The Good Kind of Battle

If you don’t know what this is, you haven’t lived.

I suggest you get yourself to Costco or Dicks or some other retailer who carries these puppies.

And then let the battle begin!

P.S. I hope you learn to love these, Vera. If you recall, we had them at your birthday party. You would drop them on my feet but weren’t keen on throwing or trying to catch them. Your grandma said the bruise on her leg, from one of my well-placed throws, took two weeks to disappear.

Is Social Media Good or Bad?

I’ve grown more concerned about the adverse effects of social media over the past year, resulting in my disengagement from Facebook and LinkedIn. And I’m flirting with the idea of disengaging from Twitter, too. I’ve opined on how I’d keep distance between social media and young children if I were of the age to have youngsters at home. And I worry about the online world you, Vera (my granddaughter), may encounter and all the ways others will try to manipulate you and sap you of your individuality and independent thought. And make your life worse. Which led me to Jaron Lanier’s new book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.

Lanier isn’t someone I can dismiss lightly. He’s a deep thinker. Highly intelligent. And concerned.

I won’t attempt to summarize Lanier’s arguments here. The book is a short, easy read for anyone who’s interested in the topic. But perhaps I can whet your appetite by listing Lanier’s 10 chapter headings:

  1. You are losing your free will
  2. Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times
  3. Social media is making you into an asshole
  4. Social media is undermining truth
  5. Social media is making what you say meaningless
  6. Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy
  7. Social media is making you unhappy
  8. Social media doesn’t want you to have economic dignity
  9. Social media is making politics impossible
  10. Social media hates your soul

Take a Walk

“It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth,” wrote Nietzsche. Well, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is well taken: walks seem to have the capacity to foster the generation of sound ideas.

Seneca agreed. He advised us to “take wandering outdoor walks, so that the mind might be nourished and refreshed by the open air and deep breathing.” (On Tranquility of Mind, 17.8)

Ryan Holiday added these thoughts in his The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living: Continue reading

Keep Shining

You turn three today, Vera. We’re going to celebrate. Your other grandparents will be here, too. As will your Aunt Elaine and Uncle Matt. I hope you have a good time.

We’re going to have water balloons, and I’ve been informed by your grandmother that I’m going to be the target. We’ll see how your arm has developed. We’ll also see if your grandmother can manage to stay dry!

You are the light of the world, Vera. There is nothing quite like you. Not in our corner of the world. You are interesting, amazing, and astonishing. Love dances with joy when your world encompasses ours.

It was that way with your dad and uncle when they were your age. I suppose there is something about little kids. Their innocence. Purity. Zest for life.

And then the world beats you up. And the flame doesn’t burn as bright. And sometimes it’s but a flicker. And the light grows dim.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Not entirely. And it isn’t always. But often.

Sometimes I think our sole purpose in life is to keep the flame alive. And to be the light of the world.

It doesn’t sound like much. But the older I get, it seems like a lot. It might be enough. More than enough. Continue reading

When Your Time Has Passed

There comes a time. At least for most people. When their time has passed. When there’s nothing left to do. When they are alone.

I see it every week when I visit a friend who lives in a nursing home down the street from our house. It’s a nice nursing home. Six cottages. Each has no more than 12 residents. Most are in wheelchairs or use walkers. Many are hard of hearing. Some have a tenuous grip on reality.

Yesterday, when visiting my friend, one of the ladies, who’s in her late 90s, obviously wanted to engage me as I walked by on my way to my friend’s room. This lady is often sitting alone in the living area. I always say hello and perhaps have a brief exchange. But yesterday was different. I could tell she wanted to talk. Continue reading

Should You Delete Your Social Media?

Jaron Lanier, regarded by some as the father of virtual reality, was interviewed about the hazards of social media. The interview is well worth your time, particularly if you’re a parent. It can be found here.

An interesting comment is Lanier’s contention that President Trump’s addiction to Twitter has not served him well. I can believe it.

As much as I enjoy following some experts and others on Twitter, I am not at all sure the positives outweigh the negatives. I’m off Facebook and LinkedIn and frequently consider pulling the plug on Twitter, too.

In any case, listen to what Lanier has to say. And if you really want to treat yourself, read Lanier’s book Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality. It’s a gem.

Increased Alienation and Desperation

This is perhaps the most disturbing graphic I’ve seen in a long time:

The CDC reported last week that:

  • Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in the U.S. in 2016.
  • Suicide rates went up more than 30% in half of the states since 1999.

There’s something wrong in America. Sure, there’s plenty right, too. But when tens of thousands of our fellow Americans decide to take their own lives, then there’s definitely something seriously wrong.

I wouldn’t attempt to address the reasons for this tragedy in a blog post. There’s no way I could do it justice. So my comments will be personal. And only personal. Continue reading