Tag Archives: relationship

A Social Media Experiment

According to Facebook, my activity for the last few days:

On Dec 29, I posted on my own timeline  6 times.  I commented on 19 posts.  I liked 7 posts.

On Dec 30, I posted on my own timeline 2 times.  I commented on 14 posts.  I liked 15 times.

On Dec 31, I posted on my own timeline 4 times. I commented on 15 posts.   I Liked 11 posts by others.

On Jan 1, I posted or shared 4 times on my own wall.   I commented on 12 posts. I liked 4 posts by others.

On Jan 2, I shared 2 comics to my wall.  I commented on 7 posts, I liked 7 posts.

Jan 3, I posted a birthday wish to a relative.  I made 1 comment.  I liked 2 posts.

Jan 4, nothing.

Jan 5, No timeline posts, 1 comment, no likes.

Jan 6?  Nothing.

Jan 7? Nothing

Jan 8?  Nothing

Jan 9? Nothing

Jan 10? Nothing

Jan 11?  A question on a business page.

Jan 12?  So far, another question on a different business page.

Between Dec 25 and Dec 31, 26 posts, 73 comments and 53 likes, for a total of 152 Facebook interactions for 7 days.

From Jan 1 until Jan 11, 8 posts, 21 comments, and 13 likes, for a total of 42 Facebook interactions for 11 days.  And 6 of those days I did not post anything.  I did send a couple of private messages to people.  I continued to play my Facebook games, but my game posts are set to me only, so they shouldn’t have showed up on my timeline.

I don’t believe I have ever gone that many days without posting on Facebook before.

Now, why did I suddenly stop my normal Facebook activity?  I got curious.

I was listening to news a few days ago.  On Wednesday, Dec 28, a young woman was live-streaming to Facebook when she evidently had some kind of seizure or heart attack and died.  Her toddler was present.  Her family said that over a thousand people were watching as their daughter died, and no one did anything about it.  She was at a friend’s house, and not found until the friend came home, some 30 minutes later.  According to the reports that I heard, although the screen had gone dark when she dropped the phone, the audio was still on.  You could hear her struggling to breathe, with the child crying in the background, until you can’t hear her breathe anymore.  The friend who found her was the one who turned the live stream off.

I thought about that.  I wondered – I have 491 friends listed on Facebook.  What would happen if I suddenly, without warning, disappeared?  Some of my other friends have gone dark, but they have usually given notice first – let their friends know that they were going to not be posting for a while.  I watch for them, and a few days later, they are back.

But what would happen if, without any notice, someone stopped posting?  Would anyone notice? If they did, how long would it take?  What would they do about it?  Anything?  Would they ask me if I was OK?  Would they comment on my wall?

One of my posts at the end of December I talked about the fact that I was climbing on a very shaky ladder, and I wished someone was with me in case it fell over.  I am a fairly solitary person.  I live out in the country, and while I have family living nearby, we don’t interact on a daily basis.  If I were to fall or hurt myself, how long would it take before anyone would notice my absence?

I decided to go dark on Jan 2.  I realized on Jan 3 how hard that would actually be – I was still reading Facebook.  There were so many things that I wanted to comment on, that I wanted to like.  I was tagged on posts that I wanted to respond to, but didn’t.  I wanted to share things.

I had not realized until this past couple of weeks how much I use Facebook to feel connected to people.  I don’t talk to people on a regular basis – and Facebook has become my substitute for casual conversation.  So many times this week I would have a thought and I would think “Oh, I need to post that” and then stop myself.  Facebook is my social connection.  Without Facebook, almost all of my conversation would be one-sided.  I talk to whoever on Facebook might be listening (or rather, reading) rather than talking to myself.  Sometimes, thru comments, I can have extended conversations that might last for a couple of days.

And I wonder how many others use Facebook for their primary social outlet.

And what happens when they no longer are posting?  Are they sick?  Are they depressed?  Are they suicidal?  Are they hurt?  Have I even noticed?  And if I have noticed that someone isn’t posting as much, have I ever asked about them?  Have I checked on them?

I have, actually, once or twice.  More likely, I don’t even notice.  If something isn’t on my feed at the time that I am on it, I never read it.  It is easy to miss postings by people.  And thus, it is easy to not be aware if someone stops posting.   I do, occasionally, go to a friend’s page to check on things.  But  with 491 Facebook friends, I’m not going to go to every single page to see what I might have missed.

Something else I realized these last few days – since I wasn’t using Facebook as a social outlet, I got more things done at home.  I cleaned more.  I painted.  I read.  Even when I don’t comment on things, I avidly read what comes across my feed.  I can spend hours and hours just reading Facebook.  This week, to help keep myself from posting, I haven’t been reading as much.  And that has meant that I have had more time to do other things.  I have thrown away things, put away things, decided to discard things.  I’ve researched, written – in general, I have accomplished more in this last week than I have in a while – and mainly because I haven’t been glued to my computer all evening.

So, this experiment of going dark has taught me a couple of things – that I am almost dependent on Facebook for my social interaction.  And with less Facebook, I got more things done at home. This experiment has also made me wonder how observant I am of my Facebook friends.  How many times have I not noticed when someone simply quit posting from Facebook?  And what would do if I did notice someone’s absence?

And did anyone of my 491 Facebook friends notice that I was no longer posting or commenting on things?  One person private messaged me on January 5th.  Another person private messaged me on January 7th.  Both of them had noticed my absence from Facebook, and asked me if I was alright.

But this experiment also taught me how solitary I really am.  If something were to happen to me – if I ever fell and hurt myself, had a stroke, whatever – it would be days before anyone came to check.

 

We are all brothers

I have been looking at the issues of both the world and the US with a bit of frustration, worry, and fear.  It seems as if everyone is so polarized – so intent that their way is the only way, that they refuse to even consider finding a middle ground, finding a compromise that benefits everyone, even if nobody gets ALL of what they want.  America has become a land of the self-centered and selfish.  “I want it MY way, and if I can’t have it MY way, I’m going to make sure you don’t get anything YOUR way.  It is MY way or nothing!” is the message that a lot of today’s politicians and/or their followers seem to be saying.

And racial violence seems to be on the upswing; obvious incidences of prejudice and bias are apparent.  And unfortunately, the reaction to those incidences seems to mainly be more violence, which leads only to worsening conditions.

I was going through some old documents today, and ran across something that I wrote a couple of years ago.  I want to share it…

We Are Brothers
by
Melinda LaFevers
6/19/2014
inspired by “We are Africa” as performed by Foreign Tongues

When God knelt down in the dirt
and scooped up that ball of clay,
He rolled it and shaped it and formed it,
In His own image.
He breathed life into it and called it “Man.”
The Good Book doesn’t say He made a black man,
It doesn’t say he made a white man.
Or yellow or red or blue or green or orange or purple.
It just says he made man – and it was Good.

No one knows when the division of color came.
Perhaps, as people moved north and the days grew colder,
the longer nights and shorter days bleached out the colors.
Some people say it was the Mark of Cain
that separated the colors of man.
Science has proven that all women
came from one woman,
Deep dark in Africa.
Doesn’t matter what race, what color –
All women carry that same genetic marker,
making us all sisters with the same mother –
Eve, birthing the world in the cradle of life.
So once we were all dusky brown, chocolate, dark –
I’ve wondered if that mark of Cain
was the bleaching of his skin.

But still, white, black, brown, red, yellow –
Languages were the same.
Until man, working together as brothers,
built that tower to the heavens,
and God, looking down, stirred the people
and created a babble of voices.
That, then, truly separated the nations from each other.
Each went their own way, growing apart,
forgetting who we were, where we came from,
the fact that once we were ALL brothers.

And the years and centuries passed.
Mankind warred against mankind;
Put chains on each other.
Your ancestors wore chains.
My ancestors wore chains.
Not just our ancestors wore chains.
You wear chains. I wear chains.
Some of those chains are visible.
Some are unseen – but those unseen chains
wear men down just as much as heavy links of iron.
Ignorance, poverty, abuse –
Those chains know no boundaries.
They come to every man – red, yellow, black, white, brown.
Faces pinched with hunger look with hopelessness
at barren lives
And Death in the form of drugs, alcohol and violence
too often looks back.

The only way to defeat that death,
to break those chains of despair,
to bring All men to freedom
The freedom of love, of Hope, of a future…
The only way to break chains of
the past and present
is to remember
that you
that I

that WE are all brothers.

When someone you know has lost a loved one.

Disclaimer:  My father just passed away.  He was an awesome, awesome man.  Although this was expected, it still is very hard.  So that means that I am writing this in the middle of intense grief, and am prone to burst into tears at any minute.  It also means that my perspective on things are quite likely to be skewed right now.  Please keep that in mind while reading this.

So…

Someone dies.

People, friends, want to do something for the family.  So what do they do?

They bring food.    They may or may not have asked about food allergies first.

They say things like “He is in a much better place now.”  Well, that might be true – but we want him or her HERE.  With us.

“He isn’t in any more pain.”  No he isn’t.  But we are in immense pain.

“He died at home?  That must have been so hard.”  Harder than you can imagine, unless you have gone through it yourself.  But we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“If you need anything, just let me know.”  We are too numb to know what we need, and by the time we start thinking again, we don’t remember who said that.

“Is there anything I can do for you?”  Again, we are too numb to know what needs to be done, and by the time we think of it, we don’t remember who offered.

What do we really need?

Yes, food is really great.  Sometimes we have no appetite for it. I’ve taken a pair of pants out of my get-rid-of pile because I’ve lost enough weight over the last month that they fit again. But we know we need to eat in order to keep up our strength in order to do the things that we must.  Having people bring meals truly is wonderful – it means that much less that we have to worry about.  Even with no appetite, we will eat if something is brought to us.  And the food will come – for a couple of days, maybe, and then stop, usually long before we are ready to think about preparing food again.

We need hugs.  We need people willing to sit with us and just let us cry, maybe even cry with us.  We need emotional support, not just now, while it is fresh, but for many months to come.

What we don’t tell you?

Unless you have been there, we can’t possibly explain how broken we feel inside.  We will try to stay strong, to smile bravely through our tears – and save our collapse until we are all alone, or with the family members who are feeling the same way we are.

We will say thank you for the food, and you might not realize how very very much we mean that, because we are still numb, still fighting not to cry – but fixing food for our family is one thing we don’t have to worry about now, and that is so important.  But in our grief, we won’t be able to express how important that is.

On the other hand, sometimes we will say thank you for the food, and inside we wonder where the support was when our loved one was still alive and could have seen it.

We don’t, and probably won’t, tell you how this is affecting us financially.  But often, even for families that appear fairly well off, money is a real immediate need.  Unless you are family, or a very close friend, we won’t tell you that we are worried about money.  We won’t tell you that we haven’t worked a steady job in a long time in order to be available for assistance for our loved one.  We won’t tell you that we have taken the last few days, or weeks, or even months, off so we could spend what time was left with the person we love – but those days of not working will mean that we won’t have quite enough money for the electric or phone bill this month.  We won’t tell you that we are worried about the medical bills that have piled up.  We won’t tell you if we are confused by the whole social security issues – how many older women today know that things will change when their husband dies, but they don’t know in what way?  We won’t tell you that our husband, or father, or mother was a great provider when he or she was alive, but had no or little life insurance to cover expenses after they died.  We won’t tell you that we aren’t sure if we will be able to pay the mortgage of the house that our loved one had hoped to have paid off before they died.   We won’t tell you that we are worried about how long it will take to cut through any red tape in order to use any insurance that might be in place to cover the bills, the expenses.  We won’t tell you that the credit cards are maxed out, that we have been trying to figure out which bills can be postponed, which bills must be paid now, and which bills are no longer important.

So – How can you help when someone dies?

If it was an expected thing, a known illness – be there during the illness, with meals, hugs, listening ears and respite care.

Continue bringing food after the person dies.  And for a little while after the funeral.  Don’t just make it a couple of days – food can be comforting, and sometimes we need that feeling that someone is still there who cares.

If you don’t know what to say, simply say “I’m so sorry this happened.”

Offer to help with something specific. “I know you will be having a lot of relatives come in.  I would like to help you by mopping your floors.  When is the best time for me to come over?” “I am putting my name and my phone number on your refrigerator with a note to call me when you start to go through his clothes if you don’t want to do it alone.”

Clip out the obituary notice for out of town relatives who might like to have one.

Listen to the stories about that person – It is so bittersweet, but it helps to talk about them.  I find myself talking about dad to relative strangers.  While it might feel uncomfortable to the listener, it can be very important to the person who is grieving – even weeks and months after the death.

Pay a bill.  Or part of one.  You can do it anonymously, or you can do it openly.  Bring a check made out to a utility company, or a pre-paid debit card, or a gift card. There are always extra expenses involved in a death, and even a gift of $10 or $20 can help make a difference, especially if the family is poorer or have already been dealing with financial issues like lay-offs or no-pay work leave.

If you ask how they are doing, really mean it – don’t just ask socially.  And let the person know that it is more than a social statement – that you are really interested.

Continue bringing meals after the funeral, and take them out to eat once in a while – maybe not everyday, maybe not even every week.  But often enough so that they know someone is thinking of them.  Especially if the person is older and all alone.

Send a card on those special days – anniversaries, the deceased’s birthday.  Or call.  All you have to say is “I know today is probably extra hard.  I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you.”

Survivors frequently want to share stories of their loved one.  Often people are uncomfortable with that.  Listen anyway.  Ask questions.  Ask them to share a favorite memory.

Learn about the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, anger, and acceptance – and remember that we can go through them, and then back to one that we went through previously.  Some of us will go through the stages in different orders from others, and some will reach full acceptance earlier than others.

Please don’t say “You have grieved long enough – don’t you think you should be over this now?”  We will never get “over” it.  We can come to acceptance, we will eventually move on with our lives, but the death of a loved one will leave a lasting effect.

I invite anyone who has been through the grieving process to comment with tips and suggestions to help those who are newly facing this.

There either is a God, or there isn’t.

My father is dying.  We don’t know how long it will take.  He has entered in-home hospice care, and needs someone with him at all times.  He is 86 years old, and is a sociologist.  He has studied humanity for most of his life, and finds the process of dying rather “fascinating.”  As a sociologist, a teacher, and a counselor for most of his life, he has read about the dying process, changes that people make, some of the things that they start doing – and now, he says, he understands why these happen much much better.

So tonight I was with my dad.  And he made the comment that he wished he had taken a class on philosophy.  I asked him why.  This is my paraphrase of his answer.

*********

Well, there is either a God, or there isn’t.  Now if you consider the law of entropy, you pretty much have to believe in some kind of creator – something that at least put the process into motion.

Once you decide there is a God, you have to ask, is he intelligent/logical or not?  With all the various things that occur in nature – like that law of entropy, how things are put together, laws of science, etc…those things all lead to the conclusion that God is intelligent and logical.

So then you have to ask yourself – is an intelligent God concerned about Mankind or not?  And if He is concerned with mankind – is that concern for our benefit, or our detriment?  Is God just some cruel entity that enjoys making man suffer, or is He a loving God, who has planned for our benefit?  I believe He is concerned with mankind, and for our good.

********

Around there he stopped and said something to the effect of “I don’t remember the rest of it. But I had it all laid out, step by step.  I’ll have to write it all down when my brain is working better…”

Simple questions.  But they mean so very much.  I hope he remembers the other questions that went along with these.  I’d like to hear them.

Is there a God, or isn’t there?

If there is a God, is God intelligent and logical?

If He is intelligent and logical, is he concerned with Mankind?

If He is concerned with Mankind, is that concern for our good, or for our detriment?

I love my daddy.  And I am so glad that, even in his last days, he still speaks of God as a loving Father, who is concerned for His creation.

 

 

When you love…

When you love, the world can be a wonderful place.  When you love, the world can be a horrible place.

When you love, you feel like you can conquer the world – unless you feel like the world is conquering you.

When you love, you are strong.  But you are also vulnerable and weak.

If you are lucky, when you love, you will find someone who can be your strength when you need some help standing back up after a fall – and in turn, you can help that someone when he needs a hand.

When you love, you give someone else an immense power to hurt, wound, and rend.  And you trust him or her not to do that.

 Sometimes that trust is broken, and then you have to decide if you will remain vulnerable for the sake of love, or if you will build walls around your heart.  

Sometimes, if the person you love is abusive, you need those walls to survive.  

Sometimes the hurt is so great that walls go up, even if you don’t want them to.  

Sometimes walls from the past can interfere with the present, so much that a new opportunity for love is turned away or not recognized.

Love, real love, can make you both strong and vulnerable at the same time.  It is a hard place to be.  The more you love someone, the easier it is to be hurt.  The more hurt you get, the easier it is to build walls against the person who hurt you, or against other people who want to love you.  

Sometimes, if you are blessed, if you are fortunate, if you have the understanding, the love is so strong that it can out-wait the hurt, tower over the walls, and smash them down.

“I know the plans I have for you…”

I saw a post on Facebook today.  It was a scripture from Jeremiah.  “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  The last few days, I have been feeling hopeless, heart broken, and if I couldn’t have a future with a certain person in it, I couldn’t see a future at all.  Being the believer that I am, I have been doing a lot of praying about it.  A lot.  A whole lot.  And then, today, I saw that post.  That scripture.  “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  I cried a little, because right now, I don’t feel any hope.  I don’t see much of a future.  But I believe.  “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  The hopes I had, the plans that I had made, had dreamed about and prayed about, was working towards – they have fallen into ashes at my feet.  Yet God has plans for me, to give me hope and a future.  I don’t feel that hope right now.  I don’t see that future.  But I believe that it is there.  And I believe that as I heal, I will feel hope again.  I will plan for a future again.  “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Basic Respect

I am still pondering the thoughts that I heard at a funeral last week.  The son of the man who had died stated that his father was a “man’s man, and he taught us how to respect women.”  Respect.  Too many times, a “man’s man” is seen as someone who uses women.  You know the type – bragging over every conquest, every name in the little black book…Or maybe the man wants to seem tough, emotionless, so he acts like a bully, perhaps.  Bullying can take on a number of different forms.  A post has been going around the internet the last couple of days.  A guy was flying, and another passenger,  a woman, was quite upset by the delays.  She was worried that she would not make her connecting flight, and was loudly complaining about it.  The guy sent her a glass of wine, sent her notes, was very rude to her, and tweeted the whole experience, laughing at the fact that she was so insistent on getting to her family on time so she could make the secret family dressing.  At the end of the flight, the woman slapped him.  He declined to press charges, perhaps because he knew he had brought it on himself.  Turns out there was more to the story.  This women is in the last stages of cancer.  This was her last Thanksgiving with her family – and no, she did not make her connecting flight, and no, she did not make it in time to have her final Thanksgiving with her family.  She does have the family secret dressing – which she was going to teach to the other members of the family.  Barring a miracle, she missed her last Thanksgiving with her family.  I’m sure she could have handled being late in a different way.  But this “man”, who patronized her, bullied her, wrote obscene notes to her, made fun of her – he was not a “man’s man”.  He showed no respect.  He acted like a little immature boy.  I wonder what kind of father he had, to grow up thinking that it was ok to act like that.  I wonder what kind of mother he had.  I wonder how he would feel if someone treated his mother the way he treated that dying woman.  I don’t know what he is, but this young man, who thought it funny to belittle someone else, is not a “man’s man,” nor has he learned to treat women with respect.  Perhaps, with the various commentaries that have been being made, just maybe, he will learn something about respect and humanity.  

UPDATE: Elan Gale has stated that he made it all up – there was no “Diane” Some one wrote in to Storify that Diane was her cousin, dying of cancer. That note can be found here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/11/bullying-at-35-thousand-feet/

So, was it all a hoax? Was there really a Diane who is dying of cancer? Who knows. But regardless of whether or not it was all a hoax, the word choices used by Elan Gale still show immaturity. It could have been funny without the cruelty – he chose to take it too far.