Tag Archives: culture

Get Off That Electronic Device, Young Lady!

The other day when I was at the VA clinic waiting for Jim to have his hand examined (six days later the x-rays showed it was not broken) I was sitting in the waiting room with several people. Most of them were at least 30 years older than me. I made some small talk with the lady sitting next to me. As the people picked up their magazines and started reading I took out my cell phone and started working.

I was supposed to be home writing, painting, or keeping up with my social media accounts, but I wasn’t. I was sitting in a health clinic. My work time was ticking by. I am on a tight schedule because I am also a stay-at-home-mom. If things don’t get done then I just add them to the to-do list for tomorrow. My daily lists are growing…to miles long. I was sitting there feeling grateful for the Internet and cell phones. I mean, I can get some of my work done anywhere. It’s amazing, right?

Coneflowers In Alcohol Ink
Pink Coneflowers Day 14 of #30in30 paintings. Alcohol inks on Yupo paper, 9×12.

As I got to work I heard a male voice growl, “Get off that electronic device, Young Lady. That thing is going to boggle your mind.” I looked up to see a man standing with his walker looking straight at me. He’d just come out of an exam room. I smiled at him. He was funny. Plus, I pretty much adore anyone that refers to me as a “young lady” so there was that. Then I went back to what I was working on.

After a minute or so I heard some snickering. I looked up and there was the man again making some weird hand gestures at me and smiling at the woman next to me. She was actually leaning into my lap to look at my phone screen. It was bizarre. I smiled again and turned away from the woman next to me a little and went back to working. I figured they weren’t hurting me and they were laughing…whatever. I was stuck there and I just wanted to get some work done. That’s when the man said, “Don’t worry. I’m just making fun of you.”

I replied, “That’s OK. Make fun of me all you want to. I have an online business and I am working on it here since I can’t work on it at home right now.”

The man then walked toward the door, but turned back and in a mocking tone of voice said, “Oh, you’re one of those online entrpreneurs trying to get rich quick, huh?’ He obviously felt a lot of disdain for “my kind” and instead of getting mad or feeling ashamed I laughed. I told him, “No, I am not trying to get rich quick. I wish it were that easy. I have to work really hard to make this work.” Then the man rolled his eyes at me and walked out the door.

Garden by the seashore mixed media collage art by Lillian Connelly.
Day 15 of #30in30 paintings. “Garden by the Seashore” mixed media on canvas, 8×10.

I sat their for a moment. It was a weird experience. I just got mocked by senior citizens. They thought I was a joke or lazy or both. Then a feeling crept over me. I got a big smile on my face. I was proud of the way I handled that interaction. Just a few years ago I would have made a bunch of excuses about my choices. I’d be defending why I was a stay-at-home-mom or trying to explain why I was pursuing my dream of becoming an artist. I’d watch people scoff at my ambitions and I’d feel less than. I’d feel like I was making the wrong choice. I should have a traditional job. I should put my daughter in daycare. I should not be working at all and devoting every moment to my daughter. I should get off the Internet because it’s not the “real” world. I should be this…I should be that…I shouldn’t be me.

This time I didn’t have any of those thoughts or feelings. This time I felt completely confident and actually found the entire interaction humorous. I am an online entrepreneur and I am proud of what I have accomplished.

That is a good feeling and I don’t really care if people are laughing at me for it.

 

Weather Is No Longer A Polite Topic Of Conversation

Weather is no longer a polite topic of conversation. It’s suddenly, or not so suddenly depending on how you look at, very controversial. Weather used to be something you could talk about with strangers, your grandparents friends, and family without too much trouble.

“It sure is a nice day” you might say, or, “It’s unseasonably cold for May.” You might complain about it being a hard winter. You might complain it’s too humid. You might just be basking in the sunny, balmy perfection of a lovely June morning. It was all an acceptable topic of conversation. Mostly because weather oddities were, well, oddities. We could pretty much count on the next season getting back to “normal” with summer being summer and winter being winter.

Winter Robin Alcohol Ink Painting by Lillian Connelly
“Winter Robin” based on a photo by Gary Jones. Alcohol inks on yupo paper, 11×14.

Now weather is not an acceptable topic of conversation. Now talking about weather is talking about politics, which can often be dangerous and divisive when speaking with strangers, your grandparents friends, or family members. My political views are probably almost at the opposite spectrum of most of my extended family. I’m a bleeding heart liberal swimming in a sea of republicans. It’s entertaining and I spend a lot of time biting my tongue. Or rolling my eyes, or with my mouth open in disbelief. Especially on Facebook.  Don’t even get me started on the insanity I see on Facebook. I just put on my horse blinders and skim past it all as much as possible. I am pretty sure my family does the same thing with me. I mean, we’re still family. We still care about each other. We just see the world in very different ways. That’s not always a bad thing. I’m open to different ideas and opinions. I like to debate. I like to learn about another point of view. Sometimes I even change my mind. Mostly though, you do what you can to get along. You stick to those polite topics of conversation whenever possible.

I try not to talk about the weather too much, even though it’s sometimes really hard to avoid talking about it. I mean, we are in a drought here in New Mexico. One that keeps getting worse with each passing year. California, Texas, and Arizona want our water which means we might have even less eventually. It makes me thirsty just thinking about it. My rain dances aren’t getting the results I had hoped for. Meanwhile, my friends back East are just putting away their winter jackets, with some trepidation I might add. There still may be a flash of freezing rain or a night that requires the heat be turned back on. There is flooding and forest fires. There is rampant fungus in Central America on coffee beans. I don’t know if that is caused by the weather changes for sure, but it seems likely. I could list all sorts of problems that seem to be developing from our weather problems, but you watch the news and read the Internet newspapers. You know what’s going on.

Weather is no longer a polite topic of conversation.

When I was in college studying environmental science I was running around like Al Gore talking to anyone who would listen. I was reading about the bees and the butterflies and the ocean rising and the earth warming. I was obsessed with ants.

Nobody wanted to hear about it.

I remember being out with some of my Grandmother’s friends and somehow the weather came up. I had all of these scientific facts to add to the conversation. I remember this older gentleman sort of laughed at my “child-like” ways and politely told me I was full of crap. I was young and I was taught to respect my elders so I just stopped talking about the weather. It seemed like a lost cause. It was no longer a polite topic of conversation. It was politics.

Plus, trying to explain how “global warming” meant we were going to have extreme weather, not just warmer weather was impossible to convey. I just got emails from people, buried in the snow, saying “Where is your global warming now?” I just gave up on talking about the weather. Nobody was listening anyway.

Here I am, over a decade later, and judging by the arguments I read on the Internet everyday, talking about the weather is still pretty impolite. It’s still a political issue. That doesn’t make much sense to me. The seas are rising. My friends in the East are getting buried in snow. There are hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes making headlines in the news far more often than I remember ever happening before. Our weather is a problem.

Maybe it’s time to start talking about it politely again. So we can make some decisions. So we can do what we can to make our planet more habitable. So we don’t run out of water in New Mexico and my friends back East don’t have to start building arks. Maybe we can stop making the weather a political issue where people have to take sides. Maybe we can start working together.

Maybe.

I know, I sound like a dreamer, but did you read that part where I said I was a bleeding heart liberal? When I look at my daughter I see the future. I want it to be a good place. So, please, talk about the weather. Collaborate. Find solutions. Americans are known for their creativity and ingenuity. Why aren’t we focused on that instead of on who is right and wrong? Why aren’t we focused on fixing the problem? Why aren’t we dreaming bigger, creating more, and offering some hope to future generations?

When did we stop caring about our children’s children?

 

Facebook Highlight Reel Does Not Depress Me

I’ve been reading a lot about how the Facebook highlight reel may be causing depression. Well, I just want all of you to know that your Facebook highlight reel does not depress me. I kind of like it. No, I absolutely love it. Maybe it’s because I love pictures of kids, babies, cats, dogs, job promotions, and all of the tiny successes my friends have on a daily basis. That stuff makes me smile. When I see new haircuts and posts about people doing kind things and someone winning an award for being awesome I actually cheer and show the pictures and statuses to my husband. Call me a little sappy or a little nutty, but I like seeing good things happen to good people. I like seeing the way they are devoted to their families and how the extra effort they are putting into their work is finally paying off. I like to see them going on spectacular and exotic vacations.

Facebook Highlight Reel
Portrait in Alcohol Inks – Work In Progress

I’m not saying Facebook doesn’t depress me because it does. Just for very different reasons than the researchers are suggesting. When I see the same article, five times in five minutes, about a couple who let their baby starve to death in his crib it makes me sad and angry and outraged. When I see people posting racist memes or really mean-spirited, untrue political attacks on our politicians I feel a little agitated. When I see people being mean and cruel or sometimes just plain ignorant…I feel a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I want to scream, “Do your research first!” or “Stop being such a bully!”

These are people I care about and they are saying things that are just terrible. It’s especially hard when it is a family member because for some reason that makes me feel even more sad. I think, wow, when did my family member get so mean? Or angry? Or bitter? I mean, sometimes on Facebook and other social media, you get to know a side of people you didn’t know existed. Or maybe just didn’t want to know existed. You find yourself worrying about people. You wonder about their mental health. You start to feel helpless or even a little hopeless about the world you live in. Sometimes what people post changes your opinion of them. Don’t even get me started on the people who like to rant and rave all day long. I’ve had to hide them from my feed. I can’t take that level of hostility for prolonged periods. That does depress me. It’s like being washed in a wave of negativity for hours at a time. That is not an enjoyable experience. Once I started figuring out how to hide posts from my Facebook feed I found myself having way more fun on Facebook. I mean, who wants to pop on Facebook and see someone screaming about how they wished the U.S. would have public hangings before you’ve even had breakfast? That’s not how I want to start my day. I’d rather wake up to posts about kittens. Let me work up to murder, politics, and people who want to set other people on fire after I have had my coffee.

I really get overwhelmed by sadness when I see people getting attacked in comment sections too. This happens daily. People are so rude sometimes. If they aren’t calling people names they are mocking them. You start to wonder what happened to having manners or polite disagreements or treating your friends, well, like friends.  What ever happened to formulating well thought out arguments? Do people even know how to do that anymore? Or not agreeing with everything someone says or believes, but still respecting them or loving them anyway? On Facebook it’s so often one angry mob yelling at another angry mob. I think social media has replaced pitchforks and torches. Witnessing that on a daily basis can be kind of depressing. You start to realize how cruel the average person can be and that makes you lose faith in humanity.

What restores my faith in humanity? Your Facebook highlight reel. So please, show me your kindergartener’s first day of school and the picture you took with Justin Bateman. Brag about the concert you went to last night or about how you spent Thanksgiving feeding the homeless. Share stories about men stopping other men from harassing women and stories about dogs adopting orphaned kittens. I want to see your son grow up and get a full scholarship to college. I want to see you get your first book published. I want to know when your daughter’s volleyball team won the state championship. I want to see all of those good things. Every single one of them. Your Facebook highlight reel does not depress me. On the contrary, it’s the only reason I am on Facebook at all!