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Laughing All The Way

Every year while ambitious people are making New Year’s Resolutions I am not. IF I were to make resolutions, one would be to practice having more tolerance for intolerant people. Since I am an admitted procrastinator, maybe I’d resolve to postpone saying or writing things that other people think, but wouldn’t dare say aloud or publish.

Since people sometimes take offense at my attempt at humor, I suppose I could resolve to write strictly serious content without trying to make folks smile or laugh out loud, but that would be like having the Times Square ball get stuck mid-way during its descent on New Year’s Eve. Imagine if that big, glossy ball suddenly stops while lowering on the pole during the countdown to midnight. Would all of the revelers collectively hold their breath and freeze? Heads upturned, mouths gaping, not a single eye blinking, all movement halted mid-motion, the only souls stirring would be city officials scrambling frantically to get the ball moving again? Perish the thought.

Why should I make New Year’s resolutions? If I’m planning to do something, I’ll do it anyway and if I’m not I won’t. Some optimists busy themselves jotting down resolutions days before the New Year; others do it moments after midnight on New Year’s Eve, while I’m usually sipping sparkling cider and reminiscing about bygone years. I know that change is inevitable, but that doesn’t stop me from longing for some days past – let me repeat, some days – and wishing for a return to the way things used to be. If I could turn back the hands of time, I might make resolutions, and these would be my top six priorities:

Number 6.           A return to normalcy. A definition I once read describes normalcy as “being usual, typical, or expected.” If that’s the case, it seems like hardly anything is normal anymore. Normal was unobtrusively replaced over the years by the so-called new norm. The new norm is a no holds barred, say anything, show anything, do anything, be anything, anything goes – insane world. The younger generation won’t get my point because they are used to the insanity. They were born into it and grew up with it. But many people of my generation get it. I’d like to see a return to normalcy as it used to be generally understood by the average intelligent person. I am not a person who follows everyone else over the cliff, meaning I cannot be persuaded to believe what I perceive to be abnormalities. You will never convince me that up is now down, black is white, left is right, and a natural born woman is now a man or vice versa because of a surgical procedure.

Number 5.           Common sense supersedes political correctness.  Granted the principle of political correctness is not entirely bad, but it’s not all good either. PC is intended to put boundaries on offensive speech and behavior, but when imposing one’s personal or a group’s belief on others, there is always the risk that someone’s rights will be infringed upon. One example of this is the use of the n-word. I hate that word and never use it. However, some black hip-hoppers and other black people use it freely, yet they are offended when members of different racial or cultural groups do the same. In a Vox.com article, author, educator, and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates expressed his opinion – contrary to mine — about the use of that word.

Number 4.           Disciplining unruly children. There was a time when parents, teachers, or other well-intentioned adults could discipline their children or someone else’s minors without fear of being arrested. Back in the day, the worse reaction a non-relative adult would get when scolding a child for wrong-doing was for the brat to say, “You ain’t my mama.” or “You’re not the boss of me.” Today it is not unusual for some children to call the cops on their parent if the parent physically punishes them for wrongdoing. Go get my belt. I’m gonna whip your behind. It is not uncommon for a well-meaning school teacher attempting to discipline an unruly student to be attacked by a juvenile and sometimes even that child’s parent will come to the school with a bad attitude and clenched fists (especially when the parent is as immature as the child). Is it any wonder that there are so many rude and disrespectful youths wreaking havoc in the community and running wild through the streets?

Number 3.           Privacy. Ripley’s Believe It or Not stories of strange or unusual facts or occurrences had nothing on today’s world. Before the Internet, Google, people search engines, hackers, and social media one could expect to have some privacy. Anonymity was much easier to achieve a few decades ago; you could hide in plain sight. Not anymore. Today, if you want total anonymity you almost have to commit a deed that will get you placed in the witness protection program – and even then you may be discovered. Just about anyone from Internet snoops and sleuths to busybodies can obtain your social security number, address, phone number, banking info, medical records, police, court and credit records. They can even identify every one of your baby daddy or baby mamas you’ve ever known.

Number 2.           Telephones.  A non-published or unlisted telephone number once freed you from bombardment by unwanted phone calls. Now, telemarketers and robocallers are relentless. I block more calls on my phones than offensive tackle, Trent Williams does on the football field; but they keep calling. And while we’re on the subject of phones, I long for the days of one phone number per home. A good old landline. I could call the home of a relative or friend and if the person I was calling weren’t there someone would usually answer the phone and tell me that. Now, if I phone someone, it’s likely the call goes to a cell phone. If I reach voicemail or get no answer, and urgently need to speak with someone else – anyone else – in the household I have to call a second, third, or sometimes a fourth number before someone answers their phone. That’s because everyone in the household who is out of diapers has a phone and each of them has a different number.

I have no choice but to live with the issues I’ve cited above. But if there is anything that makes me hope that when the New Year rolls in at midnight, I will awaken to discover that like Rip Van Winkle I had been asleep for a long time and it was all nightmares, it is the Number 1 item on my if-I-could-turn-back-the-hands-of-time list.

Number 1.           There was a different outcome to the 2016 presidential election.

Happy New Year!

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Contemplating Blogging?

Blogging 101-1Anyone can start a blog. If you can write, you can blog. If you write well, you can have a loyal readership of your blog.

For you readers who are interested in starting a blog but don’t know where to begin, there are numerous bloggers that will give you detailed and lengthy instructions on creating a blog and possibly making lots of money with it. Google them. However, if you are pressed for time and prefer my two-minute pitch on getting started continue reading.

  1. The first thing you do is find a blogging platform. That’s a service that will publish your content on the Internet. There are several free blogging platforms out there including Blogger, Tumblr, Ghost, and one of the most popular — the one I use for each of my websites — WordPress.
  1. After you’ve decided on a platform, choose a domain name. Your domain name is your web or network address. Think of it as an on-line street address that will help people find you. Choosing a name that is short and memorable is the best way to go, and the name should be relevant to the content of your blog. If you need help selecting a domain name, there are sites like godaddy.com that will assist you for a cost.
  1. Once you’ve selected a domain name, you’ll pay a small charge to register it. You will also pay an annual renewal fee to keep your blog up and running. If you’ve gone that far, then you probably already know what content you want on your blog. So, now decide how you want your blog to look. If you are a new blogger, follow the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Sugar. (I threw you a curve with that acronym, didn’t I?)
  1. Design your blog. You can design your own blog using the software associated with the platform you chose, or you can have someone design it for you. Depending on the purpose of your blog and how you want it to look, you could spend a few dollars to get a practical site up and running or hire a designer who will charge a few hundred dollars for a custom designed blog with impressive bells and whistles.

The amount you spend to set-up your blog depends on your objective. There are countless types of blogs. Do you want one that will promote your business, provide consumer information, inspiration, or guidance, or do you want a figurative soapbox on which to express your thoughts and personal opinions? A personal blogger, that’s me. Keep in mind if you choose the latter and are an opinionated person like yours truly, you may attract followers who enjoy reading your posts, but you will also attract people who disagree with you and won’t hesitate to say so in the comments section. (Virtual haters, begone!).

Remember – it’s YOUR blog. Your blog is your voice; meaning you can rave about things you like or bitch about things you dislike. Providing that you don’t write anything that will have you nervously twitching in court while facing a lawsuit, or land you in jail for a social media offense because you took the First Amendment literally, then you are good to go.

Through your blog, you’ll make contacts that you might not otherwise make. Over the years, I have connected with and become friends with a few good bloggers. I follow their blogs. They read mine. Next thing you know, as a result of our online interactions, we’re exchanging emails, discussing ideas, and even sharing funny stories or other tidbits about our families.

In my opinion, the hardest thing about blogging is coming up with interesting topics. Sometimes I write about current events, and my hot topic — politics. Other times I share more personal thoughts and feelings. Whatever your topic, you cannot be timid about taking a stance on what are sometimes contentious issues. You never know who is reading you.

Two cases in point:

  • In September of 2012, Dr. Sydney Ross Singer, medical anthropologist and author of several health books commented on a post I wrote about how women feel about wearing bras. He emphasized that “chronic constriction from bras is a leading cause of breast cancer.”
  • Last year, my post about not being a bandwagon person brought a tongue-lashing comment from one of my readers who implied that I was a bigot. (That shoe doesn’t fit.) The comment was longer than my post. So be it. I had expressed my opinion. The anonymous commenter expressed his or hers.

If you are determined to maintain your position even though it means going against the grain of prevalent opinion, don’t expect to win a popularity contest. And don’t worry about whether everyone will agree with what you write because not everyone will. Just like on Facebook, you’ll learn to accept flattery with humility and take criticism like a referee booed for making a bad call during a Superbowl game.

Blogging will give you plenty of writing practice. To date, I have posted over 400 blogs. You may also acquire new skills like understanding the difference between a theme, plugin, and widget.

My two minutes are up. If this post wets your appetite, then go ahead and blog. And while you are enjoying it, keep in mind the wisdom of a fellow blogger who wrote, “A blog can help you build a legacy that will outlive you.”

 

 

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Dancing Stark Naked on Facebook

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard people say, “I would never get on Facebook. People put all of their personal business out there.” I’m sure you’ve heard someone say it too.

For the uninitiated naysayers, I’ve prepared these five guidelines to Facebook.

1.  Facebook reveals a lot about the cast of characters behind the pages of its social media website. Rational people use discretion on Facebook just as they do when they are offline. If someone is prone to oversharing when they are disconnected, then they will probably be the same way online. In fact, they might be more braggadocios because on Facebook members are the star of their own reality show. And if one believes the thought-provoking commentary titled, Healthy vs. Unhealthy Narcissism that claims “We are all narcissistic to a degree.” then Facebook is a narcissist’s playground.

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When Lurkers are Lurking

There is a saying, “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.” This post has nothing to do with dogs. However, I have a bone to pick with Internet lurkers.

Do you know someone, perhaps a next door neighbor who spends time at home peeping out of the window, from behind the curtains, spying on other people; being careful to see without being seen? Lurkers are much like that curious neighbor except they are online. They spend considerable time observing the content on blogs, in chat rooms, and other social networking sites, but they never make a contribution or interact.

Facebook lurkers are probably the coyest. They read our posts. They look at our

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Minding the P’s and Q’s of Online Etiquette

Background concept wordcloud illustration of etiquette“Say it forget it; write it regret it.” My first time hearing those prophetic words was when Judge Marilyn Milian spoke them on The People’s Court. Everyone – especially socialmedialites – would be wise to remember them.

According to the Pew Research Center, as a baby boomer, I am in the lower percentage of social media users. Pew also accurately points out that although I have accounts with Twitter and other social media sites,  Facebook is my website of choice.

This blog subject could be applicable to nearly any social networking site, because online or Internet etiquette (sometimes called netiquette) should be as second nature to well-mannered people as brushing your teeth. And while there are undoubtedly more people practicing good dental hygiene than there are displaying bad online etiquette, you can bet you floss that the latter are gaining ground.

Regularly visiting my Facebook page is as routine for me as going to the gym. And I post often. Sometimes several times a day. I prefer posting positive, motivational and inspirational information, and humorous things. As a news junkie, I frequently share articles about current events. And like many of my FB friends, once in a while I’ll toot my own horn by posting a photo depicting some activity I’m involved in, but I dislike doing selfies and you will rarely see me post one. What I enjoy most is engaging in wholesome conversations with my cyberfriends, just as I do with friends and acquaintances off line. I am no fan of trivial conversations, but I find them easier to deal with than the one thing that is obvious and disturbing — incivility. It is just as prevalent online as it is in the physical world.

In face-to-face contacts we are often able to determine from body language, facial expressions, and vocal inflection if someone is understanding – or misunderstand us; agreeing or disagreeing. Such nonverbal communication is nearly impossible to interpret online.

William Shakespeare wrote “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” Gender-consciousness aside, my translation of that wisdom is that no one knows everything and we all can learn something. There was no Internet in Shakespeare’s day, but I see his statement as profoundly relevant to Internet etiquette. That’s why I am sharing these Eight Rules for Practicing Internet Etiquette. I think of them as words to the wise. Whichever shoe fits, wear it.

  1. Respect.  Good manners and respect go hand-in-hand, even on line. We should respect the right of others to disagree with us as well as honor their right to their own opinions.
  2. Think twice. Think once about what you write and again before clicking that send button, because after your words are launched into cyperspace you cannot take them back.
  3. Use discretion, always, in all online activities, and do not assume anything. Whether you know it or not the Internet is monitored for various reasons by law enforcement agencies, cybercriminals, and others. My number one rule is – Do not share any information or photos on line that you would not share with friends or associates off line.
  4. Avoid using all caps. Some people don’t know this but writing in all capital letters online signifies SHOUTING in internet communication. An occasional capitalized word or phrase for emphasize is okay, but persistently writing in all caps is considered inappropriate behavior.
  5. Reciprocate.  Some people have their FB privacy features set to prevent others from writing or commenting on their timeline, yet, they freely comment on the timelines of their friends. Give as good as you get.
  6. Be honest. Lies are encumbering. They command attention like a high maintenance woman. You have to remember a lie – being truthful eliminates the burden of having to remember a lie.
  7. Be neither defensive nor take offense. Some people are offended by things that other people post on their own timeline. Unless someone addresses you by name and taunts you like a cyber bully, don’t take it personally. Ignore it. If someone makes a threat against you that’s different; you need to contact the law. But if you merely feel intimidated by something that someone wrote on their timeline that was not addressed to you or about you, don’t respond negatively. Doing so simply shows that you are paranoid, insecure or envious. If something you see bothers you, ignore it.
  8. Say it forget it; write it regret it. Once you submit an electronic message, whether in an e-mail, text, or as a post to a social networking site, it will be stored on servers all over the place for others to read, and you won’t be able to take back your words. Even if you intend for something that you write or that picture of you in your birthday suit to be private, don’t put it on line. It will become very public and may be seen by people you never intended to see it — forever.

 

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