Plugged In

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It was around 2009 that social media became a part of my life. I joined reluctantly. “Who has 1000 friends they communicate with regularly? It’s just a shallow trend!” was frequently heard uttered by not only myself but others.

I’d seriously underestimated the positive as well as the negative I found there eventually.

The initial intent was to stay in touch with faraway friends and family, but my circle quickly grew to include lost friendships from high school, in-common friends I’d not ever known, and new friends who shared common interests. It was a wide variety of people from all walks of life and which had a wide range of interests that I began to include in my daily life. I can honestly say this brought me a great deal of joy. Adding Twitter and Instagram to the mix allowed me to share with even more people, most of which I’d never met, but they seemed to like what I added to their lives. Hopefully, as much as what they contributed to mine. It turned out to be a good decision to join up on all these platforms.

There were drawbacks, though. The thing which became glaringly obvious was the amount of time one can spend at the computer, phone, or tablet keeping up with all that was shiny and new to see. It may be fascinating, but oh, the time suck!!! There was much left undone in those early days that genuinely needed to get done, and where was I? At the keyboard, of course, looking at the monitor, having fun and interested, and unable to tear myself away because I wanted to read JUST ONE MORE THING! Dishes in the sink, laundry waiting for attention, a dust-filled house crying cleaning – all not considered as necessary anymore because there is something way more interesting going on in the place called the Internet. I’m ashamed to admit it, but early on, that’s what happened.

More and more, I watched social media polluted with a new form of comedy. The news feed streamed a lot of the satire sites, confusing our thinking with content, which was not true but purported to be real. Sometimes it was just that – satire, but so many times it was propaganda pushed onto the masses for an agenda. It was distracting, and in that sense, a time-waster because it required more research to determine whether it was true or not. That was frustrating to me, and many of my friends who were striving for knowledge and accuracy. And it’s discouraging to see so many others who ingested all content they were inundated with as if it were fact.

Personal details about our friend’s lives endear us to them even more with this far-reaching tool, but with anything, when used to manipulate for gain, then it’s a detriment, not beneficial. And so many can’t see it as it’s happening. Drama after drama plays out online, and tugs at heartstrings. The generosity pours out, but sometimes the people are just pawns. It’s sad to see, and devastating to those who succumbed to the deception. Social media has the potential for harm and teaches us to be warier and to be less trusting because of it.

Social media can allow us to feel more anonymous and thereby more confident in the presentation of ourselves to our audience. But some choose to remain anonymous just for the sake of being bold, extremely deprecating, and even insulting to others. It’s like social media has given them the super-power of assholey-ness, and they have a worldwide audience. I’ve talked to many who have had encounters that have left them feeling demoralized, marginalized, angered, and humiliated at times.

I also think having this tool to be more “social” also impacts us more negatively. Information gets to us quicker, but it is more devastating when our constructed social network or our personal ‘community’ is injured more dramatically than ever before. It can escalate or dial-up the drama at a much faster pace, and the negative can ratchet up to unheard-of levels quicker than ever before. The misery of others is the fodder in our everyday news cycle, where previously, it may have taken weeks, months, or not at all to hear the gossip. Now, it’s a laid out on our Newsfeeds. And what a nasty pile-on it can become.

Stepping back, when I evaluate it realistically, social media is just the extended version of real life. All of the things I mentioned above do occur in person to person contact. The only difference is it happens on a much grander scale in the online world. There are more people involved, more interactions, more hype, more distraction, and more drama. It’s helped make our community bigger but in a much different way than we thought it would. Social media is representing life on a larger scale, where it’s become louder and more visible.

Thankfully, we will encounter good individuals in our electronic travels, but people being people, some of them using these platforms will be twat-waffles. Unfortunately, that group will dim the positive impact social media can have on our world.

But isn’t that always the way?

Civility’s Demise

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The value of the past eludes us.

The same mistakes on repeat.

Reflection would serve us well.

Empathy would too.

Oh, realize the worth of our tragic and harsh history!

Please only go forward, not back.

I worry for my children and future generations.

Sobbing, losing hope with each act of terror.

As I watch this world becoming one of hate and destruction,

I feel defeated.

Filled with sadness,

I still love.

But is it enough?

 

 

 

 

What Emerges

We see each other.

Though we don’t know beyond what stands before us.

The reflection is a fairy tale; the image, a mask of well-being.

Or it’s a nightmare played out while awake.

More likely, people pass by being barely noticeable.

Understand that the substance of lives are not predicted in the first glance.

Let’s take the time to watch as the bios unfold slowly.

Look inside.

And find the essential being within.

Elusive Freedom

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It starts with being born. There isn’t a choice in the matter. I certainly played no part in being here. Did you?

Had I been asked, I may have said, “No, thank you.”

We come into the world under the control of whatever mechanism which put us here. Just by instinct and choice, we continue to want to experience life. Then we are bound by the rules of those who raise us. Even when we graduate from the family into adulthood, our subsequent years usher us into the next line of restrictions on our freedom.

“These are paths to be taken!” says our society! It tends to dispense authoritative advice to the youth as they are just emerging into their own legally. School, good job, marriage, children – continue the cycle. It’s as if because members of society did it, that is the automatic direction everyone should take. I hope I wasn’t too bossy with my children.

Should individuals choose a different path, their opinion to be unique still won’t shut down those opposing viewpoints. Assimilate! Don’t stand out! Don’t go against our way of how things have always been done! When did we as a society decide that people being or doing life differently meant it was a problem? Probably since forever.

In the work world, we see employers dictate exactly how to fit into the square box called the company. It’s called compliance, and understandably so, one does need to get paid to continue this experience called life. Food, water, and shelter are a requirement to sustain. But oh how it dulls the individual! I’ve heard it said that’s why it’s called work and not fun.

Raising our children (should we decide to have them) provides us with even more ways we must adhere to other’s expectations, whether they be our own family, friends or public opinion. It seems everyone has a view on that. “Do this, don’t do that!”

Of course, compliance with the law of the land to live civilly in our community, state, country, or the world seems a smart choice. It’s being able to live in harmony with the others who also had no say in being born. Does that define being free though – adherence to the expectations of others?

I don’t think so.

If we are to have the right and the power to be exactly who we want to be without any pushback, it will require a world absent of people who disagree with how individuals wish to act, declare, or display themselves to this world.

This world would be empty. And lonely.

No different than so many people feel right now where we have a society filled with people which do disagree with individuals all the time.

Neither world is a pleasant experience for those who yearn to feel unobstructed.

I don’t think we can ever feel 100% free.

Life is a continual series of compromises to achieve some level of comfort in a life which we did not choose.

Stupidity

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A dolt will share an impressively ignorant stance, his nescience glaringly obvious.
Laughter ensues, then a realization it’s a heart-breaking moment.
The lame-brained contribute zilch to the betterment of our people or our planet.
If they only knew they were stupid.

It sounds so incredibly judgmental because it is. Our society expects only top-quality people to reside in it but is the business of going about life top-quality? Seems like a time for reflection of our expectations. Let’s understand that each contribution made is as messy as life itself.  That’s the territory we’re in. We have not yet reached perfection.

We’re All Politicians

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Politics is about gaining power. Period.

In life, we are all, in some shape or form, trying to achieve power over our situations or attain it to feel more control. It’s having authority and dominion over our existence; it is the governance of our own space. And with it comes the conflict from individuals or other parties who are hoping for the ability to rule over us.

This is the eternal struggle.

We may not like to admit it, but we are wrangling with the process of politics. Yes, exactly what is occurring in the realm of our elected officials. The current political arena is quite a spectacle. It’s actually a lesson on how not to behave as we go about the day-to-day management of our own power struggles. Their display feels like a veritable asylum as we watch the different personalities and styles making headlines in full-view of their constituents. In many cases, shame on them! This is who represents us? But I digress. I’ll leave more commentary about that in another piece.

The question remains – What contributes to achieving a sense of control over our lives to retain a feeling of personal power?

My opinion is simply this – it requires an individual who possesses critical thinking skills.

Being a critical thinker means a person will make reasoned judgments that are logical and well-thought out. This leads to making better decisions. And this, in turn, makes for situations that are more desirable, and more in your control.

Of course, there will be situations which will be out of our hands. The unexpected, unfortunate tragedy and chaos that can randomly take a perceived path or plan in a completely different direction is just that – out of our control. These situations just happen to us for no reason. Other factors which can contribute to a person’s inability to retain their power are devastating medical situations including mental illness.  But what sets people who have critical thinking skills apart from people who don’t is that their reactions are inherently different.

Reasonable and logical approaches to any situation will help you to remain calm and collected. The opposite of that reaction is hysteria and giving into emotional impulses without assessing the situation. This is not being in control, nor is it demonstrating having power over an event that is impacting you. And will likely have further consequences from reacting “out-of-control.”

It would seem that some individuals are just adept at life or endured a lot of personal adversity and decided enough is enough. They have the confidence to accept challenges which would attempt to take away their power. It’s as if instinct just kicks in and they anticipate what solution every situation requires. There isn’t a hesitation or misstep in what to do next. But I would say that I can almost guarantee these people had influencers. They could have been teachers, parents, mentors or have taken a hard beating from life.  Also, it’s likely (but not necessarily) they were given a solid foundation of empowerment in their early childhood. Good parents and teachers would insist on raising up a child to utilize their learned critical thinking skills at all times. My personal opinion is that these types of thinkers also remember to take away something from every situation in their life. Every challenge to navigate for control only added to their already substantial foundation of empowerment.

So you want to be a human in control of your personal power?

Learn how to think critically!

Achieving Peace

 

yinyangfallenob1
Deviant Art

 

Harmonizing the extremes by channeling in graceful solutions.

The art of negotiation in a world of bad discourse.

It’s a delicate dance of intelligence and compassion.

Few possess the skills necessary.

May all leaders learn those.

Our world desperately requires them now.

 

My Utopia

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In my dreams, I see humankind…

with no discrimination.
treating all living with care and concern.
displaying no violence.
living reasonably and logically.
promoting peace.

In my dreams, is sadly the only place where I can find these qualities consistently.