Tag Archives: Social Media

Do You Know Where You’re Going To

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“The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man may become robots” – Erich Fromm

Lately, the traffic in Austin has been worse than normal, so I have attempted to try several different routes, and it’s been somewhat of an adventure. I’ve been doing so for my morning and evening routes, and I feel like I have driven all over Austin. One day this past week, a thought came to my mind. As I drive around Austin, I never use a GPS. I take great pride in learning and knowing my surroundings. Yes, I am that person who looks down on someone who’s lived in a city more than 2 years and doesn’t know how to get around a city in which you live.

I believe a GPS, although it has purpose when you are somewhere unfamiliar, I find it mentally frustrating, because it doesn’t always take the best route, it more times than not, takes the long road (“safe route”) , and ignores the shorter road (“riskier route”). So it is interesting how so many people are addicted to the GPS.  You also do not learn your environment or you’re too busy paying attention to the GPS that you might miss out on  scenery that surrounds you, and it’s a shame. But more than anything, to some extent you are a robot, following a voice and the mind isn’t thinking.  To some extent, you become a robot.

Now when I had these thoughts, I had no idea what I would sit down to write about this week or how it would relate to the topic of my choice, but I knew it would be relevant, and boy is it ever.

As I peruse my timeline, news feed, or any other social medium since the Friday attacks in Paris, a question comes to my mind:

Are we in the land of robots or the land of the free?

I think the only thing more disturbing than the actual terrorist attacks in Paris, or any other terror attack or violence in any country at any given time, is the arguing about what people should or shouldn’t do or say on their Facebook profile. There has been a lot of social media riff raff about the media attention and sympathy for the attacks on Paris versus other acts of violence whether it be in the black community, in Beirut, or in Kenya, and so on.  In all reality, there are thousands if not millions of people who live in constant danger every day, and should be on your habitual prayer list, but I am not even going to get into that. What’s really surprising is that people are ACTUALLY getting annoyed when the seemingly majority comes together to change their profile picture to the French flag. Now, I would agree that there are plenty of people who couldn’t have pointed out the French flag before Friday, but what you are learning is that some people follow the crowd. Sometimes that crowd is your family, or friends, and now it can be your Facebook friends, strangers, or the mass media. Either way, everyone isn’t paying attention to what’s going on in this world, and are just passing a widget in the assembly line.

So I ask, are we in the land of robots or the land of the free?

In a country where we are free to mourn, cry, and pray in the manner in which we choose, more and more, there are so many people judging each other publicly about the decision that they make. I was listening to the radio on Friday, and they were discussing a report that stated, “A week without Facebook leads to a happier, less angry, less lonely life” (source)

I believe that story without an ounce of double checking of the research. I get frustrated on Facebook at least 3 times in a week, and on Veteran’s day, I think I was upset 3 times in that one day. But the reality is today, as was when I wrote it here, here AND here, you cannot complain about the media not covering certain news or Americans caring about certain people. A lot of people are mad about the unfair coverage of the news, but THIS IS NOTHING NEW. Similar to when my black friends and I had the tough conversations about the police and brutality, that my little conservative, uppity Negro ears didn’t want to hear or believe or listen. But you all are mad at institution that has failed you for years, yet you continue to tune in, re-tweet, and share the news that give you crap and when you wake up and realize that all International Lives don’t matter, I don’t have sympathy for you.

I really do not watch any form of cable news, besides ESPN – and they too, are becoming ratings obsessed. I boycott, not because I am into boycotting, they do not cover or represent mine or anyone’s interest. They continue to prevail, because we are becoming more and more like robots. Following as the winds blows, and rarely making are own decisions. Not to mention, people are constantly trying to change our MIND for their gain and not our enrichment! In fact, sometimes, going against the grain feels like it’s a part of the crowd when too many begin to follow. I mean this shouldn’t be surprising, didn’t you hear, the First Family, are a bunch of robots. Yes, I am referring to the Kardashians. But beyond this seemingly unsurprising robotic nature of many people, I wonder if telling people what they should do, and then they do it, do they really believe it? Cherish it?

I think more than anything, we are doing and saying things without really thinking about why or who we are saying it to, and social media has made everyone’s opinion relevant.

The more important question were the seemingly “Christian” folks on my timeline who took the time to remind us that we shouldn’t allow refugees into this country. Now, I am not negating that they didn’t play any role, but the quickness in which many took to discuss whether or not the refugees contributed to the terror attacks is alarming. What I can tell you is that the hate and fear mongering that we are spewing to each other is not going to help these robots that this world is creating. The part of this that scares me are the young people influenced by ISIS across the globe including America.  We are creating robots, and when they fall into the wrong hands, their fragile minds can be swayed to do and be a part of really bad things, in a million different names, including religion.

There are a few traits, psychologists have found, “They tend to be young, male thrill junkies, craving purpose, glory, camaraderie and a fresh identity….They hunger for significance, even infamy. Some barely understand the Islamic faith. And many are just plain bored.” (source) …. sound like a robot trying to feel alive again doesn’t it? I do not mean to over simplify the issue, but many of the recruits in the Western world are pulled in a social media recruitment, and with the wrong psyche, many things could trigger a person to search and reach to ISIS as did Andre Poulin, a common westerner to join the Islamic State. (source). I cannot sit here and write about how to change the terror attacks in Paris, Beirut, Kenya, and so forth, but I know I see more hate then love on my timeline, and more blind allegiance, than true thought.  America we cannot create any more robots. Our lives depend on it.

M/P

Make Your Mark (Stop Focusing on the Wrong S%$#)

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“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”  – Mark Twain

Focus is one of the many mysteries known to man. We all know what it is to be “focused”, but maintaining focus in one’s life is one of the greatest mysteries, because just when we think we are focused, in an instant that moment of focus can be lost. Whether it is because of our family, loved ones, work or just any randomness that can take you away from what you need to be focused on. This happens to us all. I’ve learned to create moments solely for being unfocused, since it’s inevitable. Make sense right? I have literally built in random moments of unfocused time during my constructive time where I intentionally allow myself to be unfocused. Does it work?  Sometimes, it really does. And other times those “moments” of unfocused time turns into hours on hours on hours which means I wasted hours that will never be returned to me. But our focus is so much more than a short attention span and getting distracted. It’s so much more than competing desires, interests, and wants. It’s more than fighting priorities. Let’s talk focus on a higher level, because what you focus on in life can direct your steps and determine the decisions that you make in life decisions.

It can be said that what you focus on, shows what is most important to you, and I don’t know if I always agree with the preposition. At times, we focus on what is fed to us. We are blinded by constant images, advertisements among many other things. These messages can have us focusing on things unintentionally. Since we live in the social media era, we are often change focus unintentionally based on the images we see on Facebook, Twitter, IG or even Pinterest. It’s based on our friends or even celebrities, and our priorities replaced by someone else’s life or maybe its envy or jealousy. Either way, it’s important to reset your focus as if you’re a camera. We need to be re-calibrated, because our eyes can be over saturated, and we need to hit the refresh button.

Of course, I am talking about focus because I’ve been slightly struggling with focus in my own life, but that’s not really what had me thinking about it. This summer, there have been a number of hot topics, from Caitlyn Jenner, legalization of same-sex marriage, Charleston, confederate flag removal,  one crazy admission ( that we already knew was true) from Bill Cosby, or even Donald Trump’s increasing popularity with his oddly popular (and raw ) comments regarding illegal immigration. Not to mention, globally, you have the continual Greece financial crisis, the terrorist groups, ISIS and Boko Haram are both alive, well and still wreaking havoc, amongst several other issues. At times, it feels like I am “supposed” to care about all of these things, but I am not sure I really do, not to mention these things have nothing to do with what’s actually going on in my life. But when I look at the candidates running for President and the things they choose to talk about or focus on, has made me want to evaluate how I determine what’s important to my core.  I decided to thinkabout , “what does it really mean to be focused?”.

There are three things in my opinion that make up the core of what you focus on in life: your Mind, your Heart, and your Soul. All three are inner connected, and their functions sometimes overlap, but each play into how you focus your attention on a larger scale. (Warning: I am really working in the abstract here, be patient with me).

Your heart is your core. It is highly sensitive to external influences, it can cause you to make decisions impulsively due to an emotional response that we can’t shake. The heart, my friends, is how people choose where their passions lie. The heart, is also highly sensitive to love or compassion, and largely guides our personal and professional life. We make decisions to where to work, who to love, where to live, or what to fight for based on an emotional response in the heart. The heart is honestly the easiest part to be distracted. (Note: People who are able to make “unemotional” decisions have made in fact an emotional decision to trust the mind more than the heart – no one is truly free from emotion)

Your mind is your body’s calculator. It’s computing, configuring, deciding and making decisions based on reason. Can you really accomplish x, y, and z with the tools that you have in your tool box? Your eyes receive images, messages, and your mind processes them to formulate the best decision. It is really important that you do not perceive things wrong, place things in your mind incorrectly, because that is how the mind makes the wrong decision and gets you off focus. My mother is always telling me and my brother to be mindful of how we remember experiences, because your mind takes notes and makes decisions based on what you input into it. This where being honest with yourself is important.

You soul is your moral barometer. It determines what is right and wrong, it is our moral center, the spiritual nature of who we are. It walks in the shadow of the heart and mind, who have a strong pull on how we operate, but it honestly, is the most important, because it is what keeps the heart and mind on track. If it something conflicts with your soul, you should walk away immediately, stop focusing on it. You have to train the heart and mind soul to trust the soul. The day I learned how importance my soul was to who I was, the day I release some useless stuff out of my life.

So let’s get out of the air, and talk about how you can set your heart, mind and soul to focus. I think these steps could be helpful or something to consider to help focus you.

  1. For Your Heart

    1. Figure out what is important, and everything else doesn’t matter. Sound simple? You really have to make a list though. Prioritize your passions. Often, we can have multiple passions, but if you place them in an order of importance you realize, that you have to let go of passion 6 – 100, because 1 -5 will never happen if you don’t. No, like seriously. Superman and superwoman aren’t real, and even if they were, they aren’t YOU. So yes, write down a list or take 30 minutes to think about what’s important to your heart, and work on those things.
  2. For Your Mind –

    1. Identify your weaknesses and your strengths. Then look at your list, see where you are lying to yourself, yes, be truthful about what you’re awesome in and where you really aren’t. Also, don’t be insecure, and keep hidden where you excel. Why is this step so important, based on your list of strengths and weaknesses, it may determine if they are in line with what your heart. Might have to do a little negotiation. You will probably find, that there are passions that you don’t have skills to accomplish or they are based on envy not substance.
  3. For Your Soul –

    1. Set your standards in life AND stick to them. The more you are consistent with your moral compass, the better your heart and mind will believe you and listen. So literally, jot down a list of your standards, and strive to achieve them. Sometimes your soul isn’t in every decision that you make, but the soul is always involved when making the wrong decision. The more areas of your life where you identify your standards, the more success you will have. One place to start, is what you aren’t willing to accept from others. Protect your heart and mind.

Now, go forth  and prosper FOCUS and make life simple.

M/P

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs

Denying That We Have a Race Problem is Un-American (The Monday Fits)

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The events of Ferguson have a lot of people doing, saying, spewing all kinds of love, hate, and fear to each other in their homes, at work, and all over social media. These actions are fueled by life experiences that shape their perspective in one way or another. However, after seeing what some people choose to share, I’m realizing sometimes the quote, “Your perception is your reality” is hogwash, in terms of this country and race relations. My experience is not completely unique, but as I grow older, I wonder if it is less than the norm.

I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky in a very particular situation, where I had one of the best upbringings in a truly diverse and creative environment. I attended a performing arts school that entrenched in me a confidence like no other and conviction of equality quite different for the average young black girl. In my life, I have some amazing friends who are white. Not where I am a token type of white friends, or the friends who make you feel a little awkward and don’t really know where you are coming from and every now and then they say the wrong thing.  I have the kind of white friends who talk about race, my hair, our differences in a real way, among a million other topics, do you know why? Because that is what it means to be a real friend with a person of color. It is who I am every day, and sometimes I have to talk about it, even when they might not exactly understand why.

However, I learned from my early days at Tuskegee University, a historically black college, that these type of relationships are rare, and my American experience has been different.  When you ask a black person, do you see yourself “Black” first or “American”, most will say Black, and a black person who thrives as a token will say American first. I will say that I am Black American, and there is no separation. I am as proud to be an American, as I am to be Black, because I truly see America as land of opportunity, even for me as person of color.

So before Obama was elected, I viewed America as many Americans did, that we really did not have a race problem, I mean we may have a few issues, but it’s not a problem. I was at a point that I truly believed it. America was not full of people who had biases at a disproportionate amount and that people had such negative impressions of Black Americans. This did not mean I had not experienced racism, or knew family members who had faced it as well. However, my experiences in my upbringing, really made me believe that these were just the after effects of a racist culture that couldn’t help but linger, because in the millennium, America was a welcoming place for all. Obama’s election changed everything, and the problem that existed has been surfacing since.

In the month of Obama’s inauguration (January 2009), 79 percent of whites and 63 percent of blacks held a favorable view of race relations. The data show a decline of 27 points for whites and 25 points for blacks by 2013. (source).  . According to the most recent survey, conducted by CBS News/New York Times, 47% said good, with whites polling at 49  percent of whites and 44 percent of blacks now have a favorable opinion of race relations in the U.S. (source). Slight difference, huh?

I’ll never forget his first election night, I was in a room full of Black Americans excited about the election of the first black president , who I didn’t even vote for. I am Republican, and I believe that my ancestors did not fight and die for me to simply vote based on my race. I was happy to have a black president, yes, but I voted on the principles for the candidate that best supported all of my interests and my party. And since that day, I have debated so many people on whether black americans should vote on race. They argue that because our interests are always underrepresented and disregarded, it’s our responsibility to vote as such.

I would not even consider that thinking at the time, but since Obama’s presidency, my blinders have been taken off, or shall I say ripped off.  The number of hate groups has increased exponentially, and the vitriol spewed at him, is unprecedented. “The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, skyrocketed following the election of President Obama in 2008 – rising 813 percent, from 149 groups in 2008 to an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012. The number fell to 1,096 in 2013.” (source) . It really is though, and he’s never been my guy, but it is hard not to notice, unless you have on blinders. Now speed up to the past couple of years, as the string of deaths of young black men and women have been heavily publicized. Check the twitter and Facebook feeds,  I find myself looking at an America that I did not even know existed. Everyone wants to call it race baiting or pulling the race card, but the reality is that there are a lot people who say whatever they want and say it is not racism. Then the rest of America doesn’t want to wake up to the America that we live in.

I am black, so it was a little easier for my binders to eventually come off. But can you imagine if you were born and you have never been followed, ignored, called a derogatory term, seen family members racially profiled, beat up, and wrongfully arrested. Would you think that there is a problem?  Not to mention, Beyonce, Jay -Z, Oprah and Obama run the world, right?

Here’s the thing: You cannot tell Black Americans that racism doesn’t exist, and that some actions are not racist. I am not asking people to go out of your comfort zone, or to even get your hands dirty, but what I want for people to do is for people to stop talking about something that they don’t know anything about; an experience that you cannot imagine.  And then to have the  audacity to talk about how you love America; this IS America. It is not always rainbows and butterflies, and until we ALL realize it, the country will stay divided and not improve.

But at the same time, I would say there are Black people who need to engage people of other races about our differences, and not when it’s a fight or calling out racism. I find that being able to talk about race freely is important for progress, and we have to stop reserving certain  topics for black people only, even if it feels a little awkward. Even I have had stereotypes about other minorities, but do you know how I learned that my thinking was wrong. I spoke up. I asked. It was a little uncomfortable, but I am a little better for it.

Now the day after the indictment was released about the Mike Brown shooting, I was perusing my twitter feed, and looking at comments ranging from anger, hurt to hate. I ended up having a small twitter fight, back and forth, with a woman who was saying that ALL blacks, not some, but ALL  BLACKS were animals. She was educated. She was a former marine. Yet, she was ignorant. It was one thing to support Officer Wilson and his version of the events, but there were many more people who took their opportunity to discuss the problem with black people, problem with black on black crime, and the way we “act”. I want to believe people are better than this, but we need to speak up, because we have race problem. It’s not racist to think race problems don’t exist in America, it’s simply un-American. Just as un-american as thinking we don’t have a poverty problem, a health care problem, an unemployment problem, a “creating jobs” problem, an immigration problem, or “our children are dying in our schools” problem. I’m not saying race is our ONLY problem, but it sure is a hell of a problem.

The Economist magazine recently published an article saying “ Race is America’s deepest problem, but multiple small changes can mitigate it”. and that “Solving the problems of places like Ferguson is less about passing more anti-discrimination laws than about rekindling economic growth and spreading the proceeds. But there are also ways of making politics and policing work better that would contribute greatly to racial harmony in America. (source)And so this is all I am asking, that we wake up to the reality that we have a problem, and push our lawmakers, and communities to do something about it, because it is un-American to continue living this way.