Out, damned Facebook!

It’s time to slow things down, Facebook. We’ve been seeing far too much of each other.
There have been a few good articles on how Facebook is bad for you, like this one and this one, but I’d like to think I figured it out on my own. Wait. Maybe that’s not such a good thing. It’s pretty bad when I have to figure it out for myself instead of reading about it on Facebook, right?

I’ve noticed it personally for a few months now. I see pictures of someone’s vacation and I feel envious. Not just that passing kind of envy, wow, how beautiful, that’s a place to keep in mind to go to someday, but something more ferocious, an anger turned inward. Why am I not good enough to be able to afford a vacation twice a year, or even once a year? People post pictures of their gardens, or the feasts they’ve prepared, and I immediately feel that I’m failing to live an acceptable life because I do not serve equally sumptuous dinners with tables graced by flawlessly arranged flowers grown in my equally exquisite garden. Never mind the fact that I live in a tiny apartment that doesn’t even have room for a proper table. Also never mind the fact that I am more of a necessity cook than a gourmet cook, and also have a pretty tight budget. Who, these days, has $39 for an ostrich egg? Hell, it’s all The Tominator and I can do to keep the place stocked with bread and tea.

I realize this is not the fault of the people who are doing fun and beautiful things in their lives. They should be doing fun and beautiful things in their lives. I am a depressive person. I’ve suffered from crippling panic attacks for 35 years, as well as the depression that goes with that. It is easy for me to find fault with myself, to weigh and find myself wanting. Why am I not that skinny? Why don’t I have 35 friends waiting to take me out on the town for my birthday? Why don’t I knit things that look that good? Why am I not a worldly and cultured traveler?  I certainly should be. I mean, just look. Everybody else is. Except, of course, that they’re not.

Yes, I know when to use which one. But I don’t own most of them.

But it’s not just that.

I don’t need the distraction. I recently participated in Camp NaNoWriMo and while the fault is ultimately my own, I still blame Facebook for the fact that I did not reach my word count goal. Hell, I’ve had to mentally slap my hand three times already, just writing this post, to keep from opening Facebook in a new window to see what new thing I’m not doing right that has come up in the last fifteen minutes. (It is interesting that I don’t have this problem when school is in session and I really do have to study, and I don’t have it at work either. Apparently my mind does have some self-discipline.) I’m still not as bad as some people though. I do not now have, and never have had and never will have, the Facebook app for my phone. But I still think that’s like justifying skin-popping smack by pointing out that it’s not as bad as mainlining. It’s still bad, Advertising irritates the living daylights out of me, clickbait destroys IQ points, and any article written about the Kardashians is a tool of Satan.
I don’t need the overstimulation. Yes, the world is full of injustices that need to be righted. But people who share a meme and apparently believe that means they’re actually doing something to fix things irritate the shit out of me. I personally don’t need to have horrifying pictures of abused animals shoved in my face. It agitates me, and the fact that you slammed me in the face with a gross-out makes for zero likelihood that I’m going to jump on your bandwagon. If this is a cause I will use my time to fight for, I will seek it out. Do you think the criminal justice system needs an overhaul, or GMO foods should be labeled? First, fact-check the meme you just read. Then, get off Facebook and write a letter to your legislator. Have a real conversation with a real person about it. Vote. I don’t know if it’s causing the insomnia that plagues me, but when I wake in the wee hours, that kind of crap is what is floating in my mind. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter. But I don’t need it invading my sleeping hours as well as my waking ones.
I don’t need the negativity. I realize they are just stupid memes, and people frequently share stuff without really thinking about the implications behind them. Still, it upsets me to see that someone I like apparently harbors viewpoints I find hateful. Why, exactly, is it so horrible to have driver’s license tests available in languages other than English? Anybody who has ever learned, or tried to learn, a foreign language knows it’s damned hard, and having things available in people’s mother tongues makes rules and regulations clearly understood as well as making us just, well, classy for being so accepting of other cultures, kinda the same way other countries make things available in English. (Oops, I ranted.) And then there’s just all the generally irritating things that people do on Facebook anyway, like “vaguebooking” and proselytizing and posting quotes that aren’t even correctly attributed and the rest of these Facebook sins.

Except this one. If Abe said it, it must be true.

I’m not saying Facebook is completely evil. A year or so ago I reconnected with some cousins I hadn’t seen in decades, and it’s been delightful. I enjoy knowing that people I care about are doing things that make them happy. There is some intelligent stuff out there, and I come across some interesting articles and points of view. It’s a good place to promote my blog.

But I think there’s a lot more bad than good, and it’s time for me to draw a line.

In the hour I’ve spent writing this blog post, I haven’t looked at Facebook once. Now I think I’ll go email my legislator about the asshattery and unconstitutionality of the English-only movement. Maybe I’ll finish that beautiful scarf I started knitting for Dream Girl. And who knows, I might even read War and Peace and get some sleep.
Now, Twitter. Now, that’s interesting…

Get a Life: Nate Bolt, Creative Commons
Formal table: Andreas Praefcke, Public Domain
Abe: He’s everywhere.


Pardon Me, Your Ugly is Showing – Updated

Welcome. These gorgeous daffodils are obviously not the ugly.

I’m venting again. It’s my blog, and I’ll vent if I want to.

It disturbed me a little while back to see these memes circulating on social media. What made me saddest was that they were being perpetuated in part by people I had thought were of a more tolerant, humankind-embracing bent:

Where do I start with the bigotry rampant in that little block of print?

“Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all.” Lovely. First, the descendants of anyone who migrated here and took it away from the natives isn’t a true American, but let’s just skip that. Because, you know, that’s not convenient. We white Americans were the first ones here who counted. But again, why? Show me how it hurts anybody else for an American of Chinese ancestry to consider himself a Chinese American and to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Explain to me how it hurts anyone else for an Indian woman to wear a sari, or how you’re injured by that man’s turban. Oh, and by the way, all of you who love to embrace your Irish ancestry, you were not among the “real” American settlers either. Many Irish came here as slaves in the seventeenth century, and the great mass came later, fleeing the starvation of the Great Potato Famine. You were not loved. You were looked down on and considered not fully human and discriminated against just like the Chinese and the Blacks and the Japanese and the Jews and the Italians and oh, yes, the Native Americans and the Mexicans, who were here first, in case you forgot. The Irish (and I am one) only managed to assimilate better than other immigrants because of Caucasian skin. So explain to me why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It can’t just be the novelty of green beer. No, wait — this is America.

Moving on. I once had an interesting conversation with a woman who was born in America and  raised tri-lingual. She got the insulting gamut from complete strangers, from dirty looks to sneered “Speak English!” if she spoke with her sister in another family language in public. Strangers told her she was rude to speak in a language other people can’t understand. Really? So, the beef is that the complete strangers around her can’t understand the conversation, that is none of their business to begin with? She also told me that she learned, in her travels around the globe, that no one anywhere else feels that way. Go anywhere else in the world, sit at a cafe, and let the music of six or eight different languages flow around you. Nobody cares if they can’t understand what the strangers around them are saying in their own conversations, and they’re not paranoid that you might be talking about them. That odd marriage of arrogance and insecurity is, it would appear, distinctly American.

Yes, it is a supreme irritation, having to select a language from a menu. Having other languages available can literally be the difference between life and death for people who are still learning English and are not yet fluent. We put up with a lot, with these menus taking up five whole seconds of our valuable time, and the effort of pressing 1 for English. No, we’ll never be able to get back those five seconds or the energy we used pressing 1. Our sacrifice is above and beyond. We should be so proud of ourselves.

This great big country, encompassing approximately 3.8 million square miles, isn’t big enough for more than one language? Really? Since America is made up of millions of residents who do, in fact, speak myriad languages, I think we can safely say that yes, it is big enough. Russia is twice as big and has more than 30 languages, and that’s with Putin at the helm.

I guess it doesn’t matter how much space there is when the minds are too small.

Just post this one. I already know you’re a bigot.

“There can be no divided allegiance here.” Where’s the proof that there is any divided allegiance? This is dangerously close to the mentality that brutalized tens of thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II, putting them in concentration camps even though they were born here and worked to buy the property that was illegally seized. The amazing “Uncle George” George Takei can tell you the story of his own imprisonment in his TED talk, Why I Love a Country that Once Betrayed Me.

And the biggest question is: Why should anyone have to deny their very DNA just to please bigots, for the right to call themselves citizens of the country where they live, work, raise their families, vote, pay taxes, and bury their loved ones?
What I really don’t understand is that this has to be explained to anyone.

And then, there was this one:

This one is a slap in the face to an increasingly large number of Americans who, through no fault of their own, are finding it more and more difficult to adequately provide for their families.
Like everyone else, I’ve heard the urban legend about the “Welfare Queen” who keeps having babies to get more welfare — like that’s going to make anyone rich. And of course she’s black, right? She’s a myth, though, I hate to tell you. Just like the Magic Unicorn Princess. Where I live, in the state of Washington, the average welfare recipient is a 31-year-old white woman, with one child, who stays on assistance for less than a year. Nationally, according to a mythbuster using material from the House Ways and Means Committee, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the World Rank Research Team, “…whites form the largest racial group on welfare; half of all welfare recipients leave in the first two years; and teenagers form less than 8 percent of all welfare mothers.” And with the purchasing power of present TANF payments equaling what they were in 1996, almost 20 years ago, even that help isn’t much. But apparently it’s enough that people needing this temporary help should feel even more humiliated than they already do at having nowhere to turn but these “taxpayer-funded handouts.”

At least be honest enough to post this one.

Thousands of years ago, governments were formed to oversee the day-to-day functioning of towns that later became cities, full of people who needed to eat in order to live in increasingly industrialized, post-hunter-gatherer societies. One function of those ancient governments was to ensure a food supply, stockpiling preserved meat and grain against droughts and ruined harvests, to make sure the citizens didn’t go hungry. We don’t do that anymore. But ask yourself, why on earth would modern people appoint a government, if not for the same overarching reason — to see to the well-being of the people? The powers aren’t there just because we want someone to send our citizens off to fight wars over causes we know nothing about and to not fix potholes in the roads and to implement Common Core asshattery and to plaster ugly signs everywhere at election time and to generally tell us what to do. They are put in place by us (bought and paid for elections notwithstanding, but that’s another rant), for our benefit. That means a government is supposed to take care of the people of the nation. All of them. Not just the ones whose lives meet with our personal approval.
 “They were earned and paid for” is of course the shaming statement trying to make the point that people needing food stamps or WIC didn’t earn it and haven’t paid for it – regardless of work they’ve done and taxes they’ve paid in the past, or will in the future.

“Welfare, Food Stamps, WIC…ad nauseum…” Ad nauseum. Why not just come right out and say, “I’m sick of programs that help people”? Like there won’t always be people who need help. Like you’ve never needed help, or can guarantee you’ll never need help, ever.

I saw this accompanied by “Of course people deserve to eat, but…” But what? But not if they don’t have a job right now because they got sick, or got hurt, or got laid off? But not if Mom trusted the baby’s father not to leave her in the lurch, needing help until she could get on her feet and make it alone? But not if they are too sick or injured to work and their disability isn’t enough for food and housing both, not to mention – gasp! – a movie once in a while? But only if they’re appropriately humbled and shamed because they need this help?

But… not if they’re not like you?
Seeing a “but” clause at the end of that sentence made me so very sad.
How about, “Of course people deserve to eat.” Period.
There’s a picture of some lovely spring flowers at the top of this post because I like blog posts with pictures but I didn’t want any of those ugly memes to be what people saw as the thumbnail. I want a world that is all flowers. I know it’s not realistic. But I can dream of a sunshine-y bigot-free world, just as I dream of daffodils in winter.