When I was a kid, the only people who advocated for environmentalism were fringy hippies. But the times, they are a-changin'.
Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.
Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.
This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.
When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.
Cruz's child should not have to have her most vulnerable moment broadcasted around the globe. Adolescent children are notoriously private and may easily feel embarrassment or shame, except they generally have far less tools to know how to cope. The media listing so much information about the child's attempt at self-harm will likely do more harm than anything else thanks to a teen's proclivity to feel shame.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15-24 and nearly 20% of high school students have seriously contemplated suicide, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Kids that are LGBTQ are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers that are not a part of the LGBTQ community, according to The Trevor Project. It's clear that mental health issues that lead to either attempted or completed suicide are not relegated to a certain political party's children. It's a widespread issue plaguing parents and mental health professionals across the country.
If you couple the shame aspect with the stigma surrounding mental health, you're creating a recipe for disaster. We're talking about a teenager who has to go to school with peers who know who her father is. This isn't some unnamed child that no one would put the pieces together on. Once you name the politician and state the age and gender of the child, there's no mistaking who you're talking about.
Reporters aren't bound by HIPAA laws and there's not always a regard for protecting someone's privacy if the story is salacious enough. That's not to say that people who report the news are intent on hurting children, it's that sometimes we don't always think about the person on the other side of the story, especially the parents of a hurting child who will have to deal with the consequences of the report.
Media and consumers should use this moment to take a step back and look at how we view children of politicians and celebrities. Should they really be a commodity because their parents chose a public career? Should we disregard the very real pressure these kids are under to report intimate details of a tragic event? Or should we simply remember they're children and didn't ask for their moments of weakness to be laid out on display for the world?
I personally believe we should allow them to be children and we should remember what it was like at their age so we can fully appreciate how they might feel seeing their private suffering out in the world. I'm not saying not to report, I'm saying use discretion. A simple blurb that said, "One of Senator Cruz's children has been injured and taken to the hospital, but they are expected to make a full recovery," would have been plenty of information.
The world didn't need the details, and hopefully if something like this happens in the future to a family in the spotlight, the media will do a better job at protecting the child's privacy. Here's wishing Cruz's child a speedy recovery and future mental wellness.
It uses AI to edit his work emails into "polite, professional-sounding British English."
There is a lot of mistrust surrounding the implementation of artificial intelligence these days and some of it is justified. There's reason to worry that deep-fake technology will begin to seriously blur the line between fantasy and reality, and people in a wide range of industries are concerned AI could eliminate their jobs.
Artists and writers are also bothered that AI works on reappropriating existing content for which the original creators will never receive compensation.
The World Economic Forum recently announced that AI and automation are causing a huge shake-up in the world labor market. The WEF estimates that the new technology will supplant about 85 million jobs by 2025. However, the news isn’t all bad. It also said that its analysis anticipates the “future tech-driven economy will create 97 million new jobs.”
The topic of AI is complex, but we can all agree that a new story from England shows how AI can certainly be used for the betterment of humanity. It was first covered by Tom Warren of BuzzFeed News.
Danny Richman, 60, developed a friendship with plumber Ben Whittle, 31, a year ago after he came to his home to repair a bathroom leak. Richman, a search engine optimization consultant, became a mentor to Whittle and encouraged him to expand his business, which led to him opening a pool company.
However, Whittle’s professional development was hampered by dyslexia, making it difficult for him to communicate professionally. Dyslexia is a learning disorder that makes reading and writing a challenge because people with it have difficulty decoding how speech sounds relate to letters and words.
“To start with, I was reading and writing my bits, and then Danny was editing for me,” Whittle told BuzzFeed News. “And then he realized, there’s probably a much quicker way to do this.”
So in just 15 minutes, Richman developed an AI app that could correct Whittle’s writing and turn it into polite, professional-sounding British English. It's based on OpenAI’s GPT-3 artificial intelligence tool.
He described the app’s creation on Twitter.
I mentor a young lad with poor literacy skills who is starting a landscaping business. He struggles to communicate with clients in a professional manner.— Danny Richman (@DannyRichman) December 1, 2022
I created a GPT3-powered Gmail account to which he sends a message. It responds with the text to send to the client. pic.twitter.com/nlFX9Yx6wR
The entire process took less than 15 minutes to create. No coding required. Flow: Gmail>Zapier>GPT3>Gmail— Danny Richman (@DannyRichman) December 1, 2022
I also helped him use GPT3 to prepare an estimate, create a contract and respond to client enquiries. He just secured his first contract worth £220,000. This would not have been possible without this tech.— Danny Richman (@DannyRichman) December 1, 2022
Since Richman’s tweet went viral he has been approached by countless charities and educators about developing an app that can help people with various language difficulties. He believes that going forward, these apps can be made available free of charge for those who need assistance.
“My hope is that this can be achieved at zero cost to users and without the need for any form of commercialization,” he told Buzzfeed News.
Tabitha Goldstaub, a tech entrepreneur and co-founder of CognitionX, a market intelligence platform for AI, has dyslexia and relies on AI-enabled apps such as SwiftKey and Grammarly to help her communicate. So she understands firsthand the benefits that come with AI and the potential drawbacks. She was overjoyed by Richman's creation.
So many GPT3 powered creative, sadistic, silly and glorious uses being shared but this one really tickled me this morning— tabitha goldstaub (@tabithagold) December 6, 2022
No code required, small business using AI to simply enhance process, improve customer engagement and confidence! (Read thread) #TechThatHappensToDoGoodhttps://t.co/kX1V4Ahhi8
Goldstaub believes that we can have the best of both worlds if we make sure that humans are part of the implementation process. “I only ever advocate for AI systems in the workplace if they have a Human in the Loop approach. HITL is a way to build AI systems that makes sure there is always a person with a key role somewhere in the decision-making process,” she told The Guardian.
The 3,000-word letter was written on the back of a mirror.
This article originally appeared on 04.15.19
On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.
After removing the mirror from the wall, Dean discovered a 3,000-word letter written all the way down its backside in black pen. "She never mentioned it, but it's the kind of thing she'd do," her father told People magazine. "She was a very spiritual person, she'd go on about stuff that I could never understand – she was so clever." The moving letter revealed her deepest feelings about her fight with the dreaded disease. "Every day is special, so make the most of it, you could get a life-ending illness tomorrow so make the most of every day," she wrote. "Life is only bad if you make it bad."
Although Athena is gone, the mirror now serves as a powerful memory of her undying spirit. "We're keeping the mirror forever, it is a part of her we can keep in the house, it will always be in her room," her mother, Caroline, said. "Just reading her words felt like she was still here with us, she had such an incredible spirit."
Athena's full message:
"Happiness depends upon ourselves. Maybe it's not about the happy ending, maybe it's about the story. The purpose of life is a life of purpose. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. Happiness is a direction not a destination. Thank you for existing. Be happy, be free, believe, forever young. You know my name, not my story.
You have heard what I've done, but not what I've been through. Love is like glass, looks so lovely but it's easy to shatter.
Love is rare, life is strange, nothing lasts and people change. Every day is special, so make the most of it, you could get a life ending illness tomorrow so make the most of every day. Life is only bad if you make it bad. If someone loves you, then they wouldn't let you slip away no matter how hard the situation is. Remember that life is full of ups and downs.
Never give up on something you can't go a day without thinking about. I want to be that girl who makes the bad days better and the one that makes you say my life has changed since I met her!
Love is not about how much you say I love you – it's about how much you can prove it's true. Love is like the wind, you can feel it but you can't see it. I'm waiting to fall in love with someone I can open my heart to. Love is not about who you can see spending your future with, it's about who you can't see spending your life without… Life is a game for everyone but love is the prize. Only I can judge me.
Sometimes love hurts. Now I'm fighting myself. Baby I can feel your pain. Dreams are my reality. It hurts but it's okay, I'm used to it. Don't be quick to judge me, you only see what I choose to show you… you don't know the truth. I just want to have fun and be happy without being judged.
This is my life, not yours, don't worry about what I do. People gonna hate you, rate you, break you, but how strong you stand, that's what makes you… you!
There's no need to cry because I know you'll be by my side."
Ah, the power of vulnerability and solidarity.
Putting creative work out into the world to be evaluated and judged is nerve-wracking enough as it is. Having to market your work, especially if you're not particularly extroverted or sales-minded, is even worse.
So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.
Debut novelist Chelsea Banning recently experienced this scenario firsthand, and her sharing it led to an amazing deluge of support and solidarity—not only from other aspiring authors, but from some of the top names in the writing business.
Banning shared on Twitter that 37 people had responded as "going" to her book signing at Pretty Good Books in Ashtabula, Ohio, on December 3, but only two showed up.
"Kind of upset, honestly, and a little embarrassed," she wrote.
\u201cOnly 2 people came to my author signing yesterday, so I was pretty bummed about it. Especially as 37 people responded "going" to the event. Kind of upset, honestly, and a little embarrassed.\u201d— Chelsea Banning Author (@Chelsea Banning Author) 1670160901
A librarian by trade, Banning spent 15 years crafting the story for her fantasy trilogy about King Arthur's children. The first book in the series, "Of Crowns and Legends," was published in August and Banning has been trying to market it ever since.
"For a while I felt like I was throwing my book into the void and getting nothing," she told NPR. "This felt like last straw."
Then something amazing happened.
That tweet—which Banning had considered deleting shortly after she posted—started making the rounds. And much to her surprise and delight, Banning got responses from the likes of Margaret Atwood, Jodi Picoult, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and other famous authors, who shared their own unattended book signing woes.
\u201c@chelseabwrites Join the club. I did a signing to which Nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help. :)\u201d— Chelsea Banning Author (@Chelsea Banning Author) 1670160901
\u201c@chelseabwrites Terry Pratchett and I did a signing in Manhattan for Good Omens that nobody came to at all. So you are two up on us.\u201d— Chelsea Banning Author (@Chelsea Banning Author) 1670160901
\u201c@chelseabwrites I have sat lonely at a signing table many times only to have someone approach\u2026and ask me where the bathroom is.\u201d— Chelsea Banning Author (@Chelsea Banning Author) 1670160901
\u201c@linwood_barclay @chelseabwrites At my first SALEM'S LOT signing, I had one customer. A fat kid who said, "Hey bud, do you know where there's some Nazi books?"\u201d— Chelsea Banning Author (@Chelsea Banning Author) 1670160901
Even some famous nonauthors unexpectedly swooped in to lift Banning up.
\u201cThat is the beginning .. then word gets out and they come !\u201d— Henry Winkler (@Henry Winkler) 1670213781
Story after story poured in from dozens upon dozens of household writing names who had experienced two or one or zero people showing up to a book signing event. Anyone who has ever felt like they had failed due to a lack of interest or audience would find the thread inspiring, or at the very least, comforting.
But what was just as heartwarming as the successful writers commiserating with Banning was the fact that she shared her story in the first place. It's not easy to be vulnerable like that—most of us want to share our wins, not our perceived losses, with the world. But Banning demonstrated how opening up invites others to do the same, which lets everyone know they are not alone in their struggles.
What a beautiful thing all around. And to make it even better, Banning sold out of her signed copies that very same day. Here's to the power of sharing and caring!