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'Fair Use' of a Life?

by Guest Blogger, Lena West, Chief Social Media Strategist at xynoMedia Technology

Usually when we see the words 'Fair Use' , we expect that someone is going to be talking about Fair Use or copyright infringement. All important things, but not this time.

What about the Fair Use of someone's life?

I recently wrote a post on my new InfoWorld blog titled, "What's Wrong with Social Media?" and one of the challenges I listed was that being active in social media makes one a more visible personality and by virtue of this fact, odd people can become attracted to you in odd ways. (Hold your email and read that again, please - I am NOT saying that social media creates stalkers.)

I was interviewed for a radio show last year. The person who interviewed me, let's call her Alice, was as straight of an arrow as there ever was. She had policies and procedures, release forms, etc. for the show. A real pro...

The interview went well and she thought that we could work on some projects/ideas together and set up a time for us to chat. She missed the first call - hey, could happen to anyone and then she was late for our rescheduled chat. I never returned her call or her email. If you know me, you know I don't play around with my time. If people don't respect their time, it shows a lack of self-esteem and I don't want to start a new relationship with someone who is not on solid footing.

Then something weird started happening...

Everywhere I went, she went.  She started writing for some of the same publications. She started Copycat commenting on the same blogs. She started conversations with people whom, in passing, I mentioned I knew. She joined some of the same virtual communities.

Things just got strange.

I was speaking with a long-time industry pal the other day and I asked her if this had ever happened to her and if she could help me figure out if/when I should say something directly to Alice.

Although she admitted that it had never happened to her, she thought I might be confusing someone who was trying to emulate my success with a stalker-in-the-making. No such luck. Alice had definitely gone too far.

Then my friend suggested that I send her an email and directly confront her. As you know, I don't have a problem having hard conversations with anyone, but would I be jumping the gun just a bit? That's kind of like telling a guy you don't like him before he makes his move.

To be clear, I don't think Alice is violent at all...she's just trying to be a little too much like me.

Bottomline: what would you do if you were me? Sit back and see what happens or send Alice an email and tell her to buzz off and risk looking like a stuck-up idiot who's read too much of her own press?


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Lena L. West


Yes, I'm going to (in the words of Ms. Bucket), "Leave it, leave it." :)

It's just...weird.

Thanks for your input,


Yvonne DiVita

Lena, I'm with Mary. I've had 'stalkers' (as you can imagine, with a book like Dickless Marketing) and I used to try and reason with them...but they don't want to be reasoned with.

Unless she plagarizes you or goes off the weird scale, let it be. I know you have other, more valuable ways to spend your time.

Wasn't it Oscar Wilde who said, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?"

Lena L. West


Thanks for the input, but it's neither of the scenarios you describe here. I've been in business long enough to trust myself to know when something isn't right.

Also, I didn't address her in this forum. If she's reading it, and she recognizes who she is, well then, hey. If not, I received some great input.

Thanks for the alternate perspectives,


Lee Drake


One of the dangers of consulting and speaking is that people sometimes listen to what you have to say - and then *gasp* they do it! Every word of it! Verbatim. That's probably what's got you squicked. You were probably speaking from the point of view of "ok here's a general plan - go out and adapt it to your business model". Instead you got someone who took you literally. That's one explanation.

The other explanation is that this person is a journalist. And as a journalist they're naturally curious. So they got interested in the subject you were presenting and said - "Hmmm. I wonder if she's right... I think I'll investigate". Now since the only input she's probably gotten on the subject is from you - she investigates using the same leads you gave her, because she doesn't (Again) realize it's just a blueprint.

If you're going to confront her - this forum is probably NOT the best way to do it (and it's already public so you don't have much time to make it right). I'd call her and ask her what she thinks of the blogging world now that you've introduced her - does she have any further questions? What has her investigations revealed? At the worst you'll put her on notice you have observed her behaviour - at best you might learn something new.

But do it at least by phone - not by email.

Lena L. West


Yeah, in this instance, I figured it might be better to send an email - who knows?

As I mentioned in the blog post, I normally don't have a problem with hard conversations but I didn't want this to go "awry" in anyway.


Bob Beardsley

I found it somewhat odd that you were going to confront her directly -- through an email!

That's kinda like having a Word of Mouth Marketing Convention in the city where anything that happens there stays there! (see WOMMA Summit in Las Vegas)


Lena L. West


Thanks for the input, you and I have a lot of the same values, so this means even more to me.

And, your point is taken: what's the harm, right?

I just don't want to be one of those people who ignores her red-flags and then ends up in a serious situation, ya know?

Thanks again!


Mary Schmidt

My advice would be to just let it go. If her actions aren't really causing you any problems (other than a twinge of your weirdo-meter) it's probably not worth having any conversation with her. And, she may not even be aware she's being "weird."

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