My Post Election Facebook Prediction





I’m going to briefly talk about two things I love to hate: Facebook and Politics. Bear with me.

Apparently, there’s an election going on. Like right now. You most likely knew that because you’re not an idiot. And you also probably knew that because if you’ve visited Facebook for even a millisecond in the last few months, you’ve seen it–the political outrage, the emotional pleading, angry outbursts, passionate opinions, and my favorite; quoting of the constitution. I have long thought that Facebook and politics go together about as well as pizza and peanut butter. But, we’re still figuring it out. This is the first generation of Facebookers. There’s no precedent. Which is why when Facebook opened the flood gates and allowed anyone to join, college kids ducked in horror as their parents and sometimes even grand-parents had access to a microscope highlighting all of their activity (legal and illegal) for the last year or so. They also laughed as Baby Boomers slowly learned what a poke meant and how to effectively comment on photos and walls. There’s no written etiquette for Facebook  We’re all just a bunch on neophytes figuring it out as we go and hoping not to ruin ourselves in the process. Undoubtedly, the consequences of Facebook activity can be huge, regardless of their intent. There have school expulsions, job firings, missed job opportunities, and countless breakups over this enigmatic social network. But hey, there are pros too. Keeping up with family members and long-lost friends, stalking your ex, knowing what your neighbor from grade school ate for breakfast this morning and that your high school boyfriend and his girlfriend are expecting a baby boy! But I’m getting off topic. There is an election going on. And if you spend any time on Facebook right now, you cannot escape that fact, opinions about that fact, and the ensuing written diatribes about that fact.

Sadly, I admit I have engaged in political debates on Facebook. They were miserable, dirty, and useless. No one walked away with their minds changed or cleared or any more informed than when they began. To be fair, verbal arguments can sometimes be just as messy and ineffective. But a verbal argument seems more tangible and more accountable. It’s much easier to write nasty things than to say it to someones face. There isn’t much accountability on the internet. Facebookers and bloggers have a lot power but not necessarily a lot of accountability.  It’s easy to type what you feel many times anonymously, without being liable for what you submit. On the Internet, we’re all just a bunch of small boxes with a face (or sometimes a picture of a car or a sonogram) and a name, but we seem to lose a large part of our humanness.

As miserable as Facebook political warfare is, we seem to be addicted to it. It’s hard to keep your mouth shut, (or your fingers idle) when you see someone post something you deem ridiculous. And truthfully, Facebook is where a lot of people make their voices heard. So it makes sense that it is on this platform where people express themselves politically. I don’t wonder why politics comes out on Facebook. It’s clear. I only wonder if it’s ever meaningful. It reminds me of a bumper sticker. It’s a tiny little snapshop of your views, but rarely does it encourage an intelligent dialogue or seem to persuade the other side. For all the engaging and speculating on Facebook I’ve done, I have never once witnessed a meaningful political conversation. Inevitably, someone will type something like “Hey screw you you dirty liberal!” or “You conservatives are a bunch of assclowns!” The people who agree with you are already convinced, and the people who don’t will tell you to go Eff yourself.  And then most likely send you a FB invite to their birthday party.

All that being said, my prediction is that we’ll see a large backlash on Facebook  November 7th, regardless of who wins the 2012 presidential election. (Duh) Democrats and Republicans alike are enthused, passionate, and each seem to use a disproportionate amount of explanation points. Here is my prediction:

(Warning of the apocalypse)

Everyone ready for the Socialist States of America?

God is good. God is great. Romney lost. We’ll suffer our fate!

Awesome! Another four more years of bullshit! Can’t wait!!!!

I’m moving to Canada. Eff you America!

Four more years of assclowns to run the White House. GREAT!

(Emotional Depression Sweeps the Nation)

It’s a sad day for America. I really thought we had this one.

Wahhh. How will I afford my birth control?!?!

God is good. God is great. Obama lost. I wanna shoot myself in the head.

I can’t believe I won’t get healthcare and I’ll be in a binder!

Woah, Romney won. Does anyone wanna get frozen yogurt?

When you sign up for Facebook, you sign up to see and hear a lot of things about about your Facebook friends, which is mostly everyone you have ever known. Sometimes you’ll like it and sometimes you won’t. I always wonder how Facebook will evolve and how its users will change. Regardless of who wins, the world will keep on spinning, (according to most) and Facebook will keep on status-ing all over the place. Whether you like what you see or not, it is great to live in a country where you can say it all. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Most of my recent Facebook activity that deals with the election is linked to The Onion–a satirical newspaper. Because I don’t find that political views on Facebook do very much except attract those who disagree. Which is fine. Maybe that’s even the point. Ranting and bickering can be fun, I guess. But from my seat, it never seems to goes well or end well. If we are to examine our intent, what is it exactly? To change minds? To be heard? To inform? I wonder if Facebook is really the place to do it. I think there may actually be a place for politics on Facebook, somewhere. I just don’t think we’ve found it yet. It is however, the best place for pictures of cats and babies and suggestions for cold remedies. No question.

Maybe it won’t always be that way. Like people, Facebook has continued to grow and change throughout the years. Most would probably not even recognize the user interface of Facebook 1.0. And it will be interesting to see what it will look like in the 2016 election and how people will interact then. My prediction: Still a lot of cats. Still a lot of political warfare.

The world spins on.

Health, Happiness, Politics.

For the Loved Ones of the Sick Ones

List of Characters:

Gabe: Boyfriend, Likes to be doing things, Going places, Shooting things.

Mary: Girlfriend, Likes to lay around, Drink coffee, Talk about death.

Monty: Dog, Drinks out of toilet, Plays hard, Sleeps Hard.

There’s something sick people tend to forget sometimes, and this is that being sick isn’t only a struggle for us, but also tends to be a struggle for the people around us, too. It’s nobodies fault really, it’s just the reality of these circumstances. Spending the last month with Gabe, I saw how the illness effected more than just me, and the trouble it can stir up in our everyday relationships.

Gabe seems to me, limitless. It’s like he never tires. He can go and go and go and then he can go some more. Sometimes I tire just watching him. I envy his energy and resilience. He can only sit around for so long before he starts to go stir crazy, and that’s a huge fundamental difference between us. I don’t feel the need to be going places and doing things, and Gabe, well, does. “Do you want to go drive bumper cars today? Do you want to go to the shooting range? Do you want to go hit golf balls for a while? Do you want to go camping tonight? Do you want to get it on? Do you want to go jet-skiing? Do you want to go to an amusement park?” All of these questions are usually answered with somewhere between a grunt and a moan, sometimes a staunch “No” and sometimes a yawn and a “Maybe” if I’m feeling dangerous. Poor guy. How he ever ended up with a girl who barely moves I’ll never know. It’s easy to see how how he’d become disheartened.

It’s depressing, I know. The fact that an “amusement” park sounds like everything except amusing is depressing. But I’m just so used to the consequence of me saying “yes” to the normal activities that normal people find fun- and that is, a crash–that it has become my conditioned response to say no. I can’t drink anymore. I can’t be on my feet for long like I used to. I can’t stay up late or get up early. Sometimes a trip to the grocery store puts me over the edge and I pay for it. When you’re barely keeping your head above water, the slightest activites can drown you. So I’ve become conditioned to say no to a lot of things, simply because I know what will happen when I say yes, and often it’s more than I can handle. Sometimes I say screw it, I go and do what I want, knowing somewhere deep down that I’ll pay for it later. Every now and then, it’s worth the price I pay. But it’s rare. More times than not, I’m kicking myself for saying yes.

But as tired as I get in saying “No,” I see that it’s just as waring on Gabe in hearing “No.”  I’m so used to thinking “He’ll never understand what its like to be sick all the time” that I never considered that I’ll never understand what it’s like being healthy and dating a sickley. Especially one that shoots down your ideas of fun and takes up ample couch space. The truth is, if you’re going to be with someone who has this illness, you have to be independent and comfortable with leaving your loved one behind and doing the fun things without them. I know it seems incredibly depressing, but what is harder for a sick person, is trying to keep up with a healthy person. It just doesn’t work.

What’s also hard is the desire not to disappoint people. I hate the feeling of letting someone down, canceling on plans, or suggesting activities that only a 90 year old would be enthused about (How about we play scrabble again for the 90th time?) The problem is, no one else will say no for me. No one will suggest we stop and rest every thirty minutes. No one will make sure I’ve taken all my pills. No one will play lifeguard and see that I’m waring down and suggest we cut off the fun and go home. Only I will do these things. Which sort of turns me into the negative nancy of fun and activities for others. It’s exceptionally difficult to suggest to young, energetic, tireless twenty somethings that we wind down the day and lay on the couch and talk about life and existential questions. Doesn’t that sound GREAT?!?! To most people, no, it doesn’t. And that’s where the trouble lies.

This illness has strained many of my relationships- intimate, friendly, and familial. I remember once my brother and I had a shouting match outside an NYC restaurant because Nick wanted to go on a walk to digest his meal, but I was feeling especially fatigued and didn’t want to go. “It’s just a brisk walk! It’s good for you!” And he honestly thought it was, but I knew it wasn’t. I was at my physical limit that day, and a 5 block walk was out of the question. He stormed off on his walk in frustration and I taxied it home with discouragement. But I hadn’t really educated him on just how sensitive this illness was. I was sort of still trying to live like a normal person back then, so when the sickness would come out and demand  I obey it, it left everyone in a state of confusion. We’ve come a long way since then. Now I hear him defending me to others, even suggesting we cab it home when I consider walking. We’ve both learned a thing or two.

One question I ask is: Where do you draw the line? If I keep saying no to everything, won’t I eventually turn into a hermit trapped in a dark house with zero friends and zero fun? Because that sounds especially awesome. Wait no, that sounds terrible. The lesson for me has been finding the middle. Finding the area of compromise which keeps me alive with the pulse of life but doesn’t land me crashed in bed for 3 days. There is a middle ground, and part of my education in the last few months has been finding it. I’m still learning, too. In truth, it’s painful saying no all the time, when what you want to say is yes. But again, I have to be the master of my own domain! My domain happens to tire out after about 30 minutes of doing almost anything..standing too long, sitting too long, walking for too long…it’s ridiuclous, but it’s reality. And it doesn’t mean you have to turn off the fun. You just have to get creative. It’s also sort of a “Pick Your Poison” kind of situation. Do you want to say no and momentarily suffer sadness? Or say yes, and physically suffer for at least the next day?

Gabe and I are never going to be on the same level physically. This is someone who chased down rabbits on foot and wrestled an alligator on our first date (hence his nickname Gator) and worked 12 hour shifts of manual labor on an oil rig. (I’ll get to these stories, soon.)…showered yesterday. So, there’s a little space between us when it comes to physical capablilites. But, we’re learning. I’m learning how to say no but stay positive. He’s learning to do the things he wants without me, and somewhere, in the grey of life, the circle of compromise, in the middle..we meet. All we can do is try.

To all the loved ones of sick ones out there, I know us sickley’s are a pain in the ass. But we do appreciate even the effort to understand. I see now, I need to try and understand, too.

Health, Happiness, and Compromise.

Camp Quiet.

There is so much noise in the world. There are a million distractions. Even our human conversations are half the time interrupted by a person who isn’t there– by the noise of a cell phone. So many times, hanging out with friends turns into a group of people in a room, glued to their phones, playing a game called “Hanging With Friends.”  Oh, the virtual irony of it all! Sometimes I look across a dinner table and see all the tops to peoples heads, faces down, and no physical engagement. The restaurant I used to waitress at had four year-olds on ipads or iphones while the adults would eat and talk. It wasn’t so much that the children were well behaved, they were simply well distracted. And half the time the adults were just as pre-occupied. I watched couples sit in silence, one or both engaging with a gadget, missing out on each other.

It’s easy to see how this has come to pass. There are more reasons than ever to be looking down at something, than actually at someone. There’s email and texting and facebook and twitter and gaming and music and foursquare and youtube and pinterest and stumble and the blogosphere! Woo hoo! All of these things make a lot of noise and take up a lot of space, but there isn’t necessarily much substance there. You can’t stay engaged in a virtual world forever. We are warmblooded, social animals afterall, we require the warmth of another body and the sound of anothers voice. We simply do.

We’ve taken what started out as means to enhance communication, and almost gone the other direction. We’ve replaced calls with texts and jokes with smiley faces and flirting with poking. And no I don’t mean physical poking. I mean on facebook, you ‘poke’ someone, (meaning someone get’s a notification which reads intimately ‘You’ve been poked’) and if they like you, they ‘virtually’ poke you back. I can just see my grandparents trying to learn the nuances of social networking– simply turning around and saying, What the fuck? Don’t people talk anymore?

And we do. Of course we do. But I’d argue we’re digressing a little bit. So many times, we’re talking about facebook, or what we saw on Twitter. We’re fighting with our significant others about their profile picture or what some girl commented about on their wall. This is not what we should be arguing about. Couples need to fight. It’s a necessity, but not about this. This just feels…wasteful. There’s no winning the argument. And the other half of the time I call someone, I’m crossing my fingers that I get their voicemail! What’s that about? Well it’s no secret, I’m socially lazy and have never been the proactive friend. But I see these trends among everyone I know, including yours truly. Just a few weeks ago I yelled at Gabe for his profile picture, only to realize in silence later, I was acting like a complete douche. But these kinds of networking seem to encourage childish behavior like this, because the activity on it is almost childlike itself, and most of it is so unauthentic. Do you ever notice how cool most people seem on facebook? Like everyone has this awesome life and is beautiful and happy and living the dream? Knock knock knock…if you’re living the dream, you’re not busy uploading photos about it. You’re just living it!

I know it sounds like I’m spitting a lot of hatoraide on social networking when in truth I should praise it. Facebook, afterall, is the reason my blog went viral and I actively participate in most of the networks I’ve mentioned. There is an inherent need in all of us to share our experiences with one another. It’s how we bond and form closeness and facebook enables us to do that. Helllllo, I’m the girl that texts photos of my dog to people and devoted an entire page of my blog to him. Imagine how I’ll be with children! But the point is this; moderation. Everything in moderation, even moderation in moderation. And that is not where we are. We are in excess. It’s why we list our meaningless errands on facebook, ‘check in’ at a grocery store and boast 3,000 friends and only know about 20 of them. It’s also why we plan our entire weddings on pinterest (significant other or not) and why Justin Bieber has more than 18 million followers on Twitter. There are perks, of course, and these things are meant to be fun, which they are. But let’s just call it exactly what it is. Facebook is a bunch of faces, circulating in the web abyss, just attracting onlookers. Doesn’t seem like we should take it at face value. Notice the format has changed from having your profile as the main page, (the part that attempts to describe who you are) to having a wall and photos be the main page–Much quicker and easier to gauge someone this way. And we like things quick and easy, don’t we?

I often wonder what the effect of all these distractions are on everyone. Certainly our social habits have changed, and our conversations have changed. More than anything, I think we’ve cancelled the quiet. We are very rarely without our phones. Have you ever watched someone who’s phone battery has died? It’s like a natural disaster has struck. “Do you have a phone charger? I’m freaking out.” Most of us feel naked or vulnerable when we aren’t connected, when we’re off the grid. But what we should feel is alive. We should love those moments when no one can reach us, when the only voice we can hear is our inner voice, something we probably don’t listen to enough. I think my generation is missing something very basic that every generation before us has had: silence. We are always on. Always reachable. Always plugged in. Rarely do we listen to what silence or stillness has to say to us. And both these things have vital things to say, we’re just not accustomed to listening that way.

My time in Florida has had a lot of quiet, which I needed. I’ve done a lot of reading here and just listened outside to the sounds that the things which reside here make. (Side note, the tropical birds here make some freaky deaky sounds, fo real.) Timothy Leary told his generation in 1966 to Turn on, Tune in, and Drop Out. Even though his slogan was widely misinterpreted to mean ‘Get stoned and abandon all constructive activity’ what he really tried to convey was a life of examination, involvement, and autonomy.  I’d argue his slogan is just as applicable today. (Or maybe the opposite, maybe we all just need to get stoned and abandon our work, man.) Mostly, I recommend we look each other in the eye and enjoy each others human-ness. When you ask someone how they are, mean it, and listen to what they have to say. At dinner, eat dinner, and talk to who you’re sharing it with!  And if your phone dies, let it die. Just try staying shut off for a few minutes. I promise you, the voicemails, texts, and emails will all be waiting for you when you get back. Maybe even that cute boy you like will have poked you.

Health, Happiness, and Shhhh, Quiet.