Social Checking Services are Watching You

August 5, 2011

 

The work place and technology keep changing. It used to be easy to get a job. You fill out an application, do an interview and you either get hired or not. Simple. Now most corporations have you apply online that takes close to an hour to fill out. They require 2 phone interviews before an in person interview. Then background checks and drug tests. A lot of prospective employers even google your name to see what they can find out about your activity on the internet. Personally I’ve wondered if this has been a reason I didn’t get a response on many job application in the past 5 years or so.

 

The past few years some companies hire “social checking” services to go beyond the general google or any other search engine findings. A recent study by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) shows that 50% of employers are taking advantage of the new services up from 34% in 2008 and 20% are planning on using the services. These “social checking” companies specialize in watching and reporting applicant’s activities on social networks like facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc. looking at everything from blogs to photo albums.

 

It’s entirely legal and complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Some question whether it is invasive of individual’s privacy come up but it seems pretty cut and dry. Most of us know by now that what we make public on the internet is open for anyone to see if we don’t make it private. Even if a person makes it entirely private there are ways around it.

 

The question of reliability of the information gathered because people present what they want to say about themselves and try to give the best not necessarily the most honest version of themselves on the social networking sites.

 

Personally I’ve been aware that what I post and say and do onine can be seen by everyone. Some of my sites, blogs, pictures, statements etc are definitely a bit risqué and even pornographic at times. I’ve accepted this fact as an artist and writer. I am willing to put myself out there to be true to myself. My art and writing has never been mainstream and I have nothing to hide. It’s more important than hiding everything to please others including prospective employers.

 

I know a lot of people that won’t have anything to do with me online due to the nature of their careers. They keep everything private and hide out only connecting with their closest of friends and family members.

 

If I’m ever hiring I might use a service but I’ll be looking for honest people not the ones that seem “normal”. I feel bad for the people that don’t think about it and have pictures of their parties and drinking and wild side that a social checking service finds and may ruin their chance of a career that they wanted.

 

Then again is the real you the person that sits in front of an employer for an interview or the “you” you project online? Either way there’s some kind of deception and some honesty.

 

For me, I am just going to keep doing what I do. Post what’s on my mind. Or maybe start my own service. Hmmmm.

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Livin’ the Dre .a . . uh . . . Cliche

June 21, 2011

I sit once again in the comforts of the coffee shop in Collingswood, NJ. I’ve always liked this place. The décor and the music. The owners are great. The workers are great. There’s always an interesting mix of customers. Some I know and most I don’t know. This may become a new hobby of mine: hanging at the Groove Ground in Collingswood. Writing. Drinking coffee.  Living the dream. Living the cliché.

 

I always thought that the people sitting on their computers typing away at a coffee shop were douche bags. Hey look at me. I’m a writer.

 

Yesterday it was slow and casual in here and I had odd conversations with truly weird people. The good kind. The ones that aren’t phony or pretentious just off the wall naturally. I like misfits that are real. In a progressive town like Collingswood it’s hard to separate real people from posers. Down to earth interesting people versus fake pretentious “hipsters”. They do what they think is cool because their little crowd are into it. They are usually the ones that see me reading John Fantte and know who he is. They make comments on my John Waters or William S Burroughs T-shirts. They fool me at first.

 

I assume because they like what I like then they might be cool. Unfortunately I am into a lot the “hipster” culture. I like the things I like because I like it, ya know? I get into a movie or a writer from someone I know that says “Hey Rich. Check out this (fill in the blank) if you like (fill in the blank). I usually end up liking it. I used to dream about hanging out with people with common interests. It was always the hipsters. I tried and saw how annoying and fake these people are. The more I immersed myself in the culture the more I disliked the people and could spot one a mile away.

 

I guess I’m judgmental but who gives a fuck?

So today the Groove Ground was crowded and loud when I walked in and nowhere to sit. I was ok with that because there were seats outside and I could smoke and drink coffee and write at the same time. I bought my drink and found a seat and settled in. The crowd dispersed. As some of then left I noticed their styles were similar to mine. Same glasses. Same hat that I wore yesterday. When I looked at each one I thought “douche!”.  At least I’m not wearing leather sandals like this “douche” “hipster” standing next to me right now.

 

Fuck it. I’m over it already. Just wanted to write about it.

 

My life is still moving along with or without them.

 

I might be living the cliché but I’m also living the dream. My dream, my thoughts, my life. Me.

 

Maybe I’m the cliché douche judgmental pretentious self righteous hipster. Ya know what? Right now I don’t care. It gave me something to write about for the day, right?

EDITOR’S (that’s me) NOTE: I got a better look at the guy with the hat and realized I knew him and he is a pretty cool guy and not a hipster. I guess my Hipstdar isn’t on all of the time. My Gaydar still works for what it’s worth.


Broken

June 6, 2011

Never say, “it can’t get any worse than this.” It always does. Maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe it’s self-sabotage. Maybe it’s fate. Maybe it’s a “jinx”. Whatever it is, it can and most of the time gets worse.

I’ve been writing through it. I can’t seem to finish anything to post. I’m afraid to post certain things about my life. I am breaking my entire life’s goal to hold nothing back in my writing. I find myself holding many things back for various reasons. I don’t want certain people to know certain things about me. I am embarrassed and ashamed of my life conditions at times. I am afraid of letting you in.

The more down hill my life seems to go I am les inclined to write and post about it anywhere. Fuck it. I’m going to start letting things out. I am helpless and feel hopeless on and off through this past year. It’s mostly due to my Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) and Bipolar Disorder and related depressions and anxiety. These conditions led me to my financial condition and create more stress, which is the key activator of my conditions.

At first when I was fired last year I was devastated but I had things under control financially because I was living with my mother and had a lot of money in the bank. I didn’t want to work right away. I wanted the summer off to publish my novel and promote it to minimum prevail and create videos and more books to sell. It was the ideal life of a single artist from my viewpoint. By August and September 2010 I noticed that my mother was increasingly unhappy with me around the house all day with the exception of my AA meeting attendance. I was less and less interested in socializing and I even started getting anxiety when I did socialize followed by depression when it was over. Since I was fired I lost my health insurance and stopped seeing a psychiatrist and therapist. My family doctor kept up my prescriptions.

I started looking for ways to make money and jobs and made a little bit here and there. My savings started dwindling by September 2010. I knew my mom and I wouldn’t get along without my getting a job. At the same time I was talking to my friend from meetings and he mentioned in passing that he was getting a house he owned ready to be rented out. I asked how much and how many bedrooms. The price was cheap and it had 2 bedrooms so I immediately jumped on it mostly to save my relationship with my mother. I didn’t want to move. I had no ego about living with my mother at my age like I would have at one time due to the circumstances. I had a friend in mind to move in with me that I’ve known for years and we’ve talked about living together despite our similarities and differences.

I admit I was excited about the house when my friend told me about it and the first time I took the tour. The day I drove to the house to sign the lease and pay our deposit and rent I got a really bad feeling that it was a bad idea. My blinders were down and I looked around the bad neighborhood I was about to move into. Camden. Camden, NJ has the highest crime rate in the country. My new neighborhood id the nicer part of Camden. I grew up here years ago before it got so bad. My friend now landlord assured me that he has had no problems in the 30 years he lived here. My roommate and I went out to celebrate the house at a big steak house and chowed down and I repressed my feelings pretending to be happy.

I moved in reluctantly October 1st 2010 and I have yet to be entirely comfortable in the house, the neighborhood or with my roommate since. Once in a while I would be ok. At first I couldn’t find my creative inspiration. After living in the house I grew up in with parents that were successful artists supplying me with inspiration on a daily basis it was a huge adjustment.

I was set financially to cover the first couple of months or so. I was collecting little unemployment. My great aunt’s boyfriend who I consider an uncle threw me a little work here and there with his business but not enough. My bills were barely getting paid but there were getting paid. I cashed out my 3 401ks to help pay bills. Each month something would come up to cover my bills. From little jobs here and there to selling my serial killer collectables and my personal artwork online.

In November 2010 another friend said he could get me a job doing phone collections. At first I was hesitant but I eventually got excited. He set me up with an interview in November 2010. I fell in love with the job and I was hired on the spot due to my experience in phone sales. I was given the runaround with a start date. I was told I’d start the middle of December 2010 and didn’t get my start date until the middle of January 2011.

After a 2 year remission my TN came back a week before my training date. I went back on painkillers and increased my anti-seizure meds. I made it to my first day of training and it went well. That night I had a major TN attack and had to take pain meds and was up all night. I woke up at 12 pm and I was supposed to be there at 10am. I blew it. I tried calling. I thought about going in anyway but didn’t want to waste the long drive. I eventually talked to the boss and he fired me. I was devastated. My pain got worse and my depression kicked in. I was in shell shock. This hasn’t happened since I was an active drug user and alcoholic 20 years ago but I was sober.

I was a wreck. I had such high hopes for the job and the money. I had started a social network called Novaboon with my roommate and I was going to out money into that and many other internet projects. I had goals and reams again before I started the job. It all came crashing down in one event as a result of my TN and Bipolar.

I got through the following months selling things and spending less. It was barely enough. I was coming to the conclusion that perhaps I am one of those people that needs to be on Disability. I’ve always viewed people on disability as copping out unless they were seriously and visibly disabled. I was also worried about my mom’s opinion. She always said she would disown me if I were on disability. Maybe not that extreme but she would be unhappy. The day came months ago that even my mom suggested I apply for disability. I did. I am. I used a service that a friend recommended to do the work for me.

I have a friend that has been on SSD for the past 15 years or so and I used to watch him having to jump through hoops and go crazy to meet the requirements to stay on it. I remember thinking that it’s easier just to get a job because it’s less work and aggravation than trying to get SSD. It’s a catch 22. Most people that are disabled whether it be mental or physical have trouble making appointments, filing paperwork, meeting deadlines, following through with things and functioning on any “normal level” therefore it’s a fight for us to get the disability. That’s why I used a service. I still had to follow through with paper work and phone calls. When I get depressed I can become immobilized. I am literally unable to move or do anything. I used to think that I was a lazy person. I’ve come to realize that it’s depression that keeps me from doing things. Most people don’t see the difference.

The last week of May I was committed to traveling to Indianapolis, IN for a true crime convention called The Crime Scene to sell my art, my books and perform my songs about serial killers. One of the guys in charge who I call friend now, took care of my flight and a place to stay. I was taking a big chance buying a bunch of my books to sell there when I barely had enough to pay my rent. My car broke down the week before. I had major bills due as well. The travel was a pain but the event was a nice escape and I sold out of my books and sold some art. My agoraphobia disappeared for the weekend. It was like a fantasy escape. No thoughts of my problems for a few days. I came home and I was worse. More pain. More anxiety. I was short paying the rent.  Owe my cousin money for helping me with the rent. I owe my roommate money for my car because he got it fixed since he was driving it at the time. My registration expired and my insurance payment is over due. I have barely enough money in my pocket to buy food and smokes for the next couple of days.

To top the problems of the month off, my unemployment is being held and reviewed and will not be settled until June 15th 2011 on a phone interview. I was informed it’s because I was fired. I might lose the little unemployment payments I was getting.

I am planning on going to Welfare and apply for food stamps and see about rental assistance. My depression is getting so bad combined with my fear and agoraphobia I am having trouble getting out to the office. I ried calling and the phone system hung up on me several times after 20-30 minutes of waiting.

My roommate suggested I try and get a job yesterday and work the minimum hours allowed when on disability. He went on line to find out the minimum etc. I’m afraid if I get a job I will be rejected on the disability. Not to mention that I might not be able to handle working which is why I applied for disability in the first place. I called the company handling my case and asked them about working. I can work 10-15 hours a week and I can’t make more than $800 a month. I have to call them if I get a job and fill out more paper work. I asked the representative to be honest with me off the record. I asked if I worked on record would it affect my case and are the chances good that I will be turned down if I am working. She said yes it would look bad if I worked.

So here I am. Depressed. Afraid. In pain. No income. I am selling nothing and falling into more debt. I have projects in the works but no motivation to get them going. I’m living in a house and neighborhood I hate with an unpredictable roommate that I like but I am uncomfortable living with him.

Through my life I have always survived. I know I will survive again. I am an artist, writer and a creative mad man. I am a Bipolar, agoraphobic, anxious artist with the worst pain known to man and as hopeless as I feel I know this will pass and I will come out alive.


Facebook Status Frees a Man from Prison

May 3, 2011

I have a facebook addiction. I hate it sometimes. I also have a lot of complaints about facebook as most of you know. I hate the censorship most of all. I’ve had so many pictures deleted without notice or explanation. So, as most of you know I created my own social network called Novaboon. It’s unrestricted and open for everyone to post almost anything. Facebook does have some good points and bad depending which side you are on.

Through the years we’ve all read or heard horror stories about MySpace and facebook leading to stalking, rape, and even murder. These horrible situations have resulted in the ease in which information availability and the freedom for predators to give misinformation to commit these terrible crimes.

In the past few years, online blogs, status updates, emails and anything said online can be used as evidence in the court of law. This has mostly worked against people but not always. It can also be used to help people. Here’s a recent story to demonstrate this.

A 19-year old named Rodney Bradford spent almost 2 weeks in jail at Riker’s Island, New York City the end of last year. He was accused of a participant of a 2-man gun point mugging in Brooklyn.

He happened to be facing a robbery indictment from 2008 and he heard that the police were looking for him so he turned himself in confident he would be cleared because he was in Harlem at his father’s house the time of the mugging. He was wrong at first when one of the 2 victims picked Rodney out of a line up. He was charged with robbery in the 1st degree.

It turned out that Rodney had a solid alibi; his facebook status update. The time and location of his update proved that he could not have been at the scene of the robber when it occurred.

What was amazing is how cooperative facebook was with releasing all details of the update: time, location etc. when subpoenaed for the information.

Facebook officials said they are “pleased they were able to serve as a constructive part of the judicial process.”

“We’re in a much more trackable world, and for better and for worse,” said attorney Jonathan Handel. “The extent to which it means that the right people get prosecuted and the innocent get their cases dropped, that’s all of the good.”

Mr Handel also mentioned that the issue of privacy is also at stake.

This story made me happy at first that facebook was helpful in freeing an innocent man. I read the lawyer’s mention of privacy and it made me concerned.

Facebook can take any information of any member at any time and use it for any purpose. Just by signing up we give them the right. It doesn’t matter how private a member makes his or her profile, facebook seems to own a member the minute he or she clicks “I read and accept the terms and conditions.”

Facebook owns you and me. Be careful what you post but then again keep posting because it might save your life.

Reference- cnn.com


Glen or Mikiko? I was Teenage Asian Girl

February 14, 2011

This is a story I wrote in 2005 and it appears along with other various stories, journals and poetry in my book called Dangers of a Confessional Mind published by LuLu books.

 

Friday, February 04, 2005

 

Glen or Mikiko?

I felt like the dude in Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I awoke this morning on my bed in a different form. I wasn’t a bug or caterpillar or anything like that. I looked down at my tan body and my small frame with shock and terror. As I started my morning ritual of scratching my balls and giving my dick a few quick tugs, I couldn’t find them. I looked down and there was a black mound of hair with a slit between my legs. My chest hair was gone and I had small petite breasts with brownish nipples. I closed my eyes and opened them again. I tried to go back to sleep assuming this was just another nightmare from watching another Katashi Miike movie before I fell asleep. I couldn’t sleep.

 

I sat up on my bed and lit a cigarette with my little thin fingers. I took a few drags and ran to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror. My face changed too. My eyes were slanted and brown. My lips were full and my nose was wider and flatter. I ran my fingers through my long black hair. I was looking at a beautiful young Asian girl in the mirror and it was me. I remembered that story I read in National Lampoon magazine when I was thirteen about the guy who woke up one morning and he was girl. I remember wishing it was me. I wanted to feel what it was like to be a woman. I wanted to feel my breasts and vagina and look in the mirror. That was when I was thirteen.

 

I thought about my friend Harry telling me last night that he thinks that our friend Robert should live his life as a woman. I thought of the countless times my friend Kevin has said “If I had a clit, I’d never leave the house.” I thought of how jealous I was that my friend Dave looked really good in drag.

 

Here I am. I’m a  hot young Asian girl. How am I going to explain this to everyone at work. I’ll have to call out. What will I do for money? What will I tell my girlfriend, Stacy? I hope she’ll still love me as girl. I hope she likes Asian girls. I hope my cousins (roommates) don’t want to fuck me. I’m going to have to get a new drivers license. I thought about going to a doctor. I don’t have any insurance. Will anyone believe me? I wonder if my parents will still love me. I don’t have any clothes to wear either.

 

When I fantasized about this as a kid, it was a sexual thing. As an adult, reality is overwhelming me. Sex was the last thing on my mind until I decided to just stay in my room all day with a mirror. I called out from work. They said my voice sounded funny. I said I was really sick and tried to speak in the lowest tone available to my new body. I called Harry first because he was the only one who would actually believe what happened.

 

“You should enjoy it first. Then see how you feel tomorrow and maybe see a doctor.” he said.

 

Ok. That’s what I’ll do. I called Stacy next and told her I need to speak with her as soon as possible.

 

“What’s wrong with your voice?” she asked.

 

“I’m still sick. You’ll see when you get here tonight.”

 

I took care of the immediate. I needed cigarettes. I had to sneak out without my cousin’s seeing me. I put on some pants and a hoody. Neither of which fit. My clothes were double my size now. I walked to the corner store and tried not to draw any attention to myself. It was run by Koreans. The small teenage girl at the register said something to me in Korean. I didn’t understand her.

 

“Sorry. I thought you were Korean.” she said.

 

“I am Italian.” I said. She laughed.

 

I actually had no idea what I was. I mean I know what I was not what I am now. The boy in the back of the store was staring at me. When I looked at him he winked at me. I felt scared and I felt kind of good. I got my cigarettes and a cup of coffee and walked home fast. I went up to my room and avoided my cousins. I lay on my bed and prayed. I was calmer. Ready to accept this. For now anyway.

 

I took off my jeans and hoody and examined my self thoroughly. I relaxed some more. I gently touched myself everywhere. My nipples were more sensitive than ever. My stomach was flat. I touched my vagina and it was wonderful. I’ve never felt anything like it in my whole life. Just the slightest touch on my new clitoris and my body surged with excitement. I felt like I did the first time I ever masturbated. I looked down at my tiny frame. My small breasts. My skinny legs. I watched my hand rub and stroke. Within minutes I exploded in an orgasm better than any I’d felt before. I collapsed and laid there for about five minutes I was ready for more.

 

Wow. I can orgasm over and over. I did. I finally fell asleep from sexual exhaustion. I slept for the next six hours. I awoke with a knock on my bedroom door. It was Stacy. Fuck. I wasn’t ready to tell her. Show her my new body. I was in a panic. I sat up and felt something against my thigh. I looked and it was my penis hanging under my flabby hairy belly. I was myself again. I sighed in relief and lit a cigarette as Stacy walked in my bedroom.

 

“Hey, what did you want to tell me?” she asked.

 

“You wouldn’t believe the dream I just had.”


Rich Hillen Jr’s Digital Art

February 6, 2011


Another Rant About Unreturned Messages

January 29, 2011

Common courtesy. General politeness. Manners. Proper protocol.

 

When someone you know calls you, text messages you, emails you, or messages you on a social network it is usually expected for you to return the call, text, email etc. It’s the courteous, polite, and maybe even the right thing to do. This of course is a high expectation and depends on the people involved and what’s said in the message (I’ll refer to all forms of communication where you are not in person as a message).

 

I have been personally insulted, hurt and paranoid over some unreturned messages over the past few years. Most of the time I react negatively for nothing. Sometimes I hold grudges or fear of them not liking me.

 

I’m mostly talking about people I know or people I am beginning a relationship with. Not a romantic relationship. I’m referring to new friendships, networking or business relationships. Most of the time I write it off with some people as “that’s just the way they are.” I try to accept it but lately it bugs me.

 

I’ve learned that there are certain types of messages that don’t require a return. Sometimes they can go back and forth for a while and the stop. If I send an email either requesting something or asking a question I expect an answer. Maybe not immediately. I don’t know the official protocol for how long to give a person to return a message but I mostly get aggravated if goes more than three days. If they don’t respond for weeks or months I just move them down the list of a priority friend.

 

If I send a friendly “just wanted to say hi” type of message that requires no return message. I leave it open ended. If I am promoting something and just want to get the information out there to a person I don’t expect a response. One people that I am really close to that I know I will talk to eventually in a day of 3 it doesn’t matter. I just sent a message to my friend yesterday asking him about helping me with something in a future project. I don’t care that he didn’t get back to me yet.

 

If I message someone I don’t know especially women I don’t expect an answer at all. They don’t know me so there is not obligation even though it would be polite. The women I am sure get flooded with many messages from men and probably get tired of it. They are especially forgiven.

 

I was shocked when I was sending mass messages to promote novaboon.com when I did get a message back and even more shocked when they thanked me.

 

There is such a fine line when it comes to my reactions to unreturned messages. I’m sure you can relate. It’s the ones that I anticipate the answer to a question that bugs me. There are a lot of them.

 

I was dating a girl for almost a month and she was the worst at returning messages. I understand that I have always set my life up so I have more free time than most. She was also at the end of Medical school and at the biggest turning point of her life. Still it was no excuse to blow off my messages when all she had to do was take 30 seconds to text me that she is busy and will get back to me another time. The insecure obsessive that I am it drove me nuts. If we didn’t have such great dates and connection I would have dropped her. Maybe I should have because it ended anyway when she moved to do a residency.

 

Then there are a few girls in my life that get back to me when we work on project. Then I asked them out (at different times) and I totally expected them to blow me off.  To my surprise they answered right away. They all rejected me but got back to me immediately. I gained total respect for them for that. Then they don’t return my messages when I it’s regular talk or conversations most of the time. We even make plans sometimes and never follow through.

 

Now there’s a glitch in my complaints about people not returning my messages. I do it too. I mean I don’t do it also. For the most part I have a 95 % return rate. I have a memory problem sometimes and forget to return phone calls and text messages. If I don’t return a message on the internet within a day it gets buried and I forget. I try to get back to everyone within a day.

 

The one thing I’m not sure about is the proper time limit in returning “pokes” on facebook. If you don’t know what they are then good for you. Personally I don’t care if someone doesn’t poke me back or when or whatever. I still do it for fun (I guess it’s fun).

 

I was raised to call people back. I was raised to follow through on things. Although I don’t always live up to it I try. There’s 2 phone calls I got tonight I actually have to return come to think about it.


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