The title statement was said in jest over the Fourth of July weekend by an acquaintance, who was considering posting a picture of some legal documents she had just received in the mail. She brushed away the idea, but she was on to something. The influence of social media on mental health and interpersonal relationships seems to be coming up a lot in online articles and in conversation. Everyone’s happier than me. Everyone’s partner relationship is stronger. Everyone has more money than I do. No one else is struggling the way I am. Everyone else’s kids are easier to raise. Other people are successful at life, in ways I’m just not. Or so it appears. I have a few hundred friends on facebook, and I maintain regular phone, email or in person contact with a far smaller number. I know what’s beneath the glossy social media surface of their lives, and that the two don’t often match. They know the same about me. Why then, are we allowing ourselves to buy into the idea that we’re alone in our experience of life as less than wonderful, all the time? Continue reading
Some night last fall when the college kids had come back to campus, I walked around the university district, using the scene as my own personal voyeuristic fishbowl. At one point a jacked-up, enormous, gleaming white truck came cruising by at a glacial pace. Horn blaring at a decibel level fit for a cargo ship, a twenty-something man perched halfway out the passenger window yelling come-ons at every group he saw. The hormone and douche levels were so high, I was revolted and steered my male companion to a quieter street, but not before I heard a woman behind me remark, he’s a scrub! A brilliant and apt TLC reference, as the guy met the criteria: hanging out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride, he was certainly trying to holler at women. What we heard off the beaten path however, was a similarly vivid illustration of male sexuality at its worst, and most naive. Continue reading
I posed this question to my facebook friends the other day, asking folks to answer with the first thing that came to mind. I gave them the option of responding via message, because you know some people are private (I’ll let Kate H. expound upon THAT subject later). It took fifteen minutes for the first comment to come in, and for an exhilarating moment I thought, oh my god, no one is going to respond, and that will make for a hell of a post. But then people started chiming in, both publicly and privately. The common thread seemed to be about freedom. Sure, there were variations on the theme, but almost every comment, in some way had to do with taking liberties without consultation.
If freedom (commonly branded as selfishness) is so good, why are people giving it up? Continue reading
We began dating in my last year of college, when I was 19. Our relationship was full of typical college dating clichés, and I’m not sure why we ever thought it was a good idea. The first time we broke up was 7 months in, when I declared that what we had was just casual and we didn’t work on so many levels. We were from different religious backgrounds, had different social interests, and were on different intellectual planes. But he was really nice, and a few days later I felt crummy for hurting him, and next thing I knew we were back together and more serious than ever. Continue reading
I discovered this fantastic word (concept, really) on some recent meme. It was defined as a person who asks for advice and then goes out and does the exact opposite of what you say. I’m going to add to that definition a person who asks for your advice, then refutes each of your points and does nothing. They are both forms of what we used to call “energy vampires” back in my beauty industry days. Those customers who would spend an hour talking your ear off about their needs, then shoot down every suggestion and criticize every brush stroke. They latched on and demanded full attention, sucking out every last drop with their TMIs, rapid-fire questions, and talking-over. By the time they left, you were a husk lying on the floor, dried out and crunched underfoot. I know I’ve been an askhole, so unsure of myself that every little conflict or discomfort required hours of analysis and counsel with anyone who would listen. Askholes are entirely insecure, with little to no self-awareness or impulse control and a high level of need. Or at least that’s how I was. Continue reading
Continuing the conversation from Tuesday, guilt’s second main usage is a direct method of self-flagellation, when internalized. We justify it because we believe it keeps us in line, betters our behavior, proves we’re feeling, caring people. Wrong. It’s an avoidance structure, an emotional bomb shelter, a dark, close pit we can seal ourselves in when confusion or confrontation loom. Or conversely, it’s a hit of speed, an accelerant, that races us through decision-making that appears conscientious, glossing over tension and conflict, but twists us in so many directions we inevitably crash from the effort and anxiety. It’s false. And don’t feel guilty about it! I strongly believe that we are no things to no people when we’re not taking care of ourselves, listening to ourselves and being honest with ourselves. Guilt makes such an internal racket, it’s impossible to hear yourself think, let alone move forward. When you’re loading up on guilt, it’s not actually helping you be a better, more productive member of society. It’s insulating you from truly connecting with yourself and others. It’s a terrible power play you’re doing with yourself (see above). Continue reading
I sense that one of the most powerful forces in our relationships, by which important decisions are often made, is guilt. Guilt comes in all forms—Jewish and Catholic varieties, special familial brands, and catch-alls like codependency. I don’t do guilt. I wasn’t raised with it, and I see no purpose in it. Of the mistakes my mother made raising me, taking me on guilt trips wasn’t one. She grew up in a household that had more guilt than oxygen, as perpetrated by her mother. She was determined I wouldn’t feel that, and I didn’t. I’ve taken the observer’s view of guilt, exploring it from the outside, mainly though listening to friends, colleagues and family who are suffering through it. Continue reading
Last night Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella presented at a “Celebration of Women in Computing” conference, urging women during the Q&A not to ask for raises. When the question was posed him, he replied, “It’s not really about asking for the raise but…having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.” Apparently he added that not asking builds good karma, silence being a special superpower of women in the workplace. Let’s add this item to the long, long list of things no one would ever say to a man.
I’m fired up. Continue reading
Where is the line between optimism and lying to yourself? Or is optimism a form of denial? As an unrelenting optimist who also has veins of stark realism running through her personality. I tend to believe that it’ll all work out if we’re flexible and open to change. It’ll all work out is too passive a philosophy, as though life is something you can leave to its own devices, by which it will flourish. It’ll all work out suggests no work need be done, no reflection or learning or choices made either. You can just drift in a direction, or check a box and let it go, because it’ll all work out, whatever it is. Continue reading
There’s no argument that the best art comes from the dark side of human existence. Whether it’s a brief journey across the border of sanity into the unknown, or the marshalling of emotions from one’s own experience, the exceptional seems to rise from the areas in which conflict and struggle are the norm.
Lately, I’ve had these experiences in spades. In fact, the nature of the manner in which I interface with the world has rendered the majority of my life a fertile field for a massive yield of angst-related “art”. You’d think by now I’d be a Pulitzer Prize-winning author in every category. That is excepting of course the “feel good” category. Wait, I’m not sure they have that one anymore, at least not since World War II. Continue reading