How to Block Video spam shock ‘porn’ channels on Facebook

How to block video spam shock 'porn' channels on facebook.

Looking to reduce some of the negativity on Facebook? Shock ‘porn’ or the videos that are created to get your attention reaches us susceptible humans just like we sometimes can’t help but gawk at an accident as we drive by slowly in a long line of cars on the interstate.

But we do not have to invite video of every tragedy ever filmed into our lives nor our feed.

In our Happy on Social Media podcast we walk through how to get this out of our feeds. It’s pretty easy in a browser.

It’s all too well hidden and an extra couple steps to hide via a smartphone or tablet, so we break it down to help you clear the spammy video content so that you can see what will inspire you!

Taking Hold of Your Mind on Digital Mediums

I have been studying and practicing new levels of mindfulness these last few weeks all in a general effort so as to avoid losing my mind.

Maybe you can relate? ūüôā

As I study and learn more, my skills, knowledge and abilities are growing. I’m learning that mindfulness is not just ‘being aware’ and that it is not just being ‘present’ either.

Mindfulness includes both of those things and it includes taking hold of our minds and controlling our minds and our actions too.

Yet, just knowing that, doesn’t make it possible.

I know that flying cross country involves elevating myself to a level about 30k feet above the Earth and accelerating up to about 650 miles per hour.

Knowing that is what ‘flying across the country’ is, doesn’t make me able to do it.

To actually, fly cross country, I need some skills. I need to know how to buy a plane ticket, enter an airport, wait in a line, take my shoes, jacket and belt off and on in front of strangers, I need to navigate a labyrinth, squeeze into a seat designed for someone the size of my pre-teen daughter, and then sit patiently with minimal food and drink for about 4-8 hours.

It’s not that hard, once you know how.

Communicating with other people in digital mediums (Facebook, twitter, even email or text messages) also requires some skills…

If we want the communication to be effective.

Even more if we want the communication process to feel rewarding, happy, useful, and more.

Over the last two weeks, I have observed and participated in more than my fair share of conversations about gun massacres and gun control.

We all have feelings and emotions about this. We have opinions too. Opinions are not quite as evil as they are portrayed.

The thing is we often share our opinions in a way that is doomed to be heard by angry and defensive ears.

New Skills for communicating

So today, I was participating in my DBT group at the VA. DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. ¬†At a high level, its about recognizing that in life things are not always black and white, they are more complicated, they might exist in a range of things, they might be more than one thing. ¬†DBT helps us learn how to get out of binary thinking, that says something is either this or that and there’s no other possible way that it might be and if you don’t like it, maybe we should step out side and fight it out!

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It helps people not only recognize the variations that are possible, but learn how to be mindful and take control and make choices and decisions that serve us well and help us achieve the goals we truly want.

So today, we were learning about 3 steps in taking hold of our minds.

Nonjudgmentally

That word is easier to read in your mind than it is to say out loud.  It simply means that we can mindfully work to avoid evaluating something as either good or bad.  We can accept the reality of things and acknowledge differences between things that help or harm.  We can even acknowledge our own values and how they might relate to something. We can acknowledge our own emotional reactions too, but we do not have to judge our reactions.

What happens when we judge?

This is very easy to witness in online debates.  Judging happens when we start to label situations or people. Judging happens when we group things off in a binary fashion.

Judging really happens when we start ‘telling’ people who or what they are or what they are doing and how that is labeled as XYZ.

‘You’re a conservative aren’t you? You’re one of those liberals aren’t you? You’re nothing but a yellow bellied Sneech!’

Now the thing is about judging, people often do not like to be judged, especially if they did not invite someone to judge them.

It often can trigger us. It can put us on the defensive. ¬†It becomes very challenging to listen to good ideas after we have been labeled with a judgment. What’s worse, if we agree with the judgment, then we have started judging too, judging ourselves and that’s not helpful.

Judging others seems to lead to arguments and misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

I am challenged to find great examples that demonstrate positives from judging or labeling people. (maybe you can share a few exceptions to this possible rule?)

Benefits of Nonjudgmentally conversing and being

So when we are able to practice being and conversing with others and we stop ourselves from judging them, we can still evaluate, we just don’t judge the thing. ¬†We can find acceptance and walk through the conversation feeling how it works and feels and acknowledge the differences in ideas that might seem hurtful or helpful. We can acknowledge our values, our goals, our emotions during the conversation and our emotional reactions stemming from the conversation.

We end up moving through a conversation with more peace of mind and feeling fewer toxic emotions. The people we converse with might also feel more peace and less toxicity too.

Now, just because we are moving forward nonjudmentally, that’s not a magical antidote that will infect each person we discourse with into a similar behavior.

However, we can control ourselves enough to not judge them and that increases the potential for the people we talk with to not feel triggered or compelled to feel and act defensively.

They might be already or for reasons that have nothing to do with us or them! But we do not have to be the ones to knock them back on their heals.

As I move forward, I’m primarily focused on this part of the lesson currently. ¬†ūüôā

I’m looking forward to the next two stages

2. One-Mindfully – This is a step where we work to be completely present. We might practice by doing just one thing at a time. We do work to practice at doing just one thing (not multitasking) but if we start to multitask, then we try to be mindful of what we are doing and bring ourselves back to doing just one thing at a time.

This step is one that I have been successfully dabbling with all week. It is helping me become more focused and stay on task and complete goals (as my goals and to do list seems to grow in leaps and bounds~ side note, business has been better and I’m grateful for that).

I’m still working to let go of distractions and concentrate my mind.

Baby steps maybe.

Essentially, I need to focus on doing the opposite of multitasking.

When emotions or feelings distract me, I need to stop and go back to what I’m doing.

And I am doing it, it is helping.

3. Effectively

This last step is one that I have jumped to often in my past work on myself.  It involves being mindful of our goals in a situation. Last August, I made an excellent and useful type of vision board. It helped me see what I needed to do in several key situations and showed me the before and after scenarios of the results. It worked very well in keeping me mindful for half a year.

I’m due to create a new one for the next six months, but I need to build some new and more effective goals…. (more on that another time)

It also involves a step that has saved my bacon time and time again.

FOCUS ON WHAT WORKS!

Yes, we have emotions. yes, they can hurt or feel awesome or feel exciting or be scary as shit.

Our emotions do not negate the reality that we can do and achieve many things that are very good for us by focusing on what works and doing more of that.

Over the last couple years, almost 3 now since my divorce), I have collected the amazing things that work. I started by collecting the things that worked to keep me happy. I collected the things that got me through anxiety, the things that got me through depression. I focused on the things that helped me heal and the things that helped me to re-find myself and love and many more.

I focused on what works in life in general. That’s what all those things were.

There were more things that work as well. I have been filling in the gaps as I broaden my understanding of what it means to ‘focus on what works’. ¬†I mentioned my vision board above for example.

I do believe that Nonjudgmentally, the first step, might be a key to dramatically improving how people might mindfully interact in digital platforms and social media.

Imagine a world where we can converse with out arguing. Imagine a social network where the writing tools help us be more mindful of when we have allowed ‘should’ words into our dialogue, essentially telling other people what ‘they should do’ and how ugly that will feel for them. ¬†Imagine if we could catch ourselves and walk those words back, reassess where we are and move forward without all that judging going on.

Imagine a tool that helped us remove the toxic words before they were shared, and helped us find some inner peace through a quick exercise before firing off that reactionary email to our boss, our client, our lover, our best friend, our child’s teacher and more.

Imagine a tool where we could stay rooted in our values and goals, while still exploring and connecting with other people that have very diverse values and goals from our own, but rooted in our values, we would not feel threatened or challenged or guarded.

We could stand in our strength and power and wisdom and live life with less fear.

I’m hopeful of where this can go and how I can improve in my own ability to manage my communications and take hold of my own mind.

I suspect that society in general can do this as well!

Divorce on Facebook

Solutions Rather Than Explanations – When empathy makes everyone feel bad & improves little

For weeks have I been percolating around a conundrum about empathy. Having the ability to empathize is one of those things that points to the existence of humanity or consciousness.

Humanity might be too egotistical as I’m certain I have witnessed dogs and dolphins express empathy. ¬†It’s probably not something inherent to humans alone.

More specifically, when humans are incapable of empathy at all, we often see narcissism disorder enter the room. ¬†If Narcissism is ‘bad’ then empathy must be ‘good’, right?

granted these are all moral judgments, setting that aside for the moment

The tricky thing about empathy is that it can lead some of us into codependency, or maybe it is a gateway or something. Some of us (raises my hand) want to understand others, we work to put ourselves into their shoes to understand and relate better, and the codependency trap can spring. ¬†The more we walk around in someone else’s shoes, the more we stop living our lives and feeling theirs. ¬†With a person close to us such as a spouse, family member or friend, the potential here can be greater.

I came across a hypothesis that utilizing objective compassion instead of empathy might be a healthier approach, or ‘Why Empathy is Bad‘. I have been playing with this hypothesis in my mind since I read it. Empathy can allow us to understand someone’s challenges better. It can also draw our focus in on an issue (their issue) and in our minds give it a disproportionate level of importance in our own bigger picture and priority list.

When we have a hyper focus in the wrong direction, it creates peripheral blind spots all over the place.

That’s nice But How do we use that concept of objective compassion?

First, we cannot fall into empathy traps. We can hear people out and work (hard) to remain conscious that their challenges are not our own. We can have compassion for their plight, and objectively stay focused on our own challenges. We can assist if we like or if there is common cause in a challenge contemplate joining forces.

We do not have to take on their load and carry their burden on our shoulders.

Sure we can help, if we choose. I want to emphasize the ‘have to’ aspect of the sentence above.

If we start ‘feeling’ compelled to help out of empathy, maybe too much empathy, then we are potentially sticking our toes into the pool of codependency.

Rubber hits the road in a real life example

I’ve had many examples of all of this express itself to me. This week one in particular stood out. It happened on Facebook.

Two friends of mine, friends in real life and friends on facebook, had been married. They divorced. The divorce was finalized this week.

I do not know all their details. This did not appear to be a happy, we’re still great friends type of divorce. ¬†I’m not judging, just observing.

I learned about the divorce from a post that he shared online. I had seen hints that the divorce was coming for months, including witnessing a physical separation social profile name changes. I didn’t have any confirmations that this was going on, just circumstantial stuff.

He shared a post stating that the divorce papers were final.

I would describe this post as angry. There were insult hashtags directed at her. There was an image of him flying the bird at an image of her as she faced him, back to the camera. There was an icon of a cracked heart.

My impression was that he was angry and hurting.

Feelings do not mark us forever

I have witnessed many people on different sides of divorce feel and express with great venom the anger that they feel.  Anger is one of the stages of the grief cycle.

In my experience, it is one that is tolerated the least.  Anger has a way of turning happy people off and turning them away.  It alienates the angry from most other people.   Anger attracts anger often times, it reenforces and grows.

This post did not anger me. I did not feel angry. I witnessed it and chose not to try it on and feel it.  I replied with a comment expressing my happiness that he was moving on to another stage in his life. I did not reenforce the anger.

I chose to show and share compassion for someone that was hurting.

Why?

Well, that’s a tough one. He’s my friend. I met him through her originally. She’s my friend too.

I want to see both of them come through this thing happy and healthy. I do not want to witness them hurting themselves nor each other.

I chose not to reenforce any of the negative, and focus on the positives.

Solutions Rather than Explanations

This choice of mine stemmed from lessons I learned reading Michele Weiner-Davis’s book titled ‘Divorce Busting‘.

Disclaimer: This book did not save my marriage. I also did not hire the coaching service either. Maybe that would have helped, but I chose not to do that.

In the book, it describes a type of therapy called ‘Solution-Orientated Brief Therapy’ or SBT for short. ¬†It’s a results oriented therapy approach. ¬†It grew from the notion that we can look inwardly all day long and the knowledge of what ‘truly’ caused a psychological problem, that knowledge may not free us from the problem. ¬†Ergo SBT focuses on the things that get results and help people live, be happy and maintain a good relationship.

Note, I was not looking to heal nor save this marriage. That is totally not my thing. I’m not the marriage rescuer. I have zero skills in this area. ūüôā

This marriage was done, the paperwork on the divorce done too.

I did see a friend angry and hurting.

I shared compassion. I did not add fuel to the fire.

I saw the potential for fuel to amplify this as a couple possible scenarios:

  • Encouraging the anger by empathizing or responding in kind with my own expressions of anger or past divorce experience that made me angry
  • Castigating my friend for expressing his anger in the way that he chose to do. The day divorce papers are finalized is often a very emotional day. Like on any highly emotional day, I have witnessed that anyone can let things bubble up and out that they might not when in more control and command of themselves. ¬†We all make mistakes. I was not there to judge. I was not there to be the internet/facebook police either. Doing so in my mind would have been an act of ‘public shaming’. In my experience, public shaming generally causes people to entrench and double down on their behavior. They get defensive. ¬†Public Shaming rarely generates results as quickly as other approaches. In fact, I recently read that its important to be public with our praises and private with our criticism. ¬†That applies even when someone else is being public with their criticism. Two wrongs don’t make something right.

I separately reached out to my other friend to express my compassion to her. I did this privately as there was no message publicly. She is my friend as well. I was not choosing sides in this divorce. In some ways, I feel closer to her and have more history with her.

Cyber Bullying

I will not share that private conversation. I will state that we are no longer connected as friends on Facebook.

His post might be construed as cyber bullying. I’m not agreeing that it is nor defending that it isn’t.

As I mentioned before, I am not judging his actions. ¬†That does not mean that he is not accountable to someone for his actions. It just means I choose not to be the police, judge or jury in this situation. I’m not in an objective place to do that. ¬†He has his shit to own. She has her shit to own. I have more than enough of my own shit to own without dipping into either of theirs.

I did witness one of her sons, his now former step son, call him to account for his actions.  I was proud of the son for sticking up for his mother.  In some positive ways, it reminded of actions my own son took in somewhat similar circumstances.  It was one of those moments when we get to witness a child of someone we care about, we witness that child do the right thing. We know that no matter what, that child has come into their own power.

They spoke truth to the power of their former step-father.

For me, it was a life moves on moment.

When empathy makes everyone feel bad & improves little

Owning my shit, I am reflecting back on my choices here. My actions had consequences. I do not know if I chose wisely or not.

I do know that my choices did align with my current path in life. ¬†My life path may or may not be ideal. I’m not perfect and never will be. ¬†I am working to learn and working to grow.

In this case, I chose not to pick one person or the other to ’empathize’ with and thereby zero in on the feelings of one friend over the other, choose sides, and attack the other.

This might have been a passive choice.  Sometimes passive choices might be the wrong choice and sometimes they might be the wrong choice.

I do know that I witnessed a young man rise to the moment and do what he felt was the right thing.

I do know as well that I did not add fuel to the fire of anger that my friend was experiencing on what might be one of the more emotional days of his life.  I have experienced people fueling my own fires (despair not anger) and know what it feels like to be pushed even further, maybe too far.

I am happy that I added my voice in the way that I did. I am happy that I was able to be there for both friends as I was.

My choices and examples might not have been what either wanted. That’s ok. They can take or leave me. ¬†They are their own people. Their paths might be light years away from my own. ¬†That’s ok.

I see them as friends and want to see both of theme survive, heal, grow, and thrive.

Our paths may or may not cross again in the future. ¬†That’s ok. I cherish some amazing memories I have with both of them. They may or may not know it, but together, when they were together, they helped me achieve some amazing realizations in my life. They put me on a path that was life altering. It was not easy by any means, but I sincerely appreciate their influence on me.

Alone, their influence was that of people that were simply friends. But there was that time when they were together when it was magical and significantly influential and helped me. I will always be grateful for that.

Their marriage did not last, but I feel that their marriage was definitely important, even if it was only those moments that I witnessed.

And their influence is also part of what is now enabling me to see the power and pitfalls of empathy.

I am focusing on Solutions rather than explanations of what or why someone should or should not say what they might say.

I am focusing on doing things that Help with Life, not the opposite.

I see no help in applying a scarlet letter to someone’s actions.

I do see help in showing compassion and calm.

The people around us have to feel what they have to feel to move through their lives and learn their lessons. ¬†I can’t tell someone how to feel. I definitely can’t tell them how to live. ¬†I know that doing these things do not help. Even if I had the power to make them ‘feel’ or make them ‘live’ in a certain way, it would not help them. Without free will they would not grow, they would not be happier.

I certainly wouldn’t be better for having that type of control over anyone.

I love living knowing that my friends will rise to their challenges. They have their shit covered and will get there.

Along my way and as our paths cross, I will share my light and love and compassion. I will listen attentively and work to notice their light and hear their compassion too.

I will not pick up the shit they drop and add it to my pack.

I will continue with my strategy. I will live my life. I will open up to people and be honest. When I take action, I will focus on what helps with life and focuses on results and not on explanations about judgments of others behaviors.

Or at least that is what I am about at the moment…. ūüôā

My way is not the only way. My way may not be best way on other paths.

I might even be blind or ignorant to a better way for this path of mine.

Maybe your own experiences have led you through a similar path? Maybe that path showed an alternate way, a more effective way that delivered better results and helped you, helped those that you cared for?

Maybe that even inspires you to share an alternate way?

If so, I thank you in advance and will love to contemplate it. I do not know the answers. I simply am looking for more.

Twenty Years Ago I fell In Love with My English Professor & her Mind

In a different life, I enlisted in the military and worked in intelligence. I had joined the military after high school to earn money through the GI Bill and through an Illinois Grant that paid for tuition for veterans. ¬†After serving for four years from the outset of the Persian Gulf War through Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and then Somalia and one police action after the next, none of which required my deployment, I left the military.

I moved back to Illinois and enrolled in school at Illinois State University.  I had taken a hand full of college courses while in the military. The military had sent me to one of the best language schools in the country, maybe the world. Plus they had sent me to several other schools afterwards to learn my future profession as an analyst. I was not inexperienced at higher education.

While serving in the military, I had to write a great deal. I had to read mountains of reports (two feet at a time every other day) along with magazines and newspapers from around the world. Then I would have to put things together and write them up, briefing people in something of a traveling road show around base. I enjoyed my work. I had some brutal editors, but they helped me a great deal. By the age of twenty-two, I had a high sense of accomplishment.

Twenty years ago after being accepted into ISU, I had to take a few different entrance exams. Since it had been a little over four years since I had left high school, the university felt that I needed to prove to them that my English and Math skills were what they had been. I place well in math and did not have to take the 101 level course.

I had to hand write an essay. In 1996, I had not hand written anything since my junior year in high school. During my senior year in high school, our english teacher had brought in computers paid for with a special grant such that we could learn to ‘compose’ on a keyboard. She thought it was a new concept. It was a new concept to me. I was off to the races and almost never wrote anything by hand afterwards.

So when I had to hand write an essay, I was out of practice. We use different areas of our brains to talk, to write, to type when we compose and a few years ago I learned that we use an even different area of our brain when we talk through a dictation program with the intent of writing.  My handwritten essay was not one of my better ones and I was rapidly slated for English 101.

This annoyed the hell out of me! I felt like after writing professionally for the previous two years, it was beneath me to have to take an English 101 course. I lacked the wisdom then to understand the nuances of using different areas of my brain to communicate via writing. I didn’t feel that my essay was bad enough to warrant the ‘punishment’ of English 101. Fortunately, the university¬†accepted me into the Honors program and I ended up taking English 101 in an Honors class instead of in a lecture hall with the riffraff.

I was probably a good bit conceited about the whole thing.

A weird thing happened on the first day of class. A young woman with short dark hair walked into the class and introduced herself to us as our professor. Technically, I think she was an associate professor without tenure, but I was a freshman in college and had little understanding of university politics. ¬†She drew some lines on a chalk board and began to describe some concepts about the evolution of language. She asked us a question and told us if any of us were able to answer the question correctly, we would get an ‘A’ for the semester and would not have to come back to class ever again.

To this day, I do not remember the question. I do not remember my response either.

I got the question right. I got an ‘A’ for the semester. I no longer needed to come back to this class that I did not want to take in the first place.

I never missed a day of class. I got an A on every paper and test I took in that class.

The professor was beautiful. I could probably still describe her physical characteristics all these years later. She had a beautiful face and smile and body as well. That’s what I mean, but it’s not the only thing I mean. She also had a beautiful mind and a beautiful way of thinking and exploring thoughts.

Getting to the Point

Over the course of that semester she taught us to hone our ability to practice rhetoric and the art of exploring and writing about topics from something of a circular perspective. If you have never studied this, you might be familiar with the bastardized version of the concept that crept into the business world a decade or two back coined the 360 degree review.

I learned to write about concepts from one perspective and then another and another and another and tie them all in within the same paper or essay or report. It helped me develop or start my development as it is something that continues to evolve in me of placing myself in the shoes of others, looking at things from the perspectives of others and attempting to reach a higher level of understanding.

Brevity is nice. Being concise is an amazing skill. In Honors English 101 writing in rhetoric with a circular perspective, I rarely enjoyed either brevity nor the fine art of being concise or even incisive and cutting straight to the answer, except that first day of class.

I did learn how to really explore my thoughts and feelings very completely. I learned how to get an entire thought out.

When we talk with another person in a conversation, sometimes we ‘dialog’ back and forth and some of our responses get cut short or the conversation takes a turn in a direction that opens up many other options and the things we thought we might say get put on a back burner as we attempt to reply inline with the most recent ending point of a conversation.

A weird Alphabet dialog example

If a conversation were the recital of the alphabet, Jimmy might start things off by saying, “A, B, C, D” and stop. Then I might reply with “E, F, G, H”. ¬†Feeling the trend, I might be preparing to say, “M, N, O, P” when my turn comes next, but if Jimmy instead jumps to “P, Q, R, J!”

Well, now I am in a conversational pickle now! First, I can’t just pick up with my planned response (or can I?). I might go with “S, T, U, V” or I might go with “K, L, M, N”, but the point is the conversation ¬†as it were with this poor example has taken a weird turn. I might end up holding my letters and never get a chance to state what I had intended to say.

You might also notice that I never studied how to write dialog anywhere! 

Many times when we have conversations online, we treat these conversations as if spoken out loud and we write something, wait for the response and then reply to the response.

There’s nothing wrong with this. However, when we write online, we are “WRITING!” and we do have the option to simply complete our thought if we like. It is a luxury that we do not always get in real life, when we are in the moment and might get distracted by a hundred other things, verbal and physical and more.

When we write on Facebook from the privacy of our own keyboard, we could choose to complete our thoughts. We can say our piece, express ourselves and not fall into the game of simply waiting for our turns to reply to a response or a prompt.

It is important to read what our friends and family might share with us (when we want to). It can  be important to acknowledge to them that we have heard what they are trying to say whether we agree with it or not. Some people just need to be heard.

We can give them the opportunity to do the same for us, to hear us and to hear us completely.

 

I’d suggest to you, this wonderful person that has read about 1434 of my words on this article already, that some people will read your words. They will take the time. They will hear you out.

Not everyone will hear you out completely and some will not even start or try. That’s OK. That is their choice. They are exercising their free will.

You can still say your piece, complete your thought and offer anyone in the universe the opportunity to hear what you have to say. You might connect with a single person that will bother to hear you out.

You might hear from dozens or hundreds or thousands or more.

The quantity does not matter, because there is one very important person that will hear you out no matter what.

You!

When you complete your thought, you learn a little more about yourself and about your ability to communicate and to understand others. You open yourself up to people, your friends and family or the people you share interests. When they connect with your words, it is a very humbling and fulfilling moment. Suddenly, you are not alone and neither are they.

They witness your thoughts and feelings too. Maybe you get the opportunity to know them better and witness theirs in return. You’ve established the opportunity for a better understanding with each person that you have opened up to.

It is easy to allow social media and Facebook to ‘show’ us the differences between ourselves and the people in our lives. It can create the hollow feeling that everyone is having a wonderful life and we are not. It can create feelings of inadequacy and loneliness if we simply scroll and scroll and make no efforts to communicate.

But when we open up. When we complete an important thought and share it. This gives us the opportunity to connect in ways that almost nothing else does.

Now, I will say, maybe it helps if the thought is a real thought. It probably should not be gibberish or superficial or whatever.  There are no rules.

Your truth, whatever it is, is your truth.

I have a friend that jokes about being a serial killer all the time. He’s a wonderful guy and he is not a serial killer. He just has a dark sense of humor, especially online. Maybe if he had followed a slightly different path in life he would have been the next Stephen King or something. Instead, he simply cracks me and hundreds of other people up with his jokes.

His truth, the thing that we connect to, is partly based on his sense of humor. There is lots more to it than that as he has shared much more of his truth over the years.

This is all part of the point. ūüôā¬†

Share your truth, don’t shy away from being complete about it. Don’t settle for sharing just part of the truth (as that can hide the truth, maybe even turning it false). Seize your opportunity to communicate and connect with people and savor those opportunities no matter if they are with thousands of people or just a single person or even if it’s just that moment with yourself.

If I’m the only one that does read it, why not just keep it in a journal?

Great question! 

The answer is simple. When you open up, complete a thought, and share your truth publicly, not just with random strangers but with your friends and people you DO care about, it keeps you honest!

That is sort of the point of the exercise.

The other point is that if you simply journal to yourself, you’ve got no skin in the game. Sure your little brother (my little brother has almost always been bigger than me and is 41 now) might come in and find your diary and sneak off to read your writing to yourself, but it’s not too likely. Journals and diaries are super useful, but they are inherently prone to allow us to fudge the truth.

When we write publicly and in front of people who know us, live with us, work with us, play with us and more, we have to keep it honest or someone is going to call us on our bullshit.

There’s nothing useful about that.

So go with the flow, be honest, be open and reach down deep and be brave and share that truth with the people who matter to you and enjoy the strengthened connections that come from that!

 

Unless, you just piss people off and that’s an entirely different thing all together. don’t do that. ūüôā

Twenty years ago, I had one hell of a crush on that English professor. By then I had been married for about three years. I never hit on my professor or anything like that. She definitely did not hit on me. At the time and in my memory, I do like to think a mutual spark existed, but when I think back to myself, I do not think I was that impressive. More importantly, I think this was more of a mind connection or an attraction of my mind to hers.

Towards the end of the semester I learned that this same professor had picked up the ‘lowly’ task¬†of grading the entrance exam essays of all the incoming freshmen. She had graded my entrance essay and found it lacking and forced me to take English 101. Then on the first day of class had given me an A for the entire semester such that I didn’t have to keep going to class.

I am so happy she did both of those things. I learned a great deal from that 101 class. I enjoyed every minute of it. I enjoyed being in her warm and super intelligent presence. I enjoyed exercising my brain and learning to write and think and communicate in a new way. I have used those skills my entire life. I even love the irony of the situation.

I never saw her again after that semester. I think she left the school to go teach somewhere in California. I do not even recall her name. I could probably track it down through my transcripts and maybe someday I will or maybe I will simply continue to savor the memory of everything I learned and how that knowledge has grown since!

How To Stop The Slow Death – My Night With a Negative Nymphomaniac

We all make mistakes in life. If we make a mistake, it is important to forgive ourselves and move on. Let it go. If we are really good, we might even momentarily make the time to learn from the mistake, and then let it go. After all, the goal isn’t to keep repeating the same mistakes!Last night I made a mistake and spent the end of the evening with a negative nymphomaniac.

This article might end up being a little too personal for some people, so here is your spoiler alert and warning. Read on at your own risk!

Backstory of a Positive Day

I am not going to recount my entire day yesterday, but let me just say that it was a positive day. Good things happened. I accomplished a good deal of positive things for myself including getting a great start at making a significant update to my resume. I had floundered with that over the last few months, and felt like I was finally tacking into something good, something that felt like the right path.

Towards the end of the day, I got so caught up in my resume work on the actual resume as well as updates to my LinkedIn profile (still a work in progress) that I missed going to yoga at 6:30. I had eyeballed the clock for 3 hours before. I kept watching the time slowly move forward waiting to get to yoga and it wasn’t time and wasn’t time and then, all of a sudden it was past time and I had missed it.

So I went out for a run instead. It wasn’t much of a consolation prize. I wasn’t really in a running mood. Halfway through my run, just as I was about to turn around and run back, my phone rang. It was my ex-wife. She wanted to see if I might be able to pick up our son in the city as she was caught up signing paper work and buying a new car. There is some back story with me picking him up that I will mostly skip. Let’s just say, I had asked him many many times if he needed a ride and he didn’t, until he did. ūüôā I didn’t mind. In fact, I had not gotten to see him on his birthday the day before. I was missing him so this was a good thing.

I ran back home at a sprint for most of a mile and a half, past the cross fit zombies and to my apartment. I jumped in the shower, got out and checked my text messages. No confirmation that I really did need to pick him up, so I asked. The response was ‘I’m still stuck here, can you get him?’ My answer, yes I’m leaving now.

So I drive into Charlotte about 30 minutes away and pick him up at the Belk or Blumenthal Performing Arts Center where he had had his first night of rehearsal. (He had been selected for a best actor award from his high school musical making him eligible to participate in the Blumies (sp?). Cool Stuff

I pick him up, drive him back towards his Mom’s home as it was her week for custody. Get about halfway there and she texts me to bring him to the dealership to help drive the 2nd car home, not a trade in apparently. So I detour down the interstate another 5 miles and just missed some nasty road construction at Cox Rd. I drop him off and congratulate his mother on her new car, and drive home feeling lonely.

I have been seeing someone since about December. Her name is Sharon and she is amazing. I had just seen her the day before. Its a long distance relationship, a couple hours drive. So when I say I was ‘feeling lonely’ relatively speaking, I was not feeling that lonely, but lonely was the feeling regardless.

The Evening Starts

I get home about 8:45 or so. I’m hungry as I had not had supper so I warmed up some curry pork and potato left overs. I had one bowl while watching a John Oliver episode on HBO Now followed by another bowl and another episode. Neither the food nor the episodes were very satisfying. I couldn’t quite get myself into the mood to do more work on my resume or work in general.

I turned on the latest episode of Game of Thrones (spoilers ahead). This episode was a bit on the dull side as well. Kaleesi does her get naked and burn people thing again. It didn’t seem fresh. Her character has been sort of one dimensional for a while now and has about as much feeling as a robot. The rest of the episode was dull as well. Its building to something, but at this point its becoming easy to see where its going.

I had no intention when I got home of watching a couple hours of tv. But now I was feeling like I was still missing something. I was still feeling lonely.

I didn’t see anything on HBO Now. I looked through Netflix and saw that the awesome Queen Latifah movie Last Holiday was there. I wanted to watch that again, but thought I might wait and watch that with Sharon or the kids. Its a great movie, positive and uplifting. I should have watched it.

Instead, I flipped through the categories on Netflix and eventually stumbled on Nymphomaniac: Volume 1. I didn’t google it or anything (would have been wise). I hit play and I was immediately struck by the feel of something similar to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. So I kept watching. I liked those books and the original movie too, not the Hollywood travesty.

I thought the movie might be a bit on the edgy and intellectual side with a bit of sex, maybe a lot of sex. I wasn’t looking for porn, and I was not looking for masturbation either. I was looking for something to take my mind off life in general.

Little did I know that this movie was long as hell. I do not generally mind that, but this was over two hours and apparently volume 1 had a volume 2. The next day I learned that it was originally a 5 hour and 45 minute single movie before it was split in two.

It had Daniel Defoe, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Shia Lebouf (all in small roles) and other actors taking turns as the main characters at different ages of life.
This movie was a DOWNER!

In fact, I also did not realize that the Danish director consider this part of a trilogy named the Depression Trilogy.

This was not what I needed, but I got slowly sucked into it. It was like getting slowly boiled alive….

That’s not the best analogy as I was not getting angry.

It was like being slowly gassed while sitting in a car running in a garage with the door shut.

It wears you down and before you realize its bad for you and not what you want, you are so worn down you can’t flip away.

That’s how this movie was.

I disliked it quite a bit. It simply pulled down my energy the entire time I watched it. I started fast forwarding through it. The movie is broken up into a half dozen chapters. I got to a point where I kept watching and fast forwarding because I thought it might have something that pulled it all together and made a bit of a ‘punch line’ sort of like Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction.
This was not really the case. There was no unifying string or scene.

There were a lot of sex scenes, but not very many considering this is almost a 6 hour movie.

The sex scenes were extremely graphic, closer to porn than something you might expect to see on Netflix. If you are looking for a movie with male nudity aroused or flacid, this had it.

BUT the movie was not sexy. In fact, watching the sex scenes fast forward or not, was the type of thing that is more likely to turn you off of sex for days or weeks. I’m not judging people and their sexual desires, but this just was not sexy. It was a very loveless(intentionally so for the plot) type of sex.

It was sad.

There is a reason why this is in a Depression Trilogy because this sex was sad sad sad.

It only got worse. After watching maybe 40 minutes of the actual movie and fast forwarding through the rest mostly at 3x fast forward, I felt drained.

I went to be feeling exhausted and depressed and annoyed with myself for having subjected myself to that crap.

I ended up sleeping a bit later than I intended after going to bed later than I intended and waking up still feeling drained. Mornings are not my best time of day. I usually build up my positivity and energy throughout the day. When I first wake up, that’s when I am at my lowest.

But the night before the movie had taken me to my lowest and a night of sleep added to that. So this morning I had to work extra hard to pull myself out of that negativity crap.

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I’m writing about it now to clear the final cobwebs of negativity out of my system.
I’m sitting on a boat ramp/launch for kayaks on the South Fork River just down from my place. The clouds in the sky are just starting to burn off (finally) and the sun is hitting my back occasionally. I’m about 3 feet from the water and a very large bass just jumped behind me.

Happy on Facebook, Happy with screens?

This movie things as it turns out is a bit of a metaphor in my book for what we all do on a regular basis online, on social media, on Facebook in particular, when we are looking at screens.

We watch ‘screens’ expecting to fill something in our lives. When we actually connect and converse with people, it can be positive and filling. But when we just passively sit back and hit play or scroll down endlessly, it drains us.
Its like a gambling addict going to a casino and pulling the slot machine lever over and over and over and losing.
In gambling, the science has taught us that in the mind of a compulsive gambler, a near miss is the emotional equivalent of a win. ‘I just barely lost’ translates into ‘WOW I ALMOST WON!’ So they repeat this and pull the lever again and again and again, ALMOST WINNING. But then they have little if anything to show for it afterwards and the depression sets in, if it hasn’t already accumulated.

We all do the same thing on Facebook and twitter and on Netflix binge watching tv shows.

Now, sometimes we have a good experience and we really do win.
Sometimes though we chase a good experience and never get it. Sometimes we chase things and don’t even realize we are ‘hooked’ and before we know it we have just gassed ourselves into a depression.

It takes a whole lot of 1) awareness and 2) self control to recognize what is going on and then step back and away and put the device down, or stop the remote and turn off the television.

Last night, I didn’t figure it out fast enough. I should have stopped after the first John Oliver episode. I definitely should have stopped after Game of Thrones. I most certainly should have stopped after the first couple of minutes of Nymphomaniac: Volume 1.

But I didn’t and I paid for it.

There is a white cat stalking me along the shore. I was just working to get a picture of it, when it leapt about a foot in the air and swung around in a 360. It probably walked by a snake. Its a young cat. There are many many strays in this area. I met a different stray on my back porch earlier today, that I am naming Mister after the Dresden Files cat of the same name. My Mister is young as well and has a massive head and smallish body that hasn’t fully developed yet. Mister is always very hungry and when I have my screen door open on the porch to let in air, he walks up and meows at me from a distance. Mister could be a boy or a girl, I have no clue as I do not walk around sexing stray cats….

 

So I have my lesson for the day. I am feeling better for having learned something and for writing about it to raise the demon and put it down for good as well. I am going to make a better evening tonight and certainly not going to bring any Negative Nymphomaniacs in. I hope you join me in this and find a way to keep yourself positive and happy and find ways to identify the stuff that brings you down and then stop them before they do.

We can all do this on Facebook as well. First, we can stop endlessly scrolling. But more important, take sometime and simply talk to your friends there. I’m not talking about debating politics or debating in general. I’m talking about having a dialog with them about something important to either of you, something that isn’t politically important. Check in with them, see how they are doing. See what is happening in life, where they are going, what they are doing? See about catching up with them for a beer even, but don’t just hit the Like or emoji icons and scroll more moving on to your next miss.

Do yourself something good, talk to your friends!