social media

You can go now…

We had a pretty dull long weekend. Bill had Friday off because of the Fourth of July, but we didn’t end up doing anything special, despite Bill’s best efforts to get me out of the house. However, I did have a good guitar day yesterday, which I wrote about on my travel blog. My travel blog, by the way, is going to wake up again soon, because I have booked a short trip that starts in eleven days. We will spend three nights in the Eifel region of the Mosel Valley, which is about a two hour drive from where we live. There’s a lot of stuff to do outdoors, so I think we’ll be busy, especially if the weather is good. Bill has been a good sport about my stubborn refusal to venture out, although I think he’s feeling kind of tense.

I’ve mostly been trying to stay out of trouble on social media, although I’m still thinking that it may be time to move on from it. Last night, Red Peters, a hilarious comedian who writes and sings funny songs and promotes the songs done by other people, got really pissed off by one of Facebook’s recent censorship policies. He says he’s going to get off of Facebook by September 1st. I can’t blame him, as I was also recently wrist slapped by Facebook over something really stupid. Maybe I’ll follow suit… or maybe not. But one thing is for certain. Facebook may be a way to keep in touch with friends and family, but it’s also the source of a whole lot of annoyances.

Take, for instance, a recent trend I’ve noticed. Sometimes my “friends” send me private messages. The messages are almost never about anything important. They’re often videos or memes that, for whatever reason, they don’t want to post on their own page, and sometimes they send them without comment. Or they put them on their page, but they also send them via PM to their friends. Personally, I don’t like this practice. I understand that some people do it because it’s something obnoxious or controversial and they only want to share it with people who will appreciate it and not start a shit storm. I get that, and I do have a couple of friends who are very civilized, but have a good sense of humor and they know I’ll think something’s funny and even share it for them.

But– I also sometimes get these PMs from people I don’t know that well and/or engage with often. Sometimes, they’re the annoying “pass it on” posts– you know, like the ones that tell you to post what color your bra is (I rarely wear them anymore unless I’m going out). It’s supposed to be for breast cancer awareness, but it’s really just a stupid timewaster that doesn’t really do anything more than irritate people. Below is an excerpt about the bra campaign from a book entitled Online Activism: Social Change Through Social Media:

Yes, I got these messages. No, I did not participate.

Sometimes they’re just memes or videos sent without comment. If the sender is someone I know well and/or have engaged with more than a couple of times, I may have an inkling as to why they sent the message. Maybe I’ll even care enough to ask them. I still think it’s an irritating practice to PM these things, mainly because I think private messages should be reserved for items that really should be kept private and are actually important. Memes and videos don’t generally fall into those categories. Still, I’m more willing to cut more slack to people I know than people I don’t.

Last night, someone sent me this meme without comment:

How should I take this?

The person who sent this is a nurse. We “met” on a site for second wives and stepmothers, and there was a time when we interacted frequently. She lives far away from me, even when I’m stateside, so we have never met offline. Lately, we haven’t been chatting much at all. So last night, when I got a PM from her out of the blue, and it turned out to be the above image, I wasn’t sure how to take it. I’ve repeatedly stated that I’m not on the mask bandwagon. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t comply with the rules, nor does it mean that I don’t take the pandemic seriously. I SIMPLY STAY AT HOME. While I go many days between mask wearings, I also don’t go to places where I encounter people who could be adversely affected by my germs. On the rare occasions when I do go out, I follow the rules. I just don’t like or agree with them. Fair enough?

Lots of people disagree with me about the masks, and that’s fine. I figure that if I’m mostly staying at home, I’m probably doing more than they are to flatten the curve, anyway. The world doesn’t need me to preach about face masks. Plenty of people are already doing that repeatedly and annoyingly. I don’t need to add my voice to the cacophony. I don’t need to cheerlead about the masks, even if they do help slow the spread of the virus. They still suck. Nothing about wearing a mask is fun, and most people have the right and ability to make up their own minds about them. They don’t need my help any more than I need theirs.

Because there was no comment with my friend’s “meme”, and I have no idea if this person has been paying attention to my social media, I wondered if she thought I would like the meme, or if it was a dig. I suppose I could have responded to her. Maybe that would have been the right thing to do. Ultimately, I decided that the face mask meme wasn’t something I care that much about, so I didn’t comment. But since this is a common practice– for people to send unimportant stuff via PM without comment– I decided to ask my Facebook friends why people do it. I don’t PM people unless I have something important to tell them privately, but people PM me all the time. I try to be tolerant, but I must admit I get annoyed, and I just wanted to understand the rationale behind the PM blitzing. Some of my “regular” friends were having a nice discussion with me, with a few people agreeing with me that this is an annoying practice.

And then, I got a message from someone else I “met” on the same site for second wives and stepmothers. This person, who is now no longer a friend, probably interacted with me more often than the person who sent the meme, but we still didn’t talk much. When we did regularly used to communicate some years ago, we often disagreed.

For instance, she didn’t like that I was vocal about my disdain for Mormonism. She said it was “disrespectful”, although she isn’t herself LDS. I disagreed, since the LDS church was successfully used as a weapon against Bill’s relationship with his children, and that’s a problem that affects many people. She felt that I shouldn’t say out loud that I don’t like Mormonism, out of respect to a Mormon woman who was also in our group. The Mormon woman, by the way, was more than capable of sticking up for herself and her religion, and she did so vehemently and consistently. Besides, I felt that the purpose of the group was to discuss these issues and how they affect “steplife”. Like it or not, a highly controlling lifestyle religion like Mormonism does affect things, particularly when not everyone involved is LDS. But this now former friend felt I was out of line to bring it up, or she felt the way I brought it up was unkind. She had no trouble telling me so, even though it didn’t really change my opinion or behavior. She didn’t seem too interested in seeing my perspective, either.

Anyway, beyond that squabbling, which we hadn’t been doing in recent years, we rarely had much to say to each other, especially currently. Neither of us has a lot of steplife drama anymore. But she still felt the need to add her two cents to last night’s discussion.

She posted: Man, I never wanted to PM unexplained memes so badly in my life….

Again…. not really sure how to take this. So I posted that I would like to turn off the PM function entirely, or make it for certain people, which she responded with a “laughing” reaction. At that point, I assumed that she was making a passive aggressive dig and trying to stir up shit. I figured that if she has something to say to me, but can’t be bothered to just say it, we probably aren’t really friends. Since I didn’t know how to take her comments, we were never close, and I don’t remember ever being particularly close to her even when we did used to frequently communicate, I decided to delete her.

I felt badly about it for a minute, because I grew up at a time when friends were people you knew face to face, and “unfriending” someone was a serious thing. But back then, being friends with someone was also a more serious thing; that’s why we mostly tended to have fewer of them then than we do now, in the age of social media.

As I recently wrote in a post, I’m getting to a point in my life at which I value quality over quantity. A lot of people don’t like me. Many people decide they don’t like me having never taken the time to get to know me. That’s up to them, of course, and I’ve gotten used to it. I still have some great people in my life who do love me for who I am and don’t mind that I speak my mind. We treat each other with basic respect and give each other the right to be heard. We don’t try to stir up drama on each other’s social media accounts or offline. And when we have something to say, we say it. We don’t do immature passive aggressive digs or make fun of each other. Those aren’t things a real friend does.

I’ve spent most of my life being discounted, belittled, berated, ignored and crapped on by people who don’t have any respect for me, some of whom were supposedly “loved ones”. Right now, things are stressful enough as it is. I figure at this point in my life, I don’t have to tolerate it anymore, especially from people I barely know. And, like I said, I’m getting pretty tired of Facebook, anyway. Maybe after we get our next dog, I’ll ditch it once and for all. Dogs are better and more genuine friends than most people are, anyway.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, rants

Virtue signaling is at an all time high…

You know this term, virtue signaling? Apparently, it’s been around for a few years, but I just learned about it a couple of weeks ago. I’ve seen it in action for ages, though, and it’s a highly irritating practice. Virtue signaling is basically when a person says or does something that is basically meaningless in an attempt to look noble. An example I can think of is when people change their profile pictures on Facebook to show solidarity for something. They’re showing “support”, but if they don’t do something more significant, that action doesn’t lead to anything but the appearance of “good”.

People usually “virtue signal” for vain purposes. They want to look good, but they don’t necessarily want to do any work. So, say there’s been a mass shooting in Italy– just making this up– and a bunch of people change their Facebook photos to match the Italian flag. They don’t do anything else, other than change their Facebook photos or post a few memes. That doesn’t actually help anyone in Italy. It just makes the people who change their profile pics appear to be more sensitive to the suffering of people affected in Italy.

Or… say you know someone isn’t much of an animal lover, but all of a sudden, they start posting on social media about the plight of animals in shelters. It’s kinda bullshit, but the person looks like a more moral person for doing it, even if the truth is, he or she couldn’t care less about animals. There’s been no effort expended to make the animals suffer less. No money was donated. No time was given or supplies purchased. Basically, the posts do very little but make the person who shared them appear to be a more decent person.

I think that’s kind of what’s been happening during the coronavirus crisis. Lots of bored people have started jumping up on soapboxes that didn’t exist three months ago. Now, they are preaching about maintaining the guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing when, three months ago, this issue wasn’t even on their radar. Of course, it wasn’t on most people’s radars three months ago. We heard about people trapped on cruise ships and lots of people dying in China, Italy, and Iran. Now, everyone is an expert on the virus and what we should all be doing.

Yesterday, after seeing the same fucking meme shared for the hundredth time about why mask wearing is important, I decided to post something obnoxious. I knew it would get responses from people thinking I was referring to their posting habits. Actually, the “guilty” didn’t seem to notice this comment from me:

LOL… I have started hiding the “wear a mask” preaching posts. Enough is enough. If people haven’t gotten the message by now, they never will.

Seems to me that this is pretty simple. The point I was trying to make is that people have made up their minds. Sharing this meme or similar ones…

This is a RIDICULOUS example, made even worse by the obvious typo. Who goes around peeing on people? And if you’re a woman, no matter what you do, you’ll be peeing on yourself. As an explanation about the spread of coronavirus and wearing masks, I don’t think this works.

is not going to change anyone’s mind about the efficacy of masks. We’ve all seen this one and the blue death screen version of this same sentiment over and over again. Sharing it again doesn’t make you look smarter or wiser than anyone else. It makes you look like an asshole. Sorry… I know that comment won’t sit well with a lot of people, but that’s how I feel. It’s sarcastic, insulting, and completely discounts the legitimate reasons some people have for not “getting with the program”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve about had it with the self-righteous among us. And sharing a meme about urinating in public while naked to illustrate the importance of masks is just silly. At least share one that doesn’t have a typo in the heading.

Just as annoying, though, are the pleading memes like this one…

I’ve seen this one so many times. Do people really need to read this “explanation” over and over again?

I suspect some people continually do this because they enjoy getting feedback from the like-minded. They rack up a bunch of “likes” and “loves” and atta-girls or atta-boys, since the people who are irritated by them don’t typically say anything. Sharing something like this makes you appear to be a good citizen. But I think you’re a better citizen when you simply do your part to stem the tide of the coronavirus pandemic without the public displays of virtue signaling on social media. Most of us have read up on the masks and social distancing rules. Those who are believers in it already know all this stuff. Those who have made up their minds to rebel are not going to be convinced by your meme. The rest of us, who would like to just wait this shit out without becoming deathly ill, are getting fatigued.

Does sharing memes like this one over and over again change the minds of people who think wearing a facemask is “living in fear”? Probably not. But you might get a lot of likes and loves from the people who think it’s a good point.

My post got some comments from people. I had to reassure a couple of them that I wasn’t talking about them sharing news articles and expressing outrage over the way some people in the United States are behaving. I don’t condone the idiots who are protesting en masse in state capitals, threatening government officials, toting their guns, and being thugs. To be clear, I do respect the rules. I have left my house/neighborhood twice since March. The one time I went into a store, I did wash my hands and wear a mask. I got in and out of there as quickly as I could. The other time I went out, I stayed in the car. I even stayed strapped in, because I didn’t want Bill to turn into Pat Boone.

At one point, though, I brought up car seat, anti-circumcision (skintactivists), and breastfeeding “Nazis”. Before the face mask controversy, I’d most often see the virtual signaling behavior whenever someone shared a picture of a child in a car seat. It never fails. Post a picture of your kid in a car seat and you damned well better be sure that kid is strapped in perfectly correctly. Otherwise, you’ll get an online lecture from some self-appointed car seat twit who wants to critique your buckling technique. Same thing with breastfeeding and circumcisions. You get yammering from someone wanting to educate you about why “breast is best”, or why you shouldn’t get your infant son’s foreskin removed. Sometimes, people have good reasons for the decisions they make for themselves or their families. Sometimes their reasons aren’t any of your business. Most people are trying to do the best they can and probably ought to get the benefit of the doubt. But try to tell that to the zealots and they won’t hear you any better than the rebels do.

So anyway, we were having a good discussion about this issue, when I got a comment from a car seat specialist who defended her “right” to share car seat memes “any darned time” she wants. Well, first of all, I never said you couldn’t share your memes. It’s YOUR page. You can share whatever you want to on your page. What I said was, I am HIDING the shaming memes because I’m tired of looking at them, and I find them annoying, insulting, and depressing. And secondly, if you legitimately know what you’re talking about on a subject, then share away! I don’t have an issue with people who have valuable things to share that are genuinely educational and beneficial. And I wasn’t specifically talking to or about you and your social media habits. My issue is with people who went to the Facebook School of Medicine and want to educate and enlighten the rest of us with their brilliant insights they learned on social media. And they share the same fucking things over and over again. At what point have you preached enough? Does that happen when every single person is bowing to peer pressure? Or does it happen when the next big controversy arises?

I must admit, sometimes this is how I feel when I read yet another social media based lecture, especially when it’s in a meme.

I just read a really good article about how to talk to people who don’t wear face coverings. I think it’s very good, of course, mainly because I agreed with what was stated. Shaming and scolding are never good behaviors among adults. It doesn’t get people on your side; it pisses them off. Sometimes, it even leads to violence. I noticed an exchange on a friend’s page the other day. One of her friends wrote that she’d threatened to “throat punch” someone who wasn’t wearing a mask in the checkout line at the grocery store. Another friend took issue with the threat of violence over the mask wearing. The first friend– the would-be throat puncher– then shared that snarky “peeing” meme with the typo to explain why masks are important. Then she told the other woman to “educate” herself. Asshole behavior, if you ask me– and I was glad to see that the other woman didn’t take it lying down. There’s no excuse for threatening violence, especially at a time like this. It doesn’t make you look like a “badass”. It makes you look stupid. Maybe the woman had a reason for not wearing the mask, or maybe she was just being inconsiderate. Either way, there was absolutely no need to threaten her with violence.

I think we’re all under a lot of stress. I think it’s best to be kind and try to be understanding as much as possible. As for me… I’m not sure when I’ll be leaving the house again. I don’t like the masks, but I like shitty confrontational behavior from other people even less. But I’m going to try not to preach about this on Facebook. That’s why I write a blog. 😉

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musings

He’s got a point…

I have to be honest. I hate these kinds of memes…

Y’all know I love animals, right? I especially love dogs, horses, and cats. My very first jobs were working in a barn and at a veterinary hospital. I’ve spent a lot of time loving animals and they’ve mostly loved me back, with the possible exception of our old cat, Cricket, who had the misfortune of living with my family of origin when I was a toddler. That being said, I don’t like it when people lose their common sense when it comes to animals. I don’t like it when anyone loses their ability to see other perspectives.

Two well-meaning friends have posted this meme recently. I know they are both caring, compassionate, loving people. On the surface, I totally agree with this message, but I would never share it. For one thing, I find it manipulative. I am not a fan of guilt trips, and this smacks of a guilt trip to me. Most people on Facebook wouldn’t support this kind of thing, anyway, so you’re preaching to the choir. Anyone heartless enough to simply dump a pet without any remorse is probably not going to care about your meme. The rest of us are probably just going to feel shitty.

Please don’t get me wrong. I absolutely think it’s a terrible thing to abandon animals. I do not, at all, condone dumping pets on the side of the road. However, I also realize that pets are not people and sometimes people find themselves having to make terrible choices. When I clicked on the original post to read the comments, I found a thread full of interesting perspectives. One man named John was brave enough to post this:

It’s not cruel.

People who do this do so because they don’t see any other choice. It’s done when families go broke, and can’t feed the kids, much less the family pet.

Instead of condemning the poor for doing this in a desperate situation, help them. Help them find jobs, groceries, etc.

He was immediately pounced upon by the outrage brigade. Lots of people tried to “educate” him, although he struck me as being quite intelligent. More people tried shaming and insulting him for daring to be contrary. A couple of folks appealed to the guy’s sense of decency, reasoning that pets can’t fend for themselves and should be taken to a shelter. John came back with this comment:

Those services aren’t always available. Plus, when tragedy strikes, people can’t always think of everything.

And, yes, they can fend for themselves very well.

Later, it came out that the guy, John, who is originally from Chicago, actually lives in Europe. He claims that living in Europe has changed his viewpoint. Naturally, I was interested when he mentioned Europe, since I am an American who also lives in Europe. A couple of posters chastised him for “pretending” to be European. I wanted to know what part of Europe, so I stalked his Facebook page. Turns out he’s in Bulgaria.

I have been to Bulgaria. I went in 1996, when it was still recovering from years of being behind the so-called Iron Curtain. I’m sure Bulgaria is a lot better now than it was in 1996, although in 1996, it was a hell of a lot nicer than Armenia was, which was where I was living at that time. Bill visited Bulgaria about ten years ago. It had come up in the world a bit. I don’t know what it’s like in 2019, but it’s probably not as cushy as Germany is. Here, I never see stray animals. In fact, spaying and neutering is not nearly as common in developed European countries as it is in the States. Why? Because while there are definitely shelters here, they aren’t overflowing. Most people take care of their pets.

Having been to Bulgaria, my guess is that the attitude toward pets is not the same. I distinctly remember in Armenia, there were packs of street dogs that would roam around looking for trash. Some of them were alright, but some were downright mean. As much as I love dogs, I often had to carry rocks with me in case they got too close. The street dogs were not necessarily friendly, with few exceptions. Bulgaria probably has a similar problem. It’s possible that John has seen street dogs or strays roaming around Bulgaria. But he’s also seen very poor people trying to take care of themselves.

I also remember meeting Armenian refugees who had been living in Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union fell. These folks had once had their own apartments, but once the Soviet Union broke up, they had to flee Azerbaijan. Whole families ended up living in dorm sized rooms. That’s five or six people living in a space designed for two. Would Fluffy or Fido necessarily fit in with that reality? Probably not.

I was intrigued by that post because, while I could definitely see the perspectives of outraged, kind-hearted, well-meaning Americans, I could also see John’s perspective. He’s left the United States and moved somewhere where life may not be as easy. He’s seen another perspective and it’s changed his opinions. This happens to me every time I live abroad. So far, I’ve lived abroad in five different places and three different countries. Each experience opens my eyes a little bit more. I imagine it’s been the same for John, who came across as quite intelligent and calm, despite the mob of angry rebuttals from the clueless that came his way. I particularly liked it when he calmly pointed out to several posters that they were making assumptions and putting words in his post that he never wrote. For instance, one person wrote this:

I care about people and animals. I am just sorry you feel that you’re only option is too leave your dog on the side of the road.

And John responded with, “I never said that. There’s no need to be self-conscious.” Later, he added “Gratefully, I never had to. But I’m lucky. Many people have had to do so.

When another poster offered to find a home for John’s dog, he wrote “In fact, our dog is a stray that sat at our gate for a month before we let her in. The best guard dog I’ve ever seen in my life. Like I said, we’re more fortunate than many here… I’m not going to condemn others for doing what they need to do in order to survive.

I think sometimes people get so wrapped up in outrage that they don’t allow themselves to see other perspectives. John never said he condones dumping animals. John never said he planned to dump his dog, nor did he applaud people who do. He simply suggested that sometimes people find themselves in situations where that seems like the best thing to do, whether or not it actually is. If he lives in Bulgaria, I can see why he’d come to that conclusion. I can also see why our fellow American brothers and sisters are outraged. It’s mainly because they’re ignorant and/or unwilling or unable to broaden their perspective.

What really made my eyebrows raise, though, was when someone claimed John was an atheist and quoted the Bible as a means of proving that this man she doesn’t know doesn’t believe in God. First off, even if he is an atheist, that really has nothing to do with animal dumping. Secondly, there are plenty of so-called Christians who have black hearts. Just this morning, I read a news article about Jerry Falwell Jr. that pretty much proves that point. He’s supposedly a “Christian”, but he’s got his head shoved way up Donald Trump’s ass, to the point at which he’s said he thinks Trump should be given two extra years to continue to fuck things up. I may not be the smartest or wisest person in the world, but I can smell bullshit for miles. And a lot of “religious” people are full to the gills with bullshit.

Anyway… while I don’t think there’s any excuse for ditching animals if there is any possible alternative, I also think John is right that sometimes people have to make very hard choices. I think of the folks who have been affected by the most recent natural disasters– wildfires, hurricanes, and the like– and realize that even some Americans are caught in that dilemma. If a wildfire is about to consume your house and you have a bunch of pets, including horses or other livestock, what the hell do you do? It would be wonderful if you had time to load them in a trailer and get them to safety. But what if you can’t do that? I’m sure people in Bulgaria or Armenia or any of the countries that aren’t the United States or Germany have to make those difficult decisions. So I, for one, applaud John for being brave enough to speak his mind and not go along with group think. It’s getting harder and harder to do that these days, in this age of Internet warfare. And more people need to pull their heads out of their asses and think outside of the box. Not every place on the planet is like America. Not everyone wants to live in America. American solutions aren’t always solutions that fit every situation. Think about it.

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