Tag Archives: current events

Belonging to Facebook

There’s a subtle social struggle going on about whether to Facebook or not to Facebook. I talk about it with others and observe many comments in different forums online. I myself made the decision to step away from the platform some six-plus months ago.

My decision was based on two things: Facebook’s wont to mine our personal data and pass it on to marketers or god knows who, and the fact that I could not longer deal with seeing some of my old friends, or even family members defend things like child concentration camps, racism, or historically failed economic policies. I’d rather remember them as decent people than view them through the lens of an algorithmically curated timeline.

I don’t miss the frustration, but I do miss out on family pictures and social group connectivity, like posting local events or keeping in touch with local organizations. Yet when I conjure up the benefit/cost analysis in my mind, the result falls in favor of staying off the site.

As I gain further distance from the platform and engage or listen in on conversations about participating on it, I’ve formed an important insight: Facebook offers an incredibly strong sense of belonging, even if much of it is a false sense of belonging.

This is a worthy point to hone in on because the need to belong to a social group, to feel accepted and loved, isn’t just a flippant desire; it’s as hard wired a necessity as food and oxygen to our survival. Abraham Maslow backs this up with the scientific observation of his Hierarchy of Needs – if we don’t feel a sense of belonging and love, we can not achieve our full potential as humans.

By and large, the one reason people seem to be sticking with Facebook, in spite of its astonishing lack of respect towards private information, is that it plugs in to our human need to belong.

Every thumbs up and heart emoji translates to feeling like we belong, we’re connected, we’re appreciated. We live in a hectic, fast-paced, dog-eat-dog society that often makes us feel lonely in spite of the thousands of people physically milling around us. But if we  post a picture of our cat, vent about our ex’s new spouse, or share a news article, a select few friends will see and like or offer comments of support and BAM! we’re accepted, we belong, we feel important. 

It’s not a genuine sense of belonging, though, simply because Facebook relies upon algorithms to determine what we all see on our timelines. The end result is that we’re only sharing or posting stuff from a narrow, virtual, point of view and our sense of belonging is tied to the likes of those followers who are chosen to see our posts through an algorithmic determination. Neither the incoming or outgoing messages are organic, but the responses satisfy our need to feel important nonetheless.

On the broader scale, many are reluctant to leave Facebook since that’s where they can connect with local organizations. I often hear someone lament that, ‘It’s too bad there isn’t some other way we can connect and share with such-and-such demographic.’ This particular area is where I personally miss Facebook most acutely. This indicates that our need to belong is so strong, and satisfied so well by Facebook, that local organizations are dependent on the platform’s connective ability to market their events and causes.

To the point that Facebook does not filter its news outlets for veracity or authenticity, the reliance we have on Facebook to provide a sense of belonging becomes dangerous. Millions are subject to outright propaganda which transcends to polling results…check out where we’re at right now as a nation.

To Facebook or not to Facebook may not be as much of a choice as we think. Considering the impact it had in the last general election, I’m concerned we all ‘belong’ to Facebook in an indirect way no matter our conscious efforts.

The fact that its roots reach deep into our psyche and entwine themselves greedily should at least make us pause to think about the consequences the platform inflicts upon our society. And maybe, some smartypants kid will develop a better way to connect. Or, maybe, we could fulfill our sense of belonging with real life people instead of virtual avatars.

Peace,

Frankie

NB: I’ll admit that YouTube, Twitter, and other social media outlets offer a sense of belonging in the same way. I focus on Facebook due to its ubiquitous role in our lives comparatively.

For a similar analysis about the dynamic of belonging to a social group and its effects, here’s an article about how it works in religion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Perverted

These things I heard from you as a child:

You told me that He detests hypocrites,

so be careful not to be one.

You upheld His life of humble poverty as an example,

and pointed out that the proud rich man is to be pitied.

You showed me pictures of the time when He

upset the merchant tables, and then you talked

about what it meant to defile a sacred space.

I learned from you that He loves the little children,

all the children of the world.

And now you tell me that this man who says one thing and does another,

this man who could never pass through the eye of the needle,

this man who defiles our sacred space,

this man who separates children from their mothers

is chosen by the same God?

That  is … perverted.

 

 

 

 


Another Sort of Soldier

I’ve ignored my yard, my dogs, my husband, and my house. I’ve done more than most, not as much as some.  I am exhausted, bone tired, ready for a long winter’s nap.

I am only one of millions of us who have been working like another sort of soldier to protect our democracy and freedoms. These soldiers are as dedicated to the truths of  democratic principles and the Constitution that protects them as any that patrol our borders and skies. They understand that our democracy is at risk and every single vote this election counts.  They volunteer time and donate their money to Democratic or Progressive Congressional candidates running for office this year.

These sorts of soldiers wear tennis shoes instead of boots. They carry clipboards insteadboots to shoes of ammunition clips. But there’s still an order of command, there’s still a clear objective, there’s still the need to carry water and wear sunscreen (some of us even arm ourselves, with pepper spray, depending upon the territory).

These soldiers knock on doors, make phone calls, table at libraries, and have tough conversations with neighbors who might have a different political yard sign.  They’re the sort of soldier who arrives every Monday night, for weeks, to write post cards to fellow voters encouraging them to vote. Soldiers that spend hours on end tediously printing out precinct maps and lists, then organizing them. Dutiful ranks that transport campaign materials to rural districts. The kinds of soldiers that drives for hours to campaign for a candidate outside their district, for the sake of flipping the House.

Let me be clear:  The armed forces that serve on our front line and daily put their life in danger deserve all respect and gratitude. I do not claim that the sort of soldier I reference here requires the same. I am simply pointing out that there is indeed a different sort of soldier that works diligently to protect our democracy. They do, at least, deserve a whispered thank you in the corner of the room.

Vote smart this election. Take it from this historian, your democracy depends upon it.

Yours,

Frankie

(photo credits: marine times, visualventuring.com)


Omelet or Tree?

I understand the frustration that led many people to vote for Trump because they wanted to ‘shake up the system’ and  have someone in the White House who would ‘tell it like it is’.  One analogy I’ve seen is “You gotta crack a few eggs in order to make an omelet.”  I get the sentiment, I’m not sure about the analogy.

I mean, an omelet is a single serving meal consumed immediately, forgotten immediately, and has the staying power of maybe about 12 hours while it provides the body with nutrients. That’s it, that’s all you get from ‘cracking eggs’, ‘telling like it is,’ or ‘shaking things up.’

You see, democracies embrace brotherhood and equality rather than selfish, single, one time moments.  They profoundly affect world events for centuries. They foster culture and progress with eternal benefits.

They are more like trees which provide a home and protection to many creatures – without prejudice. They provide oxygen for us to breathe and consume our carbon dioxide in return, profoundly affecting our environment. Some dominate entire redwood nat geoecosystems with eternal benefits.

Democracy is as impressive as a thousand-year-old Sequoia Redwood. It is as finicky as a ficus tree.  Democracy can be as hearty as a Valley Oak, or as delicate as a Japanese Maple. It goes through cycles of drought and flood, winter and summer, naked or in full bloom, yet it continues to grow, reach, progress, just as a tree does.

It’s true that trimming and pruning are beneficial, democracies as well as trees can lose their shape or become gangly if they aren’t regularly clipped.  But there’s a difference between careful, thoughtful pruning and lopping off the entire tree at the trunk hoping the plant can regenerate itself – it seems like that’s what’s happened with the ‘cracking a few eggs’ strategy and now we wait to see if it dies during this winter or sprouts again next spring.

If we adopt the comparison of our democracy to a tree, we can understand some of our current dynamics better, I think. It takes patience to nurture a democracy. Growth does not occur overnight and in the current age of Ista-  everything, it can seem frustrating to have to wait. It requires discipline to take care of our Democracy, just as it takes discipline to care for some trees. It must be watered, for us that means voting regularly. It must be pruned for even growth and bigger fruit, that means looking for waste that is robbing us of  growth and fruit bearing. It must be nurtured with thoughtfulness, one eye on the past to find the lessons, one eye on the future to project our goals. It must be fertilized with diversity, free speech, and equal opportunities. It must be protected against those who would cut it down for the sake of building their own personal mansion.

I understand the frustration, I don’t buy the analogy. Democracies are fragile, living institutions, they must be cared for, not shaken. Tended instead of cracked.

Yours,

Frankie

 

 

photos courtesy of eggs.ca and national geographic, respectively

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hate in the time of Carr Fire

I finally get it.

Carr fire map: What started the Carr fire - has it reached Redding? | World | News | Express.co.uk

Express Co UK

People have been upset by the collective hatred aimed at Trump. I’ve been diplomatically claiming that we’re mistaking hatred for righteous anger at seeing him demoralize our Intelligence Community, attack the fourth estate, and marginalize our allies – among other things. Then someone pointed out to me that righteous anger can easily turn to hatred if conditions worsen.

It was indeed a quick turn from the righteous anger I felt towards Trump to plain old hatred when the same day it was announced that the Carr fire progressed to one of the top ten worst fires in California history, Trump threatened to shut down the government if he didn’t get the border wall funded. At a time when citizens have lost everything and are forced to rebuild their lives, they need a leader who offers emotional support as well as the promise to help them with things like sound infrastructure and functioning agencies, Trump offered threats and bully tactics instead.

So yeah, I hate Trump too these days. I detest the evil of greed and selfishness he exhibits. I abhor his complete nonchalance at annihilating a positive national budget. I despise the pathological lying. I hate the evil apparent in behaving like a dictator who only welcomes those that pledge their fealty or massage his ego. I loathe the evil of tearing apart families and using their lives as leverage for jingoistic policy making.

I’m not normally a hater. Those who know me will attest that I am naturally optimistic and trusting toward my fellow humans. When evil raises its ugly head so blatantly and with such devastating consequences however, all the righteous anger I possess morphs into absolute hatred.

I am okay with hating evil.

I totally get it now.

 


“Lord of the Flies” Adapted by Paul Ryan

Stands on the corner,"homeless - please help" sign

cardboard sign in hand.

Dirty clothes, ragged shoes,

I bet you stink to high heaven

You worthless piece of shit.

Weak for falling so far,

Where’s your self-respect?

You’ll get nothing from me,

Not even a moment’s compassion.

You don’t deserve it

If you can’t help yourself.

Not my fault your boyfriend is an alcoholic,

and you’d rather be homeless.

Doesn’t matter that you’re mentally ill,

Don’t care that you got fucked up in the war.

I got problems too,

But you won’t catch me begging.

So move on bum, outta my town,

off my corner, away from my view.

Your presence disturbs,

Your reality pricks,

your desperation smells.

You are my intolerable spectre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Gun Talk

I had a conversation with a colleague the other day and he gave me the old “Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people.  I could set a gun on my desk right there and it wouldn’t kill a single person.”

Maybe, but I am certain I could never ignore a benign gun on a desk like I could ignore the tape dispenser or the sticky note pad or even the dagger-shaped letter opener. If I spot a gun on his desk, you can bet that I am going to approach him from a different perspective. I’m not going to be able to respect him based upon his intelligence, his level of articulation, or his knowledge; all of that would be eclipsed by the respect I had for the gun. Maybe he and I are cool and wouldn’t get to a point where we would reach for the weapon.  But what if a third party came into the setting?  What if derelict student came in, was having a bad day, and went for the gun?

What if none of those things happened and our interaction was uneventful? There remains a difficulty:  My experience with him would be eternally tied to that singular impression, and it’d be difficult for him to earn my respect based solely on his character.

Representative Ralph Norman made this hypothetical scene a reality the other day when he placed his .38 on a diner table during a meeting with his constituents. ” ‘I merely proved a point that guns themselves are not the issue,’…Norman said that having a loaded gun in the room should, if anything, have made people feel more safe.”  The point he actually proved was that energy of human interaction changes the second a gun is introduced. Instead of meaningful debate and a news story about discussion points, the emphasis was wholly on the presence of a gun. Everytown, an advocacy group seeking to end gun-violence in the US, was represented by Lori Freemon: “I had looked forward to a respectful dialogue with my representative about common-sense gun violence prevention policies. Instead, I felt unsafe when he insisted on showing us his loaded gun and keeping it out on the table for much of our conversation.”  The presence of a gun inherently invites the potential for harm and we will intuitively react by shutting out every other detail. There was no way this group of people could have a diplomatic discussion about the issue.

Consider another angle. Let’s compare two people arrested on attempted robbery charges.  All things being equal, if one of those is found to have a gun in their possession during the attempt, whether it was revealed or not, the consequences will be much worse than the one who merely had a knife or axe or baseball bat.  If it were just that  “guns don’t kill people” then it seems logical that both imagined perpetrators would be treated the same in a court. That isn’t the way it works. Because the presence of a gun exponentially increases the possibility and probability that someone will be harmed, even our courts treat the presence of a gun with stricter sentencing.

I’m done hearing the argument that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  When just the mere presence of a handgun changes the way people interact with one another, it’s time to start heeding the valid notion that guns do kill, even if it is the respect I could have garnered for you otherwise.

#Enough.

Frankie


Hey Dana!

What’s the deal with you and yours?  Why is it you despise liberals, democrats, and protesters?

Are we so threatening that degrading us becomes your only pastime?

Do you comprehend that when you condemn us for being paid protesters and crisis actors, you only disclose your lack of logic, empathy, and human decency?

Don’t you remember that democracy literally means equality, an idea which is a cornerstone of our nation?

Does that equality really constrict your rights and lifestyle, or is it that you prefer absolute superiority?

How is it that the fight for the poor, the immigrant, the homeless is deemed a  nauseous waste by you who stand for christian values?

Is your world view so narrow that you can make no room for these, even for a moment’s consideration?

Have your immigrant ancestors removed themselves so far from your memory that you’ve forgotten their struggles and faith in government for protection against the boss-man?

Were you absent from the history class that taught us that imperiousness only results in a spectacular downfall?

Answer these queries or not, here’s what we conclude:  We cannot believe your claim to be American when you despise those who choose to embrace democracy.

 


This Christian Nation

You claim this is a Christian nation,

Which means a practice of love and merciful consideration.

Yet I cannot see proof of this enacted creed,

but something opposite, derisive,wholly obscene:

Where Jesus fed thousands who failed to bring their lunch,

You would starve millions – children, elderly, those who do work but can’t claim much.

Where Jesus healed the infirm at the first asking,

You deny the same any kind of care or compassion.

Where Jesus refused to judge, and preached the same in scripture,

You complain, place blame, testify that some are simply lazy creatures.

Where Jesus displayed contempt for the corrupt and hatred for injustice,

You embrace these heartily while spewing lies that shift the focus.

Where Jesus overturned tables and openly abhorred greed,

You worship Mammon with gusto, keep your money in piles behind doors of steel.

Where Jesus exemplified love and unity,

You damage with pure divisiveness, then flit around deceitfully.

Where Jesus accepted without question the stranger and the prisoner,

You deny them with malicious prejudice and disdainful reasoning.

Where Jesus might have built a prosperous City on a Hill,

You destroy democracy, sell out lady justice like a two-bit shill.

So, spare us the self-righteous narrative,

Throw off the coat of pretending.

At least own who and what you are –

A faction full of forked tongues, willing to ignore Jesus’ mission

For the sake of self entitlement and blatant power grabbing ascension.

Mammon

We claim to be a nation conceived by God,

Blessed by virtue of Holy support,

But it seems we’ve been abandon, left under the charge of Mammon.

I offer such observations as these for proof:

An opioid epidemic enabled by

Doctors wooed by corporations,

Lawmakers wooed by the cherished dollar.

Millions of Americans in a prison of addiction while

Mammon pulls levers, then turns nobs

in order to maximize His earnings.

A gun lobby that encourages violence.

Causes us to turn inward upon ourselves,

Killing our own, racking up a body count

That even combined wars can’t touch;

Mammon gleefully collects His gold

From dutiful firearm makers and sellers.

A culture “war on Christmas”

In effort to keep pure a singular Holy Day

Layered upon Holy Days,

Yet we fight, grab, push, some even die,

In order to get those shiny Black Friday deals;

Mammon has never been so well fed.

Men of God preach from t.v. thrones

or stages of megachurches.

Their message feels contorted to

Some modern ideology where helping yourself

means blindly supporting them,

Instead of the homeless, instead of the abused,

instead of the sick.

Mammon laughs and laughs at this clever ruse,

and counts His gold at night with gluttonous hands.

Just a few examples of a misaligned religion,

Where we claim to be capitalists during the week

While displaying contrite gratefulness on Sundays

To a god that blesses and gives.

A god who’s name is Mammon, not Yahweh

A god who has become fat upon greed and hypocrisy

A god who presides by permission

thanks to human adoration of the holy free market,

where decency, sympathy, and cooperation are damned.

Praise be to Mammon, god of the United States of America.