Five Problems with Social Media

30 years ago I dreamed of having friends around the world, and how I would spend a portion of each day writing letters to them.  Now I have those friends, but instead of paper and fountain pen, I sit at a computer and text with them in real time or via email.  Social media has made so many wonderful things possible.  I can find people who think like I do, who inspire and encourage me.  I can keep up with friends and family I’ve known in-person, and those whom I’ve only met on-line.  Social media keeps me in touch with what happens here in town, and across the world.  I’ve learned so much.

But social media has drawbacks, too – there are pros and cons to everything.  Here are five problems I see with social media:

  • So much of human communication depends on body cues – a smile, a lift of the eyebrow, even a blank look. No matter how many emoticons they create, the written word, unless handled skillfully, cannot convey what the person really meant.  Misunderstandings happen.  There is something about being in the presence of the person you are “talking” with that may limit what you say.  Sometimes this is a good thing, when you have an important thing to convey and being in front of the other person keeps you from saying it.  But it is also easier to work yourself into a righteous frenzy and say stupid or even cruel things when the person is not there to immediately react.  Then you hit “send” or “post,” and there is no taking it back.  Taken to the extreme you get flame wars, where it is words and photos that burn and hurt others.
  • Social media is immediate and easy to manipulate. Once if we wanted advice we asked a trusted family member or friend, or maybe a friendly nurse or spiritual advisor.  This involved thought, and someone who had knowledge of your everyday life . . . where you lived, what you ate, how the advice might dovetail with your present.  Now you can get advice from people in all walks of life, and some of them may not have your best interests at heart.  Some are even scam artists.  Do you know that person is who they say they are?  And do you really want to make decisions in the next 10 minutes, or today, or tomorrow, based on their advice?  Or even based on reading about what they have done?
  • While it is wonderful to read about what friends and other people are doing in areas all over the globe, sometimes too much information is more than we can handle. Some ideas are meant to be mulled over and tasted slowly.  When so much information comes at you so quickly, you may miss something important.  Or reach overload and turn away completely.  Some information may be what others think you need to read or hear, to be informed about current issues, maybe even to open your eyes to what is going on so you can stop it.  But for those who feel deeply with the heart, it can be overwhelming.  That recently happened to me on Facebook, so I stayed away from it for two weeks.  I became less anxious and felt better about myself.  Now I screen what appears on my News Feed, and hide or delete information that disturbs me.  This is called taking care of yourself.
  • Once something is posted on social media, it is out there for the rest of the world to see and do what they want with. Photos, comments, and personal information never completely disappears.  It may wind up being used in ways you never meant or even considered.  Newspapers may line the bottom of a bird’s cage and eventually be forgotten, but the electronic word lives on, and may come back and cause you grief when you least expect it.
  • Social media can trivialize things that are important, and make trivial things seem Actor Ani G. just got a 5-carat ring from a rich boyfriend?  Well, that’s nice, but in the grand scheme of things, who cares? (Unless you are a good friend or close relative of Ani G., or thought he was buying the ring for you.) Discussion about tiny things may get just as much screen time as fracking in your home state and how that affects you.  In fact, it will probably get significantly more screen time, because someone wants to distract you from the important issues that help them make money.  This is manipulation on a much larger scale than what was mentioned earlier.  And again, do you know if any of it is true?

I still have my Facebook account and this blog (even if I seldom post anymore).  Social True Kind Necessarymedia has a place in our lives, but remember to question what it does for you.  Question the “facts” you read, the memes that are so clever – remember that anything can be hacked and manipulated.  And before you post or send anything, ask yourself this bit of Facebook wisdom:

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Minoan Tarot, by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince

Minoan-Tarot-300“Unlike their contemporaries in Babylonia or Middle Kingdom Egypt, the Bronze Age people of Crete did not exalt kingship, war, nor death, nor did they conceive a vast distance between Gods and humanity.  Instead these people celebrated the presence of the Goddess, the beauty of the natural world, and their own sexuality and creativity.    This work shows that a lively, peaceful, sacred, and technologically advanced society is no fantasy, but a part of our history.”  (pg 5, Minoan Tarot booklet)

Ellen Lorenzi-Prince has created another stunning tarot deck:  The Minoan Tarot.  The Minoan culture centered on the island of Crete, off the southeast tip of Greece, ranging from 8,000 to 1,100 BCE.  Ellen based her art on the original work of the painters, sculptors, jewelers, and potters of that era.   I don’t know much about the Minoan culture, so I read the booklet that comes with the deck (literally, a small book, printed in color) from cover to cover before I used the cards.  It is fascinating.  You don’t need to have great knowledge about their culture to read with these cards, although it does enrich the reading.  Each card offers a glimpse into a story, and it is easy to translate that into our modern world.

Here is a reading I did, using the Snake, Lion, Dove spreadminoan-sky-3 Ellen included in the booklet.  The Snake represents “power that comes from the deep, from below and within.  Your wisdom.”  I dealt Sky Three.  “Follow your powerful instinct for creation. Let your home keep you grounded, not captured.”  Look at the joy in that card!  Birds soaring, flowers blooming.  Light, fresh air, the scent of flowers, bird song for mirth — Nature at its most encouraging.  It does reflect the things that are most important for me to feel nurtured and grounded, to grow and to best express myself.

minoan-art-10Next is the Lion, “power that comes from the exertion of your energy and will.  Your achievement.”  I dealt Art Ten.  Here we have the Minoan Goddess and her priestesses in sacred dance.   One of the priestesses has achieved transcendence through the joyful movement of dance, and “inspires them to dance with more fervor and grace, that all may achieve transcendence.”   One of the primary goals of my life has been growth as a human being, as a soul, including spiritual growth.   It also includes a desire to help others grow to be themselves at their best.  This card is very encouraging.

Finally, there is the Dove, “power that EPSON MFP imageexalts your spirit toward heaven.  Your guiding light.”  I dealt Earth Master.  “Lead, and let your leadership be respected.”  As a Capricorn, I crave the earth and have a real need to be out on it and in Nature, to feel grounded.   The most spiritual times of my life have been in Nature.  The several planets I have in Libra make me crave balance, fairness.   And while I do not seek leadership, I often find myself in that role, usually because no one else has stepped forward.  The times that make me rejoice are when I’ve been a leader as in Art Ten above.  I seek power with, never power over.

As you may have noticed, Ellen has made a few changes to some of the names of conventional tarot, but they all make sense:  Sea = Water, Art = Wands, and so forth.  The court cards are Worker (physical, practical), Priestess (spiritual direction and action), and Master and Mistress (God and Goddess).   In the major arcana we see the Lily Prince instead of the Fool, Singer instead of Hierophant, Ancestor instead of Death, et cetera.  In each case they make sense and enhance the reading.    The cards measure 5-1/2″x3″, and are flexible enough that I can shuffle them without too much trouble.  (I have small hands.)  The colors are vivid but not glaring, and the images firmly but delicately drawn.  It was published by Arnell’s Art, and she always does an excellent job.

The Minoan Tarot is becoming one of my favorite decks.  It is easy to read with, but even more there is something about the joy and basis in Nature that resonates with me.  To read more about the deck, see more images, and to order, you can go to http://www.darkgoddesstarot.com/minoan.htm .

* All quotes from the booklet that comes with Minoan Tarot.

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How to get PlurPush pop-up ads off your computer

Last June during a period of fuzzy thinking, I received a computer notification to update my Adobe Flash Player.  Unfortunately, I did not uncheck ALL the bonus offers for a new but wait there's moretoolbar or whatever.  (Those always make me think of the old, late-night TV ads.)  At least, I think that is when it happened.  Anyway, after that every time I went on the Internet I was inundated with pop-up ads — a dozen at a time, with long-running scripts that slowed my computer to a crawl.  The only online time without pop-up ads was when I played World of Warcraft.  I played a lot of WoW (as if I needed an excuse).

By October (don’t ask why it took so long) I was determined to find a way to get rid of those ads.  Norton couldn’t do it (because it wasn’t a virus) and I couldn’t afford to take it to a computer shop.  Faintly in the corner of most of the ads it said “PlurPush Ad.”   I did some online searches (though Norton search, so I had an idea whom I could trust), and I found this blog:  MalwareTips.   They had everything listed that I needed to do to get PlurPush pop-up ads off my computer.  There are five steps, and you really do need to do all five — the code that brings up those ads hides in sneaky little places all over your computer.  Some of it required downloading small programs, but in each case Norton verified them as safe, so I did it.  They are all free, even on step 5 (when you can download it as a guest).  It took 2-3 hours to run through all the steps, but when it was done I was free of pop-up ads.  Amazing!  Wonderful!

Am hoping to be back here blogging on a more regular basis.  :-)   And, once again, if you need to get rid of PlurPush pop-up ads, go here.

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Opening a New Door

Ever wanted the ability to help people heal?   For people who do, this usually translates into becoming a doctor, or nurse, or dentist, or therapist, or emergency medical technician, or massage therapist, or psychologist, or self-help author, or minister, or … you get the idea.  As a teen, I read the Bible and books about healers who laid on hands and people were healed.  I wanted to do that.  Amazingly, it did occasionally happen, usually with things like headaches or something simple.  As time went on, “common sense” got in the way, and these things no longer happened.   I learned to read tarot, to help people explore their options.  And I learned to be a counselor, also to help people explore their options.

Since retirement, I have a bit more time to explore ideas.  Decided I wanted to learn Reiki, which is a method of working with energy to help people heal physically, emotionally, namastementally, and on a spiritual level.  Figured I could use it on myself if nothing else.  :-)    So I called a friend, Tonya Haapala, who is a Reiki practitioner and teacher, and signed up for her class.  There was just one other student, and during a very intense two days we had plenty of time to practice on each other.  Often I could feel the energy flowing through my hands, usually with a sensation of warmth.  I learned how to read the condition of energy points, or chakras, using a pendulum.  I learned how to work with the energy, working with my guides (angels, beings of light, whatever you want to call them) so they could assist in the healing.    And it works.   :-)   Nothing dramatic like the lame walking or the blind seeing, but gentle and strong healing energy so our bodies can heal themselves.

Am not sure where I will go with this.  As I said, if I can help my own body heal better, that makes me very happy.   I’ve practiced on a few people, and they all felt better afterward.

If you are curious about Reiki, there is lots of information about it out there.  I’m still learning, too.   :-)  You can see what my instructor, Tonya, has on her website here.

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Creative Re-Visioning

Ever come to a point in your life where everything seems to fall apart?  Maybe you made some unwise choices, or a relationship ended, or you got laid off, or your health starts to go, or something you really believed in no longer seemed right.  That feeling of, “What do I do now?”

old wooden houseThis morning I was looking at “We’Moon 2014: Gaia Rhythms for Womyn,” published by Mother Tongue Ink.  On page 100 is a three-paragraph essay titled “A-rise,” by Alyson McEvoy.  She writes about crumbling houses in Havana, and how local artists breath new life into the skeletons of houses, painting vivid scenes on them, most often faces of people who could be local.  These are paintings of “people who remind passers-by of their own Selves, their own majesty, beauty and strength, even amidst the ruined places of their lives.”

Nothing new comes into the world without something ending.  We may grieve for the ending, and that is important.  But we need to look beyond that to the new possibilities that can come, “to look into the debris with eyes of creative re-visioning.”  What art will you create in what now seems like a ruin?

 

PS  We’Moon is a datebook published every year by a group of women in Oregon.  It is filled with information, written pieces, and art.  I buy one every year, and give copies of it to friends.  You can read more about it at their website.

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No GMOs

Today was an international day to March Against Monsanto. Monsanto ranks right up there with the cigarette companies for pushing their product and denying anything is wrong with it. Except they go one step further, saying what they sell us is better than anything we could grow in our gardens.  Unless we use their seeds, of course.  In fact, if No GMOthey had their way, everyone would be using their seeds and seed sharing would be illegal.

I think this is one fight we can win.  Already Monsanto products have been banned in many countries, including most of Europe.  Recently Josephine and Jackson Counties in southwest Oregon have banned GMO crops (which effectively bans Monsanto).  The only reason Monsanto has made it so big in the United States is because they throw money at politicians like confetti.  Doesn’t matter what party they are in, either.  The current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture is a former Monsanto executive.  Talk about putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

The reason I think we can win this fight is because Monsanto has managed to piss off a wide range of people.  I have very conservative all the way through to very liberal family members and friends.  And while one of them says it began with good intentions, ALL of them agree Monsanto has gone too far.

We made plans for another yard sale long before we knew about the March Against Monsanto date.  But we wanted to participate, so I made a banner and we displayed it on our front porch.  And here I need to say that I am not against all genetically modified organisms.  I take a medicine that is made from reconstructed human DNA, which is technically a GMO.  However, this is far different from creating seeds to grow frankenfood plants, plants that then require Monsanto fertilizers and pesticides.  Plants that do not do as well as the strains naturally developed in certain areas.  Remember the movie “Jurassic Park”?   We have no idea of the long-term effect of these plants on humanity, animals, and the environment.   By using Monsanto products, we may very well be sowing the seeds of our own destruction.

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“City of Pearl,” by Karen Traviss (2004)

 

   “Good morning,” said Shan Frankland, and held up her warrant card. “We’re from Environmental Hazard Enforcement. Please, step away from the console.”
She loved those words. They cast a spell. They laid bare men’s souls, if you knew how to look. She looked around the administration center and in three seconds she knew the man at the desk was uninvolved, the woman marshaling traffic was surprised by the intrusion, and the man lounging against the drinks machine . . . well, his face was too composed and his eyes were moving just
wrong. He was the fissure in the rock. She would cleave it apart.   (City of Pearl, 2004, page 5)

It’s the year 2299.  Shan Frankland is an Environmental Hazard Enforcement cop for the Federal European Union, and she is very good at it.  Civilian government still runs Europe, but just barely — the corporations are getting stronger.  Frankland helps track down City of Pearlcompanies whose GMOs have contaminated food crops and wiped out crops they don’t have a patent on, like spelt and millet.  And she can’t get that gorilla out of her memory, the one who kept signing, Please help me.

Karen Traviss has written a science fiction novel that explores environments, the rights of sentient beings, commercial interests, and moral choices, spanning 177 years, on a planet 75 light years from Earth.  What makes this a difficult book to put down is the very real cast of characters, and the complex situations they find themselves in.  As in real life, there are no easy answers.  Frankland and her small crew have come to check on a colony of humans, and also finds four “alien” races already on the planet — one determined to colonize it and use all its resources, and another committed to maintaining the balance.

Really good science fiction has always excelled at examining the problems we are dealing with here and now by putting them in another time on another world.  It makes us think as well as entertains us.  Traviss’ book is very good science fiction.  She gives us two heroes who are determined to do what is right, even while they make mistakes and deal with their own emotions.

Other than the books by Sir Terry Pratchett, I don’t read a lot of fiction.   City of Pearl is going on my keep-no-matter-what shelf, joining Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach and Momo by Michael Ende.  It is inspiring — I encourage you to read it.

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