All Shook Up-Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

I have been having a hard time focusing on a single thought to play off of for this week’s blog.

Honestly there are so many ideas and events swirling around in my brain right now, who could pick just one?

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I have been spending a great deal of time on Twitter lately and as punishment for that I have to go back to my Chiropractor today to get them to work on my trick neck. I tell myself I like the news and the debate but I often question how much of my ego gets involved in these Twitter discussions. I try to keep things as civil as I possibly can, but I find more and more that people are ruining people for me. The unintelligent, insincere individuals who are seriously lacking empathy are always the loudest and that is a difficult thing to walk away from.

Wizard Of Oz Brain GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

For two days Twitter has been obsessed with “who bit Beyoncé?” while I have been arguing to the point that my head almost explodes with someone who lacks every single quality that is important when having an in depth debate. I truly have this belief that sometimes we need to listen more, this pertains to me as much as anyone else, I believe that everyone, even those with differing opinions have something to offer us if we are willing to put our ego on a shelf and attend to the conversation without the ultimate goal of being right. The world would be very tiresome if we only spoke with like minded people. Listening is a super power and if we learn to do it correctly we can open our hearts and expand our minds in ways in unimaginable ways.

Fresh Off The Boat Mind Blown GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

That being said, I got involved in a conversation that actually started when a friend shared an article about how the Parkland shooting survivors called out the media for their response to their fight for gun restrictions and noting that though the mainstream media has devoted a vast amount of time to their cause, similar student led anti-gun violence movements in black communities have been largely ignored. David Hogg, one of the Parkland survivors noted a great deal of racial disparity in the way the shooting and the events after have been covered. Not surprisingly, a white male from Western Alberta jumped into the conversation in an all-knowing, my word is fact sort of way and shook me. Until that point I had only watched the conversation from a distance but at the point that he tweeted that the shooting death of 17 year Trayvon Martin was justice for his community because he was a “punk kid” something inside me snapped. However, I calmly asked questions, I am genuinely interested in knowing how people’s brains work so I can understand the world we live in better and try to reconcile how we ended up in this place of heightened Us vs. Them mentality and the quickly diminishing sense of shared humanity. I fully admit that my ego gets involved often but I do genuinely want to learn and I like healthy engagement. What I cannot stand is people presenting their opinions and calling them fact. There is a huge difference between opinion and fact.

Opinion:

A view that somebody takes about an issue, especially when it is based solely on personal judgement.

Fact:

Something that can be proven to be true, to exist or have happened.

Most of us hold our beliefs to be true, we are fairly firm in our beliefs, that does not  make them fact and that variance is often the difference between calm, cool and collected Michelle and the other Michelle, ‘Oh hey meet crazy bitch!”

I have a lot of words to describe the person that I debated with on Twitter, it would be wrong and careless of me to use his real name and the other names that quickly come to mind are just way beneath my level of maturity, or at least I will pretend they are for this blog post. I am going to call him Gary, because I met a sleazy car salesman once that reminded me of this guy. I apologize in advance to anyone named Gary.

So, for the next day Gary continued to try to educate myself and others using what he called facts, which were actually just really horrible opinions to justify the death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin. His dialogue was not clever, it was void of empathy and his logic was completely non existent. He continued to tag me in his muddled, haphazard ramblings and I continued to respond. At a certain point I lost my cool and called him a fucking buffoon. (I stand by that statement) and I also used his love of Nickelback as a weapon against him.

So, I guess the point is I didn’t accomplish anything with Gary. I am not better from having had this conversation; in fact it consumed some of my energy and left me with an aching neck and a general feeling of disillusionment.

That being said, there were other people involved in this conversation that gave me hope; some intelligent, eloquent, funny, even angry people. I often imagine being at a party with these people and wonder who I could have the most fascinating conversation with. I appreciate people are passionate and not afraid to be heard. Though I would like to find a favorable balance on the internet I am not about to allow people like Gary to suck up all my energy. Nor am I going to get small and quiet.

I have a huge issue with people putting shitty information out into the world and calling it fact. It happens way too often and I think we have all been guilty of seeing something on the internet and sharing it because we “Assume” it is true. We talk all day about fake news while sharing fake news. I think it is wrong and I think it takes away significantly from things that should be newsworthy. We are all responsible to change that.

I am willing to accept that we will not always agree and I am willing to accept that our experiences are different and even though we could be involved in the same exact same incident our perception of that incident will likely differ.

What I will continue to be vocal about is injustice, truth and perspective and I will continue to support people that are passionate about causes and tirelessly fight and shine their lights every single day. These people are the lighthouses that we need in this often dark world. When the world gets to me and my own light is dim and my spirits are dampened it is these beacon of lights that keep me from crashing against the rocks and getting swallowed by the vicious waves.

If I can ask one thing of you today it is to be vigilant in what you post and share. If you are sharing information designed to create and heighten fear or discredit people fighting for change you are part of a huge problem. If you believe strongly about something there are a thousand ways for you to get involved, that doesn’t have to include hating on the people going out and fighting for the causes they believe in.

If you cannot do that one thing just do nothing. If you cannot help, do not harm.

 

Don’t bite off your nose to spite your face.

people-texting
“The generation that had information, but no context. Butter, but no bread. Craving, but no longing.”
― Meg Wolitzer, The Uncoupling

When I was 20 years old I was flying from Toronto to Halifax to visit my family. I met a young lady who had been born in Mexico but raised in California and she was leaving the easy warmth of the West Coast for the vibrant seafaring East Coast to study at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We shared stories of our childhoods and the long, hot summers gone by. We talked about our parents and showed pictures of our siblings that we pulled out of our wallets. On the short flight we became fast friends, exchanging addresses and promises to keep in touch. I was genuinely interested to hear about her adjustment and university life and she was anxious to hear about my visit with my family and life back in the city I called home for the time being. We parted with hugs and best wishes and I kept her address tucked away in a side pocket in my purse.

Months later I decided to send her a card. I inquired about how she was doing, said it was great to chat with her and I hoped she was doing well at Dal. She replied weeks later with a card saying she had made friends and was adjusting quite well but got homesick at times.
Our lives never intersected again and that was the last written correspondence we had. Years later I saw a canvas she had painted on display at The Colchester Regional Hospital in my hometown of Truro. I was certain from the lively, colorful commotion she had created she must be happy and that made me smile.

I think of her from time to time and the imaginative eclectic mix of people I have met over the years on planes, buses, in waiting rooms, washrooms, Vegas strip clubs, concert line-ups, neighborhood pubs…..well you catch my drift!

I wonder how many great conversations and fleeting friendships I have missed out on with my nose pressed into my Samsung Galaxy. There are a lot of great things on the internet (like this uh-huh) but there is also life out there happening all around us. Smiles, handshakes, laughter, people connecting “IN-PERSON”

We call ourselves “Social” because we “Social network” but how social are we really? How many of us sit at parties and play candy crush and avoid real conversations with real people. This is not technologically advanced. It is socially stunned.

Last week I decided to put my phone on the charger when I came home from work and not pick it up for the rest of the night. I used to carry it from room to room tapping away. I know a lot of you can relate. I have been trying hard to keep this routine every night. I am not sure my family has noticed yet but one day they will look up from their own electronics and realize there is life happening all around them!

I love Social Media! I personally use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WordPress… I think if used correctly they are all fascinating tools that can connect people all over the world immediately. People can share, content, ideas, create excitement and change. That being said I think your social media success depends largely on a balancing act between online and face to face interaction. Social media is a juncture between humanity and technology and you can absolutely create and share meaningful, witty, relevant content.
I just think that often we ignore the people around us in an attempt to be “social” That is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. It will undoubtedly be harmful to your relationships.

Moments are brief and once they are gone they are lost forever. Sometimes we need a reminder that the people beside us deserve a bit of our undivided attention.

I used to work in sales and we used to get lots of calls from people asking a multitude of questions and our boss used to tell us to be mindful of the time we spent on the phone because the people who took the time out of their day to drive to our store deserved our full and undivided attention. I always remembered that and it sits at the back of my mind. Sometimes we all need a reminder, I admit, especially me.

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it. (21)”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life