Monday, February 27, 2012

Learning Our Love Languages

Finding ways to love another person on their own terms means learning what makes them feel loved. While one person might feel loved when their partner tells them "I love you," another person may feel loved when their partner gently nurtures them with loving touch.

Author Gary Chapman helps us understand what we and our partners need in his very helpful book, The Five Love Languages. He reflects, we needed love before we 'fell in love,' and we will need it as long as we live." Love is a kind of soul food, but what we each need for proper nutrition may feel elusive to another person.

If we don't know how to fill one another's "emotional love tank," in time, the tank becomes empty, and we feel unsatisfied in our relationships. Chapman came to realize that people have different love languages, if we can learn what fills our partner's emotional tank, it will radically impact how s/he feels about the relationship and about us.

Chapman identifies five different love languages:

1. Words of affirmation: For the person whose love language is words of affirmation, "verbal compliments or words of appreciation are powerful communicators of love."

2. Quality time: Giving someone your undivided attention, be it taking a walk, going out to dinner or just sitting on the couch, can be a soul food in this "era of many distractions." This includes really listening to one another so that both partners feel heard and understood.

3. Receiving gifts: "Gifts come in all sizes, colors and shapes. Some are expensive, and others are free." If your partner's primary love language is receiving gifts, then each item you give is a gesture of expression of your love.

4. Acts of service: Doing things you know your partner would like you to do is what it means to give acts of service. A lovely home-cooked meal. Cleaning the house. Walking the dog. Managing the finances. All require thought, planning, effort and energy. "If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love."

5. Physical touch: For some people, physical touch, be it holding hands, kissing, embracing or making love, is their primary love language. "Without it they feel unloved. With it, their emotional tank is filled and they feel secure in the love of their" partner.

Once you learn what your primary love language is and what your partner's is, providing what your partner really needs is a conscious choice. What they need may not be what you need, but if you give them what they yearn for, their emotional love tank will be full. And two full people have a lot more love to share!

Hacking and Cybercrime: The Dark Side of Facebook

In mid-February, I woke up to a Cybernightmare. The only problem is it wasn't a dream. A hacker broke into the Facebook account I had built carefully and thoughtfully over a four year period, and with the flick of an eye (or perhaps the click of a mouse), disabled my account, unfriended my 1679 friends and obliterated me and all of the community service group pages, event pages and professional group pages I had created.

I felt more than cyber-robbed. I felt cyber-raped. With so much hype about social media as a necessity for business survival, discovering there is no recourse when someone destroys your cyberexistence is beyond devastating. I learned painfully that Facebook has no human beings offering technical support. I tried all of their possible on-line pathways to report and try to solve the problem fruitlessly. The assistance of the five most technically savvy people I know did not make a dent in the problem.

When cybercrimes are committed, there is no cyberpolice to call. Who do you call? Was the crime even committed locally? Did the person who hacked you even know you? Was it deliberate or just someone's idea of a fun prank? Lots of questions. No answers. And huge impact with no solution, except to start the hard work and month of effort to rebuild ones social network all over again.

Several people have said, "Facebook is free. You get what you pay for." I find this untrue and misleading. Facebook is using all of us to create a multi-billion dollar business empire. All of our profiles and detailed information is the currency that is traded to make the Facebook founders and investors their megabucks.
I do not wish to be use or exploited as a faceless piece of data. It is a kind of cyberslavery, capturing the personal and business lives of the masses.

The cybermonster has gotten out of control, and it is eating its children. The more removed from human systems our world becomes, the more freedom there is to wreak havoc with no accountability and no consequences. The cybercriminal is anonymous, invisible, unfindable to all but the most technically sophisticated--untraceable.

To add insult to injury, as I started to rebuild a new profile and try to refind my real world friends on Facebook, I was "punished" for trying to add too many people at once. "Do you really know this person?" asked Facebook, as I clicked on the profile of someone I had just spent time with. My clicking "Yes, I know them in real life" was not good enough for the computer algorithm. I was punished for "inviting people I don't actually know" and blocked from friending people for 2 days.

While all the bells and whistles of Facebook are fun and seductive, rarely do we have reason to think of the dark side of this addictive technology. When friends and business associates don't even send regular e-mails, but instead contact one another through Facebook, losing ones profile is the equivalent of being lost in a tidal wave. Radio silence and no way to let anyone know.

Perhaps it is time for a CyberFBI. Or a Citizens United For Social Media Rights and Accountability Movement. We need to occupy our lives and our social networks again, and not just give our power away to a very hungry business that does care about any of us personally. Until people band together and take action against the monolithic cyberpresence, hacking and cybercrime will proliferate unmanaged and uncontained.

To create such a fundamental infrastructure for people's businesses and lives without the conscience that a human technical support department represents is dangerous and frightening. Time to take out our flashlights and shine some light in this darkness!

Copyright 2012 Linda Marks

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mentoring Boys to Men

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men"
-- Frederick Douglass

The teenage years are both challenging and developmentally critical for teens as well as the adults in their lives. It is a time when boys look within to ask "who am I?" and look outside to explore "what does it mean to be a man?" Teenage boys look for role models to help them figure out what "being a man" actually means.

"Boys need good men in their lives as role models," notes Boys to Men Mentoring Network founder, Craig McClain. "They need men who care about them, will accept them for who they are and where they are. Rather than telling them to do things differently, they need men who will listen to them and just be there for them, and accept their journey--the faults, the grace and the glory."

Boys to men is an international non-profit educational organization with a local chapter here in New England, that provides boys/young men a safe place to talk about who they really are and to gain some tools to further them on their path towards becoming a mature man. Sadly, in our crazybusy culture, having the time to just be with other people becomes an increasingly rare experience. According to statistics gathered by the Boys to Men Mentoring Network, a teenage boy spends an average of 30 minutes of focused time each week with the male in his house, but 40 hours of time with video games.

"Even having a parent at home does not mean you get focused time with that parent," reflects Boys to Men New England founder, Dave Bolduc. "If a father comes home from a long day's work, if he hates his job, if he is tired, he just wants to sit in front of the TV and chill." If there is no father at home, there may be no steady male for focused time.

"Boys need a man in their lives," continues Bolduc. "They need to connect. My father never came to a ballgame of mine. I didn't hold it against him, but I wanted him to come see me and be proud of me. If parents are not aware of the moments that have emotional meaning in a boy's life, like a ballgame, and if a parent/father is too busy to take time for these key moments, the boy feels a gap and a yearning."

"Society has missed this, saying that boys will figure things out on their own," acknowledges McClain. "I have asked thousands of boys what kind of man they want to be, and no one has said 'a drug delaer,' 'a bum,' 'a wife beater,' or 'a gang member.'...(however) boys take the choices that are available to them, if they are not given another choice."

The space of mentoring has been lost in our society. When we lived in more of a village atmosphere, and even earlier in the 20th century when boys apprenticed, mentorship was present. As society evolved, mentorship got lost. Boys have a mentorship need. Adult men have a place inside where they yearn to mentor. Today, there is a void around the mentorship need and no clear place to fill the void. Boys look to each other, to television, to video games. Men are disconnected from each other.

One unique aspect of the Boys to Men program is that it is not just one man being a role model for one boy. It is a community of men and boys aged 11 to 90+ years old that allows us to return to a way of being where we are collectively raising our young. Boys (called Journeymen) and men (called Mentors) support one another in weekend trainings and in regular meetings called "J-groups" that work to build emotional intelligence.

"It is really important for men to teach boys emotional intelligence," underscores Bolduc. "Boys need to learn how to be able to show their feelings, how to put words to feelings and to be able to trust people. We as men learn how to tell the truth, to be who we are, to be vulnerable. We learn how to be healthier men, including with the women and children in our lives." And the boys get a healthy emotional role model of what it means to be a man and how men are constantly growing, evolving and healing in the journey of life.

When mentors work with teenage boys, they get a lot of healing for their own time as a teenager. Teenage years are often filled with pain, and most men don't wish to revisit that pain ever again. In the J-groups, mentors discover that their tought times as a teenager can help them provide an emotionally meaningful space for young men.

One man called it the "mentoring bone;" once awakened, there's a drive to do it. This applies both to men who have been successful fathers and to men who aren't fathers. Both want to be useful to other people, and feel a common calling and desire.

"It's in men's DNA to protect their family and be good men," reflects McClain. "Society has gotten away fromit. Families don't do it. We want school, television and the media to do it. They don't do it. So we do it and become better men ourselves."

When boys engage with authentic and vulnerable men, it catalyzes a spark of brilliance, genius and ingenuity that lives inside them. One Boys to Men leader observed that a switch goes on and even hardened boys come back to life. The boys experience an opportunity to become who they really are and not who society is telling them to be. Boys to Men can create a generation of authentic, grounded, emotionally literate men. And ultimately, this will create a different world than the one we are living in now.

In order to bring the spirit of their adult-teen mentoring work to a larger community, Boys to Men New England is organizing its first benefit concert on Sunday, April 22 from 7 - 9:30 pm at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston. The theme of the concert is "Voices of Boys and Men." A wide range of musical performers and speakers have been selected to provide the "voices."

Musical features include nationally known singer/songwriter David Roth, Rhode Island father-son duo Jesse and Jack Gauthier, cabaret singer Jay Uhler, poet/musician Remon Jourdan and award winning barbershop group Sounds of Concord. Barbershop singing provides a community experience of mentoring and music. Just like a sport, barbershop is a process where the more you learn and get coached, the more fun it is when you actually get on stage and perform. The group encourages high school music teachers to contact them for support in helping students sing at their schools. Youth barbershop group G20 will also be performing at the benefit.

A featured speaker that evening will be Kim Odom, whose son Stephen was tragically murdered three years ago at age 13 walking home from a basketball game. Hosted by Magic 106.7's Tina Gao, the centerpiece of the evening will be a film clip featured the Boys to Men program, showcasing the spirit, work and mission of Boys to Men.

For tickets to the "Voices of Boys and Men" Benefit at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, contact Linda at To learn more about Boys to Men New England visit