Technology and Social Media

Technology is a wonderful thing…….in moderation. The ability to email or text anyone, anywhere in the world is remarkable when you think that a mere 30 years ago one had to wait for an overseas operator to ‘get a free line’, and that could be 2 days from now at 2am, take it or leave it. Traditional mail took days, even weeks, for international delivery. (remember the excitement of getting a letter or card in the mail?) We can do our banking and taxes online, preboard with airlines, shop, post messages and photos for all to see, and publish anything we want (like blogs and Facebook) Technology has provided a wonderful avenue for all to anonymously vent their thoughts, good or bad, but I have to question the motivation. Are we happier getting instant messaging versus the personal handwritten note or the carefully selected card? Remember the anticipation of getting something in the mail?

I am surrounded by people who literally live on Facebook. A group of women are out shopping and after ‘scoring’ on a big sale, they take a picture of their haul, right in the store, and post it on Facebook, immediately. Within minutes, one proudly shrieks, “I’ve got 39 likes”. (so I take this to mean there’s at least 39 people out there sitting around waiting for a post from anyone, about anything – how mundane does your life have to be to resort to this?)

In another scenario, a friend was out for lunch and couldn’t resist posting a photo of the ‘foot-long dog-with all the works’  he bought from street vendor. (seriously?) Sweet mother of Mary, has the world gone mad? Or are we just so bored with our own lives that we see this as interesting? Was this the intention of Facebook?

I was out to dinner recently with 2 other couples and we were having a great debate about the publications of a famous author. The banter was lively and interesting (I believe they call this being social,,, remember what that’s like?)  but too early in the discussion someone pulls out a cell phone and loudly confirms the answers, according to the internet. (Now there’s a conversation killer, thanks). I’m not saying we don’t want to know the answers, but half the fun of learning something in a social setting is the conversation leading up to it. If all we wanted was answers and information we wouldn’t need anyone. We could just lock ourselves in a room and surf the net all day. (Who needs human interaction?)

I get that Facebook is a great way for one to share photos and information with a select group of family and friends. It’s also a wonderful way for businesses to stay connected to their public, share updates, and advertise. So when did it become the avenue for us to consistently ‘share’ the excruciating minutiae of every aspect of our mundane lives? (could this be a form of technology abuse?)

I love to see your family photos and I want updates that are important in your life, but I don’t care what you had for breakfast, nor am I interested in a photo of what you bought at Walmart. (and if there’s anyone out there who is entertained by such activity, they have way bigger problems than an addiction to social media,,,) Human beings are social creatures but the abuse of technology has rendered many anti-social. I absolutely draw the line at anyone bringing any form of technology unnecessarily into a social setting. It IS a conversation killer and nobody appreciates it.

Like everything in life technology is a gift. Use it responsibly. If you find yourself online in social media more than a couple of hours a day, you are seriously addicted. Force yourself to detach from your devices. Get a hobby. Take a course. Go shop the stores in person instead of online. Meet friends for dinner and make a rule that NO devices are to be used throughout the evening. You may be surprised at how much fun a good old fashioned conversation can be.

social media addiction

Happy Anniversary……to me……thanks to you!

This week marks the one year anniversary of my blog and this is my 51st post. When I look back on my weekly publications, I’m surprised by the inconsistency of my themes. It was my intention for this blog to reflect only the lighter side of life because more than anything I love the sound of laughter so I try to surround myself with those who instill it, and for the most part, I have succeeded. My closest friends and family love a good laugh! (like really does attract like)

I suppose though, the lighter side of life isn’t always funny. The lighter side clearly includes moments of reflection, acts of tenderness, the kindness of others, and a host of emotions that might not make us laugh, but they sure make us feel good….and sometimes not so good; both of which are healthy, because we need balance. (it’s the old ‘you need the lows to recognize the highs’ theory)

Much of my inspiration comes from those I observe; the everyday people who go through life oblivious to those around them that might be watching. It is at these times when they are their most ‘readable’, the emotion of their current situation is plainly visible in their face and their story is on display. They are vulnerable and pure in these moments because they are completely unaware that they are being watched, closely.

The frowning clerk in the store, the frustrated mother whose child is wailing, the businessman who is glued to his device, the bored cab driver, the sullen looking teen with head phones, the surprisingly happy homeless guy,,,,,they all have a story to tell. Granted I have to assume some aspects of their story because there’s only so much revealed in body language, but it’s pretty amazing how much is revealed. It is these moments and these situations that force me to dig deep, try to imagine where their head is at, and why, and this has helped me open my mind and heart to others. I try to see what life is like through their eyes; what would I be dealing with that would bring me (them) to this moment , this emotion. And it is this very realization that has humbled me.

We are all wonderful living examples of what humanity should be. Good, bad, cranky, or scared, we are what we were meant to be, and not one of us is better than the other.  I am very grateful to all who have unwittingly inspired me, not only to write, but to ‘see’ my fellow man with such clarity. It isn’t always easy, or even pretty, but it’s always a great experience, and it has made me a better person.

There’s a handful of very dear people who encouraged me to write a blog, Mary C, Joan L, and Margit C. Thank you for your faith and encouragement. And big thanks to Meredith B for her technology savvy. Without her I’d still be sobbing over the instructions.

I have no idea where this will take me, or if it will take me anywhere, but for the time being, I’m enjoying this path and the people who are walking it with me, unwittingly or not because whether or not you know it, you are fascinating and worth writing about.

Thank you for playing my ‘muse’.

Thank you penguin

The Advice Column

I’ve always thought it would be fun to write an advice column. You get to tell everyone what you think, good or bad, AND get paid for it! You also get to see inside the lives of others.

I grew up in the days of ‘Dear Abby’ and ‘Ann Landers’, two sisters who each wrote advice columns for rival newspapers. I enjoyed reading them when I was young but maturity gave me a very different perspective on the questions posed by those who wrote in. Actually, I started to question their intelligence because it seemed that most of the questions were (how can I put this diplomatically?) really stupid, and the common denominator of all queries was a complete lack of common sense. For example;

A woman wrote asking what to do about the numerous fruit flies hovering over her fruit bowl. It was signed ‘Fruitless, in Iowa’. She was told to put bowls of vinegar on her table and counter, covered with plastic wrap. Puncturing holes into the wrap would allow the flies to go into the bowl (apparently they’re attracted to vinegar) from which they could not escape, so they would drown in the vinegar and presto problem solved!  Really? How about just eating the fruit, or putting it in the fridge so the flies have no reason to come? The advisor should’ve gone on to tell this woman not to use said vinegar for any future cooking cause odds are pretty good she’d be dumb enough to do it, dead bugs and all.

A first time mother wrote in frantic that her baby was refusing to eat. She advised that her pediatrician suggested she start her baby on vegetables, so she did, breakfast, lunch and dinner, all the baby got was pureed squash, and by day 3 the child refused to eat any more. It was signed ‘Desperate Mommy, in London ON’. The Advisor politely clarified that perhaps the pediatrician intended for the mother to ‘introduce’ vegetables in small amounts with the child’s regular meals, and went on to suggest that it was unlikely that the doctor intended her to feed the baby ONLY vegetables, excluding all other foods. No, duh, really? She had to write to an advice columnist to see this? Not only did this one schmeck of sheer idiocy, there is a serious lack of maternal instinct here (how’d a dope like this even get pregnant?) I guess if we see an orange kid wandering around in the playground we’ll know she still didn’t get it.

A common topic in advice columns is relationships. The guy whose long term girlfriend dumped him for his best friend wrote in asking for advice on ‘how to win her back’ and was signed simply, ‘Loves Loser, Red Deer Alberta’. The advisor coached him on a number of ways to ‘communicate with her’ so they could ‘explore their feelings for each other’ to see if the relationship could, or should, be salvaged. Seriously? What’s to salvage here? I think she made it pretty clear what her feelings for him are! Get outta Dodge pal. Run fast, run far, and thank your lucky starts that she’s out of your life! Oh, and find a new best friend!

I guess I see things as black and white; for every problem there is a rational, sensible solution, and I don’t have the patience for the complete lack of common sense displayed by so many. Is it that they’re blinded by the emotion of the situation, or are there really that many stupid people out there? I suppose posing questions to an advice columnist offers anonymity, so there is the safety that their identity will remain unknown, and it’s a good thing too, cause for  ‘Fruitless’, ‘Desperate Mommy’, and ‘Loves Loser’, (aka Brainless, Senseless, and Lucky-Loser), being unknown is a blessing they’ve yet to realize.

At some time we all need to ask for advice, and I’d venture to say we’re all guilty of asking stupid questions periodically. It just seems that the number of really stupid ones greatly outweighs the rational ones, or at least those are the ones most likely to be published. Maybe it’s for entertainment; you know, get a rise out of the reader. Or maybe, just maybe, these are legitimate people with legitimate issues………. and no brain.

Guess I’ll shelve any career aspirations I have for becoming an advice columnist. Sign me,

‘Stunned by stupidity’ in Nova Scotia

Advice street post.jpg

And unto this day a child is born…….

My granddaughter came into this world this week; pulled from the security of her mothers’ womb, where it’s dark and warm and safe, she now faces a world of noise, and light, and vulnerability. The path ahead is long and fraught with obstacles. No longer will she simply receive nutrition without asking, or enjoy the freedom of relieving herself whenever the urge strikes (at least not until she’s over 75) From this day on she is accountable to the world and must conform to the rules of society.

She will now have to ‘ask’ for food or a diaper change, and she will come to rely on hugs and cuddling to provide her with comfort and security. She will experiment every day of her life with new sounds, sights, and feelings, and she will have to reason with how and where to apply these new findings. She starts with a clean slate; everything is new and exciting. She knows no fear or anger or hostility; such emotions are acquired through life experience only, and one can only hope life will be kind to this innocent child. I envy her this beginning full of ‘firsts’….adventure awaits, and the road will only be as long as is needed to satisfy her life’s mission. Where will life take her?

There’s a very, very elderly gentleman in my neighbourhood who walks his grandsons dog, everyday, while the boy is in school, because he wants to break up the monotony of the dogs (and his) day. He is hunched and unsteady in his stride; hobbling down the road in any weather, clinging to the leash, and there are days I wonder who’s walking who. With each day I see a decline in his demeanour; a slower gait, a more pronounced hunch, and yet there he is, every day performing this labour of love for an innocent creature. He has lived a long and, one hopes, full life.

Today as I watch him walk by I can’t help but think of the disparity of this mans presence in this world to that of my new granddaughter. He, so worn and weathered and experienced; full of knowledge and opinions, and so very old.  And she, so new and eager; naïve and innocent, so very young.

She is just starting her life, and he is in the final phase of his, and both have yet to face more challenges, because there is no life without toil. He must reconcile with all that he has learned in his time here, and she will now face a lifetime of choices, because we all have a mission in life (we’re not just here filling time) and I admire them both for choosing to experience life because as souls of the universe we all make the conscious decision to do so, and that takes courage.

For the old man I wish acceptance and gratitude for all he experienced in his life. May he find peace and tranquility in his exit from this world. And for my little girl, I wish a lifetime of laughter, and tears, and hugs – may you experience profoundly, everything life has to offer, the good and bad, the happy and sad, because all of these will fashion the loving human being you are destined to become.

Life is good – live it fully and love it madly.


Baby girl.png     ……………………………………………………………………..Old man silouette