Controversy

Background

One thing that we do at Luxe Photobooth to differentiate ourselves is providing a great experience for every person that comes through the photobooth. We believe every person, no matter who they are, is deserving of being treated with courtesy, respect, and love. And sure enough, after almost every event, the host usually comes up to us or emails us to thank us for being at their event and how so many of their guests commented on how much fun they had in our photobooth and how it made their night.

Every group that comes through our photobooth is helped through the photoboothing process, gets their photos taken, is given a physical print of the photos, and is encouraged to come back and get more photos taken.

After the event, we host photos from the event on our website so that people can download, share, and order reprints. There are many reasons why a photo may not end up on our website, including technical issues. Nevertheless, we believe it is up to our discretion as to what images and content are hosted on our own website. If anyone cannot find a photo they took in our photobooth on our website, they can contact us and we will gladly get their photos to them. No problem.

Recently, some very serious accusations have come against us. It comes as a bit of a shock because the main reason for the existence of our business is to provide fun entertainment and for everyone to have a good time. We tried to handle this situation privately before things got out of hand but it seems rumors are absolutely flying right now, according to some people, and we wanted to provide a documentation of the discussions as they actually took place so that people can come to their own conclusions.


 

Hearsay

Below are the messages exchanged via facebook between Annie Cherry and myself. Apparently, Annie caught wind of a complaint through one of her facebook friends. She reposted the complaint on her personal facebook wall and also contacted us via the facebook message system within a short time of each other.
Conversation-with-ac
Unfortunately, we neglected to get an updated screen capture of Annie’s wall posts but here is a screen shot before she made further inflammatory comments and then deleted the whole post. This screen shot was taken on February 14th, 2013.

 

Deleted wall posts

Clearly, Annie is making character judgments and propogating other people’s rumors by posting them on her post in order to stir people up. Thankfully, some of the people asked for more concrete proof before jumping to conclusions. And again, no one was denied service or a print or treated differently.

I do not know if Annie has ever been in our photobooth or at one of our events, which raises the question as to why she was so outraged and quick to attack us. Nevertheless, it is fairly evident that she was trying to rile people up using false information, with the intent to cause our business harm, and without doing adequate research into the truthfulness of her statements, which may prove to be libelous.


 

Ground Zero

Here’s where it all started.

Below is the interaction between Kristen Paulson and I, who posted negative feedback on several websites after having come through the photo booth many times throughout the night.

First is the review that she left on several websites regarding our company:

kp yelp review

She claims that we would not exchange written communications with her. Below are the messages that we exchanged through facebook regarding the situation:

Conversation-with-kp

Her reviews were posted on February 9th, only 2 days after her initial inquiry. We did not initially respond to her message because we felt that it was our right to decide what we host on our website and to demand for us to post something on our own website was unreasonable. Nevertheless, we did not respond as quickly as she would have liked and she sent us another message. We did reply by the next day and we continued our conversation but it was several days later when we found out that she had posted her reviews on several websites.

To give her the benefit of the doubt, it is possible that she posted her reviews (having posted the same negative review on several review websites) before she received our reply. On one hand, she was very quick to post her reviews and negative comments. But as of March 10th, 2013, more than four weeks after initiating written communications with her, she has not changed or corrected her review. I suppose that is human nature so I will not fault her for it. However, in part because of her reviews, we felt it necessary to form a public reply and share this documentation of the actual communications that were exchanged.

 

The Shock

The most shocking thing about my interactions with Kristen, however, is the drastic change in her attitude towards me.

I remember Kristen from the event we did because she came through the booth several times throughout the night. Being a small business, I run the logistics and customer service, and often serve as the host during our events as well. I enjoy interacting with people and consider it a point of differentiation in my business by encouraging people to have a good time.

Anyways, the reason why I remember Kristen is because at the end of the night, she genuinely thanked me and as I was packing up to go home, we passed each other several times as she was also an exhibitor at the event and we exchanged glances and acknowledged each other amicably. It is interactions like that, seeing warm smiles on people’s faces that make me feel like I did a job well done and touched others’ lives for the better, even if only for a few moments.

That sense of accomplishment was confirmed the next morning when she logged into our website and left this message:

email-from-kp

So apparently, Kristen did have fun in the photobooth and she did have a good time with her friends and she enjoyed me as a host…

…until she saw that one of the photo sessions was not on our website for her to download. On the night of the event, every group was given a physical print of the photos they took and the session that Kristen was particularly upset about was no exception (they received a physical print of the photos that were taken), but we did not host that particular one on our website.

And that’s when everything changed.

Just to keep things in perspective, perhaps you think there was some exaggeration as to just how much she enjoyed our photobooth. But in this case, I believe pictures speak louder than words:

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Kristen enjoyed the photobooth so much that she came in through the photobooth at least five times for a total of more than fifteen(!) different poses. And she clearly had a good time! That’s why we were taken so off guard and in somewhat of a shock that a person’s countenance, attitude, and perception of the entire event could change so drastically, so quickly, and so intensely.


My Experience with Bullies

I’ve never been one to impose my ideas or opinions on others. I’m usually the guy that sits quietly and observes and listens to what everyone has to say. While my views are fairly conservative, I’ve never been one to be judgmental or tell others what to do, which is quite ironic considering such harsh judgment and condemnation has come against us by those who claim to be so “tolerant.”

Dealing with bullies is not new. Bullies use intimidation, threats, and often obnoxious behavior using insults and ridicule to get people to do what they want or to submit to their desires.

Being the son of Asian immigrant parents growing up in America, I have seen and experienced discrimination, bullying, and teasing throughout my life.

It didn’t help that my parents barely knew the language and were working so hard to make ends meet and to try to create a better life for us that we hardly saw them or had much of a relationship with them growing up. So I was a socially awkward kid growing up in a country where I didn’t look like everyone else or know its customs nor did I understand the language or the culture of my own heritage due to the language barrier between my parents’ generation and mine.

Because I was quiet and didn’t know how to be more socially adept, it was easy for people to tease me because I was different. It also didn’t help that I was overweight and chubby. In my teenage years, I also had very oily skin and lots of acne, which caused more embarrassment and ridicule.

At a young age growing up in Chicago, I learned to always keep the car doors locked, even if you’re just waiting inside the car, when a teenager walking down the street opened the passenger side door of our car and spit on my aunt. Countless times, people would make fun of my parents for not being able to properly pronounce English words or assume that I cannot speak English and make patronizing “ching chang chong” sounds mimicking what they thought our language sounded like or making Jackie Chan jokes. In high school, I can think of at least two bullies who picked on me. One, in gym class because I was overweight and he thought he could beat me up. Another bully in art class who just decided he didn’t like me and would pick on me whenever he had the chance and when the teacher wasn’t looking.

Being teased and ridiculed is not new to me. The reason why I share these things is not to get sympathy but to keep things real and show that I have personally experienced what it feels like to be made to feel less than others… and it sucks. No one should be made to feel that way. And my own religious beliefs teach me that I am not to judge or condemn others (for who am I to presume that I can bring down judgment on others?), but to live rightly and do no wrong. I know my own capacity to do “wrong,” to get angry, bitter, resentful and it has never made me a better person to be judged, criticized, or condemned by others. In my experience, what has made me a better person is knowing that I am loved and accepted… despite my weaknesses and failures… this is God’s love.

Everyone has their own beliefs as to what they think is right or wrong and it is not my place to judge or condemn. All I can do is live out my life according to my beliefs. While I believe what I believe to be the truth to the best of my ability, I am continually learning and growing and am open to others’ views and opinions. Truth cannot be hidden and truth is not afraid of questions or opposition because the truth will ultimately stand. Truth does not need me to defend it or to be violently opposed to those who oppose it.

But there will always be bullies who feel the need to take a more aggressive approach to advance their agendas or intimidate others to submit to their views. The Scriptures also say to be prepared that though we do no wrong, there will be those who are resentful and hostile towards us and will come against us and seek to harm us for no reason.

 

How to Deal with Bullies

There are many ways to deal with bullies.

First, make sure you are not being picked on for something that is actually your fault. If you are rude or don’t like to take showers, for example, it’s your own fault that people don’t like to be around you so don’t mistake it for persecution. Know the difference between things you can change (hygiene, tact, opinions, character) vs the things you can’t change (like your height, eye color, convictions, core beliefs, etc).

If there is a higher authority in your situation (such as in school), let them know so that they are aware of the bullying. They may or may not do something about it but you must let them know.

Be strong so that you can handle the bully. In the case of physical bullying, it may help to learn a defensive martial art such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). I prefer BJJ because you can protect yourself in non-violent and non-aggressive ways since there is no punching or kicking but you can learn to control your opponent and render them unable to harm you without having to damage them. There are some excellent programs that can teach how to deal with bullies and be able to defend yourself. Some will allow you to learn from home and is a great way for parents to bond with their children as they learn together.

In the case of verbal, covert, or cyber bullying, you must be emotionally strong and be able to handle the verbal attacks and lies that others may spread about you. Don’t let them hurt you. Don’t let them pierce your skin. Don’t let them permit you to sink to a lower version of yourself by responding in like kind. You can be strong by carrying yourself in a manner where you are blameless and examining yourself to make sure that you did nothing wrong. Also, in cases of bullying where it is taking place electronically or over the internet, regularly take snapshots of instances where the bullying is taking place because the offending material may be removed at a later date. This helps you to build a case and show proof in the case that the bullying continues or escalates.

Usually, bullies like to pick on easy targets and those whom they perceive as weak and unable to defend themselves. When you are strong and able to stand up to their attacks, they usually move on to pick on someone else.

However, if the bully continues and escalates the situation, you may have to defend yourself. In the case of physical bullying, a bully may get physically aggressive. Do your best to avoid getting into any physical confrontation but if it does escalate, you should be ready. This is where it helps that an authority figure is aware of the situation, especially if they have done nothing to stop the bullying. If there is a confrontation, you can tell them that you have told them many times about the situation and that they did nothing to stop it and the bully physically assaulted or threatened you and you had to defend yourself. This should keep you from facing disciplinary actions but if you still do face disciplinary action due to school policy or whatever, know that you did your best to make aware the situation to your authority figures AND that you did your best to avoid a physical altercation. Challenge yourself to figure out ways to stop a bully without having to hurt him. You will become a better person for it and a person you can be proud of.

In a case of verbal, covert, or cyber bullying, make sure to have your proof and evidence to present. Also, it may help to call out the bully and try to show them how you are not aggressive towards them and that they are showing aggressive behavior. Some people may come to realize what they are doing and sometimes, they still do not see their ways. All you can do is to continue to be kind and do no wrong but you may still need to defend yourself.

Realize that there are people who need help, we all do. But it is not up to you to fix them. And it is also not for you to put up with it. Remain true to your values and realize that their issues have nothing to do with you and walk away. If and when they are ready to change, they will find help. But until then, the best you can do for them is to allow your highest self to set an example for them to experience.

We all have our good and bad days but the more you strive to do and be your best, the more good days you’ll have and the more you will look back and be proud of the way you held yourself and didn’t allow yourself to be pulled down by others’ pernicious behavior or your own natural tendencies to bite back. Be better. Do not submit to what comes naturally. Do not allow yourself to become petty and uncompassionate; a loud and cacophonous cymbal. Be patient. Be kind. Do not be arrogant. Keep no record of wrongs. Persevere in doing good. And soon enough, you will find that what was initially hard and seemingly impossible to do becomes more natural. Love never fails.


 

I will conclude with some definitions of tolerance found from several sources:

  • A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.
  • Agree in allowing the right of something that one does not approve. Tolerance suggests a liberal spirit toward the views and actions of others: tolerance toward religious minorities.
  • Toleration implies the allowance or sufferance of conduct with which one is not in accord.
  • The attitude of someone who is willing to accept someone else’s beliefs, way of life etc without criticizing them even if they disagree with them
  • Sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.
  • Interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.
  • The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
  • Tolerance is an attitude of mind that implies non-judgmental acceptance of different lifestyles or beliefs.
  • Patience, sufferance, forbearance; liberality, impartiality, open-mindedness.

 

We may not always agree with one another or see eye-to-eye but we can always respect one another and treat each other with love, compassion, and acceptance. Only then can we move forward. Only then can we become better as a society and as human beings. Only then can we truly understand one another.

 

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