Category Archives: Politics

Take a Break from Social Media

Life is suffering.”

It seems to be a fundamental truth. From war, natural disasters, crime, illness, and even to the seemingly lesser stresses like too many work hours and not enough pay, or time to live, the suffering can feel never-ending with the aid of social media and television.

However, it’s important to know what is going on in the world, as painful as it is. Even when you cannot do anything about it, and when it does not directly affect you, being aware of what is happening in the world helps you understand life and your place in it–your contribution.

Personally, I also believe in other philosophical and spiritual reasons for being “woke,” as they say, but that’s a much longer discussion.

Having said all that, we must take care of ourselves and being woke can come at a personal price. Sometimes the goings-on of the world simply cause too much extra stress.

I recently did what a lot of people threaten to do, but have a hard time accomplishing: I took a break from social media.

I left Facebook, Twitter, my website, and I refused to watch or read the news for nearly one month. I was stressed with some changes in my life, with money problems and work-related issues, and I realized that waking up and reading the news was only hurting me. It broke my heart over and over, and make my days even worse because I seemed unable to avoid internalizing it. So, I took a vacation from the rest of the world.

There is nothing wrong with taking a break from it–taking a break from the news, from social media drama, whatever its form.

You might ask, “But, wouldn’t it just be selfish to stop paying attention merely because it stresses you out?”

I argue that it’s not so simple.

We all want to do more that survive this life. We all want to really live–to find more than suffering. Some of us are lucky enough–are born or placed into the right circumstances to find it. Many are not.

There is no shame in being either person.

Should you completely close yourself off from the world permanently, and think only of yourself and your own happiness? No, of course not. There must be a healthy balance between your happiness and your concern for the world’s suffering.

Some people simply do not have that option. They can’t just turn off the news and let go because their lives are the news. They haven’t been given the option, and that’s horrifically unfair.

But, that doesn’t mean that it is wrong for you to choose.

I encourage you to try. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time. Try a day, or a week–as much as you think you can handle. Sometimes it is hard to let go, and some people’s jobs insist on the use of social media, which cannot be helped. If you can, however, give yourself a break.

You’re human–you deserve it.

Freedom and the Confederate Flag

My opinion on this confederate flag issue isn’t going to be popular, but since I still have the freedom express it, I’m going forward.

I hate the flag, and not just because it is used to represent a historically racist culture.

That flag represents a terrible time in American history. “Brother fought against brother” to maintain a way of life based on the enslavement of an entire race for its economic value. It was a war that quite literally tore this country in half.

More than that, the south, the confederate south (and, no, I will not be capitalizing that), fought to be separate from the Union. They fought to no longer be part of the United States.

Waving that flag proudly, to me, is one of the most un-American things you can possibly do. It is, at its core, anti-United States.

Having said that, however, I do not believe that it should be eliminated entirely.

This is still a free country (how long that will last, who knows). I say that the individual should still have the right to purchase and wave the flag, because it is is his right. As long as he does not force that flag on anyone else, he is within his rights to value it and what it stands for (as much as I loathe it).

Blaming that flag for a white supremacist murderer’s actions is no different than blaming heavy metal for a kid shooting up his school, or rap music for a kid becoming a gangster; it’s finding ways not to address the real, more complicated, causes and issues.

As for state governments flying the confederate flag: absolutely not. Governments, in general, represent the collective, and must do so neutrally. It is not beneficial in any way, shape, or form to fly that flag in a public space. The war is over. The southern states are not independent of the U.S. Get over it!

Take it down, and put it in a museum.

Banning the flag feels like the best thing, instinctively. However, think of the repercussions. Where does it stop? Suddenly, we’re crying for bans on all sorts of things. I’ve already heard arguments for a ban on Gone with the Wind; it began with the flag, and it wasn’t but a few days before someone wanted to ban a book.

I am an American, despite what some more conservative people in my life may think. I believe in the freedom to do what you please so long as you do not infringe on others. No man may tell me what to do with my body, and I may not tell another man what to put on his walls, or in his yard. I will speak on feminism, and he may speak against other races.

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.’ Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the ‘land of the free’.”

That quote may be from a Hollywood rom-com, but it stands true. You cannot call this a free country unless you accept that people are free to be something you hate, and you have to let them be that when you cannot change their minds.

I do believe in removing the flag from all government-related public locations. I do not, however, believe in forcing private individuals to give them up, or corporations to stop selling them. Keep the freedom free, please.


I’m Angry, too, Jon Stewart

I honestly have nothing other than just sadness, once again, that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other, and the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend doesn’t exist… What blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us, and when we’re killing ourselves.

You’re not alone, Jon Stewart.

I am so sick of murder in this country, like that in Charleston, being blamed on everything except what it is. Does mental illness ever play a part? I have no doubt that it does on occasion. Does a particular culture play a part? Absolutely.

But, stop making excuses for these white male killers by blaming mental illness. It is offensive to those with mental illness, the greater amount of whom try to get help, and live their lives without harming others. It is offensive to the victims who suffered the violence, at the true heart of which is racism, misogyny, homophobia, and a hatred of any culture other than that of the white, male, Christian patriarchy.

When Women Dare Speak on Social Media

Identities.Mic: Actress Ashley Judd, who has been active in Hollywood for more than two decades, is also a die-hard University of Kentucky Wildcats fan. While watching her team play the University of Arkansas Razorbacks on Sunday, Judd posted a since-deleted tweet that suggested the Razorbacks were playing dirty — an act that apparently triggeredan avalanche of online abuse, much of which was sexual in nature.

It’s not new; we’ve seen this over and over, more and more light has been shed on this issue, and yet it still remains an issue.

Then again, I suppose that should be of no surprise. Feminism, off and on social media, is still up for debate, women are raped and abused daily (as are men who dare show any sign of femininity). So, if we haven’t fixed those problems over the centuries, why should we expect any less from social media?

We’re worried about when protecting people becomes pure policing, and restrictions on freedom of speech. I understand that. But, it becomes a cycle of pure hypocrisy; men want to feel free to say what they please about women and to women, and then complain about their freedom when someone objects. But, what they say about and to women is, in turn, doing to women what men don’t want done to them. These men are out to shut women up, but can’t handle it in return.

There has to be a way to define social media use, so that the difference between freedom of speech and useless, and potentially harmful, harassment become clear.

Some online forums have tried to do this by eliminating particular words. That never works. One possibility would be to observe how words are used; are they directed at someone, or used in general?

But, even then, you risk policing, and it’s hard to be objective.

You’ll always have people (mostly men) crying that women are too sensitive, and who will refuse to see that the greater amount of harassment, bullying, threats, and violence happens to women, no matter how much proof you show. Unfortunately, some of these people are in positions of power that allow them to crush any potential change.

So, what is to be done?

A dear friend of mine engaged in a debate recently about a transgender woman being removed from a gym bathroom after another woman complained, and her membership being revoked as a result. Just for expressing her opinion on the issue (and yes, she was being very reasonable in her debate), she was doxed. They even went so far as to anonymously e-mail her employer. I hated myself a little for telling her that, though I agree it was wrong of them to do that, she needed to be more careful about debating people on the internet. When she does that, she becomes a target (an undeserving one, obviously).

Unfortunately, there’s not much to be done at this point. Like the unfair way in which we’re expected to deal with rape culture, we must deal with online harassment. We have to be cautious. Until other, more broad and related things change, wave to tread carefully, lest we become the next tragic headline that arouses another short-lived, quickly-smothered cry for justice.