Chrissy Clary

ponder. conspire. digitize.

Emotional Purge

If you know me well, you know I’m a crier. My emotions live close to the surface and spring forward without regard for my location or the present company. 

For much of my adult life, I felt a pounding shame when the tears would flow. I thought it was a sign of emotional volatility, or maybe, and much worse, a sign of weakness. I worried that the show of emotion counteracted the image of a strong, smart woman I worked so hard to display. 

I worked for years to change. Therapists, self-help books, and Ted talks – all trying to find the trick to hold back the waterworks. 

But today – two days before my 43 birthday, after dropping my son off with his Dad, facing the latest Corona numbers, while dealing with limited mobility due to an injury, all the time wrestling with the realization that dating during a pandemic is probably not CDC advised (UGH) – I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about my tears anymore I needed a good cry! 

To get the badly needed purge started, I went with an old reliable—Conway Twitty singing Hello Darlin’. A song particularly guaranteed to bring on a good cry as it was Alice and Dusty’s (my grandparents) song. Halfway through, it was on, and it felt so good.   

All that trying to change and learning about how my creative brain operates, I didn’t learn how to stop them. I learned that they are a vital part of me. My tears help me. They are like the whistle of a tea kettle; they alert me to danger and release the pressure I’m feeling.  

So with all that, I am recommending a really good cry to everyone. Just let it go. Acknowledge that life is strange and hard and uncertain. And crying does not make you weak (that includes you, men)!  

And as they say in my family, about burps, it is better on the outside than on the in (I think it applies to tears too).

Creativity tip #102: Be grateful

Having gratitude helps lower levels of stress and anxiety. According to the HeartMath Institute, “The greater your capacity for sincere appreciation, the deeper the connection to your heart, where intuition and unlimited inspiration and possibilities reside.”

Here are a few tips the Institute recommends for practicing gratitude:

Take a break and appreciate; try incorporating two or three breaks throughout the day to pause and appreciate something or someone. A two-minute break will do wonders for your stress levels.

Make a list. Check it all the time. Compile a list of things you appreciate, when you feel the physical signs of stress merely pull out the list and start appreciating. If you are paying attention, you may feel the stress relieving effects right away.

Breathe. If you are having a bad day and you are finding it hard to focus, just breathe. Taking deep, focused breaths and pay attention to your chest rising and falling. After a few, you will be ready to shift your attention away from the stressor and indulge in some gratitude.


Creativity at work

Gretchen Miller 

HeartMath Institute

Creativity Tip #101: Keep doing.

creative tip - how to be creative

Fear of failure and busy lives can stop creativity in its tracks. Research has shown that you are more likely to arrive at a creative solution or produce original work if you just keep working.

“Ideas and actions occur and interact as long as innovation is being pursued. Creativity continues as long as the action continues. This is not just desired it is necessary for as long as the innovation processes continue in a competitive environment in the absence of perfect knowledge about the outcomes of actions.” – Tudor Rickards, author and creativity researcher.

While creative inspiration often happens at what seems like random moments, creative work is focused work. So dive in and keep moving. You’ll be amazed at what happens.


Tudor Rickards (1996) The management of innovation: Recasting the role of creativity, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 5:1, 13-27, DOI: 10.1080/13594329608414835

The Dilemma of the
Digital Strategist

Since 2001, I have been building devices designed to communicate using the Internet. I’m a digital strategist with a portfolio of websites and digital marketing campaigns.

I have grown curious about the effects of my work, and the work of others like me, on people around the world.

In an attempt to scratch this itch, I’ve been asking a lot of questions and digging around in the literature. The bumper sticker on my worn-out Honda CRV reads, “I’m not lost, I am exploring.” That concept is the lens I used as I explored the idea that the Internet has had and is having a profound influence on how we think, what we know, and how we relate to one another.

One concern I have centers around ethics, or the potential lack thereof, within the community of people working in digital strategy.

Corporations and large organizations now hold astounding amounts of data on all of us. With machine learning, algorithmic targeting, and carefully curated messaging, they are trying to deliver you messages that you will find engaging (Davis and Patterson, 2012).

Eric Schmitt explains how it works at Google in this interview on YouTube.

Here, Schmitt says that at Google, the idea “is to get right up to the creepy line but not cross it.” He talks about the “creepy line” but does not draw that line for us. How do we know where that line is? In many cases, companies are not clarifying their ethics regarding online communications. Instead, the line is a proprietary idea held and perhaps only partially understood within that organization.

Don’t get me wrong, I love googling just as much as the next person. My concern is about the ethics practiced by many organizations regarding data mining and targeting. The dilemma is becoming clear. Digital strategist are working to expand the Internet without defined ethical guidelines.

Perhaps a larger concern for me is with respect to my own ethical practices. This exploration has brought me to the realization that my ethics are based on practices of the past even as I help to build the communication machines of the future.

As a digital leader at my organization I have a responsibility to help establish and communicate our ethics and attitudes on this subject. Having a core understanding of how my decisions affect others will aid me in drawing a creepily line of my own.

I start by attempting to answer the following questions:

  • What is the effect of algorithmically delivered news?
  • What data do they have on us?
  • How do we know what to trust?
  • Who do we trust?
  • Where does the conversation around digital marketing ethics sit today?

This list is incomplete; there are so many more questions, but it would be impossible to list them all and try to answer them all. My journey is only beginning.

Now Read: What is the effect of algorithmically delivered news?



Davis, K. & Patterson, D. (September 20, 2012). Ethics of Big Data. O’Reilly Media, Inc.

Eric Schmitt discusses how algorithmic targeting works at Google (2011). Retrieved from


Is there a conversation around ethics and
digital marketing happening today?

A dialogue about ethics practices in the field of digital marketing, while not completely non existent, is limited and lacking in substance.

When the machines take over the world what part will marketers have played in the demise of of the human race? Unfortunately, we don’t know and won’t for a while.

In my opinion normalizing a conversation around ethical practices for the digital strategist should be an essential part of the conversations we are having regarding consumer targeting. I have no expectation that we will get it right, or save the human race, but it is worth a healthy conversation.

Notably, the topic is a complex one, but much of what I found easily available on the Internet appears to lacking in research and depth. Scholarly references, while not plentiful, were available for those with access to scholarly databases.

In the USA in 2013, full-year Internet advertising revenues totaled $42.78 billion, up 17 percent from the $36.57 billion reported in 2012 (IAB 2014). Search-related revenues accounted for 43 percent, display-related advertising for 30 percent and mobile, which grew by more than 140 percent between 2011 and 2013, reached 17 percent of the Internet advertising revenues (Nill, Aalberts, Li, & Schibrowsky, 2015).

The lack of dialogue focused on ethical practices in digital marketing compared to the amount of money being spent on digtial advertising appears unbalanced, to me at least. I found quite a few discussions centered on the pros and cons of machine learning and the use of big data, but to little regarding the use in the marketing space.

I believe we are only beginning to understanding the effects of our focused, personalized targeting efforts.

Consider this, “the recent advances in the use and potential abuse of ‘big data’ is one of the most pressing issues facing both marketers and public policy decision makers,” according to Alexander Nill, Robert Aalberts, Herman Li and John Schibrowsky -contributors to the Handbook of Ethics and Marketing. The team of researchers are in support of “more ethics-based research” focused on data privacy and consumer targeting (2015).

While [Online Behavioral Advertising] potentially provides advantages to online
consumers such as ‘free’ access to online sites – the advertising revenues
pay for keeping the sites free of charge – the practice has the technological
potential to violate consumers’ privacy to a hitherto unmatched extent.
OBA is poorly understood by most consumers, often non-transparent
And sometimes outright deceptive. Since the practice is relatively new, laws and
regulations are still evolving (Nill, Aalberts, Li, & Schibrowsky, 2015).

Evil much like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Ethical decision making works in a similar fashion, each person makes decisions based on the experiences and biases they bring to the table (2015). Statements like “don’t be evil” (Google, 2014), just won’t cut it and do not clearly define the ethical stand of the company.

What I am not advocating for is the erection of regulations that stifle creativity or risk innovation, but I do think it is time for a real discussion about the ethics of profiling and targeting consumers.

Google. (2014). U.S. Public Policy. Retrieved from

Nill, A., Aalberts, R. J., Li, H., Schibrowsky, J. (June 26, 2015). ew telecommunication technologies, big data and online behavioral advertising: do we need an ethical analysis? Handbook on Ethics and Marketing. Retrieved from

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