Archive for March, 2011
A friend asks if I’ve noticed how boring Facebook has become. Obviously, he’s not reading The Wall Street Journal and Business Week, or he’d know Facebook is now bigger than ever. But as we all know, bigger is not necessarily better.
I was once Facebook-resistant. Picturing the same kinds of loners who once populated early social networks–aka the BBS bulletin boards, it was my perception that cyber-friends were a poor substitute for real friends. Routinely, I received e-mail invitations from my real friends to join.
When a particularly intelligent and vibrant friend, who surely had better things to do, sent me an invitation, I could no longer resist. I had to know why someone like him would be “facebooking”. In a matter of days, I was connecting with people from all phases of my life. I was chatting with friends and relatives in other cities, seeing the latest pictures of their children, and swapping bits & pieces of life. Facebook was to people, what a pencil cup is to a desk–a convenient place to keep all within reach.
I did my share of quizzes, exchanged a few pokes and caught up with people I hadn’t spoken to in years, before realizing the usefulness of Facebook. I could organize a get-together, inviting all the people I wanted there, hire entertainment and never even have to pick-up the phone. After the party, I could share all the photos without being bothered to make reprints. Major time-saver, but that was only one aspect.
Facebook was like a never-ending cocktail party. I could come early and stay late. I could see who was there and make excuses to exit if things were dull. Like Cheers, it was the place where everybody knew your name–fresh, friendly, live and intimate.
The first 50 to 100 friends in my circle were people I knew pretty well. That circle grew and spawned more circles. Soon, circles were overlapping circles, which is exactly what is supposed to happen–except that to me it seemed the sociological equivalent of an environmental disaster–climate change. With a small group of old friends, everyone could be completely unguarded. The bigger the circle grew, the less intimate it became.
Then came the tweaks. In response to growth, Facebook was constantly being modified. There were tweaks to make Facebook better functioning for the growing volume of users. There were tweaks in response to how “friends” use the site. Realizing the size of this voluntarily-captive market, many adjustments were made to tap into the wealth of marketing information and to increase potential revenue. The never-ending cocktail party seemed to be undergoing a never-ending facelift.
In it’s early days, Facebook was just another on-campus group–like a friendly fraternity, but like it’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, it quickly progressed from university to big business. It didn’t take long to realize Facebook users would tell advertisers what they liked and what they used; thereby suggesting what they were likely to buy. Conversations between friends provided valuable marketing information to would-be advertisers. Those who “liked” a page became a self-identified target audience already assembled to hear the next marketing message. Facebook says tapping into this was a way of “personalizing” each user’s experience. Nothing says “personal” like being bombarded with corporate messages, eh?
When I started thinking about whether Facebook was indeed less interesting, I was convinced it was evolving into something less attractive than it’s earlier form. I suspected that as people’s networks grew, they would be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information presented. (Facebook tweaked that by using an algorithm to weed out people they thought might bore you. When word of this got around, Facebook decided to again allow users decide for themselves who the boring people were.)
Having large groups of “friends” meant some people would be less likely to share the details of their lives and that the sheer volume of “friends” would limit the amount of quality dialogue that could practically take place. It seemed inevitable, the more friends one had, the less “friendly” the atmosphere. It was less personal. Whereas, once it was mostly the friends you would have liked on speed-dial, the “friends” list was beginning to resemble the metropolitan white pages.
Would the depersonalization of Facebook signal the beginning of the end? It hardly seems so. People have always devised ways to connect with others. In the 1930’s psychologist Jacob Saul Moreno, realized the benefit and need of social connections and began trying to diagram models of how people formed social networks. Throughout history, people have sought out affiliations with others who shared their interests or values. Before Facebook, there were many online entities trying to help others connect. Classmates.com and Six Degrees were two of the forerunners,but CompuServe, AOL and Prodigy were key in redefining the computer as a social outlet.
It would seem that no matter the forum, people have a primal need to connect with others. Studies have shown, the quality and size of our social web, greatly influences both our sense of well being and our physical health and longevity. Which means that the next time your spouse criticizes the time you spend online, you can reply, “Shut up, I’m trying to outlive you.” (Not that you would, I’m just saying.)
Incidentally, it is exactly comments like that one that could land you in divorce court–then again so could Facebook. The BBC recently reported that Facebook was implicated as a cause for 1 in 5 divorces in the UK. One would assume this is because of the ease of initiating an affair online, but it is also probable such affairs would never occur, if good company were as readily available at home, as online.
I have come to terms with the fact that I am a “connector”. No matter how many annoying modifications are made to my favorite social forum, I will probably still visit. Just as AT&T, who once told us to “Reach out and touch someone“, is now losing market share because other companies have come up with better ways for us to stay in touch, when Facebook loses the qualities which caused its popularity, something else will likely displace it. In the meantime, the rest of us will still go to Facebook when we need a lift–the face(book)lift.
1 in 13 people across the world use Facebook.
Facebook’s current population is roughly equal to that of the European Union.
48% of young people get their news from Facebook.
People talk to more people online, than they do in real-life.
The average user has 130 friends.
Extroverts have the most friends and the information on their profiles tends to be an accurate reflection of their personalities.
Shy people spend the most time on Facebook, but have tend to have fewer friends.
Women comment much more frequently than men.
Facebook’s heaviest-users (those under age 35) reportedly check their face book all day long, including while driving, while at work, while on vacation and even after sex.
The average user creates 90 pieces of content a month.
The genius behind de blog sends text for me to approve. It’s a short bio she’s put together for some promotional purpose. It tells a little about me and describes me as a wife & mother. It sounds good enough, but the labels “wife” & “mother” make me bristle a bit.
I am fortunate and happy to be both, but the labels are too small. In my head, I’m thinking whoever reads this description, will assume de blog is another site offering cookie recipes, crafts ideas or cleaning tips from the world of domestic utopia. Snooze-o-rama!
The truth is I could probably write a darn fine blog about that stuff, because it’s a big part of my world, but it isn’t who I am. Being labeled “Wife“ is okay, but I am so much more than just Beloved Soul Mate’s counterpart. The label “Mom” is the most prestigious title I’ve ever held, but it is only a description of a role I fill.
That isn’t to diminish the scale or importance of either role. Getting married was totally life changing, in a very good way. It was the most monumental change I’d experienced since graduating out of my A-cup, but it was nothing in comparison to starting a family. Whereas marriage had provided a sense of security, motherhood gave me a new sense of vulnerability. Wife & mother were both life-changing modifications to my identity.
Life changes often come with labels…divorced, widowed, newly hired, recently fired, lottery winner, senior citizen or cancer victim. I am fortunate to only have to contend with a few very desirable labels, yet I have a problem with them. Sometimes we allow the roles we fill, to overshadow who we are. When our roles or labels change, they may change what we do, but they shouldn’t change who we are. Changing roles can force us to reassess who we are, but we often wait until we are reminded nothing is forever, to finally do the things we’ve always wanted to do.
If you are a married, you are a wife because someone cast you as their romantic lead. You were chosen, because someone thought you’d be perfect for the part. Your YOU-ness was the single factor which beat out the competition. That’s absolutely fabulous, unless the show flops or your leading man bows out prematurely. Maybe he has a heart attack, or maybe just a change of heart. Maybe he decides to recast his family, and open a revival production of “Marriage” with a new leading lady. At least motherhood is forever… sorta.
Motherhood is planned obsolescence at it’s best. If you are lucky, you’ll raise children who will grow up and go away; to create the wonderful lives you dreamed for them. Isn’t that what you wanted? You’ll still feel like a mother, and you’ll still be acting the role of mother, but while you were backstage, your role was changed from star to supporting actress. You scramble for a new part, if you can muster a great deal of poise and grace, you’ll land the role of adored grandparent, instead of the part of the meddlesome mother-in-law.
End Act One.
After a divorce, an empty nest, an illness, or tragedy; we are forced to make peace with who we are. For many, this is the catalyst to make changes they hadn’t planned. They may be spurred to do things they never thought they would, or could do. This can provide the launching point of a new start or a completely different outlook. What a shame, we wait until we are forced, to explore our capabilities.
Wives and mothers often put their own lives on hold, believing their sacrifices are in the best interest of their family, but there is a tendency to parent as if we are an extension of our childrens’ lives. The reality is they are an extension of ours. Though taking care of others, can and should be rewarding, if we live only for those around us, we risk losing our sense of worth. Living with regard for everyone’s needs but your own, will cause you to not only to lose your identity, but also to become more-or-less invisible to those around you. For this reason, those who give the most are often the least appreciated, as their generosity is taken for granted.
If there were ever a case for selfishness, this is it. Being completely selfless can be detrimental to your well- being and that of those around you. Not only will you cultivate a family who fails to show appreciation and gratitude, but you will likely become resentful as you suppress your own feelings and desires. This isn’t a suggestion that women should abandon their families or other responsibilities to go pleasure-seeking, but without interests and passions you will become very poor company.
When you are inspired to try new things, take risks,pursue your dreams, or explore your passions, you will inspire your offspring to do the same. When you become exuberant, because you are feeding your own spirit, your family will enjoy the company of someone who is dynamic and exciting. When you have interests, your significant-other will find you as interesting, as you were when he chose you.
For many women, the later phases of life are when all the good stuff happens, but Act Two needn’t be better than Act One. Your children will not love you more, because you never missed a PTA meeting or always produced the whitest whites. You husband will not find you more intriguing because you never forget to fetch the dry cleaning. Martyrdom is so NOT sexy.
It’s your life and your script to write. Don‘t wait until after intermission to make it worthwhile.
A. Enough to kill Two and a Half Men
It has reached critical mass. I don’t even watch TV, and I’m suffering from too much Charlie. Charlie Sheen is far from being a teacher or role model, but I believe everyone can teach us something. Even though he’s no Dalai Lama, here are a few things we can learn from Sleezus, the prodigal son of Martin.
1. You needn’t be a rock star, to party like one.
The truth is, anyone can party like a rock star.
A Malibu villa is a nice venue, but any trashable hotel room will suffice. Rock star-scale partying is a thing best done in moderation. If you should pursue this activity with regularity, A. you may become convinced, as Charlie has, you are a rock star and B. you might begin to sound like one.
Unfortunately, you will not sound like an ever-cool McCartney or Clapton, instead you will sound like the addled and aged Ozzy Osbourne.
2. Goddesses are good company.
We all need people. Nice and lovely women make very good company, but when it comes to goddesses, there is an optimal number. A woman can surround herself with many goddesses, she will know when she has too many, as they are apt to become catty or backstabbing. (Goddesses are prone to jealousy.)
However since two goddesses + one man is a crowd, wise men will limit themselves to one goddess at a time. This is necessary, as true goddesses are not accustomed to sharing men. If you find your goddess doesn’t mind sharing, it is likely you have been duped by porn stars posing as goddesses. (Mistaking porn stars for goddesses is a common mistake men make.) Which brings us to the next lesson…
3. Sharing is nice, not easy.
Some things are easier to share than others. Movie popcorn, sandwiches and rich desserts are easy to share; people you sleep with and kids from a previous marriage–not so much. While having a buffet-choice of bed warmers might seem desirable, it presents a smorgasbord of complications–such as ex’s with anger-management issues. However, if one is prone to entertaining the affections of many women, hopefully, they are smart enough to learn the true nature of women, for instance, women DO kiss & tell. (See next lesson.)
4. Girls Talk.
One night she’s cooing in your ear calling you an Adonis and complimenting your Tiger’s blood prowess. Next morning, she’s angry you didn’t make coffee and is calling the press to tell them you’re an abusive drug-crazed jerk with an Adonis complex.
5. Tigers kill.
Apparently Tiger‘s blood isn‘t good for you either. Somewhere, in a lab funded by federal grant money, there are probably scientists trying to find out if there is a correlation between tiger blood and the aberrant behavior of those afflicted with Mad Cow disease. Because the number of men with tiger’s blood coursing through their veins is limited, more study is needed.
(My personal theory is Tiger’s Blood is street slang for TOO MUCH CRACK.)
6. Neither stars, nor stardom last forever.
Shooting stars burn out and fall to the ground–so do smoking & snorting stars.
7. It’s all about me.
The most important lesson of all: It doesn’t matter that you’re from a famous family, it doesn’t matter how many hit screen credits you have, or how many goddesses you can afford. “Whose your daddy” can’t make up for too many nonsensical rants on network television. At the end of the day, it’s all about who you are.
Okay, Charlie chaplain, your work here is done. I forgot my watch, but I think your 15 minutes of used-to-be famous is just about up. Be a good little rock star from Mars and run along to rehab so we can free up the telly for the next celebrity crash & burn.
You were born. Your entire life, you’ve been you. You will always be you, changed only by the things you experience. I have noticed as women mature, they fall into one of two categories. There are those who are remain the same and those who change.
In one group, are the un-evolved. Like lower members of an ecological chain, they are dependent on others for their survival. They rely on others for their validation, their emotional well-being and even their physical needs. In the other group are those who are constantly evolving. The very nature of life causes them to adapt and change. They are the ones for whom every setback is a reminder–only the fittest survive. Just as Darwin proposed, adaptation is necessary for survival in an ever-changing world.
None of us can anticipate what things which will derail our plans to have a perfect life. We cannot avoid having relationships, circumstances or life-as-we-know-it being redefined periodically. Despite this, we tend to live from day to day, assuming that tomorrow will be like today. The world is far from perfect, and we are rarely ready for the unexpected.
If the world and our lives were perfect, there would be no need for any of us to change. We would enjoy endless days of endless perfection. There would be nothing to cause our hair to grey, or brows to furrow. We might be as lovely at 90, as we were at 19, but who would we be? While being young forever may sound attractive, behaving like a child forever, is not.
Change is the great determiner. Change is a coin constantly being thrown into the air, sometimes falling in our favor, sometimes causing us to lose everything. Life’s struggles force changes; some good, some dreadful, but how they affect us is largely determined by our response to life.
Consider how different individuals are affected by hurt. For some being hurt is so final, they are unable to move past it. Like creatures found fossilized in tarpits, their emotional growth is frozen in time. They are destined to remain in the same place, trapped in the primordial goo of their own misery. Because struggle is an integral part of our evolution, every human will face things so painful, as to make them want to lay down and die. Even in small-brained creatures avoiding pain, is a basic instinctual response. But life is full of pain, the avoidance of pain is the rejection of life.
Those who avoid everything that poses risk, are destined to live small lives with limited relationships. Bogged down with self-absorption, they do not develop the ability to empathize with or take interest in the lives of others. They desperately need others to help them live their lives, but because their relationships are parasitical, they are unable to sustain healthy relationships. Members of this phylum are characterized by their tendencies to be overly-sensitive, reacting to even minor things. They are resentful of others who aren’t miserable, because they are convinced only they have faced adversity.
But survival isn’t for sissies, survival is the legacy of those who choose to be victors instead of victims. For them being hurt is a challenge to forgive, to forget, to heal or to just keep moving forward. Just as those who work out become stronger over time, those who work to recover from hurt, develop a stronger sense of self and the character which will equip them for future challenges. It’s a no-pain, no gain equation. Finding themselves trapped in seemingly impossible situations, they will do their best to grow wings, fins or whatever is necessary to get out.
Everyone goes through stuff. Some are defeated by it, 0thers are strengthened by it. The most interesting and resilient women are those who have gotten through hard things by whatever means they had. Ask one who has summoned amazing strength, courage or grace, in the face of adversity how they did it, and they will likely say they had no choice.
What they really mean is they chose to survive.
Deb’s Note: The list of things that can disrupt our lives is endless–abuse, addiction, infidelity, cruel illnesses, untimely deaths, financial problems, troubled children…the list goes on and on. This piece is dedicated to the women who have found their way back from the edge of extinction.
There are two kinds of women, those who become less interesting the longer you know them, and the rest of us. When I began writing this, I had intended to talk about why some women improve with age, but there was simply too much to write. I will be revisiting the subject soon.
I’m still a sucker for the fresh edginess of pop culture and I’m glad, because I dread the deplorable age when I no long “get it.” I realize most vestiges of pop culture are commercial tactics designed to make me desire things I don’t need–like “skinny” jeans, Angry Birds, or the Droid app that reminds me the dog is due for a shot.
Even so, sometimes I am transformed into a mindless consumer, which is why the first time I saw the Shepard Fairey-designed Fender Telecaster, I wanted it. For at least seven minutes of my life, those counter-culture graphics on the creamy blond wood were enough to convince me I needed it. The only thing that kept me from throwing down the cash, was the bothersome reminder I don’t play electric guitar.
From the first time, I saw the image of Andre the Giant’s face teamed with the word Obey, I was intrigued. That single career-launching image, had a head-scratching brilliance. Was it about tyranny? Authority? Big Brother? Was it a call to obey or rebel? Pathetically, the message (Question Authority) Zzzzz….was no more original, than the image used to convey it.
That first image wasn’t the work of Shepard Fairey, but a photocopy of a newspaper ad. Nevertheless, it was broadcast into our collective psyche, eventually growing into fame, a brand name & millions for Fairey. Retracing his own steps, Fairey continued to produce designs with social and/or political messages, the best known being the iconic image of Obama, used in the 2008 presidential campaign.*
I like Fairey’s use of imagery, but the messages are often ambiguous–like a series of t-shirts he designed for skate-punk outfitter Zumiez. I found these images more visually appealing, than any of Fairey’s previous work. They they made my eyes happy, but also made my gut squirm. His art is NOTHING, if not activist, but what is he saying?
These shirts used images pulled from communist China’s propaganda machine–the Mao years. A beautiful female suggesting The Red Guard, was as attractive to me, as it was repulsive. It seemed to imbue communism with a sort of hipness. The success of these images depends on a necessary level of ignorance–the exploitation of youth who don’t know any better, just like the kind required by the oppressive regime that first used the propaganda. Fortunately for Fairey, most of the would-be buyers of these t-shirts were born after the death and torture-filled reign of Mao Tse Tung. Then again, so was Fairey.
The confusing nature of these t-shirts, which glamorize a tragic era in human history, offend my sensibilities. They ignore an ugly reality. They are as disturbing to me, as would be a t-shirt imprinted with a slogan like “Auschwitz–More than a Vacation”.
I’m not sure I understand Fairey’s politics, but I’m not sure he does either. Like a modern-day Warhol, this former street artist has made a career using the work of others to feed himself. That would make him a wunderkind poster boy for egalitarian socialism, and would also explain his tendency to make communism look cool. He has taken some shots at the evils of capitalism, but says of is own commercial ventures, he is just working “within the system”. Like the less astute members of his demographic, he seems to want to be able to keep his own money, while benefittting from the labors of others.
Nevertheless, it seems Fairey has realized it’s easier to take from others, than to watch while others take from you. He felt bullied when he was sued for using images not his own, but had no problem suing others for using copies of his stuff. He seems to forget that in the Marxist ideal, everything belongs to everybody.
Hey Shepard, making money off other people’s stuff is a violation of copyright laws. Didn’t they teach that at the bougie Rhode Island School of Design?
Problem is it’s hard to be a successful capitalist, when other people are trying to socialize your images. His economic and political ideas are as blurred as the ideas behind his artwork–with one exception. Fairey has a released a series of “green” images, because he says he’s worried about global warming. It is apparent he believes in recycling, at least when it comes to the artwork of others.
I take no issue with art as activism, and I like Fairey’s manipulation of pattern and imagery, but it isn‘t original. Other street artists, like Marc Ecko & Keith Haring have succeeded in taking their art from the street to the bank. But those artists, who were as socially conscious as Fairey, used their own ideas not only to make money, but to support the causes they believed in. (That’s what evil capitalists do.)
Obey Plagiarist Shepard Fairey http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm
Andre The Giant has a Posse http://perdidojournal.blogspot.com/2008/04/andr-giant-has-posse.html
Iggy Pop talks to Shepard Fairey http://www.interviewmagazine.com/art/shepard-fairey/
Review: Shepard Fairey http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/03/shepard-fairey.html
Rebel without Claws? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/arts/design/18fair.html?_r=1
Researching via the internet, is always more interesting, than researching at a library. Inevitably, there are interesting distractions along the way. I was doing research on the subject of a future blog, when I ended up on one of those wild Google chases. One minute, I’m making helpful notes, the next I’m reading an article about why women have embraced waxing themselves bare–as in Brazilian bare.
The article was written by a professional in the field of psychology. It asked the question “WHY?”
A very good question. Anyone who has never experienced a Brazilian wax, has to ask, “Why?!?”.
Any anyone who has had the experience of laying on a table for hot wax and hair-pulling should be asking the same question.
I’m not a psychologist, but the answer is simple. It is because men have eyes.
Women have embraced it because it makes them feel better. It makes them feel better, because it makes them believe they look better. Men are initially attracted to women because of what their eyes tell them is attractive–the beauty eye-deal.
(This makes me wonder what we would look like if men couldn’t see. Since natural eyebrows, lip fuzz and body fat are more tactilely interesting than a uniformly thin and smooth body, one has to wonder what our beauty aesthetic would be in a world of blind men. Needless to say, make-up and tanning would be obsolete.)
Me suspects the bare-down-there look was popularized by the porn industry, but no matter, it’s just one of many very bizarre or extreme things women do to mold themselves to the beauty eye-deal.
Popular now, are things like having botulism or any number of substances injected into the face. We can have fat surgically removed or d-cups surgically implanted. We are told it’s the fault of the media for propagating unrealistic ideals, but are they really to blame?
Before you answer, let me remind you this isn’t new. Women have always done very bizarre things to make themselves more attractive to men. In modern society, in primitive tribes, in remote places, and in ancient history; there has always been some unnatural standard to which women insanely aspired–the Asian practice of foot-binding comes to mind, but it’s one of many.
Throughout time, women who were starving wanted to appear well-fed, while women who were well-fed, starved themselves to be thin. Today, women spend money to cultivate bronzy tans, in contrast to the age when women ate arsenic to achieve pallid white skin. Curly hair is straightened, straight hair is curled. Long hair is cropped, short hair is augmented with extensions. Thousands are spent on everything from eyelash extensions to acrylic nails.
In other cultures, beauty is enhanced by body modifications like tattoos & scarification. Nostrils, earlobes, lips and even necks are unnaturally stretched to make women more desirable. The beauty practices of other cultures may seem strange to us, but are they really any more unnatural than what we do? Even some of the things we wear, like high-heels and thong underwear, are indicative of the unnatural discomfort we will endure to please men.
In contrast, to what women will do, the list of the unnatural things men do to make themselves attractive is much shorter. What do men do that is unnatural? Shave and wear clothes. That’s about it.
We are constantly conforming to male ideals. Interestingly, the most misogynistic of these, to most of the the Western World, is the burqa, which is said to hide a woman’s outward beauty, so that only her true beauty can be seen. That’s a refreshing idea, but I’m not ready to suggest we all shroud-up to swap vanity for virtues. Nevertheless, it seems to me the entire collective of women across time and hemispheres needs a reminder, we are already beautiful.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
A woman walks into a bar. A good-looking guy throws a line at her, and asks if he can buy her a drink…she thinks he’s cute. A short time later, she’s giving him her phone number. Several months later the woman is asking, why it always takes so long to realize we’re with the wrong person.
I hope you weren’t waiting for a punch-line, because the only clever line in this story is whatever one he used to make her believe she’d found Mr. Right.
Her question is supposed to be rhetorical, but I can’t dismiss it. Why is that people fall in love, ride the big kahuna of emotions, only to eventually wake up disillusioned???
There can be many reasons, but one is the haphazard manner in which we date. We use less discretion looking for Mr. Right, than buying milk. There are lots of different kinds of milk in the store, fat milk, skinny milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk. Milk is milk, unless you have an aversion to milk from goats, milk from soybeans or milk full of hormones. When we go out for milk, we have a specific kind in mind.
It was love at first sight. I should have looked twice.
Love at first sight is the ultimate in romantic fantasy and foolishness. We screen eligible candidates with our eyes, only the attractive make the cut. If they look good enough, we give them a chance. We make small talk, realize they are friendly, clever, smart or witty, and agree to see them again. It makes no sense.
Imagine the bar scene where a woman walks up to a table of well-dressed men and begins asking them questions like:
How do you feel about divorced women with nearly grown children?
Why did your wife divorce you?
Are you reliable?
How long have you held your current job?
What do you believe in?
Do you have a history of infidelity?
Substance abuse or alcoholism?
Trouble getting along with others?
A police record?
Do you always tell the truth?
Can you provide a list of references?
As they answer the questions, one-by-one they are eliminated, leaving only those who meet our criteria. This would be a sensible approach to finding Mr. Right, but we’d never go for it, because eventually the only one left would be a less-attractive guy with a sincere smile. We’d figure it was a wrong result, and continue to look for an attractive person for whom we would instantly fall deeply.
Love at first sight isn’t unrealistic, it happens all the time. We meet someone, fall for them, and realize later, we fell for them before we had any idea who we’d fallen for. Only after we become involved in the less idyllic details of each others’ lives, are true character and personality revealed. By then we are often so emotionally-invested, we stick around to protect our investment.
Here’s the problem. We know what we want in a vague way and we want to believe it‘s there, even when we know better. Along the way, we overlook small clues and make allowances for things we really don’t like.
Consider my friend who had found a wonderful guy. He had everything. He was an attractive successful lawyer. He was a great catch, but she wasn’t happy. His preoccupation with his cases, often made him unavailable or short-tempered. Whenever he was grumpy, he’d use his work load as an excuse. It seemed like a reasonable explanation. She overlooked what she didn’t like, because she SO wanted him to be Mr. Right. It took more than two years for her to realize it wasn’t his case-load, it was his personality. She knew she wanted an attractive man, someone smart, someone with a good career, someone with whom she would have a stable future. Her very-eligible bachelor offered everything she wanted, except good company.
A pleasant personality should have been her first priority, but wanting “it” to work caused her to overlook the obvious. She had left a few important things off her shopping list. Having a detailed list may seem unromantic, but looking for a partner is certainly more important than buying groceries. You think you know exactly what you’re after, just as Beloved Soul Mate does when he goes to the grocery store for me. Experience has taught us both, he is more successful with a list that doesn’t allow for interpretation. Unless you see no difference between buttermilk and chocolate milk, you need a list that is specific.
Instead of general ideas, think about the specific traits and qualities that you need to make a long-term relationship a success. If you are looking to marry, then why would you waste time with someone who isn’t likely to propose. If you like to travel, why would you date someone who can’t afford to travel with you? If spending time with your family is important, you have to disqualify anyone who doesn’t genuinely like hanging out with the people you value. It may seem cold and calculating, but sitting down to make a list of things you want and need from your next relationship, could keep you from bringing home the wrong thing.
No matter how flawed humanity is, I remain a huge fan. I see our quirky individualism as part of The Divine tapestry. Because of this, I respect the opinions & morality of people whose views may oppose my own, and though I have standards by which I try to live, I don’t like to impose my standard on others with different values or beliefs. This declaration is necessary, because today’s topic requires me to tread lightly. In the news is the issue of whether or not the government should cut funding to Planned Parenthood.
It must be acknowledged that talking about Planned Parenthood, is talking about sexual & reproductive issues. If you are faithful reader of de blog, you may have guessed I’m not uptight about sex, nevertheless, because anything related to sex is colored by our morality, it can be a highly sensitive issue to others.
NEWS FLASH: People have sex!
They have since the beginning of time, they will continue until the end of time. Planned Parenthood serves some of those people, but unfortunately, within their client base are a large number of people who would be better off not having sex. That‘s not a moral judgment, it’s an observation.
A long time ago, in a lesser zip code of Oakland, CA, I worked at a home for unwed mothers. I’ve seen girls as young as 11 struggling with the decision of whether or not to become mothers. I’ve seen pregnancies that were tragic from their conception. I’ve seen the stereotypical unwed black teen, but I’ve also seen girls from respected families hiding until their pregnancy was brought to term. I’ve seen girls pregnant by family members. My earliest roots were Catholic, but after seeing hard reality, I became convinced of the need for alternatives to pregnancy.
Before Planned Parenthood, teens had unprotected sex in the back of the barn, the backseat of a vehicle, or any other place they could find. Back in the day, an unwed mother was sent away until the baby was born. The baby was put up for adoption or sometimes raised by its grandparents.
Teens still have sex behind barns and in backseats. Even with readily available birth control, girls still get pregnant. We no longer send those girls away, and many of their babies are mostly raised by grandparents. That’s not the worst thing, as anyone who has been a parent, is better suited to raising a child, than someone who still is one. Though Planned Parenthood has made birth control and abortions readily available, they haven’t succeeded in significantly changing the outcome of the situation.
What has changed is society’s attitude toward unwed mothers. Americans may not be crazy about the regularity of young girls getting pregnant, before they are ready to be parents. We don’t rejoice for teens who inadvertently trade the carefree years of their youth, for the unrelenting responsibility of parenthood, but it would seem that even those who aren’t ready to become grandparents are reluctant to have their grandchildren aborted. Whether pro-choice or pro-life, most of us are pro-family when the issue comes home.
In the rhetoric of why we mustn’t cut funding to Planned Parenthood, is the projection it will result in something like a half million more abortions a year. These projections are estimates, substantiated only by speculation, but one must wonder why the nation’s largest promoter and provider of abortions is opposed to seeing more of them. After all, weren’t a woman’s right to choose and population control the foundation of Planned Parenthood’s doctrine? Perhaps it has more to do with market share, than the welfare of women. Abortion is a very lucrative business, Planned Parenthood, a federally subsidized “non-profit” agency made more than $100 million in profits last year.
Another argument, against cutting funding is Planned Parenthood provides many services besides birth control and abortion, services for males, such as screening for testicular cancer and testing for STD‘s. I’d like to see the statistics, because I’ve been to Planned Parenthood, the waiting rooms are mostly full of young women. When guys are there, they are usually holding the hand of a girl who looks frightened. Their waiting rooms are not full of guys lining up for testicular cancer screen tests. Guys do go there for STD testing, usually only after a girlfriend has told them it might be prudent.
Perhaps the biggest loss if Planned Parenthood’s funding is decreased would be the easy accessibility to birth control. If this is our priority, it would be more economically efficient to subsidize contraceptives, than agencies which supply them. Those who oppose funding cuts say this would increase the number of unwanted pregnancies among members of the lower socio-economic classes and within minority populations, because traditionally Planned Parenthood has served these populations. That might seem noble, but to those familiar with Planned Parenthood’s roots, it reeks of racism.
Early leader of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger believed that babies born to minorities should be slowly eliminated to decrease the blight of racial impurity on America. Are the children of poor minority mothers less valid than those born to others? She believed in population control and a form of eugenics–which favored the distillation and purification of race. She believed Hitler had it right. She was involved with the shameful chapter in American history, known as The Negro Project. Sanger and her cohorts, thought they knew best which births most needed control.
Though Planned Parenthood has tried to distance itself from it’s hideous racist roots, the agency still targets minorities and the impoverished. Defenders of the agency, say that cutting funding will hurt women. Which women? There is nothing noble or benevolent about an agency which makes the greatest share of its income from those who can least afford it.
No matter our views on sex, birth control or abortion, we have the freedom to choose. We each choose what we believe is right for us. Even without being subsidized, there will always be clinics that provide birth control, testing for STD’s, reproductive health services and abortions. We know about Planned Parenthood because it’s the largest abortion provider in the United States, but there are many others. Cutting funding to this agency will not eliminate it.
As I see it, this planet has nothing worthwhile without the people of all kinds who populate it. Babies were meant to be born–even those that don’t come with a silver spoon in their mouths. Race and economics aside, every child deserves a future, because greatness is not born of race, wealth or status. We will never know what genius, creativity or social contributions we missed because of those who went unborn. Perhaps, the economic genius, who would have had the brilliance to solve some of our current economic issues, went unborn. If Americans continue to attempt funding everything because of high ideals, while disregarding the reality of economics, none of our children will face a bright future. It is time to cut funding not just to Planned Parenthood, but to every program that no longer makes sense.