Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Two Faces of Your Facebook Feed


לחצו פה להסבר על תרגום לעברית.

I have written before about curating your Facebook feed, meaning designing your feed such that it has the maximum entertainment and positive influence on your personal and professional life. You can read that article here. 

Today, let’s talk about managing how you appear to others looking at your page. What kind of feed are they getting from YOU?

Avoid the Unfriend Zone!  

The fact is, that most of us are on Facebook. You might have a personal page and a business page. Or, in some cases, the two might blend, somewhat.  The kind of Facebooker I am speaking about today, is the page that is a blend. That’s what I do too.

Say you are a consultant or you work at a company that is fluid, meaning you network and keep yourself mobile and available for other opportunities within your field. You don’t need a Facebook page to push a BUSINESS per se – you ARE the business.  Here’s four tips and explanations of them:

Tips for Targeting Your Facebook Feed

  1. Create categories for “close friends” and “acquaintances”. Create categories that are as specific as you want. (go to your page, click on friends, next to each friend a category will appear. click on the category, scroll to the bottom and click on “new list”.)
  2. Every time you post, choose the category or categories that can see the post. Every. Time.
  3. NEVER post rants about sensitive, polarizing subjects.
  4. Refrain from too many “selfies”, by all means. Even if they are business related. It doesn’t reflect well unless you are a teenager. That doesn’t mean NONE, just watch the ratio there.

Categories and Posting

Make sure you categorize your FB friends minimally into “close friends” or “acquaintances”. If you take the time – and I know it’s really a bitch after the fact – you can create even more categories so that your business peers are in a category of their own. So that, in other words, you don’t post pictures of your weekend family picnic to your business peers, and that you don’t post (necessarily) what a great business conference you went to to your close friends.

This means you need to slow down when you post and check the box for which group of people you are posting and subsequently will see what you are posting.

Be Careful What You Post

It goes without saying that posting pictures of you drunk at a bar is not a great idea, or that posting rants about politics, religious or other sensitive topics is a very good idea either. Stuff on the internet lives for a VERY long time.

Clean Up Your Facebook Categories and Think Through Your Usage and Why

If you are a business unto yourself – and more and more of us are these days – make sure your Facebook feed is one that you have curated carefully.

Personally, I have three pages – my personal page, which by default has a lot of business peers on it because I didn’t take the time, way back, to set up another page – my business page, Stories Without Borders, which is for writers, filmmakers, start up, high tech and other creative types in business and a page for the Tel Aviv Writer’s Salon, which as you can imagine is quite focused.

I am in the process of migrating business and professional contacts that are on my personal page toward my other pages. I am newly getting into the habit of not accepting every friend request on my personal page – which is how I wound up with over 2,000 FB “friends” the vast majority of which I do not know at all.

Because I was not careful to curate my pages in the past, it is taking some time to clean that up so that only select people see what I want the to see. Sure, like you, I post hilarious pictures of my cats doing stupid things.  I’m human. And I post a lot of articles from The Atlantic about social issues and politics. That interests me. But sometimes I want to post something about where I live – Israel – that will a) only interest Israelis and b) not subject me to a storm of political comments about Israel. I just want to ask a question or point something out that is specific to this place.

If you have a lot of Facebook friends, I know this can seem daunting but take an afternoon, or a couple of them, sporadically, and look at your list of friends. Unfriend those you truly never interact with. Categorize the others. Is this truly a FRIEND, or is this a nice person you met at a business Meet Up? Ask yourself, do you want this person to see the hilarious picture of your cats? Do you want the to see your selfie while you were on a roller coaster or at the beach? Maybe you do. But make that a conscious choice.

You may not want to maintain more than one page in which case you then must be extra diligent about creating and maintaining categories. And before you hit “post” make SURE you are posting to the right group. Look, if you post a picture of yourself at a family barbecue to a group of friends that are business friends, it’s not the end of the world. You ARE a human and more and more our personal and business lives do blend. But online you are curating an image and a reputation. Too many selflies, even in a business context, too many “life is great! be positive!” pictures with horses on a beach – and you will be taken far less seriously. Trust me on this. Create a category of friends who also love motivational pictures of waterfalls with nice quotes. That way you do not annoy those who are not into these things and are not written off completely.

It’s the same as anything else in life. You don’t invite a particular friend to go to the opera with you. No, that’s for your other friend, Dani. You don’t talk about UFOs with most people you work with – but you might with Shira, because you have lunch a lot and have become close. Same concept here.



Dealing with Trolls

trollלחצו פה להסבר על תרגום לעברית.

Troll. Or if you are a Hebrew speaker, or Hebrew-curious, טרול.

You may have heard of them. Not the kind that lives under bridges, but the kind that leave nasty, and sometimes crazy comments online. They are everywhere.

If you blog, they will find you.

What do you do? You don’t. Do not feed the trolls.

Trolls are not healthy, normal people so any response will only illicit more fury, craziness and semi-coherent ramblings. But you knew that, right? That’s common sense.

Here are some tips for dealing with trolls that you really need to know:

  1. Set your blog comments to “approve” so that you see and approve of all comments before they are posted to your blog. This is a critical step.
  2. Never, ever approve a troll’s comment. Other commenters may disagree with you but if they are reasonable and actually have a point, I suggest that you do not go all 1984, but actually approve them and reply with your point of view.
  3. Do not read the whole comment. If you can see in the first sentence alone that this is a troll? Delete. Do not let that junk into your brain. It can ruin your mood for absolutely no reason.
  4. If a troll comment is aimed at you but not on your blog also don’t read it and don’t reply. If you blog for another website, for example. Trolls are like wasps; every barbecue will attract at least one or two. React in the same way you would at a barbecue. Roll up a newspaper and smash them in the form of absolute silence. Replying and interacting is like feeding a troll.

It’s hard not to feed a troll, to react. It takes an enormous amount of will power. Just the other day a troll commented on a blog post of mine in another blog with a very long, crazy rant. This person was angry, yes, but in a way that made me curious. What was his or her point, actually? And I made the mistake of reading the whole thing. Every cell in my body wanted so badly to say something back. To tell this person just how nutso he or she is. To regain some of my – wait – but the other comments were positive and intelligent. Why would one demonstrably crazy person get any reaction from me?

You think I’m going to say something wise and Zen, right? About how crazy people should not register in our minds as someone to interact with because x, y and z, right?


You have stuff to get done, right? So do I. I don’t have time to interact with some anonymous person I will never, ever meet, with nothing better to do than post crazy rants. I have too much to do. So I don’t let a crazy post take up my time or any mental space. We are all human, so of course reading a mean, crazy troll rant will upset us – even if for only a few minutes – but I don’t have time to get upset about something that it not a legitimate concern in my life.

And either do you. :)




10 Tips to Write the Hollywood Blockbuster

Tony Gilroy is one of my all time favorite Hollywood screenwriters. Responsible for the scripts for no less than four of the Bourne Identity films, Gilroy also penned one of my favorite films, Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney – in which a character says “People are incomprehensible.” – a bit of wisdom that I have never forgotten.

In this interview with the BBC from 2013, Gilroy gives ten tips for both screenwriters and creatives that are very valuable. From trusting your instinct to living your life to living where you need to live to feel creatively fulfilled. It’s good stuff.

Public Speaking 101

Did you know that public speaking is the most common fear in the world? More than sharks, spiders and tsunamis combined? For most of us, the idea of standing up in front of a group of people and talking – about anything – is like a nightmare of epic proportions.

Some of us do it regularly – I know I do. And as you might think, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Well – not easier, per se, but more normal. It’s an odd feeling to have every eye on YOU and to know that for a set period of time, you must entertain, educate and in some way please a large number of total strangers.

speakingThe difference between someone accustomed to public speaking and someone who is not is that the nervousness you feel just before speaking gets translated into high energy while speaking – rather than nerves that ruin your ability to speak. Same nerves – different response to it.  Depends on why you are speaking. Maybe it’s at a wedding, or maybe it’s a business meeting and you have a lot on the line.

Having a lot on the line can actually really make the nerves worse.

Here’s what I do:

I focus on about three or four parts of the room and move back and forth between them. If I have a friend listening and I know that, I avoid looking at them.

I remind myself that I am very good at what I do and what I know and that talking about it is no different.

I remind myself that the people at the talk or conference WANT to hear what I have to say. They are interested. They signed up. I’m already ahead of the game.

I do not practice.

But I do watch the time.

I have prepared more to talk about or do than the time allotted – just in case.

I leave time for pauses, for questions, for interactivity.

I talk to people the way I enjoy being talked to. Personally, entertainingly.

If I make a mistake or an error – I acknowledge it and keep going. I am human. Because am I relaxed about this possibility, I rarely make mistakes.

I write out bullet points only on index cards and use them as my notes. Simply writing them down is practice enough. I know my stuff.

I speak the same way to six people as I do to 1,000 people. It makes no difference, in actuality.

I love speaking and teaching. If it were torture for me, I wouldn’t do it.

If you find yourself in a situation where you HAVE to speak publicly and yet you’ve never done it or really fear it – there are some steps you can take (many of which are listed above) and I am available to coach you through your event. 

speakingHere are a few more tips:

Don’t memorize what you have to say – it will sound memorized.

Use notes as jumping off or talking points.

Don’t try to take in the whole room, narrow your focus.

Relax, you were asked to speak because you have something to say.

And some more tips about avoiding “ums” and “uhs”. 





Israeli Film: Three Houses

I am very proud to know and have worked with Marc Grey, co-producer of this short film produced with the ACRI. The cinematography is brilliant, the stories heartbreaking and the film is important. It is through art that we reach for understanding.

The Difference Between What We Say and What We Mean

For Israelis in business, Americans can be very confusing. We seem to indicate one thing with our words and another with our followup.

This confusion is tripled when the communication is written. Because now the body language and intonations are missing altogether, which is very problematic when you are already dealing with cultural differences. miscom

For example, if an American says “I know you are busy”, it really translates to – why haven’t you gotten back to me?

Would you have guessed that? Maybe or maybe not.

Look, Americans value being very polite. We often couch what we are saying in order to get the best result. Rather than actually SAYING “you are busy, you never get back to me!” we just politely acknowledge that yes you are busy. But we mean something else. We want to hear back from you.

Here is a list that is meant to be humorous but that is actually very accurate, of things Americans might say in email correspondence – and what they really mean.


6 Things Hollywood Can Teach Start Up Nation

We talked about the lessons that Start Up Nation has for Hollywood but it definitely works both ways.  Tinsel Town has some lessons for just about everybody, in fact. It is a great place to really practice the art of persistence.


It’s not personal. Your story, your idea, ergo your pitch, your innovation, yeah it’s great? But whether or not somebody else likes it is not personal. It simply the case that being on the receiving end of new ideas gets old. Your idea is not as new as you think. Trust me on this. So – don’t take it personally.

Show me the money. Show me the money, show me the money, show me the money. This is what you are after in your meeting. Show. Me. The. Money. Nothing short of that is a deal or a promise or even a hope. Be mercenary.

Give the people what they want. If this doesn’t make sense to you, you are in the wrong business – whether it’s the business of show, or the business of SELL. What do people WANT to see at the theater? What do people NEED in their lives? If you fancy yourself in any way above this way of looking at it, especially in your earlier, hungrier years – you are in the wrong business.

People want the same but different. Audiences love action films, as one example. They love them. So give them an action picture. With everything they expect – but with different details. If there’s already an app for texting? Give them another app for texting – that is different. 

But – do not be ordinary. Steve Jobs gave the people what they wanted but he was far from ordinary. He raised the bar on personal computing – forever. Do not settle for being average. Understand average and then raise the bar for yourself.

No is a beautiful thing. Why? Because it makes you more determined to do even better. If “no” makes you quit? You were not cut out for a competitive business in the first place. Make every “no” count. Use it to make you stronger, smarter, more inventive, more determined. You only need one “yes”.


How to Save Your Meeting

You read Your Meeting Isn’t About You - you did everything right, yet at some point during a meeting, you can tell that your listener has tuned out.

attentMostly, it was the body language. Your listener’s eyes drifted to the window. To his or her watch or smartphone. To the wall. Not on you.

It might have also been a tone of voice that changed. A flatter tone, less enthusiastic, some “uh huhs” in there.

Whatever it is, you have the gut feeling – and you are right – that your listener is just putting in time until the meeting is over.  It’s not a very good feeling.

Can you save this meeting? Maybe.

But not trying is not an option, right? You have a lot riding on this meeting. It was not easy to get. It could open doors for you.

One of two things is happening here, in this suddenly not-so-great meeting. Either a) your story, app, business idea is just not a match for the listener and his or her company or b) it could be but you’re not pitching it very well.

Without knowing, exactly, which is the case, your only option is to try to save the meeting and go for a successful outcome.

Here are a few things you can do to try to get the listener to engage once again with you and with what you are saying.

  • Shift back to the sexy meta description – the big picture.

It could be that you’re gotten down in the weeds too quickly and stayed there too long. Details are not particularly interesting to listen to anyway, so try picking up your pace and returning to the major bullet points only. Leave the details for later.

Say this doesn’t work either. The attention is just not coming back. So here’s your next option:

  • Stop talking.

Crazy, right? But no, just stop talking for a second. Then ask – do you have any questions about (something specific)? Or – is this a good time for this meeting? I know you are very busy, we can reschedule if that’s better for you. Engage your listener directly and get them to input – give them the opportunity to ask a question that might be the source of their attention drift – or to be honest and say “this is not for us”. Recently a start up friend of mine was pitching at an accelerator. Several of the listeners were texting. My friend labored on anyway, humiliated and unsure of what to do. I say – call them on it. “Is this a good time?” Get them to either say no, it’s not and reschedule OR to say look, yeah, this is not for us. To which you then…

  • Ask your listener to do some talking.

Meaning – ask them – so what is it you are looking for, exactly? Oh you already have an app or a script or an innovation similar to this one? That’s funny because MY pitch is BETTER and here’s why. This requires some thinking on your feet. But really, you already know your pitch inside and out – and you are sitting in this meeting which tells me you’ve already had the passion and the commitment to get to this point, so I have to believe that you really do believe YOUR pitch IS better than others, no? And I know you’ve done your homework – you are aware of other similar story ideas or innovations. So you know the difference between your pitch and another one. This is the time to trot those differences out. Now.

Do not go easily into the night. But don’t be a rude freak either. If your listener leaves you an opening – any opening – take it. Grab an opportunity to keep pitching and to tailor that continuation to the reason (if you got it out of them) that your listener began to tune out. If your listener is emphatically done with the meeting, thank them politely with a big smile and make your exit gracefully. Don’t let them waste anymore of your time.

That’s right – YOUR time. Because you’ve got stuff to do. You’re going to get out of there and go over your meeting and try to rethink what didn’t go so well. You’ll do some tweaking, get some advice and go right back to lining up more meetings.





How You Know You Live in Israel

I often ask myself why on earth I moved to this place, when I had been living in the relative peace, prosperity and expanse of Los Angeles. I have, as it turns out, very good reasons for living here.

But when you ask me in a detailed way, what I prefer about life here, as I try to really boil it down to one or two sentences, I just can’t do it.

Is it easy to live anywhere? Or perfect? Los Angeles, for all it’s convenience and glamor and creativity, has another side. Every place has its good and bad, it’s livable and it’s insufferable, it’s ineffable personality and its social glue. Here there is a pragmatism, a directness and a frankness about life that really appeals to me. Sure, we have missiles pointed at us at all times and much of the world condemns us (unfairly, in my opinion) but I don’t know, pick your poison – the 405 is no picnic and tornadoes are awfully devastating, not to mention random shootings and terrible health care.flag

For me, it’s ultimately about the lifestyle, the good, the bad and the ugly.

I like living here. Why? Because….

  • If you could be living in a country where it is more or less permanent summer, with heat, flip flops, hopelessly dusty cars, windows flung wide open in the evening and the satisfied, sweaty, tired feeling of resignation and exhaustion after a long, hot day, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where everybody is working hard and yet hardly working, where everybody needs a new pair of shoes, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where each day it is a priority to find the best, freshest food for dinner because you love to eat and for no other reason, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where nothing is precious because everything is new and precarious and already broken, dented and dirty but it works, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where violence, confrontation and existential threats are normal and are of minimal, resigned concern because it’s too big to process or deal with, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where children are playing and shrieking everywhere and elderly people crowd the cafes in the afternoons playing chess and peering out from under their hats, you would be living Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where to hear French, Russian, English, Yiddish, Hebrew and Arabic on the bus is ordinary, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where there is a powerful  connectedness and community, where everybody knows everybody, where there are also class, race, religious, political and economic divisions that run deep, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where you every bit as likely to get ripped off in a heartbeat without a second thought because if you didn’t see that coming you deserve it, and also a country where a perfect stranger will give you 20 shekels without asking for it back, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where the enjoyment of sun, sex, food, love and arguing for arguing’s sake not just enjoyed but reveled in, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where what you do for a living is not of primary or even secondary interest, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where the national passion is food and being outdoors, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where the sharpest minds go to work in shorts, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where to travel outside of your country is taking your life into your hands and you know it but you can’t live like that so you go anyway, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where you can in the space of one day stand in the vast and silent, withering heat of the desert and also at the edge of the turquoise Mediterranean Sea, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where the private is public in every argument, every old garment on the laundry line, every old man sitting outside in a tattered lawn chair and the sounds of making love drifting frankly out the windows in the evening, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where nothing is taken for granted because nothing is guaranteed, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where the technology and military are on par with those of every first world nation but the bureaucracy is akin to that of a banana republic/outpost in 1933, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where the customer is not only not always right but a huge annoyance interrupting a text or phone call, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where ancient tradition and solemnity, where scholarly study and devotion co-exist uneasily with all night rave clubs and a hedonistic drug culture, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where the evening doesn’t really begin until after 9pm, the work day starts at 7am and you always, always take one whole day off, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where everything is up for grabs all the time, where opportunities are huge and where dead ends are huger you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could be living in a country where the tahini is obviously the best part of the hummus, where you like potatoes with your rice, eggs in your everything and eight small salads with your breakfast, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could live in country that the whole world is watching, 24/7, and variously praises, idealizes, scrutinizes condemns and judges under a microscope, you would be living in Israel.
  • If you could live a life where every single day is hard – it’s just hard – you would be living in Israel.

I’ll tell you one thing for sure – when you’re in this country? You know it. It is not lost on me, not for one single day, not for one single moment, as I trudge through the heat, how extraordinary it is that I am able to live in a country aside from the one I was born in, that I am able, in this short life, to delve into another world altogether.

Because I write, I like to share about Israel. It is not what you think it is, this place. It is so, so much more. This is not the Israeli Tourist Board speaking, this is just me, an American living abroad in my flip flops.

The Not-So-Subtle Message in Game of Thrones and Why it Matters

When my friend Mat sent me this article, I was immediately struck by it. Mat is a gifted writer (find him on Goodreads) and long time fan of George R.R. Martin and Game of Thrones.  Perhaps it was current events like the shooting in Isla Vista and too many others, but Mat was struck by something in GoT – something that once pointed out, glares at us uncomfortably.  What is the connection between everyday sexism and media depictions of women?



I have an admission to make: in the wake of Isla Vista, as disturbed as I was by that young man’s murderous actions, I wasn’t sure what to make of the #YesEveryWoman movement. It’s not that I was against it – I wasn’t. I just wasn’t sure how to feel about it as a man. Leave it to a silly television show on Sunday night to clear my eyes.

In a Grantland article from 2013, Game of Thrones showrunner David Benioff proudly fended off any deep, thematical analysis of the popular series by quipping: “themes are for eighth grade book reports.” Perhaps he’s right, he is David Benioff after all. But that is precisely the problem.

I should probably start by saying that up until recently I’ve been a huge fan of Game of Thrones, and I am still, to this day, an admirer of George R.R. Martin. He’s a literary idol, and has a history of treating his fans with openness and respect. On top of that, his work has everything a fantasy lover could want in a series – whether the books or the show – action, romance (or at least sex), intrigue, dragons, and a touch of magic. That being said, I have, of late, run into the same problem with the show that I ran into with the books, which hit me at the end of Storm of Swords and the beginning of Feast for Crows. The grim message, written as much in black and white (and bloody red) as in subtext, deeply troubles me – to the point that I’ve lost sleep more than once. That message is this: The world is forever a shitty place – especially for all women any good men.

Before I’m ripped to shreds as one of those fools who can’t handle a solid dose of reality, or am filled with the childish need to have all my books, film, music, and TV sanitized with a septic Disney brush, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, great storytelling, in any form, must contain elements of darkness and dread, like that layer of grain over an image that makes 35 mm film look so much more like life than any digital camera can. Our eyes and our minds crave some level of dreary realism. Heroes without flaws are no more than false idols, and champions who never fail do not exist. Even the ancient storytellers in Greece knew that.

The issue is not with the idea that Westeros, meant to be a dim reflection of our own imperfect world, is a shitty place, because ours often is, but that it is a seemingly unalterable shitty place, founded on the fatalistic acceptance that “good people” must be perfect, or they will be destroyed, and that life is worse for anyone with any morals beyond survival of the fittest, and that being doubly true for anyone born a woman.

This theme is played out again and again in both the books and the series, that “the forces of good” – those fighting for freedom, justice, peace, or honor, do not simply learn or suffer for their mistakes, they are gruesomely and finally savaged for them, punished to a degree beyond edification, to ultimate destruction. Ned Stark gave in and admitted false guilt to treason, and was beheaded. Robb Stark married for love and broke a promise, and was forced to watch his wife’s pregnant belly stabbed repeatedly before being killed by the host who had sworn his safety. Catelyn Stark released Jamie Lannister against her son’s orders, and then watched that son die before having her own throat cut. Prince Oberin, lusty and arrogant though he was, is portrayed as a tolerant, just man, judging not on sexuality or dwarfism, in love with his paramour, willing to champion the weak, has his head crushed in while the Mountain gloats about raping Oberin’s sister, killing her children, and crushing her head as well, all for a brief lapse of hubris.

The wicked, meanwhile, Tywin Lannister, Cersei, Walder Frey, Roose Bolton, and his bastard, Ramsay, seem capable of living free of tactical error, or of somehow overcoming mistakes or strokes of bad luck with even more unbelievably good luck. Their help shows up at the right time, their enemies falter at the finish, and their lies and plans are as impenetrable as midnight. Perhaps there is some truth in this, as individuals with no moral compass, or a very shaky one at best, will so ruthlessly fight for their own survival at the expense of others that they have a better chance of winning it. But luck or fortune, if it really is luck or fortune, is an even coin toss – just not in Westeros.

But worse than even this grim theme, is the disturbing acceptance that women are destined to endure sexual violence at some point in their lives, and that the only power they will ever have in this world is sexual power. This was never clearer than in Sansa Stark’s story, so visibly apparent in the fourth season of the TV series. After enduring all manner of shame at the hands of Joffrey, Sansa finally emerges from the cocoon of childhood an “empowered” woman – baring the ample cleavage and knowing gaze to show it. She has grasped Littlefinger’s desire for her body with both hands and is finally ready to use it as weapon to her advantage. But even for Daenerys Stormborn, perhaps the most successful of the story’s heroes or heroines, her first battles were lost and later won on the bed of Khal Drago, and in her eventual victory, she uses the power of her beauty to command one of her loyal warriors strip and perform for her before sending him off to battle. We see little of Daenerys’s tactical or political ability beyond her possession of dragons – as the mother of dragons, her sons giving her the true power.

Does any of this even matter? I mean, it’s just entertainment right? And I’m probably beginning to sound like some street preacher bemoaning the evils of Hollywood. But as David Benioff said, themes are for eighth grade book reports – precisely because themes and messages, consciously or subconsciously, inform the audience of a worldview, and more easily so in the impressionable minds of the young. And this worldview posits that survival is easier (and perhaps even more rewarding) for the wicked than the good, and that mistakes for good people are infinitely more costly than for the evil, and that women must either take up their sexuality as a weapon or suffer at the other end of it. There is seemingly no hope in this message that the world can become a different place – a better place. And that is where I believe the message has gone wrong.

Admittedly, women do suffer violent acts more than men in this world, and a good heart and good intentions do not shield anyone from bad luck, misfortune, or death. And when change comes, it comes at an agonizingly slow pace, still leaving this world far from a perfect place it its wake. But here is the crux of the matter: change at a personal and world scale is possible – and our history, the history upon which Westeros is supposedly based, proves it. If we traveled back in time and asked any slave in any country one thousand years ago if ever would come a day when the civilized world, as one, would outlaw the construct of one human owning another, surely he would have laughed sadly in your face. If you would have asked a same-sex couple, even only fifty years ago, if ever they could marry under the law, and live openly, they would surely have doubted – but they would have been wrong, and growing more wrong by the vote. All these changes happened because good people did not give up, they fought on – and they won.

Yes, we need grit in our storytelling, and yes, we all need a dose of reality from time to time, and yes, there are no perfect people in the world, not even among the heroes, but if we’re going to change the real world, which is unbelievably hard to do, we should probably start in our fictional ones, which is so much easier. We cannot accept the idea, or teach our young women and our young men to accept the idea, that women are either and only sexual victims or dominatrices, or that this world is so unbelievably hopeless that we promote a “can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em mentality.

So what am I asking for? Just this: the story isn’t written yet, in either Westeros or on Earth, so why not add at least a little light? I don’t believe pioneers, scientists, or explorers took the first footsteps into a new world. Rather, those first steps were taken in the imagination; by eighth graders writing their book reports, and it is storytellers and their themes that led the way.

Sorry it took me so long. But I know how I feel now. #YesAllWomen

Find out more about James Matlack Raney on his website.