Then there are people like this, who are just demented and cruel, who enjoy inflicting emotional pain but would never have the balls to get physical about it.
Long story short?
“How it started depends on who you ask. It escalated into frequent calls to police and personal protection orders against the Petkovs.
Besides posting disturbing photos on Facebook, the Petkov’s painted their truck with tombstones and placed a coffin in the back of the truck. The truck was parked in front of the Rose family home. The Petkov’s claim the truck is a decoration for Halloween.”
The Petkovs are the “nasty” neighbours. The Rose family includes 7-year-old Kathleen Edward, dying of Huntington Disease, daughter to the now-dead-from-Huntington’s Laura Edward (passed at age 24), and grand-daughter to Rebecca Rose, the owner of the home in question.
Now the Petkovs apologize. Sure, now. I don’t care how it started, there’s no justification for doing that to a dying seven-year-old.
That’s nature for you.
There are people like this out there. That’s reality. In the wild, mothers sometimes eat their young. It happens: Cruelty.
But it’s not the only thing that happens.
There’s more people out there who are sickened by this behaviour than those committing it, and it’s up to you to decide which group it is that gets your attention.
For every news story like this (and it IS “news” because it’s not typical, doesn’t happen often) there are dozens of stories of small but amazing acts of kindnesses that are being randomly committed upon every landscape on earth.
We are, in general, good people. We do, on average, help when help is needed. And, because we do, it’s technically not “news” often.
Sure, we fall apathetic and get distracted in our lives, but we usually jump up when the times require us to do so.
The reality out there is, violent crime is at its lowest levels in anyone’s memories.
Personal crime seems to occur less frequently, too.
Volunteerism is escalating.
Awareness on all sorts of issues has grown astronomically.
You see what you choose to see.
You’re surrounded by what you want to be surrounded by.
When you hear about stories like this, try to remember also that there are people who will go to amazing lengths to help strangers.
Every day, little kindnesses unfold, everywhere — not just the big stories, lots of little stories.
If you think the world is worse off, then what are you doing about it?
Just complaining? Feeling depressed? Giving in to your feelings?
Shut off the news. That’s your first problem. Read the news; don’t watch it.
Then, do something. Anything.
Buy someone on the street a lunch.* Every now and then I’ve got $5 I feel like spending on someone who looks legitimately hungry, and it’s the best money I spend all day when they appreciate it and genuinely smile.
But it doesn’t make the news.
When I make small talk on transit with what seems a lonely old person, their day brightens, they smile. That doesn’t make the news. When I see a parking enforcement officer down the block and some rundown car with an expired meter and I pop a quarter in to help a seemingly unwealthy person avoid a ticket, that, too, does not make the news.
They’re little things. It doesn’t take a lot to be kind in small ways.
Brightening another person’s day can often lift YOUR mood too.
There will always be people who don’t appreciate it. Sometimes the bought lunch gets scoffed at. You can’t SEE a meth or crack addiction right off, so you never know. Maybe the old person I get talking to is totally toxic and alone for good reason. It happens.
But when it works outweighs the fails.
It keeps me believing in us.
It keeps me respecting myself.
It keeps my focus on who we can be, not who some of us have devolved into.
And that’s how I prefer to think, the way I prefer to see us.
When it comes to how we are as a society, perspective is everything. Our history hasn’t been written yet, and you are not inconsequential in how it will unfold.
Good/Bad, you see what you want to see. Be the change you want. Live the cliche.
At times like these, the saying “pick your poison” has more relevance than ever. The happy “We Can Do It” juice, or are you more a “Life Sucks and Everyone’s Mean” on-the-rocks kinda person?
Choose. Then live it.
*Get high-calorie stuff.
Homeless folk generally don't have "vegan" tendancies, FYI.
There’s a social media camp happening over on Vancouver Island, and someone’s first quote was, “Social media isn’t about you.”
Every person I follow or engage with is because they’re offering something unique to them. If it wasn’t about them, I wouldn’t give a shit. If they’re just spouting links with no personal interjection, I don’t care.
T-Shirt design from Despair.com: http://www.despair.com/somevedi.html
If social media isn’t about YOU, then don’t bother.
I could pretend to care more about the people who followed me. I could engage more without provocation. I could follow more people. I could do the “shout-out-by-name” bullshit I so loathe.
And yet… I don’t.
And YET… I’m followed by people in every sector of the industries I’m interested in — and from lofty, lofty places. Editors, publishers, and media magnates follow me.
Largely, I guess, because I’m just “myself” online.
I don’t kiss ass, engage my powerful followers directly, “use” them as contacts, ask anything of them. I don’t do shout-outs or any of the things people will tell you are “good” Twitter.
And it works for me.
Because it’s all me, all day, all the time. I’m consistent, I’m constant, I’m myself, and I’m interesting. I diversify my stuff, I don’t apologize, and I am what I am. Loudly.
Maybe I could have even MORE followers than I do. But if I have to dumb myself down and be “nice” more, then I don’t wanna!
That’s what social media SHOULD be. It should be people being themselves — for better or worse — and putting it out there without apologies, as long as they’re respecting others and not being dicks.
I disagree with people, often, and disagree loudly. Every now and then my passion gets the better of me and I disagree a bit disrespectfully — and that’s not cool. Generally, though, I manage to toe the line pretty well. I still isolate people, but that’s life when you’re bold.
Anyone who follows me because they like my piss-and-vinegar style of sardonic tweeting, but then unfollows me because we one day disagree on a topic, is clearly the sort of person who probably needs more hand-holding in friendship or debates than I’m given to provide. Or, they just plain don’t like diversity in people.
So, y’know, buh-bye.
Do you seriously WANT everyone to like you?
Have you SEEN what “everyone” entails?
These are the people who keep Jersey Shore on the air, who wear Ed Hardy, who slam Brittney Spears in one breath then buy her music in another… People who don’t know what they like, but change their tune once YOU do. People who kept King of Queens on TV for years, who think Tracey Morgan actually IS funny… People who celebrate mediocrity.
You want THEM to like you? What the fuck FOR?
“Hi! I’m mediocre! I’m not really different. But lotsa people follow me!”
Seriously. Maybe this makes me a bitch. Maybe I’m “classist” for thinking there could be better cultural diversity out there.
Shit, I’ll buy that for a dollar, Pat.
Yes, I think my tastes put me in a select group as far as appeal goes, but that’s what branding of any kind should do. I’ll admit, my online presence is a sort of “branding.”
Isn’t yours? It should be. It ain’t selling out — it’s smarting-up, man.
There are those who suggest every person who follows you rates a follow-back. Why? WHY?
In life, does every person who wants to be your friend get to be your friend? NO.
Why? Because not everyone has something to offer you. Often, what they seek from you is what they can’t provide you.
Just because a guy’s interested in me in the Real World doesn’t mean I return that interest — usually because they don’t have anything to teach me, or don’t inspire me in any way, or just don’t make me think I’ll grow from our relationship.
Why should Twitter or Facebook be any different? Because you fuckin’ smell a dollar at the other end? Get real, you likely won’t make a penny off that extra follower, you’ll spread your focus thin, know less about everyone in general, and that’s that. Way to be “social”.
When we stop worrying about winning EVERYONE over to our side, we’ll start having more honest interactions.
And that brings us to the other topic I disagree with from Victoria’s Social Media Camp. “Social media means being social in real life too.”
Yes, to an extent, sure. But you have much to lose from being too visible. One can greatly control their image online. The more you’re social, the less intrigue you create. The more you’re social, the more you have to try to live up to that highly edited, highly opportunistic way of communicating online — and the more you can put your foot in it, so to speak.
Online, I’m funny and edgy and brash. It plays all right in person, too. But there’s some kind of intrigue I’ve created, accidentally, from not attending events often. As a result, I’m now less likely to attend events because I know there’s more buzz from going to them rarely than there is from being omnipresent, and, also, I know the people I do conspire to meet with feel more “special” because I don’t make myself available to everyone all the time.
Seriously, it’s working for me.
A few of my thoughts?
Pick your events wisely.
Ensure you have people on your side that’ll be there when you do attend.
Always know your “safe port in a storm” — a person you sidle up to when things feel they’re slipping away.
Make sure you have connections worth making by attending those events, that it’s not just the usual suspects you’ve befriended time and again — that’s not networking, that’s “hanging out”.
Shut your mouth until you’re confident your thoughts are relevant and you know what’s honestly being spoken about and even what the going opinions in the discussion are.
Don’t steal thunder from presenters at events by hogging questions or diva-ing it up with your resume before you ask a question, because other attendees will resent you. Resentment breeds distrust; way to shoot yourself in the foot. If your question is awesome, that’s ALL the introduction you need.
Know the limits of your appeal. Don’t oversell yourself.
Less is more.
Be interested in others — you’re not as important as you think you are, and showing that interest can be compelling to them.
You can’t undo bad appearances. You can’t take back a first impression. If you’re not feeling like you’re “on”, then don’t risk the damage that can come from appearing at a non-essential event when you’re not on your game.
Networking takes mojo. Being different takes actually operating differently and even taking risks.
And when you play the game, think about the long-term, not just the one event. Will it really help you obtain new ground? Or is it just another networking event where everyone who’s hungry for clients are all out competing for the same piece of meat — like a pack of hyenas on a single little fox’s corpse?
Because that’s most likely the case.
Networking with other entrepreneurs is useful occasionally, but don’t kid yourself that it’s a surefire way to pay the rent. Pick your battles and pick them strategically. In so doing, be yourself, ‘cos no one else has what makes you “you”.
Question is: Do you know what that “uniquely you” thing is? Time to find out, if you don’t.
A friend of mine laughed at me the other day when I suggested that I was an “oversharer” on the internet.
“Hah! You? Oversharing?”
Yes, I know. Just a smidge. The thing is, I’m pretty good at toeing a line these days. I don’t tell you what I don’t want you to know. Pretty simple.
Learning how to toe that line, though, WHOO. I done fucked up on more than just a few occasions, s o much so that I jokingly referred to myself and those like me, who’ve been oversharing for years, as “Closet Skeleton Pioneers”.
By that I mean that everyone’s got skeletons in their closets — some lover they treated like shit, a job they stole office supplies from, a friend they betrayed, a speeding ticket, you name it.
EVERYONE has been a dick at one point or another. Dig deep enough and you’ll find dirt. (If not, you’re boring, live a little.)
Luckily for me, I hit the age of 21 before the internet got invented.
And my record’s been expunged. Hardy-har, right.
The point is, despite what you think you know about me, I consider myself a really ethical person and there are things I’ve done and said that I hope never see the light of day because I don’t want them taken out of context, since we all know context is EVERYTHING.
And that’s the problem. When you see a photo on the web or a snippet of a conversational exchange, context gets lost and objectivity goes right out the window with it.
We all know that’s true of many events in our lives.
So who the fuck is doing all the judging?
Are you? Are employers? Is your lover?
Who’s doing the judging when my friend on Twitter reacted yesterday morning after he received an email after a husband found his wife “Facebook cheating” and sent the entire exchange out to their kids’ school’s parents mailing list? Ain’t just the hubby judging now, is it?
What were employers digging up that led Germany to introduce a new law that will make it illegal for them to do job-applicant background searches on Facebook? Probably they were digging up a lot of skeletons, right?
It goes without question: Things you say or do on Facebook, Twitter, and in other areas of the web can absolutely destroy your life.
But who is doing the judging?
There’s a reason it’s so damn hard to become a Saint in the Catholic Church, you know — perfection’s pretty fucking difficult to come by.
When I was a kid in Bible school, I was told a story about Jesus intervening in a stoning, saying to the angry crowd of sanctimonious rock-chuckers “Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone”, or somethin’ thereabouts.
Really: In 2010, who’s without sin?
I mean, the Catholic Church outlawed SPEEDING, for crying out loud. Everything’s a sin. The Pet Shop Boys had it right.
When I look back upon my life
It’s always with a sense of shame
I’ve always been the one to blame
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too
It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin
It’s a sin
Everything I’ve ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve ever been
Everywhere I’m going to
It’s a sin
Was Neil looking back at his life on the web? Woulda if he coulda then, I bet.
So, let’s just accept that everyone’s imperfect, and, instead, (like this guy here and his “degrees of evil” guide to killers), get ourselves a handy cheat-sheet of just what level of assoholic or just plain edgy social behaviour one is guilty of and how it ranks them on the Good Versus Dick scale, okay?
Never emails or messages you back, but pathologically lurks and knows Everything That Happens every time you talk in person. Creepy but not mean.
Likes kinky sex and lets everyone know it.
Thinks “cleavage” and “profile pic” are synonymous.
Considers social media his personal dick-dipping pool and has more numbers in his contacts than the CIA does.
Just LOVES drinking wine and doing so liberally. While telling you all about it. Every single night.
Keeps getting caught in masturbatory lies that make them sound great, but you know through the grapevine that they’re barely making rent and are shopping at Thrift Stores, while judging others for doing the same kinda “posing”.
Has, like the majority of people over 21, tried marijuana or something else questionable at a party at least once.
Speaks frankly about their disgust for political figures or employers.
Has a spouse yet endlessly flirts with others, without boundaries, and in public.
Has a pulse.
I mean, seriously. Half the things I do on a daily basis would probably get me fired from most jobs, because I’d never keep my mouth shut about what I hate and why. My old employers got a giggle out of it, but I assure you — it’s an acquired taste.
Despite what you may think of my loudmouthed, in-your-face, drinks-too-much, full-of-innuendo online persona (and, yes, it somewhat exists offline, and without a backspace key), I’m a good person.
I’m a really, really good person.
I hold the door open for men and little old ladies. I say “please”, “thank you”, and “sorry.” I look people in the eye. I pay my taxes. I’m honest, I don’t steal. I’m a quiet neighbour, a good daughter, a great friend. I bake muffins for lovers. I pay back my debts.
So, if you want to jump to conclusions about me based on the image I portray on the web — knowing I’m a creative person with a gift for fiction — then you’re entirely entitled to do so, and I’m entirely entitled to think you’re a narrow-minded presumptive dick who’s not worthy of my time.
Or maybe I just see you as someone who needs to think outside the box a little more.
Who I am online might have hurt me in the past but it helps me now. I have something to gain from keeping this persona/point-of-view alive. There’ll always be a price I pay as a result of it, but I’m hoping that’s just the cost of doing business.
I’m not the only web-user with a persona, or with skeletons; I’m just hyper-honest about it.
As time goes on, though, all of us will have our skeletons exposed. Then, with more to compare and contrast, we’ll know who the real assholes are — unless, of course, none of it’s true.
And that’s the problem with reaching any conclusions based on the web.
How do you know it’s true? When everyone can enter information and nothing’s necessarily vetted on the web, how do you know it’s true?
Simple: You don’t.
Here’s how I operate.
I watch for how people actually are with each other, online and otherwise: How they argue, how they’ll never let up, how they want the last word, how they judge others, how they talk about others, how they scheme or gossip. Because it’s in their everyday words and behaviour that we really see who people are — special events, like parties with hijinks, are too out-of-context to really give us an inkling of who someone is.
Me, I’ve written a lot over the years, on topics about everything from drinking and drugs to kinky sex, but you’d be wrong if you thought I was particularly wild or exciting anymore.
I’m being boring nowadays. I just make it sound exciting.
And there you have the web in a nutshell, and why laws like Germany’s are long overdue — when it comes to the internet, you can’t believe everything you read. You certainly can’t dismiss it, either. But there are no litmus tests or polygraphs one can administer to online “personality” accounts to judge the veracity of their content.
It’s time people started realizing you really can’t judge any of us on the little you see of us online, and that the skeletons in our closet aren’t nearly as big or scary as you think they are, especially when brought into the light.
If you want to supplement what you know of someone by how they are online, and you can do so judiciously and with many grains of salt, then knock yourself out.
Just don’t be surprised when that spotlight hits your life, too.
In fact, some of your skeletons probably look awfully similar to ours. After all, dontcha know? It’s quid pro quo season on closet skeletons.
Yesterday, someone in the Vancouver social media scene* sort of thought it ironic that I should slag “tweetups” as being elitist and circle-jerky, since I was avoiding the whole worldwide “Social Media Appreciation Day” thing that Mashable sponsored and launched right here in Vancouver.
Apparently the thought is that I am now “elite” in Vancouver.
I was taken aback a little, to be honest. About being called elite, not that Mashable should say we are the seat of the world’s social media scene right now.
So, about that. Let’s talk about social media in Vancouver and maybe how I do or don’t fit into it, okay?
These days, compared to a lot of people, I don’t have a “huge” Twitter following — it’s about 3,500, but in there are a lot of really notable people in media. I suppose that’s why Klout thinks I’m up there in my influence now. Weird shit.**
Now, you gotta know: I logged onto Twitter back in April of 2008, looked around, and said “This is fuckin’ lame. No way this will ever catch on.”
I didn’t log in again until August, when it sorta started making some sense to me.
Then I found myself liking the challenge of coming up with interesting things that people might get a kick out of, or respond to — I loved the resonance I had when I was creative and/or funny.
For me, Twitter has always been about the thrill of creation. I challenge myself to see the world uniquely, and try to relate it to others in a way that makes them indentify and think, “YEAH, TOTALLY.” I like to make observations most people have only the inclination to think, but seldom to speak.
I try and be to Twitter in lifestyle observations what someone like George Carlin might’ve been — that’s my goal. I’m falling short, sure, but that’s the goal. I’m not fucking there to be all buddy-and-chatty, but I do let myself get social on there, and love the friends it’s brought into my “real” life.
Frankly, being on Twitter has changed and improved my life in EVERY way. I don’t deny that, and it’s why it’s such a valued role / time-focus for me. I do LOVE the opportunities it generates.
When it comes to blogging in Vancouver, I can count on one hand the number of official “blogging” events I’ve attended — and one was as a speaker. I’ve been to less than 10 tweetups in two years. I’m hardly “on the scene” except via what you see online, and that’s how I’d prefer it.
To be truthful, I have social phases, they come and go — usually with the seasons, literally. Winter, I hibernate, but summer, I love to see people more.
As far as celebrities and/or “connected” people on Twitter or in blogging, know whose ass I kiss? No one’s. People I talk to, I talk to because I’ve got something to say or I genuinely like them, or, as is often the case, they’ve said something that springboards into the perfect joke for me to crack.
I think blogging/Twitter celebrities are a fucking laugh, because I’ve “been one” in the past, and I know what my life was like behind the scenes and how hard I had to work to keep that wagon-wheel turning — and how much I personally began to compromise to see that happen.
I know how disposable we “social media stars” all are. Think you’re a creative genius? Yeah, you’re just one of millions — and it can go as quickly as it comes, as I’ve learned myself. Get over yourself, ‘cos pedestals and empires both come tumbling down, my friend.
Online celebrity that your livelihood depends upon not as enviable a position as you might think, so I don’t care to be a professional blogger. If I did, you’d see oodles of ads on here or affiliate sites.
But, you don’t.
Maybe you will one day — I’m not above it; it’s just that I’m not interested in what it takes to keep going successfully. I have NO illusions about how hard it is to keep that success going, and I don’t want to be beholden to my content right now. Advertising can influence content if it becomes too financially integral to you, and I’m on this blogging journey for myself and to create dialogue about things, not to have a livelihood. Priorities, and I know what mine are right now.
As a result, I don’t need to go to tweetups to whore myself for clients, network, or make buddies, since I’m already stretched for making time for people I care about, so I kinda hate tweetups, for the most part.
Why? They’re awkward. A lot of tweetups can be phony, filled with self-puffery and promotion. Every time you shake a hand, you get a resume. It’s often loud and blarey. No “real” communication happens at them. They’re cliquey — I’m forced to pick people to hang out with, and I don’t WANT to pick a table and stick with it; I’d rather meet a wide assortment of people. I’m a mingler, not a “sit and be exclusive” type, and I hate feeling like I have to stick with who I came with. I prefer smaller events with 10 or fewer people, where I can actually make eye-contact with everyone and talk to each person at the table.
I didn’t fucking ASK to be liked by you, or anyone.
All I sought to do was be real, be myself, have a place to put my voice, and honour my responsibility to deliver the content I know I’m capable of creating.
THAT’s what I do.
THAT’s what I want acclaim for and feel I deserve it for, because I do take risks and put myself out there, and I’ve been judged, and I’ve lost jobs, and I’ve been ostracized, all while I’ve fought to have relevance for my voice and the beliefs I think deserve to get air time with everyone else’s.
I’m a WRITER. I’m a writer who uses the now-accessible modern tools well. That’s ALL.
I’ve paid the real-life price to get noticed and be outspoken, and I did it on my terms the whole goddamned time.
Yes, I think that’s worth saying.
Yes, I’m proud of never compromising who I am.
You think that makes me full of myself? Then I’m sorry you don’t know what it’s like to have pride in what you’ve created. Pride is good, so long as you realize you’re not the only one with skillz.
I deliberately avoid hanging out with those perceived to be “the elite” because I don’t want ANYONE to think that’s all that I’m about.
I’ve worked too hard for this NOT to be about MY CONTENT and ONLY my content.
Am I going to diss the elite? No fucking way. Why not? Because some of them are incredible people doing incredible things, and they deserve every bit of their acclaim, whether you think so or not. A lot of people slam the “elite” out of jealousy or some sense of entitlement that leaves them feeling like they’ve been robbed via others’ success.
It’s bullshit. You get what you work for in life, and if you’re not getting what you want, you’re doing it wrong.
Trust me, this I know. I’ve spent a lot of time fucking it up over the years. I have a doctorate in fucking up, honey.
These days, I’m just riding the wave life brings me, and if being myself and not censoring my thoughts on Twitter somehow has given me cachet with a wide range of people, then that’s great, but it’s not EVER been the motivation behind anything I’ve tweeted or blogged.
I was the unpopular kid in high school so I get how bullshit popularity is, and how, for every person who’s accepted and celebrated, there are a dozen who are isolated and hurt — and that, too, is bullshit.
I am NOT a part of that circle. I am NOT a part of that hurt.
If I fucking cared about the circle-jerk, or thought my social status mattered, I’d probably try to offend fewer people.
I don’t even know what elitism is anymore, because I know I’m sure as hell not guilty of it, yet I get the feeling I’m accused of it.
I’m an anti-social person who comes to hang out some of the time, but would rather have someone over for coffee, not tweet about their visit, and just keep it real. I’m not snubbing anyone, it’s just not my deal.
Walk a decade in my shoes and maybe you’ll see why I like my quiet, anti-social life.
Know who I had over for breakfast this morning? Nope, you don’t. They’re “elite”, according to some people’s skewed perspectives on things, but I don’t give a fuck if you know. Why? Because I don’t need your approval, I don’t need the reputation-crutch of name-dropping, and I just generally don’t care.
The only time I do care is when people think I’m mean or a jerk, because I’m not, and it’s plain wrong to think so.
Find a time I’ve used cruelty against a person or group for humour. Give me an example. You can’t. Tell me about the time that I publicly ostracized someone who did something inconsequential, making an mockery of them in an attempt to belittle them. Right, you can’t. Tell me about the time that I snubbed people who approached me at an event. Yeah, you can’t do that either.
Because that’s not who I am.
I’m a scattered ADHD chick with strong but fair opinions and a biting sense of humour who’s just doing her shit, and people seem to like it.
Where you think it places me on the social spectrum is all about your deal, it’s not my reality.
It’s like that line in the Breakfast Club opening voiceover — “You see us how you want to see us.”
But I’m the chick that wakes up knowing I live with a bug problem and have to struggle to pay the rent.
I’m not on the A-list, I’m not hobnobbing, I’m not well-to-do, and I’m not who you fucking think I am.
Just because I give you this strategic view on my world doesn’t mean you really know jack shit about my life, so don’t kid yourself. You know EXACTLY what I want you to know, and not a fucking bit more — because I’m anti-social and things about my life don’t just “slip” into the public knowledge. It’s very much under my thumb. All of it.
You think I’m the ultimate oversharer? Heh. Right. I’m pulling the puppet-strings — I’m a content creator, I’m not a diarrhetic flood with no censure. Trust me, there’s a master plan, but it doesn’t involve hobnobbing with “the scene”.
It’s time to get over what we think other people are, and just take them exactly for what they say and do.
Because, you know, if you actually judge me on my words and actions, I’ll be goddamned proud to stand behind them.
And that’s who I am.
*This person meant it in a casual observation way and I didn’t take offense but it was the first time someone really put into words what I’ve sort of had people suggesting for a while now, and now that it’s out and said, I thought I’d write about it. As I started writing, I got worked up. Thus the cookie crumbles.
**Maybe being interested in Klout seems hypocritical after this rant, but why would I create content if I didn’t want it read or absorbed? I’m absolutely interested in knowing my resonance, I want to be read, I just don’t care about getting on “the list” socially.
There’s a couple that have been long prominent in Vancouver’s web community, and last night came the heart-breaking news that they’re ending their marriage.
How did the news reach us all?
They both changed their Facebook relationship status to “…from married to single” within moments of each other, and with one simple “Yes, it means what you think it means”, the cat was out of the bag and their entire friend/peer community knew.
Gone is the era in which they’d have to have uncomfortable dinners or stilted conversations with one friend after another after another, gently breaking the news that their friends are gonna take hard, making them feel even shittier for having a marriage fall apart.
Now, boom, everyone knows. Just like that.
It’s terrible, in a way, the idea we can all receive so quickly and casually such perspective-shifting news affecting people who have genuinely touched most of our lives.
There’s something disjointed about reading one small system-generated line of “X has changed their relationship status from married to single” among a newstream filled with political news and shared videos of a cat dancing.
These “small” tidbits about our changing lives float in “newsfeeds” now, as if they’re just another piece of fascinating trivia we’re supposed to digest while we absently surf the web in sneaky moments on the job, or distractedly click through those social sites where we just vicariously absorb the coolness of others’ lives.
Facebook isn’t just a revolving door of meaningless status changes. It really is a way to keep us all connected.
In all the nauseous sadness that came with the suspicion that, yes, those two relationship status updates really did mean what they looked to mean, I thought “Thank god they can tell everyone so easily now.”
Dissolving a marriage? Oh, my god. I can’t imagine the shattered illusions and sadness that comes from having to admit it’s over, the horror and fear that comes from making the first step to end the possibility of all those dreams you once made together, the feeling of perverse betrayal and anxiousness at telling friends and families the union is over.
It’s unquestionably going to be one of the worst weeks in the lives of both of those people. And here, bang, pow, all of a sudden they have everyone in the know, offering support, and just saying, “We’re so sorry, we understand, we’re here.”
As if any message could mean more to either of them today.
Say what you will about the flash coolness of the internet and how detached it makes us from each other — always plugged in via vicarious tidbits, thus able to stay comfortably at arms’ length while we busily carry on with our modern mad lives — but there are times like these the internet is like a lifeline thrown to troubled souls.
Never has it been easier to rally the support of those who love you, or to just put a desperate plea for understanding, help, or time out to those best able to deliver.
As a society, we need to learn to share more with each other, to use each other as crutches through hard times, and we have to learn how to react when our friends express themselves.
I’m sad for my peers today, for what they’ve lost, and for what I know they face in the coming year as they try to re-find their place in their newly-single worlds, but I’m very glad their choice of being plugged into an online community (that has really strong roots in real life, locally, too) will get them through this time with support and love.
That’s the power of the internet — it holds the ability to unite us, inform us, and keep us tuned into every passing minute… not just globally, but interpersonally.
It’s a good power. A life-changing, life-saving power.
Yes, I’m sad for my friends today, but I’m proud of them for having the courage to know when it’s time to change things. What a difficult, but important step. I’m happy to know they have friends who swear they’ll be there, I’m glad to know they have a place to ask for help.
I actually am somewhat empathetic with the “pro” stance on this issue. People are mean. Many folks have thin skin. Protecting the weaker is what the stronger should do. But at what cost? So, when in doubt, I say educate and don’t overly interfere. Read on.
Hey, I know what we should do.
We should make people scared of things. Like, you know, social media. We should demonize the medium instead of putting responsibilities upon the user. We should say that, because bad things sometimes happen, everything in that realm is therefore always bad.
Because that’s worked with everything else.
Like rock and roll. Or sexy books. Cable television. Elvis’s hips.
If Anthony Orsini has his way, his high school’s students won’t have any freedom or privacy when it comes to social media, if they have access at all. New Jersey’s Benjamin Franklin Middle School principal sees social media as the beginning of the downfall of civilization if the students keep at it in Facebook, Twitter, and phone texting.
R u srs? I rly dbt it.
As the principal explains in his email to students’ parents:
I want to be clear, this email is not anti-technology, and we will continue to teach responsible technology practices to students. They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause, and I don’t want any of our students to go through the unnecessary pain that too many of them have already experienced.
Some people advocate that the parents and the school should teach responsible social networking to students because these sites are part of the world in which we live.
I disagree, it is not worth the risk to your child to allow them the independence at this age to manage these sites on their own, not because they are not good kids or responsible, but because you cannot control the poor actions of anonymous others.
Learn as a family about cybersafety together at wiredsafety.org for your own knowledge.
The principal makes valid points in his email. Cyber-bullying is insane. Just yesterday I witnessed supposedly intelligent, kind adults being complete dicks to each other over, get this, child care, on Twitter.
Yeah, humanity’s capable of ridiculous things.
And the internet is a portal to all of them.
Which is precisely why we can’t say “NEIN! NO NET FOR YOU!” to our kids and then just open the floodgates when grade 12 rolls around and the real world comes a-knocking at their door.
How crazy that’d be — all of a sudden hurtled into the all-too-real world of the internet, with its predators and fuckheads and petty people and madness — at the 16 or 18, if entirely sheltered and uber-patrolled by parents who want to bubble-ize the world so their precious kids never, ever get hurt?
Until, of course, they become adults and go out in the world all by themselves. Boy, talk about your culture shocks. Talk about mindfucks. It’s not preschool out there, folks.
Prepare your kids for the Real World by letting ’em get hurt the way nature intended: In high school.
Speaking about nature, did you know some medical journals have been running stories about how we’re doing damage to our feet by wearing these hyper-engineered running shoes designed to protect our feet and soles? Super-padded, ultra-complex sneakers. It’s the anti-Chuck’s All-Stars.
Know why we’re supposedly damaging our feet with all this protection? Because the added support interferes with the spread, support, and reach a foot should normally have on its own, so lesser inner muscles are now rendered unused. Deemed somewhat inconsequential when you look at the whole of the foot, these “bitty” muscles are actually to skeletal structural integrity what a stud is to a building’s stability.
So, we have more foot injuries than ever before.
BUT, HEY, that’s okay, ‘cos we’ve got this awesome new Nike shoe, dude! And it’s pretty.
Increasingly, trainers are proposing barefoot training as part of an overall fitness regimen, to help create better overall strength.
Take away the excess support and the support becomes unneeded because strength increases.
Sounds like some of the 15-year-olds I know could use a little of that therapy.
Nowadays, a “social networking crackdown” for the “protection” of kids is like putting them in a bubble or over-engineering shoes — you’re just making ’em more susceptible when they hit the real deal without all your safeguards.
There’s a reason we don’t let socialized animals return to the wild from shelters — they’ll be mincemeat! Why do we insist on doing it with our children?
We decommissioned the Hubble telescope because it was “unsafe” for astronauts to work on it. In space. Where astronauts are supposed to work. These aren’t cable guys — safety wasn’t a job requirement for them. “Flaming rocket hurtling into space? Cool. Sign me up. Ooh, oxygen deprivation? Cool!”
We put rubber on playgrounds so kids would stop falling — LOL! — and hurting themselves. Now they just burn the shit out of themselves when they fall on the scorching rubber in the dog days of summer. Protecting equals hurting, oh, ironic! Who knew!
We have labels on coffee cups telling us the hot coffee we just bought is hot. On my planet, if you’re too stupid to know this, you don’t get a label.
You know what?
Get hurt. Get over it. Animals do.
We’ve taken the Darwinism out of human existence.
We’re fucking pathetic.
Educate children. Teach them what a predator is. Empower them to band in groups if it gets them through. Intervene when kids are being dicks. Make examples of bad behaviour.
But don’t tell me the only way to be safe is to stick your fucking head in the sand and pretend the real world isn’t there.
I say teach kids the dangers of the real world, because the dangers will find ’em anyways. I say give ’em slingshots and full-fat ice cream.
Whatever it takes, this wussification of the modern kid has got to stop.