Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: news

Maybe We Could Take Off The “People Suck” Glasses for a Moment

Ok, I’ll jump on the coronavirus bandwagon! I wasn’t going to, but a few things came together over the past week and I thought, wow…I should say something about this, and it’s not “wash your hands.” It’s about hoarding…and it’s not what you’re probably thinking.

I try to avoid going shopping in the afternoon as a rule. There are just so many people there and I get like a crabby old lady shaking my cane at all the slackers. I shouldn’t act like that. I shouldn’t react to other humans as if they are just NPC’s in my game, but…sometimes…really? That makes me feel bad about myself, so I keep my supplies shopping down to once a month and in the morning if possible. It’s just better for all of us.

Last week was especially trying. I’d begun to hear through social media memes about toilet paper hoarding and empty shelves where the hand-sanitizers used to sit, but I assumed it was a fluke of one store or a few in larger cities that the media had gotten ahold of and spun into “news.”

I didn’t expect it here in the rural desert, but there I was heading down the aisle for some tissues and laundry soap, faced with a completely empty shelf where the disinfectant spray used to be stacked. I stopped and huffed. What in the world? I took a picture of it and texted it to my husband. “I can’t believe it.”

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My ACTUAL Picture of the Stores Shelves

When I got home, I grumped about the situation. People over-reacting. Hoarding toilet paper of all things. You do know you CAN live without it, right? There was more to grump about. My other errands included picking up packages at the post office and a quick grocery store run that turned sour (probably because of my bad mood), but those are stories for another day.

Suffice it to say that I had a stressful trip into town. I washed my hands, put things away, washed my hands again, and then got myself a nice shot of Irish whiskey on ice. I needed it.

But that’s not the end of my story!

Over the next few days, I started seeing Facebook posts griping about “hoarders” in our time of crisis and suddenly, something dawned on me. I don’t think people are hoarding supplies at all.

Think about it. The store gets a delivery once a week to restock any items that people typically buy in one week. We don’t all buy the same items every week, so they don’t restock ALL of any one product each week, especially things like cleaning supplies.

Let’s take disinfectant spray as an example since that’s what I saw firsthand. Let’s say the shelf I saw held 1000 cans of spray. Not everyone uses one can every week. Not everyone even uses it at all. I don’t. Let’s say again, hypothetically because I didn’t, I heard on the news that it would be a good idea to spray things down with disinfectant during this epidemic, so on my next shopping trip, I pick a couple cans up.

Now, there are approximately 40,000 people in our area, so even if half of that many people all watch the news and decide to do the same thing in the same week, the store will run out this week. And probably next week too.

That’s not hoarding. It’s what happens when everyone changes their behavior suddenly. No one is being a terrible person. Everyone is just doing the next logical thing. We’re not monsters. We’re just taking precautions to protect our families like the news suggested we should.

I don’t believe people are generally horrible. My family will laugh at that statement, but I think they’d agree that although I do get a little snippy with people, in general, I believe people are capable and good.

I DO believe our social media behavior is shabby. We see something going on in the world, but we don’t think logically about it, or give people the benefit of the doubt. Then we react to people and events before even thinking things through. And now that we can broadcast those thoughts immediately to everyone we know, things just look uglier than they really are.

It’s gotten to the point where I, myself, have been afraid to do something because of how it might be reported on social media or how it may look to a passerby. That’s just not healthy. That’s something we need to change.

It seems like a vicious cycle. One person sees something and accuses, posts about it, others see it and jump on the wagon. We read it and begin to think, “What’s wrong with people?” And then we begin to think everyone is ugly. Then we see something through our “people suck” glasses and begin to see more of it everywhere and accuse them. The cycle repeats.

What if instead, we started assuming positive intent in everyone around us? What if, instead of jumping to accuse people of wrongdoing, we took a breath and thought it through? We could look at our own behavior and try to see a reason why a fellow human is doing something. It could just make the world a much friendlier place.

I’m glad I resisted the urge to post my photo and disapproval of my neighbors on social media and simply complained to my family instead. Maybe next time I’ll not be so easily frustrated, assume positive intent, and come home in a much better mood to my family.

The Rabbit Hole of “Curated”

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Stick with me here. It’s worth it!

I started reading a great book this morning called, “The Revenge of Analog – Real Things and Why They Matter” by David Sax. It was recommended in an article about keeping physical journals, ones that you write…by hand…with a pen!

I’ve been keeping journals on and off since high school. I find it interesting how little my handwriting has changed over the years and how much it can drastically change in a week or even a day when I’m rushing or angry.

But sometimes I wonder, will anyone ever read them? I sincerely hope they don’t! Or at least not while I’m alive. Most of them are filled with craziness that I wouldn’t normally express. Something about writing every single piece of bullshit out with a pen often helps me let said bullshit go. If I can’t say it, I write it, and then I feel better.

I have taken long and short breaks from journaling over the last..um..thirty years. The longest break was in my early twenties. Man, I wish I had taken the time to write things down back then, but maybe that’s just stuff best forgotten.

Then there are times when I wonder what the point of all this writing is; the futility of writing down thoughts that never see the light of day, the lists, the dreams, the angry rants. There’s just so much there, even if I wanted to, I’d be hard pressed to go back and make any sense of it on a regular basis. Then an interview on The Creative Nonfiction Podcast gave a great idea to help me fix that!

The author being interviewed said he looked back on his journals and notes every month and put together a newsletter for his audience of all the most interesting things he found, ideas, and quotes. I don’t have a big audience to share that kind of thing with and even if I did, I’m not sure they’d want to see that far into my reality. But it would be a healthy exercise for me to take an hour or two a month to read what I wrote the last thirty days and write myself a nice summary. I tend to forget the ups and downs in month, or a week for that matter, and this practice might shed some warm light on my attitude changes. There may even be a blog post in there.

You see, I’m one of those people that has a short attention span and a weak memory. When I’m feeling good, I think I’ve always felt good. When I’m feeling down, I get depressed and think I’ve always been down. It’s weird but the best way for me to combat that is to write things down.

Want to know something weirder? I do the same thing about making dinner. If I haven’t had time to make dinner for my family for a couple days in a row, I get it in my head that we are ALWAYS going out to eat or scrounging for frozen pizza. If I write what I made for dinner on the calendar, I can look back on that last few weeks and reassure myself that Taco Bell employees do not know us by our first names.

I guess I should circle this back to that book I started reading this morning. You do know this post is about a thought I had while reading that book, don’t you? Welcome to my brain. It’s fun. Trust me.

Reading that book made me think about the word “curated.”

“Curated” is an adjective that means “(of online content, merchandise, information, etc.) selected, organized, and presented using professional or expert knowledge.” It has come up in my thinking a couple times this week.

When you hear the word curated, you probably think of museums but in this case, I’m thinking about printed magazines and books.

Here’s the deal. (That’s for my husband. He hears that sentence several times a day from me.) The internet is an amazing place because everyone can put their “art” out in the world for free. You can have a free social media page, keep a blog or vlog, self-publish a book, record your music and have people all over the world download it, or put your visual art up for the world to see and love. It’s a world of infinite and free information! But there is a down side. It’s not all worth spending time on and we each only have so much time and attention!

So here we are scrolling through our social media pages, hopping from one blog post to another, randomly finding and playing music, and reading “news” article after article. It feels like a waste of time.

How can we fix this?! How can we spend our currency of time and attention more wisely? Enter “curated” content, otherwise known as a book, magazine, music album, or “TV” station. Yep, it turns out that those that can pay a little extra are moving back towards things like book stores, paper magazines, and news stations for their information. It seems we’d all gladly pay someone we trust to sift through all that content that’s being created and present us with curated information that has already been vetted, organized, and is relevant to our needs. The hard part is finding an author or an organization you can trust!

It’s amazing to me how we create new technologies that will open up the room and air things out like a big spring cleaning. People rush in to see it all and find new ways to use it, but when the dust settles, the tried and true comes back. The old ways with a fresh new look!

Surprised by Media Bias

It’s amazing to me how many people will get upset about skewed and biased news media reports of an incident and then go on to believe the next one so easily. They spout the things they’ve learned about bias as if only that particular outlet does it. Their favorite one doesn’t. They’re honest.

The truth is every news outlet is biased one way or another. No one reports what happened. They all report what they see through there own lens. And that lens can be very warped for one reason or another. Every one of us will do the same. We don’t see anything from someone else’s point of view without a metric crap ton of effort that most of us just don’t have the time or energy for.

So what can you do? Remember that and not act on it, not react to reports. If you find yourself interested in the report, seek out other points of view from places opposite yours. Piece it together and you’ll get a better picture but remember that you’ll never get the whole picture regardless. Act in mercy and understanding regardless of what you find. You weren’t there. You don’t know those people.

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