Un-Social Media

Breaking News!  Social media is destroying humanity!  Okay, perhaps it isn’t breaking news. And maybe it hasn’t destroyed it completely. But, the extent of my statement really depends on clarifying some definitions of news, destroy, or social.  Let us take a look at those definitions and see what we end up with!

News reporting agencies can be funny entities. They are often the very heralds of doom and gloom, and yet thoroughly pride themselves as being the “first” to bring it to you. How thoughtful.  Yet in this day and age of information demand, we clamor at every source we can to stay informed and aware. As many of you know, I am one such junkie. I often find myself confused when I bring a news item to a conversation and no one is aware of the story.  Really?  I thought everyone was in-the-know about the feral cat problem in Hindustan!  (I jest…somewhat…)

But our sources of information are missing out on a really big story. That there seems to be a lack of awareness of the degradation of human interaction around us. “Social” has been morphing from how we interacted with one another into a cold, barren way. It is caving in to the world of electronics.  The explosion of social media websites is nothing new. From the advents of My Space to the highly popular Facebook and Twitter, there is certainly no shortage of internet places to “socialize”.  Major companies like Google and Yahoo have also thrown their hats into the ring with versions.  The goal: get you to use their system so that they can make money from advertisers.  Simple as that. This is corporate America looking for a means to get money.  But, at what cost?

I’m all for businesses making money.  After all, this is the land of opportunity!  Where I have a problem is when socializing is stripped down to impersonal typed words and picture postings.  Where human interaction is via electricity and not face to face.  Where emotions are conveyed by ‘smileys’.  The word social is generically defined as companionships or relations, in community versus isolated.  People are, by nature, social creatures and have the need to engage with others.  Social is key to society…groups of people together.  In the past, people would socialize with one another by gathering together.  These would be the times for friends and families to talk, share, help, care, love, support, and belong.  Sadly, that type of socializing is being replaced.  Actually, it is being destroyed.  I don’t think I need to define destroy.

It would seem that people today find solace in checking their cell phones or computers for their social fix.  Online you can post comments and pictures, share your feelings, give a virtual hug or pat on the back, date, and even break up.  Yes, that all happens on there.  Many of the things that used to be done “in person” are now “impersonal”.  People have had entire relationships online. If that doesn’t make you sad, then you may want to go see someone “in person” to get some help.  I say that bluntly with hopes of a wake up call!  Socializing is an imperative part of being human, and having human interaction is a necessary part of our mental and emotional well-being.  Give thought to the punishment of ‘solitary confinement’…separation of humans from humans.  It’s a punishment, not a reward.  Sociologists and medical experts know that the key to our sanity is the need for human contact.

It can be safely said that social media is destroying humanity.  Humans have social needs and, quite frankly, social media does not fulfill that need.  We may think that we are socializing, but it should not be the replacement to actual face-to-face socializing.  Sitting in your room with the computer is not giving you human contact.  If anything, it is numbing the human right out of you!  I would love to see the withdrawals people would have if they didn’t have their internet social medias to check every 10 seconds.  They might actually have to learn some face-to-face skills!

I understand that friends and family separated by distance use these formats as a means to stay in contact.  No issues here with that.  It’s when it becomes your everything, your lifeline to the outside world that is standing right next to you.  When people can gather in a room with one another and hardly speak to each other because they are busy “socializing” online.   I am always amazed, but rarely shocked anymore, when I see groups of people in the store walking down the aisles with their faces in their phones and no interaction with those whom they are with.  I feel sad by this, but this is evidence of the destruction of socializing.

Try something here…a new social media.  I call it talking.  This type of media requires two people, in the same location, each equipped with a mouth and ears.  This social media requires no electricity, data plan, or computer.  You simply speak what you would normally type and the other person hears what you said!  Then, the person that listened to you will probably say something back, which you would use your ears to hear it!  Crazy, I know, but when you repeat that process, possibly adding more people together….oh, the socializing that can happen!!!  Don’t call me a pioneer…I checked my history and found out that it was all the rave long ago!

Still Alive!

Just want to let you all know that I am still active, alive, and working to bringing you more ramblings, commentaries, murmurings, and a host of other things including a new short story.
The short will be a mix of humor and fiction, yet still holding true to the theme of it all…..Common Sense!
I appreciate your patience and, most of all, willingness to read the smatterings of sense I am trying to make common!

What do you first cast?

Probably more of a hot-bed discussion than most subjects as we approach the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on these United States is free speech.  That First Amendment of the Constitution states simply:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Abridging simply means to curtail or hinder. Nothing more. You have the legal right given to you as a U.S. citizen to speak your mind, say your peace, and voice your opinion!  Look around you and that is probably the majority of what is on television and radio. The internet is abuzz with free speech partakers.  No matter the topic, no matter the event, no matter the person…..everything will generate opinions and those opinions can be expressed freely and without fear of persecution from our government.

With the many positives of this freedom, there are also many negatives.  History shows us that words can be hurtful, degrading, and extremely destructive.  Words, like the bullet fired from a gun, cannot be recalled. Once that free speech is launched to its audience, it is out there.  In this day and age of modern technology, our speech can be launched around the world to an ever-increasing audience in a matter of seconds.  Social networks, news outlets, blogs, and email are utilized by so many and gives users the capability to voice thoughts to whoever wants to listen.  The part many tend to forget is that your words are out there and it is now permanent record. The Greek sage Publius said “I have often regretted my speech, but never my silence”.

I opened this blog with the fact that free speech can be a touchy area.  In light of the upcoming 10 year anniversary of 9/11, we not only look back to that day’s events and how it affected us, but also to revisit the stories and opinions regarding the tragedy.  Over the last 10 years, free speech has been a key element.  From the positive stories of heroes to the criticism of government.  Everyone has voiced themselves in one way or another.  But, are we building up or tearing down this country with our free speech?

One particular aspect of this all has been blame. People are always looking for the scapegoat to point the finger at and ease our minds.  Usually when tragedy takes place, the leader is the first to be accused.  Whether it is a city, a state, or a country, the leader of that demographic is first to be on the guilty list.  What amazes me the most is that people have such a creative energy and drive as to bend and twist the obvious and the facts into such a way as to make it look like the leader, themselves, are soley alone in the evil deed!  Really?  Are we so desperate to attach a name to the disaster that we go beyond reason?

Let’s face some facts, shall we?  When a natural disaster, such as Katrina, hits a city that is built in a low-lying ‘bowl’ next to a large body of water, what do you think is going to happen? You can build all the dikes and levies you want, but the water is gonna come in! Duh! When the earth shakes and cracks structures like nuclear power plants and the radiation leaks, is it really some sitting politicians fault for that?  Common Sense, help me out here!

Settle down, folks. There’s an old saying that says stuff happens (edited).  If you leave your windows or doors unlocked and some thug comes in and steals from you….then there’s a place for blame. Blame on you for leaving things unsecured and blame on them for being scum! But, truthfully, just as stuff happens, so does scum happen.  Crimes occur even when we have ourselves in our most vigilant state.  Internet users still get hacked even with some of the best security afforded.  People still get robbed in broad daylight,even with our caution on high alert, and 9/11 still happened….even with some of the signs and symptoms that existed. Sometimes, there really is only so much that can be done.

Hindsight is always 20/20. We can always look back and declare that we should have seen that coming, and many still do to this day. Every journalist, politician, analyst, specialist, and average citizen have all utilized their free speech with opinion and blame.  But let me say right here, right now, that there isn’t any one person to blame. We cannot blame a president. We cannot blame a mayor. We cannot blame an agency. We simply have to stop with the blame game all together. Free speech your opinions all you want, but before you grab hold of your first amendment right and shake a finger or two somewhere, try plugging in that key, missing element called common sense!  Take a look at reality and reason!

Remember back when your mother (or somebody’s mother) used to say “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  I really hope so, because I don’t think I can make it any more obvious! We are a county of innocent until proven guilty and I’m pretty sure that we don’t need to play judge, jury, and hangman during times of unrest.  Amazing how people really have this propensity to be the first to cast stones, blame others, and accuse anyone.  Well, blame on all of you who do that!

We have freedom within this country to utilize the most powerful weapons around the world: Words! Crimes will be addressed, and scum will be held accountable, but the rest could really use some good words of encouragement. Folks really need to hear some harmonies of language that warms. Even a little bit of free speech as simple as “I love you”, “you’re awesome”, and “have a wonderful day my friend” can be so powerful! You don’t have to be a walking Hallmark card, but can certainly appreciate how great some positive free speech feels when directed to you from the heart.

Words are powerful, let’s use that power in a positive way! The late, great musician, Jimi Hendrix, once said “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”  Simple.   That’s free speech.

Passing from the Age of Ignorance to the Age of Stupidity

How long to the point of no return.....

I may have mentioned before that I am somewhat of a fan of history.  History was often a “cause” word back in school.  It would “cause” you to cringe, “cause” you to roll your eyes, and even “cause” you to skip (out).  Funny how we look back on those times and think to ourselves “if only……”!    Sadly, the up and coming generation is missing out on that realization of “if only”!  But, even more regrettable is the aspect that many of the elders within the country’s borders have never really had the “if only” moments.  What is the “if only” that I’m referring too?  It’s that magical moment where you regret a situation, realize that this type of thing has already be done, documented, and passed on to future generations to learn from, and guess what….you were not one of them!

Well, c’mon everyone!  We have all been there. We slid through history classes just to get to the other side.  You and I both know that the thought of learning something from the past always generated that old question: “what has this got to do with anything I wanna be when I grow up?”  There it is in a nutshell. Admission from all who dare confess that we did not see an ounce of significance to the teachers’ lessons.  Greek and Roman blah blah blah….. World War huh? Blah, blah, blah…. The what crash of what year? What? The civil who movement? A wall came down? So?

Back in the days when I had the once-in-a-life-time chance to live in Europe for a few years as a young lad, I was given an opportunity to see things that many here in the U.S. will never see in person.  What I saw was my introduction to a realization that things that occurred in the past greatly affected the future.  That future was the here and now. The immediate moment.  Not only did it have a major impact on the small, but also the grand scope of everything around.  Standing in large, grown-over craters or next to collapsed-in concrete that once housed munitions and warriors of a past generation gave me that realization of reality.  This is real. This impacted the landscape, the people, the commerce, the politics, and spread throughout the world!

But, wait! If this single facet of reality from the past affected our present, what about all the rest of the history lessons in school? Those are events that impacted the world around me as well?  Those past happenings are there, documented and supported by the remnants of its’ people, places, things!  Oh, the a-ha moments that wake us up and get us smelling the coffee!

The understanding that washes over you when you come to see history as a great lesson to learn from is immeasurable! Yet, at the same time we come to realize a sadness that derives from that understanding as well.  If we look at archeology and what that science does, you first note that each dig starts at the top and works downward.  Dig and find the remains of a people, a culture, a history.  Dig further and you discover a new people, culture, history that lies above another people, culture, history.  Stacked on top of each other through the centuries of events.  It is well documented that entire cities are existing on top of entire cities. Did we just bury the past?  Did we try to ignore history by sweeping it under the ‘new’ rug?

In many instances, we have.  And, as we see so often, we never learn from that past because it is now “out of sight, out of mind”.  Instead, we give the past a name, put it in a book of history knowing that many will avoid it during the years of learning.  That generation will leave the institutions of learning, leave the family nest, go out into the world and begin to make changes.  Missing out on the opportunity to learn of history so that they can learn from history and avoid repeating history.

In this modern era of high technology and super-fast information, the only thing that is being taught is progressing to the next level.  The future history books will label our recent past the Age of Ignorance, sadly followed by the Age of Stupidity.  Common Sense says that we are doomed to repeat history if we do not learn from history.  The results of this can be seen far and wide, and also in our own backyards.  It would seem that the dumbing down progression is in full sail.  And those of us that shake our heads in saddened disbelief each and every day watching the ‘up and coming’ clueless, have to share with Mr. Clemens in saying “the trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right.”

Spoken out of sheer frustration.  Spoken out of utter madness.  Spoken out of deep sadness.  Our country is on the brink of disaster, not only in the political arena, but religious, technological, business, and personal because we have set aside the past, buried it with our own greed and want of power. We have become so self-absorbed that anything or anyone around us is deemed nothing but a threat and a nuisance.  We don’t have time or care for little things anymore because we are too busy.  And that tiny piece of history that seemed insignificant, yet greatly spread to affect us, even today, is happening again. Filled with the same negativity and vile narcissism that was cause for other sad footnotes in history. Is no one learning?

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again….

Being a Minnesota state employee has led to a very unique mindset that I never thought would be in my world.  I’ve almost likened the layoff and games of politics to watching the school yard:

“Well, the last couple of weeks at my school (School of HardKnocks…wanted Julliard, but something about money…anyway, I digress..!), has been really tough.  You see, there has been these two groups of bullies that have been causing all kinds of problems for all the students.  Some folks call them gangs, some refer to them as political parties, but I just think they are bullies.

Anyway, they started by taking our lunch money from us (and breakfast and dinner), then making us stand outside in the rain.  It’s been really rough for so many of the students at our school.  But, that’s not the worst part.

It turns out that the trouble-makers that have caused such disruptions in the classrooms aren’t fellow students, but the so-called teachers themselves! I know, right!!!  So much for that whole “lead by example” stuff we were taught!

So, it seems that the two groups of bullies have been fighting against each other and that us students were just “caught in the middle”.  I think they called us casualties-of-war, or cannon-fodder, or some type of branding.  Now I’m sure that the blame-game will commence and each side will say it was the other sides fault that students were hurt.  Then, they’ll say it was friendly-fire, but no one will accept responsibility (which is something we are supposed to do when we make a mistake….learned that at a better school).

My fear, as with so many other students at the School of HardKnocks, is going back to classes.  It’s going to be hard to trust again.  Seeing the cheesy, fake smiles of the teachers/bullies as they try to welcome us back to class….knowing darn well that for each handshake or pat on the back they give us, their other hand is holding sharp objects that could cause deep wounds for life.  (Hmm…sounds like several movies I’ve seen in the past, or maybe I was reading this scenario somewhere before…maybe some history books, or something……).

Begrudgingly, we will be led back to the rooms, like lambs, told to nevermind what has happened in the past, but to look to the future…’cuz they said so! (insert another history lesson here)

At this point, I’m not sure I’ve learned anything positive out of this whole thing other than the two gangs of bullies are certainly not very nice, or trusting, or smart.  Seems to me that all of us that attend the School of HardKnocks would benefit more from different teachers!   I know if we students had acted like that, we would have been punished and even expelled!  Can they teachers be expelled…..soon?

Well, I’ll close for now.  I can’t wait for Band Camp in 2012!  I hear they have some really colorful camp counselors that want to lead us students!!!! I wonder if we will learn anything new there…or just repeat that same thing, again?”

Then again, the school yard never left you needing to file for unemployement when you are “employed”.

This sign is 'not' around any Minnesota government buildings.

Hello world!

Well, this is just the intro. Nothing more, nothing less.  This is where you get to know me, my ideology, and my likes and disdains. Well, hate to break it to you right off the bat, but, I’m going to have to write the prose of me at a later time.

I will say this though….I was once a happy-go-lucky, naive, and simple lad, content within the confines of my ‘happy place’. But, since being enrolled in the school of hard knocks, have become jaded to the workings of failed empires, changing tides of societal mentality, and stupid people behind the wheel.

In other words, I have solutions.  It’s the lost art of “common sense”.  Something that I hope to resurrect. Well, not me alone.  I would love to have an entire mass grow with an urge to “sense” some reality back to society!

We’ll talk later.  For now, fare thee well!