TMI

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I apologize for my last post. I have diagnosed myself with information overload, and it took me a while to figure that out.

It’s a very interesting thing that happens when we ingest new information. There’s pleasure that occurs. Not immense amounts, mind you, but we all feel good when we learn or see a new thing. If it’s something small, like hearing a new song, the pleasure is small, too. But we humans have found a way to increase that small pleasure by ingesting ALL THE THINGS on social media. Every day my friend’s feed is filled to the brim with recipes, quotes, news links from around the globe, comics, pictures of baby animals, or babies, or babies with baby animals… the list, she goes on.

And it feels good to look at it all. Or, at least most of it. There’s always bitter with the sweet. Harold Ramis dying, for example, or stories about mutated sea creatures from the Fukushima meltdown. There are outcries about the political stupidities in Arizona or the racial discrimination in Florida. It’s all there, ready for mass consumption.

The trouble is, when you’re constantly ingesting, you really get no time to digest. Information all on it’s own is great, and it should be free. However, humans, just like computers, have a limited amount of RAM to dedicate to all this stuff. Sure, we’ll forget The Beef Seeds after a few weeks, but our brain will have an impression from wondering what a fox does say. It will last beyond the initial listening, and the seeming ‘forgetting’ that we do. How do I know this? Does anyone remember the Hamster Dance?

I have been grounding myself from the computer. I have been trying, at any rate. My full time job demands I be in front of a computer, and my part-time work as a writer sits me in front of the computer as well. It’s almost impossible to ignore the urge to see how many likes are on my author page or if anyone’s posted a new funny thing.

Without a doubt, I seem to process thoughts better if I leave them on the burner for a while. If I think deeply on a topic, rather than shallowly about a lot of things. Obviously some of our thoughts have to be shallow, or we’d never get on with our day. However, I think our society is on a dangerous vector to avoid thinking deeply about a topic because it’s unpleasant or hard, and then becoming a society that no longer knows how to think as a whole.

Deep thoughts are where the change comes from.

 

 

Don’t Read This. I’m Grumpy.

Everything we know about living is incorrect.

We are not meant to live in square houses. We are not meant to work 40 hours a week. We are not meant to cram our social lives into the tiny spaces that are allotted to us.

We are basing ourselves off of a “fair” system. However fair is simply determined by the person making the decision. We do not take into account the outliers.

We have no sympathy for the mentally ill. We have no sympathy for the physically handicapped. We don’t believe its fair the attention that they receive.

Who benefits from having people separated for long hours, isolated from their families, simply to give Mom and Dad time to work? The corporations do. It doesn’t benefit middle-class America. We fill our days with bobbles purchased at Walmart or target. We salivate over $100 handbags or possibly new kitchen ware. We cursed taxes but we don’t see the problem with having rules set forth about our behavior, what we wear, when we go to the bathroom.

Everyone lets the corporations get away with it because they have the money to do so. However, their money is dependent on the backs of their workers. So, doesn’t it behoove them to have happy workers?

I remember working in the 1990’s. It was a time when getting a job was easy. If you got an interview, you got the job. And the benefits were fantastic. Medical benefits through the roof, gym memberships at twelve bucks a month, corporate discounts for everything.

When I was laid of in 2009, I panicked. I had a two year old child, and I had never been unemployed before in my life. I looked for work incessantly. And, as many of you know, 2009 was not the year to be reading the Help Wanted ads.

The society that we have created is unsustainable. The way that the technological boom has grown, people will become superfluous as workers.  With a system that focuses solely on a person’s net worth, having a person not capable of working despite their ability to work is going to cause an erosion of the value of a dollar. They won’t be able to spend dollars, or make them, and they’re still going to need to survive.

Everyone is trying to play the “Not My Problem” card, but here’s the truth. We’re all human. We don’t have anywhere else to go. And sooner or later, this problem will penetrate the adminosphere of rich corporate heads when they realize their labor has siphoned off and left them with nothing to generate further income.

I don’t pontificate on the state of the world much, and when I do I’m not eloquent. I do not raise the hopes of the masses, and I do not always understand how we all went so astray. I just have to get this out of my head so I can move forward with my day.

My hope is that we will start to see value in the small things again, the basic survival skills that people should need. My other hope is that people will stop finding the bottom line being more important than the human line.

Valentine’s Bitch

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I don’t like Valentine’s Day. Now, I’m sure a lot of people can’t believe that, what with me having such an awesome husband. And I do have an awesome husband. However, Luke is currently carving powder on Mount Baker, and I stayed home sick with a cold. He could have stayed home with me, but he chose to go instead. Now, I am not condemning his actions. I am not at Death’s door, and he’d been planning on going for some time. What I am saying is that love is not about a day. Luke doesn’t buy me flowers, but he puts Toby to bed every other night. He doesn’t get me cutsey stuffed animals, but he washes the dishes. He’s definitely the least romantic man I’ve ever had a relationship with. He’s also the best partner I’ve ever had in life. Valentine’s Day is all very good and well. I’m glad some relationships use it to inspire each other to dizzying heights of passion. On the other hand, I hope people who feel might feel despair on this day simply because they’re currently not “with” someone stop feeling rejected. The people who are celebrating their love are celebrating their personal relationship, and not your lack of one.

Every year I feel irritated because I see all the clever things people are doing for their lovers, and my husband just isn’t like that. Then I remember what he *is* like and I concede that 364 days a year, he doesn’t disappoint.

Junk Food

There are times in my day when the idea of potato chips sounds appealing. I just can’t stop thinking about a chocolate bar. Either that, or an espresso milkshake.

Sugar creates cravings in me. I know I’m not the only one, but it makes things hard when my naturopath explained that sugar is effectively poison (for my body type.)

It’s a poison that feels good. My mind hums on sugar; my body feels energized, and the good mood it stimulates makes me feel like it’s worth the twenty or so extra pounds I carry. I have tried everything, but it’s like quitting smoking. No gum, no patch, not even hypnosis is going to make you forget how good smoking feels. You just have to make a decision.

While I was on vacation this year, I realized that there’s something else I crave. The Internet. As certainly as I feel like I can’t live without chocolate, I feel like if I don’t check the internet regularly, I don’t know what’s going on.

But what do people post, really? Cat pictures. Funny baby stories. Upsetting political maneuvers by their rival political party. Movie trailers. Celebrity misdeeds. I find it very hard to find a Facebook post that actually says anything anymore. It’s a cacophony of noise and no substance.

Sadly, it makes me miss the days of LiveJournal, when pictures were few and posts were about people’s direct experiences with the world. Certainly there were faux pas, breakups that exploded in vitriolic posts or the ever-favorite drunk posting.. but at least the content was real. It wasn’t whining about a Coke commercial.

My next goal is to include social media in my ‘junk food’ category. I am going to try to minimize my distraction. I’m going to stop shopping – that is, browsing for things I don’t know I want until I see them. I’m taking a 6 month hiatus from buying junk. If I run out of ink for my printer, that doesn’t count. I’m going to avoid Amazon unless I am looking for ink for my printer, is all.

I’m going to give myself one social-media day a week. I am in the process of writing a book, but that’s lonely work, and I’m not posting passages out of my rough draft. Not yet, anyway.

I think this will give me time to focus on more worthwhile content. I like writing blog posts. It reminds me a lot of LiveJournal, without the commentary. That bums me out some, but maybe I can write posts that encourage more active comments.

I don’t think that the Intarnet is something I could ever truly give up. I’m a tech support specialist at work, an ex-app developer, and my friends work at Disney Mobile and Deloitte, Microsoft and PopCap Games. I am a technophile through and through.

However, while there are a thousand cute kittens, a thousand cute dogs, a thousand cute babies that all have charming giggles. If I sat weeding through them all day, I might find something that really stood out. Or, I could stop spending time on an inconsequential task and start producing something.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never be sorry I watched Vin Diesel lip sync to Katy Perry, but a line has to be drawn somewhere.

I feel better in the long run when I cut out sugar. After the first few days of craving, I notice I’m distinctly more clear-headed. My scale is nicer to me, and I’m less emotionally wonky. I notice a similar, if different effect with a lack of Internet – I feel less of a need to choke people to death, for starters. I don’t get my emotional high off of heart-warming stories of pitbulls saving kittens from burning buildings, but I don’t have to endure the lows of seeing Russia round up homeless dogs and slaughter them to clear the streets for the Olympics, either.

So, fear not my local WordPressers – I am not going to stop blogging, and I am not going to stop supporting other people’s blogs. Facebook, Tumblr, these are the places that I am withdrawing from. I’m tired of soundbytes. I want more substance.

Authentic

When we are children, we are our authentic selves. Completely unaware of other people’s feelings, emotionally self-centered, we learn from society how to behave. These behaviors are essential, especially to a child. It creates a set of rules in which they can begin to build on, to “fit in” and share. Humans are social animals. We need other people – and that means learning to communicate with others.

What we gain from becoming societal animals, though, we lose some of our authentic self. We compromise our personality a bit, but it seems so harmless at the time. We’re children, after all, voraciously learning everything, learning so much we don’t always have time to question everything we’re learning.

Also remember that our parents’ message might be well meaning, but the understanding may in fact become flawed. My parents taught me common sense, a strong work ethic, and a desire to take care of others around me. What I learned was that following my dreams was a good way to get hurt. That was in no way what my parents intended me to learn. That was my interpretation of what they meant.

Now, I’m beginning to unravel the faulty understanding that I built through my childish misunderstandings. I am starting to feel the security of believing in myself… not in the ra, ra, everyone expects me to believe this so I do kind of way, but in the quiet certainty that I got this. I’ve been through this cycle before, but I was nineteen, and my break from not believing in myself was overcompensating with rock star levels of arrogance. Fortunately, I couldn’t be deported back to my hometown, and I grew out of that phase as I left puberty behind me.

When I was twenty-five, I had a life-changing conversation with my cousin Von, in his friend’s newly remodeled kitchen. My cousin Von is also a writer, but he’s ten years older than me, so his level of experience is always a decade ahead. Probably moreso; he’s always seemed like an old soul to me. It was this rare moment that he told me that things would begin to change, and that I would experience life on a different cognitive level. I would feel more in charge of my life. And he was right.

The interesting part of that reaches me now, that I am just past the age he was when he told me how my life would change. He was telling me how twenty-five would be different, but he never got around to telling me how different thirty-five would be.

Now, I have seen past the incorrect view, that dreams are too hard to achieve. Now, I see what my parents meant, which was that you can set yourself up for disappointment chasing dreams, if you don’t use your common sense and work ethic to chase them.

There are six billion, swiftly becoming seven billion, people on this blue-green marble in space. We don’t compete for the things we used to. Corporations gang up and roll in, dominating mineral rights and land and resources. But it’s not just them. It’s your neighbor, competing for a job. It’s your co-worker, competing for a promotion. It’s your children, competing for your attention. When you’re competing, it makes dreams seem like a very nice thing to think about, but they seem as far away as a date with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

At least, it did to me. I felt as though nothing would ever change, until it did. These moments of insight are becoming more frequent, and it feels like when I experience one, I am left feeling different. They resonate with me, despite knowing that I’m not the only one who knows these things, and that there are people who have beat me to this understanding, and have been enjoying their knowledge for years.

Hopefully I can keep going, and I can inspire a few others to find this way for them as well.