The Evils of Social Media

“I don’t get all that social media stuff. I’ve always got other things I want to to like odd jobs around the house. No one wants to hear about that.” ~ Karl Pilkington

“…if your real friends online say or do something, it affects you. But if your online acquaintances online say or do something, it does not. People, on average, have about 106 Facebook friends, but only five or six real friends.” – Nicholas A. Christakis

Ah, social media. Many of us have one or more accounts on one or more of our devices. Yet there are some who still don’t even have an account no matter what their age is. Why is this? Their reply to me is because of all the negativity that’s on there. While I agree with this, I also disagree. Before I go into that let’s briefly look at the history of social media and human behavior for a better understanding

Throughout the ages mankind has had problems communicating with each other. It probably started the first time JQ Caveman didn’t understand what John Doe Caveman said. It continued when someone, perhaps a king, sent a messenger to deliver a message to someone else, and again when man or woman first started writing letters. Fast forward to present day. In about the last 200 years, we’ve had the invention of the telegraph, the telephone, the computer, the satellite phone and the cell phone. With these inventions, new ways of communicating has evolved. Text or instant messaging and social media. The problem? The lack of face to face, human to human contact.

Social media was created as a way for humans to connect to each other wherever they were in the world. You may be surprised to know that social media actually had its earliest beginnings in the 1970’s, believe it or not. Chat rooms and instant messenger programs were the first to be created but due to the lack of people connected to the Internet, networks were limited. It would be a few years before the Internet’s infrastructure and popularity could catch up with the concept of social networks.

In the 1980’s and ‘90’s, development of these platforms along with other newer versions continued to be developed. Internet infrastructure continued improving and the very first site we currently know as social media launched in 1997. Shortly after that the giants we know today we’re launched and the age of social media messaging and posting began. Soon, nearly every person, young and old, started posting, sharing or “liking” everything from shared pictures of family and friends, news articles, words of wisdom and even words of hate.

Enter the human factor that was probably not included into all of the first algorithms of social media. Humans, for the most part, are impulsive creatures. See a nice thing in the store? We buy it. Doesn’t matter if we need it. We buy it anyway. This is a form of instant gratification. This doesn’t only apply to getting what we want, when we want it. It’s also saying what we want, when we want to. We do not take care with our words. When a thought enters our mind, it goes out of our mouth, or fingers when it comes to any form of electronic communication.

I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to being impulsive with my words and actions. I seek instant gratification as much as anyone. However because I am aware of this, I work daily to change it.

When it comes to social media, we experience a whole new level of impulsivity and instant gratification. Thanks to the Internet and social media, we can instinctively say anything that comes to mind at any time. We see something that puts a smile on our face, we click the like button, maybe comment on and share it. We see something that angers us, we do the same thing. We probably leave some sort of word vomit for a comment or an ugly emoticon, maybe even share it. But we have a choice today. Do we want to spread happiness or do we want spread anger?

Perhaps the worst part of this is that if we don’t like what we see, even another comment from another user, some of us who don’t normally say nasty things seem to grow a set of stones and leave nasty, derogatory remarks to people they don’t even know. Some people even resort to cyber bullying. Tragically, children and young adults have been known to commit suicide because someone bullied them thru social media. Don’t believe me? Ask the family and friends of a sweet young soul who recently did just that in my community. She killed herself because she was bullied on social media. I saw the social media posts in response to her death. I didn’t even know the young lady and my heart breaks for her and all who are affected by it.

Haven’t we had enough ugliness spread around the world these days? Do we really need more of it?

_________________

I wrote the following one day a couple years ago in a social media post, “What happened to talking either face to face or on the phone with someone? SO MANY words, thoughts, and feelings can be misunderstood and misconstrued by all this electronic communication crap.” This was in response to a fight I was in with someone via,…wait for it…, text messaging. Because I was in a hurry and was busy, I responded to a text message with a short reply. My response was taken the wrong way and, well I’m sure you know the rest. This wasn’t the first time nor will it even the last time I’ll do that. I’m quite certain of 2 things, 1) I’ll do it again and 2) I’m not the only one that this has happened to.

Over the last couple of years I’ve attempted to engage in debates with others over their beliefs or comments that they’ve posted on social media. Particularly during the last presidential election. I found myself getting mad and frustrated because I either couldn’t get the other person to see things in a different light or I was called names by someone I’ve never met in life. I found that all that negativity, drama and chaos was hurting me and my relationships with others so I walked away from it.

It’s just like Nicholas A. Christakis said, “People, on average, have about 106 Facebook friends, but only five or six real friends”. And probably half of those “friends” are high school kids they’ve rarely, if ever, spoken to. The other half are “friends” in some game like Candy Crush or some hate group that one may be a member of. The problem is none of us truly knows how another person really is on the other side of the electronic device we are using. We have no clue how those “friends” truly are in real life. Which brings me to why I left those groups.

In the real world, I do have more friends than a small handful. I also have friends thru social media in every corner of the world. Including places I wouldn’t have expected. We have chatted thru our messenger apps. Although it’s not the same as face to face, I’ve gotten to know some beautiful people in this country and around the world. I’ve even been in friendly debates over issues other than politics – and we remain friends. And while I do post a few things in a number of groups, I have time set aside in the morning to do this. If for some strange reason I can’t get back to my social media for much of the day, that’s ok. It’s not the end of my world. It will still be there whenever I get to it.

So I sold my farm in Farmville, rehomed my pets in Happy Pets and Happy Aquarium, had a cavity fixed from eating sweets treats on Candy Crush and escaped from Mafia Wars. My primary groups and pages are ones that have positive messages to share. Matter of fact I started 2 pages and 1 group that pass messages of hope and inspiration. The page only have almost 1,650 likes and the group only has a couple hundred members but that’s ok. I know that today I try to be the change in want to see in the world. I try to be part of the solution(sharing positively) and not the problem(spreading negativity).

Thought for the day: Today, and everyday going forward, let’s try to either share positive things on social media or just walk away from the negative ones. Let’s spread more love than hate. Be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. If we do this, maybe, just maybe, we can turn the tides of hate into brotherly love.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

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All Lives Matter

“I, (name), do solemnly swear that I will be alert and vigilant to enforce the criminal laws of this State; that I will not be influenced in any matter on account of personal bias or prejudice; that I will faithfully and impartially execute the duties of my office as a law enforcement officer according to the best of my skill, abilities, and judgment; so help me, God”

In case you weren’t aware of this, the quote I chose is the basic outline of the Oath of Office for Law Enforcement Officers. Each state has their own variation.

As of today’s date, June 3rd, 2018, there have been 28 police officers who’ve been killed in the line of duty. In 2017 alone, 35 police officers were killed. At this rate, with six months left in 2018, we could potentially see 46 officers killed by the end of this year. That is far to many in this writers mind.

I’ve heard and seen a lot of outrageous things in my life, but the current trend of police officer disrespect and murder is out of control. “But cops are bad! They arrest or shoot unarmed people of color all the time!” Look, I’m not going to pretend I know all of the statistical evidence that proves that statement right or wrong. I’m not even going to pretend I know every situation where an officer uses more force than necessary. No, my purpose in writing this is to show the side of police officers that many people don’t see. Their human side.

In this country, each state, county and municipality has laws. These laws were made to protect you and me regardless of our race, creed, religion or socio-economic status. Police officers are the first people in the line to enforce those laws. After you are arrested and maybe put in jail, you see a judge where you plead your case. Then the judge decides your punishment whether it’s jail time, a fine, or let off the hook.

For centuries, if not longer, it was simple. If you violated a law, this is what happens. Yeah, you’d have the occasional criminal who hid from the police or maybe have a shootout but that’s not the case these days. Today, police officers are fought by criminals who are clearly in the wrong or they are outright ambushed and shot. There are also protests against them which are sometimes violent. They have all kinds of stuff thrown at them. Why? Because they are enforcing the laws that were created?

I think we forget something. We forget that police officers are people too. They put on a uniform, like many of us do, go to work and expect to go home – just like you and I do after we work our jobs. These officers also have families just like you and me.

With the inventions of social media and video recording capabilities at the fingertips of everyone with a cell phone, we see all kinds of videos of what “appears” to be police brutality. I say “appears” because we don’t see what happened before the recording started. Who’s to say the person under arrest for a law they clearly violated didn’t punch an officer in the face or threaten them some other way?

Are there police officers who are racist, use excessive force or are corrupt in other ways? Yes, and I don’t defend them, but to paint all police officers bad with a broad brush is not accurate.

In the same way that police officers are videotaped doing bad things, there are many who are videotaped doing good things, even heroic things. And they do these things for people of all colors, creeds, religions and socio-economic statuses. Saving babies, going into buildings that are on fire, pulling people from car wrecks, handing gifts out at the holidays, playing ball with the neighborhood kids and much more.

Finally, I’ve heard reports of people saying that they don’t want police officers in their communities. I have two simple questions. Do you realize that by saying that and the police not coming into your community that you are inviting criminals to come and take advantage of you? Who are you going to call when, not if, you get robbed, shot, or hurt some other way by a criminal?

Thought for the day: Before accusing all police officers of being bad because of one bad apple, I ask that you reread today’s quote. Also, remember that they are human beings just like you and me no matter what your skin color, creed, religion or socio-economic status is. They have families that they want to go home to just like you.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

This too Shall Pass

“Nothing lasts forever – not even your troubles.” ~ Arnold H. Glasow

So many times when we’re having a rough time in life, we hear words like “Keep your chin up.”, “Everything happens for a reason.”, “Fake it til you make it.”, and many other platitudes like that. A lot of times those words can help and we can put on that happy smiley mask for the world to see for the short term. Sometimes we lie to others around us so they don’t see our pain. But what about in the longer term when we are crying and dying inside?

I had gone thru a very rough time in my life. Between the divorce, my ill parent, finance problems, and temporary homelessness I was ready to give up the good fight. Some of those platitudes I repeated to myself and when I couldn’t tell them to myself, my friends told them to me. I had to remind myself that I had been thru worse times. I needed to call on my ancestors and ask for their strength to hold me up. In all honesty I found this very difficult to do. I had times I hated those words and the things my friends told me. Eventually I made it thru my darkest hours.

Thought for the day: Life, and those bumps and potholes we hit in the road along the way, do get better. Maybe not in the way we hope, plan, or expect, but they get better in the way our Higher Power feels is right for us. All that He asks of us is that we are true to ourselves as well as others around us.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Time

“The truth is, time marches on and you have two choices: You move forward, come what may, and you experience all the sour and sweet things that fly at you from around corners, or you sit still. Don’t sit still.” ~ Suzanne Palmieri

No matter what happens in life, good or bad, time marches on despite it.

There was a time in my not to distant past that tried to escape my reality and what was going on in life. I thought that if I escaped into my own little world, that what was going on around me wasn’t really happening. Or that I could run away in my mind until life returned to normal. I was sadly mistaken. Despite all my best efforts life continued on around and even past me.

I eventually came to realize that I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. I met others who had done the much of same in their lives. With their help I came around to seeing that time and life go on with or without me. I could either get sucked into staying stuck in my own little world or I could deal with my thoughts and feelings and get thru my circumstances that were keeping me stuck.

Thought for the day: Today I enjoy living the life I have to the best of my ability. I know that bad moments pass. I know don’t have to run away to escape my reality.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts.

Thorns in Life

“Every rose has its thorn. Just like every night has its dawn…” ~ Poison

A number of years ago, my best friend and I used to go berry picking. Oh, how I dreaded it! I always got scratched up. And then we had our “secret” spots that had their own set of dangers besides the thorns. One time I accidentally stepped in a woodchuck hole and twisted my ankle. Another time she felt a sting followed by another and another. Suddenly she was yelping and ripping her clothes off while running around with her arms flailing in the air. Come to find out, she was standing on top of a fire ant hill and they weren’t to pleased. Thankfully we were on a private path where no one beside myself saw this hysterical spectacle!

After all was said and done, the berries washed, our wounds cleaned and bandaged, we ended up with sweet treats and even a little wine. Our first batch ended up more like moonshine, but I digress.

In order to enjoy life’s rewards, we need to go out and pick the berries. Anybody who’s been berry picking knows that to get that sweet fruit you need to watch out for the thorns. Of course no matter how careful we are we can still get snagged by a branch, step into a woodchuck hole or, Heaven forbid, stand on a fire ant hill. If the worst thing that happens is that we snag our clothing, get a couple scratches or sprain an ankle, that’s ok. We can always bandage or patch that stuff up. Dirt washes away, wounds do heal, and we still survive.

Thought for the day: Sometimes we can reminisce the times we got scratched up, bit up, or stepped in “stuff” and can have a little chuckle at our own expense.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

No Matter What

I wanted to share a social media post that moved me. Many of these words kept me clean in some of my darkest hours. Thank you for the reminder April.❤

Here is a poem I wrote using some common recovery slogans/sayings….. Hope y’all like it! 😊❤️

No Matter What
By: April Grisham

6 years & 8 months ago
I went to get help
They all told me
“You can’t do it by yourself”

I was overwhelmed
Wanted to say, “Shove it!”
They told me to calm down
And remember, “Easy does it”

I was told to get a sponsor
And I was like, “Why?”
I thought, “What a joke!”
They said, “Work the Steps or die!”

At first I resisted
All because of fear
I said, “I got this”
They said, “Your best thinking got you here!”

I was pretty offended
But I listened anyway
Worried & scared to death
They said, “Just for today”

I began working the Steps
And started to be healed
They said this is forever
And “More will be revealed”

I began to feel emotions
I felt under attack
They said, “The best & worst thing about recovery”
“Is you get your feelings back”

There were times I wanted to give up
There were times I couldn’t see
I got angry when they told me,
You’re right where you’re supposed to be”

I stayed the course anyway
Recovery seemed so far
I wanted to run away
But they said, “Wherever you go, there you are”

I took all of their suggestions
At times I’d just smile & nod
Then, life showed up
They told me, “Let go and let God”

At 18 months clean
Everything happened so fast
I lost my job & almost lost my brother
They said, “This too shall pass”

I wanted to use so badly
I felt it in my gut
They held my hand & told me,
Don’t use no matter what”

I stayed clean through it all
But I’ve also made mistakes
But I have stayed willing
To do “Whatever it takes”

I have to take suggestions
To avoid being in a hearse
And remember that no matter what
My recovery MUST always come FIRST”

I still keep a gratitude list
I still continue to climb
Sometimes it’s really hard
But I take it “One day at a time”

Things still make me angry
At times I scream & swear
But I calm myself down
Saying “The Serenity Prayer”

I still hit my knees & pray
My brain still has a short circuit
But it’s true when they say,
It works if you work it”

I haven’t relapsed “YET”
I have a lot of haters
Sometimes it’s hard to deal with
But I know “It gets greater later”

Recovery has changed my life
Acceptance is the key”
I’ve learned so much
And gained serenity

I never thought it was possible
I never thought I’d find
A way to stay clean
And gain true “peace of mind”

So, if you think it’s impossible
And you feel under attack
Just know “We Do Recover”
And “Keep Coming Back!”

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Another Life Taken Far To Soon

“Addiction begins with the hope that something ‘out there’ can instantly fill up the emptiness inside.” ~ Jean Kilbourne

It’s one week shy of the one year anniversary that I got a phone call I didn’t want to get. That day I stopped dead in my tracks because I was shocked and heartbroken. I remember when I heard the news from my friend on the other end of the phone. I instantly went numb. The same thing happened roughly 5 months later when I got a social media message and again last night when I ran into a friend. What was this news you ask?

Another friend died. What’s worse is that they died a senseless death from a drug overdose.

If you’re not an addict, you might be wondering how I could possibly be friends with an addict? Simple. Because I am an addict too, but I am a recovering addict. I knew these 3 beautiful souls when they were at their best and their worst. Each of them did stop using for different lengths of time, but for whatever reason, they chose to start using again. I watched them come into recovery not only physically broke but also spiritually and emotionally broke.

At first, when they came in, you could see the pain in their eyes and hear the desperation in their voices. After they got some time clean, I saw the transformation. They started looking and feeling better. They began to have hopes and dreams again. They became productive members of society again and regained the love and trust that they’d lost from their families. But something happened. It was any number of reasons but it mainly boiled down to one thing.

They couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with their reality which was different for each of them.

I can hear the comments already from non addicts who are not familiar or don’t understand this disease – and yes, it is a disease. It is a mental health disease. I won’t go into the specifics of that today. I have written numerous pieces over the last year and a half and encourage you to read them. Pieces like “Who Is An Addict?”, “Reality of Addiction”, “A Demon Named ‘Addiction’”, “Addiction-Disease or Moral Failing?”, “Break the Stigma”, “The Demon” and many others. I write this today for another reason.

My hope and purpose today is to reach out and touch the life of just one addict with my words.

To any addict who may be reading my words, wherever you may be in the world, especially the addict in pain right now. Whether you have less than 24 hours clean or you have 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, 1 decade or longer clean. Whether you are an old timer, newcomer, relapser, or the one contemplating a relapse this message is for each of you.

“There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away.” ~ Sherman Alexie

I know your pain. I have lived it and I am still living it but I am still clean. I don’t care what your pain is, I understand it. Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Yea right lady. How can you/You can’t possibly understand what I’m going thru? You’re not going thru what I’m going thru.” Ah, but I do.

I’ve been in recovery for a few 24 hours now. I’ve done research on the internet and talked to numerous professionals and other addicts in that time. I’ve also done something for a while now that’s helped me not only with my personal research but it’s also helped me stay clean. When someone who’s relapsed comes back into recovery I ask them, “Why did you relapse?” The answers I’ve gotten back have varied but there’s one common denominator. Reality. You don’t want, can’t, or know how to deal with whatever your reality is.

Pick a reason, any reason; this person died, your kids are making you crazy, you can’t deal with your spouse or kids clean, that person looked at you wrong, this person said something to you, that person pissed in your Cheerios, the sun is out, it’s raining, it’s snowing, it’s to hot, it’s to cold…or maybe it’s something I neglected to mention.

“But my situation is unique.” Really? Allow me to tell you what I’ve been thru and still stayed clean.

Since I’ve been in recovery, I have been thru a divorce and another relationship after that. I’ve been thru deaths of family, friends, loved ones and addicts I considered family. When my dad fell ill and was in the hospital, I had to tell my mother and sister that I agreed with the doctor when he advised pulling the plug on him. I had to force my mom into a nursing home and lost my blood family because of it. I’ve had financial problems, no food in the house. I’ve been gossiped about and stabbed in the back. I’ve argued with more people than I can count, and currently I am dealing with a potentially progressive illness almost as serious as addiction.

And that’s just a snapshot of what I’ve dealt with over the last six years. Have I thought about using? Of course. Do I have an excuse to go back to using? Sure I do, but not a darn one of those excuses is a good enough reason.

Since i got clean I’ve also been able to pay off my car and buy my own home. They’re both mine. I don’t have to worry about being evicted because of divorce or family problems. I have a part time job and I finally have peace of mind. Yes I still worry about having money to live, but my drama and chaos is behind me. Best of all I still have family – a group of friends who will and have dropped everything to help me when I needed it most. Right now I can say life is good. Tomorrow may be different but for right now I am in control of my life. Plus, I’ve discovered new passions and a purpose for life.

Best of all I don’t worry about my next high or how I’ll pay for it. I don’t have to worry about being dope sick.

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Look, I’m not going to lie to you. Being in recovery isn’t going to be easy. It’s not for the faint of heart? Some days will be damn hard. There are numerous ways to get and stay clean. Some of those ways are difficult and someone are easy. I’ve learned from other addicts that the easy way is a surefire way to not succeed. For an addict to stay clean we need tough love, not enabling, coddling or condemnation.

Most of all, we need the fortitude to commit to a new and better way of living.

I want you to know something that you may not know about yourself. You are important, deserving, loveable, intelligent, worthy, beautiful, brave, strong, powerful, resilient, fearless, talented, fierce, funny, loved, needed, alive for a reason and so much more than this list. You CAN do this.

Please, seek out recovery before your loved ones and friends bury you.

“Wait for me.” The words come out choked and pained. “I need you to wait for me.” ~ Krista Ritchie

…There’s no more time to wait. The time is now to live the life you were meant to live.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts.