Online Footprints & How to Strengthen Them


It's important to get some background understanding on internet culture and social media. Before delving into the tips on strengthening your online footprint, let's think about some things.

Firstly, why do you post?

  • Show our personalities
  • Belong to a community
  • Share information
  • Flirt
  • Adrenaline rush
  • Get attention
  • Feel good about ourselves
  • Curate things we like
  • Communicate with others
  • Emotional outlet
  • Attempts to reach others
  • Bored
  • Trolling
  • Creative outlet

Anything else?

Google yourself and see what comes up. Do you like what message and images show up?

  • Would that dream job hire you?
  • Will you be able to keep that scholarship or stay in school for behaving like this?
  • Will that relationship or person you''re interested in want to be with you after seeing this?

The concept of FOREVERISM: What is it?

According to Internet Society (2016) there are over 200 third-party advertisers and 630 tracking technologies collecting our data. Even if we do not give permission to these organizations and technologies to gather and use our data, they do. Each site we visit has potential to reach someone else when they look us up. The problem that arises with this is we are not always able to defend ourselves with what people find. Assumptions about our character can be made, which can affect how others see us.

These assumptions can be negative and affect how you may be hired or contacted for potential work or opportunities. The websites we visit, research, places we comment or like, images we post or hashtags we use, can all be tracked and come back to us in misinterpretations. It's important to think about the possibilities for people to screenshot our conversations, comments, and exchanges online.

The internet is forever. 

Do images and verbiage that you delete really go away? Junk Mail: where does it come from? Digital Marketing: Each time you buy something or research products on any website...other marketing pop ups occur. (Isn't that creepy?!) Google, apps, Echo Home, Alexa: are you listening? To everything? 

In addition to unknown parties tracking your personal data, people you know, "friends" or "followers", have access to your posts, comments, and photos online. This is especially important for young adults, teens, and children. SEXTING is part of youth online culture, however, it is a very dangerous behavior for the following reasons:

  • Depending on your state, possessing and distributing nude photos of those under 18 can be considered possessing and distributing pornography 
  • You may have to register as a sex offender
  • You may have to enroll in sex offender classes 
  • Citizen's Guide to Child Pornography
  • In California, you may be fined up to $2500 for possession, and $2000 and/or 1 year of jail for distribution (California Child Pornography Law)

What else can be affected by inappropriate photos, posts, comments, or online bullying?

  • You can ruin or muddy your reputation.
  • People might not want to hire you because they think you're not professional or a good fit for the company.
  • You can get fired.
  • Your nudes can leak and it can be embarrassing for a long time.
  • Your angry or emotional posts or comments can be screenshotted and shared.
  • You can become a meme which can lead to out of control jokes or harassment.
  • You can get kicked out of school or lose scholarship opportunities for posting inappropriate things. 
  • People can take parts of your video and skew the truth. When it becomes viral, it will be difficult for you to defend yourself or share the truth.
  • It may ruin current and future relationships if certain parts of your life are displayed and people don't have context. 
Let me say it again: The internet is forever. 

10 Ways to Strengthen Your Online Footprint+

These tips can be useful for people of all ages, but I had young people in mind. There may be feelings or thoughts of invincibility and that our actions now don't have consequences, but they can and do. Please be mindful of your interactions online, especially if you want to have a career in certain industries when you're older. 

The difficult thing about being young and starting in the industry is thinking about how our actions will affect relationships with companies and colleagues in the future. The internet is forever. The things we post are forever. Take some time to figure out how you want to be seen by others, and how you want to be remembered.

1. Choose your words wisely

Even if you delete that angry tweet, snap, or comment, someone may have screenshotted it. Screenshots can be on the internet forever.

2. Stick with the facts

When we reply to others with strong opinions and accusations, it can lead to arguments where you or others attempt to damage one another’s reputations. Some people online go out of their way to message employers about unfavorable exchanges. This can risk your work as well as future prospects.

3. Be careful sharing images

Selfies are important. They are a part of the culture as well as a form of creativity and self expression. Companies have a brand to uphold. If and when your selfies don’t reflect the company culture, you may get fired or lose opportunities. Nudes, drunk outings, and reckless photos are inappropriate and difficult to undo.

4. Keep the politics out of your posts

Having our own personal beliefs and political views are important. It is a part of who you are. Some companies and potential referrals tend to stay neutral. To collaborate with these organizations and people, making sure your political posts are private can help. It can even be recommended to remove all politics from your posting.

5. Be professional

  1. Stay away from slander or gossip. Even if it’s true, these behaviors are paired with how people first see you. Again, a company prefers to hire someone who promotes community, not gossip.

  2. Sick days: If you are sick, posting images of your vacation sends a message that you are not reliable, and lack integrity. Be mindful of how you’re using your time away from school or work!

6. Instagram can ruin your reputation

Companies, recruiters, and referrals can search your likes, comments, and Instagram history to get a feel for your personality. If they find unfavorable posts or images, even from years ago, it can cost you a dream job.

7. Look back on past history

Go back through your old posts, likes, and images. Delete what you don’t want to be known for in the professional world. It can be tiresome and repetitive to do this, but think about your future and the work you’ve put in to your career. It is worth curating your old posts to be successful, and to be seen as a competent professional. If you get sentimental about older posts and images, save them on your computer.

8. Tag you’re it!!!! Don’t be tagged!

Untag yourself from posts that could be misinterpreted by companies. It’s more difficult now since technology can automatically tag your face in images online, so take time to ask friends not to post inappropriate images of you in the first place. It’s okay to ask them not to tag you in certain types of posts as well.

9.  If you’re not sure what to delete…

Look at social media of people you admire, as well as peers who are successful in the industry. See how they present themselves and think of how you can do the same.

10. Shut down all of your social media and start new!

If your history is too much to sort through, you have the luxury of time to delete your accounts now and start over. It can be a fresh start to figure out how you want to present yourself online and to the world. Your past will not define you or your future success.

Additional Tips on Social Media

  • Say NO to drunk posting.
    • Have a friend hold your phone or plan ahead.
  • Take a deep breath, count down 5 seconds before pressing send.
  • Just like IRL arguments, pause before posting or commenting. We say things we can’t take back when we’re emotional
  • Apologize for making mistakes, and move on.
  • Sometimes it’s easier to start with nothing than to filter through years of content. Starting over now will save you from losing that dream job because of an Instagram post.
  • Think about what you want to stand for as a professional and a brand NOW.
    • Which five words does your social media convey?
    • If these words don’t match your desired brand message, change something.
  • If you are unsure of posting something, ask a trusted friend to look it over. If you need to vent, call someone so it’s not permanently online.

Sharon Chan MFT, Therapist for Highly Sensitive People (HSP)

Hi Sharon, thank you so much for letting me interview you. It’s wonderful to know there is support for highly sensitive people in the Orange County, CA area. I hope this can help spread awareness, as well as let people know their unique circumstances are real, and that there are people who understand or want to understand.


Sharon Chan MFT

What does it mean to be a highly sensitive person (HSP)? Are there different ways of being highly sensitive?

According to Elaine Aron-Research Psychologist- and her book, “The Highly Sensitive Person”(2006), she describes that the HSP trait is identified in about 15-20% of the population. Aron goes on to describe the trait as an innate, personality trait that it is NOT a disorder. The trademark trait of the HSP is that they take in a lot of information from their environment. Aron describes this as depth processing. An HSP will take in information which can include: sounds, smells, visuals, emotions, touch, etc at a more in-depth level than a non-HSP.

Another trait that has been noted of the HSP is empathy or stronger emotional reactivity to others emotions and moods. The mirror neurons in an HSP is found to be more active and so they may “feel” another’s emotional state more acutely, quickly, and absorb more than a non-HSP. Another key trait is overstimulation for the HSP. Understandably so if an HSP is taking in their environment in depth, they are probably more prone to be overstimulated more quickly and more frequently than a non-HSP.

How can being highly sensitive affect individuals in their daily lives?

Being HSP can have its rewards and challenges. I like to describe it as a blessing and a curse or a double-edged sword. As Aron describes in her book the HSP can be very attuned to their environment and process things deeply and elaborately. This can be a beautiful gift and a place of richness and connection for the HSP and those that connect to the HSP. Many HSPs go into the helping profession and usually this can be a benefit to those around the HSP because the HSP is known to pick up on other’s needs quickly. Yet, the challenge is because of the overstimulation that a HSP faces on a daily occurance, this could mean faster burn out and needing more time and space for refueling their own energy and resources.

How is therapy with a HSP different? What can you offer a sensitive person that other therapists might not be able to?

I think each client will need need a different type of therapist which can also vary from season to season. There are things I can not provide that another therapist might be able to.  I like to think that my HSP trait allows me the capacity to connect with other people’s experiences on a deep level. In my approach, I put a lot of effort into really listening to where the client is coming from, their inner world, their experiences, and what makes them who they are. Many of my clients have voiced to me that they feel safe and have gained a space to find and develop their voice. I like to believe that my HSP trait has helped to shape that space for my clients.


What is a favorite intervention that you find useful when feeling overwhelmed as a sensitive person?

Every person will be different. Each season will lend itself to different interventions, coping skills, and relaxation skills. I work with each individual to find their own oasis, and coping skills which include: grounding, visualization, breathing, and finding life-giving activities outside of session. Boundaries and self assertion are also an important part of protecting the HSP’s trait so that it can be nourished and operate at its optimal level.

Do you have a message or tips for HSP out there?

I want to let you know if you identify with being a HSP that you are not alone.  Being a HSP does not mean that there is something wrong with you. Being a HSP comes with beautiful gifts and a HSP has the capacity to experience life in so many colors. There is hope for the challenges that come with the HSP self and the challenges don’t have to define your entire journey. We can navigate it together.

What if my child or loved one is HSP and I am not? First off, I want to acknowledge that if you are asking this question, I can already see that you are trying to understand your HSP loved one. That step alone can mean a lot to the HSP and to your journey with them. Many people (parents, friends, family members, teachers) don’t know how to understand or guide the HSP because of the different behaviors and bigger emotional reactions. You are not alone in that. That doesn’t make you a bad ___________(parent, spouse,etc) or a less than person it just means that the HSP might need more or less of certain things than your typical person. Let’s learn how to support your loved one together.

Where are you practicing therapy and how can people contact you?

I am currently practicing in Orange County (Tustin) and Pasadena. I am currently on the listing of Knowledge of Highly Sensitive Therapists in Tustin. I also identify myself as highly sensitive person/therapist.

          You can contact me a 626-656-3158 or
          Please visit my website at .


What Types of Video Games are There?


Ever wonder about the different types of video game genres, or how to describe them to others? Well, fear not! An online friend, David Arceneaux (INTP), identified and described several genres with examples to illustrate each type. Thanks, David! <3 


Real-Time Strategy game, a genre where you control almost every aspect of an army in real time in order to beat up some other dood's army, be it computer- or player-controlled. This is your Starcraft or They Are Billions type game.


Japanese Role Playing Game, a genre where you control a party through menus and usually turn-based combat against computer-controlled monsters. This is the kind of game that rewards persistence over raw twitch reflexes, as the player gains power through working through the game's scenarios, and this power makes prior challenges easier to overcome. Examples include Final Fantasy games


Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas, a genre where you and a team of other players team up to beat up other players and destroy their base, defending yours in the process. This is your League of Legends (LoL), Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), or Smite


This genre is like a real-time puzzle solver where sneaking through some predictable obstacle course to achieve a goal is the main gameplay element. Examples include the Metal Gear Solid series, or Thief.


Multi-User-Domains/Dungeons. This is a genre that gives the player a text-based interface where they navigate through areas and engage in combat with computer-controlled baddies or even other players by typing console commands. Think of it like classic Zork, but with other players along for the ride.


This is a genre where the user goes through a randomly-generated environment to achieve some well-defined objective using abilities/items randomly dropped from the randomly-generated monsters or events, and failure is unrecoverable. Examples are varied, going from spaceship combat game FTL to rhythm-game hybrid Crypt of the Necrodancer, to arcadey Binding of Isaac.


This is a genre where users control a fighter and beat up another fighter using a series of timed joystick and button presses to execute defensive & offensive moves. This is your Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat type of game. (trailer has violence and blood)



A genre where the player is thrust into a scenario where there is a spooky scenario, and the player has limited health/attack abilities to use against whatever spooky scenario in the game, which range from jump scares, to seemingly insurmountable opponents. Examples include the Resident Evil series, Insomnia, and Outlast. (video can be suspenseful, creepy, contain violence, and gore)


First-Person Shooter. The player controls a character where you see what they see, usually using ranged weapons to attack computer- or player-controlled opponents. Play consists of maneuvering through the play area to collect weapon upgrades, ammunition, and health items, and achieving goals, all the while fighting off baddies. Examples are the venerable Doom and Wolfenstein series, and even multiplayer online versions, such as Call of Duty. (gameplay has gunfire, violence, and some blood)


Massively-Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games. These are, as the name says, scaled up and networked RPGs where some opponents are tough enough to require social coordination to take on, but also with enough things for solo players to work through. Examples are World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy 14, and Elder Scrolls Online.


Turn-Based Realtime? Strategy. (I think the RT is a typo). This is a genre where the player controls an army/nation and gets to make decisions in a discrete timeline. It's like RTS games, but built around more analytical deliberations. Examples include games in the Civilization series, or Galactic Civilizations (made by another company from the one that makes Civilization). 


Player controls a game area and has to reach some goal condition to win, or at least rack up more points. Gameplay can range from matching colors/shapes of objects operating under gravity (Tetris, Bejeweled) to solving equations (Sudoku) to moving objects around a play area to get an item from one place to another (Sokoban). 


Grand Strategy:

Much like the Realtime/Turn-based Strategy games, this is a genre where the player controls a nation/army, but the computer handles all the micromanagement aspects. Examples include Romance of the Three Kingdoms series. 


I can only guess this means Realtime Strategy-Arcade. Wikipedia doesn't even know about it. LOL so, no examples!


Action RPGs, where timing and reflexes in combat come into play against baddies, as well as gaining power by making it through the game's scenarios. Examples include the long-running Zelda series


The player simulates a real-world sports game, where the rules and activities are modeled as closely as the UI & hardware can allow for. 

To watch gamers stream, you can visit or

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or Boonie on FaceBook or Twitch


5 Steps of Conflict Resolution

 five steps of conflict resolution, image from;

five steps of conflict resolution, image from 

John Legend. Ordinary People. Because we are. 

Loving others isn't always easy. We have our histories, our past pains, and our demons to confront every now and then. There's something about intimacy and love that can bring us to our worst selves. We wouldn't dare treat our coworkers or bosses the way we treat our partners, children, or siblings sometimes. Mr. Legend has some good advice: maybe we should take it slow. Perhaps taking a step back to identify consistent problems can help. This can be a complicated process because many of us do not have the tools to communicate without getting emotional heated. 

I worked with many students on conflict resolution skills. I've also worked with parents to help them work towards becoming more effective parenting partners. Here is a breakdown of the process:

Before starting, taking a break to cool off is okay.

NOTE: If those involved cannot start resolutions "softly" try:

Gottman Institute's Softening Start Up Homework

Ensure participants are at a place where they can be receptive and not reactive

Rules During Conflict Resolution: 

  • Stay respectful. (What does that look like for you?)

  • No name calling.

  • Listen while one person speaks.

  • Tell the truth.

  • Try understanding the other person's experience and feelings. (Pauses & Reflective or Active Listening)

  • Be willing to compromise. 

  • Taking breaks is okay.

  • Agree on how long to try talking it out before you are both drained/overwhelmed

    • Figure out a signal to agree to stop. It can be a key word or a hand gesture.

Words (things) that Escalate

  • Always
  • Never
  • Shouldn't
  • You (always, never)
  • You made me (feel, do) X
  • Or else
  • Ultimatums
  • Comparisons to others
  • Bringing up the past
  • Interruptions
  • Denying person's perspective
  • Calling them a liar
  • Can't
  • You're a crybaby, sensitive, overreacting
  • You're insensitive, mean, a robot, uncaring

Words (things) that De-escalate

  • Maybe
  • How about
  • What if
  • It appears
  • Can we try
  • I feel
  • I hear that
  • Staying present with this one incident
  • Focusing on the person right now
  • Thank you for listening
  • It's important to me that X
  • I value the relationship and want to work together by
  • You are important to me and I want to figure this out
  • What do you think about X

Step 1: Identify the Problem

Is there even a problem for all parties involved? How does it affect you and the group? Sometimes one person has a problem, and when it's shared, the other person might not even know it was an issue until now. Being able to share without judgments or accusations can help a relationship move forward more quickly after arguments.

  • Skill to use: I-Messages/I-Statements
    • It is important to speak in first person to identify how a problem affects you. If the conversation starts harsh, it is very likely there will be no resolution.
    • Ex: I feel (emotion) when (action/behavior) because (how it affects you). I want (solution), and I can help by (actionable steps). 
    • I-Message: Asking for Change | Patricia M. Castellanos, MS
  • Reflecting others' emotions and experience. (This takes extra practice)
  • Write it down.
    • Sometimes we are so heated and in the moment we may say things that are hurtful, and things we can't take back. If you're in that state, step away to write it down.
    • It's also useful to jot down notes on your thoughts and responses to when your partner is speaking. 
    • If someone thinks you're not paying attention because you're taking notes, it's a good idea to discuss how writing things down can be a way to pause and sort through thoughts so one person is not REACTING, rather, there is time to identify whether this statement is important enough to talk about, or if they waited a little longer, things got clarified because they didn't interrupt. 

Steps 2: Conflict Resolutions

Identify all possible solutions and outcomes. All feedback is respected and accepted as a potential solution.

  • Even if a potential solution sounds unrealistic or silly, hear it out, and write it down. It's important to honor all options and perspectives, and share input on the potential consequences of each solution.
  • It can be useful to scale emotions or intensities of consequences. On a scale of 1-10, how angry were you before the solution, and if this solution were chosen, how much would your anger, disappointment, sadness, etc. decrease?
  • Being realistic, it's possible for positive AND negative emotions to exist even when a solution is chosen. The goal is to reduce negative emotions and conflict even by a little bit.
praise partner conflict resolution

Step 3: Agree on a Solution

  • List the solutions in order of most agreed upon, to least agreed upon. Choose one, and agree on a time-frame to see if it helps. 
  • Try it out and report back. It may be useful to jot down how you're feeling and thinking about the new changes and how it is helping or increasing conflict.
  • This is a process and requires openness to trial and error.
  • Positive acknowledgment or effort is very important. It encourages one to continue trying. 
  • Acknowledgement can come in the form of:
    • "Thank you for doing this for us." "I know it's not easy for you do try something different. I appreciate you for showing how much you care." "I feel loved knowing you're willing to try something new for us." "When you did X, I was really appreciative." 
    • Hugs, gentle touches, and loving gestures during times of repair can go a long way. Even when it's not perfect, it can make it more rewarding to continue trying. 

Step 4: Check in

What worked and what didn't? Again, acknowledge and praise efforts. *VERY IMPORTANT* Please praise effort! Brainstorm how to make it work better. 

  • When praising someone's efforts, try to be specific about what you liked. For example, saying, "I appreciate you." sounds different from "I really appreciate it when you take the trash out on Friday nights before I have to ask. It makes me feel important." 
  • It can be useful to take notes through the week on what is working and isn't working with thoughts on why. Having a list of negative things might not help unless it comes with reasons for why it affected you. 
  • Try checking in within a time-frame where you both can remember the original conflict and compare how similarly or differently the outcome is now. Maybe a week or a few days is good amount of time to regroup as a team. 

Step 5: Rinse and Repeat for Other Conflicts

*NOTE: We are ordinary people. This new process of conflict resolution can take time, and having a mediator or a professional healer to guide in the beginning may help encourage each person involved to continue trying. Repeated failed attempts are very discouraging. It can also be indications of something deeper than the relationship you're in. Many times our personal stuff comes out in our romantic relationships, and if themes reappear (the same arguments are happening over and over again), it may be time to seek the support of a couple's therapist or even a relationship coach. Depending on the intensity of what's going on, the coach may agree to work with you, or refer the couple to a counselor. 

Asking for help is a sign of strength, and there are amazing therapists who can help.

What Happens in Coaching?

Coaching for artists, geeks, & gamers (1).png

Every now and then I get asked about the differences in coaching and therapy, and what I actually do with clients. The main difference I see that can help differentiate the two overlapping practices is that coaching is more directive than therapy. 

This, of course, varies according to a therapist's theoretical orientation or modality. Many therapists practice CBT, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which can be more directive than other forms of therapy. Homework can be assigned, and therapists can weigh certain opinions on what a client can do to grow. Therapy tends to be more client-centered where insight can be developed at the client's own pace. 

What happens in coaching? Short-term goals are identified where I can help the client brainstorm how to break things down into smaller, achievable steps. I use Jane McGonigal's writing, Super Better, as a guide to help apply gaming strategies to real life. I also use my background in education and mental health to learn how to best support your learning style while teaching coping strategies. For the readers out there, I assign books and articles to help develop a positive change mindset and educate a client on what they might be working on.

The modality I love is called Bowen Family Systems Therapy. This theory overlaps well with coaching because one of its main interventions is to coach new skills. I view people in terms of their family systems and how the past can shape us, however, I do not dig into the past like a therapist does. To explore the past in depth would lean towards therapy, and my focus is on the present.

I do ask clients about their past patterns to help understand their successes or difficulties with working through hardships. It's important to figure out where we learned certain behaviors or ways of thinking, but again, the focus with coaching is to figure out how to stay present and work towards small goals to be successful towards a potentially larger goal. 

The stages of change are referenced when working with coaching clients. 

Each person has a unique process with change, and it can be cyclical. There are stages of relapse as well as precontemplation where we are not ready for change, but possibly ready to talk about the pros and cons before taking action. This is important to honor and identify in each person because if a therapist or coach pushes for change when the client is not ready, there may be resistance to change where the process takes even longer. When a client is ambivalent towards change, a therapist or coach will do their best to acknowledge a client's right to be in this ambivalence. Having this relationship and trust is vital to ensuring change can occur in the future.

Both therapists and coaches hope to create a space where a client feels accepted during their journeys of change. The most important component of growth is the relationship, so if a client feels heard and accepted, any theory or modality can help with change. If the client needs to work on severe mental health, though, referrals or recommendations for therapy may be given. 

Sometimes coaching and therapy can have a very professional tone. Law & Ethics codes make it mandatory for therapists to limit having relationships with clients. Confidentiality is very important for both fields, but not all therapists or coaches adhere to strict ethical guidelines. It varies from person to person, so part of my work involves educating clients on what to potentially look for in a therapist if they were to need one. The power dynamic can make it easy for clients to trust in the authority of a therapist, even when they might do something unethical. (So, please, read on your rights and the ethics codes for therapists in your state. LINK TO CALIFORNIA CODE OF ETHICS 1/2017)

Coaching may feel more casual than therapy. This also depends on the therapist and their views on the therapeutic relationship and professionalism. Both have ethical guidelines, however, many coaches do not have to be licensed to practice. Some coaches take one course online and call themselves a life coach. Some coaches have extensive experience in certain fields and can now offer this knowledge to help people grow. Due to this range in requirements or experience needed for coaches, it is recommended to research what's out there. See if the coach you want has the right background, and can help you in an ethical way.

That's a quick overview of how I coach clients. I currently do home visits, and help translate how one's quirks can be used as superpowers in real life. I am looking for spaces to run social groups to help gamers and gifted children socialize in 2018. I will update with any changes!