Monday, 8 December 2014
Some of you have heard my...concerns (yes, let's call them that), about Google's seeming quest for world domination. Well, at the very least, to have at least one tentacle in every area of every person's life. I've ranted online and offline about this. So, I was not surprised, in the least, when I became annoyed on learning that a contact had added me to a Google Plus group. I calmly, but immediately, requested I be removed from the G+ group. I cited my long-held privacy concerns and my reservations about Google+.
Now, I use Google for email, blog and smartphone. I've told myself that I'm probably inextricably linked to Google+ in some hidden way, anyway. Although I use these Google gadgets and apps, I would like to think that I have not completely relinquished all say in the extent to which I've given them access to my data. I relish the idea (however flawed) that I have some control over the extent of my connection with them. Of course, I am careful about the information I provide online, but, most times I imagine them connecting the dots between phone settings/preferences and my contacts; between the pics I take and post - even though I've turned off location - and the appointments in my calendar. It's all connected. I'm sure.
So, why was I annoyed about being added? First, because it was without my permission. Second, it was one of the very tentacles I've tried avoiding, only to be thrown in its grasp without having a say. Like the other day after updating the OS to Lollipop and they replaced the Gallery with Photos - which requires joining G+. The horror! I downloaded another app: Piktures. #TheGooglePlusStaredownContinues.
Anyway, I asked to be removed from the list, and I was. I was also informed that I'd be missing out on group emails, as that would now be the chosen way to communicate with the group. I was okay with that.
Okay, that is, until I learned a few months after that there had been a reception for the group - a group of volunteers - and, believe it or not, I had not got wind of it! (Where's the sarcasm font on this thing?) Silly wabbit. I was of the impression that the recognition and appreciation of volunteers would spur the organizers to seek us out - all emails were still available - to shower us with love and appreciation. Then I reminded myself that that was something I would have done. And, a few other people I know would have done that, too. But, alas, I had not made it easy for them to reach me, having sought and received removal from the G+ list.
Months came and went. I enquired about upcoming volunteering opportunities. I was reminded that I had requested removal from the list (in case I'd forgotten, I s'pose) but was also told I could send an email to find out whether extra help was needed on any given weekend. I agreed to that.
Finally, I had a free weekend - no fighting a cold; no entertaining out-of-towners, etc. - and I considered sending an email. Gotta say, I thought long and hard. I had reservations about doing it. But, I had no excuse to opt out that weekend. In my mind, I imagined they must've decided to teach me a lesson - our way with G+ or else! Also, what if I volunteered and they sent back to say they were already full - because people from "the list" (that stupid list, again!) had already signed up. And, if so, would I have to relent and join the (stupid) list?!
Of course, that's what your mind does. All sorts of negative thoughts, or, as Desiderata calls them, "dark imaginings" take over if you let 'em. Coupled with those "what ifs" was the chiding I gave myself. Was I volunteering to be recognized and shown appreciation, or was I volunteering out of a heart to serve? Welllllll, on that note, I was properly admonished. I sent the email.
Imagine my pleasant surprise when I received a quick reply that "that would be GREAT" and "thank you SO MUCH." I was like, whoaah! Guess they need the help. But, what was more, was that I felt this amazing sense of triumph! I felt like I'd pushed the devil off one shoulder, and gave a high-five to the angel on the other!
The volunteers who worked the shift before mine were overjoyed when I got there. They were royally pooped! I immediately got to work in preparing what needed to be prepared. As promised, I checked back in sometime after and helped another volunteer with cleaning up.
There's no denying it. Sometimes the right thing to do isn't always the easiest (or most comfortable) thing to do. But, it pays off. And, when it comes to giving, as that little girl had said after giving out toys for Christmas, "It gives you a warm feeling in your tummy!"