Instagram vs Reality: Which One Are We Living In?

Instagram versus reality. It started as a trendy movement but poses a very real question: what world do the majority of us live, or think we live, in? 

You don’t have to be a 20-something influencer to fall victim to the arising mistruths of social media. Politics are peddling agendas on platforms for their own personal gain, which is nothing new. Except now they, along with dedicated supporters, are using outlets like Facebook or Twitter as a petri dish for spreading false or slanted information. Former president Trump has become the poster politician for the wave of internet inaccuracies. His Trump tweets spread faster than a California wildfire, and proved to be just as lethal. In true hypocritical fashion, his unverified statements were the exact thing he tried to warn Americans against: fake news. To his followers, these statements were regraded as fact, thus creating a particular narrative. 

Fast forward to 2021, the rise in concern triggered Twitter to clean its birdcage. Twitter is scheduled to roll out phase one of a new program called Birdwatch, a community based initiative that allows users to flag posts they feel are misleading and have them add contextual notes with additional information. But who is qualified to “identify information…they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context”? How can we vet against targeted bias? 

Social media is not the source of misinformation, it’s the scapegoat. However, it does give rise to falsified realities. In December 2020, Hilaria Baldwin (wife to well-known actor Alec Baldwin) made entertainment headlines when it was speculated, and then revealed, that the entire Spanish persona she created (including her accent) was a fabrication of half-truths. It turns out, the Massachusetts native is more American than apple pie. Yet, through a meticulously crafted online presence, Hilaria (Hilary) was able to stage her own reality. And her followers applauded, without question, furthering confidence in her identity. Did it hurt anyone? No. But, like politicians and influencers, it became part of a public narrative, both on and offline.

Hilaria Baldwin in East Hampton 2017

Hilaria’s situation isn’t all that unique. How many of us prefer the personas we’ve created to our every day lives? If we’re really being honest, to an extent, aren’t we all living in a fantasy? Even during COVID19, social media is somehow still flooded with vacation photos, fit bodies, and well-dressed individuals surrounded by friends. With travel restrictions, gym closures, and social isolation these images are somewhat unbelievable (unless you really are that fine during COVID, kudos) but they also provide us with an escape from our pandemic reality.

If we take a look at ourselves, who are we? What narrative are we creating versus the one we are actually living in? How different are the two stories and will they ever completely line up? 

Bon Jovi Is There For You

The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation opened a new food bank to feed East End families in need. Located at The Clubhouse in East Hampton, Dorothea and Jon Bon Jovi, who have a home in East Hampton, have created JBJ Soul Kitchen Food Bank to help local food pantries meet the rising need of those suffering from food insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The pandemic has strained food distribution networks around the country, and after hearing from organizations on the ground about its local impact, the need for a food bank on the East End became clear to us,” said Jon Bon Jovi. Three weeks ago, the rocker reached out to Edward Burke Jr and Associates, one of the leading law firms on the East End, to pinpoint an operations location.

“The Clubhouse Camp building is a very suitable place to act as a hub for this entity. God bless the Rubentsteins for allowing this to take place. Totally charitable effort on all fronts,” Burke said, who solidified the connection through the family’s son, Matthew Rubenstein. The team successfully contracted with food distributor U.S. Foods, and constructed an association with Island Harvest Food Bank.

“No ZIP code on Long Island is immune to hunger and food insecurity, and the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has created a new standard of need, including among people who have never accessed the region’s emergency feeding programs,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of the Island Harvest Food Bank. “We look forward to working with the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in addressing the critical issue of hunger on Long Island’s East End.”

It truly takes a village. Through the swift action of the East Hampton Town Board, food arrived at the 5000-square-foot facility on May 11 and pantries were able to load their trucks the following day.

The food bank acts as a warehouse for grocery needs — its staff solicits, receives, stores, and distributes large quantities of food and grocery store products to the food pantries, which then place it in the hands of local families. The JBJ Soul Kitchen Food Bank’s goal is to provide food for 5000 individuals a month. Phase two will include pre-made Soul Kitchen meals for the homeless or those without access to cooking facilities, which will utilize The Clubhouse’s kitchen.

“My family is so grateful to be included in this,” said Scott Rubenstein, managing partner of The Clubhouse. The awe of trucks and vans filled with food, in only a few days, has elicited hope for a greater good, he said, adding he admires the Bon Jovis’ motivation to help. “They are soldiers, in the trenches with everybody. I’m appreciative to Burke and the Bon Jovis for considering us. It’s exciting, we’ve never done anything like this. It’s another level. That’s the hidden thing out here, there are a lot of people who need help. And now they have hope.”

“When most people think about the towns of the East End, they don’t necessarily think about hunger, but for many, it is a reality,” said Dorothea. The famed family is no stranger to charitable causes. Since its inception in 2006 the JBJ Soul Foundation, a nonprofit based out of Philadelphia, has been addressing homelessness and hunger on localized levels — funding over 700 units of housing and shelters across 11 states and Washington D.C. In 2011, the mission expanded to address food insecurity with JBJ Soul Kitchen community restaurants in New Jersey, serving over 100,000 meals to diners in need.

Dorothea and Jon Bon Jovi. Independent/Courtesy Jon Bon Jovi

“Since the COVID-19 crisis began, we have seen demand nearly triple from the after-school families and senior populations we serve. Before, we served approximately 70 people on the first Thursday of every month. Now we serve approximately 200 people per week,” said Bonnie Cannon, executive director of the Bridgehampton Child Care Center. “I am so glad to be part of this endeavor.”

Having played an integral role in the JBJ Food Bank, Burke and his sons will also dedicate their time to helping the cause. “It is such a pleasure to be part of this and to see the time effort and the passion that Jon Bon Jovi and Dorothea have for feeding the hungry. Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen Foundation is the pocketbook for this incredible gesture,” said Burke.

With plans to reassess the need level at the end of summer, it seems Bon Jovi and Dorothea will be around for a while. Rubenstein said, “The only issue I have is that I don’t want to look at Jon’s New England Patriots hat for the next few months. But I love the Patriots, they helped us win the Super Bowl.”

Visit to find out more.

This article originally appeared in The Independent Newspaper.

Overcoming Regret To Succeed

One of the most common misattributed Mark Twain quotes reads, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” While those wise words actually belong to another American author, Harriett Jackson Brown Jr., no matter who said them, the quote lives on as valuable advice. Take the risk, dare to dream, make mistakes. Live with no regrets. It turns out, Brown was right.

According to research done by Dr. Medvec of the Kellogg School of Management and Dr. Gilovich Professor of Psychology at Cornell University, inaction has greater psychological effects and leads to a greater emotional reaction in the long term than in situations when action was taken. Essentially, if two situations were to have the same negative outcome, the one where action was not taken will have a greater sense of regret than the one that called for action. 

Lately, I’ve been contemplating multiple decisions in my life. Rather, the decisions I failed to act on. The list is embarrassingly long, and to no ones fault other than my own. The list includes several tangible goals that I could have, or, should have, accomplished by this point in my life. My excuses ranged from ‘I’m too busy to focus on that right now’ to ‘I’ll have plenty of time to do it later’. It’s the same inner monologue time and time again, year after year, that manifested from thoughts to poor habits. In actuality, busy was a mental construct I built as a euphemism for procrastination and ‘later’ never came. My immediate delay turned into permanent inaction.

When I created Nikki On The Daily™ in 2011, I thought I had the world ahead of me. Instagram was just picking up (launched in the US in 2010) and the concept of branding oneself was still new. I distinctly remember family members asking “What is your brand? What are you building” and I answered, “Myself.” My vast interests and independent spirit made me fearless, I wanted to experience everything and meet everyone. At the time, I had a goal to become the go to writer for all things food, fitness, and general lifestyle pieces from Manhattan to Montauk. I just received my BA in media studies, with a focus on broadcast journalism. I had an idea for a YouTube channel, similar to NBC Live. Through my expansive list of contacts, I also wanted to plan events for small businesses looking to connect with a wider audience. The web of ideas continued to grow as I sat still. I was caught up in concepts at a time when I should have been driven to act.

At those particular moments in my life I didn’t see an immediate reason to act on anything because I never felt ready. I felt that I didn’t have the proper space, the latest technology, the experience, etc. I was more concerned with being rejected than I was with laying the groundwork to accomplish all of my goals. Nine years later, with more experience and exposure than I started with in 2011, I suddenly feel those goals echoing in my mind. The deepest parts of me are filled with annoyance, a self-loathing of sorts, for having not acted sooner. I look at the success of so many others and think, how could I have allowed so much time to go by?

According to “The Inaction Effect in the Psychology of Regret,” regret is a “goal-directed emotion” that can inform us to our own goals and how we aim to achieve them. It’s “an emotion that is functional in mastering skills and learning and in attaining a better grasp over decisions.” Rather than get caught up in a negative mindset of what could have been I’m consciously aware of each decision I make moving forward. Introspection has the power to bring me closer to where I want to be: making Nikki On The Daily™ an accessible brand across various outlets, where I’m churning out new content, and reaching a wider audience.

It’s easy to get caught up in regret, as our minds spin off into various scenarios and fears. No matter how confident I may have been, I let my inner uncertainties take over for almost a decade. In acknowledging the mistakes of the past I can create a successful future. I’ve learned the only way to be ready for a challenge is to take it on. I’m going to start a podcast, produce video coverage, execute events, and cover more stories. The only regret I’ll have is if I never tried at all.


 “The Inaction Effect in the Psychology of Regret” Zeelenberg; van Dijk; van den Bos; Pieters. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Copyright 2002 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 2002, Vol. 82, No. 3, 314–327

“The Experience of Regret: What, When, and Why” Thomas Giloviqh and Victoria Husted Medvec. Psychological Review Copyright 1995 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 1995, Vol. 102, No. 2, 379-395

James Goldcrown: The Heart of Art

This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here

The heart is where the art is for self-taught muralist James Goldcrown. The West London native left school to pursue a career as a fashion photographer at the age of 17. Seven years later, at age 24, Goldcrown traveled to Africa to highlight the AIDS/HIV epidemic in his award-winning documentary To Die No More, which raised over £10,000 for those featured in the film.

Aiming to make the world a more beautiful place, Goldcrown moved to New York in 2007 and re-entered the fashion world by incorporating mixed media into photography. With prior experience as a street artist in the early 1990s, he gained global recognition for his Bleeding Hearts/Lovewall, vibrantly decorating the sides of buildings in New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, South Korea, Brazil and beyond. Today, he has emerged into an international sensation, working with big names companies such as MTV, Toms, Henri Bendel, and Vogue, spreading love one heart at a time.

What made you decide to leave school at 17 to pursue photography?

I didn’t like school. I wasn’t good at taking orders. I got restless in class and didn’t find things interesting. I was learning more from working. My mom was supportive. She said if I didn’t go to school, I’d have to get a job. She is the one who pushed me to work.

How did photography and street art come together?

It really started for me when I was in New York in 2007. I started selling artwork on the street with my friend. I mixed my photography with art (mixed media). We would set up outside the Apple store or Bathing Ape and people would buy our work. We chose this area because of the foot traffic. A lot of tourists would walk by and they loved the work. It was just so New York to them. I learned how to sell art and make a business for myself. That’s when this whole thing started without me even realizing it.

How do you choose who to collaborate with?

Companies approach me. It’s all about picking who you want to be reflected by. I am lucky enough to now have a business manager to help me decide who to work with and how the business plays out. She’s been in the industry for a long time and brings a more practical approach to who I should be working with, while I usually just go with my intuition. I’ve learned to consult with people closest to me to make sure I am not making a bad business move.

For example, at one point, I was approached by a very well-known brand to create a screensaver using my Bleeding Hearts, but they wouldn’t give me any credit for it. We collectively decided, from a brand recognition standpoint it likely would’ve made my brand theirs. I’m really glad I didn’t go through with that business.

Why title it Bleeding Hearts? How did the concept come into play for you?

It was very logical. The first mural I ever did, I had to label. It was quite literally a bleeding heart, so I decided to title it that. When I do murals now I title it Lovewall and when my art is in galleries I use the title Bleeding Hearts. The whole idea of the Bleeding Hearts came about as a complete accident. I was testing out spray cans and layering hearts all over a blank canvas in various colors and people really responded to it as an art piece.

What does the heart symbolize to you?

The hearts are meant to be a message for everyone. It symbolizes happiness, grieving . . . it’s a mixture of all these different emotions. Hearts can be the universal language. Birthdays, anniversaries, deaths, births. It can have a different meaning for everyone, anywhere.

Where is your most inconspicuous mural?

Ironically, the one that took me the longest was for Cycle House in Studio City, CA. It’s around the back of a building, so it’s kind of hidden, but it’s a massive wall.

What’s next on your creative journey?

I’d like to be more involved, politically. I want to travel to places like Africa and Syria and raise awareness and create murals over there. I just want to create beautiful art in an area that is impoverished. Focusing on countries that have been devastated, I’d like to go and try and make the town beautiful again. Bring some color to it and bring some hope. It’d be a little outside of my comfort zone, but I like that element of it.

What photographers/street artists do you admire?

I admire JR, Tristan Eaton. However, I’m really not inspired by artists. I like to walk around with my headphones on and pick up on the energy around me. I get inspired depending on the type of environment I’m in.

Speaking of, how does each city environment inspire you? Does one in particular hold YOUR heart? 

I’m very inspired by Portland, Oregon. I find it to be a very inspiring city. On the other hand, I find Miami to be completely uninspiring. Austin, Chicago, and Portland have great energy. There is something about a city and its energy that inspires me. New York is the most inspiring; I try and fight it, but it truly is. I don’t want to sound like a cliché. It’s a city that everyone tries to compare everything to.


Check out more of his work at or tag him across social media @jgoldcrown #lovewall.


This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here


Take a walk on the sweet side into a museum that’s a confectionery dream. New York City welcomed Candytopia, with sugary goodness to devour at every turn amid crafted, interactive artwork made entirely of candy. The magical place was only steps away from Penn Station, making it a convenient escape from reality for adults and children alike. Luckily, it has pop-ups throughout the states.

Candytopia is the brainchild of Hollywood Candy Queen Jackie Sorkin and master fabricator Zac Hartog, a magical land that would surely have Roald Dahl’s creative stamp of approval, as well as all of your Instagram followers.


Step through the opening gates, seemingly inspired by the Wonka Chocolate Factory itself, and skip your way through several themed rooms of insatiable goodness with edible delights at every turn. Colorful graffiti walls, a candy art gallery, marshmallow pit, and so much more, it’s too good to give it all away! You’ll be screaming for Charlie to come to Candy Mountain in no time (for those who remember that famed YouTube video).

Visit or @thecandytopia