You are more than your job title

A brick wall that read 'We like you too"

In this time and age, it seems like career is all that matters. You have to do this, you have to accomplish that and is your career what defines you. If you ask me, that’s utter bullshit. Your career is just a little part of who you are as a person and of what you bring to this world. Your job is what you do to make money. To survive in a capitalistic world that is harsh and relentless.

Obviously, in an ideal situation, you like your job. I’m lucky to say that I like what I do. It has good and not so good moments (like everything), but overall I’m satisfied. Not so long ago I wasn’t that happy about it. I had that attitude towards my job that I was describing a few lines above. I was obsessed with reaching certain goals, accomplish what I thought it would demonstrate that I was worthy. Because if I didn’t reach my goals as a professional I was a failure.

It has taken me lots of unhappy (and scary) moments and almost two years of fighting anxiety and depression to realize that I’m much more than a what my job title says. I’m a partner, a son, a brother, a friend… I’m a naturally curious person with countless hobbies and a strong creative gene that I’m still trying to develop every day. Fuck, I’m even an occasional blogger 😀

In this two years of struggle I’ve changed the way I look at my job and my career. I’ve learnt to develop myself as a person instead of as a professional and the benefits of it have translated to my workplace.

Your job is just that, and it’s ok to set goals and wanting to progress in your profession, but don’t let it take your happiness away. I can tell you from personal experience, is not worth it.

Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

Internet privacy matters but we don’t protect ourselves

Internet privacy

I’ve never been an advocate for internet privacy. I’ve used all types of services without reading any of those privacy policies (who reads that shit? It’s unreadable), I’ve had location services active in my phone for long time, etc. I think at some point I let myself go, I trusted the don’t be evil motto. When they give you great products for free you  don’t question as much what Google (and others) are doing with your data.

But this attitude has negative effects. I (we) have given this companies a message: do whatever the fuck you want, I’m not going to do anything about it.

The Instagram listener and  behavioral retargeting

I think what made me think about it seriously about it, was this Medium article about Instagram making use of the phone’s microphone to listen and process the collected data to show relevant ads. If what is explained on that articles is 100 percent accurate is irrelevant. It’s consistent enough with my personal experience using Instagram/Facebook/Google/whatever.

Reading that article made me think about what I already knew. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple… they all have an extense file on my with interests, internet habits, search, how I use their software, etc. This data has my name all over it. That way they can show me “relevant” ads everywhere, all the time.

I’m not going to go into why this is a bad thing. If you don’t thing it is, good for you. If on the other hand, you don’t like massive corporations having so much information about you, I’ll move to share some tips I believe can be helpful. But first let me be clear about something. This will not save you from this problem, it will only help you you in some fronts.

Start using Firefox Quantum

Mozilla Firefox has been with us since the late 90s. Their last version, Firefox Quantum, is a great browser, fast and efficient. More importantly, Firefox is developed by Mozilla, a non-profit organization that has demonstrated over 2 decades that the care about internet freedom and the users right to  surf the net safe and privately.

In addition to this, they give the user a lot of control and what do they share with mozilla and the default privacy options are already very reasonable. While  preparing to write this post I’ve read their privacy policy.  It is reasonable, clear, easy to read and understand. Because when a company is not trying to use you as their product, they don’t need to hide anything.

Search with DuckDuckGo

But Google is the best! What are you talking about? Yeah, well, I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for a few weeks and there’s  barely any different. Actually I’m gonna say something crazy: DuckDuckGo results are better thatn Google’s.

DuckDuckGo only personalizes your results based in location. That’s not the case with Google, they try to predict the most accurate results having in mind your previous searches (and I think other factors like pages you’ve visited). This could seem like a great idea, and  I think it’s done in good faith, but the result of this system is biased search results. This might seem irrelevant.  It probably is when you’re looking to  buy a new tv, but it is not when you are looking for things like politics, news, etc. What Google will show you will be biased and will reinforce your belives  without letting you see the other point of views. If you can’t see what is bad about that…

I highly recommend you to read this post by DuckDuckGo’s CEO in Quora.

Review your phone settings

I’ve spent some time lately going through app permissions on my phone. Things like location, mic, etc. are rarely going to be used by apps to offer you their service, but they still ask you for it. I was amazed by how many apps on my phone had location perms requirement, when at the end only 5 or 6 do we really needed them.

Taking five minutes to review these permissions can help you avoid sharing undesired data. Same applies to your desktop OS of choice. Spend some time  looking at what you are sharing with the OS provider.

Other steps you can take

  • Consider using Linux: Yes, I’m serious. Linux can be rough, but there are distributions that are very user friendly (Ubuntu, ElementaryOS, etc). Unless you need a specific software not available for Linux (photoshop, 3d studio…) there is no reason to stick to Windows/Mac OS.
  • Use Proton mail: Proton Mail is a secure and encrypted mail service. It’s free and has apps for the main OS  in the market. I’m seriously considering this move, but is no doubt one of the most painful you can do. I’m sure there are other options out there that offer a similar. approach
  • Be careful with what you share in  social media: if Facebook or other SM can identify your face in photos, bad.

There aremore things that can be done, but I’m not an expert on the mater and I don’t  want to talk without knowing.

Protoct yourself

We are not products, but massive companies with huge ecosystems and advertising interests are using us as such. We must be aware that even if their intentions are not bad, their actions are guided by the rules of capitalism. That is not bad per se, but it can become an issue with actors of this size.

Fe-men-ism: boys do cry

ian-espinosa-223462

Twitter is a great place to be. You can find all kind interesting stuff on the social network. Yesterday I came across a series of tweets by a guy called Matt Haig that I believe it’s an important thing to discuss:

I don’t know the accuracy of the data he talks about in the first tweet, and to be honest, I don’t care. I don’t think that’s the point. We tend to keep an idea of men and women that are not a representation of reality. You can’t group people by their sex and just tag them as strong or weak. That’s not how it works.

I’m pretty sure that being a man, and from Spain, some people might tend to think I’m some kind of Spanish macho that runs in front of bulls or some nonsense like that. But it takes 5 minutes of talking to me to see I’m not like that. In fact I’m a sensitive and emotional person, I’m scared of a bunch of things and I’ve experience some of the issues described above, like anxiety and depression.

As this Matt guy says, it’s okay to cry or being scared being a man. As it is ok to be the bravest or the strongest of the group being a woman. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should be.

P.s. Obviously that title is too much word play for me, thank you Aneesha for helping me all the time with my blog 🙂

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

Referendum of independence in Catalonia

I’m incredible tired of this topic. Really. I know is stupid to write about it but I feel the need. Some people has been asking me lately, outsiders to my country, who didn’t have enough information to understand what the hell is going on. It’s difficult to be unbiased when talking about anything, even worse at something like this. So I’m gonna give my opinion first, and if you don’t like it… bye and thanks for coming.

I’m not in favor of the independence of Catalonia. I don’t have anything in special against it (at the end I’m Catalan), I just don’t think that’s the way to go. I believe we should get together as the human race, not split our current countries into smaller ones. That being said, I’m in favor of doing the referendum. People is asking for it. A huge amount of people. And all parts, those in favor and those against it, should be able to go to vote and decide.

Now that we got my opinion out of the way let’s talk about how we got here. But before I start, I want to clarify that I’m not an expert on the topic or the history of our region.

(Very brief) History of Catalonia

Spain hasn’t always been united. Through history, different kingdoms have been part of the Iberian peninsula. After being part of different kingdoms and empires, the region became independent in the 10th century as the County of Barcelona. The County expanded on the next few years, remaining independent until the union with the Crown of Aragon in the 12th century. After the union, Catalonia kept a high degree of autonomy, having their own laws and developing its own culture inside the bigger crown.

Jumping forward to the 19th century, we find the birth of the catalan political nationalism. One of the main focus of this movement was to promote the use of the Catalan language and the empowerment of the catalan culture.

Want to read more about Catalan history? Click here

The 20th Century

This movement found big troubles during the 20th century. Spain went through two different dictatorships during this period. The second one, after the Spanish civil war, was a long dictatorship that lasted for forty years. The level of repression in the whole country was huge. In Catalonia, the government of Franco took away the region´s autonomy and prohibited the use of catalan. They went after the language and the culture, and on those years, it was a risk to even speak the language. I can´t even come close to imagine how horrible it has to be to have your own language forbidden.

After the death of Franco at the end of the 70’s, a democratic system was set up in Spain. Catalonia went back to have a certain degree of autonomy and self government. The autonomy of the region became bigger with the pass of the last few decades of the 20th century, seeing the creation of the catalan police (Mossos d’Escuadra), the High Court of Justice of Catalonia, etc.

Want to read more about what happened during the 20th century? Click here

Current conflict

So how do we get from a situation that was looking good to what we have now? There are lots of reasons for it, but self-government and money are the main things.

Probably, all started with the fight for “L’estatut”. The Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia was being changed on mid-2010’s. The president of Spain at the moment said that whatever was approved in the Catalan parliament would be accepted by the central government. That never happened and it led to an early regional election. That was what started the flame. After that a new Statue was created and voted in referendum by the people of Catalonia, but it had lots of changes, with less autonomy for the Catalan government to operate.

Another important issue is money. The new Statute was supposed to let the Catalan government manage the money paid by their tax payers. Again, that never happened, and the money is managed by the central government. This is seen as a great issue in Catalonia. As one of the most important and economically powerful regions in the country, Catalonia generates a lot of money, and people thinks that we don’t get enough return.

Diada at Barcelona 2012

Diada at Barcelona 2012. For this year’s National Day see this

The fact that the government didn’t approve the Statute of Autonomy that the Catalan people wanted, plus the crisis and other social factors, led the people of Catalonia to take the streets on national day and ask for a referendum of independence. The Catalan government asks to do a referendum, as people is asking for it and the same government is formed mainly for pro-independence people. Spain refuses to do it, simply saying that the Spanish constitution doesn’t allow for something like that. The two governments have been fighting since then, and the scene on Catalan National Day repeats every year, adding new people to the protest.

For the last election in Catalonia, all but one pro-independence party went together to the election. They won, and they promised a referendum, no matter what. Therefore, today 1st of October of 2017,  that is actually happening. The referendum is illegal by Spanish law, but Catalan authorities are determined to do it.

If you want to know more about what’s going, just open your preferred newspaper and see for yourself. I’m sure they’ll explain it better than me.

As for me, I just hope we can solve this once and for all soon, so we can focus and what makes people lives better.

Main pic by Kayla Velasquez

The humility of the Catholic Church

On our trip through Spain we’ve seen a lot of liturgical art. Spain is a country deeply connected to the Catholic Church. For centuries, their influence on the people, the kings and the governments was huge. That makes for an extensive collection of architectural work, sculptures and paintings, that is either in the hands of the church or has religious motives.

Throughout my life, I’ve travelled all around the country with my family and seen countless examples of this type of art. But never before I felt so profoundly offended by it. It is not only the fact that for centuries, we’ve wasted the time of our artists with religious work. But the fact that all this art, specially the one seen in churches in cathedrals, is in direct conflict with what the church preaches.

The intricate work seen on these buildings is full of gold, marbles and other expensive materials. The grandiosity of these very same buildings. The extremely complex altarpieces. All of them are nothing else than displays of greed and arrogance.

This is an institution that says that killing is a mortal sin. But at the same time, in the 12th century, they created a group inside their organization to hunt, judge anyone they considered heretic. That lead to a countless amount of killings. Probably most of these people were innocent.

In recent times, the church has been involved in a  number of scandals. The most notorious being the alarming amount of cases of pedophilia inside the church. Instead of denouncing, the church decided to hide these cases, becoming a partner in crime. That’s just horrifying.

This type of attitude seems to be the normal for an archaic institution that has done a lot of harm to mankind. And we’re still waiting for an apology that we can truly believe. As I found out while writing this post, the pope John Paul II apologized for a bunch of things the church has done in the past. And to lot of people too. But how can we take his word as the word of the whole institution? They keep lying and hiding the atrocities perpetrated by their own people.

Late Night Trump

Picture by Ben White

I have to admit that I’ve been quite addicted to the American Late Night shows for the past few years. From Letterman (now retired) to Conan, going through Colbert, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel. Also I love (really, true love) John Oliver’s show for HBO, Last Week Tonight.

For the past year, specially the last six months of 2016, the main focus of all these shows was the U.S election, and more specifically, Trump. If all this late night hosts have something in common, that’s how they’ve attacked consistently to (oh god…) the now president, Donald Trump. And I’m not the one who’s gonna criticize that. I’ve enjoyed the hell out of it. But I also have the feeling that they have played a part on his election. I don’t know exactly how influential this shows are, but they have millions of daily viewers.

My problem is, they have been bashing not only the candidate and the people at his campaign rallies. They have attacked directly the population on all the traditionally conservative states. And look, I understand that the ideas and convictions of some of these people can be horrible and disgusting. But that is generalization. And that’s never a good thing. I know that attacking states like Texas, Louisiana or Iowa is very tempting. They make it really easy to criticize them. But if you call traditional conservatives “a bunch of racist ignorant rednecks”, expect them to react and go to vote in mass. Even if they weren’t sure about voting for Trump, they now have something to prove and an enemy to defeat.

I think this election has shown that voting can be a very emotionally driven decision for some people. In my opinion, that’s a bad thing. But we can’t change how people think and act. And at the end all come to a very simple matter: respect. Without respect for the others, we’re nothing.