Remember life before social media and selfies?

Recently I got into a brief conversation with someone on Facebook about selflies.  After I made the statement: ” Please stop taking puckered lip selfies everyplace you go,  God knows we have enough of them already.”  The young women replied by telling me that a lot of these people are lonely, a lot of them take these pictures to help themselves feel less lonely.  I can see her point to some extent.  But the Duck-lipped-fawn-eyed pose the women do,  and the Smolder-faced-squinting-glare that men make is for lack of a better term… Silly. These people are taking the same picture over and over, day after day, and sometimes hour after hour. It seems part of these peoples brains must not be functioning properly to think that this is normal. Most of these pictures either take place in a bathroom medicine cabinet mirror, or are just at the end of the persons reach, so they are so up close you can not even tell the persons location. So clearly these pictures are not about “Look where I am today” – They are more likely about “Look at me, Like me, do you think I’m Attractive?” 

When this started, I just dismissed this behavior as  pure teenage vanity and pop culture.  This was something that just 5 years ago people were not doing this at all, it started with teenagers (Who by the way are not doing it anymore).   Remembering my teenage years I can acknowledge that I did all kinds of dumb things. I also took part in some really stupid events, and had some really stupid ideals about life. So it was easy for me to over look these Selfies as things kids were into. This like most things teenagers are into would surely only last for a few months until it was deemed not cool anymore. Then it would be sure to pass from existence, with only an occasional joking reference to remember it by, much like the mullet. 

(I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I did not have a camera phone or the internet when I was a teenager to document my stupidity.  My teenage behavior only exists in my memories and the memories of a few of my friends.)

What started as a bit of teenage culture has turned into an epidemic. This is no longer teenage girls looking for approval and compliments,  or teenage boys showing off their fit stomachs, not  anymore…  This has turned into something that these teenagers parents have started doing. These are grown men and women, And they are not just doing it occasionally. So what is this really all about?    

 

I would make the case that if this is rooted in some sort of loneliness, that a lot of these cases of loneliness are actually self-inflicted, and are a direct result of social media addiction, as there is nothing really social about social media at all. Of all of your Friends, and Followers, how many of them do you actually see in person, or do things with outside in the real world? The continuing breakdown of society year after year seems to just grow stronger, and it is being fueled by cheap and easily accessible technology. As we delve further and further into digital life,and are further and further removed from organic life where will we end up 10 years from now?  We are already replacing cashiers with machines, things like this removes us from interacting with other humans, and intern removes us from our own humanity. 

 

There can be a lot to be said about this cheap, easily accessible, and over-saturate world of technology being a form of brain washing,  while our governments and the leaders of the world  fight wars, drain our resources, and refuse to listen to the people of the citizens of the world, we find complacency in the escape we make into the  fantasy worlds of: social media, world of warcraft, and, netflix.  80 percent of world lives in Poverty, with no hope, and no quality of life.  But hey…. Here is a free phone to keep you from thinking about your situation.   The rest of the world is made of people who actually can pay their bills , put a little in the bank for a rainy day or a family vacation.  while the .1 percent live in God like wealth, with 10 families that control the entire global economy. People do not even know how to make eye contact anymore, or have a conversation without a screen involved, or leave their homes without technology in their pockets.  So how on earth are these people going to stand up for change, and make a difference.  How are people who are so dependent on technology ever going to be able to be away from it long enough to make their voices heard? (okay I am getting a bit off subject now,  Ill try to come back to this in a later post)

I see so many children trying to get their parents attention while their parent sits on their phone ignoring them.

This problem goes far deeper then me being annoyed by people taking pictures of themselves. I love technology, I love video games I even love being able to have silly debates on facebook, or writing this blog that probably no one is reading.But, I do not let any of those things replace life, real experiences, or real friendships. When I leave the house, I leave my phone in the car. When I go to sleep I turn the phone off.  And guess what nothing bad has happened! I haven’t missed anything important, and there was no emergency I was unable to respond to. I worry about people , I worry about humans, I am not trying to put anyone down , I am not trying to attack anyone.  There are people I have known personally for years,  that I know for a fact  have created their own loneliness through media addiction, not the other way around. I am not here to judge anyone, as I am far from a perfect human being. However we do not allow people to lay in bed all day when they are depressed, we recognize the problem and do what we can to help them. Selfie addiction has been proven to be an OCD like addiction behavior that can lead to diminishing quality of life, depression, anxiety, obsession, eating disorders, exhaustion, and in some very rare cases even suicide attempts. Why is it not okay for a depressed person to lay in bed all day, but it’s okay for a media addicted person to not be able to take step without checking their phone or taking a picture of themselves? This is not about Self portraits. People have been taking self portraits since film cameras, and painting them before cameras even existed. This Selfie issue I have, is not about if you take a picture of yourself doing something fun, or with a friend. It is about the people who are doing it non stop every hour. This is not healthy, and someone needs to wake them up. I have a “friend” that has posted over 2000 selfies in a 3 month period of time. There is a new picture of himself just about every hour yesterday including one of him during the middle of a medical exam. I am sorry but this goes far beyond loneliness. We have interventions for alcoholics don’t we?

 

Asheville, North Carolina.

Some Awesome Things about Asheville North Carolina that just occurred to me while I was working on my garden.

Asheville - Downtown at dusk

Asheville – Downtown at dusk

-Growing your own food, and having a garden is just completely normal.  People don’t do it because it’s trendy,  it’s just the way things are.  Most likely your garden is big enough to feed more then your family, and you are probably trading your tomatoes with your neighbors peppers.

-You actually know the names of your neighbors and they know your names,  as well as those of your pets. They bring home your dog when he gets out and with a smile ,  and you have a pleasant conversation about how muggy the summer is over a glass sweet ice tea.

-Cage free, and farm raised with love in open air, and green pastures is just normal.  It’s not a catch phrase,  and it does not cost more money. 

-Even if you are a city dweller you probably have Chickens in your backyard and no one even thinks twice about it.

-People seem to be in no hurry to go any place fast, When someone asks you how your day is, they are probably genuinely interested in the answer. 

-Shopping carts are called buggies, when referring to a group of people you say “ya’ll” and going for a swim is called “taking a dip”

– A beat up rusty old 1960’s dodge pick up truck turns way more heads then a Ferrari.  And the people who do look at the Ferrari generally say just 1 thing ” Must be from out of town”

-Everyone has a dog, everyone takes their dog with them every place they go, and dogs are allowed in almost every store in the area including the local mall.
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-What are breast implants and collagen injections? the women here are naturally beautiful, and we wouldn’t want them any other way.
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-People keep saying that bees are dying all around the country, yet when I look out my window I can see at least 100
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-when a product says local on it,  most likely a  farmer or a hunter brought it in just before the store opened, and it came from within 20 miles.

-Overalls are the new black.

-Almost Everyone is “just gettin’ by” do to a complete lack of infrastructure for just about any viable revenue generating business model,  but people here make up for it by sticking together, helping each other out, and having amazing parties where everyone is invited.
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-What do you you mean you don’t make your own moonshine and beer?

-During the summer their is a massive festival just about every weekend , I suspect this is to create warm memories to help  get through another long cold winter.
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-People who eat pork and believe in God can often be found at one of Asheville’s fine eateries having a pleasant lunch with an Agnostic Vegan and no one is judging the other.

-People are more likely to build a special wood pile for the giant spiders that invade their home to live in rather then step on them.

– People are very musical here , Almost everyone plays something and play it well. Even if its an old washboard with a spoon.
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-Almost everyone looks at least 10 years younger then they actually are

-If you don’t want to shave, you damn well don’t have to! (this goes for both Men and Women)
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-People build fences to keep their animals in, not to keep their neighbors out.

Growing up, Moving on, Letting go

Today my oldest son graduates from High School and the complexity of emotions is one I find very hard to sort out.

I met Colin when he had just turned 11 years old.  He barely came up to my chest, he had curly long hair and sad eyes.  Colin’s Dad has been killed in a car accident just a few years back.  Over the years Colin and I have had lots of ups and downs. I think that is to be expected.  I made some mistakes with him, and we have both hurt each other.  But no matter what we are family, and I will miss him more then I knew I could miss someone.
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His mother and I are California natives, Colin and his Brother were born in a hospital overlooking the sea. So the Ocean, and the Califonria life style is in all of our blood to some extent. Because of some continuing behavior problems in 2009 we decided to moved him and his younger brother away from the fast-paced life of Orange Country. With the idea we could give them a better childhood if we raised them in a low pressure, low stress, and more organic environment. I will always wonder if this was the right choice. (Isn’t that the curse of a linear existence? never knowing which path to take, and then looking back and wondering if you should have taken a different one?) So we moved to the mountain town of Asheville North Carolina.  The cost to me personally was it would mean I would give up a big salary job to spend the last 5 years barely able to scrape together an income.  This would drive a wedge between his mother and me, that has just gotten deeper over the years. I do not have regrets over my sacrifice,  but  I wish I could have given him so much more, If I could have just found a way to just made a little extra money I think of all the adventures I could have taken him on, and all the memories we would share together for the rest of our lives. but I hope what little he got from me is enough to help him in the world.    You see Colin has big dreams, and he is just itching to go out on his own and slay dragons.  He wants to see whats out there,  and no matter how much his mother and I tell him that he can stay with us, and go to college.  He just wants to leave.  His soul is much like mine was at that age. Always looking for the better life, always looking for the big adventure, always  thinking life will be better if…  For me it never turned out that way,  if I had learned to appreciate what I had around me rather then looking for more I would have had a much happier life.  But you can’t take your wisdom and make it someone else’s experience.  I have always encouraged him to dream big, to set no limits, and to live life on his terms and his rules. And just because I never slayed any Dragons, does not mean he wont. 

He wants to return to California,  and I can not blame him.  It’s a very appealing life style for a young man.  I miss it myself, The ocean, the culture, and jobs.  But I still have 1 more child in the house, and for now its probably best for him if we stay put. 

Colin will most likely live with his Grandmother on his Fathers side.  A women who has made it a point to belittle me, injure me, and assault me every chance she gets.  A women who has showed me more cruelty then any other human being.  She once told me that the boys had a father and they were not allowed to call me that.  After driving them 7 hours to a family Christmas in West Virginia, she greeted me with “it’s to bad their real dad could not be here”.  , Once while visiting her house, and teaching Colin to shave she walks in and says ” Its to bad his real daddy didn’t get to teach him that”. These things echo in my mind every time I see her. Never once a thank you, never once a your doing a great job.  I try to understand her pain of losing her son, and seeing me in his place.  I try so hard to forgive her,  maybe someday I will be able to be a big enough person to be able to.  After all not being able to forgive someone really just hurts us, it does not hurt the person who has wronged us. This is a women with an abundance of wealth, and she uses it for control,  and now in these moments I wish for nothing more then that same wealth so that I can provide it to Colin out of the kindness of my heart,  with no expectations, no manipulations, and no control.

You always hear about the things parents give up for there children,  but you don’t often hear the stories of what step parents give up for their children.  There are days I have so much resentment over my complete lack of quality of life.  But at the end of the day, I know this is the best place these kids could have been, even if at times they hate it.  But this blog  is not about what I have lost, because I have gained so much just by having Colin in my life.  It’s funny how much you can learn from a child if your just willing to talk to them like an adult. 

 

Now just before his 18th birthday,  and the day of his graduation. I will stand next to his grandmother and smile for his sake.  As I look  up at Colin ( as he is now at least 2 inches taller then me). I recognize how proud of him I am.  He is handsome, clean cut, fit, remarkably intelligent.  He marches to his own drum, he does not follow the herd, he does not follow trends.  He is an incredible musician, and an amazing artist.  He reads more books in a month then most people do in a year. Things come so easy to him from athletics to art. He is kind, and he is in no way your typical teenager. He is a much better person then I was at his age.   I will miss you, and you will always have a home with me, no matter where your travels take you. I love you so deeply, I wish I could have been able to tell you that so much more.
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May you be guided by your passion, may you stop and smell every rose, stop and watch every sunset. May you stand on top of the highest mountain and yell as loud as you can, may you love, and fall in love, and LIVE, may you see people that love you for who they are, and be capable of returning that love.  May you never let life harden you as it has me. And as someone else said” May you dance like no one is watching”

 

Congratulations Nathaniel Colin Hall class of 2014, I am so proud of you.
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