At the end of March 2023, I attended the NZSA Roadshow in Christchurch, New Zealand, which was a series of workshops and panels for writers (not readers). It had been some time since I had gone to one of those events, and I knew that part of my 2023 reconnection was to also reconnect with the writing community.
So, I went with an open mind, not quite sure what I would take away from the day. And it was within the first session of the day that I was blown away and brought to tears (in a good way).
The day started with an interview discussion with Witi Ihimaera. I know the name won’t mean much to my readers (the name didn’t mean much to me either), but as I listened to this 80yo writer, listening to his philosophies towards creating a writing life that you can feel proud of, there was one theme that ran through everything that he was talking about. He did it in a way that was true to who he is as a person… and he’s still learning and growing and still trying to stay true to who he is as a person.
He’s doing it his way.
As that session ended, I just looked up at the ceiling. “Okay… okay… I get the message.”
And even as I write this, the tears are flowing because the message is so loud and clear. In moving forward within my writing career (and within my life), I have to do things my way.
Let me set the stage for the significance and importance of such a profound message.
I’ve had a LinkedIn account for a good number of years now. I signed up when LinkedIn first started, wanting to connect with my fellow researchers. LinkedIn is a professional networking site, and it was a perfect place to build those connections, particularly with those who are overseas. But when I started my editorial business, I chose to shift the focus of my LinkedIn account towards my editorial ventures.
So, I went into LinkedIn, updated my profiles and decided to connect my LinkedIn profile to my business email.
A few days later, I got an email from someone who was commenting on how pretty I was. Those sorts of pickup lines are never going to work on me anyway, but I emailed back, asking if he had any editorial business that he was interested in contracting. The sleazy pickup emails continued, and eventually I had to block the dude’s email.
But when this happened, the only question that went through my mind was “How did this guy get my email address in the first place?” The email that he was sending his sleazy pickup lines to wasn’t listed on my website. I hadn’t shared it with anyone because it was a brand-new email. The only place that had that email in a public setting of any description was LinkedIn.
And that’s when I discovered that LinkedIn has a little flaw.
The publishing industry has been in a big, confused mess about the emergence of ChatGPT, a freely accessible artificial intelligence (AI) program designed to write creative works based on a series of prompts. While the technology could significantly improve things for some people, writers everywhere are uncertain about the full impacts that the technology will have on the publishing industry.
The ChatGPT program can write any story of any length in almost any style. And therein lies the problem.
At the moment, it is reasonably easy to tell when a piece of writing has been generated by ChatGPT, but as the algorithm learns—and I really mean “learns”—it will get harder and harder to tell. The market was already overwhelmed by the scam writers out to make a quick buck, but when ChatGPT came online, the saturation became worse.
Literary magazines like Clarkesworld became inundated with AI-generated stories, and they closed their submissions portal as a result, while they figure out how to handle this miss. Amazon has seen a sudden increase in self-published books on the platform. And there is now great concern about the future of professional ghostwriters, knowing that businesses no longer need to hire a ghostwriter when they can get an AI program to write their material for free.
Exactly where this is all going and how the industry will ultimately respond to AI-generated stories is still unknown.
When I was young, as in still in elementary school, I was taught that you addressed your elders by their title and their last name. Mr. Fisher. Mrs. Wentworth. Mr. Irvine. Ms. Goodman. (And yes, these were all teachers that I had at some point during my education.) If I didn’t know the person’s last name, I was to address them as sir or ma’am.
And I wasn’t the only one who was raised with these ideas. I remember when I was 12, a friend and I went to the beach and we forgot to take a watch with us. We approached an older gentleman and asked, “Excuse me, sir, but do you have the time?” I remember this clearly, because I remember the state of shock on his face.
To this day, I don’t know if he was shocked because we were two youths showing him that level of respect, or if it was because two youths had approached a complete stranger to ask for the time.
I will be the first to admit that the world from my childhood has long ago disappeared. But there are elements of the past that have eroded to the point that I’m now wondering if titles and salutations like sir and ma’am even have a place anymore.
I’ve known about the various scams that exist within the internet and telecommunications realm for years.
You have the ransom scam, where you receive an email stating that they have some photographic evidence of you doing something dodgy and they want to be paid in bitcoin.
There are the phone scammers, who pretend that they are Microsoft or some other company, and want remote access to your computer. These scams are also known as malware scams. (I’ll come back to malware scams in a future post, because unfortunately a friend of mine fell prey to this scam in 2021, and it cost her dearly.)
But you also get the txt/email login scams where you receive a txt message (or email… or some other notice) saying that there are some unusual transactions on your account, asking that you click the link to verify. (My own husband fell prey to one of these a few months ago.)
All of these scams are fishing for the person who is trusting and doesn’t know any differently. We want to believe the best in people, and the scammers are out there to take advantage of that. And it seems like technology has given con artists new ways to be inventive with their scamming. And the scammers are smart.
Today, I want to discuss the login scams, mainly because it was this type of scam that my husband fell prey to a few months ago. It could have been easily avoided if he had been paying attention—which he wasn’t—but there are other steps that you can take to protect your systems even if you are duped by the login scams.
Every year, at this time of year, I take the time to look back over the year that has just finished and check-in on my progress towards my ultimate dreams. It’s a time when I remember the little wins that I might have forgotten in the wake of the chaos of life. And just like every year, 2022 was definitely filled with chaos.