Facebook Lost Me

I’m sorry to say, that I have to quit Facebook and Instagram. I can no longer cling to my ability to stay connected to my very small and scattered family, nor my wonderful friends, through these platforms.

But why? I mean, we know they are shady, and use our data against us, but we’ve always known that. Why now? What was the straw that broke the camel’s back, for me? This is why:

Facebook Fired An Employee Who Collected Evidence Of Right-Wing Pages Getting Preferential Treatment

I am ½ Jewish and ½ Catholic, by birth. As far as I know, my Jewish family came to the US before the Holocaust, and I did not lose part of my family tree in that genocide. As a white person, I cannot allow my privilege to dismiss what white supremacy has done and continues to do, to oppress Black and Brown people around the world. It may seem like this is not tangential, but this is how white supremacy seeps in, and we are all made to believe it’s not that big of a deal. It is.

If you are close family or friends, I will have messaged you to make sure you can contact me by phone and/or email. For everyone, I hope you’ll connect with me here:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/misscrf
Medium: https://medium.com/@misscrf
My Blog: https://imagerotated.com/

I know I’m just one speck in Facebook and IG’s likely zettabytes of data specks, but I have to cut that off now. I have to cut off their ability to profit from my participation of their platform. Every click I make, every quiz I take, every post, every like, every comment, gives them data. They sell it to every bidder. Not just the highest bidder, but all of them. They are double-dealing, as they court the GOP who are intrinsically aligned with white supremacy. Comment on this post, if you would like me to detail that alignment, in another post. It is extensive.

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook/IG will do anything they can, to ensure the US government doesn’t attempt to regulate them. They are using their massive power, to make sure we stay powerless. To make sure we don’t own our data. To make sure they own us.

I know Twitter has many of the same risks, as does YouTube, and Amazon, and so much of the internet. For now, I will do this as best I can. One step at a time. This is a big one, and one that doesn’t come lightly. It’s not just seeing what everyone is up to, and posting a portrait pic of that amazing culinary creation we just made. It’s a mechanism for being able to connect with the people we care about, readily.

It’s insidious, in that way. It latches on to that emotional connection, so it can be digitally leveraged against us.

I look forward to the day that we can own our data, and share it safely, with who we choose, without it being leveraged to help white supremacy. I hope I can come back, I really do.

I know, it’s totally uncool to announce your exit from the party. I’ve never been cool. This is a big change, and one that I don’t take lightly. These platforms take our big round world and make it digitally flat. My family is few and scattered across this country, and Facebook has been a lifeline. I will miss this mechanism for connecting with them, greatly.

For now, I would like to call on generation X, to help lead this charge for change. That is my generation. We are the generation who grew up riding in the back of the station wagon or pickup, with no seat belt. We took a beating and kept on going. We didn’t have the internet. We had cans with strings, and long walks or bike rides to see if our friends were home. We are also the generation that most people counted out. We were lost in the brutal shuffle of life, between boomers and millennials. This is what we were made for, and no one knew it, least of all us.

We can lead this charge, to disconnect from something that is making us sick. Those who have grown up with this technology may be unable to see this for what it is, but my hope is that older generations can. Generation X was the last generation, who grew up without social media and technology. We know that it’s not necessary. It’s a luxury. We can hold out for better. Being able to hold out, will make us stronger. We don’t need billions of dollars to do that. We just need to be able to take a beating and keep on going. We can make a hard choice, and all of us will be better off in the long run.

What can we do in the absence of using those platforms, in an active effort to regain control? We can vote. We can be informed about the candidates on the ballot this fall. We can vet information we read, and make sure to read the whole article. We can make sure our friends and family do the same. We can vote, and honor John Lewis, by demanding Mitch McConnell and the Senate pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/4/text).

The House passed it last year. Mitch McConnell has called the Democrats’ attempts to expand access to voting, a power grab. Ensuring the will of the people is protected, is a power grab, as far as the GOP is concerned. They doesn’t want the will of the people to be heard. The GOP knows that if everyone in the country has access to vote, the GOP will lose. The Majority Leader of the US Senate is holding our voting rights, and election security hostage.

I know COVID sucks and a lot of things suck, but the reality is that we are the ones with the power. We have to fix this. We are the only ones who can. Voters. In 2016, 120 million Americans voted, but 90 million registered voters did not vote. We are 200 million strong, and growing, but we have to show up and be informed.

We have to call our reps and pressure them to make the changes we need. We have to vote out the ones who gaslight facts, voting rights, regulating the tech industry, science, and so much more. We have to show up and vote, even if our first choice isn’t on the ballot. We have to look at the 2 candidates at the top of every race and compare them not just to our wish list, but against each other. Who will do the least harm and the most good? We have to vote responsibly.

Then we must show up next year, and the year after, to make it better and better. That’s how a healthy democracy works.

This year, we must be prepared for USPS delays. Trump installed a Postmaster General (Dejoy), who is actively dismantling the USPS, and causing delays. They know that absentee and mail-in ballots must be postmarked and received by specific dates, in order to be valid. Election day is not November 3rd. It is well before that day.

We must verify our registration is active now, before any deadline passes. Most deadlines are 30 days before election, but it can take time to get a registration in, if your state doesn’t allow online registration. We need to contact our county Board of Elections now and request an absentee or mail-in ballot application.

When we get our ballots, we have to fill it out immediately and get our ballots back to our Board of Elections filled in exactly as required. Mail-in ballots are often invalidated for missing a signature on an envelope, or something seemingly innocent and simple. We can’t be afraid to ask each other for help, to make sure our vote counts.

We also need to be prepared, to not get the results of the election on November 3rd. Start having that conversation now. Many states don’t open mail-in ballots until after election day. Whether that is a good policy or not, it is the policy now. Want it to change? Keep paying attention and communicating with your state government, but I suggest lobbying for those changes after this election. The state election laws are not going to change, before November.

We have to be willing to be patient, and demand that every vote be counted. Trump will absolutely call the election rigged, when we don’t have the results immediately after the election, particularly if it looks like he is already losing. He has a well-established pattern of denigrating our institutions of democracy. Don’t be a willing participant in his anti-democratic rhetoric.

I know that spending your time getting out the vote, and talking to voters about an election, does not sound as satisfying as talking to friends and family on Facebook, or posting pics and videos on IG. I get it. I’m asking something really hard. I don’t expect many will join me, but I figure I might as well make the pitch, for why this is so important, seeing as I’m making this big change.

As for my friends and family on Facebook and IG, we can see each other again, and IRL hopefully. I will miss seeing your beautiful children grow. I will miss sending you digital support when you need it. I will miss posting all my political awareness posts, hoping everyone reads them and takes them to heart. I will miss being part of conversations with people I haven’t seen in years.

Sci-fi nerds like me, love to dream of time travel. Facebook certainly didn’t accomplish that, but memories popping up in your timeline can feel like you can almost grasp it. Revisit your past. Feel those feelings. All the while, powerful people are watching our interactions, aggregating what we do, and tracking us on and off the platform. They are using those feelings to leverage our buying of goods and services. They’re using it to manipulate our votes too.

Because I get that this is a big decision to make, I have also grappled with the preparation that needs to take place. For me, this has included downloading all my data. I wanted a copy of my photos, videos, and my friends list. I went through my friend’s list, so I could identify people I wanted to reach out to and give my contact info, so we can connect outside of these platforms. If you have interest in the process I took to make this move, please comment on this post. If there is interest, I will make a follow-up post detailing how I did this. I took print screens of the steps I took, because I’m super cool like that.

Bottom line is that Mark Zuckerberg is allowing white supremacy to leverage our data and our lives, for their gain. They are giving preferential treatment to people and outlets who are gaslighting facts, and simultaneously trying like hell to suppress our vote. I can’t be a part of that anymore. I can no longer be a willing data point, that they use against me and everyone I connect with on these platforms.

I have to be part of an effort, that encourages Americans to fulfill the promise of our democracy. That we take up our civic duty to participate in our government. I will spend my time encouraging citizens to exercise their civic right, by voting in this election and every one after.

I suggest doing so as early as possible.

Virtual Spring Digital Cleaning (not really a) Ted Talk

A lot of people are quarantined or at least home a lot more, as many things have been cancelled.  This is a great time to go through your digital life and clean things up.  This post is to help people who may know they should clean up their facebook, but don’t know how or where to start.

I will go through some basic clean up steps here, to help those who don’t know where to look. This involves who can see your posts and activity, but also what companies you are giving access to your information and your friends list. To do this work, I highly recommend you do this on a computer (PC or Mac). I will be going through these steps, and including pics, based on doing this from an HP laptop, with Windows 10, and a Firefox browser.

One obvious step is going through your friends list. Personally, I keep my facebook to only people I know in real life (IRL). This is something I imposed on myself years ago. I post pictures of my family and friends’ kids, and I don’t want strangers having access to those pics.

I also figure that people I don’t know IRL can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, if they like. I consider those platforms as intentionally public ones, while facebook is set up in a way that allows us to connect with friends and family in group settings, which can be exclusively controlled by you.

Review your Friends

To check your friends list, do the following steps. On your facebook home page (your feed), click your name on the top, to the right of the search bar.

On your profile page, scroll down and on the left side under the Photos section, you will see a Friends section. Click on the Friends title/link.

You will see a series of your friends, in 2 columns.  Scroll through and review how they are set. There are a few options. Hover over the box on the right side, of any friend, for whom you want to adjust their connection with you.

  1. The default will look like a ✓, and this indicates they are a friend.  This is the mid-range connection to have with someone.
  2. A contact card means they are set as an “acquaintance”. This would be the lowest level of connection.
  3. A star means they are “close” friends. This is the highest level of connection.
  4. You can also create lists and add people to those. This allows you to share posts with just a list of people, instead of all of facebook. This is the equivalent of the permissions on your posts, where you set the post as visible to friends or public. You can create a work list, or others that are target a specific group of people.
  5. Finally, this is where you can unfriend someone.

Hover down to the choice you want, and single-click that option.  Here is more info on those different friends categories and how they can be useful in keeping your digital landscape tidy. https://www.facebook.com/help/200538509990389

My recommendation is, do a first sweep and any you are not really in contact with, who do not bring joy to your life, or you don’t know, maybe clean those up first.  Others you are not sure about, jot their names down in a note (on on your computer or on paper). Think about those, check their feed over later, and take some time to consider if you want to unfriend, or just unfollow.  If you cannot unfriend someone, you might just unfollow them, so that you don’t see their posts, but also don’t hurt any feelings, by unfriending them.

To un-follow, just click their name or search to find them and on their profile page, just click the drop down to un-follow them.  You can do this on your phone too, so no picture.  Comment below if you need more assistance with this.

Now comes the main attraction in this clean up.  Settings.  On the top of the facebook page, on the right side of the navigation bar, is an upside down triangle. Single-click this, and you will see a drop down menu.  Hover down to Settings, and single-click that option.

I am not going to go through every section here, but it is a good idea to go through this a couple of times a year, or on a schedule that is appropriate for how much you use this platform.

Settings – Privacy

 

You can allow people to find you by your email here, or not allow that. Same with your phone number. By limiting it to your friends, it means only they can see this information tied to your account.

The next section includes something a lot of people care about, which is what people see on your timeline and who can see posts or items you are tagged on, including photos.

Timeline and Tagging

Edit any you wish you adjust, by single-clicking the Edit on the right. Click View As to view your profile as the public sees your information. When you click Vew As you will be taken to a new page, that will look like your profile, but have a message for you to see first.

When you are done looking around, single-click on the back arrow in your internet browser to get back to the Settings – Privacy – Timeline and Tagging page. I will say, I am disappointed that they don’t have a drop down where the Public marker is, on the View As page. You should be able to see what close friends see, acquaintances, and each list. What if you posted something to the wrong list, but didn’t really notice, because that setting marker is small on the post, and we don’t think about it? Why not show the differences here?  Just a thought.

Now I want to jump down to one that I think many people will find is a mess with devious stuff. This is what I want people to really check out. It’s like cleaning up junk mail, but do it now, and be more careful going forward.

Apps and Websites

Every time you take a quiz, or play a game, or sign into an account using your facebook account,  you are giving a company access to your information. It varies what they have access to, and whether or not they can check for any changes/updates you have made to your info.

These apps and websites are listed in 3 categories of having authorization by you, to access your information. These are active, expired, and removed.  Active are apps or websites that have an active connection to your information. They can store it, and they can check facebook for any updates you make to the information you are allowing them to access.  This can be name, email, friends list, birthday or other info.

Expired means if they had rights previously, but now they cannot check for updates. If your recently changed your info, they may not have that change.  They are allowed to store your information still.  Removed means they must destroy your digital information, or any replication (likeness) of it.

See how many you have. Clean up ones who no longer need access to your friends lists.  You’re doing your friends a favor too.  This is how tech targets us.

On Twitter and IG, I simply suggest going through the list of people and accounts you follow. Are you following a lot of accounts that aren’t really active? Do any of the accounts not interest you any more? These accounts dictate what you see in your feed, so periodically clearing them out will clean up your feed.  If you like these tips and want more, let me know in the comments and I will work on others.

Thank you for coming to my Virtual Spring Digital Cleaning (not really a) Ted Talk.

The Newb Perspective

I joined Twitter in 2009, but I didn’t really get it.  I followed a few accounts, mostly friends, and some other accounts I can’t really recall.  In 2015, as the Presidential campaign heated up, I started to get more active.  It turns out there are are few interests that draw people to a live feed platform, like Twitter.  From my observations, twitter is meant to be a public forum, unlike Facebook, which is more where friends and families can connect, and can keep their circle closed if they want. Twitter is great for live-tweeting events (and tv shows) , and for engaging in news of the moment.

My interests on Twitter are mostly politics, activism, and news.  I also love all the kitties and following actors I like, but when it comes to politics, Twitter is great. It at least has the potential to be great.  I can follow my reps. I can follow excellent journalists covering elected officials, and I can engage with them using tools like resistbot.  In college, a senior student came to speak to one of my poli sci classes.  He said something to the effect of “This 4 years here, will be what you make of them.”  It seems the same goes for most social media platforms.

Many complain that Twitter is a cesspool, because of all the trolls, and hate that can infiltrate conversations. They aren’t wrong, and that is a problem.  It gets made worse, because foreign interests are paying for bot accounts to pop up and fuel discord and online fighting.  How can one avoid it?  I imagine it would be pretty difficult. I often get caught up in fighting with someone, before realizing I should just block them.  But that is only one part of the problem.  The entire concept of the platform is geared for people to seek having high follower accounts, lots of retweets and likes, and to get the elusive blue check mark. That’s the golden ticket to being legit on this site. All others might be bots, trolls, an account that was bought and sold, or some pathetic loser like me, who just wants to be part of the conversation.

Following a number of well-respected and verified accounts, there are often a lot of tweets reprimanding people for bad twitter etiquette. Most commonly, this is tagging someone in a reply or retweet, that the original tweeter did not tag.  I have to agree, it’s a crappy thing to do.  You open up that person to attacks that they did not sign up for. It was their decision to tag someone or not. To overrule their decision is certainly something another tweeter can do, but it’s also a bad move.  This contributes to the cesspool environment.

I have learned a lot in the last 3 years, as I have become increasingly active on Twitter.  My follower account is in no way impressive, though I feel I make up for it with the massive amount of accounts I follow. I’m a liberal Democrat, and I see a lot of people posting with a hashtag of #FBR which is for the follow back resistance.  I don’t really get this. It seems like a disingenuous way to up your follower account. People can certainly pay to promote tweets, which is most certainly disingenuous, although I would understand if it was for a political campaign or for someone selling products or services.

What baffles me, is the way some people use the platform, in what seems like a manner that doesn’t align with the values they profess.  People will like tweets from people they don’t support, and I don’t understand that.  They will retweet a post from someone hateful, which they are mostly doing to say, “Hey look. This awful person said this awful thing.” but they don’t add any context or refute the original tweet in any way.  What purpose does that serve, other than to spread the hate or misinformation? It elevates it with your account.

I consider myself a newb on the platform because I don’t use any analytical tools, or promote my tweets, and I don’t have that pretty blue check mark.  I tweet and follow people/accounts I like hearing from.  I refuse to follow people who I don’t support or like.  I will never follow Trump. I blocked him a while ago, because I think Twitter has a bad exception to their policy, by saying they will suspend and ban accounts that spread hate, but they won’t apply that standard to a world leader.  Does that mean if Hitler or Stalin were alive today, they would let them spread their hate, free from consequence?

It seems to me that we, the users of the platform, have the power and responsibility to use this tool in a way that will ensure it is one that promotes the good and bans the bad, whether the company’s admins are consistent or not. These are my self-imposed guidelines for being a good tweeter:

  1. Don’t tag someone in a reply or retweet, if they weren’t tagged in the original tweet. If you want to tag that person, write your own tweet. If they were sharing an article, bring up the article, grab the link and make your own tweet. The exception to tagging someone not tagged in an original tweet, is if the account is not a person, like a media outlet such as The Washington Post.
  2. Don’t follow people you don’t support. You up their follower account, and legitimize them. The exception is for journalists who have to follow people to report on them. I feel for them. This also applies to elected officials, who may need to follow other representatives they don’t disagree with. If it’s for your job, that makes sense. Otherwise, I don’t get doing that, as it elevates that person.
  3. Don’t like tweets that you actually do not like. It offers no context and gives the illusion that what was said is popular.
  4. If retweeting something bad, the retweet should contain context, correction of any lies/inaccuracies, or refuting what was said. Only retweet tweets without saying anything, if what was said stands as is. If someone said something and said it well, don’t feel the need to say more on top of it. Retweet it and elevate that voice.
  5. In line with 3 and 4, think of retweeting and likes as endorsements and recommendations. If you don’t agree with the original tweet, say so, or don’t like/retweet it.
  6. Make sure to tweet your own tweets, so that your entire timeline isn’t just retweets and likes. It’s important to make sure your twitter timeline has your own voice, as much as a feed that shares and elevates the voices of those you admire and agree with.
  7. Be respectful. This should be number 1, but I didn’t really go in order.  It can be hard, when firing off your passionate response to something, but keep in mind that there is a human being (generally) on the other end. I am not always good at this, but I always try. Don’t put something online, that you wouldn’t really say to someone’s face. If your argument is that you would be rude to someone’s face, I wouldn’t brag about that.
  8. Give credit where credit is due.  I’ve seen that there are accounts out there, who steal tweets from other people.  Not cool. When you find out someone you follow is stealing someone else’s words, un-follow them, and follow the original tweeter. It’s not easy being original and coming up with good content. Don’t reward accounts that steal from others.
  9. Report, report, report.  When an account is threatening or harassing someone you follow, report them and block them. It helps Twitter to weed out the bad actors.  I would say that 99% of the tweets I report come back as an account that Twitter found violated their policies. The trick is identifying what the account is doing wrong, so that you pick the right reporting option. Is it just offensive? We can’t really expect Twitter to respond to every person being offended. Are they harassing someone? Are they threatening someone? I consider that the most important to report. Are they spreading hate toward a group of people? Get that content off the site, by reporting it. Then block them, so they won’t end up in your world again.
  10. Verify if you aren’t sure. If someone tweets something, but they don’t have a source, take a minute to look it up. If you have to, bookmark the tweet, so you can go verify it later, before sharing it.  I know, how annoying. We want everything to be easy and convenient, but if we want quality, we may have to sacrifice some of the quantity. Take the time to do some searching and find a source that either proves or disproves what is being said. If it will help, include the source you find, in your retweet or reply. Make it your standard that you demand receipts be part of the conversation.

These aren’t exactly visionary guidelines, but I think if everyone followed them, we could make the platform better than it is.  Those spreading hate and being hateful, would have less visibility, and those creating good content, would be seen.

If everyone follows good guidelines we can, as a mass user base, affect how the platform works and is used.  It takes some self control and discipline, but it gets easier and easier, once you employ the standards that will make it a better place to be.

That’s at least what this newb thinks.

Why Bring Race Into This?

I shared a post on Facebook, to this article:

In a moment of sarcasm I wrote the post as “Man, oh man. That sounds about white.”

Someone on my facebook friends list (who will remain nameless in this post) commented the following: “Why bring race into this? You are white btw.”

I wanted to respond to that, but thought it merited more than a facebook comment.  My post was a sarcastic commentary not just on the race of the individual, but the gender.

I bring them both up, because they are part of “this”.  Justice in this country, is not delivered consistently. White men often get more lenient sentences than men of color. 

In cases of rape and sexual assault, the man usually gets the benefit of the doubt, and their future is often of more concern, than the justice or welfare of the woman. 

It’s such a prevalent issue, for so many women, someone started a post a while back about all the things they would do, if they could walk around with the freedom that men do. It went viral with women posting all the things that they would do, if they didn’t have to worry about being attacked by a man. At the same time men were reeling from all the #MeToo allegations and there was this collective outrage of how hard it is for guys to know how to hit on women etc. 

The reality is that men are often aggressive and entitled, when it comes to women. No, not all men. We are sure that you, reading this, are an angel. But many are. We are talking about a majority of the population. This really ends up being received by women as ridiculous, considering all the advice we get, to prevent being attacked or raped.  Don’t stay out late, carry pepper spray, wear a ring on your left finger, wear modest clothing, never leave a drink unattended, don’t drink too much. 

Men aren’t told to do any of this. Just women. The ring on the finger really gets to me. You have to pretend to be “owned” by a man, to prevent a man from feeling entitled to your time or your body.

Well, all of that online conversing, resulted in this fantastic ode, to what a scary time it is for guys, who don’t know how to relate to women, in comparison to what women go through.


To summarize this post…

Why bring up race? Because if that man had been a black man, he more than likely never would have been given home incarceration. He would have been put in jail with an exorbitant bail set, or no bail.

Why bring up gender? Because men have privilege and entitlement in our society, that women just do not get.

 

I highly recommend watching the documentary 13th (on Netflix), to learn about how racist our justice system is. Knowing the history, is important to improving things now and in the future.

Just to end this on a note of levity, I wanted to share this clip, in reference to the comment “you are white btw”, like I don’t know that.  I’ll leave it to the genius of Richard Pryor:

  1. Do my parents know???? 😂 Do I have to change my name to Becky? Dammit.
  2. According to white supremacists, since I’m Jewish, I’m not “really” white.
  3. My whiteness means I have undue privilege, and I choose to use that to highlight this stuff. I don’t want more than what others have. I want my friends of color to get the same treatment I get, in our justice system.A good example of this just popped up recently. A woman of color called 911, for help. When the police got there, they ended up forcing her to the ground and arresting her. We all know that if I had called, that never would have happened to me. Florida Cop Relieved of Duty After Video Emerges of Police Violently Arresting Black Woman Who Called for Help (~ The Root)
  4. White supremacy is crap. We are not superior. I don’t want race superiority. I want equality and equity, across race and gender.
  5. Being white doesn’t mean I shouldn’t criticize white people getting better treatment in our judicial system. It means I should. That’s called being an ally.

Thank you, for your time.

I Wish People Would

I wish people would leave Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande alone. That doesn’t mean I don’t want his friends and family to be there for him, or hers to be there for her. I just wish the public would respect their privacy. I wish the media would. On my way home from work, last night, I heard the radio DJ say that Ariana was turned away from SNL, during their set, Saturday night. The DJ said, “Stay tuned to get the dets!” I don’t get it. It’s not healthy to be voyeurs in the private challenges people face, just because they are celebrities. It’s also not helpful to them.

If you claim to be a fan, do your celebrity crushes and icons a favor. Pay attention to their body of work. Their acting, singing, etc. Pay attention to the parts they choose to make public, like charitable work and political/social advocacy. But please, for the love of their health and yours, let their private life be private. If you can imagine your life under a microscope, and you private life all of the sudden being plastered all over the internet, imagine how much harder that would make your life. It’s not healthy, for anyone in our society, least of all the people who are subjected to this social act of mobe mentality barbarism.

By now, everyone knows that Pete Davidson is struggling with depression. My heart breaks for him, and I just keep hoping those close to him can help him get help.  On the off chance he might read this, I would like to make sure he knows the following.

Pete,

You and I both know, that depression is a crippling disease. You also know it’s not your fault. I have fibromyalgia and lupus. I know people who have had breast cancer. It’s not their fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not your fault. You have to keep that in check. Write it down. Put it on your fridge. Say it out loud, any time it’s getting hard, and you are feeling like it is somehow your fault.

Here’s the thing, though. Part of depression, can be suicidal thoughts. The depression tricks your mind into thinking there is no way out. The depression thrives on getting you to believe that. The depression convinces you to isolate yourself. That is how it gets stronger. With no other voices, to drown it out. Once you acknowledge that you have depression, you also have to be on guard for your mind trying to trick you.

When your depression is pushing you in that direction, you aren’t allowed to trust your mind. You just aren’t. You have to have reminders, that tell you not to trust you mind. I know that’s counter-intuitive, but I know, that you know it’s true.

I know it sucks, because when can you trust your mind and when can’t you? How can you know? If your mind is telling you to isolate yourself, that is always the trick. Friends, family, counselors. They are the support we all need. They are what being in this world is all about, even when it’s hard. The “funny” thing about depression, is that it gets weaker, when we talk about it, when we express it, when we reach out for help and tell people that our mind is going in that direction.

Please keep your friends, family, and counselors/therapists close. I see a therapist, and I think of it like any other health measure I take. I go to a chiropractor. I see the dentist twice a year. I check in with a therapist, to discuss the things I might not want to share with other people in my life. Sometimes it’s stuff I don’t mind sharing. Other times, it’s stuff I’m trying to process. Trying to get straight in my mind.

Allow yourself that imperfection. Remind yourself, that you aren’t perfect. Remember that I’m not perfect either (no where close). No one is. Those who seem it, are working to present that. Whenever I look at someone who seems to have their life incredibly together, I try to keep in mind how much of their life I know.  For example, Michelle Obama. She’s pretty close to perfection, right? I mean, come on. But here’s the thing. I probably don’t know 1% of her life. That doesn’t mean it’s all a veneer. She’s got brilliance, grace, and so much more. But that doesn’t make her perfect, and she shouldn’t have to be. My point is, that I have to keep in mind that I know very little about her life, and I only know what she chose to share. That’s how it should be, but that means I can’t really just assume she’s perfect.

Apply that to any person in the world. No one is perfect, and anyone who looks perfect to us, we probably only see a small amount of. We see as slice of who they are. That’s ok, but that means we can’t just judge that they are better able to make sense of this world, than we are. Everyone has their own struggles. We shouldn’t judge theirs and honestly, people aren’t really judging ours.  Yes, I know. Trolls online, the media, fans in the streets. I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a celebrity bubble. But I can convey what my mom taught me.

She’s a nurse, and for a few years, she was volunteering at a crisis hotline. She said she sometimes talked to people who were clearly paranoid schizophrenic. They were sure people were judging them, and constantly watching them. She would say, “what do you spend most of your time worrying about?” The person would answer, that they can’t stop thinking about what other people are thinking of them. My mom would respond that honestly, that is what most people were thinking. The person would respond either with “What???” or “I told you so!” My mom would clarify. Most people are just like you. They mostly worry about what everyone else is thinking about them. She would put that to them, and ask, “Do you think other people spend time worrying what people are thinking of them?” The person would respond with some variation of “I guess”.

And that’s when she had the argument. People may comment online and discuss the lives of celebrities, but that is a distraction from their own lives. Most people spend most of their time, worry about what other people are thinking about them. They aren’t judging us, as much as judging themselves. When we start obsessing about what others think of us, it does us no good. As my mom told me, it’s none of your business what anyone else thinks of you. Why? Because it has more to do with what they are worrying about, in regards to themselves, than it does have anything to do with you. Your reflection on their life, is just a mirror for them to try on different parts of themselves. We all do the same thing. It’s an unhealthy trap, and a waste of our energy.

Anyway, keep your friends, family and counselors close. Keep the media and troll far away. Only let in what is healthy and helpful to your life. What will build you up. The rest is not meant for you.

Much love,

Courtney

It’s Unavoidable, and When I Look Around I Want to Scream

It’s happening, and I can’t hide from it.  I am turning 40, next year.  I haven’t solved world peace, won a Pulitzer, a Nobel Peace Prize, an Olympic gold medal (ok that “one” was a long shot…). Nevertheless, 40 is coming at me fast.  That’s why, when I saw an article aimed at this precise existential crisis, I had to click it and read. I mean, generally it’s all fortune cookie wisdom, but you never know.  I still click on weight loss articles. I figure 8 of the 10 tips, I will have heard. One will be a new fad, and absurd, but one might be new to me, and have some merit.  I’m all about learning new things, or new ways to see old things.

This is the article I stumbled upon: 11 Things You Should Stop Doing When You Hit 40

Immediately, the tips were bothering me, rather than sounding applicable. First off, apologizing constantly, dressing for others vs you, obsessing over your phone.  These are not just things to notice when you turn 40. They should be addressed the minute you realize that you’re doing them too much.  It’s good to acknowledge when you are wrong, but constantly saying you’re sorry can create an environment where you are painting yourself as a mess, and that’s not a great way to present yourself.  The thing is, this isn’t something that is specific to turning 40. It’s good to notice this at any time in your life. I can handle all that, though.  It’s not a bad idea to remind people of these bad habits. It’s more to say, life is short, so don’t waste it living it for the approval of others.

Then there are some passages on kids, and you knowing what’s best.  One issue I have with all of this, is the assumption that all women have kids. The way it is presented, there is no alternate moral or lesson for women who choose not to have kids; or for those who sadly cannot. The article doesn’t acknowledge, in any way, that not everyone has kids. What lesson should we take, or can we at least be acknowledged? It would be nice, unless this is going to be explicitly geared towards women, turning 40, who also have kids, that the article make note of that. Not acknowledging that, makes the entire article a judgment that normal people turning 40 have kids, and the rest in the back, just sit there and be quiet.

I do wish we could transcend to a level, where an article like this would be about universal truths. Not just for women or men, not just for people who also have kids, but for anyone turning 40.  We are entering a new stage in life, and let’s face it together. Men, women, parents, and non-parents alike.  I get that we aren’t totally alike, but aren’t there common challenges we face?  If not, can we have articles acknowledge in the headline, or lede, that the article is geared toward one specific demographic?  I get that pitching it as universal, may garner more clicks, but it will also turn people like me off, if we click on links like this.  If I keep checking out articles, from one outlet, and they are pitched one way, but totally ignore my truths, I will eventually stop relying on that outlet.

The one tip, that pissed me off enough to want to write this post, was this one passage:

Before 2016, I was barely on Twitter. I had an account, but I just didn’t get the point.  A friend of mine was on there, but she would live tweet shows she watches, like Big Brother.  I’m a cord cutter, so that doesn’t really appeal to me.  Then the dumpster fire of the 2016 election kicked into high gear. Suddenly I was clamoring to follow Joy Ann Reid, April Ryan, Wapo, NY Times, Guardian, etc. I wanted to keep up with the news, campaigns, legislation, and any news of Trump being impeached (God, I hope it’s soon). I wanted to follow my representatives, and see what they were up to.

According to this little tip, at the age of 40, I should stop being politically active on social media.  Now, my facebook is mainly just people I know.  I was senior class president, in high school, so I have a lot of former classmates. Other than that, I have family, friends, co-workers and a handful of college friends. I do share some political stuff, but not too often.  Some of friends and family are not political, and I don’t have a need to alienate them. I do my best to keep my political activity to Twitter, but I really don’t think anyone should stop debating politics or standing up for their personal beliefs, especially because they reached 40.  Talk about a horrible tip, at any age.

I consider it actual patriotism, to participate in the political process. Much more than hanging a flag outside my house. We should embrace campaigns and being connected to our elected representatives. We shouldn’t eye roll, like it’s a badge of honor to put up with campaign ads.  It’s a small price to pay, for freedom. I’ll stop being political, when I’m in the ground. As long as I’m alive, thanks for your advice, but I prefer to participate in our democracy, for as long as we’ve got it.  I dare say, that’s the best way for us to hold on to it, and to preserve it.  Never stop being politically active, or engaging in politics. It’s how our democracy was founded.  No taxation, without representation. Representation can only happen, if we engage with our representatives, tell them what we want, and vote them out if they don’t deliver.  In the technological age, that we are in, connecting with our reps is easier than ever.  We can use @Resistbot and @Countable and most reps have twitter accounts, as well as facebook pages.

Whether you are 15, 18, 21, 30, 40, 50 or 80, it’s always the time to speak up for what you believe in.  It’s always time for you to stand up for your personal believes.  Whether in a march, in the voting booth, and on social media. Please never follow advice that tells you to stop participating in democracy. It’s the only way we will get to keep it, and preserve it for the next generation; whether we have kids or not.

#TrendChangeTogether The Need to Support Each Other and Effect Real Change

We saw a lot this week, about women coming forward with stories of harassment, assault, and rape.  We also saw a lot of reactions to those who bravely came out.  They didn’t come out soon enough, no they should come out in their own time, no they should have done this or that or something else, to be more effective.

Then Rose McGowan, one of the brave women who has led this courageous move to bring sexual assault and intimidation out into the public, was blocked from Twitter.  I don’t know what her reasons were for coming out.  Her reasons are her own, and they should be.  Maybe she didn’t intend or mean to lead this move to encourage others to come forward and be brave like her.  Maybe she just needed to come forward for herself.  That’s good enough for me, and it should be for everyone else.

What’s more in the public eye, is a side-effect of her having come out about what happened to her. She was tweeting about her screenplay, and wanting to get it back from Amazon. At least I think the issue occurred within those tweets.  Apparently she tweeted a phone number.  While that’s against Twitter policy, it’s a policy that is not consistently enforced. I was tweeting with someone else, after that happened, and the woman mentioned that her personal number was tweeted, and the perpetrator was never suspended. Why did Twitter suspend Rose, and not another person, for the same violation?

Because Twitter is being political. At least, that’s what it seems to be doing.  I hate personifying a social media platform, but it’s easier to for the flow of this discussion.  Twitter is seemingly taking some people’s reports more seriously than others, or at least listening to some, and ignoring others.  Maybe it’s the amount of people who report a tweet.  Are there so many reports that they give a tweet with, say 100 reports, more credence than a tweet that gets 1 report?  I can understand that type of prioritizing, but it would be a horrible way to structure the process for reporting and getting equal treatment on the platform.  It would instead encourage a mob/bullying mentality, where bullies can get people suspended, and victims have no justice, because they oftentimes stand alone.

After Rose’s account was suspended, people started tweeting #WomenBoycottTwitter, with the idea that everyone should boycott twitter, to stand in solidarity with her, and against Twitter suspending this brave person, who was trying to speak out.  At first, I thought this was a wonderful notion as a way to stand in solidarity, and ensure she was not alone.

This morning, I saw the #WOCAffirmation, and started to read about how this attempt to boycott and stand together was somewhat shortsighted.  We thought to come together for Rose, but what about countless women of color, who have come forward and did not have such a swelling of support?  What about Anita Hill? I can’t imagine what she went through, testifying in front of the whole country.  It was incredibly brave, and the country barely noticed her.  People did not rally around her, the way they have around the brave women, who came out this week.

One thing I’ve been learning, as I follow #BlackLivesMatter, watch 13th, and read articles by Shaun King, is that we must learn to speak up for others more.  We can’t just rally around those who look like us, or who look like they are going through something that could happen to us.

We have to learn to speak up for ourselves, but also to speak up for others.  What’s just as important is learning how to speak up for others.  It starts with listening to them.  Really listening.  Whether they are people of color, Muslim faith, Jewish faith, LGBTQ, or any group of people who are different from you.  Men or women.  We all need to learn to listen to each other.  We need to acknowledge that the way we might want someone to support us in a time of need, is not necessarily what another may want or need in their time of crisis.

With that in mind, I think that instead of a boycott of twitter, as I have been seeing others suggest, we should be more vocal. Let’s not protest being silenced by being silent. I think there are times where that can be effective (#TakeAKnee, #BoycottNFL), but in this context, I wonder if we need to make some noise.  For that noise to be effective, we’ve got to be together on the message. On what we want.

So, if we are going to stage a protest, we really should have a list of “demands”, or things we want changed.  I thought of some changes I want to social media platforms (Twitter, facebook, etc).  I came up with a draft list, and I’m sure others could come up with others/better.

  1. Block all accounts tweeting hate against other people eg nazis, kkk, alt-right etc
    1. Suspend until hateful tweets removed, deactivate account if hate tweets are repeated after suspension
  2. Take away check mark for fake news
    1. If an account tweets a false story, suspend until fake post is removed, remove check mark if fake posts are posted again
  3. Treat all violation reports equally
    1. tweeting personal info of another person (user or not)
    2. tweeting hate/threats/bullying
    3. tweeting fake/false posts or links
  4. Identify “bots” or fake accounts and delete them
    1. Go after person’s or entities creating them

I’m not naive enough to think it’s that simple, but it does seem that social media platforms, and the people who run those, have an obligation to take it that seriously.  They shouldn’t be giving the same level of credibility (verified check mark) to fake news and hate groups, as they do the rest of society and the truth.  I get that no one regulates the internet, but that’s the problem and the virtue.  Having overarching control over the internet could have the impact of silencing those who would speak out or dissent. It could stifle free speech.  At the same time, having no authority, means that we have a somewhat lawless frontier when we are online. It means that bullying and fake news run rampant. It means entire countries can wage war on the elections of other nation’s, by targeting fake news at people. They can sow discord and division. They can bully people into submission.

I propose that each social media platform has a responsibility to tackle this, and the ones who can figure out how to handle it best, will set the standard for the rest.  Whatever the solution, I imagine it will be most effective, if it is transparent to the users.  That way they will have buy-in from the users, and that’s buy-in they should seek.  It is, after all, a platform they built for our use.