Socializing, Family, and Facebook

The Memorial Day weekend has come and gone and now the weather will definitely start getting hot soon.  I’ve been feeling stable but on and off depressed for months, especially since the middle of winter.  I think some of this depression comes from just being so lonely all the time.  There are only so many books I can read before I’m burned out.  Fortunately I was able to see a couple cousins and their families for the afternoon over the long weekend.  I hadn’t seen either cousin in a long time.  It was fun catching up with them.  First prolonged intelligent conversations I had in months.

I gets bouts and depression and loneliness more frequently than I used to.  It doesn’t help that I don’t really have any friends in my apartment complex anymore.  It also hurts that I had major falling outs with a few old friends that I had known for several years.  One of these friend couldn’t respect the fact that I’m not working a regular job and spending most of my time alone.  This person also thought I’m wasting my time with this blog.  Well, I sent that friend packing.  If a person can’t respect my decisions about work and how I spend my time, then we can’t be friends.

Another friend and I had a falling out over politics.  I’m sure I’m not the only person who can claim that these days.  But I just can’t stand how divisive and hateful modern politics has become.  It didn’t used to be this way.  Besides, political fan boys on all sides seem to be too blind to realize that modern politicians don’t care about the voters unless said voters are lobbyists or big money donors.  The way some of my friends and family post on Facebook, you’d think they were getting paid for every post about politics they put on their sites.  Besides, does anyone change their thinking because of these posts.  It’s like watching monkeys at the zoo fling manure at each other but not nearly as entertaining and far less civilized.  I’d quit Facebook and twitter if they weren’t the only means I had to keep in contact with most of my friends and my key promotional materials for this blog.  Mark Zuckerberg really has a business monopoly that would do any 19th century robber baron proud.

The biggest reason I don’t post about my particular beliefs is that, well, no one group reflects what I value.  When it comes to social issues, it depends on the issue.  When it comes to having a good military, I’m in line with some Reagan era Republicans even if I’m not as interventionist.  When it comes to curbing the abuses and excesses of Wall Street and big business, I’m almost as militant as any Occupy Wall Street guy.  And I definitely won’t support any politician of any stripe that wants to cut science funding.  Science funding is quite small compared to military or social programs.  I don’t have a political home because there isn’t any party that reflects what I value.  And I think many people in the under 40 crowd feel the same way.  And I know it may irritate some of my elders to write this, but I think the last thing our world needs is a senior citizen politician who isn’t familiar with science and modern technology.  My parents generation has been in charge for almost thirty years.  Retire and play with your grandkids already, you earned it 🙂

I guess the biggest reason I have been fighting depression for awhile is that my primary means of socializing and communicating, social media sites, have become so toxic and nasty even among friends and family.  And I think it sucks.  Some days I doubt I really am making any positive difference.  Heck, some days I wonder if people even want positivity and happiness in their lives.

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Taking A Vacation From The Insanity

I’ve been feeling more depressed and frustrated than usual the last few days.  I think it’s because I’m spending too much time on sites like Facebook, twitter, and youtube. I’ve decided I’m going to avoid most socializing for the next several days and see if I feel better then.  It saddens and angers me that I can’t even have a civil conversation with a friend without having to sort through angry posts and memes.  I really hope these people aren’t that mean and angry with people in real life.  I hope they aren’t but then again many people have messed up priorities.

I would love to know when my friends and my countrymen became so angry and divided.  And why do they feel like it’s a God given duty to spew that venom and hate for the whole world to see.  You don’t live in an echo chamber.  People who don’t agree with what you post see that stuff all the time.  We usually don’t comment or respond.  We certainly weren’t this divided in the months after 9/11.

I also don’t understand why my countrymen are so obsessed with politics.  People didn’t used to be nearly this obsessed, at least not that I can remember.  Believe it or not, there are other things going on in life than politics.  Politicians are not gods.  I will say that again, politicians are not gods.  Stop treating them as such.

I imagine my friends on Facebook get tired of me posting about science and technology.  I have only a handful of friends who post on science.  But almost all of them feel a duty to do posts complaining about politicians or complaining about  protesters or complaining about people who complain about protesters.  Protesting, if done properly, can lead to change.  Look at colonial America, Ghandi’s India, and the Civil Rights protests.  Too bad there weren’t more people protesting the actions of the governments early on in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, etc.  I am especially disgusted with some states trying to pass laws for harsher penalties for protesters.  There wouldn’t be as many protests if the politicians were actually doing a good job.  You want to stop protests, listen to the people and quit doing stupid things.  Even Jesus protested the abuses and hypocrisy of the religious and political leaders of his time and place.

While I will be going underground and not socializing much for the next several days, I still will be doing research and writing blogs.  My critics aren’t getting rid of me that easy.  I just have to unplug from the insanity for a few days.  Most people need to unplug from the insanity for a few days and realize that someone who disagrees with them is not evil.

Voting and Politics with Mental Illness

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I got out and voted this morning.  I didn’t have to fight a long line as I went in the middle of the morning.  I did the online registration earlier this year.  I found it intriguing that in some nations a person is automatically registered to vote when they get their driver’s license.  I saw that some countries have their major elections on the weekend or make the day a national holiday where everything is closed.  Regardless of the results I did my civic duty for now.

I have to admit this was the meanest and nastiest election I can ever remember.  I imagine there were parents explaining to their kids that this wasn’t a typical election cycle.  At least I hope it doesn’t become the new normal.  This has been a real stressful and unsettling election for me.  I have had to increase doses on all my medications just to deal with the anxiety and depression.  I hate how divisive and hateful this election was.  I have had to block friends and even stopped talking to friends and family over this.  I even quit talking to people I agree with.  Many normals were insane about this election.

Too many normal people have for the last eighteen months acted like the election is the only thing that is going on.  Seriously?  I just quit watching the news because that was all that was being reported.  One of the reasons I got to studying science and tech advances on science web pages was I wasn’t hearing about the state of science or technology on the regular news channels.  I also think that science and tech advances will benefit humanity far more than any elected politician.  It’s no comparison.  I think normal people are insane and out of touch with reality paying so much attention to the election.  Most politicians are lawyers and business people by trade, not scientists or engineers.  A politician doesn’t know how to build power plants. A politician can’t figure out how to grow more crops with less water and pesticides.  It wasn’t politicians who figured out how to build houses that won’t fall apart during earthquakes.  We are electing people to represent us, pass laws, and set budgets.  We are not electing Santa Claus who will make everything we desire come true with pixie dust and magic.  We really give politicians too much praise when things go right and too much blame when things go bad.  Too bad there wasn’t a Mt. Rushmore type monument dedicated to inventors, scientists, and humanitarians.  I’d visit a place like that.

In short I’m glad this election is going to be over soon.  Thank God.  I’ve seen enough nastiness to last me several election cycles.  I only hope that 2016 isn’t a preview of future elections.

 

Social Media Hiatus and Recovery

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In an attempt to help speed up my recovery from my bouts of depression and hopelessness, I’ve decided to avoid all social media in addition to regular news casts.  I’m now two days into this and I notice a positive difference already.  I’m less stressed and less despondent even after a couple days of media blackout.  I just got so tired of hearing nothing but bad news that I decided to unplug and drop out for at least a few days.  I will still be posting blog entries to Facebook and twitter because my posts automatically post to these anyway.

One thing I have noticed is inspite my vacation from news and social media, my life still goes on.  All life still goes on in fact.  Some things I’m probably happier not knowing quite simply because there is nothing I can do about it.  While I may not be happy with any of my elected officials, it’s not like I get an extra vote for every time I post to Facebook concerning the elections.  The U.S. Constitution never said anything about uber informed people getting extra votes.  On election day, I’m just going in and casting my votes and that is going to be that.  I’ll live with whatever the results are.  And I’ll still pay more attention to science and technology endeavors than I do to politics or popular culture.  Unless the Kardashians figure out nuclear fusion or cure cancer, I couldn’t care less about them.

While I may be unplugging from social media, I’m still keeping informed on things like science.  I am finding out the lights are still on and there’s still food in my pantry regardless of what nonsense a political figure says or whatever some troll writes.  Some pundit says something about the election, so what?  Nations are rattling their sabres and talking about wars, will my worrying prevent war?  I can only control my own life, what I see online, and how I choose to react to it.  And that is all I need.  Sure I’ll miss my friends during my hiatus from social media, but it’s probably for the best for the next several days.

 

Why I Hate Politics

Another thing my schizophrenic mind hates is politics. I will not under any circumstances discuss my opinions about politics with anyone outside of a couple family members and my two best friends.  For one, I’m open to the possibility I could be way off.  Two, I consciously know I am only one vote among millions so I don’t feel like I am completely in charge of the whole political process.  I don’t have delusions of grandeur in that regard.  And third, I have nothing but complete loathing and absolute hatred for how continuous and nasty the whole topic has become in recent years even among close friends.  And every time I turn on my tv or log onto Facebook, that’s the main thing I see on the news or in my newsfeed.  I have unfollowed dozens of friends and family members because I don’t want to hear about politics anymore.  I unfollowed people I agree with even.  I don’t want to hear about anyone’s politics any more than an atheist wants to hear about your relationship with God.  I unfollowed these friends and avoid news channels because I don’t need that level of confirmation bias and headaches.  No, I don’t have it all figured out even though I am 35 years old.  I missed that memo that said I had to have all my opinions and beliefs for life formed by age 21.  I’m open to changing my beliefs.  I don’t identify myself with how I voted in the last election.  And I am absolutely sickened by how no one wants to compromise on anything and how much everyone fights over the pettiest nonsense.  Politics is a religion for far too many people.  I am more than my vote.  I am more than my opinions.  And I will be glad when the mass insanity of the election is over.  I have enough stress and tension in my schizophrenic mind.  I don’t need to deal with nonsense that I as one person can’t do anything about.  I’m convinced that normal people are more insane than I am, at least when it comes to politics.

New Normal verses Old Normal

 

When I was growing up as a precocious child in the rural corn belt of Nebraska, I was frequently asked “Why can’t you be normal”.  My classmates, the adults in my life, and even my own family asked me this frequently. I didn’t have the foresight or the courage then to ask “What defines normal” or even “Who defines normal”.

Looking back on it years later I know I never would have gotten any kind of direct answer simply because what qualifies as normal keeps changing.  In 1750 it was normal for two out of three children born in London, England to die before their fifth birthday.  Now in the developed world (and increasingly so in the developing nations) infant mortality is rare.  It is so rare now that if most of us were to look back five or six generations in our family tree, we would find that our most of our ancestors had more dead children than most of us have children or siblings.  That’s what breakthroughs in medical science can do.  As recently as my parent’s generation, most people were married in their early to mid twenties and had children within a few years.  Now it is quite common for people of my generation to not marry until their thirties or even not marry at all.  Back when my parents were in their twenties, if you weren’t married before thirty you were thought insane or gay.  Now the stigmas on both homosexuality and lifelong bachelorhood are in retreat.  Instances like these create new normals out of old normals that no longer worked.

There are things that go on now most people take for granted that may be looked out in horror by future generations.  Even though wars haven’t really been fought between developed nations since World War II, I can imagine a future where people will look back at their ancestors and wonder how we justified ourselves in fighting wars and proxy wars that went on for years.  Perhaps committing any kind of violence against other people will someday be viewed with the same horror we in 2016 view slavery, inquisitions, and wars of territory expansion.  I can hope, can’t I?  Perhaps in future years it will seem absurd for people to hate others based on their political views.  I can only hope so, otherwise I am forever condemned having to listen to people bicker back on forth about political beliefs on Facebook and Youtube when all I really want to do is chat with a few friends and watch a few videos.  I hope our obsession and splitting hairs over political beliefs will someday seem as absurd as Catholics and Protestants fighting during the Renaissance is to our 21st century sensibilities.  Besides it’s not like politicians ever invented any labor saving devices, cured any deadly diseases, did any serious scientific research, or thought up better and less cruel ways of living.  At most, they provided some funding and got out of the scientists and engineers ways.  Many of the most influential and beneficial people who made a difference in history never held a public office, won a battle, or sat on a throne.  Remember that the next time you take your political beliefs seriously.

Less dogmatic and hateful attitudes about political beliefs would be nice.  What would be even nicer is less stigma and discrimination against those with mental health issues.  Seems to me that having mental illness is one of those few things many people don’t feel bad at all about stigmatizing.  It is essentially stigma’s final frontier.  Every week it seems there are crime drama shows where the accused perpetrator is mentally ill or an introverted loner who doesn’t fit in.  It also seems too common someone with a mental illness committing a violent crime gets far more attention than homeless mentally ill people being beaten by cops or gangs of ‘concerned citizens.’  Funding for mental hospitals has been dramatically cut over the years, often leaving the most afflicted to either the street, prison, or dead.  It seems that prisons have become de facto mental health hospitals for a sizable portion of the mentally ill population.  I know that the stats are a few years old in the link.  But I have little reason to believe that the situation for mentally ill individuals in prisons has gotten much better in recent years.  The treatment of seriously mentally ill individuals, at least in my country, is barbaric and insane.  What did you think was going to happen when funding for mental hospitals was cut?  Did you think the problems of the mentally ill would magically vanish once the hospitals were no longer well funded?  Or did you think mentally ill people like myself are making our illnesses up and don’t need help?  There should be no wonder why I was so quick to self commit myself on two separate occasions.  There should be no wonder why I want to change my medications even after a few mini breakdowns.  I don’t want to wind up in prison or dead for the crime of having a psychotic breakdown in front of the wrong person.  You won’t prosecute the handfuls of crooked bankers who triggered the Great Recession but you will throw thousands of mentally ill people in jail because you don’t know what else to do with them?  Way to stay classy. This is certainly one old normal that is in dire need of a quick death and being replaced by a new normal of more understanding, compassion, and better treatments.  And yes, we can find the funding to do this transition if we care enough to do so.

Speaking of practices some currently on the fringes of normal society abhor, maybe even the age old practice of killing animals for food will seem barbaric to future generations.  If lab grown meat gains traction in future years it could.  Don’t be so quick to scoff.  In 1900, who would have thought Henry Ford and his insane motorized carriage would put the draft horse out of business within several years?  Or who would have thought in 1850 that John Rockefeller would find great and numerous uses for a scummy and sludgy nuisance called petroleum?  These two by themselves got rid of old normals and created a new normal.  The internet is a key example of a new normal.  If I was born even fifteen years earlier I would have never been doing this blog.  Who knows what new normals are on their way?  Stay tuned my friends.  Things are going to be getting more interesting than they already are.