The Cautions of Censorship

I’m a writer, which means I’m very much pro the concept of “freedom of the press”. I’m aware that this freedom only goes so far. For instance, generally speaking private organizations can do whatever the hell they want and there’s nothing you can do about it from a freedom of speech point of view. This freedom really only applies on a governmental level. The government isn’t shouldn’t be policing citizens on their opinions. The idea that governmental officials can get the false narrative of “fake news” out there is appalling to me. This should be more appropriately titled “opinion news” or “biased news”, and both sides are guilty of only showing the cards that best fits the narrative that they want to put out there.

The notion of censorship bothers me. I write because I want to share my thoughts and opinions. I’m always careful to let people know that what I’m saying is opinions, not necessarily fact. I’m a blogger; I’m here to write opinions based on the facts as I see them. When faced with a real possibility of a slide away from my freedom to write as I wish, I do get scared. I see this shift happening, and it really scares me. When the press is deemed “the enemy of the state”, bloggers and writers are probably not that far behind so long as they don’t “fall in line” as they should. I wasn’t cut out for following blindly; my parents made me that way.

Social media is getting more and more… loose… with their ban hammers. I don’t like the thought that you’re one wrong meme away from Facebook jail. Do I find some things on social media offensive? Sometimes things cross a line that I don’t feel comfortable with. Do I report it or even do more than just scrolling on past it? No. Because whether or not I find it offensive or agree with it, they still have the right to post it. As long as they aren’t specifically calling for mass murders on people or specific groups of people, I don’t see a problem with it. If people want to post racist, homophobic things, then that just lets me see the people I don’t want to associate with. It isn’t anyone’s job to police them. If people want to post awful things on social media, let the real world deal with it.

For instance, a person posts a racist thing on social media and then gets fired. If you were dumb enough to post the thing to begin with, you deserve the real life consequences of your actions. I think the moment you start censoring social media this way, you make it harder for us to let social Darwinism sort itself out. People are going to be racist homophobes; banning their content on social media just emboldens them. It makes them a martyr of their hateful causes. I want to see who people really are, which is the benefit of the cesspool we know as social media.

Let’s ease up on talking about what offends us and work towards teaching the next generations to be better than us. That’s the only real way that we are going to change the world. Not by being anonymous keyboard warriors that hide behind a false sense of security in our blanket forts.

Advertisements

Lessons Learned from the First Debate

I’m not going to lie. I tried really hard to watch the debate. At some point after making a crack about how Corey Booker looked confused on stage and Beto reminded me of an old Napoleon Dynamite, I realized that suddenly Rachel Maddow was on stage. Apparently memes on Reddit were far more interesting than what was going on stage. Why? First of all, I didn’t know half of the people up there anyways and honestly even after the debate I couldn’t tell you who they were. And that is the biggest problem the Democrats are going to have right now. I’m a prime target for both of these parties: An independent. If I have no clue who you are putting in front of me, I’m not going to see why I should vote for them. Then, you are going to lose because most true independents are going to have that same struggle.

Problem #2 that the Democrats are going to have? They are going to end up forcing Elizabeth Warren on us as the candidate, because they learned absolutely nothing from the Clinton/Trump election. I don’t care how progressive you want to look, she is going to be one of the worst people to put up there. She tries too hard to be “average” while also showboating. She’s not likeable. The whole “Native American” thing will be the only thing people talk about. Trump will win against Warren, I have no doubt in my mind about that. And part of that may be because she’s a woman, but it’s mostly because she’s not a very likeable one.

I do hope that tonight’s debate ends up less like a battle to talk over each other and avoid questions and more about learning who these candidates are. Yes, I’m particularly interested because from what I’ve seen there are 2 potential candidates up to debate tonight that I would actually consider voting for. Which is big news because I’ve never voted for a Democrat in a presidential election. Though, to be honest I’ve never voted for a Republican either. (I told you, true independent.) I hope that the candidates I’m rooting for tonight show me something good, something that will make me look closer at them. If not, I’ll have a hard decision to make next year. Because I can tell you right now that I still refuse to vote for Trump. In fact, everything that I’ve seen during his presidency makes me even more unlikely to vote for him. But I struggle with the idea of voting for someone because of their party. I’m an idealist; I want to vote for someone I can believe in, someone that doesn’t make me regret that decision.

Why not Trump? My thoughts on him don’t come from the news or are based in the Russian investigation. Just reading his Twitter account makes me want to have nothing to do with him. Then the fact that everyone kept talking about how “Obama was an embarrassment to the country and no one respects us because of him”, but yet (unless someone has evidence otherwise) no foreign leader publicly said that Obama was suffering from “mental retardation” either. Does the foreign leader actually think that? Maybe, but he most likely did it to get a rise out of Trump… which shouldn’t have worked but it did. That’s not a president; that’s a celebrity running their mouth on social media. Something that apparently the far right hate unless it’s one of them. Then it’s “He’s not afraid to say what he’s thinking”.

In an ideal world, a (good) Republican would stand up and run against Trump. We’d see the debate. I’d vote in the Republican primary if that happened. I want to see someone run that has experience, who doesn’t tweet out his every (and often infantile) thought. I don’t normally buy into expressions like “we’re one tweet away from war”, but I think that’s an irrational fear that’s growing more realistic every day. I want to have a candidate that actually makes me excited to go out and vote, not just go through the motions because of “civic duty, blah blah blah”. Especially as a woman, when people guilt you into it by saying “they fought so hard for your right to vote…” I want someone that I can believe in, that will make a positive difference in the world. Someone who’s a good role model for my kids, because the president is someone who represents us as a country. And we want that to be a positive, strong representation.

If You Don’t Like It, It Doesn’t Exist

If that really worked, I could pinpoint things on my body that I don’t like and it will magically fix itself. Oh, the power of ignorance.

It’s something we tend to do though, isn’t it? We don’t agree with it or don’t like it, so we shut our minds unable to accept the actual reality of the situation. It’s a truly amazing thing, right? Except, it’s not. That’s not called “wishful thinking” or “ignorance”; it’s called “delusion”. And there seems to be an abundance of delusion going around.

This isn’t just about our President, who seems to ooze delusion. Maybe that’s the trickle down effect I keep hearing so much about these days. I know, I tend to never so crudely say things like this about politicians. But delusion is a lot more dangerous than hypocrisy. When you spout hypocrisy, people can see it easier. I don’t think people buy into their own hypocrisy quite as much as they swear by their delusions. That’s what’s so scary about it.

When any politician dismisses any negative news about themselves, it’s delusion that drives them. When they bash polls as rigged or fake news, they are being delusional. For instance, when Trump bashes the primary network that backs him for the polls numbers they show as “Fake News”, it’s pure delusion. What news isn’t fake to him? Alex Jones’ InfoWars? Breitbart? IE: actual fake news? You know who else gets that delusional over their existence? Tyrants do.

I’ve never used this harsh of a language when talking about the president. Mostly because as criminal as I found him to be (and I thought Hilary was suspect as well, so don’t give me that “you’re just a lemming, dumb liberal” crap), I just thought he was too… “not there” to really be an issue. He wasn’t an actual racist; he just was dumb enough to allow himself to be surrounded by them. He doesn’t want to be president, he just wants the title. He sold himself to the American people and people buy into it. Fortunately for me, I’ve never been one to like salespeople or trust them any more than those “Windows is closing and wants to give you a refund” phone call.

But when delusion gets tossed in the mix. When there is a real fear to those who write their opinions, or even worse write the truth, that they will get shut down or blacklisted. Or even jailed for whatever reason they can. I feel like I’m no longer watching those insane television shows where there is a massive government conspiracy; I actually wonder if I’m living it.

The problem with delusion is that people firmly believe it. When people believe that strongly in something, you can’t convince them otherwise. They think that if they don’t like something, it ceases to exist. It doesn’t. It still exists for everyone around the delusional person. Bashing polls as fake because you don’t like what you see means nothing. It just means the people that follow you buy into it without question and those who don’t, think you’re insane.

The Balance Struggle

The reality we all have to face is that it’s very hard to balance everything that you want and need to do in the day. Those people that say they can handle it all either have an addiction that causes them to never sleep, thus seemingly like they are more productive than the rest of us. Or rich enough to get help to compensate in other areas of their life so that they can accomplish everything. I can’t. Plus, the fact that my ribs feel like they are on fire and being stabbed all at once has drastically reduced my productivity. Especially if it involves lifting anything, bending down, or twisting my body. The struggle really is real.

I have so many projects on my back burner as a result of contractual obligations to clients for guaranteed-ish money, brain not worky, and family struggles. Projects may be easy in concept, but really have not worked out as well as I had hoped by now. I had planned to start my comic series already. I had planned on at least being in the late stages of my next children’s book. It’s not happening for the foreseeable future unless a miracle happens. We’ll see how it all works out. I’m hopeful that maybe soon, probably when the kids are home from school over the summer, I’ll have more time to dedicate to this.

The problem is that, mom’s especially, are held to a higher standard than everyone else. We’re supposed to be able to balance full-time (or more) jobs, bake things for bake sales, attend PTO meetings, manage sports/extra-curricular activities/doctor appointments, have laundry done regularly, have food out on the table every day, and have a spotless house. Oh and did I mention that we’re supposed to be simultaneously a size 0, with curves, and a large chest? Yep. Go us.

Sacrifices are inevitable. You’re not going to be perfect. You’re never going to be perfect, even if you are. Society dictates way too much of how we function. No, your makeup doesn’t have to be perfect every day. It’s okay that you’ve decided that today is pajama day and you’re going to lock yourself in your room watching trash television eating ice cream while the kids are watching the same episode of “Paw Patrol” on repeat. Stop worrying about finding the “perfect balance” because the truth is the perfect balance is whatever you say it is. It’s your life. You just go on doing you.

The New Healthy Journey Begins

I did document my weight loss, finally getting back to my weight after I had my youngest son. It took about a year, but I did go from the 200lbs at my pregnancy to my pre-pregnancy weight of 125lbs. It was seemingly easy, and without too many plateaus or hurdles. I maintained this weight loss probably until my youngest started preschool and I spent my time in and out of meetings, managing a baseball schedule that was a daily thing, eating convenience foods because there was really no time for much else. That tipped the scales, but things weren’t bad. Then, I had a medication switch and had to juggle even more hectic schedules. Add in stress eating, and here we are.

While I still haven’t crossed back over that 200lb. threshold, I still gained a lot of weight back. At first, with the new medicine, I tried to get back into things. But I was always tired and it seemed just looking at food made me gain. Weight gain as a side effect is never good, but that wasn’t the only reason. My husband would bring home fast food at lunch time. Everyone would just eat crap food. It’s easy to fall back when it’s there all of the time. That’s why healthy eating really is a family sport.

But then it happened: my husband decided that we would go on this journey together. I had lost some weight thanks to switching back to my old medicine, which was great. We banned soda from the house, we found alternative snacks that would help us get those hunger pangs without a lot of calories. It’s been only a week and I’m already down 2 pounds. I’m proud of that small progress. It would probably be better had my youngest not bruised my rib, making working out a little more difficult. It’s not a necessarily hard journey for me, if you keep things out of the house.

I don’t like a lot of awful things. I’m not a huge french fry person, I don’t really like baked goods, and I hate things that are too sweet. I stay away from chocolate, not a major fan of pasta. I do love buttered bread, garlic bread, ice cream, sour Skittles, and some chips. Those are my weaknesses. Iced tea is my weakness, though it’s still a much healthier option than a can of Coke. My biggest weakness is feeling stressed out and wanting to hide in my room with junk food. Fortunately I have kids, so that’s not always a possibility.

With a new calorie tracking app and a ban on crappy foods, I think I can do this again. Hopefully soon, my ribs will not feel like they are being stabbed and I can get back into workout mode. I’ve done this once, I can do it again.

When Your Little One Has Anxiety

As a parent, you go into it realizing that you’re going to have to make some hard choices. Where are you going to live to ensure they get the best education? Private, public, or charter schools? Religion or no? How strict are you going to be? Anytime a parent tells me about a plan that they have for their child, I do chuckle to myself in judgement. A friend mentioned to me about their birth plan as if that plan was going to be a reality for their process. I half jokingly told her that her birthing plan would be better tossed in the trash, because the real reality is that things with children hardly ever go as planned. Did I plan to have a baby over 2 weeks overdue in the middle of what seemed like the hottest summer/fall ever? Nope. Did I plan on an induction? Nope. Is that what ended up happening? Abso-freaking-lutely.

One of those things that parents rarely plan for are those “what-ifs” that seem impossible. Did I think that anxiety in children displayed at such a young age? No way. Did I understand that my child having anxiety was a real reality that may come to life? Yes. But I didn’t plan for an approach other than “I don’t want to medicate my child unless it’s absolutely necessary”. This isn’t a debate about whether I think a parent is wrong for choosing another approach; everyone’s different. I’m not there yet and that’s my choice of what I think is right for my child. Should a time come where I have exhausted every other approach, this will become more of an option. But I’m not there yet.

That was when my husband came across this program called Mightier, which apparently is a program that was created at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. Expensive? Yes, but when you factor how much the co-pay would probably be for the medications, it probably equals out to the same amount. Plus, it teaches coping mechanisms and ways to ease the anxiety rather than just giving medicine to cover it up. Yes, these are medical issues. But if I have to choose a painkiller over physical therapy to find relief rather than just mask the problem, I would rather deal with the cause and not just the effect.

It’s only been a few days, but I can definitely see it started to sink in for him. When he starts to get into his “anxious episodes”, we calmly tell him to do his “Mightier breathing”. The program comes with a heart monitor and it stops the game on the tablet and pops up a meter with a breathing exercise, making it a game for the child to get their heart rate from the red to the blue. It’s training him how to do these breathing exercises in a way that I have failed. If this has been my experience after only a couple days, I can’t wait to see his progress grow. But so far, I’m taking these little wins.

I don’t expect to cure his anxiety. I still suffer my own anxiety issues. But it’s not about curing it; it’s about finding ways to manage it. I manage mine by exercising, music, knitting, art, and writing. Does that work for everyone? Absolutely not. Are there people who do benefit from having these life-saving medicines? Absolutely. Medications for anxiety and depression are not a crutch or a weakness; they are the same as taking medication to keep your heart beating properly. They can be essential to life. Mental illness is just an illness, and you treat illnesses in the way that you feel is the best for you while taking a medically practical approach.

Finding Controversy Where There Isn’t Any

“How dare Google not have the American flag on Memorial Day?” , I saw on Facebook. I didn’t consider that. I went to my Google homepage and I saw a screen that was plain, in the colors of mourning, with a link to listen to Taps, a song that sends a chill down any American’s spine. I remember listening to my son practice it on his trumpet as he was being groomed to be the person to play it at the parade when he was old enough. I would have been so proud to say that was my son playing that song in honor of those we have lost. (He ended up quitting band upon entering high school, due to the band director being disapproving of those people who wanted to do both band and sports.) I found nothing offensive; in fact, the opposite was true. I appreciated the simplicity, the focus on the mourning of these men and women who fought for our rights to be offended at whatever we wanted to be. I thought the somber simplicity was the perfect approach. The day is about those who we have lost. It isn’t about arguing about patriotism or being outraged.

I don’t need to see an American flag everywhere to know someone loves their country. I don’t have a flag on my lawn, doesn’t mean I don’t love my country. People equate a symbol, the flag, and boast it as if it’s the only way to show your patriotism. We’re not supposed to honor symbols; we’re supposed to honor the spirit. Yes, I do believe in saying the pledge. Yes, I do believe you don’t talk during the anthem and you show your respect as you would if you were praying. I don’t need to wear the flag to show my love for those who are serving, have served, and sacrificed it all for us. I believe in showing respect to our soldiers when we see them in public, with my sons saying “Thank you” or saluting them. It’s the little acts, not the grand gestures. I believe that you show your patriotism fighting for those who can’t whenever you can. I believe that you show your patriotism by giving thanks to those who chose to fight so that you didn’t have to.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in the flag. I repeat, in bold this time: This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in the flag. This is a symbol of our country, this is something to be revered. I just mean to point out that the most important thing, the thing that we are actually fighting for, is the American spirit. The spirit of not being told to sit down and take it. The spirit of fighting for our beliefs, for justice, for peace. The American flag is a symbol of the American spirit; not a replacement for it.

This need to be outraged about everything has gotten crazy. Some people on the far-right insist that it’s only the “snowflake libtards” that get outraged over nothing, when it’s both sides that want to make everything “a thing”. I recently joined groups for my community because I wanted to see about our local politicians. I wanted to see how us citizens could inspire change. Instead, I see dumpster fire level outrage over nothing. I see people flaming each other for nothing. I see the worst in humanity when really, I just wanted to see how these people wanted to help our communities. Instead, it’s all fake outrage. It’s finding controversy where there isn’t any. Apparently this is the new American way.

I don’t believe in searching out controversy. I don’t believe in following those who do. I believe the politicians and the media want us to be outraged at whatever they tell us to, in part, just because they can do it and no one will question it. I question it. I wonder why they are making a mountain out of a molehill. I believe in getting back to the true American spirit.