Just Stop

We all need to stop trying to change the world and focus on our immediate surroundings. Seriously. I’m starting to think that’s the only thing that really matters.

Are you stressed? Find a way to relax.

Husband angry and unhappy? Find something you can do that will make him happier.

Kids bored and disconnected? Find something you can do with them.

Your home needs repairs? Find one thing small and fix it or clean it up.

The bottom line is YOU and what YOU can do to make your immediate surroundings prettier, happier, and healthier. Stop looking for someone else to fix it. Stop worrying about getting the right politician elected. Stop looking a law to be passed that will make your life easier. Just stop.

If everyone worked on their own person and space, the whole world would be so much nicer. That’s what I’ve been doing. My life is happier the more I worry about that which I can actually reach out and touch instead of what my neighbor is doing.

New Social Expectations?

Public Service Announcement: Emails and Texts vs Blogs, Articles, and Social Media Posts

Does this really need to be said? I’ve run across this problem so many times over the last several years and it’s really starting to get on my nerves how few people have any communication skills whatsoever. We live in a communication filled world, right? Yes, it has changed dramatically over the last ten years but there are still basic rules. Aren’t there? Am I the only one that sees them? Does no one else have any expectations of response in certain situations? Sometimes it seems that even in person the rules have changed. I was sitting at my table at a conference and when people walked by and looked at my literature, I looked at them, smiled, and pointed them to my card and talked about my mission. Rarely did anyone look up at me, some just nodded and walked away, some just walked away as if I was not there. What’s going on? But I digress.

My recent issue is online communication. The internet has opened up the world for us to virtually move in. Yet we refuse to connect with each other. I write messages to people and they don’t respond. And these aren’t “cold calls”. These are people that have asked me a question and then not responded to the answer. I cannot imagine doing this at an in-person meeting, but then it has happened to me at meetings, too!

I’ve decided to write down my own expectations in the hopes of reaching out to the world and seeing if anyone else out there feels the same way. Here we go.

If someone is talking to you in the physical world, look at them, listen, and respond out loud. A simple “thank you” is usually good. A smile or pleasant look is helpful as well. I still can’t believe that I have to actually say that.

But then I wonder, “Do people think that online communication is somehow different than “real life” communication?” It really isn’t. We have the same categories and rules for written communication online as we do in the physical world of snail mail.

Blogs, Articles, and Social Media posts don’t need to be responded to unless you feel compelled to do so. It’s just like a newspaper/magazine article. You wouldn’t necessarily respond to the author or publisher unless you felt very strongly and then maybe you’d write a letter to them. Mostly we would probably discuss or share it amongst the people around us. Online, it’s the same thing. The “comment” section of an article is really just a quick way to respond to the author or publisher, not to have a conversation with strangers. Heated conversations with strangers about a deep or personal subject rarely get anywhere and usually just cause deeper rifts between the participants.

Emails and Texts are the same as phone calls and similar to personal letters, that is unless it is a newsletter or ad. Those come in the snail mail too and we don’t respond to them, we use them. But an email or a text from an individual is the same as them writing you a letter or calling. Respond as if you are in a conversation. Of course, email should be treated the same as snail mail. When you got a letter from your friend, you knew that she was waiting for a letter from you in response. The next chance you got, you wrote back, and so on until the conversation was obviously over. Email is so much quicker and easier. The same goes for emails from businesses that you have contacted for help. There is another person waiting for a response.

Texts are the same as phone calls but a tad more polite. In a text, you don’t need to bother your friend in the middle of a movie or dinner. They can hear the alert and answer it at their convenience but there is the general expectation of a return message, just like if I called your house and left a message on your answering machine. It’s quick and easy to use text the same way you’d use a call. I text. You answer when convenient. We go back and forth and then end the conversation with a “talk to you later”, “gotta run”, or “thanks for getting back to me”. You don’t just leave the conversation hanging. You wouldn’t do it on the phone, so why do you do it in a text?

I had started to think the people are just getting more and more rude over the past ten years but now I’m starting to question that? Do we just have a different set of social rules now and I haven’t gotten the memo? Or are is the media in which we communicate changing so fast that we haven’t built up any social rules about them yet? We’re all floundering around trying to figure it out, offending some people in the process, and putting up walls between us because we just aren’t all working with the same set of expectations. It feels like we are all from different worlds at a space age United Nations type meeting. Everyone has their own set of rules and no one realizes that everyone else’s rules are different from theirs.

International Peace Day? Sounds good to me.

Real, lasting peace begins with your own mind and body, extends to those in your home, neighborhood, and town, and then moves out into the world.
Until everyone finds that peace in their inner sphere of influence, there is no hope of that peace finding its way into the wider world.
Pray and meditate on how you can increase the peace of your own home before you worry about what other people are doing.
As a Christian, I know that God has His hand on my heart and I can do all things through Him. Lord, I pray that those who want Your peace have the courage to take it and keep it in their hearts, extending that love to those around them unconditionally.

Homeschool what?

Ok, the homeschool movement has completely changed and I’m totally lost as to its meaning anymore.

What in the world is a “Homeschool Campus”? That is the post I found confusing this morning as I surfed Facebook. Lately, I’ve found the homeschool movement is only “growing” because people are entering it, not to home educate, but to create a more parent involved public school system. It’s not HOME or parent-led education. It’s public school at home, supported by parents who are much more involved. That’s a nice change, probably more like what schooling used to be when it started, but it isn’t what homeschooling started out to be. I’ve always had a problem with the term “homeschooling” anyway since that really isn’t what we are doing at our house at all.

War Deaths & Inspiration?

“Shocking and inspiring. Very much worth ten minutes of your day. Please watch the whole thing before you react. It’s painful but leaves room for hope in the big picture.” This was what I posted on Facebook this morning even though I generally leave my own news feed for family events and excitement, much like an online scrapbook. But this video touched me and I felt compelled to share its message of hope.

Animated Data Visualization of World War 2 Fatalities Is Shocking

Recently, it seems so many people are mired down in negativity, anger, and outrage at the world around them. Humans seem to have the tendency to want to see the worst of the world. Ugly sells, right? Everyone slows down to see the car crash on the freeway, but no one even turns their head at the little girl giving a hug to an elderly woman or the man feeding the homeless on the side of the road. It’s not something we can change really or want to. It probably has some ancient purpose to our survival. But we need to remember that when the majority of the world has the ability to report to the rest of the world what it is seeing, ugly is what you will see most. But that isn’t what is really happening in the big picture. If we all reported the positive things that were happening around us, even the ones we don’t see because they don’t command our attention, I think our news feeds would look much different. There is so much greatness, kindness, and love in this world. We just aren’t looking for it.

What if every time we saw something negative we thought, “Compared to what?” Compared to the past, we are all rich, healthy, and brilliant! Compared to previous generations we live in some pretty relative peace. Can it get even better across the world? Probably. For now, I’ll be looking more intently for the good in the world and passing that along. I’ll be lighting millions of candles with mine!


Processing Power

I feel like social media takes up too much of my processing power and slows me down, frustrating me and causing a lot of stress. I feel obsessed with scrolling through and reading little tidbits of information that don’t directly relate to anything I’m doing. Seldom is there anything I can do with the information I find there. Sometimes I read things that make me angry and I feel like something should be done or said. There isn’t anything I can write in those comments that would change anything really. I’m only putting more information in my mind to process that I can do nothing with. It just runs around in there, raising my blood pressure and feeding my mouth with negative things to say.

But there are positive things there too! I’d hate to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are positive posts to inspire me, great articles that make me think, invites to events around the area, and don’t forget updates from friends and family. And then there is the person I answered a question for or inspired with my insight into a situation. I really don’t want to lose those things about social media. So I have to find a way to balance this all out.

Yesterday I had time to think and talk some of this out with some friends. We all agreed that a comment thread on Facebook isn’t like a conversation with real people. There is a lack of body language or tone with this medium. You can’t tell if someone is in earnest or being a smart ass. The other thing is that in a conversation we all talk back and forth for a while and when one or more of us has to leave the conversation everyone knows it. It won’t go on for hours or days because no one has the time to sit together and talk that long. On Facebook it can go on forever. One heated conversation can go on for days. I see a post, give my comment or answer, and then walk away. When I get back there is a thread a mile long with all kinds of nonsense in it, some of it directed at me. They don’t know I’m not there to answer. Once I do, all the thinking people have probably moved on. It seems to me that only the angriest and most unreasonable people post multiple comments on a thread, pushing out all the calm and thought out replies.

The ones that have brought me the most satisfaction are the ones I don’t really get involved in. I see someone ask a question and I comment my answer, then walk away. Another thing I really enjoy and see doing a lot of good in the world is blogging here and on my homeschool site. Those out there looking for information seem to find people wanting to help. Social media just seems more like a place to gather a mob of people from a larger pool than to gain insight or detailed information.

So my effort for the next week will be to only check in twice a day. Once in the morning to see if anything cool is going on or if anyone has messaged me. Once in the evening to see if anyone has answered me. I’ve pared down my newsfeed to positive people that I really want to keep in touch with on a regular basis. I’m still going to blog on both my pages on a daily basis. And I will still post something to my Facebook feed when I want to share. I’ve printed my Facebook feeds off each year as a kind of scrapbook and I’d like to keep doing that. I just don’t need to follow the comments on everything I post as if I’m sitting with friends sharing stories. That should free up my mind a bit.

I already feel better today. It’s so strange how busy my mind can get working through information that cannot be of any service to me. You’d think I’d be able to just toss the unusable stuff away, but I just can’t. I think I am but I’m not because I realize at the end of the day I’ve read less of my book, interacted less with my sons, gotten less housework done, and feel overwhelmed because I’ve taken on this “job” of monitoring social media.

I’m off for the day. I’ve done what I needed to do and now I’m off to harass my sons about Forza. I tried playing it yesterday and it makes me ill. First person games. Yuck. Lots more on my list to do today and with my mind clear of extras, maybe I’ll feel like I got something done!

Kids These Days!

I mean that in the best way. They’ve lived with the internet and social media all their lives. They are very well versed in it and know what’s really going on like second nature. Those of us that have lived without it most of our lives should really look to them about how to use it wisely and not let it rule our lives in a negative way instead of trying to limit their access to it and cracking mean jokes about how they use it. Maybe we’d all learn something.

Yesterday morning a local news station posted a picture on Facebook from our local high school’s yearbook. The station didn’t investigate the reason behind the picture or interview anyone involved. They just posted and described what we could clearly see. That’s pretty typical for our area. Everyone on my list is having a cow about it, commenting and arguing about a picture with no background or further information than what they can see. I was trying to make sense of it when my son enlightened me. He stopped me with “Who cares?” I didn’t get it. I tried to argue why someone would care and maybe they should or shouldn’t but he was really irritated. He said it made no difference why or what was happening. No one was hurt or threatened. And the only people that were upset about it were people who saw the picture on the news station. I just paused trying to understand what he was saying. Someone cares, right? Maybe we should care about it for X, Y, and Z reasons. He said they only put the picture up to get people angry. I thought, “But shouldn’t we be angry?” I let it go. And then several hours later, hearing a friend losing her mind about it, it hit me. He’s right! The news station only posted it to get people angry. Angry and scared are the only things that get people talking and interested in a topic. The station isn’t interested in fixing things or making people happy, they only want clicks on their site. These kinds of things get them. If they were better at it, it would have a little more information to at least look like they were reporting things for our own good. So everyone is giving them what they want, big long arguments about something that affects no one but those students and maybe their parents. And the station gets a big boost in clicks, which raises their ratings, and gives them more money from advertisers. It’s just too bad really. If they posted about all the awesome things and happy people that live out here, no one would read about it and they’d probably go out of business. I’m sorry it took me so long to understand what my son was trying to tell me, but I’m happy to know that I’ve learned enough in life to try and listen to what he was saying and assume I was missing something instead of just brushing him off and ignoring his perspective.