The ALS Challenge and Peer Pressure

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Over the past few weeks I watched my Facebook friends take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge itself has been a remarkable success, with millions raised for ALS. It’s a very worthy cause, and I think it’s terrific so many people are participating to raise funds and awareness. Though I was tagged many times, I chose to donate over participate because being drenched in ice water isn’t my thing.

However….

ALS isn’t my charity of choice. When I give, I prefer to give to breast cancer charities, as my mom is a breast cancer survivor, and prostate cancer charities, because my father battled with the disease for several years before he passed away in 2000. I also donate to children’s charities, especially those that put money towards birth defect research, awareness, treatment and rehabilitation because my niece Madeline passed away at the age of three months after it was discovered (too late) that a birth defect was killing her. I’m telling you these stories because they are personal. Donating to these charities makes me feel as if I’m honoring people who are special to me.

Charity is a personal thing

The truth is, I probably wouldn’t have donated to ALS if not tagged. My choices were to dump ice water on my head, even though I didn’t really want to, donate to a charity that isn’t personal to me, or not do anything at all, which would probably make me look douchey to a whole bunch of people. Even if they didn’t make me feel bad for not participating, I’d still have it burning in the back of my head that I was the only one not participating in the challenge or donating money.

In other words, I felt peer pressure.

Charity should never be about peer pressure

I don’t want to minimize the ALS campaign. It was a good thing. It did good things for a good cause. I’m absolutely in awe of the virality of the campaign and the amount of money it raised for an extremely worthy cause.

I only take issue because there are people are being made to feel like they have to give, and that’s not what charity is about. Charity comes from the heart. We give because something or someone moves us to do so.  No one should ever have to be made to feel as if they have to give to one charity over another, or that they HAVE to participate in or donate to a viral campaign. Charities are subjective and we give because we’re inspired to give for whatever personal reasons we have, not because we have to do it to go along with the crowd.

I donated and I am happy to do so. ALS is a worthy cause. However, instead of asking others to participate in the challenge, I am going to challenge them to donate – either to ALS or another charity that is personal to them. I also know there are people who would like to give and feel bad because they don’t have the means with which to do so.  To those people I would like to say that charity isn’t about money. It’s about giving selflessly of yourself. If you can’t donate, volunteer. Help a neighbor. Perform a random act of kindness. Smile at someone to someone who needs it.

Charity begins at home, but no one should ever be made to feel as if they HAVE to give.

“Free” Content Isn’t Free: Why I’m Not Clicking Through

In my world, “free” means, well, free. As in, no cost or obligation to the consumer. However, in the online world, free always comes with a price, even if marketing people try to spin it otherwise.

I think that sucks.

  • If I have to sit through a video in order to see your content, it’s not free. I still have to provide my time in exchange.
  • If I have to sign up for a newsletter or to be on your “list,” before I can download your ebook, it’s not free. I still have to receive your newsletter and sales pitches in my inbox every week.
  • If I have to Tweet, Like, or Share something of yours in order to get your coupon code, it’s not free. I provided a service in exchange for said discount.

It’s for these reasons that I rarely sign up or attempt to read “free” content.

“Cost” doesn’t have to be monetary. If I have to give you something in order to view your content, there’s some form of trade going on. This does not equal “free.”

One of my problems with Internet marketing is that despite claims of transparency, people are still trying to hide their peas under the mashed potatoes. Free means free. It doesn’t mean I have to work for something or provide something in return.

Now, I have no problem with giving something to receive something, but I want to know about it up front before I give you all my details.

  • If I have to endorse you on a social network, and yes, Likes and shares are an endorsement, you need to tell me before I click through. I don’t want to be told I’m accessing content only to be taken to a page with a laundry list of things I need to do to receive said content.
  • If I have to sit through a video or read an ad before I can access your content, let me know. There’s nothing that pisses me off more than being grabbed by a headline, clicking through, and being directed to a video. Let me know before I click so I can determine whether or not it’s worthy of my time.
  • If I have to add my name to your list before I can download your ebook or webinar, tell me what this entails. Will I get mail every week? A sales pitch every day? Tell me.

None of the tactics marketers use to get me to click through are necessarily deal breakers. If something looks interesting enough, or if it’s something I’m interested in learning, I might be inclined to put my name on a list. However, I don’t want to be misled.

If “free” comes with a price, it’s not free.

On Looking for Work When You’re “Old”

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I landed my first "real" job as receptionist at a publishing company when I was 20 years old. That job got my foot in the door and led me to where I am today. I learned everything I knew about writing, creativity, and professionalism from the people … [Continue reading]

Here’s What’s Wrong With Freelancing Today

trader joe's

In the 15 years I've been freelancing, not much has changed. Clients are paying crap, and writers are taking that crap and writing crap in return. It's a vicious cycle. Here's some of what's wrong with freelancing today. The Pays But Not With … [Continue reading]

The Argument for Keeping Those Blog Comments Open

"The comments are what differentiates a blog from a website, " they told us. "Engage!" they said. "It's about building community..." ...And engage we did. Ever since I published my first blog post in the late 90's, I lived for the interaction. It … [Continue reading]

Are You the Real Deal?

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In the mid-90's I had the opportunity to work on a marketing campaign with a famous rock star. After several long phone calls, I realized he was a personae, not a person. He was flashy, he was a showman, and he was a shrewd businessman, but he was … [Continue reading]