Bloggers Uncensored: with Tom Slatin
Welcome to this weeks Bloggers Uncensored! This is my latest and favourite blog series that I've created. This series is an opportunity to read your favourite bloggers' honest and uncensored opinions on real life topics. This weeks blogger is Tom Slatin.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am Thomas Slatin, a writer, photographer, and website designer from New York.
Why do you write?
Writing is just something that you are born with. I started writing and taking pictures when I turned 8 years old. I clearly remember telling my parents that one day I would become a writer, get interviewed on the radio, and get published in the press. My parents smiles, and encouraged me to pursue dreams which were more obtainable and legitimate. The past few years have been incredible for me, as I have managed to get several news articles written about my work, I had my first ever live on-air radio interview last year, and I was finally able to turn my passion into a full-time career.
Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging after designing websites professionally in 1996, when the internet was just starting to become popular. Back then, one had to attend a college class to learn how to code and write HTML. I was the very first person I knew who had their own website, and as the years went by, managing hundreds of pages became increasingly difficult. My website resembled a modern day blog, both in layout and in file structure. Once WordPress became popular, I transferred all my content to that platform, which made my life much easier.
What do you love about the blogging world/community?
As a child, I dreamed of being a writer when I grew up. I didn't realise at the time that it would take me decades of working jobs which were totally unrelated to writing before I could make my dream a reality. What I love about the blogging community is the sense of community it has created. I get really excited when someone posts a comment, posts something positive on social media about what I have created, or sends me a private email or message with their thoughts.
What do you hate about the blogging world/community?
I do not care for the disrespect that comes with being successful. In a world full of bloggers, it seems that once someone has achieved success, they suddenly become subjected to an onslaught of personal attacks. I have received my share of hate mail, and unfounded threats. Most recently I was publicly accused on social media of buying fake followers, and when I ignored the messages, a negative review was posted on my Facebook business page. The unfair review dropped my rating considerably from that of a prefect 5 star rating, which I had managed to maintain for decades, and undermined my credibility and reputation. I do not appreciate it when people send me threatening messages and call me names because I don't follow them back on social media; it's nothing personal, but out of the hundreds of thousands of people who follow me, I simply cannot possibly follow every single account back, if I wish to maintain close personal relationships with those whom I do follow. Furthermore, attacking or threatening someone online or unfairly smearing their long-standing flawless reputation is a very justifiable reason to block someone.
In your opinion, who are the most underrated bloggers?
Tim Dobbs, who is a photographer from the UK. He recently followed me on Instagram, and instead of following his Instagram feed, I followed his blog, where his truly amazing content is featured.
Cryanny has been a long-time fan and supporter of my work. Her blog is both interesting and inspirational, especially in terms of writing and photography.
I have to give a huge shout-out to Found Magazine, whom I have been contributing to since the 1990's. Their blog is fantastic.
Tracey Lynn Tobin is a writer from Canada. She has an amazing blog, a fantastic YouTube channel, and all things considered, she's just plain awesome.
What are some hard truths you have learnt about life?
One of the most difficult lessons I had to learn in life is that life isn't fair. I have always believed that freedom and equality for all people was a basic human right, and that regardless of our differences, we are all human beings and should be given equal opportunities and be judged by the way we treat others. Unfortunately this is not the way in which life works, and it took me a very long time to realise that.
What does freedom mean to you?
Freedom is having an equal opportunity to do with your life. Ideally I would like to see a lot of laws changed so that we no longer punish people who commit acts which did not affect the Earth, any living thing, or anything else. For example, here in United States, a full grown adult can be punished severely for simply using drugs. There is simply too much authoritative control in this world, and one day I hope to see the world unite as one great big family, free of borders and political division.
What are your thoughts on mental health and how it's portrayed in today's society?
Mental health has been portrayed as being the same as it was a century ago, despite the fact that it clearly evolved since then. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and as far as I am concerned, healthcare in general should be a free publicly-funded service available to all people. The modern healthcare system here in the United States is a complete disaster, and is designed to generate a substantial profit from the illness and suffering of people.
What are your thoughts on 'Love is Love' and how it's portrayed in today's society?
I have a lot of LGBT friends, most of which I have been friends with since my childhood. As far as love is concerned, it doesn't matter to me who people choose to fall in love with. Last year one of my friends from high school came out to me as transgender, and I immediately responded by sending them a message on Facebook, showing my support. I had a very tumultuous childhood, which as an adult makes it difficult for me to trust people. Once someone has earned my trust and has become a trusted friend, I will remain their friend for life. I simply do not judge people based on superficial categorization; I judge people by their character and who they are as people. One thing is for sure, and that is that there is too little love in this world, so whenever people are in love, it does not and should not matter whom they fall in love with.
What advice would you give to someone who is fighting a mental illness?
Mental illness is unfortunately something that is very isolating in modern times due to unfair stigma and judgement. My best advice is to say that nobody is every truly alone during their struggles in life. Everyone has at least one friend or family member who cares and is only a phone call or text message away. Also, although it may seem that they are the only ones who have a mental illness, such problems are often hidden and never discussed, which is why it often comes as a surprise how many people deal with the same common problems every day.
What advice would you give to someone who is being bullied or harassed?
I was bullied and harassed during my childhood, both by peers as well as a small handful of adults. Bullying is the direct result of someone's own lack of confidence, and by bullying someone else, the bully feels as if they are superior. What's interesting is that years later, I have made something of my life, and became successful, while those who mistreated me during my childhood now lead miserable lives and work dead-end menial jobs.
If you could rid the world of one thing, what would it be?
I would love to get rid of all the hate and animosity that exists in the world. As humans, we could solve all of the world's problems by learning to accept others, embrace diversity, and forgive one another for our imperfections and mistakes. There is simply no excuse for hatred, prejudice, violence, or war.
Let's end this with some fun 'This or That' questions:
Love or money?
Love. Money is the cause of a lot of heartache and pain.
Work hard or play hard?
Work hard. I work very intensely, and put my heart and soul into the things that truly matter to me.
Cups in the cupboard: right side up or upside down?
Upside down. I have this weird thing about dust getting into my dishware, so my plates, dishes, bowls, and glasses are stored upside down in a sealed cabinet.
Chocolate or sex?
Sex, but not by much, especially if it's chocolate fudge.
Plan everything or wing it?
It depends on the situation. Often times I like to have a plan, though the best made plans are often subject to change.
Happiness or money?
Happiness. I have known some very wealthy people during my life who were plain miserable and never had a single day of fun in their whole lives.
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