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Bailing or Failing

I don’t normally read David Brooks, but a newsletter I read linked to one of his recent columns. It was pure Brooks, cranky and curmudgeonly, swinging his fist out at the act of bailing.

His thesis is that technology has made it too easy to cancel plans. On Monday people set up drinks for Thursday, and then on Thursday afternoon, they cancel said plans because of X, Y, or Z. He writes,

There was a time, not long ago, when a social commitment was not regarded as a disposable Post-it note, when people took it as a matter of course that reliability is a core element of treating people well, that how you spend your time is how you spend your life, and that if you don’t flake on people who matter you have a chance to build deeper and better friendships and live in a better and more respectful way. Of course, all that went away with the smartphone.

I am curious if others have experienced this because I have not. At least, I haven’t experienced it in any greater amount since the advent of the smartphone. Cancelling existed back in my dial-up modem college days and it still exists today.

So, yes, people still cancel from time to time, but there is generally a good reason given. (For example, a project they thought would be done is taking longer than expected or someone unexpectedly needs them so they can’t grab dinner.) I am finding the opposite is true in the Facebook age.

We connect with so many more people than usual throughout the day. Not just face-to-face people, but we leave a comment on a friend’s Instagram picture and end up having a fun back and forth for a few minutes. And then someone says, “We need to get together!” And it never happens.

THAT: two people state that they want to grab dinner or go see the same movie but they never set up the plans.

I don’t know if it’s something that some people just say because they don’t know how to dismount from the Instagram conversation. They can’t just take the interaction on face value and allow the interaction to stand on its own. Maybe they feel embarrassed that they’re taking the time to comment on a photo but they haven’t taken the time to grab Starbucks together.

But I cannot tell you how many people tell me we should do something together and then never set up the plans in the first place. And I know that I do the same thing, too. I say that we should get together when I know full well that I don’t have the time.

It’s like saying a soft yes in the moment so you get remembered for the yes and hopefully will never have to state the hard no down the road.

So I guess I don’t agree with Brooks that bailing is the issue — and maybe you disagree with me on this — but I think the smartphone has either (1) put us in touch with too many people and therefore we keep feeling like (and saying aloud that) we should make plans when we know we don’t have the time and space to honour all the fictional plans we’re setting up or (2) set up a system where we feel like we don’t have to make concrete plans because we know we’ll be able to see where they are from a Facebook post and then show up in the same space if the opportunity aligns.

What has been your experience? Are more people bailing on plans or not making concrete plans in the first place?

July 26, 2017   5 Comments

Death on the Internet

Buzzfeed had a great post last week about mourning someone you didn’t really know. She begins with the death of a popular vlogger and then continues into various celebrities such as Prince or Amy Winehouse. The author describes what so many of us feel when we see the news online; gutted.

She knew the vlogger — Meechy Monroe — in the sense that she watched her videos and commented. She writes,

Meechy Monroe, who was a couple years younger than me, had occupied a space somewhere between celebrity and friend in my mind: I looked up to her in a way, but also felt intimately connected to her, by virtue of her tutorials and age. This was not the time to die, not by a long shot.

The possibility of death was there — Meechy fought brain cancer for two years — but that doesn’t remove the gut punch felt when the worst comes true. When you are going about your day, oblivious to what is happening for that person’s inner circle, and then read the news after the fact because it is posted online.

If you are with someone who is dying, you begin the mourning process before the person is gone. If you are one of the everyone else, the death comes out of nowhere: a jolt, a slap. Your day was about getting to the grocery store or finishing a project. And now it is suddenly about mourning, too.

The author was grateful that the vlogger’s sister posted a message expressing her condolences outward — to the people who watched her sister and now missed her — and it’s a touching moment that the author describes as “a gracious gesture to include strangers in this most private of griefs. Meechy was MsVaughn’s little sister. But she belonged to us also.”

It made me think about all the bloggers in our community who have died over the years. Emilie and LisaP and Nancy and Alex. Sometimes I’ll be looking for an old post and find their comments. Sometimes Facebook will ask me if I want to wish a person a happy birthday when that date rolls around but the site hasn’t been told that the person is gone. In all cases, I remember mourning deeply; crying hard because someone that I read, someone that commented or emailed with me, was gone.

A friend described feeling sad about the recent diagnosis of John McCain’s brain tumour. It’s not that she liked John McCain’s politics or had admired him greatly throughout the years. It’s that she knew exactly what his family must be going through emotionally right now because she had gone through that news in her family, too. And she felt gutted for them because we are all human. She doesn’t need to know the person to feel sympathy knowing how one feels when facing down that sort of diagnosis. Humanity, in that case, trumps all other facts from how well you know the person to how you feel about the person’s work.

I think that shared humanity is there when it comes to all deaths that we read about on the Internet — from celebrities that we thought would be around if not forever than for a longer amount of time to the random people who enter the national consciousness because their story breaks the surface of the news cycle.

Death is an expected part of the lifecycle, and yet it’s the one life moment that feels so incredibly wrong. We dread it and we don’t like to think about it. Any death — the ones on the Internet or the ones in our face-to-face world — force us to confront death as fact. Sometimes we miss the person, or what we knew of the person, and sometimes it’s that the person serves as a gate to considering our other losses or worst fears.

It’s a moving post about loss and the Internet and how much we end up meaning to one another. Our lives crash into each other on the Internet — yes, even celebrities get closer to the general public on the Internet — and it changes us. So we mourn them when they’re gone. All death is hard. The death of someone we’ll miss is even harder.

July 25, 2017   7 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 152: You Have What It Takes

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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I recently read a post on Modern Mrs. Darcy that stuck with me long after I closed the browser.  It’s a very simple idea, but one that is life-altering if put into continual practice.

Lie to yourself.

Okay, so the post isn’t really about lying to yourself.  But it’s about making the conscious decision every time you are nervous or unsure about something that you have what it takes.  Say those words to yourself: “Oh, Melissa (well, fill in your own name), don’t worry about it because you have what it takes.”  And then proceed as if someone else that you trust a lot has reassured you that you are up for the task.

She talks about it in terms of surfing, but it applies everywhere.  It’s a powerful feeling to go from being unsure about a decision to deciding you have what it takes and moving ahead.  Both with the small things and the very huge, life changing things.

So what are you telling yourself today that you have what it takes?  What difficult moment are you trying to get through, or what new path are you unsure about starting?

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Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored post.

July 24, 2017   23 Comments

Mental Sampler 12

I am inordinately upset about the cancellation of @Midnight.  It’s like having your best friend move across country.

When I saw the news in the morning, it affected my whole day.  Which is crazy because it’s just a television show.  But it wasn’t just a television show.  It’s how we found out about new comedians.  And it’s how we found out about memes so we could be “hip” and “in the know.”  (You know, like the teens.)  I cannot tell you how many late night, “I can’t sleep” conversations we’ve had with a child with Chris Hardwick’s face frozen on pause on the television screen.

It was our routine, and now Comedy Central is taking away our routine.

Thanks a lot, Comedy Central, for ruining everything.

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The Wolvog had an audition.  We could have waited in the hallway — we had planned to wait in the hallway — but the guy invited us to sit in the room and watch the audition.  So we sat in the room because I was curious to see how he would do and the Wolvog wanted us to stay.

But midway through the audition, I noticed the ChickieNob was sitting with her arm floating in mid-air.  I gave her an inquisitive glance, and she returned an inquisitive glance.  I mouthed at her, “What are you doing?” and she screwed her face up to mirror mine and murmured, “What are you doing?”

MY CHILD WAS FREAKIN’ MIMICKING ME.

Her arm was up in the air because my arm was draped across the edge of the sofa.  But she was sitting next to me instead of at the other end of the sofa, so her arm needed to hang in space to be my mirror.  She continued to match my movements for the next ten minutes.

Of course I thought this was hysterically funny, but I was trying not to laugh aloud and ruin the audition.  So my body was shaking from trying to hold in the laughter.  Which meant the ChickieNob had to make her body shake as if she was holding in laughter.

She stopped the moment the audition was done and arranged her face into a supportive, benign smile for her brother.

She’s too much sometimes.

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We are currently in dress shopping mode for their B’nai Mitzvah.  I am not a dress person.  At all.  I do not enjoy shopping for dresses or wearing dresses.  I don’t feel like myself when I’m in one.  (Truthfully, I only feel like myself when I’m in my jeans and boots, so it’s not as if I’d feel more like myself in a fancy pantsuit.)  But I’m getting a dress with my sister’s help.  She has spent hours combing sites and trying to find stuff for me to try on.

I’ve found something that is “not bad” that I am holding onto as I finish looking.  If I find something better, great.  If I don’t, I’m going to stick with the good enough dress and stop looking.  I’ve given myself a hard stop of next week.

The thing about the good enough dress is that when I tried it on, everyone felt meh about it.  I could get away with it, but it wasn’t great.  But when I tried it on a second time and let down my hair, everyone suddenly loved it.  They thought having my hair down changed the whole look of the dress.  Since I planned to wear my hair down, this worked in my favour.

But isn’t that strange?  That the whole look of the dress would change with my hair down vs. my hair up?

The ChickieNob has the opposite problem.  There are too many dresses she wants; too many looks she would love to wear.  Narrowing it down to a single dress, the dress, is proving difficult.  Whereas I want to stop looking because I’ve found something that works good enough, I fear we will never stop looking for the ChickieNob because there will always be that what if dress around the corner.

I don’t know which is worse: trying to find a single dress that works, or trying to choose one dress when so many of them work.  I’m thinking I’m in the harder situation.  She thinks she’s in the harder situation.  Your take?

Anyway we need to set an end date because there are still shoes and undergarments to purchase.  And we all know what happens when you wait to the last second with that…

July 23, 2017   5 Comments

655th Friday Blog Roundup

I try not to brag about the kids, but this is an accomplishment that affects everyone on earth. The robot the Wolvog designed beat up all the other robots in the robot-fighting ring. His robot was the victor in the robot death match.

Now you may wonder how that affects you. Well, people, when the robots take over the world (and you know that they’re going to take over the world), my son can invent and program a robot that can beat up the bad robots. (Unless, of course, he uses his power for evil and designs the bad robots that take over the world.) So we’re totally safe.  (Unless we’re not safe because he designed the bad robots.)

I told him that I was proud of him because he could protect me from the “toasters” (as they say on Battlestar Galactica) in the same way that he protects Mommy’s face from stray baseballs when we’re at Nationals Park. (Yes, I actually ask my son to wear a mitt so he can catch baseballs that may knock me unconscious. You can never be too safe.) He rolled his eyes and muttered, “That’s not the way things work.”

I have zero clue what that means because this is exactly the way things work. Four teams made robots. Four teams set their robots in a ring and had them fight to the death. Three robots were destroyed by one robot. My kid’s robot. I promise, he has our back and will protect all of us. Unless he doesn’t.

He was particularly tween-ish when I told him that I was letting everyone know that he could save us.  He rolled his eyes and said, “If you must.”  Which I like to think means, “Oooh, I’m so excited to have everyone know that I made a good fighting robot” in teen-speak.

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Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.

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And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

Lavender Luz has an update about a situation she discussed on her blog last year.  An adoptive mother was talking about her adult son moving close to his biological family so he could get to know them better.  A year later, the woman reflects on the experience.  I love when people come back and let you know how things turned out.

Raven Rambling writes about a hard conversation she started with her husband, but once the words were spoken, she learned that he felt the same way.  It’s a post about what you hope happens when you speak your heart — that you are not only understood, but you learn something about the other person, too.

Lastly, River Run Dry has a post about the experiences that shaped her into the person she is now, and how she’ll never know the roads not taken; the person she would have become if life had not unfolded as it did.  It’s really a post about the weight of our relationships; they’re strong enough to pull us in a new direction.

The roundup to the Roundup: The Wolvog will save us from the bad robots.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between July 14th and 21st) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

July 21, 2017   6 Comments

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