Internet Etiquette and How to Check Yourself

internetetiquetteAn angry email interrupts a mother’s day making her feel sick, and leaving her unable to have fun with her children for the rest of the day.

A girl is yelled at by her parents, dumped by her boyfriend, and thinks she might be pregnant. Then a “friend” posts on her Facebook page “Get your shit together.” She feels like she cannot handle life.

A depressed, chronically ill, disabled person posts TMI (too much information) on Facebook about how he doesn’t know if he can take another day. A “friend” responds that he should stop being negative all the time. The comment makes him feel worse.

These are just a few examples of how we are impacted by the Internet Age.

As educators and parents, teaching children correct online behaviour is daunting. We are floundering around, unsure who to listen to. We know how to teach “please” and “thank you.” But how do we teach written respect?

Why do we need Internet Etiquette?

Ask my teenage daughter how it feels to be happily drawing in your room, then suddenly feel as if you’ve been punched in the stomach because someone called you a slut on Ask.FM.

Recall the last time you opened an email to suffer some kind of verbal attack on you or your work.

Ever regretted something you posted on Facebook in anger?

The Internet allows us to react in real time to whatever hurts us. Our instinctual responses to attacks are not always appropriate in a civil society. The consequences can be far-reaching depending on who we offend. (Your boss. Your mother. Your child. Your best friend. Your spouse.)

Who even determines the rules of Internet etiquette?

A quick search brings up over 12 million hits. Each one, an attempt by someone to impose some manners on our fledgling social media experiences.

Most sites cover the “technical” rules of etiquette, such as who to include in an email reply and how you should not type in ALL CAPS.

I am more interested in the rules of engagement.

What happens between people on an emotional level when they communicate through the Internet?

How can we be effective, sensitive, and ethical on the Internet?

What kinds of manners should we teach our children for interacting with the world on the Internet?

The beginning is near

To date, the Internet has been a free-for-all of trial and error as we navigate our new, ever-evolving world where technology permeates our lives in ways we never imagined.

After all, the Internet is new for anyone over the age of 30. We lived through the change. We watched one reality crumble and another reality emerge. A new reality where information can be found at the touch of a button and you need not lose touch with anyone ever again.

Enter the global community, where mainstream media (television, newspapers, radio, billboards, flyers, and snail-mail newsletters) is not our only news source anymore. We have live, real-time photos and video of police brutality, Egypt’s uprising, and bullied teenagers leaving video-recorded suicide messages.

Reality television is replaced by citizen journalism.

Facebook. Twitter. Youtube. Google. WordPress. Blogger. Hotmail. Yahoo. These are a small sampling of what’s out there. We have countless ways to get our messages out and connect with one another.

The opportunities are unfathomably endless. For people like me, who constantly bubble with ideas and find the world around us fascinating, this has been a wild ride that promises to be more of the same.

The Experiment

The Internet entered our lives in a sudden and violent way. We became unwitting guinea pigs of the new age. One day my reputation is dependent on what I share in public physical spaces; the next day a drunken overshare on Facebook could cost me my job.

Some say “It’s not the real world.” They are wrong. If it wasn’t the real world, it wouldn’t make us cry. It wouldn’t make us angry. It wouldn’t impact other areas of our lives. Social media interaction is a part of daily life now. Real life.

Sure, there are holdouts – people who resist making social media accounts even if they are starting to use search engines and email. I get their reasons for holding out, but at some point they need to understand that Facebook has become a part of the fabric of our society. To engage in today’s society – to understand it – you must participate in social media.

Facebook is not the first corporation to infiltrate our lives. In fact, any product that is commonly referred to by its most highly advertised brand name rather than what the product actually is (Kleenex, Saran Wrap, Kraft Dinner, Advil) could be considered a part of the fabric of our society.

However, never before on such a wide-spread scale have we started questioning things like: What’s in the food by those brands? How is our food made? Outside of providing our products and services, what else are these corporations doing?

We find the answers to our questions on the Internet. It offers us: Unlimited learning. Real time connecting with people all over the world. Finding lost loved ones. Writing about our experiences, opinions, and feelings.

If you’re a critical thinker, like me, the Internet is your favourite toy.

Breakthrough or downfall?

Some people criticize how the Internet has affected people’s egos, allowing us unlimited ability to share TMI (too much information) about our personal lives and post selfies (photos of selves taken by selves). Critics say “The world has gone to hell in a hand-basket;” “No one connects in person anymore;” and “People have become anti-social.”

I perceive it very differently.

I see mothers, who have been traditionally very isolated, conducting intelligent conversations with other like-minded women, as well as instigating and leading revolutions. I see people suffering from depression reaching out for support and encouragement. I see change-makers coming together for different causes, making the world a better place.

Best of all, I see knowledge exchange. We are learning from each other at a rapid rate.

The Dark Side

I’m not blind to the dark side of the Internet. People telling each other to “go kill yourself.” Relentless online bullying among teenagers (and adults). Cyber-stalking. Identity theft. Reputation destruction. Animal abuse on film and more.

There is a dark side. And it includes how we talk to each other.

My concern about how we talk to each other is what inspired me to write this post.

What makes me an expert?

At forty-one, I am an Internet Age veteran. I rode the wave through one of the most transformational eras in human history, if not THE most transformational. My kids have never known anything different. For them, there’s never been a world without the Internet. They take for granted that they have friends across the oceans and have connected with celebrities personally.

I never knew a life without television, which might be considered the most influential propaganda machine ever invented. But a moving screen in your living room with talking heads is nothing compared to a global community designed for connecting with others and exchanging knowledge.

I lived through the Internet’s emergence. I knew the world before it was flipped upside-down. I remember “manners” before malicious emails started dropping into our inboxes. I recognize both the dark side of the Internet and celebrate the potential of a connected global community.

I was trained in media relations before social media took on an ever-present role in our lives. As a frontline support worker, I was trained in conflict management, de-escalation techniques, addictions, trauma, and the complex role of mental health.

Communicating effectively is my specialty.

The people

At the core of Internet etiquette is the realization that on the receiving end of every message is a human being. Fallible. Emotional. Deserving of dignity and respect.

Remembering this simple truth puts things into perspective. The Golden Rule today is: Deliver a message the way you would want to receive it.

To that end, here they are…

The Rules of Internet Etiquette

1. Do not post about people’s deaths

How would you like to find our your father died by seeing a post by someone else on his Facebook timeline? That’s exactly what happened to my brother when our father died. A family friend who lived in the same city posted an RIP message before we were even contacted by our step-brother.

Err on the side of caution. Let a family member be the first to announce a death in the family.

2. Do not post about people’s health

Health is a sensitive subject. Most of us only share our serious health concerns with select loved ones. I should have thought of this when I posted an interesting article on a friend’s timeline about her health condition. She was kind when she asked me not to do it again, that she preferred her privacy on that issue. Understandably so!

3. Do not post semi-nude or nude photos of people without their permission, even if they post their own sometimes

Allow others to determine whether potentially-sensitive photographs will be shared on social media or not. The subject of the photo should have the choice and the power over sharing of sensitive images.

4. Do not send uninvited nude photos of yourself

Ignoring the obvious dangers of sending a nude photo (such as having it shared widely and your reputation damaged), there is the reaction of your recipient to think of.

Most people do not open a message expecting to see dicks or labia. The sheer shock impact is disrespectful. Some may be more than shocked. They may feel offended, violated, even assaulted for being forced to view an image they did not choose to view.

Save those sexy shots for someone you can trust, who will appreciate your photo. Someone who has indicated to you that he or she wants to receive your perky pics.

5. Do not post about being wasted or doing drugs

It’s no one’s business. It can give people the wrong impression of who you really are. It makes you appear weak. People will take you less seriously.

However, a joke about drinking wine or an article about medical marijuana is fully, socially acceptable. Think before hitting “send” or “post.”

6. Curse only when absolutely necessary

Cursing excessively is a huge mistake.

First of all, it makes you appear immature. Some will even assume you are a teenager with a potty mouth. If you want to be taken seriously, refrain from over-using curse words. If you want to inspire trust and command respect, refrain from over-using curse words.

Secondly, the less you curse, the more effect it will have when you use it. There is a time and place for cursing. Sometimes a thought cannot be authentically expressed without including a curse in the delivery. Using curse words is a surefire way to emphasize a point you’re passionate about or to add weight to a serious announcement.

Save your curses for those special moments when no other expression will suffice.

7. Do not send malicious or angry emails

Sending a malicious private message or email is one of the most abusive, unmannerly, cowardly things you could possibly do.

No one deserves an emotional punch in the stomach just for logging onto the Internet.

If you work with the person, save your criticism for the workplace. Deliver it face-to-face.

Don’t be a coward, hiding behind your computer screen. If you need to say something critical to someone, do it in person.

By delivering your message in person, you are forced to deliver it with respect. You are forced to face the person you are criticizing. You are forced to witness the impact of your words.

If you’re a decent person, try to find a way to deliver your message kindly. In that case, you may even be able to send it by email.

8. If you say on social media that you’ll do something, do it

You’re moving at the end of the month. At the last minute, the people who promised to help you back out. In desperation, you turn to Facebook posting a request for friends to volunteer. You need one truck and a minimum of three people.

Three friends offer to help and one of them has a truck! Seeing that you got the help you need, no other friends offer…

The problem: Two of those “friends,” including the one with the truck, are not known for being reliable. Neither shows up on moving day.

This could have been avoided if the unreliable friends refrained from offering to help. Others, who are reliable, would have come forward.

When someone asks for help on social media, and you post publicly that you will help them; follow through, because you wrecked any chance they had of getting help from someone else.

9. Don’t post photos of other people’s children

There are kids in your child’s birthday photos whose parents you don’t really know. They aren’t in your social media networks. How about the kids at the playground climbing the same monkey bars as your child in the photo that you took?

Many people do not realize that everything you post gets archived. There’s no such thing as erasing a photo or comment permanently.

Parents have the right to protect their children’s privacy. If you don’t have their permission, cut the other kids out of the photo or don’t post it.

10. Don’t post bad photos of your friends and if they ask you to remove a photo, do it

You might think your friend looks fantastic in the photo you posted. But it is not a photo of you. It is a photo of your friend, so give your friend the respect of removing any photo requested of you.

11. Stand up for others

Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Refrain from verbally assaulting people online and defend them when someone else is doing it.

12. Say sorry

This is probably the most important rule of Internet etiquette. You are human. You make mistakes. You inadvertently hurt people by your comments, or post something that is incorrect.

There is a very simple solution to your indiscretion. Say you’re sorry. Say it publicly. Say it with sincerity. Admit you were wrong. Show your understanding of why you were wrong. Apologize for any offense or pain you may have caused.

Surprisingly, you will earn more respect and people will trust you more if you are willing to admit when you’re wrong and take responsibility for your actions.

A living document

Rules for Internet etiquette are not like the ten commandments. They are not finite and eternal. Just as the Internet is constantly evolving, the rules for engaging respectfully online will also need to constantly evolve.

The rules listed above are based on my own experiences and those I’ve witnessed. I have no doubt there are others that should be on this list. I invite you to tell me what is missing. How have you behaved inappropriately on the Internet? How have the actions of others on the net impacted you negatively?

Social media interaction is a part of the real world that we participate in now. It is not a separate or fake land we visit and then leave. It is about connecting with others. It is personal. And it can be taken personally.

It’s each of our responsibility to learn and teach others how to use this new power for good rather than evil. We must take our newfound ability to engage globally from the comfort of our own homes and use it to make the world a better place.

Technical Etiquette

Here is a brief summary of technical Internet etiquette strategies which will help you appear more professional and ensure a higher likelihood that others will get your message the way you intended it.

  • Keep messages short. People don’t like reading long blocks of text, especially if much of it is redundant or irrelevant.
  • Check your spelling. Spelling matters if you want your message understood and taken seriously.
  • Do not use ALL CAPS. It is the written equivalent of yelling and it’s annoying to read.
  • Use the subject line. When you can, include a few words or less to summarize what your message is about in the subject line.
  • Check what you say. Anything written online by you can be evidence used against you.
  • Use blind carbon copy (bcc) when sending emails to multiple recipients. Many people are sensitive about having their email shared with others, especially people they don’t know.
  • Add your name at the end of messages. It adds the personal touch and reminds the reader who is speaking, especially in a listserve or long string of emails.
  • Only include relevant recipients when sending or replying to an email.
  • Don’t forward personal emails without permission from the original sender.
  • Don’t start or forward chain letters via email or social media (Facebook etc). They annoy most people.
  • Don’t share personal information such as where you work or go to school, phone number, address, etc. This rule is intended to preserve your safety and security.
  • Give credit to the people who originally created any content you are sharing.
  • Don’t spam people – over-send or share your message. Post it once. Send it once. Send it only to people who agreed to receive it or who you know to be interested in whatever it is your promoting.
  • Lurk (watch what others post and learn the site rules) before posting in a new forum.

Things you may not know about others (IE. trolls) who attack you online

  1. Just like there are people who are paid to promote an industry (Dairy, Oil, Pharmaceuticals); there are people who are paid to discredit and verbally criticize anyone who expresses opinions against those industries. If you are insulted by a stranger, ask yourself if your original comment challenges the integrity of a corporation or two.
  2. There is something called “ideological indoctrination” which is the shaping of society through propaganda and misinformation to persuade people to accept as truths ideas that support the continuation of our current political and economic system. In other words, we are told what to believe repeatedly and in different ways until we believe it without question. If you begin to question these ideologies online, you will “put yourself out there.”
  3. If you “put yourself out there” by expressing a unique perspective or trying something new, you will be judged. Expect it. Try not to take it personally. And please do not let a fear of being judged stop you from engaging in activism.
  4. Some people really like to stir shit up and cause drama. For peace of mind, unfollow them, block them, or otherwise avoid engaging with them. It is not worth losing your peace.
  5. If you are being mercilessly attacked in one or more of your social media accounts, shut them down permanently or until you feel safe to go back on them again.

How to check yourself

At any given time of day, we cannot know what another person is going through. How many coworkers would tell you if one of their parents was terminally ill? How many of the moms on the Parent Advisory Committee would tell you if they lost a close friend to suicide recently?

Even your closest friends and family do not tell you everything. Your daughter didn’t tell you she messed up at her audition. Your brother didn’t tell you his wife is talking about leaving him. Your mom didn’t tell you she found out Dad was cheating.

As you can see, devastating circumstances in a person’s life will impact how a person receives your message, especially when your message is unkind in any way.

Don’t do it.

I’m not saying “Don’t write that angry email.” I’m saying, “Write it in a word processor first.”

Editing is your new favourite past-time. It will improve your life dramatically.

Here are the steps to check yourself when expressing a potentially unpleasant message:

  1. Write your angry message. Say it all. Say everything you wish you could say. Insult, criticize, rant, vent – just get it out. Don’t do it in your email though. You DO NOT want to accidentally send that email.
  2. Go through the message, sentence by sentence, and re-word every sentence that could be taken unkindly. If it cannot be reworded, delete it.
  3. Re-read your message and add any sentences that need to carry the story and show respect for the recipient.
  4. Switch sentences around so that you (1) start with appreciation or acknowledgment of the good intentions of the recipient, but (2) how it didn’t work out that way because… (3) Take responsibility for your part in the situation – perhaps you did not communicate your expectations properly, or you misunderstood the original exchange. (4) Finish the message with a solution to the issue and either ask the recipient to resolve it or let them know you will resolve it yourself. (5) Express a kindness, such as “I hope your day is going better,” (6) add your name, (7) then walk away from your message so you can re-read it and follow these steps again if needed.
  5. Be sure to use “please” and “thank you” whenever appropriate. Manners should not go out the window because you are on the Internet.

Pass it on

Internet etiquette is profoundly important in this new world we find ourselves in. Instant communication has arrived gloriously and tragically. Our children and grandchildren are guinea pigs in this grand experiment. We were unprepared to prepare them.

If there is a chance for us to redeem ourselves… If there is a way for us to correct our error… If there is hope for a civil global community…

Then we must teach each other how to communicate effectively online. We must find a way to engage our youth in this process. They are our future leaders and innovators. They are our future parents.

If we are to pass down the manners that were passed onto us, then we must define them for a global, connected community.

Mind your manners. Pass it on. #digitalactivism

Tips for Parents and Teachers

I’d like to acknowledge Merlyn Horton from the Safe Online Education Society for inspiring most of the following suggestions.

Workshop / Discussion ideas:

  • If you could design Internet etiquette rules, what would they be?
  • What are some ways to handle being cyber-abused? How to react? Ideas to avoid making it worse? Ways to protect yourself from the abuse?
  • Scenarios – How might you handle this situation?
    • Someone you know but don’t really like is being targeted by someone you know who you really do like.
    • Someone you know is being targeted by someone you are afraid of. You don’t want them to turn their anger on you.
    • You posted something that hurt another person’s feelings and now you feel bad about it.
    • People are sending you hate messages or posting mean things on social media about you.
    • Someone has sent you a friend request. He or she is friends with most of the people on your friend list so you probably know this person but you’re not sure how you know them.
    • Your friend confides to you that she showed her breasts to a boy online and now the boy is threatening to show the photos to her family and friends if she doesn’t do other things he wants her to do on film. What advice would you give her?
    • If you were to describe your “self-brand” online, what would you say? (Example: I am very vocal about politics, social issues, and the environment. I also love posting stuff about people doing kind things for each other, or videos of people with amazing talent. My “self-brand” might be described as: activist, rebel, hippy, who loves to dance. Or people who don’t like me might consider my self-brand to be: anarchist, trouble-maker, health fanatic who glorifies inappropriate dance styles.)
    • Can anyone share a story about a time they saw a person being targeted online and they defended the person without being mean yourself?

Internet / Gaming Addiction

  • Gaming is like music. There are different genres: Roleplay, First person shooter, arcade, etc.
  • How gaming can be negative:
    • The way people talk to each other online.
    • Adults who are very serious about the game talking inappropriately to children who are just learning (insulting them, using vulgar /foul language).
    • Sexist – Gamergate – a woman gave a bad review of a game and how it treats women and she was threatened with rape, death and more.
  • Study topic: “Gaming for Good” (Ted Talks)
  • Study topic: World of Warcraft; World Cyber Games

Getting Proactive: (for educators)

  • Build informed citizens – teach coding and how the web works in school.
  • Teachertube – sharing curriculum
  • Apps that help facilitate communication for kids with ASD who are non-verbal
  • Engage youth online to encourage face-to-face initiatives

Things to remember:

  • Kids and teens are not developmentally equipped to asses risk and project into the future.
  • Many kids and youth are afraid to tell adults about problems they are having online because they are scared they will get their devices taken away. To build a relationship where the kid feels safe to come to you, you must resist “punishing” them for it.
  • Be understanding and remember that we all make mistakes. Be tolerant of the child’s mistakes.
  • The Internet is not merely a place of danger and addiction. It is also a place of learning, connecting, and building a career. There are wonderful things about the Internet that we should acknowledge and appreciate.
  • Exhibitionism is a developmental phase. (example: mooning your friends or flashing your boobs.) But now, exhibitionism is a digital artifact. Public and permanent. This message we must really emphasize.

Our main goals as parents, youth workers, and educators:

  • Have frequent, meaningful, value-based conversations with our kids
  • Build empathy
  • Encourage digital citizenship
  • Teach kids how to handle making mistakes:
    • Acknowledge your mistake
    • Take responsibility for it
    • Repair it as best you can

How to Build A Free Activism Website in Blogger

activismrentonplanetActivism in itself, usually doesn’t pay well. Especially when you’re starting a new project, funds are often limited.

One mistake many people make when they are beginning organized digital activism is to spend a bunch of money on their website, not realizing that there is an easier and less expensive way.

If you pay someone to build your website, you will need to pay them update it, upgrade it, add new elements, and whatever else comes up in the development of your cause. Each change or addition will cost you more.

Paying to do activism doesn’t seem so bad at first because you are passionate about your cause and you feel it is worth it. However, as time goes on and costs add up, your volunteer hours and financial contributions may begin to wear you down, dampening your resolve.

However, if you are not too picky about certain design elements , there is a very simple way to create your own website completely for free. A website that includes:

  • an email feature,
  • social icons to direct people to your social media accounts,
  • static pages,
  • a blog or “news” section,
  • navigation bars wherever you may need them,
  • your logo easily posted at the top of your page and an opportunity to write a tagline, and
  • countless gadgets that enable you to customize your website.

nakedtruth_screenshotIn this post, I will show you how to make a beautiful website with all the necessary design and content elements that will ensure you have all your bases covered for free.

The only cost to you will be to purchase a domain name if you do not already have one. Domain names can cost as little as $9.99 and go all the way up depending on the name you want and whether someone else has already purchased it with intent to sell it to people like you at a later date.

Currently, I have two websites I am running. The one you are reading right now <DigitalActivistMedia.com> which is a WordPress site; and my sex worker rights page <NakedTruth.ca> which is a Blogger site.

Please refer to the NakedTruth.ca page for examples of the elements I will be discussing here.

WordPress vs Blogger: Why I Love Blogger

A note on my experience so far using WordPress vs Blogger:

I am not a web designer. I do not know code. Widgets baffle me. Despite years of digital activism and running websites, I have never been able to work in a program beyond using a WYSIWYG editor.

Running a WordPress website frustrates me, especially when I see what I can do in my blogger site easily and without grief. Beyond the cost of hosting the site, any kind of new element or element I would like to change about my WordPress site costs me money, whether it is a an upgraded template or the web designer to do the work. I have been fortunate that a friend has worked on the site for me for free, but I don’t want to take advantage of her generosity either.

Blogger, on the other hand, has offered me endless possibilities. I can add html codes very easily using their html gadget. Anything I have wanted to do, I’ve been able to do with Blogger by myself.

Steps to Creating an Activism Website in Blogger

I am going to list the steps here with links to the “how to’s” in each of the steps. Since the information is already out there, I didn’t see any reason to re-create it. However, if you’re having trouble, please feel free to ask questions in the comment section and I will help you out!

  1. Create a Blogger Website
  2. Main Design Elements – Think minimal distraction, clear purpose, and obvious “call to action.” Go into “Design,” then “Layout” to add your logo into the “Header.”
  3. Remove the “Blogger” navigation bar.
  4. Add your own Favicon to show at the top of the page.
  5. Create “Pages” – The main ones you must include are the “About” page, “Resources” page (or other term to describe where all your best information is), and “Contact” page. Limit the amount of pages you have to limit distraction and make navigation easier.
  6. Purchase and direct a domain name to your Blogger website.
  7. Add an Email Subscription option using Free Mailchimp. First you must sign up for Mailchimp, create a “List” and then an “RSS Campaign.” Then you can use the code from your campaign to add an HTML gadget to your sidebar or into your posts. You can also use your Mailchimp account to send out newsletters and other messages to your subscribers.
  8. Add Disqus to your site to make commenting easy for your guests. First you must create an account with Disqus.
  9. Add Sitemeter to your site, so you can track visitors and traffic to your site. Once you’ve signed up, copy the code (from the manager section of your Sitemeter account which you will find under “HTML”) and paste it into an HTML gadget in your Blogger account.
  10. Social Icons from POWr widget show a "plug" sign that is not relevant to your site. However, the widget is free, so you have no choice but to have the plug sign there.

    Social Icons from POWr widget show a “plug” sign that is not relevant to your site.

    Add POWr social icons to your sidebar.  There is one aspect of this free gadget that you may not like: The “plug” symbol on the POWr widget for social icons which leads people to the POWr site. However, the other icons are customizeable for you to include whichever social media accounts you want to make accessible to your visitors.

Now you have an activism website that is fully equipped to build a subscriber list, send out blog posts and news updates, is easy to comment on, has links directly to your social media accounts, and you can see who is visiting your site and where your traffic is coming from.

Why spend a ton of money on hosting and a web developer, or depend on a kind friend to make your website changes when you can do it yourself easily?

Blogger makes web design so simple, anyone can do it. Once your site is set-up following the above directions, you are left with the fun part of adding blog posts about your cause that will inspire people to support it.

As activists, we already dedicate a lot of our time, energy, and money to the causes we’re passionate about. Make your activism website in Blogger so you can spend your time, energy, and money on yourself. You need your strength if you’re going to change the world.

Please post comments and questions below. xoxo


Twenty Things Sheep Say On the Internet

sheep-internetI know it is really ba-a-a-a-a-ad to make fun of people who are simply not educated. I once followed “the herd” too!

This is NOT about those who just don’t know better.

This is about those who angrily and viciously attack people who woke the f*** up (many of us awakening in a most violent and life-altering way).

This is about people who refuse to even consider that their blind adherence to the social order makes them robotic pawns of their government and its corporate agenda.

Despite being exposed to alternative views with overwhelming evidence supporting them, sheep will FANATICALLY DEFEND the views they have been taught to believe.

On the other side of the spectrum: This blog post is FOR people who woke the f*** up. People like me.

This is for people who, due to trauma or the desire to prevent trauma, did our research, asked the hard questions, and faced the truth even when it broke our hearts.

Hearts broken and dominant ideologies destroyed, we felt obliged to educate others.

What do we get for speaking up? Well, mostly we get a lot of hostility and ignorance from people who haven’t done the research or asked the hard questions.

  • They don’t click on the link because they are scared of what they might learn.
  • They will only read it if it tells them what they want to hear.
  • Anything contrary to what they already believe, they block their eyes and their minds to it.

They are asleep. They are sheep.

This is what sheep say on the internet.

  1. “Mercury and aluminum injected into an infant is perfectly safe. Just ask the CDC.”chemtrails
  2. “I’d rather take a prescription from my doctor than try some old wives tale from the Dr. Google.”
  3. “I was vaccinated and I’m fine.” (says chronically ill, disabled person with an autoimmune disorder)
  4. “I took an aircraft course ten years ago. Those are contrails, idiot.”
  5. “It’s a good thing the police shut down the whole city. I felt so safe when I saw all those tanks and guns.”
  6. “I can’t wait to get an RFID chip implant, so I don’t have to carry a wallet around anymore.”
  7. “I don’t need to read the study to know it’s a load of bullshit.”police
  8. “There’s no nutritional difference between organic and non-organic.”
  9. “They wouldn’t sell it if it wasn’t safe.”
  10. “I’d rather have a kid with autism than dead from measles.”
  11. “The gluten-free diet is a fad. Only people with celiac disease should be gluten-free.”
  12. “GMO seeds are saving people in third world countries.”
  13. “I have cancer, so I *have* to get immunized every year.”immunizationwhatitmeans
  14. “Just because it happened right after his shots, doesn’t mean the vaccine caused it.”
  15. “I don’t need to do any research because I trust the professionals.”
  16. “You can’t get a job without an education.”
  17. “That guy with that study about autism was proved to be a fraud.”
  18. “We are lucky we have fluoride in our water supply, so we don’t have to add it in ourselves.”
  19. “I don’t believe anything that comes from alternative media.”
  20. “There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m just one person.”

Thankfully, the world is not comprised totally of sheep. There is hope for the world after all. People who think critically, question “the authorities,” and do our own research…we exist. And we’re pissed.

“The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off.” -Gloria Steinem

wewereseedsI want to thank all the #revolutionaries and #changemakers who are committed to truth in the face of deeply entrenched societal indoctrination and cognitive dissonance.

We are individuals, yes, but we are changing the world one person at a time. When 99% of the people refuse to open their minds, 1% will thank us for our courage because their minds are now opened. This is how ideas grow.

Stay strong. Be an #activist4life.

Please share your favourite “Things Sheep Say” in the comments section below.


Be the Solution Or Else

activismrentonplanetDo you agree with this quote by Eldridge Cleaver?

“If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.”

I recently felt distaste towards some people in my life who travel and horde money so they can retire early. Yep, that about sums it up. Why should it bother me? I wondered.

As someone who catches myself being judgmental and strives to challenge myself in those moments, I asked myself, “What is it about them doing what makes them happy that bothers me so much?”

That was when I realized that on a subconscious level, I agree with the above statement. I judge people who are not part of the solution, because deep down, I consider them part of the problem.

makeadifferenceeveryday(In retrospect, I realize I am totally drawn to activists. I’ve unintentionally based my respect for people upon their dedication to truth and willingness to stand for something, especially when they are standing alone.)

Epiphany! The things you learn about yourself when you’re not even trying.

Being an introspective sort, I then wondered how I could bridge this new development. How could I strive to be nonjudgmental while also judging people for lack of activism?

Clearly, I would have to give up one of these values, or be a hypocrite.

It goes without saying, that I should stop judging my narrow-focused, fellow human beings. I must not give in to the temptation to put myself above others, no matter how shallow and meaningless their lives are.

changetheworldcoverOops, there I go again.

Gandhi? Mother Teresa? St. Francis of Assisi? Wayne Dyer? Deepak Chopra? God?

I could use a little guidance right now.

Tell me how to accept the automatons. The people who walk through life, ignoring the suffering of others; focused on themselves and their own puny lives at all moments.

Tell me how to love them unconditionally.

Cause right now, I’m struggling. I want to slap some sense into these people. I want to wake them up. I…I…want to shake them till they get it!

I realize, it’s not my burden. I have my journey. They have theirs. Okay, okay, okay. I will try not to judge them. I will try to be happy for them, when they are bragging about their trips to tropical locations (and not even a little bit jealous…okay, a little bit). I will even try to like them; see the wonderfulness inside of them.

shakeitupBut I can’t promise I won’t try to shake them up once in awhile. Oh no. They are gonna be shaken up when this @DAMactivist comes around. There’s no hiding, my friends.

I’m going to love my activism all over you. (A voice in my head told me to. It must be Rob Schneider.)

#bethesolution


Socially Unacceptable Activism

When you read the title of this post, is there a particular activism that pops into your head? Perhaps YOU engage in a cause that is socially unacceptable.

gladmyprostituteFor instance, feminism is the dinosaur of unacceptable activism. Even many feminists don’t want to be called the “F” word, for fear of being equated with the crazy, shame-slinging, man-hating ones.

Perhaps it is easier to start with socially acceptable activism? It makes me think of environmentalists, animal rights protectors, Monsanto opposers, breastfeeding champions; even LGBT rights has gone mainstream.

I like to think I am all of those kinds of activist. But I am also a fringe activist belonging to two very different socially unacceptable activism movements: sex worker rights and vaccine awareness. I know what it’s like to be hated.

Moral crusaders and radical “feminists” hate me. They call me out by name publicly in blogs and on websites. To them, I am a pimp and perpetuator of rape. To them, I am “privileged” and my experience in the sex industry is not “typical.” All this because I enjoyed being a stripper and I challenge the stigma associated with it.

damonmagwoodMedical professionals and people who have faith in the medical establishment hate me. They have accused me of being a baby-killer, a promoter of disease, and a “conspiracy theorist.” All over the web, they demand that people like me be put in jail or quarantined on an island. Some even make threats against children of people like me, who don’t vaccinate.

I have to tell you. Being a part of socially unacceptable activism isn’t easy. I have faced scorn, ridicule, blame, and outright hostility for speaking my truth.

I have feared for my safety, been cyber-stalked, felt many times like I’ve been punched in the gut when I opened my Facebook or email accounts.  I’ve embarrassed my family and lost friends. For speaking my truth.

And that is the essence of activism to me. It is speaking from experience and having allies. I have experience as a sex industry worker, therefore I am entitled to demand my rights. I have experienced vaccine-injury, therefore I am entitled to warn others about the risks.

At the heart of every movement are the people who’ve suffered.

You can’t tell me what it’s like to be a stripper if you’ve never been discriminated against for being one. (Or flicked your underwear off your toe, into the air; catching it with your finger in front of a bar full of men.)

If your child was vaccinated and went on to be a straight “A” student and valedictorian, that does not erase my experience of vaccine harm. (Thousands of parents aren’t lying.)

Sex industry workers are not collateral damage in the war on organized crime or in the name of abolishing male privilege or for the sake of Christian morality. People who are vaccine-injured or lose their lives following a vaccine, especially children, are not collateral damage for the good of “the herd.”

I am not disposable.

only_rights_can_stop_wrongsPeople become passionate about a cause because it has impacted us. It is our truth.

I find it ironic when I see other activists slamming a movement, like my sex worker friends slamming parents who don’t vaccinate. Or vice-versa. I live with the stigma of both.

I go through moments of fear and anxiety. Should I stand up for this cause that has impacted me? Will I be attacked or is this person open to learning?

Yet, there is a certain rush to standing proud and loud about my truth. When I’m quoted in the media or my writing is featured, I feel a rush that I decidedly enjoy.

I get a big grin on my face, giggle a little. I know I’m about to be both criticized and congratulated. And I am ready. I am armed with experience and knowledge. No one can intimidate me…today! (Maybe tomorrow I will hide and nurse my wounds.)

I am passionate about my truth; socially unacceptable, though it may be. Sorry Mom. Sorry Aunt Head-In-The-Sand. Your ex-stripper, anti-vax relation is spouting her mouth off again.

Being a socially unacceptable activist isn’t easy. I have days when I feel very attacked. I feel drained. I feel despised. I feel threatened. I wonder why I put myself through it. I turn off my phone, boycott my computer and hide from the cruel world out there.

But I can’t help it. Once I have recovered, I am compelled to speak for what I believe in again.

I challenge other activists to stop and think before they criticize a socially unacceptable activist. Stop and ask yourself, have I suffered around this issue? And, how much do I really know about it?

If you have neither experience or knowledge to inform you, consider being an ally. Us fringe activists of socially unacceptable causes – we can always use more of those. Allies are the people who respect our experience and support our right to speak our truth.

Respect my experience. Support my right to speak my truth. Be my ally. And I will do the same for you.

 

After remark: I LOVE this article by Kathi Valeii. You could replace “anti-vaxxer” with “sex worker” in this article and it would still work perfectly. Women oppressing women in the name of Feminism.


Digital Activists for Vaccine Awareness

vaxcover_up

I’ve seen the argument many times in pro-vax literature that anti-vax folks are negatively influenced by social media, this being the reason they choose to delay or avoid vaccines for their children.

I wondered if this was true, so I conducted a survey via surveymonkey.com asking vaccine-aware folks about the reason for their stance on vaccines.

The purpose of the survey was to find out how social media has impacted the vaccine-awareness movement and the people who are passionate about it.

I asked four questions:

  • Who Are You?
  • What prompted you to question vaccines?
  • Where do you get your vaccine info?
  • What impact has social media had on this movement?

I posted a link to the survey in vaccine-freedom groups and pages on Facebook.

Here are my results.

  • 78% (50 out of 64) people who answered the survey are parents who either decline, delay, or alter the recommended vaccine schedule for their children.
  • 57% consider themselves activists.

Now, I wonder, why do so many people feel so passionately about this cause? Is it because social media made them do it (as the vaccine-pushers would like people to believe)?

According to the folks who took my survey, social media has impacted the movement in a huge way, enabling people to share information, resources, and links to peer-reviewed studies.

Yet, the reasons most listed for taking the vaccine rights position go much deeper.

  • Eleven of the 64 respondents had experienced vaccine-injury themselves.
  • A whopping 26 people knew someone close to them who had been vaccine-injured or died following a vaccine.
  • Twenty-two respondents knew someone who had been vaccine-injured.

This does not sound like a group of people who were swayed by social media posts.

As Michael Chad said in his blog before it was removed: “What’s missing from the Times’ story is the fact that most parents who don’t vaccinate take that position because they have already sacrificed one of their young for the herd, and no longer feel a civic duty to follow doctor’s orders.”

If you spend some time in vaccine-awareness Facebook groups, you’ll find out that people who don’t vaccinate, are not only outraged by vaccines…

They are outraged by a corrupt medical establishment. They are outraged by medical kidnapping and forced chemotherapy.

In essence, anti-vaxxers might better be described as Health Freedom Fighters (or Health Freedom Lovers, as I would prefer to call ourselves).

How did we become so strong and committed to the Health Freedom Cause?

According to the website of Unicef of Central and Eastern Europe:

An innovative UNICEF working paper … provides evidence that parents are actively tapping into social media networks to decide whether to immunize their children. It also details key language and arguments used, as well as the influencers shaping the online conversation. (my emphasis)

How can I get on THAT list? Download the pdf of this report here to read about yourself from a vaccine-pusher’s perspective. 😉

While the intent of the paper was to inform vaccine-pushers in their efforts to promote pro-vax propaganda via social media; another study came out indicating that efforts to persuade people in the pro-vax direction were having the opposite effect.

Pro-vax efforts resulted in LESS people vaccinating. Blame it on our demographic!

Those vaccine-pushers must be worried. They’re researching us, writing down our names, and brainstorming how to stop us. I say, “Good luck!”

But I am more interested in the people who make up our community. In particular, I want to know how social media has impacted the vaccine rights movement.

The vaccine-awareness movement has exploded on social media, especially on blogs and Facebook, and continues to gain momentum, literally terrifying vaccine-pushers the world over.

Here is a small snapshot of the stories we are sharing (taken from my survey). These individuals were asked what initially prompted them to question vaccines.

Two out of 5 Grandchildren…suffered a decline in their health, lost the twinkle in their eyes, became vacant, weight loss and diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers.

Ended in Hospital sicker than a dog following flu vaccine- wasn’t sure if I was going to recover…. funny- haven’t received flu vaccine since- and…. have not been sick with the flu- that was approx 7 years ago.

As a Retired RPN who believed in vaccines…I started to LOOK around and see, children everywhere having MELTDOWNS in stores misbehaving, attention disorders. Then Mennonite children…looking, HEALTHY, and well behaved and when I personally SAW the decline in my Grandchildren..Things started to CHANGE for me.

My son became autistic after vaccination.

My son getting sick after vaccinations to enter school and taking me years to fix him and make him a normal functioning child!

My son passed out in the clinic after getting his Kindergarten shot, because, I feel that he got too many. I can’t rule out an allergy to one or more so I am going to exempt him from further.

Daughters 1 yr shots caused seizure.

The reaction I got from my doctor when I chose to delay my daughter’s 2 month shots. She had a fever and instead of playing safe and waiting until she was better, my Dr chose fear mongering and said she would die if we waited. Also, I asked him what rotarix was and he said “a squirt of water”. So i guess his attitude made me question things.

Parent of vaccine injured daughter – Gardasil.

I work in the school system and spoke with many parents who have vaccine-injured children.

My brother died a couple hours after his 2 month needle. They had to shock his heart back to life in the ambulance and he was only a newborn! He’s now 16 years old but suffers from short term memory loss and it affects his school but he’s doing well.

I received the Dtap per my docs suggestion to protect my grandchild-to-be. Some time after I came across an article on the fact that me being vaccinated would not prevent me from being a carrier. A silent carrier at that. Then I started reading as much as I could get my hands on. As a nurse I did not have trouble weeding out the junk on both sides of the issue.

Death of child due to vaccine-injury.

I watched my first born get sicker and sicker after each round of shots, she also had a mystery rash all over her body until I stopped vaccinating.

Our second son suffered adverse reaction.

I had childhood cancer. Was looking for the reason.

I had a roommate whose son disappeared before her eyes after his vaccinations and has never been the same since.

I had two aunts die of the flu shot in the 90s. I have a good friend that has an autistic child that did a lot of research. I had 3 children that were affected by vaccines, not profoundly, but enough that I knew something was wrong.

My son had a reaction to his 9 month dtap, and I watched him show the most pain I’ve ever seen him in.

A couple years ago one of my dogs almost died after receiving a vaccine. The second of my dogs has severed vaccinosis as well – from only getting his puppy shots. I started to wonder if it was “normal” and doing my own research. At first I thought the information I was finding couldn’t be right, how could vaccines do harm?! However the more I researched the clearer it became (just follow the money). And one day, it just kind of clicked in my brain “what about people, we get vaccines too”?

My sister’s son had a reaction. My boss’ father was afflicted with guillain barre after a flu shot.

If my small survey is any indication, it seems that vaccine-pushers are correct about one thing. This movement is driven by personal stories. But we are not talking about a handful of stories, shared rampantly throughout social media, as vaccine-pushers suggest.

Contrary to popular belief, Andrew Wakefield is not our only source (although we respect him as a valid one).We are talking about our own stories. Stories of loss, despair, and outrage. Stories of hundreds of hours of research.

Many of us started out trying to prove to ourselves that vaccines are safe, only to be shocked at the stark reality our research makes clear. Vaccines are not safe. Vaccines injure and kill.

I also have a story. I was vaccine-injured in 2008, which resulted in Crohn’s Disease and impacts my quality of life daily. Despite pursuing natural treatments, my symptoms continue to be debilitating.

My children, too, experienced vaccine-harm before I got wise. My oldest has a severe learning disability math disorder. My middle boy has terrible food allergies and diagnosis of ADHD. Both were plagued with ear infections as toddlers, asthma, eczema, behavioral and social issues, among other things.

My youngest is unvaccinated and she has…no health issues whatsoever.

But it is not just the experience of vaccine-harm that drives me to speak out on this issue. Like you all, I researched the shit out of this topic.

I am insulted by suggestions that I am an incompetent researcher and that Dr. Google is unreliable. I’ve cured UTI’s, pink eye, and a behavioral disorder affecting one of my children thanks to Dr. Google.

This movement will continue to grow because vaccine-injuries will continue to occur and parents will continue to do the research. Some parents even do the research BEFORE experiencing the vaccine-injury of their child. I wish I was one of those parents.

What we can learn from vaccine-aware health freedom lovers like you all is that personal stories drive a movement. Social media is the vehicle, the tool we use to share our stories. But it is the stories that resonate. Our stories.

For all of us who learned the hard way and those we can prevent from doing the same, this movements for you.

In love and solidarity,

Trina Ricketts


An Activists Formula for Identifying Niche Audiences

TNT-Logo5

I wish I’d known about this ten years ago when I started my first activism website.

Working through this next step of identifying and defining my niche audience for Digital Activist Media made me think of my first baby…NakedTruth.ca.

When I founded the adult entertainer advocacy website, NakedTruth.ca, my audience was “female exotic dancers.” With a target audience that was so specific, the site experienced considerable growth in a short amount of time. I thought it was a fluke.

My activism circles widened, and I became aware of many people using the site in a way they referred to as “lurking” because they didn’t feel welcome to participate being outside the definition of “female exotic dancer.”

That was when I made my fatal mistake. I opened up the site to a very broad audience. The entire adult entertainment industry and all its various participants and supporters.

Although memberships skyrocketed and continued to grow over several years, participation in the community was minimal; mainly a small group of regular customers and a few current and former sex industry workers.

Despite many tries at selling advertising on the site, forays into affiliate marketing, and a near attempt to create a paid membership site (which I now realize likely would have also failed); I was unable to earn an income off the site.

With a membership in the thousands, and a massive community needing moderation and management (not to mention the cost of running the site) – I knew I either needed to earn an income from the site or kill it. Make it into something manageable. A blog.

So, that is what I did.

It wasn’t until recently when I began my research into earning an income online that I realized my fatal mistake.

I had done the OPPOSITE of the MOST IMPORTANT THING I SHOULD DO…

My first mistake when I re-branded NakedTruth.ca to be more inclusive was having too broad of an audience.

I targeted a huge audience which made the site sort of “watered down,” if you know what I mean. I asked what my own problem was: Namely, no time to run the site because I had a job and a family.

I was thinking in terms of the end goal, rather than about what kind of “product” (my website) I was providing.

At NakedTruth.ca I was speaking to the choir.

My research led me to ask myself two questions. As an activist:

  1. “What is my main goal?” and
  2. “Who must I reach to attain this goal.”

So, I thought about it. And I came up with this:

  1. At NakedTruth.ca, my main goal is promoting health and safety in the sex industry.
  2. I must reach people who can directly influence health and safety in the sex industry (frontline community support workers, researchers, and enforcement agencies) and connect them with information resources, and experts (sex workers).

Once I identified and defined my niche audiences, I was able to begin to think like them. I asked myself, “What are community support workers thinking when it comes to the adult entertainment industry? How can they support health and safety in the sex industry. What can they do to help me reach my goals as an activist?”

Not identifying and defining my niche audiences was my first mistake with NakedTruth.ca. My second mistake was not solving my audience’s problem.

For that, I needed to do some research. I will tell you all about that research in another post.

Suffice to say that identifying my niche audiences was mind blowing enough for one day. I came away with a real nugget of new media marketing wisdom for activists:

Choose who you’re trying to reach based on whether they can help you achieve your activism goals. Then speak their language.

Did this blog post make you wonder if you’re targeting the right audience? Please share your comments below. xoxo


The BIGGEST SECRET to Monetizing Your Activism Website

great changes chaosHave you tried to monetize your activism website before without success?

I know I did. Several times.

If I had known this secret, it would have saved me a lot of headache and heartache. And it may be the same for you.

You see, the reason you were unable to succeed had nothing to do with you.

The reason was not that you are not committed. The reason was not that you are incapable. The reason was that you missed the most important step in the process of marketing your site.

At least, that was my reason.

Not knowing this important marketing secret in advance doomed me to failure. Again and again. When I finally got it. After reading and researching about successful online entrepreneurs, I was pretty blown away. It is so simple, yet it had eluded me.

This is the biggest secret to monetizing your activism website is:

Marketing starts at the development stage.

excitedWhat this literally means is that you must build a product or service that is so amazing – it will sell itself. Of course, you will need to get your product to your customers through other methods of new media marketing at a later date, when the product or service is fully developed. But here and now, you must create a product or service that will sell itself.

Once you’ve determined what your product or service will be, you will enact the next marketing steps to ensure your customer can find it. One of those steps is to have a website that is purposeful and brutally clear.

For activists with established websites, this presents an opportunity (or problem, depending on how you look at it). You may need to re-create your website. This is something I will cover in a later post.

As customers of the internet age, we now demand exactly what we need, right this moment, at the click of a button. This is intentional marketing. If you create a product or service that solves someone’s problem right now, you have built marketing into your product development.

But how will you know if your product solves a problem? How do you determine the correct niche market(s) you should be targeting?

There are 4 ELEMENTS to creating a product or service that will BLOW MINDS.

I get into this more in my upcoming ebook “How To Make Digital Activism Your Full-time Job” but this is a little primer for you.

The 4 Elements are:

  1. Identify and Define Your Audience: Who are they and what are their lives like?
  2. Determine What They Need (right now): What is their deepest desire? What is the biggest problem they have right now that you can solve for them?
  3. Create an AMAZING Product or Service that Solves Their Problem: Just do it.
  4. Continuously Improve Based On Their Feedback: Advocate to yourself on behalf of the customer to ensure the customer is getting the best possible product or service. (Believe me, you will argue with yourself but go with the advocate’s advice.)

Marketing begins at product development with “How will I solve problems in an amazing way?” and it never ends. You must continually improve your product or service, if you want to compete in the digital world of instant gratification. 

Once you’ve created an amazing product, you are ready to learn the second biggest secret to monetizing your activism website. I will write about that next.

Please share your experiences in the comments below. Did this article help you discover why previous attempts to finance your activism didn’t work? Or did you already have an amazing product? This is only one part of the formula. Subscribe to learn more.


How I’m Building My Activism Business Around My Passions

createrealityIs it possible to build a business around something you love?

How can you further your activism goals while earning an income doing the exact same activities?

What does it take to live and work intentionally? To embrace your passion for activism on a full-time basis.

Most of us find ways to finance our activism by applying for grants, working for non-profit organizations that serve the cause we are passionate about.

We compete with each other for funding, dependent on the whims of an oversight committee and beholden to their requirements, twisting our campaigns to suit their purposes but also serve our own.

We can be very creative.

But there is another way.

There are countless people on the internet who are earning an income through their websites. I have been studying how they did it and discovered their formula.

So, I set out to replicate their efforts in a unique way. I wanted to build my business around a particular kind of website. An activism website, where the content and products I provide actually further my activism goals.

And here you are on the website of my dreams. Digital Activist Media, where I teach change-makers and revolutionaries formulas for leading successful campaigns and financing their activism.

Here is how I did it.

I started with a very useful list of my interests, expertise / experience, influencers , and extra bonuses. I call it a “Mind Splurge.”

I drew out my columns on a page because I like to do some things by hand rather than on the computer. It gets me out from behind my desk. Feel free to do this however you choose. This is what I put under the column headings:

topicpossibilitiesInterests

Everything I am passionate about, interested in, and rocks my world.

Expertise / Experience

What am I an expert about? I’m not talking just about my training and education. I’m talking about being an expert due to life experience or independent research, too. What have I done a lot of that I feel confident to say I’ve reached a certain level of expertise?

Association with Influencers

Who do I know that could reach my potential audience? Who do I know * about * who has influence with my potential audience (whom I could approach in the future)?

Added Bonus Features!

This is where I added all the positive added bonuses that I can be happy and proud about. I also listed reasons building this business will enhance my life.

Four Questions to Discover My Ideal Business Idea

Having completed the “mind splurge,” I was already teeming with ideas. To narrow it down and really nail my perfect business vision, I asked myself four questions.

There are many variations on this theme for identifying the perfect business for your passions, but this is the one that worked best for me.

I did this exercise many times over since the first time, as I’ve worked through the steps in the formula. The answers you see are my most recent updates. 🙂

  1. What do my ideal website visitors want?My ideal website visitors (for DAM) want to conduct successful digital media campaigns and achieve balance in their lives between their income earning efforts and their activism efforts.
  2. What is the main problem they have that I believe I can solve?They have passion and commitment but they lack the knowledge and skills to succeed at their digital media goals consistently.
  3. How will I solve their problem?By researching, imitating, testing, and sharing the formulas that lead to digital success.
  4. What is one subject I can never get enough of?I love talking about issues and causes I am passionate about (activism) and I am fascinated by digital communications.

Next, I combined them into a short paragraph of no more than three sentences. I was able to get this down to one sentence.

I want to teach activists formulas for leading successful campaigns and earning a living through digital activism.

This sentence answered “YES” to the following questions for me:

  • Will I enjoy writing about this topic a year from now or two years from now?
  • Can I create a product or service around this topic that will solve my audience’s problem?
  • Am I excited about getting started?

Finally, I rewrote the sentence to be my “elevator speech.”

Digital Activist Media teaches change-makers and revolutionaries formulas for leading successful campaigns and financing their activism.

I printed this sentence and put it by my desk to help me memorize it.

Mind-map for Integrating Projects and Prioritizing Goals

If you’re anything like me, you have had a million ideas and possibly even have started many blogs that you never finished. Some of them are your babies and you wouldn’t dream of abandoning them. Others should probably get left on the cutting room floor.

I used this exercise to determine how I could integrate my favourite projects, determine what to get rid of entirely, and prioritize which projects could be left for a future date.

These are my babies:

dirtymindmapDigital Activist Media – My new project which you are reading right now.

The Naked Truth – A website / social community I founded in 2000 for adult entertainers which continues to operate despite several failed attempts at monetizing my activism through the site.

Cure My Crohn’s – A blog about my journey to cure an autoimmune disorder naturally.

As you can see, my first mind-map was quick and dirty. I surrounded each of my main interests with the many other projects and associations I am a part of that are even remotely linked to the central idea.

I also recognized how my two secondary “babies” are related to Digital Activist Media, because they are activism causes close to my heart (sex worker rights and health freedom rights).

The scribbles are projects that I cut out by either incorporating them into one of my three babies or deleting them from my life altogether.

This early work to choose an idea that I could really be passionate about has served me very well. Since doing these exercises, I have been on an amazing ride.

Working to build this business doesn’t feel like work at all, because my business is activism, and making the world a better place is something I will never tire of.

Phew! Now, I was ready to decide on a product or service for my activism business. What could I offer that is AMAZING? Follow my journey here.

Did you try these exercises? Did they work for you? Are you having trouble with any part of it? Maybe I can help! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


How to Become a Full-time Activist

injustice is law

I have officially entered the new era of thinking.

I’m not talking about the thinking that gets me to quit my regular work for a cause I’m passionate about (although that is also true).

I’m talking about the thinking that my kids are being raised with.

Crowd-source power thinking. New media strategizing, liberation technology, and digital resistance thinking. I finally get it. The veil has lifted. I have officially paradigm-shifted.

Just in the nick of time.

Until recently, I ran a small, part-time business offering traditional and social media management to small business owners, entrepreneurs, and non-profit societies.

Although I loved certain aspects of my work – creating a media strategy, research, writing articles, public speaking – there were also parts I very much disliked – scheduling social media posts, data entry, website updates, chasing clients for information I needed to do my job.

I also realized that Public Relations was dying.

With the new digital world rendering my marketing skills obsolete, I was forced to re-learn my trade. Immersing myself in books and studies about Digital Media Marketing, I researched what made Google, eBay, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter successful.

I read countless kick-ass blogs, books, ebooks, and watched many tutorials created by others who are earning money by following their passions. I finally understand how it’s done.

All this research led to an epiphany. I suddenly knew what I was put on this planet to do. And it was so obvious, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t realized it before!

This website you are reading right now is what I was put on the planet to do.

Through Digital Activist Media (DAM), I am combining my interest in creative media strategy and my passion for social justice. Digital Activism fascinates me. I cannot imagine a better job than researching and writing about this topic. This blog is the depository of my learning. My dream job is to teach you what I know.

felloffmyunicornTHE SUPREME GOAL of this journey is to become a full-time activist, with the earnings from DAM supporting me financially. Any surplus will be used to support causes that are dear to my heart.

My fear is not starting a business. I’ve had self-employment income almost every year since I was a 23-year-old stripper. (I am forty-one in two weeks.)

Stripping got me started in activism, when I realized that people who do the job for a living are nothing like what others expect. I met the most dynamic, self-driven, creative, intelligent, resourceful women in the sex industry. It’s a profession that draws the entrepreneurial spirit.

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to fund my activism. I failed at many attempts to build a business with NakedTruth.ca. I founded the site in 2000 originally for exotic dancers to share information, educate customers, and provide support to each other. It was a hit, but I never was able to master earning an income off a website.

Fast forward to now. NakedTruth.ca is still around. It gets hundreds of hits a day, shows up first in Google searches, and has a 14 year reputation online for being relevant and credible. It has been a platform for activism and charity efforts, but it has never earned me an income.

My fear is that I will fail again.

But there is a formula for making this work. So, here is what I’m going to do.

I will follow this formula with DAM, build my business and keep you updated along the way. Then I will replicate my efforts – modified, of course, for the audience – with NakedTruth.ca.

And I will teach you how you, too, can become a full-time activist. That is the supreme goal. In the meantime, I will share everything I know and everything I learn about Digital Activism with you and I will show you how to use it in your efforts to make the world a better place.

This new connected world is not just about a new way of thinking about marketing and earning money online. It is about a global community connecting for change. Change that must happen now for our children.

So, get to it, change-makers.

In Solidarity,

Trina Ricketts

PS. Here is what I did first to build an activism business around my passions.

Would you also like to devote the majority of your time to activism, rather than your job? Have you tried and succeeded? Have you tried and failed? Please share your story in the comments below.