Thursday, November 17, 2016

Why I might not go back to using FB, at least in the same way I was using it before

Fake News Stories Abound, Along with Untimely Stories
Have you seen articles saying that many news stories passed along on Facebook are fake news? To quote from the old TV show, Get Smart, "I knew that, 99". I'm sure you knew it too. But did you know there are lots and lots of them?  And apparently, they are aimed at "both sides" (or all sides) of any issue. Some of the authors or sites want to persuade you; some just want to get money from people clicking through.

Then there are the articles and memes that may have been relevant when they were first posted, two years ago or ten years ago, but no one mentions (or perhaps notices) that this particular story is re-circulating, that's it's not about a current event.

Gaslighting Happens
The term "gaslighting" originated with an old movie in which the husband progressively makes his wife think she's crazy. One of the ways he does this is to turn on the gaslights in the attic so that the gaslights will dim in the main part of the house. When she comments that the lights are dim, he says that it's her imagination. (He married her for her inheritance, and wanted to get her out of the picture. I haven't seen the movie, but, spoiler alert: I understand it turns out well.).

The term has since been used for the kind of victim abuse where someone tries to make you think you're crazy for their own purposes, most often in romantic and other types of relationships where you spend a lot of time with someone or work with them. But it has also been used to refer to someone minimizing your experiences or feelings. That person may not be trying to make you crazy. But intention and affect don't always go hand in hand.

How many times on Facebook do we hear someone say (or a meme or an article that says or implies), "People who…" and occasionally, we have to gulp and realize that although they probably didn't specifically mean me (at least not intentionally), I'm actually in that "people who" group. I might be in a group that someone says is going to hell. Or I'm in that group that someone says ought to dress nicer. Maybe we're in that group that some think should never be sad or depressed.

Facebook is so open, with so many people, that we don't think about each person who is reading. And yes, if we worry about never hurting anyone's feelings, it makes it hard to even say anything, and I'm sure I've done it myself at times. I'm not trying to make anyone so sensitive that they cannot participate. I'm just saying this is one of four reasons that I need to stay dialed back for a while.

Everyone and Everything is Good or Evil, or So Some of it Seems
We often tend to divide ourselves by right and left, conservative and liberal. Good and bad.  Woe to me if I don't fit into a box. (And I don't).  

"Those people - on the other side - are so mean; and they criticize us when we just want to do the right thing. We don't call them names. Why do (fill in the blank with people of one conviction or another) always have to be ugly?"…or so sensitive…whatever may be the word of the day.

How many of us have heard something like this said of the people of some "group" or another that our lovely, kind family member or friend belongs to, and cringed? How many times have we thought, "But my family member or friend doesn't say ugly things"?

Tendency to Facebook Addiction
I thought I was addicted to Facebook, like food, but that I also couldn't live without it, like food. So I stayed. I thought as someone who studied journalism, I could make a difference, so I stayed. But finally I decided it was time for a break.

Well, truly, much good has come of Facebook for me. I have made absolutely fantastic friends, as well as connected better, or re-connected, with old friends. And in that way, I miss it...miss you all.

The problem is that when I go to Facebook because I feel lonely, I get depressed by the judgments. When I stay because it's easy and I'm stressed, I get more stressed.  When I'm constantly deciding whether to research this article or whether or not I should disagree with this person (can we have a reasonable discussion or will it turn into a huge Facebook "fight"?), decision fatigue sets in.

So, in order to learn about a few things in depth instead of constantly researching articles on a myriad of topics to see if they are true; in order to maintain my sanity, to keep my peace of mind, and to get more done, I might not go back to using Facebook in the same way that I used it in the past. I guess time will tell.

So far, I still check messages; check birthdays (though I accidentally miss some); and check notifications that someone has commented on my occasional post. And thank you for that!  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Let's Go out into the Real World

Let's go out into the real world. Let's go out and smile at our neighbors, the people at the store, whoever is in our world, whoever is within our reach. Let's talk one-on-one with our friends by messaging or email, or on the phone, or meet up with local friends over coffee.

Let's build one another up. Let's be supportive of one another's emotional needs. Let's admit our own emotional needs...not by making ourselves vulnerable to the online crowd, who might tear us up like lions in the coliseum, but sharing ourselves with those with whom we feel safe. And by the way, yes it's okay and a good thing to provide someone a place to feel safe. That's what friends do; that's what neighbors do; that's what we do when we see a need and an opportunity come together in the same place...we are there for people, to support them

Can I take the time to step out of my comfort zone to go meet the lady in my community who is still mourning her young adult son? (No, I'm not asking you to do that for me; I'm saying there is actually someone I've met who wanted me to stop by her workplace to say hello, and I haven't gotten around to it.). Can I reach out and pray with someone, as one of my young friends reached out to me the other day? Can I send an email to a friend who is not on Facebook or a letter to someone who is not online?

Can I read a real book, whether non-fiction or fiction, but something with substance and a little longer than a Facebook post?

Can I look up today and see how lovely the sky is? Or are my eyes too glued to the crazy thing the friend of a friend of a friend said on Facebook to notice? Are we letting our opportunities to come make a difference in the world, slip through our fingers?

I'm ready to step out of the online world a little more and into the light of day. Join me? 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

What Greater Thing Can There Be Than This?

We're going to have hard times. No matter who becomes President we're going to have hard times. Every day, for whatever reason, someone will die or someone will get sick or someone will have an accident, or someone will be without a job. No human being on earth can solve all that. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be compassionate; it means we should. But there's another point I want to share today. 

I've always "preached" how we need one another, we need to love one another; but there's something more. We need to know that God loves us. We need to trust in his love! We need to know that we can turn to him in our hearts, no matter what. I woke up with that thought, not that it's a new thought, but suddenly, in the night, I realized that's what's been bothering me so much lately.

Some people perhaps out of fear, some few people possibly even out of a need to manipulate, out of a myriad of different reasons, which I cannot judge, some people are threatening others with the loss of God. Some people are saying or implying, in essence, if you vote this way, or if you don't vote that way, you will separate yourself from God, now and for eternity (for eternity, if you aren't sorry). I don't know a lot about how eternity works, but you cannot separate yourself from God on this earth. He is always there. He is always here loving us. 

Some of my Catholic friends might sputter "but mortal sin". Grave sin, committed with full knowledge and willing consent, still doesn't keep God from loving someone.  Let's not forget about the Good Shepherd. It doesn't keep a person from loving his or her family and friends. It doesn't keep their family and friends from loving them. As a matter of fact, because of those two things, full knowledge and consent, you and I cannot judge anyone – not anyone at all - of actually subjectively committing a mortal sin or "being in mortal sin", because we cannot see into anyone's heart or mind. Only God can do that. And he is so much more loving than we are even capable of. He is so much more loving than we can even imagine.

When hard times come, and they are here for us all at one time or another, God is there. God is here! He loves us. He wants us to love him. We can say to God all day, "I love you", but we need to remember also that "He loves us!" If we don't believe someone loves us, it makes it harder to love them, doesn't it? Think about someone who has been hateful to you. Think of the woman who cut you off on the freeway or the guy behind you who honked loud and hard because you weren't speeding fast enough for him. We don't think they like us very well (at least in that moment), do we? And how do we respond? We usually don't like them very well either, do we?

After being in a cult; after then hearing for years, from some people, that God would smite us, God will punish us, if we make some misstep; after trying to stay close to him and saying, "I love you," I finally started adding another prayer to that: "I love you. I believe in your love for me. Help me to believe more in your love for me." 

God loves us! What greater thing can there ever be than this? Let us, by our love, by our compassion, encourage one another in that belief.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Yes, Black Lives Do Matter

I could give you a long list of individual black people whose lives matter to me. Doctors who have served my family. My math professor of a few years ago. My beloved former coworkers and classmates. Neighbors who have helped me in the snow. The people at my post office who were there for me when my sister died and my son died, and I had to send paperwork back and forth across the country to be my dad's legal guardian. Several priests, including one who is quite large & I have found myself being concerned for him when I have heard that some officer or another was afraid because someone was black and large. Oh, puh- lease!

There was a time in my life when I wasn't awake to the idea that there was a real problem. A couple of times, really. One of those times, in the late 60's, I started reading. Another time, in the 90's, I just gradually became more aware.

So, if you don't see what I see these days, the terrible injustices, I would ask you to read more widely, to meet more diverse people if possible, to consider that maybe, just maybe mistakes, and sins, and criminal injustices are sometimes made on both sides of the law.

If a teacher abused a child, people would be all upset. And teachers did, when I was a child, but what could I or my classmates do? But if other teachers, or parents, or the school board held them responsible...and perhaps they did at some point.

How many bodies of people, how many positions, do we grant impunity to? There should be none.

Personally, I'm not even sure what you and I can do. But I would ask you to get your news and views from more than one source, and to pray with me for a time of greater respect for all people, because we all matter, but right now, today, I'm going to say this: Black lives matter!