It’s Just a Little Distraction, Right?

 I am probably going veer off a little for now to get back to my original intent on this blog. The reason being that I will soon, as previously stated, hope to be deactivating from the Monster( read: Facebook) and moving into another platform ( maybe temporarily) and my upcoming experiences regarding that will be first and foremost on my brain. Unless I change my mind.. yeah that happens a lot…( lol).But that would only be because i have figured out a way around it.Very unlikely.

So let’s dive right in.

IF you have an account on Facebook ( or any other social media platform) you are required to first agree to the terms of service. This, my friends , is a contract. When you sign any contract, you have the option to read the fine print, research terms and definitions and spend time understanding what you are signing. But how many of us- back in the early days of even MySpace- did that? I am willing to bet less than 1%.

I know I certainly never did. Because “who” would have even imagined the evolution of a tiny little social platform into the mega machine it is today? I will answer that- Marketers. Advertisers. Businesses. The wealthy elite.The powerful. Or you can call it the ‘illuminati’ if you are so inclined.

Yup. From the onset. 

Sure , we read about how one or two people came up with an idea, worked their magic and now are mega millionaires. But in reality, we forget the steps to such fame and fortune. We forget…(cough cough)…who had to finance it. Those wee little inventors generally do not start out with an endless supply of cash and a world wide network from which to pull support. In the beginning, their were investors. Investors mean banks, laws, and agendas. Damn- how did we not realize this?Or should i say- forget/block it out?

I can answer that too. Human nature. We want to believe in the innocence and harmless of society and the world despite our daily experience to the contrary. It gives us hope. It helps us survive harsh realities.

I have written many times before regarding my own frailties, flaws and behavior patterns. I have touched on it with addiction, relationships, finances, health issues, and all manner of lifestyle choices. We are our own complex machines. 

The thing is, someone ( by that I mean an entire segment of the society) tapped into( all of that) it as a resource. It eventually came to fruition with the internet and then social platforms. Now-our very souls are bought, traded and sold by the minute. Our triggers, our weaknesses, our morals and ethics- sold for a pittance.

The last time I defected( from FB) was for a whole different set of reasons. I hated the ads. I hated watching political and privacy issues destroying relationships and families. I hated the addiction of it. I simply wanted to fix myself and my life and try to be a better being. I was naive. At that time, I had no clue how deep the rabbit hole actually was.

Now, i realize it is a serious moral and ethical issue. I no longer feel safe, or comfortable contributing to a growing dragon that has no empathy or compassion for human life but rather an insatiable appetite for power. It cares not for the millions of children being affected and infected daily resulting in a 100 fold increase in this generations mental and emotional disorders. It cares not for the billions of users who simply cannot resist its charms , sending even ADULTS into other addictions,  and creating newer ,more complex disturbances. Checkout the additional items added to the DSM since the introduction of the internet. I know some of you work in the mental health field. It’s eye opening.

Yeah, this is heavy stuff. But wait-it’s about to get heavier. Stay tuned. Or Tune out….viewers choice.

That Front Porch Feeling

Ahhh, the sweet night air.

As i stood on my front porch tonight..alone..looking out at the stars..it hit me. I am standing on the porch of a house i acquired completely on my own.This is my 4th house, but for the first i can say i earned all of it- Legitimately ….with hard work and effort.With money that came from my own income…not with help from a man.. Income derived from a career..not just a job. A career i spent almost 20 years cultivating, learning and growing in. In spite of bad choices and bad relationships and starting over dozens of times. In spite of the turning tides of our economy. In spite of a back ground of generational poverty. In spite of being a woman.  

And then,too, i am still standing. I am not defeated. In spite of the crazy world we live in- the internet, the pandemic, the politics. In spite of aging and all of life’s crazy emotional baggage.In spite of..

Everything.

It doesn’t often occur to me..all of this. And i took a brief moment to contemplate the absurdity of it.Then i knew with all of my being..

I am a woman of substance. I need no validation of that except my own. 

And whatever my future has in store, i still will always have this moment.

Fast Forward to this morning…

I am awake early . I am not usually up at 10am and know i have to work nightshift, so i am in a quandary. I chat with my roomie a bit, have a coffee or 2 then meander around wondering what to do .

It’s getting chilly out here. I have this whole day alone and with nothing on my agenda. It can be daunting to me- this mindless pacing, worrying about being tired- all of it.

But then as i sit again on my front porch in the crisp morning air, i take in a few breaths and suddenly i am in a moment and it hits me again.

I don’t have to DO anything. It’s not terrible.In fact, it’s a lot like a vacation day.

I go put on some pajamas..crawl back into bed, and turn on my latest binge worthy show.

Because, i AM still a woman of substance. I have this lovely home with a front porch . I have options. I am truly ‘free’ for the first time in my life. And today- i can do ….whatever i want.

Namaste

Matrix Revisited

With every stroke of  any keypad, you are sending info to The Matrix.. If you don’t understand this, let me explain:

1.Most of us in the world have a bank card. I know- a weird place to start but I want to get your attention, so, hear me out…. This little gem tracks not only your currency exchanges but your preferences in purchases , how often you pay your bills, your patterns , and your personal information. Don’t think so? Check out how many account #’s you actually have in your life. It starts with an SSI # and continues throughout your life time. These are usually part of most transactions. It ( the bank) also tracks the time, date, and length of time you spend doing these things. Don’t believe me? Call your bank and ask a few questions about a transaction. Stuff not even shown in your statement is , indeed, in their system. Where do you think lawyers subpoena the info from for a law suit? Simple answer: digital paper trail.

2.If you don’t believe banks sell your information, think again…yup , in spite of “laws”. There are a million loopholes ..mainly they exist because human nature says it’s really too time consuming to read the fine print, and/or we don’t take the time to understand the “lingo”. 

 3.Social Media – that could be an entire book series. But the easiest thing to say is this. Over the last decade or so.. artificial intelligence is so intelligent that it has learned how to “sell” your triggers and weaknesses to marketers. So, you say “well, I don’t buy anything from the ads they show, I ignore them” . So what?.. you may not buy, but you are subconsciously influenced. And the very moment you give in by reacting in ANY way, it feeds the machine your…( can you guess) triggers and weaknesses. Which feeds the machine, which helps it to develop more complex human behavior skills, which leads to..ok , i am repeating myself…..but you get the picture.

 4.In that vain lets talk about a “conspiracy” theory . Just hear me out. Covid and the internet. Not making any statements- just food for thought. How feasible is it that the powers that be introduced a worldwide pandemic that literally increased political and social polarity but 180%? How viable is it that this pandemic also shut down economies and contributed to the loss of businesses world wide since at least March of this year. In the U.S. this is huge in an election year. Am I saying it’s a hoax.. NO. It is a very real virus. But the info , statistics , and manipulation of such has been astronomical. There are even hundreds of cloned CDC websites out there that are either feeding the hysteria and/ or feeding the anger. Where do they feed it? To the Matrix.. What triggers this person? How can we sell that? It may sound like Sci Fy…but take a moment,if you will to consider the possibilities.

5.Why is this information so valuable? Because you are a product. Your emotions, your lifestyle, your preferences, your love & sex life…even how you respond to family members.. IS. A. PRODUCT…and a very sellable one. Are you an ally of the LGBT? Great.. we can sell that. Are you a voter? Great, we can sell that. Do you watch sports, debates, rants on the climate problem…anything at all? On Netflix, Fb, IG, or any internet format? Great- We. Can. Sell. That.

6.Who is “we”( or they)? ( I would say “the royal “we” here but just joking- love that movie). We= the powerful constructs that force most of us to live life as we know it , mainly with the goal of attaining more power and keeping it. There- now you know. “They” know that you now can barely exist at all in the world without the internet. And unless you live deeply in a 3rdworld country outpost or choose to live in the woods completely off the grid- that makes YOU marketable.

7, 8., 9. , 10…hell I could make a million points but here’s what most of us (who bothered reading this far ) want to know. What’s to be done?

First , let me say- there’s is almost next to nothing any one of us can do to stop this cycle. It’s been going on for millenia. The power cycle will not end until we are vanquished as a race. So, there’s that.

 Second, let me say that some of the stuff i could say will likely be stuff you have already heard before in various formats. For instance- being mindful, limiting your carbon imprint, being on social media less often, etc. In fact, I won’t even bother saying more about all that. It can help, but won’t solve the problem.

Here’s my suggestion- do all of those things plus- do everything with the knowledge of the above.

Artificial intelligence is just that- artificial. It learns by mimicking our behaviors and reactions. What it can use for evil( I use that loosely) it can and WILL also learn and use for the good. Machines do not have feelings. They do not “discern “ or have a moral code of their own.In other words YOU program it. YOU are the input. Your moral outrage, your empathy and even your apathy are all data. More so than ever before in human history. And data is sellable by the powers that be. 

Choose the data you put in wisely. 

While you cannot ever outsmart AI or ‘the machine” you can certainly change its algorithms. Think before (or stop) RE acting on emotion. Stop feeding it. If there’s less input, there’s less output.

They are always watching… and learning…from all of us.

And while you cannot control the machine, you can confuse it.

Confuse the hell out of it.

Namaste!

Time Machine

Has anyone ever wished they could go back in time? i know i sure have…

Aside from the major things that often come to mind ( choosing better partners, fixing mistakes i made in parenting, starting my career sooner, etc) today i realized something i missed- wishing i had stuck to many of the commitments i made regarding my health- mentally and physically.

Although over all( physically) , i haven’t wrecked myself they way i’ve noted many have ( some in the arts community, friends from high school, nurses i’ve worked with over the years ) and i do have a fairly decent background in exercising and eating well, there have been some pretty long lapses at times. Even my issues with alcohol have not been going on that long comparatively ( less than 10 years) and in that time i have made many strides towards making better choices.

As far as my mental health – one major thing stands out- my addiction to social media. When i look back at the initial reason i started this blog ( deactivating from Facebook) and seeing what has changed in myself since i went back online after the 6 month sabbatical, i cannot help but wish i had never returned to it.

Sure, there have been good things. I met and started dating my current partner which would likely have never happened otherwise. I have had a great year selling my art. I have met many new people and other artists in the digital world. But it has become very clear that the platform itself is NOT healthy. In fact, not only is it an toxic addiction for over 50% of the world, creating huge voids of real life communication and serious issues with personal interaction, it has lead to some stifling statistics among our children’s mental health issues.

And adults are no less prone to the affects, no matter what we tell ourselves.

Recently i have been announcing my upcoming second deactivation from Facebook as i transition to another format called Me We. It’s basically a fledgling social media platform that promises no ads, more privacy, and less censorship. It is set up very similar to Facebook and , therefore, is easy to learn navigation wise. I love that , so far, i am seeing contact posts right away instead of 3 days later, and that there is no algorithm that shows only what “they” want you to see based on your “triggers” ( meaning how they can get advertisers to buy your attention based on data collected).

However, this does not mean it too will never become the huge poisonous monster that Facebook has. I remembered tonight that i switched from My Space to Facebook back in the day because it was smaller, more personal and geared more towards adults. That certainly has changed, hasn’t it?

While i feel i might get some reprieve by switching, it doesn’t change my addiction or solve the larger issues. But my hope in the short run is that i will be able to regain some of the peace i had during my time away from mass media , political polarization and advertising manipulation .

The choice has been a very difficult one due to gaining some ground with art sales .And i will once again have to deal with withdrawal and FOMO. But after weighing all of the pros & cons, it’s the better choice. Outside of completely deleting all social media, this ‘half measure’ may be my only saving grace.

Kind of like alcohol, we try to go back and hope we can “control” it. We place limits on ourselves, try to monitor it, and moderate our use. But in the end, we need to see it for the beast it truly is. We need to keep our eyes wide open and work very hard to keep ourselves balanced , focused and healthy.

I plan to do the deactivation within the next 2 months ( initially i thought 30 days but trying to build at least enough contacts to have something of a halfway house , socially speaking, because with the pandemic issues still going on , there are still very few ways to have human interaction like i had during my previous hiatus ).My hope is that this one action will roll over into other lifestyle improvements as it did once before. I will update as i move forward and hopefully , if someone else is going through the same or a similar situation, maybe we can help each other..

Namaste.

30 Day reset: Sobriety

Over the past few months ( yeah yeah 2020) the following has occurred in my life:

January – celebrated 1 year sober, settling into my new house, had been quit smoking 2 months

February- turned 53, relinquished an event venue to move on to other things

March- pandemic hit- changing life as we knew it

April- found out my brother had cancer and another close friend passed away

May- still dealing with daily changes due to Covid, a “friend” started a huge problem for us ( my roommate and i/our venue) in the community. It is around this time that i stated sliding in my commitments. I began to smoke again, and explore the possibilities of drinking again with great caution. The stress began to mount in so many ways i cannot even begin to list here/.

June- I got so stressed out, i couldn’t sleep in the mornings anymore so started walking again, and because of that-i met Benny- a most wonderful person who is now my partner

July-too much to mention including ongoing stress with work and health insurance issues

August- I fought and negotiated a new contract at work:sold TONS of art- a phenomenon in my life, almost finished the art studio renovations; life seemed good and on an upward swing finally

And here we are in September. Still more surprises , both good and bad..it’s always a yin and yang.

Why am i telling you all this and what does it have to do with sobriety?

Well, toward the middle of august and until this past weekend there were 3 times that i drank more than my intended limit.I could rationalize it and justify it- there was an unexpected amount of alcohol available that i wasn’t expecting.And, once i start, i cant stop if there’s more around.No one was monitoring me either.One of those times i had a wonderful evening ( pure luck). Twice had negative consequences: i had to call off work the next day with a bad hangover which never even happened at ANY time during my heavy drinking days, and this past weekend i got very defensive at one point and upset my boyfriend . Now, mind you , he is a very hard person to upset- so that’s saying something. Anyway, it hit home and while i have not slid back down into the total nightmare and chaos of my previous lifestyle- i realized had to nip this in the bud while its still in it’s infancy.

So as of today i committed to a 30 day AF break – a cleanse or detox , if you will. During which time i will not consume any alcohol at all. Not even a beer. I need to hit that reset button before it’s too late.

I am lucky in the sense that i still recall the skills needed to get through the nights off- i organize, clean , do projects and drink other things- coffee, water, tea, etc. I blog, i read, i binge on Netflix, etc. I meditate, walk, and sometimes i will add yoga. Tonights walk was pretty eye opening.

I was vividly aware of how i felt the first few months of sobriety once again- the knowing that i have to get myself back on track, get healthy, and struggle through my own feelings every minute of every day without the anticipated mind numbing of a night off drinking.I have to reconnect with things (as i learned to do) again. I have to navigate anxiety and depression like a boss, and not let it sidetrack me..all of this was on y mind as i softly tread through nature and i prayed continually that i would once again regain my former stealth.

I do believe that many have gotten a tad off track during this odd year, and my hope is that we can all push that rest button and start fresh once again. Here’s to focus, clarity, and peace.

Namaste!

Follow up: Expectations

Literally within 2 days after posting it, i violated my own words, throwing an expectation on someone, being rejected , and then getting angry . I almost ruined a perfectly great relationship because of it. Within minutes after the conversation , i realized my mistake and apologized profusely- understanding that i may not be forgiven. Fortunately, the person was very empathetic and mature, understood the circumstances ( severe lack of sleep in this case) and forgave me. It was a huge lesson for me that i sometimes have to eat my words and/or take my own advice more seriously.

So, what did i learn?

1.Well, for one thing, i am not perfect – none of us are. We can have the best intentions and still fail on occasion. Usually this happens in moments of weakness or extreme stress, but can happen any time.

2. I am lucky to have some of the best people in my life who are forgiving and understanding to a degree i myself am not always able to meet.

3. That i needed to more deeply assess what an expectation is to me, and here is what i have come up with:

There really isn’t a black & white with standards and expectations as i was convinced of at my last writing. There are a few things in between that i hadn’t considered. There are various types of expectations, various relationships to which they apply and then there are requests. What happened in my case is that i excepted something, and rather than requesting it with an open mind…i expected to hear an instant “yes”.

How did i deal with it? Besides apologizing, and re evaluating my own ego, i took time to understand how important the thing was to me and why. I asked myself if i could actually live without it, maybe forever, or if it was something i honestly did need. And if i did need it, how would i go about asking for it without creating friction or pressure? I realized it WAS something i needed..but not something i could demand of anyone at the same time.

I waited a week or so and did my best to politely broach the subject again with a clearer mind, and clearer intent. I didn’t threaten or give ultimatums. I simply asked if they would consider it and explained it’s importance to me. Before i did so, i made a decision as to how i would deal with a negative answer if i received one. And i had to be VERY sure about following up. I resolved that i would not turn into a toddler having a tantrum again, nor hurt the persons feelings.

One thing too that got me to this place was actually considering the person reasons and explanations regarding the issue. The other was gaining more insight as to the actual situation and seeing it through their eyes.I needed to be more kind, and more patient. The flaw was on my part for not seeing through my own insecurities and selfishness in that heated moment.

As i state, none of us are perfect.And even though we may KNOW the logic of any given situation, be able to give solid advice to others, we often fail to apply those valuable assets to our own life at times.

This was a great lesson for me, and i hope that it may help someone else as well.Take a few steps back, then a few more, then a few more until you can embrace the entire situation in a calm and focused manner. Then, and only then, proceed —with caution.

Namaste!