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Today I Saw…

How to escape the cancel culture

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I was going to write a long article on the issue of cancel culture but I am afraid of what I might end up saying. However, if that piece were ever to see the light of day, it would boil down to the following:

  • Don’t have an opposing view. How dare you? Keep your opinions to yourself. Moreover, your opinions must be futuristic. If not, go to your past self and change them. In fact, go back to your past and remove all proof of being and existence.
  • Don’t judge people. However, if you feel like playing God, only judge people by their standards and not yours.
  • If all else fails, live like a hermit. Move to a far away countryside and ostracise anything that enables you to air your views and opinions.

I hope these three pieces of advice will change your life and keep you safe.

The new WhatsApp policy: where to next?

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WhatsApp, like any application/software has a usage policy that is several pages long. As is expected of almost any policy document, almost no one reads it. Because of this, software creators often sneak in or remove certain statements without the average person noticing the difference. People only make a fuss of what the media primes them to and that is exactly what is currently happening following the release of the new WhatsApp policy.

WhatsApp automatically requires access to detailed information about the user, and their device: IP and Mac Addresses, user logs, status updates, availability profiles, etc. Even though some of the information are required to smoothly run the app, others are not entirely essential. In the past, like in 2012, you could refuse to allow WhatsApp to collect the non-essential information with the drawback that you would not get an “improved experience”. However, earlier this month, it was announced that starting Feb 8, the policy was going to be all or nothing. So, it is either you accept the policy to use the app or refuse and be booted out. This news caused an uproar and raised some eyebrows. The reaction was so intense to the extent that some countries even initiated processes to review the new policy to ascertain whether it was breaking their local data privacy laws. WhatsApp has responded to the outrage by delaying the implementation of the new policy.

Owing to the privacy issues and others that could potentially result from the new policy, people have started looking for alternatives. So far, top on the list are Telegram and Signal. But are these apps safe from all these data sharing issues? The short answer is no! Privacy is dead! So far as you’re using a phone in any way or form, you can be profiled. It’s up to you to choose your poison. I once came across a quote that says, “if you are not paying for the product, you are the product”. That summarises everything there is to say about privacy these days.

After a cursory perusal of the policy, a few issues stand out for me but I will point one out. According to the policy, you’re telling Facebook that they do not need your permission to legally use your own data for or against you. So, for example, they could report you if your “data” seems to suggest that you’re suicidal or a security risk. Bear in mind that WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, which means that WhatsApp technically cannot read your chats and analyse your sentiments. My question is, what kind of metadata allows WhatsApp to determine if you are suicidal, for example? Am I being an overthinker here? Am I making mountains out of molehills?

Now here is my argument. WhatsApp is part of the Facebook group of companies, which includes Instagram and some other 3 lesser known ones. Now, these apps portray different ways in which their users live. Most people use Facebook to connect with friends and family textually, Instagram for pictorial connections, and WhatsApp? What’s it used for? WhatsApp is used for connecting with people on a much deeper level than the previously mentioned apps.  It’s on WhatsApp that you express how you feel, how you want to act, how you want to transact with others. On WhatsApp, you share your photos, account numbers, email addresses, and so forth. Facebook has in the past connected these three apps in a way to seamlessly share things across them. Now, if the three apps are going to be connected on the level of the data they can share without permission, that to me is the ultimate bull’s eye to profile a person flawlessly. I do not want Facebook to know what I might like to eat at my next meal or the city I might want to travel to, etc. Worse still, I don’t want Facebook advertising funeral plans to me because my friend broke their news of a malignant diagnosis to me.

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My resolution, therefore, is to sever that perfect network of data sharing. I would prefer to use a different messaging app that’s not in this perfect network. That way, the only way Facebook can get my other data is if they at least try to buy it from the other party. My advice is this: you can continue to use WhatsApp but be careful how much of your sensitive information you share there. If possible, use other communication means that are less intrusive. People say, “if you’re not going to use WhatsApp, you might as well delete Facebook and Instagram and Google”. That’s like how some people convince themselves to stay in toxic relationships. It’s not an all or nothing affair. Do you know how much data they lose when you refuse to give them even one data source? For now, the agitation has died down a bit because of the news of postponement of the policy. But I know it will be rejuvenated as the implementation day approaches, unless some things are changed. If nothing changes, have a plan!

In conclusion, data privacy is dead! That’s the price we must pay for the digital revolution. But it does not mean we should go down without a fight. If you can do something to reduce how much of your data is being siphoned, do it. It’s not a fuss. Everyone craves privacy and any move that will make you sleep well at night should be welcomed by any other person who has decided to go down without a fight.  

New Year Resolutions – What are yours?

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Finally, it’s dead and gone! 2020 is gone! Hallelujah praise the Lord! That bastardized year did not earn a good name in anyone’s books. It’s now time for our annual overnight metamorphosis into good beings. It’s time to release our New Year resolutions.

Every new year, I set resolutions. I know everyone on this planet claims to hate resolutions, but I would like to think we all set goals. If so, then what’s the difference? Goals are good. They keep you focused on something, a bull’s eye to aim for. So, even though most people would like to think they hate resolutions, we all actually do make them in one form or the other without having to use the same nomenclature.  

For the year 2018, I wrote this piece, and it turned out that I was able to achieve several of the listed goals. That was reassuring especially for a new year resolution hater like me. In 2019, I made a vision board, which to me was basically the same as a list of resolutions.

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I see resolutions not as a list of tangible things that I’d like to acquire, but behavioural changes that’ll help me grow. Most of us aspire for growth and maturity while refusing to let go of our childish behaviours. Growth is painful and that’s why I don’t strive to achieve it all at once. In fact, growth inherently is a continuous process. There’s no stopping point. So, even though I know some of you may not be fans of this whole New Year resolution fuss, please bear with me and read on. I promise you it’s not another of those “New Year, new me” kind of list. I am going to list out some small shifts I’d like to pursue to grow from who I was to who I want to be.

First, for 2021, I’m not making any vision boards. I think I’m done with those for now. I made one for 2020, most of which involved travelling but the joke was on me. I couldn’t achieve a single travel plan. I achieved a few other things, which were not originally on my list, though. My resolution in this light is to let God do His thing. This pandemic has taught me to not be overly reliant on my plans, so I’ll relax a bit in that regard.

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I need a fresh perspective in my spiritual life. In the past year, I read the New International Version (NIV) and Good News versions of the Bible during my devotions. I want to read the Bible but with a different translation. Hopefully, I will see certain portions from a fresh perspective. In that light, do you have any recommendations? Please let me know in the comment section below.

In 2021, I want to be more generous. I have been generous with other aspects of my life, but I want to learn to be generous in kind. So, expect some random gifts coming your way if you’re in my circles. Financially, I’m not there yet, but I’m sure simple gifts will go a long way to make my friends more endeared to me.

Further, I want to learn to be shrewd like Jesus. I am known to be a straight talker. I tend to say what’s on my heart without mincing words.  Jesus, while here on earth, knew his audience. He knew they wanted to trap him with their trick questions. He always read their minds and dealt with them in a way to awe the observers while leaving the questioners confused and disappointed. That’s where I’m lacking. People always get the words they want from me. That can be dangerous for a man of my calibre who is likely to be in the forefront in the future. Hence, I need to learn to mince my words and speak only when necessary.

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Let me quickly list the other goals that I don’t entirely have control over. I hope that in 2021, I will finally be called Dr Azam. I want to be consistent with this blog and my YouTube channel, producing more life changing articles and tutorials. I want to continue building my personal brand and learning more about personal branding in the social media space. I want to add a new portfolio to my investments. I pray for a financial advancement; a job or a postdoc position that pays well. I would like to get my driver’s license in 2021 (that was one of my resolutions in 2020). Finally, I want to read more non-academic books.

These are but a few resolutions I’m setting for myself. Most of them sound well-articulated but I doubt they are easy to achieve. However, I’ll keep working on myself and see what the year brings me.

I wish you all a Happy New Year. May it turn out to be your best year yet. May your prayers come true!

What are your resolutions? Let’s talk about it below.

I hate resolutions but… — Jim’s Musings

2017 is but a few hours to go. This is when people suddenly remember they have to harvest some blessings and change their personalities in a few hours. Drunkards hope to, by some miracle, quit drinking in a few hours (for some, a few minutes), workers promise to improve their ethics, etc. Resolutions are not […]

I hate resolutions but… — Jim’s Musings

Who makes the rules? — Jim’s Musings

Men do not wear skirts; women do not wear trousers!In Scotland, some men wear skirtsWho makes the rules? You eat beef, I eat batsYou find mine disgusting, but yours is notSome Indians eat not beef, neither do some South Africans, goatsMy food is disgusting to them, theirs is to meWho makes the rules? Be married […]

Who makes the rules? — Jim’s Musings

I feel alone — Jim’s Musings

I woke up today having lukewarm feelings about how the day was going to turn out. As a Christian, I believe in the power of my thoughts, confessions, and the law of attraction. I, therefore, professed and confessed that everything would be fine and I would have a great day. But I’m not! The truth […]

I feel alone — Jim’s Musings

How to safeguard against rejection: six life lessons from AMC’s Better call Saul

Almost everyone I’ve met has a fear of rejection. But we all possess the power to fight this fear by learning from those who have managed to master their fears. I recently watched the series Better Call Saul and learnt a lot about facing rejection. The show has become one of my all time favorites because it is very relatable and lesson-packed. It is a show about James McGill, who rose from being a conman, to working in the mailing room of a law firm, and finally becoming a lawyer. It is a prequel to Breaking Bad, the arguably best series of all time. Better call Saul expands on the story of Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad. Saul in Breaking Bad was evidently the backbone of every legal or cunning maneuver of most of the crooked characters in the series. But his rise to fame was not a walk in the park.

Continue reading How to safeguard against rejection: six life lessons from AMC’s Better call Saul

Thorns & Roses🌹.

My friend Liz is challenging herself to a poem per each day of November. This is the first of them. It talks about the two-sided nature of life’s experiences. Even though life is not entirely black or white, it is safe to divide our experiences into two categories – good and bad. That is what I get from her first poem and I hope you learn a thing or two from it too. Enjoy.

Lizzie's Journal

Life is never a bed of roses,
And even if it were, as it is;
Roses have thorns.
Good things don’t last.
Well bad things don’t either.
Life is, and requires, a balance of both.
Roses have thorns.
Some thorns have roses.
Yet, roses are beautiful.
Life can be rosy,
Life can be thorny,
Life can be beautiful.

Thirty days, thirty poems, November challenge. Day one. Hope you enjoyed it. Comments and criticisms are welcome.



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