Attention

Last Thursday I was starting to feel a little sick- just general cold stuff, heavy head, dry throat, stuffy nose. But I knew my goddaughter was coming to visit on Friday, so I did the whole mind over matter thing, and stayed healthy for the whole weekend. Sunday night, as I waved goodbye to her, my body broke down, and I had a cold.

Now, I can tell I have a cold, because for the second time on five days, I can’t organize my thoughts on the page. I have an idea, and I start to write, but it floats away.

I am not happy that my mind is not allowing me to concentrate!!!

So I’m going to take care of my stuffy head, and hopefully my thoughts will become more coherent tomorrow or the next.

see you soon!!!

 

 

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Lucky….Or….

My Goddaughter came to visit me this weekend. She is the daughter of one of my closest friends. All I can say is that she was an adorable little girl, and has turned into an amazing young woman. My friend is awesome, so I’m not totally surprised that she has three equally incredible daughters…

At some point today I will text my friend and tell her how much fun I had with her child. I will tell her that she did a great job as a Mom.

Did you ever notice that when a child/young adult does something bad or questionable, blame immediately goes to the parents? What were the parents thinking? What did they do wrong? How could a parent do that? Someone does something bad, and everyone looks to the parents. Bad=Nurture

But….

If you see a “good” kid, everyone says the parents got “lucky”. Good=Nature

Why are we so quick to blame the parents when things go wrong, but never give them credit when things go “right”?

When someone decides to have a child, they think about boy or girl, or how to decorate the nursery, and all the cute clothes and accessories that the baby “requires”. They read books about what to do while they’re pregant- how to sleep, what to eat, etc. No one is actively thinking about what comes next.

Parenting is hard. Being a parent is the toughest job in the world. It is also thankless. No one ever says you are/were a good parent.

So, let’s stop blaming parents who have kids who might not always choose the path that is “more right”. And acknowledge that maybe some parents made a “more right” choice on the bumpy parenting road.

 

Debating

By now, you know that I think the media are puppeteers: they pull the strings to make us dance. They determine what’s important, and how content should be delivered. They make us hear what they want us to hear.

Let’s think about the process for picking a Democratic candidate.

A bunch of people form exploratory committees, raise money, go to Iowa, and decide that they will run for President.

Fine.

This year there was a bumper crop of candidates flying around the country, extolling their virtues as to why they should become the leader of America.

Fine.

Then came the debates.

Now with a group of 20 or so people, it’s logical that you would split the candidates up and have two different debates. I agree with this.

But…..

The Democratic party has two sides, the progressive side and the moderate side. This is how it should be- different types of people with different opinions. But if you have two different factions, why wouldn’t you have the progressives debate one another on one night and the moderates debate one another on another night? Wouldn’t that be the logical thing, allow the voters to see the differences between the moderates, how they stack up against one another, and similarly the progressives. We already know how the moderates are different from the progressives- that’s easy. But against one another? Not so much. In my mind, narrow down the people in each faction, then when they get down to about five progressives and five moderates, let them duke it out.

Were moderate choices drowned out by progressive candidates?

Why wasn’t the debate split up so that each section of the party could be highlighted properly?

Did the media want to highlight certain candidates and hide some others?

Have certain candidates received more “time” than others and is this fair? In an election cycle, shouldn’t all the candidates receive the same amount of attention from the media? And I know there is a sort of balance game where they technically do, but if someone is constantly on page one, and someone else is back near the sports, is that equal coverage? If one event is reported at 7pm, and another at 11:30- is that fair treatment?

Have the news networks already picked out the Democratic candidate for President?

 

 

 

How Could You

I’m going to give you another hypothetical:

Conservative, republican actor sits beside a liberal, democrat, gay politician. The actors “fan base” are up in arms asking how the actor dare sit next to someone who has views diametrically opposite what they hold. Fans are incredulous and appalled that the pair seemed to be enjoying one another’s company and were even see….laughing….. Social media is aflame with comments.

What do you think about that scenario? Should a conservative, republican actor sit with a liberal democrat former politician?

Now I’m going to give you the actual story, or what I know of it. Be aware- I am reporting about a report…..

Ellen DeGeneres attended a Cowboys game the other night. She sat next to former President George Bush. The backlash against her sitting with the President was so bad that the actress actually made a statement on her show on Monday stating that she sat next Bush for the simple reason that they are friends.

Imagine that: a republican and a democrat, who have opposite views, are friends.

DeGeneres went on to say that people can remain friends even though they don’t agree on everything.

Imagine that: people with opposite ideas can remain friends.

DeGeneres has a tag line “Be Kind”. As she reminded followers, she doesn’t say be kind to people exactly like you. It just means be kind to all those you encounter.

So let’s go to another level: I try to avoid actual political commentary. But if you found out that I was a liberal democrat, would half of you stop reading? If you found that I was a conservative, republican, would the other half unfriend me?

Why is it so hard for some to fathom that you can actually like someone who doesn’t agree with you?

Social and mainstream media made a story out of two football fans watching a football game. What was the purpose of reporting this story? Were they trying to persuade you to one side or another? Was this a newsworthy event? Or was media just trying to stir the pot and get you to look at their headline? Was it an attempt to make something out of nothing?

Does the media really want a war between Democrats and Republicans?

Are we buying into it?

“And That’s the Way it Is”

Back in the day, Walter Cronkite signed off on the news by saying “And that’s the way it is.” Everyone of  a certain age knew this because a great deal of the population received their new via Walter and the six o’clock news. There were morning and evening editions of the paper, and people turned on their radios to get updates. Magazines gave us other sorts of news on a weekly or monthly basis. And of course, for local news, there was the daisy chain. The average person probably received information from about five sources.

How many ways do you receive information?

I woke at seven and looked at blogs and emails. Maybe I read and responded to about twenty or thirty. Then I looked at my email: New York Times. Wall Street Journal. AMNY. Yahoo News. Pure Wow. Thrillist. In ninety minutes I’ve gotten information from maybe 35 sources.

35. At least.

And my day has just begun.

Can you say glut of information?

I’m going to remind you of a little history. In the late 1800’s Hearst and Pulitzer were in a battle for readership in New York City. They both wanted to be Number 1. So they decided to put their resources into escalating tensions between the US and Spain. Yellow journalism. Using second and third hand accounts. Fabricating stories. Exacerbating events. Information received through interpreters who may or may not have understood English or Spanish particularly well. And the quote: “Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”

The media. Out for their own interests since 1898.

I’d like to say that we’ve learned from this, but over a hundred years later, are we still taking liberty with the news to gain readership?

Does the media push the buttons to make things run?

Does the media determine which stories are “more important”?

Does the media determine what is right and what is wrong?

Is the media really impartial?

My daughter was recently “hired” by her school newspaper. (Hired is sort of misleading, because though she did have to apply and be interviewed, she does not get paid) When she joined she pledged to not write for any other news outlet. She is not allowed to write an editorial for the paper because she is “staff” and therefore not allowed to publicly hold an opinion on topics. She is also not allowed to visibly support someone running for an office at her school. If her roommate was to run for Student Council secretary my daughter would not be allowed to wear a “Vote Roommate” pin or hand out a flyer. My daughter is supposed to remain impartial because she is a journalist and has to maintain journalistic integrity.

Shouldn’t we hold the people who get paid to impart the news to same standard as we do a 17 year old young woman?

Does journalistic integrity even exist?

Next time you check the news, ask yourself if it is being delivered impartially. Then ask yourself why it’s not, because I’m going to bet there’s a slant, and I don’t care what channel or source you’re looking at. Ask yourself why the media needs to tell you what your opinion is? Is the media’s job to furnish you with your opinion?

“Remember the Maine” because “that’s the way it is.”

exposure

I went to see the movie “Joker” last night. If you don’t know, it is about one of the villains in the DC comic verse, and it is not a superhero action movie, but a story of how a villain becomes a villain. There have been many warnings about this movie, namely- this is rated R for a reason- do not bring kids. There have also been warning that this movie could trigger violence.

I don’t know how it is where you live, but in NYC we get about twenty five minutes of previews before a movie starts. So I make a bathroom break towards the end of the previews. As I walked down the theater aisle to exit, I saw a man walking towards me, straight down the center of the narrow corrider, really giving me no way to pass him on either the left or right. I had to flatten myself against the wall because he wasn’t budging.

Now, I’m used to road hogs, but this guy kind of creeped me out.

Creeped me out a lot.

So much so that when I got back into the theater I looked around to where he was sitting, I found him, took as much stock of what he wearing as I could in the semi darkness, and then began looking for exits, escape routes and places to hide. Could I fit under a reclining seat, or should I jet squeeze behind it? I was so creeped out, that I was prepping for an attack, if one were to happen.  I spent as much time worrying about the theater itself as I did watching the movie. I’m pretty sure I missed a pretty important psychological aspect to the movie….

Obviously,  my worries were for naught.

There are many ways to interpret and discuss the scenario, but for today, let’s focus on the media. Does the amount of “news” and myriad ways we have of disseminating information do more harm than good?

 

Let’s Philosophize

My Daughter goes to a school with core requirements. One of the requirements is that she take two semesters of philosophy. As she sat to register for classes last August and looked at the course offerings, she was briefly upset that she did not choose the school with no core. The class she least looked forward to taking was philosophy, but she figured she would try to get rid of it right away so it wasn’t a weight around her neck. So Intro to Philosophy was on the fall schedule for Freshman year.

Fast forward to this week when I asked her what her favorite class was:

“Philosophy”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because there are no right or wrong answers. Everything is a why. I love that. It makes you think about both sides of an argument”. She answered.

Makes you think about both sides of an argument.

Remember when I screamed that should be teaching for home economics? Well, now I have a call for them to teach philosophy. We don’t need philosophers, but we do need people that think like them.

I think that people have forgotten how to think. Or worse off, they never learned.

In a world of standardized tests, how often are kids allowed to think about anything? And is thinking penalized? Last week I wrote a hypothetical example. People interpreted it at least three different ways from what was in my mind when I wrote it, and each point was equally valid. Is anyone really equipped to analyze a passage of something and choose A,B, C or D? How does the creator of a test really know what the author intent was on a passage?

My daughter is an out of the box thinker (hence the apparent love of philosophy) But being an out of the box thinker means that standardized tests on ELA are not her friend. So she had to learn how to take a test- she had to teach herself how to find the most generic answer to a question on a reading passage. True, she “learned”, but was that the most valuable way for her to spend her time? To figure out what answer was the least creative and thought provoking?

My Daughter also chose a certain size college so that there would be a relatively low student:teacher ratio. Her rationale was that she does better on papers as opposed to tests, because given space, she is able to prove her thought process in a way that multiple choice just won’t do. True or false is limiting. What if it’s a combination of both?

Why have we limited ourselves to two or three choices? Why are we so quick to pick one way or another?

When did we decide to be sheep and just follow a specific flock, instead of being the lone wolf who chooses to think their own way? Remeber the old chinese food joke, pick one from column A and one from column B? Shouldn’t our thought process more resemble that? I think this hypothesis is good, but I don’t like this other implication, but over on the other side, this one statement makes sense, so lets come up with a new way of thinking?

Why do we blindly follow all the steps of a tenet just because it’s our “side”? Why are we letting others dictate our behavior and thoughts? When did we lose our individuality?

When did we forget that thinking was the most important thing?

 

 

Look Away

Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. Twitter. Blogs. All those apps that my daughter knows and understands that I won’t hear about for another three years. There are myriad ways to be “out there” on the cyber entertainment world. We can connect through games and shared interests. Meet new people. Reconnect with old friends. The internet is flush with ways that we can have as many cyber acquaintances as we wish.

But is it a good thing?

Many have chosen to completely cut the cord on social media- they have no notifications popping up on their phones. They aren’t tagged in pictures and don’t know what great Aunt Sally did on her vacation to Mexico, or what their friend from second grade ate for lunch.

There are some, like me, who begrudgingly hold on to Facebook, because we know that it’s just an easy way to share milestones and pictures with friends. I have way less then the “normal” amount of friends on Facebook, and I don’t care: If I add you it’s because I actually care about you and what you’re up to. I also admit that in the last year or so I have deleted many people, and I have seriously considered getting rid of my sister and mother as facebook friends because they just post the most ridiculous stuff. (FYI- they are completely opposite on all their thoughts and opinions, so it’s not like I don’t like their “side”)

Now when I say ridiculous, I mean they don’t actually think about what they’re posting. They share things that have no basis in fact, things that I could refute in about 3 seconds. My sister will share and say “right on” to something that doesn’t make sense at all…I mean…can’t even pass a basic logic test. My Mother will share and say something like “Get it yet” which is a joke, because I don’t think she gets it. My Mother and sister have fallen into the trap of believing what they’re seeing, because they are so entrenched in their beliefs and value systems that they will literally cling to anything which supports it, no matter how extraordinary it is.

If you are going to share something on social media, check the source from which it comes. A poll whose source is the website that printed it is not a source. A picture is only worth a thousand words if it has not been photoshopped to death. Read what the opposition is actually saying before you form and opinion and post something so it remains in cyber history forever. Know what you are posting.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and they’re even allowed their own soapbox to shout it from. What they should not be doing is spreading things that are false. Don’t become a social media gossip. Don’t repost something just because it’s there- not everything needs to become viral. Remember, the more sensational something appears, the less likely it is to be completely accurate.

Your opinion should be a conclusion you have come to based on research on both sides of a topic. Period. If you are not clear on both sides of something you can not form a valid opinion. Have you ever heard someone say “I hate opera”, only to find out they’re never actually been to, or heard, an opera? That’s what some of these rants are like. They don’t know anything about a topic, yet they have an opinion.

My Father in law is what I refer to as an agitator. He has no actual knowledge to go along with his opinions, yet he likes to goad you into a conversation. A few months ago he was literally mouthing the words of a television commentator, and was asking me my opinion on the subject. I tried to stay out of it, but he’s an annoying little gnat and just keeps bothering you, so I finally gave up and engaged.

Discussion of topic A:

FIL- blah blah blah

Me- So what should be done? (because I hate when someone says something should be done but they don’t have an opinion as to what should be done)

FIL- They should do their job.

Me-What is their job?

FIL- You know, their job.

Me- No, I don’t know. What is their job?

And we went down this rabbit hole for awhile until he got frustrated and hummphed.

While there is a plethora of information available, very few know how to use it properly. People see a headline that they like, and blindly go down the path of misinformation and illogical thoughts. I want to introduce people to if/ then statements, and teach them the meaning of comparison and correlation.

People need to learn how to think. And I say learn, because when I look at social media, I see scant evidence that most people know how to actually think.

What do you think?

 

Tweet Tweet

Last Saturday Pete Alonso of the NY Mets broke the single season rookie homerun record by hitting his 53rd. This brought cheers from fans of the recently eliminated from wild card contention team. It also caused Alonso to pump his fist as he circled the bases, and tear up in the inning after this shot. To me, this was a pure and wonderful moment. Here’s a kid who always dreamed of being a major leaguer capable of hitting a ball 400 feet, and he fulfilled that dream. Bravo I say.

But what did others say?

The great majority of people agreed with me. Yay Pete. But others… Let’s just say that the twitterverse was apparently resplendent with people that thought Pete was a big giant ass. One man even said that it was complete and utter arrogance that made Pete pump his fist as he rounded the bases, and someone that arrogant shouldn’t hold a record, and he wasn’t happy for Alonso at all. In fact, he was disgusted.

Hmmm

A ballplayer is not allowed to show excitement for an on field accomplishment.

If you reverse that, and say, he just quietly rounded the bases, he would be criticized for lacking emotion and being too blasé about having just eclipsed another players record. He would probably be called undeserving.

In the world of social media, you can’t be too excited, nor can you be too calm. But is this a Goldilocks scenario, because is there ever going to be anything that’s just right?

I recently complained to a friend about something I read on Facebook- I thought someone had made a ridiculous statement. My friends response- “You should just throw your smartphone in the river.” I laughed at first- I mean- no smartphone? How would I geographically locate anything without maps? How will I buy tickets for things whthe oeich need to be screened? I mean….. I’m not even on Twitter….. Yet….maybe he had a point. I’m not even on Twitter and I still see stupid tweets…..

There are good things about social media. But I’m wondering if the bad is so overwhelmingly awful that it totally negates any of the good stuff. Does social media give us a license to me meaner and nastier? Is there any reason for people to let out their toxic thoughts 146 characters at a time, 24/7? What is driving us to be unnecessarily critical of everyone and everything around us? Why do we think we are better than anyone else? That our way of doing things is better than another?

I realize that social media is here to stay. But I can’t help but hope that it goes the way of the pet rock and the mood ring. Hopefully, trending is just a trend….

 

I Can’t Believe He Did That

A few weeks ago, football player Andrew Luck announced his retirement. He is young, and he was a highly regarded player. Basically, he felt the injuries his body has already sustained are making the rest of his life difficult to manage, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Whatever.

What did, and continues to amaze me is the varied reactions to this decision. Some Indianapolis Colts season ticket holders wanted their money back. The rationalization was that Luck was prominently displayed on all the season ticket promo stuff. First off- really? I know that no star player ever gets hurt and needs to miss a game, season or career….right? Who you start with at the beginning of the season is clearly who you end up with at the end…

Other people began calling Luck various derogatory names. They thought his choice to retire before he was 30 was a complete wimp move. It doesn’t matter how Luck felt, and feels, the only thing that matters is “manning” up and continuing playing till he’s completely broken.

Why would anyone do this? Why would anyone question why someone does, or does not want to continue in a job?

Last week I spoke of giving up, and yesterday I spoke of people wanting others to fail, or expecting people to behave in a specific way. This story kind of embodies all of that. Here’s a man who chose not to quit, but to retire because the path he had been on was no longer the right one. Then you have the people calling him a quitter.

Did he quit?

Did he choose another path?

Does it matter?

Is it anyone’s business other than his own?

As a friend of mine so astutely put it on Facebook, if Luck had committed suicide, people all over would be asking “Why didn’t he reach out for help?” Yet, here he was, not really asking for help, but clearly taking stock of his personal positives and negatives and making a decision about his physical and mental health, and he was booed. Booed. Criticized. The butt of jokes which weren’t particularly funny.

Why are we so quick to criticize others? Shouldn’t we be paying more attention to ourselves?