attempting to attract more followers, wanting to tell followers about your life, and the need to project a positive image at all times have been described by researchers as examples of exhibiting narcissistic personality traits on social media. A direct link has also been found between the number of Facebook friends a person has and the prevalence of socially disruptive traits commonly associated with narcissism.

NPD gained prominence in the 1960s and official criteria for diagnosis were created in 1980. Characteristics of NPD include a deep need for admiration, an inflated sense of one’s own importance, and a lack of empathy for others. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, other diagnostic criteria of narcissistic personality disorder include dreaming of unlimited success; craving attention from other people, but showing few warm feelings in return; and choosing friends based on their prestige and status rather than personal qualities. As an observer, it’s easy to draw parallels between the way people behave on social media and narcissistic traits.

Read the complete article on The Guardian web site here.

I’m tired of reading about your low book or ebook sales. Do something about it.

crying cat

I want all you new authors out there who aren’t selling any books or ebooks worth a darn and are whining about your low or non-existent sales on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or other online locale to stop crying about it everywhere as the only sympathy you’re going to get is from your mom or your dog.

“I published BLAH BLAH BLAH on This Site or That Site or This Place and That Place and haven’t sold any. They are useless.”

“Blah Blah Blah is useless. I published there months ago and haven’t sold one book. Don’t use them.”

“My book (or substitute with ‘ebook’) took years to write and I haven’t sold one copy. Self-publishing is a waste of time.”

MAYBE YOUR BOOK SUCKS?

A few questions for all authors of low and non-existent sales:

If you published your work through companies like Smashwords or Amazon did you market links of your works on Smashwords and its affiliate retailers or Amazon on your web site or blog or Facebook or anywhere?

You did? Did you market it just a few times and then sit back waiting for the royalties to pile up in your bank account?

No? Oh, so you promoted your work everywhere and every day along with the millions of other authors promoting their works everywhere and everyday just like it was suggested by marketing pros and other authors on Linkedin (or some other social site). Good idea. Nothing like filling up social media sites with promotions for ebooks nobody reads.

Stop flooding social media sites with ebook or book promotions. Members of those sites are sick and tired of seeing them all the time.

Market yourself, make viewers interested in you, your viewpoint, your pictures, something, anything but just BLAH BLAH BLAH BUY MY BOOK. Or something similarly barf-worthy as “I just got another 5-stars for BLAH BLAH BLAH”. Okay, so who cares? Do you really think telling the world your work got 5 stars is going to convince people to buy your book, let alone even click on the link to see the review? Thousands of authors get 5 star reviews. Some authors even buy them or use phony names when writing a glowing review of their own work.

But you say even your Author Page or author blog doesn’t get much traffic? Gee, who would have guessed that hundreds, thousands, or millions of people wouldn’t flock to a site about a book and author nobody knows about or has heard about.

I hate to tell you this, but Author Pages or author blogs or anything similar only work worth a damn once you have an audience; a significantly large audience. Sure, you might get 50 -200 visitors a week or month to your author page or blog, but those visitors may have just landed there by mistake. Think about it. If you’re not selling any books then who is visiting your site? And if viewers are visiting your site and you’re still not selling any books or ebooks then perhaps there is a lesson there?

Lots of authors whine about low sales. Maybe it was a crappy book in the first place, maybe it had lousy editing, maybe you were charging $9.95 for something people felt was far overpriced, or maybe the ebook cover or description turned off readers.

Instead of whining about low sales or no sales on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace or elsewhere you should stand back and look at your work with fresh eyes and see why it didn’t sell.

Then fix it so it stands a chance to catch a reader and hold their attention long enough to part with their hard earned money.

Here is an idea, and it won’t cost you a cent (unless – shameless plug coming – you want to own your own copy of Buy This Book. Make Me A Millionaire available at all major online retailers for only $0.99)……. WALK IN THE OTHER PERSONS SHOES!

When marketing your work write the promo as you would want to read it. Think of the hundreds of times you bypassed a promo for an ebook and then remember what it was about the promo that caught your eye and held your attention long enough to click on the link to the promo item.

You’re a writer, goddam it, so write interesting marketing blurbs and tweets. And quit whining about your lousy sales because no one cares, probably not even your mom and especially not your dog.

New report shows NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’

XKeyscore map

XKeyscore is a top secret National Security Agency program which allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported in The Guardian.

“I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email”.

US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden’s assertion: “He’s lying. It’s impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.”

But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.

XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA’s “widest reaching” system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”, including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.

Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing “real-time” interception of an individual’s internet activity.

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Read the complete article on The Guardian web site here.

Now you can rent a mourner for when you die

funeral

Everyone knows how Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are used mainly to boost the ego of the participants, and many of those participants probably have their obit already planned for posting when they die, but why settle for an artificial ego boost like social media when you can hire actual humans to be your eternal rest boosters?

Ian Robertson, founder of Rent-a-Mourner — I’m not making this up — told London’s Daily Telegraph that his Essex, England company charges 45 pounds (about $70) an hour per black-clad-guest. There’s no requirement to blub, as the Brits say, but this is the telling bit: the faux friends are expected to bone up on the history of the corpse and be able to talk to real friends and relatives as if they had known the dearly departed.

It’s the ideal tribute to the sort of people who, in life, bought Twitter followers, posted their photos on HotOrNot.com, or paid bloggers to declare them AWESOME!!!

Yes, nothing says dignified like paying people to show-up at your funeral and pretend they knew you when.

Read the full article on The Tyee here.

Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, looms ahead.

CISPA, which emerged in 2012, has been reborn this week as an even bigger threat to online freedom. If CISPA is passed, the US government gains the power to shut off Internet traffic and empowers the US government to ask your ISP about your online activities in the efforts to learn about possible cyber security threats and Internet attacks. Advocated under the premise of anti-terrorism legislation, this legislation is so broad that it threatens to endanger the privacy of every individual and ordinary and law abiding citizens. This act makes your private online activity now public, giving ISPs the right to share your personal information completely without your knowledge, due process, or authorization.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and namecheap are fighting this act.

For each tweet or Facebook share about this threat, using the buttons on the link below, you will increase the amount namecheap donates to the EFF foundation by $0.10.

Please take a moment and follow this link to the namecheap page containing more information and the Facebook/Twitter buttons. Thank you.

Software that tracks people on social media created by defence firm

Raytheon’s Riot program mines social network data like a ‘Google for spies’, drawing ire from civil rights groups. I’d be worried about this type of software getting into the hands of insurance companies or medical companies or lawyers.

A video obtained by the Guardian reveals how an “extreme-scale analytics” system created by Raytheon, the world’s fifth largest defence contractor, can gather vast amounts of information about people from websites including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

The sophisticated technology demonstrates how the same social networks that helped propel the Arab Spring revolutions can be transformed into a “Google for spies” and tapped as a means of monitoring and control.

Using Riot it is possible to gain an entire snapshot of a person’s life – their friends, the places they visit charted on a map – in little more than a few clicks of a button.

In the video obtained by the Guardian, it is explained by Raytheon’s “principal investigator” Brian Urch that photographs users post on social networks sometimes contain latitude and longitude details – automatically embedded by smartphones within so-called “exif header data.”

Video on Riot program. Read the full story on the Guardian here.

Social networking sites and our lives. PewResearch Report.

Questions have been raised about the social impact of widespread use of social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter. Do these technologies isolate people and truncate their relationships? Or are there benefits associated with being connected to others in this way? The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project decided to examine social networking sites in a survey that explored people’s overall social networks and how use of these technologies is related to trust, tolerance, social support, and community and political engagement.

The findings presented here paint a rich and complex picture of the role that digital technology plays in people’s social worlds. Wherever possible, we seek to disentangle whether people’s varying social behaviors and attitudes are related to the different ways they use social networking sites, or to other relevant demographic characteristics, such as age, gender and social class.

Download the Pew report in PDF here.

Suggested Title

It was snowing and I had nothing better to do, so I started a hash tag on Twitter called #suggestedtitle.

I wrote some #suggestedtitle tidbits for Twitter. Add yours here or on Twitter if you like.

Crotch: The International magazine for dogs. #suggestedtitle

Short cuts. The magazine for surgeons. #suggestedtitle

No Housekeeping. The magazine for homeless people. #suggestedtitle

Beautiful Spot. The magazine of parking. #suggestedtitle

Gimme! The magazine of money. #suggestedtitle

Meter. The magazine for taxi riders. #suggestedtitle