Is This Thing On?

I wanted to take a couple of minutes to write a quick thank you to my Facebook friends and family who recently subscribed to my blog. For starters, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that you’d take the time to actually read this thing, and for… ummm secondly? non-starters? for ‘nother reasons? you’re giving me a chance to take a break from Facebook.

I can now let my hair down and stop trying to be a Beth PR machine, because let’s face it, most days I’m not doing anything of FB note (like I suspect of most people) – not even taking pictures of my toes against an exotic background so you can have toe vacation envy. Look, my toes are near sand! Go toes!

The reality of my life, when I’m not staging toe photos, is that I spend a fair amount of time laying on the couch in some amorphous, barely human looking lumpy shape, surfing Netflix for my latest binge-worthy show, thinking something insanely sarcastic, and not doing whatever is on my chore “to-do” list. Trying to spin that into something glamorous can be a bit taxing, because apparently posting repeatedly, “was a lump again today” just doesn’t garner the “likes” once your followers realize you’re on a personal lump streak, and you’ve decided to regularly post about it like you’ve been elected as some universal lump ambassador.

Speaking of things that are grossly unfair, which we were speaking of, how is it there’s not even an app that gives you lump achievements like “One Month Lump Goal Achieved! Atta girl! Keep up the great lump work for lump kind!! Be the lump dream!” What kind of lazy world do we live in that some programmer is not all over this? Programmer dude, from me to you, get on that.

For the record, the lump selfies are pretty priceless.

So yeah, I’m taking a break from all the people who, after having not seen me in awhile, come up and say, “you do so many interesting things – I love catching up with you on FB.” I mean, yay, it makes me feel like I’m a great fiction writer, but actually trying to perpetuate that myth – the one that I’m actually interesting is exhausting. The rest of you, the ones who made the move over here, know better. Thanks for keeping my secret so long. Your payments are forthcoming. Honest. I’m totally trustworthy.

Of course, one of the things I will miss dearly is reading your stories – hearing what’s going on in your lives. So please, please, please, let me know what’s going on with you.

Remember back in the day when we all wrote letters? Drop me an email. Tell me a story. Send me a photo. Sing me a song. Make me smile and laugh like only you can do. If you want my personal email, drop me a note in Messenger, and let me know; I’m happy to share it. Or hey, let’s do something crazy, let’s catch up in person.

Quick Aside: Or How We Can Possibly Use this Space for Good

Many of you who took the plunge to follow me away from FB are out there doing some really cool things. You’re acting, directing, singing, playing, photographing, crafting, writing, teaching – creating new and interesting things that only you can create. I’d be absolutely honored to promote what you’re doing here – to give others the opportunity to see you the way I do – as the amazingly talented folks you are. Plus, quite selfishly, I just want to be invited to be in that audience celebrating you, and cheering you on. Think of it as a charitable contribution to Beth’s spinal column – that by encouraging me to get off the couch for a few hours I’ll be briefly lump-free (lump-less?), looking more like a Beth. Heck, I may even brush my hair. I know, right? That’s how much I like you! (Unless, of course, you’re IN a Netflix series, which would be pretty fantastic as it would combine my need to be lazy with my desire to celebrate you. Really a win-win scenario by my Beth-standards (which are high despite what you’ve heard). Actually, the more I think about this, the more I like it, and need you to be in Netflix for me! DO IT! Take one for Team Couch Beth!)

Wrapping it Up

Well, it does seem like this thing is on (unless you didn’t receive a notification in your news feed or your email, and in that case, how the heck did you get here?). So, welcome! Thank you guys for making the switch (and truly, for reading this blog – I cannot possibly tell you how absolutely flattered I am that you would honor me like that).

In the words of Becca (Anna Kendrick) from Pitch Perfect, “I love you awesome nerds!” I truly do.

Bravery

If you’ve been awake in recent weeks you may have seen the current cover of Vanity Fair which showed a stunning Annie Leibovitz photo of Caitlyn Jenner after she made her transition.  I admit to looking at it initially with a certain amount of curiosity and thinking, “beautiful” and “good for you,” before moving onto other headlines from that day.  Throughout the rest of the week various online news outlets (and even NPR) kept the story alive by reporting on celebrity reactions, the tweets from her children, and some promised future interviews with her ex-spouses, friends, the guy at the coffee shop, etc.  I admit I lumped it all under “celebrity news I’m not interested in, “ because let’s face it, unless Jodi Foster is coming to my house to invite me to consult on her next project or Timothy Olyphant is writing me a note admitting to keeping a photo of me in his trailer, I don’t care.  Anything Kardashian related headed my way makes me want to poke myself with a sharp object. Apologies to Us, People, the Enquirer, Daily Mail, etc., but I don’t see anything you report as real news (but you guys are great for the hair salon or bathroom)..

I watched the tidal wave of “news” on the matter crest and then slowly ebb away.

During the peak of all of the excitement a gentleman made a certain Facebook post complete with an image grabbed from online depicting two soldiers that went viral.  The gist of the post being that Caitlyn’s transition was not “brave” or “courageous” or “heroic” unlike the image being shown in the other photo he selected – one depicting a soldier carrying a comrade who had his pistol drawn as he was being carried off – real “American” courage.  While attempting to credit the source of the photo, this same gentleman discovered that the picture was actually a photo of a toy figure, and the person who created the image was a man who had been beaten nearly to death because he was a cross-dresser. The gentleman quickly owned up to his mistake and followed-up with a post about the lesson he learned that day. I personally had great respect for him, because he could have easily let that information slip past, but instead he wrote about it and how it transformed him.

When I read about his error I snorted a bit at the irony, and once again returned to other news. I certainly never planned to post my thoughts on it; I had none – nothing really new to add. Then today rolled around, and I saw the same post re-posted, but missing the key follow-up post, and then for no good reason I took a moment to read the comments that followed.  I guess I was satisfying that most human need to rubberneck at train wrecks, or maybe I just felt like getting mad (it was a rather slow day truth be told, and MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!).

There’s really never a good reason to read most comments to any story. Regardless, I hopped down that nasty rabbit hole of bile and gritted my teeth as I read the most hateful wretch bubbling up in support of the original post. The writers were completely oblivious to the follow-up post (or maybe they were blatantly ignoring it). They used the post as a vile catalyst to feed on each other’s disdain, on each other’s hatred and ignorance.

I suspect most of what was said in response came more from a place of “why is this news” than anything else, but unfortunately they worded their disgust ways that went to the proverbial “there” by hammering on phrases like “American heroicism”.  This Caitlyn’s transition was not “brave”. That it was not “courageous”.

What is Bravery? Courage? What does it mean to be Heroic?

Merriam-Webster tells me Bravery  is “to have the quality or state of being brave.”  Brave – “having or showing courage <a brave soldier> <a brave smile>.”  Courage = “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” Among the definitions of Heroic = “exhibiting or marked by courage and daring.”

Bravery isn’t limited to the beaches of Normandy, the Helmand Province, or the streets of Saigon.  Bravery is the bullied kid that still gets on the school bus under threats of violence every single day. Bravery is my gay friend walking into his dorm room every day while in the midst of being tormented by his roommate who used my friend’s towel as toilet paper and his pillowcase as tissue paper and not falling completely apart. Bravery is holding warlords hostage to come to the table and reach a peace agreement for Liberia.  And bravery is sometimes staring defiantly into the face of a photographer in the Phnom Penh S-21 prison, knowing you will be executed.

Bravery ranges in size from an elementary school girl singing her first solo to astronauts riding an explosion that flings them to the moon. and bravery doesn’t know international boundaries; it’s not just an “American” thing; it’s a “human” thing. To believe that it is somehow contained within our borders is to be grossly out of touch with a much larger world. And bravery doesn’t always occur to the battlefield either – ask any of the 9/11 (or 911) responders.

You do not have to be part of the LGBT community to understand that what Caitlyn Jenner did, in front of the world, was brave. Putting yourself out there for the world to judge is hard, and doing it when you’re a well-known former Olympian makes it that much harder.

Dislike the story because it’s sad that it’s still news – and it’s actually important news for the LGBT community, because we’re currently not in a place where we simply accept that a person made a choice (as evidenced) – maybe a choice we don’t approve or understand, but a choice that was theirs to make.  Dislike it because you’re tired of the Kardashians.  Don’t dislike it because it doesn’t depict “bravery.” It does.

Caitlyn Jenner is brave.  As brave as anyone I know.

No, We Can’t Be Facebook Friends

When I first joined Facebook my criteria for accepting friend requests was fairly simple: Would this person attend my funeral?  Ok, would they attend it if they didn’t have other pressing, out-of-town commitments like being stuck in Malta, or Barcelona (typed with a lisp), or out hiking in the middle of the Badlands, or you know trapped in Waco in some death cult? Ok, would they at least kind of make a sad face that the average person could read as sad and then send a sympathy card to my husband or my parents? Ok, would they at least avoid hitting the “Like” button if my husband posted my obituary?   If I could answer “yes” to any of those questions, they were in – unwittingly signed up for my media shares and occasional thought burps.  When I looked at the final count I was confronted with an awful truth – only a tiny handful of friends and family would actually show for my funeral.  I made a mental note to suggest my wake be held in the backyard shed.  That could be nice, and with three people it might make the space look like it was bustling with mourners. (Mourners are universally known for their bustling.)

As Facebook grew, and more people joined, I had requests from folks like my former Girl Scout troop, high school and college friends, old roommates, people I met in improv, people I knew solely online, friends of friends, former co-workers, and that one girl who claims we went to the same school, but I haven’t a clue who she is. My “Friends” list quickly jumped from 3 to over 3 in no time. Then invariably came requests from current co-workers. I was rather careless in the beginning by accepting any request that came my way in an effort not to appear rude. Once I realized the mistake I quickly discovered the security settings and created a friend limbo which limited their access. I didn’t want to run the risk of having a meeting room meltdown should I actually “unfriend” one of these folks.

There are now only a few co-workers who can see my entire feed (weekly drivel). These carefully selected folks went through a rigorous screening process – the Vegas Vet – or “what happens on FB stays on FB”.  Basically, we don’t talk about each other’s latest post – a knowing nod in the hall suffices.  A simple head gesture that says,  “I know you have a camera, oh and you also have photogenic cats, two fierce Bengal plastic mouse chasers – keep it cool, I’m just walking on by casual-like, ‘’Sup!’”  The day I get one, “I hate that picture of you” “You look weird.” “Why would you post that?” the offender is either removed completely or moved to the special FB purgatory where they can only see my profile picture, but hey we’re still friends – that’s nice right?  (For the record, those are actual remarks I’ve received in the hallway at my office.)

After some careful thinking, I finally resolved to make my life easier by not accepting new friendship requests from current co-workers.

Now here’s where I need to state that I don’t see a FB “Friendship” as a real friendship. If I did, we’d be back to the three people at my shed wake. I see it as a way to find and catch up with people you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s a great way to have very superficial interactions, to catch up with George Takei or Mike Rowe, and it can be a solid personal PR tool –  you can promote yourself, your latest achievement, your business, etc. That’s not to say that I don’t have real friends there, but our friendship is strengthened by our outside interactions (unless they live in Japan)  – not by the latest photo meme being passed around. I accept I may be alone in this assessment.

So back to the co-workers.  I received a new request a couple of weeks ago and realized we were going to have to talk.  I didn’t want to talk.  Talk is perilously close to confrontation and could end with someone getting upset. I talked the situation over with my friends (the three wake shed-ders you’ve come to know and love), and with their advice in hand I politely explained that I liked to keep work separate from home. This is actually true. I’m that person who doesn’t tend to talk about personal things at work. I’m the person people throw proverbs at like, “well, I guess still waters run deep” (which either means I’m quietly treacherous or I take sketch classes, and occasionally show up on stage with a puppet in hand). Plus, my friends might post that awkward picture of me not drinking (because I’m a tea-totalling, uptight prude), and how awkward would that be?

PedroPoopsJoy_Beth

At the end of the brief chat I felt good, I felt adult. I had handled a particularly awkward conversation with great aplomb and it went, in my mind, really well.  Of course it went really well until it didn’t, and that’s when I received multiple texts about how embarrassed they were and how they’d put me in a bad situation, which they hadn’t. They said they hoped we could still be friends. I was at a complete loss and ended up spending the better part of my evening texting them off the FB ledge which included sharing my philosophy about FB not being an actual friendship.  I explained that we were “real” friends and that was more important than any one line blurb I might throw out there or any #TBT baby photo (no Tori, you may NOT go back in time and squeeze my little fat baby cheeks – whoops, sorry I digress).  I eventually got them to a place where they were reasonably ok with the situation.  At least, I think they were ok with it, but you see how well my thinking goes.

I guess Jay shouldn’t count on her showing up at the shed.

RANT: Social Media & Political Posts – A New Revolution

First, since I’m calling this a “rant” let me start with my obligatory disclaimer: I’m tired, I’m fussy and I can’t take a well-deserved nap.  My body is trying to send signals to close my eyes and flood my system with serotonin in a subconscious rebellion to force me into sleep.  Yet, I must remain vigilant against these waves of yawns.  I will readily sacrifice my mood to win this battle and while I’m tempted to raise a white sheet over my body in surrender while nuzzling down into a pillow, I will remain alert on this eye-burning battlefield.

Second, you should know that like you I have political views that are based on my education, the environment I grew up in, my personal experience, my job, my gender and my own biases.  I recognize that your views might be different.

That’s the nice bit.

Let’s start with there are certain things I hate about Facebook and Twitter and Texts and really anything that lets me see every single thought you decide to share as it bubbles up to your brain.  (Realize that when I say “you” I don’t mean “you” per se.  You’re a lovely person.  I’m sure we’d get along just fine. For this blog’s purpose “you” means “those few FB ‘friends’ of mine who got me started today” )  Let me be even more specific and honest.  I hate your political posts.  I do.  Here’s why:

You are posting to every single person you “friended”.  Not everyone shares your beliefs.

Ok, that’s not true.  We agree:

1)      Your kids are great and cute.

2)      Your vacation looks awesome.

3)      I’m envious of those pictures of your toes in Wales.  Mine are still on my messy carpet.

4)      Your family is awesome.

5)      That picture made me smile and long to hang out with you/be where you were.

6)      I’m super excited that you achieved that thing you/your family/your kids wanted – well deserved!!

7)      Your pets are the best.

8)      I love that song, too.

9)      That video with the cat – HYSTERICAL!

Where we quickly go off rails is over those three taboo subjects your parents should have drilled into your head are not ok to discuss at the dinner table: money, religion and politics.  It seems that by and large we manage to avoid the first two, but there’s always that special someone who always has to step into politics.

The Rant

I don’t mind the political posts even if the views are different from my own, but here’s one big fat caveat: people who refuse to fact check.  These are the folks who read something inflammatory on another “friends” page and they decide to share it while packing in their own bit of ignorant vitriol. ALL FOR SOMETHING THAT ISN’T TRUE.

I don’t know if I have a keen Snopes sense for stupidity or if it’s that I’m so highly cynical I don’t trust that kid I met in high school to interpret any form of statistical data accurately (or most words) much less my own family and I tend to like them.  My Spidey sense gets especially tingly if the linked article points to a blog and not the actual source of the bogus statistics. And maybe it’s because I like poking myself with a sharp stick when I’m sleepy and fussy that I read their posts knowing they will make me angry enough that I will end up looking up the information or maybe it’s that there are some people out there that I think “hey, another stupid post, I bet they got it wrong this time, too! Let’s take a look,” but off I go. They never disappoint, though.  In less than two minutes I can nearly always find the real information.  An amount of time they could have also taken before hitting that “Share” button; however, they were high on their own bile apparently and couldn’t be bothered. This isn’t everyone; this is that special willfully ignorant few on my feed.  Either they’ve made a choice not to be honest, or it’s plain stupidity and their lifelong goal is to look pretty stupid in front of hundreds of people and wave it like a big proud stupid flag.  Mission accomplished.Stupid Flag

You don’t have to be on the same side of the political spectrum as me.  You don’t have to believe in the same ideals that I do nor place the same value on them.  However, if you’re going to share a post whose sole purpose is to be sensational or provocative, then GET IT RIGHT.  In fact, get it right every time.  Getting it wrong EVERY TIME makes me think you’re either doing it on purpose OR you’re not particularly bright.  Which is fine, because that inspires me to believe that if I create my own semi-official looking website, rip off enough official looking charts from Forbes, skew the facts just enough so that things sound plausible, that I can convince you an evil socialist unicorn union is masterminding the downfall of the economy – that soon all the manticores will be spilling over our borders stealing our coveted orchard-picking day labor jobs that we were all vying for and selkies are listening into our calls  – which we all remember is not permitted under the Patriot Act at all.  That’s a fact.  An act that was signed into law under who again? That’s right, Titania.  And the great thing is, in this fast food world, I know you won’t check, because you know there’s one truth which is: if it’s sensational enough, it’s gotta be true! So go on you absurd lurid little monkey – rise up against the unicorns, the manticores, the selkies and even Titania.  I look forward to leading your ignorant little revolution and preying on your weak mindedness. Bless your hearts.

Now before I take my well-deserved nap, I will go post something about cats or maybe a shot of my toes outside and “Like” some photos. Afterwards I’ll get to crafting the new website where we can do fun things like blame the poor and maybe some minorities!  I’ll make the pretty and misleading charts!  You just bring that giant blank brain of yours.

For the 2.02%

Let’s talk about Facebook – the social network we all love to hate.  From the former classmates, colleagues and insane, barely-related kinfolk who must have searched your name hourly until they saw you first login (how else could they have found you within a minute of you creating the account) to those privacy settings that keep getting reset every time Zuckerberg steals an idea.  We groan and gripe, yet we keep coming back – playing that “what if” game.  You know it, you don’t need me to do a rundown of “what ifs” that might have played through you head.  I’ll just get silly with it and you’ll say, “now she’s gone too far!” and I’ll retort, “oh NOW I’ve gone too far? I’ve got your “too far” right here, pal.”  Nothing good will come of this.  We’ll leave it at you have your “what ifs” that bring you back and I have mine, which are seriously interesting, but I’m not sharing.  It’s an only child thing.

Here’s what bugs me (caveat: today): I have 198 “friends”.  Now Myers-Briggs tells me that’s seriously not true.  I have about 2.02% of that.  (Why yes, I did just calculate that.) Those four letters drive my soul!  But somewhere between 4 and 198 I realized I was going to have to give up my goal of only befriending people who would come to my funeral and work towards being more “social”.  Myers-Briggs says being social makes me twitchy.  It’s true. I’m twitching.  (FYI – Myers-Briggs doesn’t understand the blog thing either.  I explained I was writing it for my lone audience member, my step-mother Charla and it stopped judging me (it’s a Sensor). Please don’t rat me out to Myers-Briggs.)

My problem with 198 is that I forget about them.  To me that number is just some imaginary number (but not like a mathematical imaginary number although by virtue of being a number it is related to math – more like an imaginary number that unicorns frolic around, if unicorns weren’t real, which they are, but you get the idea).  When I post, it’s not like a sea of heads pop-up and magically 198 “Likes” appear.  (Again, I don’t get this part because I do say some pretty amazing things. Why just the other day I “shared” a picture George Takei posted and then I commented with something brilliant like “yeah” and “lol”. Deep stuff. I know, right? Ok, complete aside – I don’t LOL.  Here’s a video that kind of sums up my thoughts on “LOL”:

Think of it as a break from my writing.)

See, when I forget about those extra folks (which also happens on my blog occasionally), I whine or rant or otherwise say things that might be ok for my true audience of 4, but kind of makes me look like a crazy person to the remaining 194.  See, I have it on the best authority that you don’t want to be “that” person, which I hear is pretty bad.  It’s also not so great when you want to call out a specific person, but end up calling out 197 other people.  That makes you seem like an attention-seeking, tantrum-throwing jerk.  Granted, 190 of those people don’t actually follow my feed, but you never know when a Facebook setting will suddenly change and there you are letting your “I’m a gigantic baby” flag fly.

That being said (and what got me thinking about writing this post) is that I’m just going to post all of those Facebook status updates I’ve been holding back without context just to get them off my chest. Since Charla is my lone reader, it’s ok.

“Is that a picture of your feet? Again? Is this like when you steal someone’s yard gnome and take it around the world? Did someone lop off your feet?  Do you need help?”

“Yay! More offensive posts! It must be national election time again.  Those four years flew by fast!”

“I enjoy ‘Liking’ your stuff in support of you.  It’s ok.  You go ahead and ignore mine.  I was actually put on this earth as your personal cheerleader; that’s what they explained to all of us at the special school where we took a daily pledge to your face.  Truth is, there’s an ancient Tibetan prophesy about you and me.  I think you’re going to ‘Like’ how it ends.”

“LRN2SNOPES”

“You guessed it! I do actually ask you questions because the fun for me is in the asking.”

Ahhh… now that was cathartic.  Wouldn’t you say, Charla? Wait, there are more of you reading?  Umm… this is awkward.

(Note: Charla is probably wondering why she’s being singled out.  She’s family. It’s what we do to each other.)

FB: A Pocket Reference

So, one day you found yourself on your favorite social media outlet when you were suddenly overcome with the desire to hit that “let’s be pals” button.  And for whatever reason:  friendliness, pity, a desire to fatten the friend ranks so you can worship at the altar of THEM they agreed. Suddenly, like some scandalous diary entry written by your best friend’s older sister, a new window into this person’s life has opened before your eyes. Likes, dislikes, personal views, and photos filled the screen.  Like a good voyeur you poured over every unguarded piece.  You’d finally arrived and there you were sitting in the inner circle along with 100’s of their other friends.  You dabbled a bit.  You liked their updates, maybe a photo or two, you threw in the occasional “LOL”, but you weren’t quite certain where you fit.

Here’s my handy pocket reference to help you figure out your place.  Now this is customized for me, but easily tailored to fit your needs.

  • My husband (he’s awesome! He’s at the top and can pick on everyone. I’m sure he’d never pick on you. )
  • My  parents / My beautiful cousin (she’s a saint – no really, beatified and all)
  • Family I like (I know, sometimes it’s hard to tell which people are related to me and harder still to take a crack at which are my favorite – I suggest Ancestry.com as a start on family in general or you can request a Family Tree – you provide the paper since I can go back to the 1600’s. I’ll do you a solid and highlight my favorites.)
  • Friends from 2nd grade (hitting on the school bus forms forever bonds)
  • Former roommates and their spouses/partners
  • Anyone with the last name or related to anyone with the last name of Adam, Spear, Blankenship, or Simmons (again Ancestry.com)
  • While this is included in the above, let me go ahead and restate it more clearly: THEIR KIDS
  • Those that know and use my unofficial nickname
  • Anyone I have a nickname for (or have been given a title to address them by)
  • Anyone who I’m 100% sure could put a curse on me (seriously, don’t mess with her)
  • People who hate shoes and share their thermos wine – and wear turquoise pants, purple boots and are generally my fashion mentor (I’m not thinking of anyone specific – no, this is a generic reference – you probably have someone like this in your life – maybe two?)
  • Anyone I’ve seen Rocky Horror with (put your hands on your hips…)
  • People I’ve taken a 2nd hand smoke break with
  • People I’ve eaten real/virtual Beignets with (that’s right, all of you)
  • People who have loved up Sam or refused to take Sage (but she’s still available, just saying)
  • Anyone who has battled a Cthulhoid manifestation or staged an Orc rebellion
  • Anyone who has ever uttered, “roll for initiative”
  • People with combat reflexes
  • EverQuest people
  • Improv people
  • Family I’m more “meh” about
  • You

We all know that sometimes finding your place can be difficult, but with this unpatented reference guide (hierarchy), I’ve helped take the guess-work out of it. This guide can also serve as a handy pecking order when you need one and it will help you navigate to your rightful place (bottom).  You’ll develop a richer understanding of the players (characters?) and your place among them.  Soon you’ll be on your way to having positive interactions with complete strangers. (Rolling on your back exposing your belly and throat is also recommended.  Hey, you’re the new guy!)  You’ll quickly be on your way to avoiding awkward conversations and dust-ups on your new pal’s social media feed.  Don’t be the person (aka “dick”) who ignores the hierarchy and gets “un-friended” or “blocked” (your whining about it will exhaust me).

(For the record: My one gripe about blocking, from a blocker’s perspective, is it never properly mocks the blocked person.  I want a page that exclaims, “Wow. You really screwed up. Huh? Yeah, you’ve been blocked. GG. Hopefully someone out there likes you more than this person does.” Zuckerberg, get on that.)

So anyway Champ, you’ve sorted out the who’s who and figured out where you fall (bottom – see chart).  Great job! You’re ready to enter the ring.  Just remember a simple rule:  Everyone above you on the chart gets to abuse you freely.  Everyone below you is a target.

A word of caution when it comes to my personal group of friends:  they’re an insanely clever and somewhat devious lot who will quickly lead you astray and cackle as you step in the proverbial “it”.  Carnage is a rush. Never trust anyone above you.  Don’t be led into a trap.

Now go make some friends!

Politics LOL: A Bit of a Rant

There are three things you’re not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: politics, religion, and sex (or money, depending on which three things your family subscribed).  I extend the dinner table to my personal forums: my blog, my Facebook account and my Twitter feed.  While my hesitancy is partly due to the belief that you really don’t care and that I won’t eloquently express myself, the other part is that I recognize not everyone is on the same philosophical page as I am.  It’s disheartening, really, but I accept that you all apparently have “free will” to think different (albeit at times “wrong”) thoughts.  This self-discipline is what passes as “manners” and keeps me from devolving into a rage ball of, “Heretics! Treacherous lying dissenters! Imbeciles! BURN THEM ALL!” at Christmas.  It turns out that if you don’t sit quietly when a forbidden topic does appear that you will not get the choicest piece of pie and you might find yourself sitting at the kid’s table.  Since I prefer the adult table, I save my views for the long rant on the drive home.  Woe to the person who finds themselves in that car if a controversial subject arose that I was forced to bite my tongue over.  I was taught to keep things civil by listening quietly while stabbing my food pointedly; it’s how I was raised.

Some background on me: my degree was in Political Science with a focus on foreign policy and political philosophy.  Needless to say, I am somewhat passionate about the subject of government and political ideology.  I am not an independent.  I am not a moderate.  I have very firm and deeply held beliefs based on my education, my experience and my environment.  And with Presidential elections a mere two months away, I’m a bit amped up.  What holds me back are the rules my mother put in place when I was a little girl.

That being said, I choose not to express my views on this blog or on FB unless it’s to “Like” a post or make the occasional comment. I see these forums as an extension of my dinner table. I also try to be keenly aware that my readers and FB “friends” represent a diverse group of people who hold many different religious and political beliefs.  On the rare occasion when I choose to say something, I try to keep that diverse group of people in mind and keep my words free of vitriol and free of insults. Basically, if I feel like posting something insulting, I know it’s time to walk away. I may at times disagree with my friends, but I do respect them and what they believe.  (Unless they believe in something harmful like eating babies – please, try not to eat babies – see, I recently learned it’s not actually a religious practice, it’s something called cannibalism, you can look it up.  It’s apparently a universal taboo. It also may lead to halitosis and no one likes a person with bad baby breath).

This is all a long-winded way of saying that in this political season where people are riled up and forgetting their table manners, I’ve had to dump a few “friends” from FB who forgot they were in a public forum and decided to attack my beliefs.  See, I personally think it’s possible to take an intelligent stance on a difficult issue without attacking your audience.  Of course, I also believe in unicorns.

But let’s say you do feel inspired to post that post and you want to be taken seriously.  Here is my practical guide to political postings based on some missteps I’ve seen on FaceBook:

  • Your statement should be about the ideas, not the people who hold them.  You may not care for a particular ideology, but don’t state that the people who do are knuckle-dragging drooling imbeciles who are best suited for licking walls.  These are your “friends” and in theory you “friended” them because you felt like you had something in common.  Unless you feel like that commonality is knuckle-dragging-wall-licking, then don’t say it.
  • “LOL” –  it’s not a punctuation mark.  For example: “Senator McCain argued that torture didn’t lead the United States to Osama bin Laden LOL.” That makes me immediately want to respond, “WTF?”, because I’m seriously trying to discern whether you did in fact laugh out loud at that and why.   A posting tennis match will ensue where we’ll devolve into l33t speaking brain mush like  “yeah, he totally PWNED the hearing like he roxxored those Vietcong n00bs at that Hilton place. AMIRITE?”“McCain FTW!” A Chuck Norris joke will feel the need to wander in and the entire ridiculous exchange will be followed by a volley of baffling “Likes”. Ultimately, it ends up being distracting and wholly inappropriate if your goal is to be taken seriously.
  • Unless you’re Steve Carell, your statement should never end with “that’s what SHE said”.  I saw this one in reference to a gross misquote from one of the candidates wives.  That’s when my eyes got lodged in the back of my head.  My vision has suffered ever since.

I’m not saying don’t make statements about your beliefs, but be mindful of your audience if you don’t want to lose them.  I know I tune out once the insults start. You can make a strong, controversial statement without being insulting or sounding like a dolt (a euphemism, because I’m being a grown-up today).  Think of it this way – the more educated you sound on a given topic, the more likely people will listen and the higher the chance that someone might be swayed by your argument. Think of yourself as a political evangelist. Go on you, sway those masses.

This rant brought to you care of FB.  Now that it’s off my chest, I won’t be forced to drive to a small town in Texas to thump someone unceremoniously on their idiotic forehead.  (She doesn’t read this blog, so it’s ok if I’m insulting. Also, she does in fact drag her knuckles.  I’ve seen it.)

LOL.