Musings and Mirth
After dwelling on the pages of Facebook for a while now I’m mostly convinced it’s a life-ruiner in all respects. You have to see, on a daily basis, all of the things you were never meant to see. It’s sort of like finding the secrets to life after death, or discovering the awful truth about Santa Claus. There are just some truths you really don’t need to know.
It’s strange that, for instance, you have to know the whereabouts of all of the people you’ve ever known in your life.
It’s strange that, when people die, their Facebook pages stay up. People write on them as a kind of floating memorial. And Facebook helpfully suggests you friend a friend of a friend who is dead. The online person, the Facebook person, lives on. The real body goes. So now we have the body, the soul and the Facebook identity. It’s weird, isn’t it? It’s different elsewhere online because Facebook is the only place where you are confronted with everyone you’ve ever known, all of your family, and the people you’re networked with, as well as just random strangers. Who you are on Facebook is now part of who you are period. And it’s freaky.
The first weird thing that happened to me recently was that a fried of mine from my childhood friended me then got frustrated when that magical relationship we were supposed to have wasn’t rekindled. I’m busy, yo. And so she wrote on my page, “too stuck up.” So I unfriended her, just like that. And harmony was restored in my life. She was one less ghost from my past I had to worry about.
But the thing I hate most about Facebook is the way people torment each other. They use status updates to taunt their successes — my daughter’s friends in middle school all flaunted and taunted with the various high schools they were accepted into. Like just being able to do that on Facebook was the key. It’s a little puddle of ego and narcissism where that shit can fly around virtually unchecked.
When you have a relationship you change your status update and then break up via status update and everyone has to know about it. Well, that’s one thing. What’s worse is if you happen to hook up with an asshole who then pretends you don’t exist and never changes that relationship status. So then you have to see how little you matter on a daily basis. Worse, you have to watch that person actively flirt on their own profile page. Or if you get dumped you have to watch that person flaunt their latest exploits with dumb, show-offy pictures. One guy I know only reflects himself as someone who would attract only pretty girls and thus, every picture that is associates with his online persona is some kind of idealized beauty; none of the women he actually dates ever appear because that would then lower his status online.
So what is the good Facebook has to offer? I don’t really know. To me I use it mostly for work but I hate this notion of everyone knowing every little piece of my business. It’s weirds me out on every level. I worry for the generations that are growing up with this idea that you have your regular life and then you have a Facebook identity to cultivate. Everything you do has a societal echo that passes praise, likes, judgements…everyone puts on a fake happy face, like here are all of the good times I’m having that you aren’t having. Here is my great marriage that you don’t have. I don’t know how I would have survived with the added dimension of Facebook.
I just don’t think we ever really stopped to think about what the longterm effects of something like this might be. Oh well. There are surely worse thing in life. For now, though, I’m practicing disassociation.
Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
In the days of the internet you have shadow versions of yourself floating around out there. You aren’t just the one person. You are who you always wanted to be. You say everything you always wanted to say. You never have to be imprisoned by the confined misery of the hand you were dealt.
When two personas try to meet in real life, though, they have to reconfigure themselves into who they really are. And it’s a roll of the dice whether or not those two people can get along or not. Sometimes they can live in deluded ecstasy together. As in, their individuals pretend selves become the collective pretend couple.
This kind of living has pretty much finished me. I just want you, the internet, to know this. After fifteen years online I’ve finally come to the conclusion that “warts and all” is the way to go in life. Just get all messy and sloppy in it. There is no benefit that lasts just being in it for the ego boost. We must be bigger and better than our egos. Think about what an ego must look like, what it would like if it was actually manifested in human form. You know it would not be nearly as big, as hot, as cool, as all-powerful as it thinks it is. No, it is cowering in the dark, afraid to do anything that might risk it losing at life. The ego: it’s the little man behind the curtain and it offers you nothing back except a lifetime of unrealized expectations.
Except that ego drives us to do all sorts of things. I think that evil little sack of shit drives my own creativity sometimes, the doing of this bloggggggg, wanting to have a voice “out there.” I know it drives rock stars and movie stars. But trust me, when it gets down to happiness – look elsewhere.
I finally went back to yoga after a long break. What a relief that was. In yoga you have to fight your ego at every turn. You’re in the front row showing off or in the back hiding. You’re doing the advanced pose or the modified one. But my ego drove me to the point where I injured my shoulder and couldn’t do it anymore. So not only am I in the 1/2 class and no longer in the 2/3 class but I slapped myself down and put myself in the back row.
I am trying to get life right. I make mistakes every day. I wake up hating myself. Then I wake up okay with it all. What I do know is that there probably isn’t ever going to be a happy ending for anyone until they practice what the Buddha teaches. Ahem.
• What is the First Noble Truth?
The first truth is that life is suffering i.e., life includes pain, getting old, disease, and ultimately death. We also endure psychological suffering like loneliness frustration, fear, embarrassment, disappointment and anger. This is an irrefutable fact that cannot be denied. It is realistic rather than pessimistic because pessimism is expecting things to be bad. lnstead, Buddhism explains how suffering can be avoided and how we can be truly happy.
• What is the Second Noble Truth?
The second truth is that suffering is caused by craving and aversion. We will suffer if we expect other people to conform to our expectation, if we want others to like us, if we do not get something we want, etc. In other words, getting what you want does not guarantee happiness. Rather than constantly struggling to get what you want, try to modify your wanting. Wanting deprives us of contentment and happiness. A lifetime of wanting and craving and especially the craving to continue to exist, creates a powerful energy which causes the individual to be born. So craving leads to physical suffering because it causes us to be reborn.
• What is the Third Noble Truth?
The third truth is that suffering can be overcome and happiness can be attained; that true happiness and contentment are possible. lf we give up useless craving and learn to live each day at a time (not dwelling in the past or the imagined future) then we can become happy and free. We then have more time and energy to help others. This is Nirvana.
Oh hi, Nirvana. I’m looking for you. Help me find you, will you? I love this notion of the “imagined future.” This is a trap. The old “when this happens, this other thing will happen.”
The fact is that life washes over us every day and we barely notice it. The sun comes up and it goes back down. Light washes the landscape and then it goes dark. And every day our body keeps track of the time passing. We feel things start to fade. We age. And that is all. But if we can be right here, right now, well then maybe – just maybe – we will kiss the tip the nirvana occasionally.
I feel better now, internet. Thanks for being here, my imagined self, my projected self, my real self and mean crumpled old ego thank you too. Oh, memories. Oh, sweetness.
I had to take a break from this site for a while because of personal reasons. Well, I had a stalker of sorts who would not leave me alone. I get a lot of stalkers or mean people coming here – I’m not really sure why but it happens. Shit happens. So I’m almost done with Oscars 2012, which has turned into a mostly predictable wash out, except for the possibility that Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer might win Oscars, which would shock the hell out of Hollywood. The status quo would have Meryl Streep win and Spencer in Supporting. But hey, maybe the status quo will get broken up.
I’m still working on a redesign but haven’t gotten a good one yet.
Getting ready to start writing up the latest in vegetarian cooking and maybe talk about the upcoming election. In the meantime, this happened:
Around 300,000 organic farmers think that Monsanto, the biotech giant known for genetically modifying Mother Nature’s handwork for profit and pushing over the little guys all the while, is pretty seedy.
“Monsanto’s threats and abuse of family farmers stops here,” says Jim Gerritsen, president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. “Monsanto’s genetic contamination of organic seed and organic crops ends now. Americans have the right to choice in the marketplace — to decide what kind of food they will feed their families — and we are taking this action on their behalf to protect that right to choose.”
Waiting to exhale and hope that Montsanto’s evil mitts are messed with in some fashion.
The one thing my mother always told me when I was a little girl was that I was “too sensitive.” I knew it early on because I hated going to school because I hated the feelings it seemed to stir in me. I was never carefree. I never stopped worrying. It was only later that I learned how to turn that sensitivity, or whatever the hell it was, around to good things it could do – like the ability to throw my head back with laughter – to laugh with abandon is, I’ve come to find, a rarity. I learned how to laugh from my mother whose own emotions get the better of her most days. She can turn on a flash from being wildly giddy with laughter to being angry enough to throw something, slam something or smash something, to being upset enough to audibly ugly cry while watching something on TV. Despite her irritation with what she considered to be my weakness, my own mother, god love her, is overly sensitive too.
People like me turn to drugs or drink. People like me overeat into oblivion, or throw it all up later. People like me watch TV. People like me stay in unhappy marriages because it is so much better than the alternative, being deserted and alone. People like me turn to sex to stay present and attended to. People like me adopt a lot of cats. People like me cry late into the night, holding onto some kind of pain that somehow keeps from facing truths.
And yet, it’s so much harder to just face the day: stone cold sober, ready for honest interaction with self and others. And all of this would be greatly possible, all of it would be kind of easy, were it not for the internet — because the internet holds too much information. And that information can send you down a rabbit hole or two and it can bring back into your life stuff that has no business being there. You can find almost anything you want to find if you know how to look. And it’s best not to look. But when you find yourself making that decision to start typing names into google — and you start reading little bits of clues people have inadvertently left behind – that’s when the internet becomes your enemy. That’s when it’s time to close the computer and concentrate on something else – reading, gardening, pilates…
I have to wonder, though, is my own sensitivity playing into this? Are regular people out there able to juggle past and present more easily? Do they just not go looking for stuff that’s not meant to be found? I sort of wish there was a way to erase it all so that it just wasn’t there anymore. But it’s there. Unless you’re a person who steadfastly deletes your history as you go so that there is no paper trail anywhere, no online footprint, you will be found out if someone goes looking. And the funny part is, you don’t even know when you write that stuff down who you might meet later who might find it.
As for me, I’m slowly working my way around the notion that life offline is a whole lot better than life online. That is probably how I will start to proceed for the next few years of my life, after almost fifteen years living through words tapped out on a screen, so full, so empty.
If you’ve been following Ree’s career as long as I have you might be dazzled, as I have, at her meteoric rise to success from blogger to big time blogger to book author to TV show host and now, no doubt, to million dollar enterprise a la Paula Deen, Rachel Ray, and The Barefoot Contessa. Anyone who watches these shows knows that you don’t watch them for the food and cookin and recipes – you watch them for the lifestyle the host is pushing. The same formula that draws millions of viewers to Ree’s blog every day is the same thing that will likely draw them to her TV show on the Food Network. But watch out, you might find yourself yearning to be one of those Stepford Wives, you know, an eager to please robotica?
Sometimes a man…
Sometimes the beauty of life…
I don’t have a story to tell because all I did was turn on the television and call my best friend. My daughter Emma asked me where we were saying her best friend’s mom was flying around Boston that day and just missed the flight that crashed into the first tower. I only remember it for what I didn’t know. I didn’t know that it was a terrorist act. I didn’t know that Osama Bin Laden was that real. I didn’t know that “they” hated us. I didn’t know what we did to make them hate us. I didn’t know that the towers would fall. I didn’t know that people would jump out of the windows to keep from burning or dying from smoke inhalation. I didn’t know that the firefighters would rush in just before the towers fell. I didn’t know there would be two planes to hit the towers. I didn’t know it could be so easy to execute such an elegant, well planned, unavoidable attack on American soil. I didn’t know that it would be used to justify two wars that are mostly still ongoing.
What could I tell my daughter about that day? How could I tell her that those two wars ended up killing over six thousand more American soldiers.
Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,442
Operation Enduring Freedom: 1,584
These deaths, I have to tell her, had nothing to do with 9/11 except in the way that it made us all so afraid that we would do anything, accept anything. And then finally, I’d have to tell her that it wasn’t about us that day: it never should have been. It was only about those who died. It was about them and it should always be about them.
And yeah, it changed everything. My heart still breaks for the victims. And the anger at our government for what we did after that, even though the world maybe feels slightly safer without Saddam Hussein, still resonates. But it’s not about me. It never was.