White Collar Criminals and their Wide Path of Destruction

01.30.12

Last year when Los Angeles’ jails and California’s prisons were overcrowded non violent offenders were paroled. In the mix were white collar criminals, grifters and con artists (perhaps the three are synonymous?). Last year I listened complacently to the news and nodded, thinking to myself, “That makes sense”.

This year I see it differently.

My friend Daphne Brogdon had her world turned upside down when she became (or rather realized she’d become) a victim to the Madoff Scam. I met with another lady last week who told me about a dear friend and business partner who had robbed everyone blind, and we both whispered about all the finance gurus online who live in their mother’s basements and don’t pay any of their bills. She is involved in crowdfunding. I told her in broad strokes about the grifter blogger here in Los Angeles.

With all of this swirling around the discussion becomes a question of how to trust people. How do you know that you won’t be continuously hurt, stolen from or punished?

After bouncing tens of thousands of dollars in checks (possibly hundreds of thousands), stealing cars and lying pathologically about her income, relationships and businesses, the grifter mom was arrested (not for the first time). An officer from the LAPD told me that she was, “The most coldhearted and evil woman I’ve ever encountered.”

As a direct result of this grifter mom-blogger’s actions my son has lost three friends. This absolutely kills me. She’s made dozens of people financially insecure, almost bankrupted a taco truck guy. Who doesn’t pay the taco truck? Who? There may or may not be sex with someone’s husband but certainly there was money and in all of this there are kids. Her kids, neighborhood kids, school kids… a lot of kids whose parents are made to feel like they might be crazy.

I’m not sure how these experiences have shaped me or if they will continue to shape me. I’m very interested in crowdfunding but the obvious obstacle is trust. I’m not sure that I’m ready to declare trust in the world.

Conflicted About Blogging

06.28.11

In a few weeks I’ll be joining 3,000 or so women at BlogHer. It’s a big blogging conference for women and I’d went once before when it was in Chicago.

I have mixed feelings about it. Although I’m not part of the BlogHer ad network, and I don’t participate in their community BlogHer has paved a path for women to follow. BlogHer took a hobby and turned it into a career. For that I am grateful.

But of course I’m not one to gush, so I have to find the negative too.

As bloggers we have to support ourselves with brand partnerships, advertising or by writing on someone else’s site for a paycheck (just not places like Huff Po who pay you with a thank you note). There’s a delicate balance, and I’m not sure that many people achieve it. I occasionally share product information here and it comes from one of three ways.

  1. A product has blown me away and I’ve told you about it. (like the Diva Cup)
  2. A product line has dazzled me and I’ve begged them to partner with me (like Kenmore)
  3. A brand has a message that they’ve shared with me and I’ve agreed that the message has value and shared it with you. (P&G)

The way that a product would make it’s way to me is pretty narrow, and the way that I’d share it with y’all is narrower still. Not a lot of product sharing goes on here. Which is good, right?

There’s a new kind of blogger, the review blogger. Review bloggers seem to be mostly women, but that’s just the way I see things because I’m smack dab in the middle of the mommy blogging world. I want to dislike the review blogger. You see she takes any old crap and writes glowing reviews of it. Typically the review blogger only writes positive reviews and she might even publish a press release word for word.

The review blogger is the lazy publicist’s best friend. The review blogger will almost always garner positive press for a product and almost never charge anything more than the cost of the trinket and overnight shipping.

The review blogger has also sucked the life out of the blogosphere. The review blogger often calls herself a Mom Blogger (or worse a Mommy Blogger) and her site can create confusion. You see when I tell people that I’m a Mom Blogger they’re like, “But you’re so much MORE than that.” And I smile but don’t say anything because calling your peers crap makes you only better than crap. In my head I’m screeching, “They aren’t bloggers! They’re shills.”

And I’m sure I’m going to meet a huge number of them in August. And I’m conflicted because these are nice women who I like. They’re walking down this same weird path of blogging, but they’re using it very differently.

Is it okay to like someone and really dislike their business?