Tag Archives: Facebook

Resolutions, Facebook and the comparing mind

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Normally, I poo-poo New Year’s resolutions.  I stopped doing it so long ago, I’m not even sure I ever made them at all. Consciously, I’m not a big fan of setting myself up for failure (unconsciously may be a different story).  When I’m ready to make a change, I simply do it.  Maybe it lasts. Maybe it doesn’t. My meditation regime has lasted. My swimming regime, well, not so much. Same with writing. I’m good for a while and then it fades. So, why if I pledged to do something starting on January 1 would it have any different outcome than something I pledged to start on, say, April 23?

This year, however, I’m feeling like maybe I do want to make a resolution or two. Why the change of heart? Maybe because last year I  got a taste for change. I got reintroduced to my body after decades of living exclusively in my head, and my meditation practice is now an integral part of my day.  It’s been good.

The other night I was reading Sharon Salzberg’s book LovingKindness and when I got to the chapter on generosity, it became very clear to me that being more generous with my time and my resources, was something I needed to do.  And being New Years was only a few days away, I thought that it would make a dandy and worthwhile resolution.  I don’t like that feeling of constriction I get when I’m holding to something for no good reason other than it’s mine.  Which is not to say I need to be foolhardy and give away all my stuff and energy, but I think I’m mindful enough to recognize that tightness that comes when I know I could give, but out of neurosis (selfishness, fear of not having enough, ill will) I simply don’t wanna. So, my practice for this year will be to recognize that constriction, and then make a concerted effort to open up – open up my heart, open up my hand, my wallet, my home, my refrigerator, whatever.

The other intention I have for the New Year is to spend less time on that blasted Facebook. It’s insidious, really. When I’m at my computer at home, I pretty much always have a window open with Facebook up. And even though I don’t really post all that  much, I still peek, almost compulsively at my newsfeed, as if I am expecting some breaking news like election results or updates on a natural disaster.  I really need to get a grip.

Like most of us, I joined Facebook with the hope of connecting easily with old friends – the kind of friends that you’re interested enough to hear what is happening with them, but not so close that you’d make the effort to see.  And it is always a kick when I first “friend” someone  I haven’t seen in eons. I check out their pictures, their info, take a gander at their wall.  It’s a quick and safe way to get a sense of who that person has become (or at the very least who they want people to believe they have become).  Maybe we’ll exchange a message or two expressing how tickled we are to be in touch.  But then after that, the connection is pretty tenuous and voyeuristic.

What I’ve been finding lately, is that my excursions onto Facebook are simply an excuse for my comparing mind to have a field day. Oh look, there’s someone who was such a hotshot in high school and now they’re just a suburban housewife. I’m much more interesting than she is.  And there is that guy whom I barely remember, he’s smart, successful, travels a lot. God, I’m a failure.  And why does that girl have so many friends? She’s such a phony. Yet everyone buys into her Super Mom routine.  Wow, and look at my former workmate, she looks amazing!  I look like crap.”  You get the drift, right?  It’s simply not healthy.

So, I’m going to try and find a middle way with Facebook. I don’t need to drop out all together, but I’m going to limit my time. I really wish there were a plug-in that would tally the number of minutes you’re on it.  I guess I’m just going to have to do that whole mindfulness thing and just recognize when I’m checking Facebook out of boredom or some other neurotic impulse.  Hmmmm. Mindfulness and Facebook. Somehow they don’t really belong in the same sentence, do they?

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Who are these people!?

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I’ve been shaking my head for the last 24 hours or so, wondering aloud, who are these people that I went to school with way back when in Burbank?

I would say there is a maybe a handful of old Burbank friends that I care to keep in touch with. And there are others who I am “friends” with on Facebook that I certainly wish well, but, let’s just say if we met each other socially now, we would have nothing in common.  But, I never thought ill of them.  That is, not until today.

It’s probably the case in every class, there is one alumni who is way too eager to get back in touch, organize get-togethers and send out mass emails to all of us to laugh at or be inspired – or, in my case, to simply roll my eyes at and quickly delete.  For my class it is a fellow named, well, let’s just call him Sam.  In high school Sam was one of the football jocks. He was kind of cute, if you liked short guys with small penises (oh sorry, I don’t know for certain about that last part, I’m just making an educated guess).   Anyway, Sam, having discovered many of his old classmates (to say friends would be stretching the definition) on social networking sites has compiled a rather impressive email distribution list of somewhat familiar names.  And like a grandmother who is just discovering the joys of the internet, he sends out all sorts of “cute” emails and videos – both motivational and humorous.  But amid all this electronic waste, there is the occasional bit of news about our old classmates that I do find interesting.  Many a time it has crossed my mind to ask to be removed from the list, or to filter him to my trash pile, but on the off chance that there might be something of interest, I keep opening his damn emails.

Many of the emails have been filled with boyish locker room banter aimed at his old football friends.   There has always been a slightly homophobic tone to their joking, but I’ve kept quiet because, even though I’m on the distribution list, it felt like a private conversation.  And as much as I despise homophobia and racism and generally hateful speech, people do have a right to engage in that stupidity amongst themselves.

Today, however, Sam sent out a truly hateful email where the homophobia was so blatant, I couldn’t keep my fingers quiet any longer.  The email was titled “Real Man Test”.  The “test” was essentially a list that followed this pattern:

IF you engaged in an activity that was cultured/refined/intellectual/healthy and NOT something macho/barbaric/uncouth/thuggish THEN you were a homo/fag/queer/salami smuggler

There was nothing in the least bit funny or clever about this email. It oozed hatred.  And I was not going to let this one slide.

While there was a part of me that wanted to lash out in fury and outrage, I chose instead to be civil, yet state quite clearly I found the content to be completely offensive.

While I appreciate your desire to share things you find moving or humorous with your former classmates, I think you need to show a little bit more discretion about what you share and with whom. While perhaps you and some of your buddies may find this amusing, I find it thoroughly offensive, and I hope I am not the only one.

Please remove me from this distribution list if you plan on sending more mass emails such as this.

Clicking “send” felt really good.  I was taking a stand on something I believe in, and – I hate to admit this – I hoped to be greeted as a bit of a hero who stood up for what is right and good against the malignant stupidity of this man/child who had not matured emotionally since high school.

*crickets*

There are probably close to 100 people on that distribution list and no one else found that email objectionable?!  Really? One woman did respond to me, but it appeared she had a personal issue with Sam rather than the content of the email.

I’m sure there are reasons people haven’t spoken up. Perhaps some of them long ago filtered Sam’s emails to the trash pile. Perhaps some haven’t read it yet.  Perhaps. But, yet I know that there are others who think that it was either funny, or no big deal. And for that reason alone, I’m glad I left Burbank 33 years ago and have nothing to do with these people.

In which I am honored

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honest_scrap_award

My buddy Amurin over at Stop and Wander has bequeathed upon me this lovely “Honest Scrap” award for remarkable honesty in blogging.  Thank you, Am.  I want to  thank WordPress for making this possible with their  lovely, easy and free software and hosting.  And a big hug to my real life friends who completely ignore online ramblings thus freeing me up to write without worrying what they will think.  And finally, to my parents who slapped me three ways to Saturday whenever they caught me in a lie.

When you get the Honest Scrap award, you are meant to grace your readers with 10 honest things about yourself, and then pass on the award to other blog friends who write honestly and truly about themselves and events in their life.

  1. I live in constant fear of an 80-something year old lady whom I have let down.  She wrote me a lovely letter in longhand requesting that our company grant free parking to senior citizens.  I promised her I would get it delivered to someone who might be able to do something about it.  Being as our organization is so vast, I have no idea who would care that an elderly member feels as if her age should grant her a pass on paying for parking.  So, the letter sits.  And I await in fear of her phone call.
  2. Instead of meditating or writing in the mornings like I know I really really should, I fart around playing stupid games on Facebook.  It seems like people are writing all kinds of apps and games for Facebook, so here’s an idea: I think there should be an app that kept a running total of all the time a person spent on Facebook.  And then to add to the cruel reality of that frightening number, it would compare your total hours to something useful like:  Your Time On Facebook:  172.25 hours / 172.25 of non-Facebook Time = 10 books read, 5 volunteer shifts at the homeless shelter, 7 non-garbage blog posts, 16 1/2 hour meditation sessions, and a dozen home-cooked (i.e. non-microwaved) meals.
  3. Even though I don’t even kill bugs b/c of my personal, Buddhist influenced beliefs, I have gotten quite into playing Mafia Wars on (what else?) Facebook.  I have “iced” 36 mobsters, and “whacked” 6 of them, though I haven’t the foggiest idea what is the difference between icing and whacking.
  4. I have a sneaking hunch I am not as nice a person as I like to believe myself to be.
  5. I’m also not a very good friend.  I do a shit job at keeping in touch with people, and apparently returning emails and phone calls is a bit of a foreign concept.
  6. I stopped shaving my legs years ago since I always wear pants, and the boyfriend doesn’t seem to mind.
  7. Making this list is starting to depress me
  8. I have a natural tendency towards depression.  It’s been pretty well under control for a few years now and I haven’t had to resort to going back on meds, but it still doesn’t take much to make me go to my dark place.
  9. When I was pretty freshly sober and in therapy started really mucking about in the dark recesses of my psyche, I had a job where I subjected myself to a crazy boss’s whims and insane hours (can you say 70 a week?).  Occasionally, when it all got too much, I would hide under my desk.  I was capable of conducting business over the phone or with my staff, but I couldn’t bring myself to sit up in my chair or leave my office.   I think it tells you the general insanity of this workplace that my hiding under my desk hi-jinks didn’t phase anyone.  Though I was once told during a performance review that I might want to come up with other coping mechanisms because it was somewhat startling to the newer staff members.
  10. I am counting down the days until this stupid NaBloPoMo self-challenge is over.  Whew.  Only 4 more days!

Now, it’s my time to get revenge . . . oh wait, I mean it’s now time to pass along the honor of the Honest Scrap Award.  One will go to my North Coast buddy Adam, who not only joined me on this NaBloPoMo challenge, but he also threw in going to the gym every day.  Silly, silly man.  I haven’t heard much from my boys Ombudsman and Julian, so here ya are fellas.  Congratulations!