Monday, February 29, 2016

Imaginary or Real Life Relationships? That is the Quiestion.

  Why is it so hard to build a relationship in real life? What happens when we meet someone and feel the attraction? Does it go both ways and if it does, how long does it last? What is the attraction of Apps like Tinder? And what does Twitter and texting has to do with our rewards system in the brain? To start to answer these questions here is a picture I found from Scammer Mimes Facebook page that got me thinking. It states:

    “You were much more interesting when you were online.” Does that sound about right?

   I recently met a man through an online dating site. He was perfect. His picture was perfect. His profile was perfect and in our messaging and texting, he insinuated that he was truly interested in the same things that I am. He was also very supportive to my writing career. I had written about scamming and he thought that it was appropriate. He said that he did not want losers, he wanted for us to support each other in whatever we wanted to achieve in life. It all sounded wonderful and I allowed myself to think and imagine what we could do together. And that in its turn was a great turn on for me. It was as if I had actually met him and as if we had already built our relationship. My dopamine hormone got me high just thinking about it. I am good at that. We messaged for a good two weeks and then decided to meet in person. We would meet at a popular café, about half way from each other. And that we did.

   When we met, it was like instant connection. It was as if my expectations were thoroughly met by this man walking down the street to meet me. He was handsome, and he walked in a manner a confident man walks. The moment he said hi and smiled produced a high in my brain. Wow, this was going somewhere and fast. Instant attraction, instant connection and I knew it was mutual. And we had not met through Tinder, so I thought that it was not about sex, at least not entirely. So, we talked and walked and cuddled and after I left, I crashed. I got stressed, depressed and anxious and felt like running away and very quickly at that. So what happened?

   My brain suddenly reacted by increased production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which caused a mental fog. I got thoroughly confused about what I should do. My decision-making capabilities were at cero. So, I went home and soothed my brain by checking on Facebook and then on Twitter. I checked all my emails and deleted most of them, so that I would feel like I had done something worth mentioning. And then I saw that someone had posted an article about what happens in your brain when you multitask. And it all clicked into place. Once again, I had used my literary, imaginary capabilities to make my dream date perfect and could not see the forest from the fog afterwards.

This article explains it:
                    “[By] asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes the prefrontal cortex and striatum to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel they need to stay on task. And the kind of rapid, continual shifting we do with multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time. We’ve literally depleted the nutrients in our brain.”
   But what happened, I ask. Why did I react the way I did in the first place?
Well, I wrote that pink book called Love on the Line. How to Recover from Romance Scams Gracefully and without Victimisation. And my rational mind recognised the signs although my emotional brain went on producing the high and enjoying the ride as well. So, I sort of baked the cake and ate it as well.

  It is good to know that I have learned something from my own mistakes and experience. However, that has not yet resulted in my brain building all new neural pathways that would immediately prevent me from making bad decisions. I still do make them and afterwards I regret. The man I met wanted just sex, after all and when he got only reluctant kisses and cuddles during our walk, he turned nasty. He insulted me and my mother, my daughter and couple of other well-chosen words came out of the same mouth that had previously told me how beautiful I looked and how attractive he found me. Luckily, the situation ended there and he did not follow when I turned around and walked to my car and left. So, what should I do?

   Should I stop looking for love and believing in the good in everyone or maybe just keep reading romance books, like I have always done? It is a hard question and in this new instant digital world we live in, a valid question as well. Building real relationships in the instant gratification real life is hard. Particularly, when the other party only wants what he thinks he is entitled to get after pretending to be nice online. That is why he is more interesting there. And I might leave him there, at least just for now, while I gather my positivity after the crash and find the things that I should be grateful about, like that I once again survived, not an online dating scam but a real life personal treat.

   I recon we should think about that for a while and just stay on course to see what could be done to somewhat heal this broken world and the broken dreams it carries and offers to those who like to always think the best of everything.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

What PornHarmsKids Symposium Thought Me about Pornography and Harm in the New Millennium

It has been 21-years since I attended a conference on Human Trafficking, Prostitution or Pornography. I quit for a while because after 15-years of researching these topics, traveling the world and talking about it, I had become disillusioned about the world. I actually related to just about anything through my research on pornography. I saw the patterns of power-over and subjugation everywhere.

Now, I realise that it is because our memory is built through patterns and anything outside these patterns we notice and remember. For me, there was nothing outside the patterns of violence I detected around me. My brain had been collecting material since a very young age and at that time I could relate everything, including children's play and dolls through the dichotomy of power over and subjugation that can be found at the heart of the idea of the pornographic message. I felt I had to get out and save myself from too much harm. Luckily, moving to Australia was the solution and a new career in age care and community building was the salvation. But how long can it last before the universe provides new impetus for thought for someone who is trying to ignore it the best she could? Not long. Somewhere in my subconsiousness, I did keep up with the issues and the connections kept adding up. Then I found myself a target of a romance scam and wham, the world made sense again. 

My book Love on the Line. How to Recover from Romance Scams Gracefully and without Victimisation is a result of that shock of becoming a victim of a scam. Through it I explain the bigger picture that I see through the patterns built in my brain about power over and subjugation through pornography, romance book reading and scamming. Now I am detecting scams in everything, especially in how we relate to each other as human beings. I am already in the process of writing a sequel. But before it my mission was to update my knowledge about pornography and harm it brings to us in the new Millenium.

Luckily, I saw the online add for the PornHarmsKids Symposium. It was held at the University of NSW on the 9th of February. I got my plane ticket and donated in my fee as advised and all and all, I was a little late but got there anyway. And this is what I learned on one day listening to very professional speakers and discussing the topics with other concerned attendees:

Unfortunately, I learned that nothing much has changed in 20-years I have not been active in this field. Or maybe everything has changed, depending on your view of things. I now, hold a personal 35-year historian view based on my own research about how the message of pornography harms human beings; women, men and children; those that are vulnerable and being used as pawns to earn money for those others with callous minds or otherwise disruptive behavior thought patterns about the matter of power-over and subjugation. I'll be frank. 

The most profound change is visibility. Or maybe not! Remember the billboards? We drive past them with the family everywhere. Well, during the 1980's porn was plastered directly on them. It's message was interfering with our lives most anywhere, I remember those sexualised women sitting on some fancy cars on billboard and I remember having to explain all of it to my son and my daughter. Even porn magazines were advertised along with alcohol and tobacco. We fought them down in Europe, USA and Scandinavia and the world followed through. The argument was: porn is everywhere. And it was. Unfortunately, just as the solutions for those times were put in place, Internet appeared and the visibility shifted to homes and anywhere with access to it. The message remained unchanged. Though, now we could view it from the comfort of our own space and more of us could find and watch porn without interruptions.

The other profound difference has come through brain research, actually. For now we KNOW, what we only had an inkling about during the 1980's. Our brain is affected by what we see. It builds patterns and our actions follow through, if we let them. And, now we also know that it take around 25-years to grow a fully functioning frontal cortex with the ability to rationalise. So, we know that young brains are affected and harmed the most by what they pick up along the growing process. PornHarmsKids Symposium was all about how to tackle that huge problem we are faced with by free access to online pornography. There are some alarming sign detected about our behaviour as human adults and kids in relation to how we see the world and act on impulses of the ideas that are presented to us. This can be really bad news for women and girls as our lives are heavily affected through vulnerability and conditioning. I am not saying that the men and boys are not affected. They are but the power-over and subjucation clause of pornography clearly points to the victim as female. It is hard to detect, I know. 

In fact, one of the speakers at PornHarmsKids Symposium, Dr Tucci, actually theorised that the different way the boys and the girls react to pornography points to inequality. He said that he could not understand what it was in that in boys, porn trickers their arousal response, while this does not happen in girls. Conditioning perhaps, he suggested. Well, I know! After all we live in a patriarchy and the messages in porn are molded to mirror the power-over and subjugation clauses inbuilt in the very structures of our society. Not a very hard thing to draw a conclusion from there. 

For me the rest of the symposium was about finding what practical advice, each and every speaker could give in order to best tackle the problems at hand. Three big ones come to mind:

Melinda Thankard Reist forwarded the messages that young girls want to say to boys about relationships:

And the @Cypercop1 Susan McLean gave advice to parents who are struggling to cope with the ever expanding world of pornography and how to explain and guide their children to avoid abuse and hate.
And lastly, Collett Smart gave us the 10 Body Safety Rules that can help a child to recognise where the boundaries lie:

There is an excellent PornHarmsKids website to go to for more information. From there you can get the videos and the articles that keep coming about the symposium and about the issue. I am really pleased that I went. Meeting all these brave and courageous people has given me hope. Also look up the Twitter handles @PornHarmsKids and @CollectiveShout. I know that young people themselves are very concerned and they will come up with some solutions of their own, once they are educated about this issue in an open and nonjudgmental atmosphere. 

Until that time, it is our responsibility to keep working at it. It is our responsibility to insert hope, recovery and happy endings positivity to the world. Hopefully you'll follow along and take action for the betterment of the situation and the world. Every era needs their own solutions. Let's find the ones that work now in the new Millennium. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Riding My Book Home: Thank You for Reading and Spreading the Word about Romance Scams

What is the most exciting thing about book writing is that it is an adventurous journey to get your book out there to the world. What a very satisfying feeling it is, to be standing there on the podium at the Avid Reader Bookshop reading from my book to the audience of attentive  listeners. It is worth looking back one year and summing up my experience.
One year ago, I had moved to Gympie in order to live near my grandchildren. I am utterly grateful to my wonderful son-in-law for suggesting that move. It gave me the creative space I needed for writing. I would never have thought of it myself. I was sort of stuck in the idea of staying in my own ecological house for the rest of my life. But no, instead, the move proved to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. About that time I had also attended  Chris Henderson's coaching first ever intensive two day retreat with a few other eager women looking for real and valuable change in their lives. This all prompted me to really start developing the depth to my Love in the Line book storyline. I had been thinking the issue important enough to share with the world but had been unsure about how to truly confront my fears of putting words on paper. The retreat was the catalyst that prompted me to really start writing. My biggest challenge was my language barrier. Writing a book in my second language came to fruition with great support from my coach. I learned that everyone needs a guiding hand and a support group.
I found my support group in the Howling at the Moon women's community in Brisbane. It is great to have a healthy support system that strengthens your aspirations and lets you be yourself with no judgement. At the meetings on every full moon, it is a wonderful feeling to be able to share my thoughts with others who care about taking action for change. I can full heartedly recommend for every woman to take on a challenge of finding their own network of achievers who actively support you and your goals. Rest was just writing.
I would not say that it was a ride in the park. Having a dear friend and my long time feminist legend mentor  Dr Gloria F Orenstein as a conversation partner in some difficult situations of deciding where to take my storyline helped me to keep on course with the right message I wanted to convey to the audience. It is a blessing to have good company when you ponder on the burning world issues like the internet romance scamming with its roots deep in the world of pornography and violence against women mentality.

It is very peculiar how I had stopped my researcher career in the middle of 1990's, when the global discussion about prostitution, pornography and violence against women sort of went underground just to publish my book in time when the world is truly recognising the need to understand and take action against violence against women, romance scamming being the top #1 fraud crime in the world. That is where my book can help.

A huge thanks to getting things done in the right way goes to my son Nillo Halonen in Finland and his Spartacus team. They designed my personal author Website and the smart branding of my profile. Without Nillo's cheerful and focused prompting, the book might even now have been some time from being published.
Luckily, I had already decided on the Publisher Xlibris right at the start. Originally, I did it to encourage myself with the pressure of investing in myself and my self-publishing venture, but it turns out that it was a good deal. I have learned a lot about publishing during the gone year. Now I know what to do with the second book that I have already started writing.
So, you see that standing on that podium talking about my book to the book loving friends and listening to Chris, Fiona and Dr Cassandra Cross talking about me and my book was a culmination of a long work process on several fields, just like my book is interdisciplinary work of non-fiction combined with personal narrative and a couple of fictional short stories.
Previously I was interviewed about why I wrote the book and  just yesterday Jas Rawlinson posted a brilliant review about my book in her Thoughts from Jas blog. I am truly blessed because all the reviews and articles, so far, have been very encouraging and wonderful to me. Thank you all and everyone for reading and talking about my book and so highlighting the issue of romance scams and the source where is leads to, namely violence culture in our society.

I want to write some more and I will. The future looks like there is so much more to say. Stay tuned for the sequel. It is in the writing. For now I urge you to take action and share the story of Love on the Line. How to Recover form Romance Scams Gracefully and without Victimisation.