Social Media Isn’t Fun Anymore

Social media has been slowly losing its appeal to me over the last year or so.

It started with Facebook. Facebook, for me, used to be a place to share events with friends, whether they were big or small, and support one another, or be sarcastic (I have a whole group of friends that relate sarcastically, but we all know it’s out of fun).

But then it started to turn. It started with the grammar police, but those comments are usually funny to me, so long as it’s intended that way.

Then it moved on to friends who felt the need to “educate” each other, even when it wasn’t necessary. Sometimes, I just want to comment on something that just happened or annoyed me. I don’t need your “helpful” advice as to why said event happened. Chances are I’m probably already aware of the why, I just wanted to blow off a little steam. For example, I spent the better part of the morning arguing with the bank over a mistaken transaction that was cleared up. I posted on Facebook that I had spent a frustrating morning arguing with the bank over something that was a technicality. I didn’t need a long, lost acquaintance to advise me that “it was bank policy…blah blah blah…” Don’t you think I probably already knew that?! I had just been arguing with the bank, remember? But hey, thanks for the education. Now we all know how “smart” you are.

And when Facebook turned political…dear God, don’t get me started!

Now even blogging, which used to feel like a “safe” place, is changing. When I first started blogging, about 5 years ago (I know, I was late to the party), the “blogosphere” was full of people sharing common interests and common ideas. To tell the truth, I started blogging because, as an unpublished writer, I was told I needed a platform, and blogging was the best way to do it, at that time. And I realized that I actually liked sharing ideas and making blogging friends.

But that, too, has changed. More and more bate and click blogs are showing up, and it doesn’t feel as genuine anymore. Especially when the trolls started showing up. And there are metrics and tricks to get more followers. It seems more and more like smoke and mirrors rather than genuine appreciation.

I just joined Twitter, and haven’t done much with it yet. Though I’ve noticed that people will follow you whether you “tweet” or not. Again, it seems like people are just trying to get followers. Why would you follow someone who never tweets? It’s flattering, but unexplainable.

It’s odd to me that while the internet is expanding, our social circles are shrinking. Something is wrong with that dynamic. We need people and conversation. No matter how you package it, Social Media is not really a conversation. Social Media is a vacuum of ideas that just get recirculated and never really discussed or solved.

In the long run, it hasn’t gotten me a platform, and quite frankly, I feel guilty making “friends” with bloggers and then asking them to buy my book. (By the way, I’m not published yet, so you have nothing to worry about.)

All of this is enough to make me want to close-up shop, and start making phone calls to friends, and writing letters. Remember those?

Has anyone else noticed the shift in Social Media? What’s been your experience? Are you in it for the long haul?

I’m Not a Hostess

 

I’ve blogged about it before, but I hate to cook…absolutely hate it.

I hate the planning, the searching for recipes that EVERYONE will like, I don’t even like the actual cooking.

So I cheat…as often as I can.

This holiday weekend we had 2 Bar-B-Ques to attend…Potluck.

My usual cheat? I’ll volunteer to bring the plates, napkins and utensils or the drinks (sodas, water and juice boxes). It gets me out of cooking, and someone has to bring them, it might as well be me. That, and I’m more than happy to clean up afterwards.

The first Bar-B-Cue was easy. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and everyone just brought what they wanted to. It was so casual that the hostess (my friend) said she didn’t even care if everyone showed up with all desserts. Then we’d end up with hot dogs, hamburgers and desserts. (Considering we accidentally had ice cream for dinner the other night, that sounded good to me). I brought two giant bags of assorted potato chips. The kids sang my praises! The parents? Not so much.

For the next Bar-B-Que, I got a text saying that everyone was bringing their “specialty.”

“Specialty?!” My “Specialty” is picking something up from the grocery store!

Don’t get me wrong, I am eternally grateful for those who DO cook. Woman cannot live on plates, napkins and juice boxes alone.

I think it stems from the fact that I have absolutely NO confidence in my cooking (or my presentation), so I am completely intimidated by those who do have that talent. It really is a talent.

Unless you were brought up in a family that entertained often, hostessing isn’t something that everyone has…especially me.

If you want to come to my house, you’re more than welcome. I LOVE being social. But my idea of entertaining is to invite my guests to kick off your shoes, relax (as if you were in your own home) and help yourself to whatever is in my cupboard or refrigerator. I am more than happy to hostess that way. But entertaining any other way completely stresses me out, and sets me up to fail EVERY TIME.

The next Bar-B-Que is later today. I will be stopping by the local grocery store to pick up my “specialty.” It’s a surprise, depending on what veggie platter, or sponge cake, or macaroni salad they have for purchase. Of course, I will put it into my own serving dish. I mean, I’m not a monster! LOL

And to all my friends cooking and hosting today, God bless you…some of us depend on you to do what you do best.

To my American friends, have a safe and Happy Fourth!

What Happened to Life Skills?

I worry about my kids’ generation’s life skills.

Because of technology, our kids are far more advanced technologically speaking than we were at their age, it’s true. AND KUDOS TO THEM. Where we had to show our mom’s how to program the VCR, they are downloading apps, and writing code by the time they’re 10 years old.

But it’s the basic “life skills” that worry me.

I was the generation of “latch key kids.” Basic “life skills” were, at least, a matter of necessity, and at most, a matter of survival.

My husband was getting dinner prepped and could de-bone a chicken by the time he was 10 years old. We could use knives, and the toaster, even the stove at a much younger age than many of our children do.

We used the phone (landline, that is) and called our friend’s houses to arrange our OWN “playdates” (we didn’t have a name for it back then). I had probably a dozen phone numbers memorized in my head, not programmed into the phone, by the time I was 7. I can still remember a few of them to this day. And we had to talk to their parents when we called and ask politely to speak with our friends.

We also knew how to take a proper message and write it down, and to screen a call to be able to tell if it was stranger or friend calling. We didn’t have “caller ID” to screen our calls. The only thing “programmed” was our ability to ALWAYS tell whoever was calling that our parent(s) was “busy” and NEVER tell the person calling that our parent(s) wasn’t home.

My generation was handling money (of the paper and coin persuasion) at a very early age too. I lived in the boondocks, but my husband lived where he could walk to the nearest liquor store with a friend and buy candy or bubble gum or a comic book, give the clerk the right money and get back the right change.

We all had jobs by the time we were 16, some of us were even younger. If we didn’t work at the mall or a fast food restaurant, we pulled weeds for neighbors, or mowed the lawn for the old lady down the street. We learned responsibility.

Some of us had paper routes, much to our parent’s chagrin, where we folded and banded the papers, and on rainy days stuffed them in plastic bags. And we were responsible if someone didn’t get their paper, because WE got a call telling us so. But that rarely happened, because we didn’t want to get back on our bike or incur the wrath of mom or dad who had to drive us to go back out to deliver the lone paper, especially in the rain.

I worry that this generation doesn’t have those skills, just as I’m sure my parent’s generation said the same thing about us. I know it’s our responsibility to teach them, but here’s the thing: Unless they get a chance to PRACTICE THEM OVER AND OVER ON A REGULAR BASIS, they will always be a little bit hesitant, or worse, over-confidant, and THINK they know what they’re doing when in actuality they only know a fraction of what they should.

The thing is I don’t know where this mindset comes from that we tend to shield our kids from the world. We want to do everything for them, and it isn’t helping them at all. I’m guilty of it too.

This summer, is the summer of “Do It Yourself” at my house: your laundry, your lunch, your social arrangements with your friends (with permission of course), your dishes, your hygiene (I can’t even believe this one is an issue), your money management, and your time management.

So far, it’s going well. They feel more empowered. Of course, there’s still whining at times, but it’s working…I hope.

Please feel free to leave any suggestions for encouraging “life skills?”

As a side note: I had a hard time finding stock photos of kids doing any of the things I listed above.

Brushing up on your job skills

 

Did you know the Goodwill does more than resell clothes and furniture? Whether you’re a SAHM going back into the workforce, an older adult learning how to navigate technology or you just need a refresher, I stumbled across a FREE website the other day that can help.

This is not a sponsored post. I’m just sharing information that I found.

The Goodwill Community Foundation has a website that offers FREE tutorials on a myriad of topics. You don’t have to create an account and think of yet another password. They offer the service for free (from what I’ve experienced so far).

They offer tutorials in Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Basic Internet usage, even Reading and Math Skills.

The tutorials are simple and easy to follow. Sometimes you may just need to get acquainted or re-acquainted with up-to-date software. For instance, you may remember how to use an older version of Office and just need to see what Office 2016 has to offer.

There is also work and career advice on resume writing and job search tools including interview skills.

It makes so much sense to have a service like this. Most people, when looking for a job, can’t afford to take classes, either because they don’t have the money or the time to sit in a classroom. For many, time is running out, and they need a job ASAP. This is a great option.

If you don’t need the service, then please pass the information along. We all know someone who needs a job. Or maybe you just need the confidence builder.

Hope this helps someone, and thank you to the Goodwill for recognizing a need and doing something about it.

Finding hope at a bar-b-que

There are days that I can’t even watch the news because of how divided it portrays the world to be. And that division is only perpetuated by us staying in our homes, glued to our TVs and computers filling our heads with what THEY want us to believe is true about ourselves.

BUT I HAVE HOPE that we are free-thinkers, that we are BETTER than we are made to believe.

But the only way we’re going to come together is through HUMAN CONTACT.

Our neighborhood had an impromptu bar-b-que on Memorial weekend. Two of them, in fact.

But on a Sunday and a Monday evening there we were: swatting at mosquitos with virtual strangers.

We didn’t know most of the neighbors, except to wave “hello” as we pass them in a car, and some lived on other streets, so even that doesn’t usually happen.

It took a generous neighbor with a really good bar-b-que and an excellent marinade recipe for chicken and ribs, to bridge the divide.

We were from different backgrounds, different nationalities, different political affiliations (I assume – no one discussed politics – hallelujah!), and in different stages of life.

We passed around the fussing baby so that the new mom could eat her dinner in peace. We found out that two people worked for the same corporation and never knew it. We talked about where we were from and where we grew up. We discovered we vacationed in the same places. We laughed and ate and made new friends.

On Sunday night, the bar-b-que went until 2am! On Monday, we only made it until 10pm.

So when the news tells me that my neighbor doesn’t think the way I do, I know the news is full of crap. I know they want headlines. They want us to hate, because it makes us watch them more.

But all it takes is a simple neighborhood bar-b-que to prove them wrong.

People are people, no matter where you go. People transcend politics, and headlines, if we’d stop buying into the hype and look up from our Smartphones long enough to smile.

We need each other. We need more bar-b-ques.

I think the men and women whose lives we celebrated on Memorial Day would have been proud to know that they didn’t die in vain. Good neighbors do still exist. People do still want to connect and reach out to one another.

Looking forward to celebrating summer and hanging out together…in spite of the mosquitoes.

The Sky Is Falling…or is it?

The world seems to be living by standards set by Chicken Little…The Sky is Falling!

It feels like we’re all on edge…no matter what your belief system, your political affiliation, your socioeconomic influence, we all seem to be living like that animated chicken who sadly mistook an acorn falling on his head for the ENTIRE sky falling.

It’s all about the extreme headlines, the ratings, who can get there (where ever ‘there’ is) first. We’re all in a panic! It’s not about whether or not you’ll reach your goal, it’s about reaching your goal FIRST!

And when things don’t go our way we immediately run to the extreme of anticipating the sky to fall. We’re absolutely sure of it! And if we can just scream louder than the next guy, then we’re convinced WE can hold up the sky one more day.

I’ve got news for you…the sky is NOT falling…at least not today. And you CAN’T hold it up ON YOUR OWN.

I’m not suggesting we don’t try to change the world. I’m a writer…it’s why I write. But I am suggesting that we don’t forget to breathe. We calm down. We don’t forget ALL of our manners. Whatever happened to “if you can’t say something nice…?”

I swear there are days that I think we’ve lost our collective mind!

And I am no better than the next guy – I find myself sucked into the mania at times too. And it depresses the hell out of me. And I can’t live like that. Can you? It’s exhausting!

We’ve gotten mean-spirited. Or maybe it’s just the headlines focus on the ugly parts of our world. My soul begs for “feel good” stories most days.

So to prove the sky is NOT falling, please share a brief inspirational story below. Tell me something good, something uniting, something kind. I really need to hear it.

They broke my doorbell!

Several months ago I blogged about how our tiny neighborhood has suddenly exploded with kids – all boys, and one brave tomboy girl. Every time I see the group of them coming down the street, I smile at the gang of trouble headed my way.

And trouble is what I got.

The typical afternoon starts with my doorbell ringing. But it isn’t the simple ring that you or I would do. It sounds more like this: ding-dong-ding-dong-ding-dong-ding-dong…pause about 30 seconds then repeat…ding-dong-ding-dong-ding-dong-ding-dong and continues until someone comes to the door.

I might be a little more tolerant if the kids were toddlers and didn’t know any better, but they are 10 and 11 years old! Even my son is frustrated by the time he answers the door.

Then when my son tells them he has to finish his homework, they are back at the door in 10 minutes repeating the same doorbell pattern. Ugh!

When my son is finally finished with homework, he’s allowed to go out and play. We live in a condo area, so the rules for him are fairly tight – no playing on people’s driveways, stay out of the bushes (residents pay for upkeep through the HOA, and it’s only a matter of time before a bush or flower gets broken and the kids get blamed by one of the residents without kids).

One Saturday morning, an adult came to our door, and rang the doorbell (as it should be rung) and it broke…IN HALF! No kidding! The actual button broke in half! The adult felt very bad, but I actually thanked him and told him it wasn’t his fault. It was only a matter of time. And that he actually did me a favor! Now they can’t ring the doorbell like crazy people!

However, later that day, they came to the door and knocked. But when I say “knock” it was actually more of a pound. You would have thought that someone was being chased by a crazed person with a chainsaw and desperately need help. Knock-knock-knock-knock-knock…or pound-pound-pound-pound-pound-pound…pause and repeat. You get the idea.

I’d had it! After all, I work at home, and with summer coming up, this can’t continue! So I answered the door, and politely but sternly, demonstrated how to properly knock on a door. Another parent happened to be standing in front of their house (the one whose kid is the main perpetrator), and backed me up. He also offered to repair my doorbell.

We haven’t had any obnoxious knockers since. Sometimes I think kids just need to be reminded of good manners, or be taught in the first place. Wish me luck over the summer.

Oh, and I don’t plan on fixing my doorbell anytime soon.