United We Are Exhausted

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November 11, 2016

Equality for All

Everyone in our nation can agree on at least one thing as today closes this week of the 2016 Presidential election cycle, we are united in exhaustion.

Bill of Rights

 It seems that just because most of us have access to the internet doesn’t mean it’s the greatest idea for some of us to utilize to share our grievances, our joys or our opinions of any sort in relation to the POTUS election results (which I’m doing right now—if I offend you, please do stop reading).

Free speech is wonderful in its concept and I wouldn’t want us to ever try to regulate that—we’ve done enough damage with regulations over other private parts of our citizens’ lives like their land and such. This past week is an uncomfortable reminder, though, that sometimes we should just keep our mouths shut. Better yet, keep those tapping/swiping fingers off the touchscreens.

Disclaimer: I may have “replied” earlier this week and hurt some feelings, if you recognize me as doing such I would like it on the record that I’m sorry it occurred, ask forgiveness and will try to more restrained in the future. +

Civil War of the Social Media, Tweeting and Blogosphere

 We are all human. We are Americans or at least aspiring to be as immigration policy in this country is still very difficult to maneuver. The history books will have to have a whole unit devoted to the evolution of the information age especially as it relates to volatile debates between political opponents, their staff surrogates and your fellow citizens.

I’m probably not alone in the sentiment that my blood pressure spiked more than once when I heard/watched our read about Presidential candidates “tweeting” remarks in response to either each other’s actions, words or alleged thereof. Are we kidding ourselves? It was remarkably uncivil and unkind. This eroded all of our emotional consciousness somehow. Unfortunately, it also added up and contributed to the overall anxiety pre-election day.

The Crash of a Façade: O Say Does That Star-Spangled Banner Yet Wave?

 So the supposed impossible happened according to the word of the U.S. mass media outlets, so what? There were people who never thought it was possible after the attacks on September 11, 2001 that we could so soon conceive of electing a person with the full name Barack Hussein Obama II could be our president. This was a man who literally had no executive experience and he went on to be our rightly deserved first bi-racial President of the United States and gave hope for generations to come that anything is possible and “yes we can”.

Are we so shallow now to limit our American dreams that a businessman/heir, TV celebrity, politically bipartisan campaign contributor in the person of president-elect Donald J. Trump cannot now succeed as our 45th president? Are we that depressed and full of negative energy of a nation? Perhaps I don’t want a detailed answer to that: truly we have many of our folks suffering from opiate drug addictions, victims of abuse or human-trafficking and countless other miseries.

Or maybe I’m a silly athlete that has won and lost many a track and road race—I learned at an early age that you can work so hard and still lose really bad. And then, you know what? You first congratulate your competitor, then wallow privately for a moment, reassess and then go at it again in the next race. If there isn’t another race then there’s always another sport.

OFF: PRESS OR SWIPE OFF!

 “Change your thoughts and you change the world.” –Norman Vincent Peale

In the end, we can turn our devices off. We can turn to our loved ones and hug them. We can take a walk and wave to a neighbor. Or turn the device back on and call a friend or arrange to meet up with them in person.

Was blessed with being able to meet up with an old friend a couple of nights after the election this week. We are entirely opposite in our political views and how we felt about this POTUS result—yet how comforting to be able to share a meal together and still talk shop about how our nation can work on better discourse, less finger-pointing and name-calling, more acknowledgement that we really are a nation that is stronger when spending more energy on focusing what we can be working on together.

Personal Responsibility to Politics: A Lost Treasure

 Let’s not be collective victims of apathy again because we’re consumed in our lives and don’t even think about attending a city or town council. What if every American went to just one county school board meeting or county/city/town/village council meeting in a year? Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic but my theory is that even that minimum of participation by merely witnessing that in person would help our collective consciousness about our governments.

Again, let’s work toward making “them” affected by “us” instead of always griping the other way around when it comes to our American system of governing. We want this nation to succeed. We are the people.

R.V.S.Bean

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2020 Forecast: Tin Depletion, Tiaras and Tarnished Touchscreens

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Have you noticed that your days are flying by quickly? It will be 2020 one day and what will that year be like for those of us living?

Rin Tin Tin

My humble yeoman’s guess is tin will be depleted in the global supply and hopefully the companies producing touch screens will have found an alternative that is both lucrative and practical.  It has been embarrassing that our U.S. journalism media outlets have not made more of a stink of the “blood diamond” type of material tin really is.  Everyone is so addicted to “swiping” and pushing these devices to their energy-draining babies and children that we’ve remained blissfully ignorant of how there are other humans dying and suffering to mine this resource that will one day be exhausted.     It will be an involuntary humanitarian success if we can literally clean our hands of where and how that tin material came about.

For your own research I have provided the following links via a google search:

The Princess Bubble

The years before September 11, 2001 had their burst bubbles like the “dot.com bubble” and in following years like the “mortgage bubble” and so forth.  I believe 2020 will bring about a whole new bursting that will make the millennial’s coming-of-age seem like a spa day.

In an endearing effort to help cushion our children from the horrific realities of fanatics, terrorists and frankly mentally ill people who take others lives and properties without remorse–we enjoying playing and paying into the princess factor (and most recently Star Wars fever) and our only dialogue with our children can become a nonstop obsession into those fairy tales of doting on the princess, et cetera.

Let me be clear that I don’t think it’s wrong to let our children have these fun roles to play and toys as such.  I would be a hypocrite myself as my husband and I discern how far to take child entertainment with our own progenies.  It becomes a disservice, however, when our children become teenagers and we’re not talking to them about real life.  Just trying to secure them a good college education, distinguish a career path and “keep them out of trouble” is not going to cut it.

In 2020 many “princesses” will come of age and look around the world and realize that their daydreams went a little too far like “Alice in Wonderland” when growing up.  Disillusionment may set in and it could take them some troublesome years through their twenties trying to figure out how they should operate in the 2020 world of political disarray, wars of a cyber-kind and no way to “let it go”.

Tarnished Touchscreens

Every time I hear “a recent study shows that…” I realize that we all are living subjects of the next “study” to be done in future years.

  • Studies will show that children growing up with too much touchscreen time will have an even greater level of impatience than the guy trying to side-swap you today when merging onto the interstate.
  • Studies will show that overuse of touchscreens helped in human de-evolution when it comes to reading certain social cues in people’s facial expressions, voice tone and body language in general.
  • Studies will show that we had no idea how much radiation was too much or too little when interacting with these touchscreens.
  • Studies will show that many adults recall their early emotional memories (either positive or traumatic) involve some dark rectangular object with a piece of an apple being bitten out in a shiny circle.
  • Studies will show that many children assume that the clouds in the sky really do hold their family photos and verbal vomit of their strung-out parents.

5 More Years

Is there anything to be done about the next five years? Without hitting the mid-century mark in my age group, I’ve learned that it is much easier to tackle major projects with minor changes–albeit diligent ones. Here’s a few ideas that would help evoke healthy progress for our human population if applied en masse:

  1. Forget about resolving the “climate change” debate. It’s happening, it’s been happening since before we had the history or ability to track the weather data. I’m over the arguing about it just like when you hear two toddlers going at it over a simple toy.  What we need to do are the little things to help make the big changes come to fruition:
  2. Minimize. I’m not talking about your “Microsoft windows”. We must try to minimize our “stuff”. It can reduce stress, waste and budget expense. When we see trash outside, pick it up! When dealing with our own household garbage, let’s do it responsibly (reduce, re-use, recycle).  Try to change the producer-consumer balance.  How embarrassing will it be when the future historians write that during the times we fought about whether or not humans were affecting the earth’s environment adversely our consumer product companies continued to come up with new convenient and wasteful items like K-cups and baby food squeezes (full disclosure: I am guilty of being the consumer gobbling up these very products and I am not proud of it).
  3. Hope. May we still have hope that we will figure out how to love God/Creator/Creation and each other regardless of what year we’re living in.

R.V.S.B.

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Facebook Phenomenon: Facing It

FACEBOOK PHENOMENON

In the past week or so, I’ve read and seen a couple things regarding the Facebook phenomenon as I see it. If you missed the CNBC piece on Facebook entitled “Facebook Obsession” you can look up more information on it at http://www.cnbc.com/id/39618344/
In our local paper here, The Palm Beach Post, on February 4th there was an article printed entitled “Teen Crisis: To friend or unfriend Mom and Dad?” by Tracy Correa of with McClatchy Newspapers that can be seen at http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/a-teens-tough-call-should-i-friend-mom-1231753.html?cxtype=rss_news
It is amazing how Facebook has infiltrated our lives—of course, I am speaking about those who have signed onto Facebook as there are many who have chosen not to.

New Social Strand

Perhaps it’s the frenetic pace of live that we all collectively sense we are undergoing that makes a social networking program like Facebook alluring to use daily. I recall there was/is Friendster and MySpace but Facebook certainly seems to have gained much more popularity for a variety of reasons. One may be that socially-geared programs before it allowed for lessons to be learned in terms of being widely user-friendly. Second, many businesses have picked up on the advantage of signing up with a program like Facebook because of how it easily spreads the word to potential customers and allows for free or low-cost advertising.

World Wide Café Setting

I personally was one of the reluctant ones to jump on the Facebook bandwagon. It is well-documented in my statements on the internet and in my circle of family and friends that I distrust the rampant use of technology for sharing things like our financial information, consumer transactions and social networking through programs like Facebook or even a Google email account. Yet, ever the cautious hypocrite, I ended up on Facebook partly because I had just transitioned to a new season in my life as a first-time mother and CEO of the home (i.e. homemaker). After I got through the initial awkwardness of having a “facebook page” of my own, I felt like I was logging onto an international café every time I put in my password.

Mobile Café

The other feature that put Facebook in such a public forum was that somehow, sometime along the way, it found its way to applications on mobile phones. Before the catch phrase was “smart phone” and “apps”, you could not only log on your Google, Hotmail MSN or Yahoo email accounts, you could add Facebook on that refresh application option. It’s so easy to check on your “Newsfeed” on Facebook in your phone during the day. With a click you can “Like” or “Dislike” something or even go as far as to comment on something one of your colleagues put as their status.

Good for Us?

I still treasure a note that is sent through the now archaically-termed “snail mail” as I send my own hand-written sentiments to those I hold dear in this life. However, as texting was the new direct way to communicate without interrupting someone’s day too much, Facebook also serves as a non-confrontational but nice-casual way of saying hello or posting information that is either helpful or directed to a specific person or cause. For most adults, (ironic that Facebook was initially started for college students only), I think Facebook is like that corner of the playground we would all hang out at to shoot the breeze when were experiencing the waning years of our adolescence and we just wanted to bond through dialogue.

Facebook Fallout and Fallacy

The flip-side of Facebook’s social revolution is its effect on those in the college age range and younger. If you happen to read the above article link or have read something similar, it is increasingly obvious that many pre-teens and teenagers are now logged on to social networking programs like Facebook and find it to be an easier way of hiding their social experimentation or growth. This is a tricky, perilous predicament for both the youth and the parents thereof. Every generation has tried to hide their dalliances into adulthood from their parents—I’m not going to argue that recurring fact. But, that doesn’t mean that parents should just stand by and actively allow their minor-aged children to engage on Facebook or a site similar to it. The ramifications of posting our personal messages on social sites or simple email accounts are just beginning to show how they be a negative on our transactions later in life like when a graduate is seeking a new job. I would need to write another article posting altogether to pick apart why parents should just grit their teeth and be temporarily “disliked” for banning their children from this sort of unchaperoned internet social networking.

Future of Facebook?

I’m not a computer engineer, although I do have family and friends who are in touch with the waves of technology washing over our planet and they do share with me that there are always newer and better things ahead. Facebook definitely seems to have a hold on the 20s. 30s and 40s age groups out there and perhaps with that active group following and as long as those who run the company keep reinventing their social wheel—they’ll stick around in a Google-like fashion. Nevertheless, I still trust in the human connection as being not based solely on the screen(s) that I use to tap into a website, blog, email account or social networking website: we all need consistent care in other areas of our physical and spiritual senses to feel connecting to each other in an enduring fashion. Let’s hope we can keep that lesson going as we teach our children born into this amazingly instant-information age.

RVSB

Smart Phones: Dumbing and Numbing Parents and Children Alike

PART ONE

In full disclosure, if you don’t know me personally, I will admit that I have always had a love-hate relationship with technology in its countless forms in both the 20th and 21st century.

In the last two decades of my life alone, I’ve witnessed our dependence and lust grow for the personal computers, internet usage, cell phones and now the latest tech combo plate menu item: smart phones.

As a wife and mother who juggles her little family and extended family’s needs as well as the drive to stay connected to friends and current events, I can’t say that the advent of these multi-tasking devices (my favorite is the blackberry) hasn’t helped me.  But lately, I find myself forcefully putting my blackberry into my purse or even leaving around in the house or car because my heartburn is growing as I witness the gap these devices are contributing between parents and our children.

I can speak to the infant and toddler experience in parenting as my son T.A. is 2 years old and I’m expecting our second. 

PLAYGROUNDS

Why on earth are you engrossed in your phone during your child’s playtime either at an inside or outside playground?  I’m not talking about the occasional “checking the time” or “who’s calling/texting” and such.  I’m talking to the dad I saw the other day who was utterly consumed in his blackberry while his child wrecked havoc on others as well as himself.  I’m recalling the mother whose little girls were trying to get her attention outside while she chatted away on the phone and didn’t even take a break to let them know why she needed to take such an important phone call (I hope it was).  Yes, I sound harsh and I am the first to admit that I’ve had to answer the phone or reach out to someone–but the difference is I make it a point to communicate this to my son  before, as and after I do it.  You see, they still absorb everything we do, as young toddling ones did hundreds of years ago…the only difference now is we have these gizmos that cast this weird silence upon them when we get lost in using them for both good and bad reasons.

Again, I’m not saying you should never have these phones/devices out while with your children in a playground setting.  I’m just trying to suggest that it’s probably not necessary that we do and I’d rather we spend our attention on our children as one day they’ll be grown and won’t ever need as much as they do now–how critical it is that we don’t become that absent parent while physically present.

APPS FOR DISTRACTION

Who hasn’t been frazzled by their child’s behavior at a restaurant, place of religious worship, et cetera?  I have used our digital camera at an eatery before to help squeeze out the final course or conversation with those at the table–as a last resort. 

A couple of weeks ago, though, I read an article about how parents pacify their children during card rides with phone apps varying from games to videos.  I also witnessed a mother at my church who had her toddler holding her smart phone with a video during a children’s history event on our Greek OXI day.  This blows my mind as we are called to help our little infants and toddlers to experience life in all its forms…not always defaulting to the digital/virtual one.  In the car, my son has books, toys, writing pads, stickers and all the like.  I refuse to hand him my phone and now have determined that I don’t even want DVD players in any future cars either. 

Again, it’s not a necessity and we certainly should not help them nurse a dependence on this sort of instantaneous entertainment that will always have to be trumped somehow.  Why miss out on the conversations you can have with your toddler about what we see on our way to the grocery store or mall?   My son will sometimes recalled up to half a dozen times in a week something we saw last week–it is fascinating how their mind makes connections without the constant feed of a video on a phone that would only serve to distract them from their surroundings.  Don’t we want to help our kids have a better grasp on people and things around them on a daily basis?  Is it worth the silence and not being “bothered” by your child when in several years you’ll have a teenager who has no empathy or depth of perception in the real world?

CLOSING OF PART ONE

I want to write further on this subject and I welcome any comments or criticisms as I know my tone can sound pretty convicting.  If I want anything to be remembered from this it’s that I feel it’s more important to put aside these smart devices and play with them on our own time than our child’s time. 

RVSB

Palm Beach County’s Possible Folly: Easing Ban On Cellphones in Schools?

Generally speaking, every morning it takes me a nice cup or two of coffee to help me open my eyes and get the fuzz off my brain’s exterior.  However, this morning I was spared my routine overdose of caffeine by the Palm Beach Post’s front page article entitled “Plan to ease school district’s policy on cellphones gets fuzzy reception” that sent shock waves through my cerebellum.   If you don’t live in Palm Beach County, Florida, you can look up the article written by Ms. Cara Fitzpatrick on their website at www.palmbeachpost.com: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/schools/palm-beach-county-school-board-gets-hung-up-535575.html

I struggled to read through the entire article without yelling aloud in back talk as I’m prone to do–especially if I’m watching political pundits on TV.  Evidently there is a group of school technology officials in Palm Beach County that are suggesting that school board members consider easing the district’s restrictions on cellphone use, possibly using them in classroom instruction.

As I must applaud the creativity of using texting to send out memos to students during the day, I also abhor the idea of further overwhelming our youth with technology that offers little benefit overall.

The reality is that as with much of the technology bingeing that our society has participated in only the last three decades, the cons come out much later after we’ve been sold on the pros of the latest gadget or concept (like the world-wide web internet).

In this particular case, school officials have essentially become perhaps a little worn down by the constant need to reprimand their students for illicit cellphone use.  At the same time, I do believe that parents are to fault for sending their children to school with a cellphone in tow.  As for you parents that may be reading this and get upset with me: then at least consider if you do deem it a necessity for your child to carry that cellphone on their person, you are also responsible for ensuring that they do not use that phone during school hours unless it is a serious emergency on your part or theirs (which, honestly, those calls should be conducted in the school administration office, not in the classroom).

One of the ideas for a revised mobile phone policy in Palm Beach County mentioned that “use of cellphones would be ‘generally banned’ in schools, but would be allowed in classrooms for the instructional purposes as determined by the teacher and principal”.  Again, we’ve already learned that computers, both desktops and laptops, offer some benefits in classroom use, but they cannot replace the instructor-student interaction necessary for proper learning as appropriate for the respective grades.  Why would we then incorporate cellphone use on top of a pre-existing educational technology with bigger screens and memory?

A funny proposal was the one I read that offers “students, parents, school employees and others would be allowed to use electronic signatures to sign documents.”  Now I think we’ve truly gone tech-stupid.  The moment a John Hancock is too much for a parent to do in person for their child just makes me angry.  You may want to argue with me on this one and I invite you to do so because perhaps I’m simply a dinosaur in this regard.  I still think I want my child to bring a paper to me in person so we can discuss what it’s asking of he/she as well as myself to sign off on.  Why would we want to treat our interaction with our children regarding their education like some faceless technology swap with our big-wigs at the office or the bank loan officer we’d rather not meed in person?

Ultimately, the article leaves the cellphone discussion “to be continued” in this school board’s case in Palm Beach County, Florida.  It did wake me up again to the fact that our idea of how school was for us certainly is not the same for our children today.  However, I also stand firm that change doesn’t mean throwing away the template completely to make way for something that we still don’t know the true ramifications of in the future.

I’ve written before on the subject of the current epidemic of today’s children not knowing how to interact outdoors in nature unabated.  That is a direct result of a number of factors, mostly involving overuse and overstimulation of TV, video games, computers and other indoor medias that have paralyzed an entire generation of kids.  We must tread carefully as we now witness our technology becoming increasingly handheld, head held (like the annoying blue tooth, I lasted with that for a few months before I decided no thanks).

Of course I’m not saying that we can avoid it entirely.  But I know we as parents do still hold the key to teaching our children how to exercise moderation in every aspect of their lives with technology increasingly becoming a pervasive part of it for them.  Already I am curbing in my own usage and have found that it benefits me personally as well as hopefully an example for my son T.A.–and, no, he will not have his own cellphone in middle school, I can promise you that.

RVSB

Our children and networking websites: a glimpse of the future

Yesterday I walked into my local U.S. Post Office with my son T.A. in my arms while balancing the 4 small packages I was endeavoring to send off Priority Mail style.  Which, by the way, kudos to our USPS for putting these self-service kiosks in along with standard mail supplies so people like parents of small children can get stuff done without necessarily waiting in that long, winding line in the main area.

I set my son on one of the work tables and held him with one arm as I addressed and sealed my packages with my free hand.  All the while I am feeling proud of myself for getting this minor task done without a meltdown or acting-out by my 21 month old. 

My happy-go-lucky soundtrack in my mind is suddenly shattered by the one-way conversation I overheard as a lady walks up talking on her cell phone.  “Well, you know they are going to ask us soon enough to have a Facebook account as they’ll be 10 and 11 years old soon, and well we will have to deal with it but yeah, there is just so much danger with these things that they don’t realize…”

If she said anything further I didn’t hear the words,  had already tuned the lady out as I begin to dwell on the idea of my child wanting to have his own link to a networking site one day when he is an adolescent, a bulging teenager.  The very thought jarred me completely, I was weighed down by the realization that the challenges continue to get more complicated as our beloved children grow.

My son argues with me nowadays with grunts and wordless syllables that can most easily be pacified by a food treat or changing the subject.  What will it be like when he is going back and forth with me in long sentence diatribes about how unfair I am to keep him from connecting to the internet unfettered.

Is it so far-fetched of me to think that allowing kids to log on to the internet with no supervision is much worse than letting them drive cars at 16 years old?  Why do we as parents feel that we must accept computers and the internet as the new norm for our children? 

Maybe I’m just a dinosaur when it comes to technology, but I just don’t think that developing bodies and minds should become so dependent on them.  Should they know how to use them–of course!  Should they use the internet for all their research projects?  I truly believe the answer should be no but am willing to permit perhaps 25% from that source.  It’s not helpful to guide the next generation to get all their answers to life and interactions in friendship and love through these silly keyboards and mouse clickers.

I know some of you may be angered by my opinion and it is understandable if your knee-jerk reaction is to say, “Oh yeah? Just you wait until you have to deal with this issue from your child.”  But I also know that we as parents can stick to what we believe is right for our children. 

For instance, my husband and I agreed that it was important to us that we avoid having our son watch commercial TV prior to me giving birth to him.  21 months later and I can honestly say that we have succeeded with a couple concessions, in the last few months we have allowed him to see us watching our Alma Mater college football games and we started a couple bilingual videos that he watches every other day and sometimes daily.  We also had to cut back our own viewing of TV in order to accomplish this and feel we have benefited from it as well.

It’s by no means easy to be a parent, especially in the 21st century when technology can be a useful tool and yet also a divisive instrument that can alienate families in their own home (picture family evening with dad with blackberry, child with Ipod, child with laptop, mom with cell phone texting, etc).

Ultimately, you make the choice as to what’s appropriate whether it be to allow a Facebook page for your son or daughter–I hope for you it is the choice that makes you feel at peace as you raise your child(ren).

RSVB