I’m starting something new on the blog. It’s called Off the Cuff. Here I write about sundry topics on my “off days.” Basically, I’m venting. So beware. However, I also attempt to find a silver lining or a way forward. Also, there may be references and footnotes. Yeah. It’s that kind of thing.
Today’s Off the Cuff topics: Social media, for the most part, no longer serves me. And people are crazy.
Social Media “Whoas “
For a few weeks, I’ve posted notices on Facebook pointing to my website, encouraging people with whom I’m “friendly” to find me here. I knew one day I would take the leap–not deleting my account but rather letting it sit there as an advertisement and a road map to this blog. One day last week, it was time. I did the same on Twitter.
The only other platforms I’m currently using are Instagram and Wattpad. The former because I really enjoy posting photos and looking at bookstagram accounts. The latter because that’s where I’m publishing my work.
Anyway, the idea is to get away from memes, clamor, politics I don’t agree with, and all around ridiculousness. It’s also an attempt to be in control of my own platform rather than depending on a media company that is using my data, rigging the algorithms, controlling who sees my posts, controlling what posts I see, and generally running the show. Buh-bye!
People Are Crazy
Still, I like to keep up with the news, so I logged on to my local tv station app this morning to see what was going on. A plane emergency landed on one of our San Diego highways yesterday. Covid numbers are still not looking good here. A family is creating TOY STORY dioramas on their roof and upper story windows to the delight of their neighbors. A wedding company is offering two-hour “tiny weddings.”
And then the kicker, for me.
An article about 5,000 Christians descending on a public beach–probably without a permit–for a baptism and religious fellowship. Yes. FIVE THOUSAND. (1) And when I looked at the photo, guess what? You won’t be surprised. Very few masks.
See video here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roSq4ef7GTU
One woman said it was a chance for her to feel the presence of God.
You know what the rest of us are gonna feel the presence of? Corona Virus.
Supposedly, the organizer said masks were available and social distancing encouraged. Guess the “unmasked Christians” didn’t care much about the possible loss of life their actions might (will probably) cause. So much for their concern for life. What about the lives of the people in that community on which you descended? What about the people you carry the virus home to? The worker at the grocery store you frequent? Your co-workers? Do you care more about your “feel-good” than their lives? I think the answer is obvious.
Some said that this is no different from the Black Lives Matter protests which are also large gatherings of people who are shouting and chanting. This is a valid observation. But unlike this hoard of religious people, a majority of Black Lives Matter folks appear to be wearing masks. They at least care enough to cover their mouths when they demand justice.
But honestly? What I think? Large gatherings of any kind–no matter how important or justified–are not a good idea from a public health standpoint IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.
Now don’t go hating on me just because I’m not 100% on board with protesting right now. At any other time, I’d probably be right out there marching, too, at least for a few days. We need to demand justice. I understand and appreciate wanting to keep the momentum of this incredibly important movement going.
For that matter, at any other time, I’d also have no problem with religious people gathering together for worship on a beach (with a permit.) Spirituality? Fine. Nature. Wonderful. But again, let me say. GLOBAL PANDEMIC.
If we want to get back to schools being open safely, churches being open safely, restaurants fully operational, going to a bar to meet with friends and watch a game, and, yes, voting in and supporting (through peaceful activism and free speech) the next batch of representatives and leaders who can create the huge changes we need in this horribly unfair society here in the USA, we need to first defeat this virus.
If something like 90% of us social distanced, wore masks when we went outside, and basically did the right thing for about 3 weeks, we could drive this thing to the ground. Instead? Well…we all know what instead looks like.
My fellow Americans, we are becoming an international pariah. I’m seeing it on Instagram and Wattpad (which is very international). People feel sorry for us. They also dislike us. One Instagrammer posted a whole series of “stories” yesterday about how she used to dream of living in America, came here whenever she could, and finally hit the point where nope, not interested any more. What was the final straw? Well, she’s a young entrepreneur selling journals internationally. She went to mail a batch of journals ordered from U.S. customers and discovered the price of mailing had skyrocketed. The U.S. had hiked up our international postal prices after deciding we would no longer coordinate with the rest of the world. I hadn’t heard anything about this. But it seems to be true. (2)
Sound familiar? Kinda like getting out of the Paris Climate Agreement and considering defection from the WHO? What’s next? We are about to be a country with no allies, my friends. I’m not a huge fan of international trade agreements because I think it decimated our production here at home, but this stuff is crazy! Who thinks up this craziness? (We all know, don’t we? Vote in November.)
I don’t know about you, but all this is making me feel any number of unhealthy emotions: fear, anger, humiliation, frustration, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.
What to do?
These are my two go-to’s. I’ve been throwing myself into learning more about the writing craft while working on revisions to two novels. This keeps my brain working toward something of which I have some level of control. When this pandemic is over–if I survive–I’ll at least have some new skills to show for it.
As for meditation, I still need to work on this. It does work. Like exercise, it works better with consistent practice. Yesterday I went to the local park, sat myself under a tree (species unknown at this point) and did some meditating. When the session was over, I looked around an saw these pretty, little, yellow flowers had fallen around me from the tree. They cheered me. I guess I’m easily cheered, but focusing on something like beauty–in nature, on the page, in a loved one’s face, in music–can uplift even our worst spirits.
This post is getting too long. This post is also part of my process, a type of journal-therapy. I hope I didn’t bore you. If you want to discuss this stuff, leave a comment below.
1. “The organizer posted on Twitter that nearly 5,000 people attended.” https://www.10news.com/about/community-affairs/concerns-over-mass-crowds-gathered-for-religious-gathering-at-beach
2. “The rate increase is due to the U.S. agreement with the Universal Postal Union (UPU) that was signed in September 2019. The United States had threatened to leave the UPU if they could not self-declare terminal dues (i.e. shipping rates) for countries that had inbound letter and small parcel volumes in excess of 75,000 metric tons. The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is the governing body that helps postal services around the globe facilitate the delivery of mail and packages amongst each other.” https://blog.stamps.com/2020/06/19/july-1-2020-rate-increase-important-news-for-international-shippers-using-consolidators/s