Social Media and Politics

Do you remember growing up and being told there were certain things you didn’t discuss in public – religion, politics and sex? Have you noticed that of those 3 things, the one thing that truly became taboo in our adulthood is politics? With this past presidential election it seems that all subjects are on the table – like it or not.

The most obvious place this is seen is on social media. Twitter (the favorite of our current President), Facebook and even Instagram are saturated with people’s political opinions. On Facebook you will see those who still believe in keeping certain things private  are lashing out or pleading with their friends to please stop and go back to the simpler times.

I am probably one of the worst offenders of saturating social media with my opinions – heck I even started a blog so I could share even more! Due to my constant barrage of political themed posts I am sure a number of people have “unfollowed” me to just get a break from them. I would bet some family members have done the same with my posts too. So knowing this why don’t I ease up?

Quite simply because I cannot stop sharing what is going on in our country. I cannot stay quiet about our great nation’s new leader is doing to all of us. It is important to be aware and to be outspoken about these things. Even if it makes me or anyone else uncomfortable. For when we’re uncomfortable we seek to change.

That’s really why people get upset by religion, politics and sex. It makes them uncomfortable. Politics is the biggest button to make people uncomfortable. Those who don’t watch the news, don’t read about the news – they’re the ones especially who state “I don’t like politics.”

This is not saying those who are sick of political posts taking over their social media news feeds are wrong in feeling that way. Some don’t get why the rest of us are outraged and upset by the current administration. Some don’t care about “those things” as opposed to what affects them directly. Some just look at social media as a way to stay in touch with friends and family and don’t want it to be anything more than that.

Do politics really belong as social media posts though? Yes, yes they do. 1.79 billion people are active Facebook users. Twitter has 320 million listed as active. Instagram has 400 million users. Google+ has 300 million registered users. That’s 2.61 billion worldwide on social media.(1) Quite an audience for a political activist, don’t you think?

Reportedly on Facebook women have an average of 166 friends and men have an average of 145 friends. (2) So for arguments sake we’ll say overall each Facebook user has an average of 155 friends. Multiply that out by the number of those friends who share, comment, or react to your post and that’s a lot of potential viewers of information. Still quite an audience.

Though those of us who are the political posters on social media may annoy some of our friends and family. But the numbers of those we can reach to create awareness and boost activism outweighs the annoyance factor. Social media is a place for the voice of those who need one.

references:

(1) http://www.adweek.com/digital/heres-how-many-people-are-on-facebook-instagram-twitter-other-big-social-networks/

(2) http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-17-amazing-facebook-stats/

 

Prioritization in Activism/Advocacy

Today there are many things we all want to advocate for or against. With the new administration moving forward with the campaign promises like a bull in a china shop, people’s passions are at an all time high, no matter their declared allegiance. The number of causes/issues to want to sign up to show your support can be staggering.

So, how does one prioritize to ensure your advocacy/activism is the most effective and doesn’t burn you out?

First write down all of the issues and causes that you are interested in advocating. You don’t need to put them in any particular order at this time, just get them down either on paper or on your computer.

Second, review the list and remove anything that you do not have a strong passionate feeling about. Do this with a discerning eye and be honest with yourself. No one is grading you or judging you about it. Ask yourself if your passion is because it really means something to you or because it’s trendy? Yes we all get sucked into the trendy issues and causes but because they’re fickle, don’t have that influence you.

Third, look at how many issues and/or causes do you have left on your list? If you have 5 or less – your good. If you have 6 – 10, you may want to re-evaluate the list. If you have more than 10 – you really need to cut it down because even if you are not working a full time job, this is way more than any one person can handle.

Fourth, now that your list is down to a manageable size, go back over the list with the thought of which one jumps out at you first? That’s your number 1 priority. Continue to review the list with this same approach until you have them listed in order. There is your prioritized list.

Someone reading this is going to say, “but what about when an executive order or some vote is coming up in Congress or Senate about an issue/cause I didn’t know was in jeopardy?” That’s called re-prioritizing. Things change everyday in our world and we must be flexible enough to adjust our priorities as necessary.

Nothing I’ve suggested here is any different than any of us do on a daily basis either at home or work. Most people just don’t think about doing it in relation to advocacy and activism.

Remember the most important thing is to do not allow yourself to get burned out too fast. A lot of us have stepped up our game recently regarding advocacy of causes/issues we care about. There are a lot of groups and organizations asking for a lot of our time and money. Be selective. Don’t feel like you must give your time and money to every one of them. Again, use the same steps to prioritize.

Now go out there and help better our world!

 

Post Hijacking And Why Not to Do It

Imagine this… you see a news article or video about something going on in the world. You find it interesting, perhaps you agree with what is being said, or maybe you just think others may find it interesting too. You click the “Share” button. What you may or may not realize is the moment you post that article or video, you have now opened the proverbial can of worms. Lately, with the barrage of US vs THEM commentators out there, this can of worms has sprouted horns, tail and has flames coming out of it’s mouth.

Sure, first you get a “like” or an “angry” or one of the other options available. Next you see someone commented. Considering we all have at least one, but more likely several, people on our friends list that like to stir the pot, you might be hesitant to see the comment. And then there it is – the devil’s advocate (DA) commentator who decides that you must be an idiot for posting this item – they’ll even tell you why your choice is so misled. This is not your hijacker. They’re referring to the subject of the post and that is okay, as long as they are not rude or disrespectful about it.

The subsequent commentator will be a good friend/family member (FM) who jumps to your defense as to why the DA commentator is wrong and you (the original poster) is so right in sharing this article/video. Blah blah blah…we all know this.

So when does the post hijacker come into the picture? It’s normally a few commentators into the thread. They choose 1 sentence, 1 word even to fixate on that is either in the original post or within the commentary on the thread. They grab hold and go off on a ranting rampage that completely diverges the thread from the original intent of the post. I will be honest that I have been guilty of it a time or two but I have tried to steer the thread back to the original message or I bow out of it all together.

Now that we know how it happens, how do we ensure we aren’t the dreaded post hijacker? Keep your comments on direct topic. Do not give in to temptation when someone else is veering off course. If you are tempted to go on a rant about a particular aspect of the original post, do it on your own page, in your own post. Too many times of late people are feeling that they have the right to take over someone’s post for their own agenda. Differing opinions and respectful debates are not only acceptable but encouraged by most.

If your post is hijacked, inform the perpetrator that it is not acceptable. Half the time that will work. You can also delete their comments from your thread. Lastly, you can unfriend and block the person if they cannot give up the rant.

When it comes down to it, everyone just wants their say. Everyone wants to be heard. Just remember your audience and to always be respectful.

A New Experience

Yesterday afternoon, a friend of ours sends me a message “Are you guys busy tonight?”. “Nope. What’s up?” I respond. How many times do all of us have a similar exchange?

What was up last night was the chance to go see the rock musical Lizzie put on by the 11th Hour Theatre Company. The show is at the end of its run – last show on Sunday, January 29. I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience this unique take on the Lizzie Borden story.

Let’s start with the story of Lizzie Borden. I realize a number of you may not know it as it happened in 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie Borden was a 30-something woman, unmarried (shocking in that era) who lived with her father, step-mother, older sister and their servant. The Bordens were very wealthy as her father was a successful businessman – banking and other businesses – and he was “frugal” to a fault. It is said that Lizzie and her sister Emma felt quite a bit of animosity towards their step mother. Needless to say, the Borden household was not a happy one. On August 4, 1892, Mr. and Mrs. Borden were murdered by way of hatchet (19 whacks for Mrs. Borden and 10-11 whacks to Mr. Borden) in their home. Lizzie was accused and tried for the crime, which was more than scandalous as women were considered the lesser sex and rarely charged as murderers. She was acquitted due to lack of forensic evidence.

Imagine this tale told as a rock musical by Lizzie, her sister Emma, their servant Bridget (aka Maggie), and their neighbor Alice. Cool idea, right? Yes, most definitely yes. This idea was brought to life by the 11th Hour Theatre Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (http://www.11thhourtheatrecompany.org/lizzie/)

The venue is small – seating 100 on handmade risers facing a 3 level stage. First and second levels feature the set – simple and strategically placed minimal props to give the impression of the Borden home and barn. The third level (top) is where the band was located. And what a band they are – multiple electric guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and cello – excellently executing the music by Steven Cheslik-Demeyer & Alan Stevens Hewitt.

The story and songs were brought to life by the 4 characters – Lizzie Borden (Alex Keiper), Emma Borden (Cara Noel Antosca), Bridget Sullivan (Rachel Brennan) and Alice Russell (Meredith Beck). These 4 women could belt out a rock anthem type song one minute and then caress a heart wrenching ballad the next. Their harmonies were superb. And the ability to evoke a wide variety of emotions was strong and evident.

My husband and I don’t get to see much theatre as an audience member. We are typically the ones either behind the scenes or on stage for a show. This was a real treat to be able to just sit back and experience a production. Luckily, we had the opportunity to experience Lizzie.

All of this because someone asked – are you guys busy tonight?

 

 

What Happened to the Middle?

No, I’m not talking about the TV show. I’m talking about the middle class, the middle of the road politics/politicians, the middle. We live in a society of extremes. You’re either lumped into one extreme or another. These extremes being forced onto us lead us to argue with one another instead of finding the common ground.

Let’s take a look at the term middle class. Google Dictionary™ provides the definition of middle class as: noun – the social group between the upper and working classes, including professional and business workers and their families. Okay so that should classify most people, right? And yes, according to the US Census of 2010 most Americans fall in the income levels of middle class, with the median income at $50,054. Reportedly, the classification of the poverty level was $18,000 – $23,050 per year for a family of 4. For the middle classes, the bottom of the lower-middle class (aka working class) in the $23,050 – $32,500 range, the lower middle class is in the range of $32,500 – $60,000, and the upper middle class (noted as male-dominated) falls into the $100,000 – $150,000 bracket. The upper class has 2 designations: top 5% has an income of $150,000 to $250,000 per year and the top 1% has an income of $250,000 per year or more. Please note that there is no designation for anyone with an income below $18,000 per year. (http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0912/which-income-class-are-you.aspx)

According to the above referenced article, in 2008 the average taxpayer was reporting an income of $33,000 which was $400 less than in 1988. The middle class has stayed stagnant while the upper class income has increased 33% in the same time period. As the old saying goes, the rich get richer…

The other important thing to note is with the middle class incomes staying stagnant over the past couple of decades, the cost of living has continued to climb. This has made it more difficult for someone earning $33,000 per year to be able to afford day to day living – keeping a roof over their heads, food on the table, etc. I have read numerous articles that have reported these same findings. So, yes, the middle class by definition may still exist, but their income does not go as far as it once did.

Now what about politics? Historically speaking, the pendulum tends to go far left to far right before coming back to the middle. We just are coming out of the far left and are now swinging to the far right. So, given my previous statement, our next round of leaders should be somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

I’m sure some of you will scream that our former president was not far left, while others will argue that he was as far left as you can get. Our current president is by no question far right, no matter how he may have started out in his campaign. For someone like me – very middle of the road in political views – this has been a challenging time. In addition, it has caused numerous people to end friendships, families to split up, and a general attitude of US vs THEM. Divided because our two major political parties have swung to the extremes.

I have personally been attacked in social media and in person because I tried to stay middle of the road. What I don’t understand is when middle of the road became a bad thing. Merriam-Webster defines middle of the road politics as standing for or following a course of action midway between extremes; especially : being neither liberal nor conservative in politics.

Prior to 2016, most people seemed to fall in the middle of the road classification – at least in my estimation. This past presidential election has forced the middle of the road people to choose a side. We didn’t have a candidate in any of the parties on the ticket that one would designate as middle of the road. Our country had spoken in extremes during the primaries, therefore we had to choose. Then the vilification of each side became the norm.

In January 2017, you are no longer allowed to classify yourself as middle of the road. You are either liberal or a conservative – both currently in extreme states. You are no longer allowed to try and understand the other side’s point of view. You must align yourself fully on one side or the other or you will be ripped to shreds for trying to stay in the middle. People who used to be open to listen to another person’s views now will berate that person for their views. People make assumptions about each other just because they may try to be understanding of someone or something that is currently classified as belonging to “THEM” and become irate and belligerent towards that person.

Our country is divided – rich vs poor, liberal vs conservative, US vs THEM. Until we take back the middle, this country will suffer. All of us suffer when extremes are the norm.

Theatre Makes Everything Better

I am a member of Reedy Point Players LTD. in Delaware City, DE. This community theatre is my haven. We have a wonderfully diverse group of people actively involved with bringing the theatrical arts to the community. These people are family of the heart.

In October 2016, we had a production of Carmilla – a vampire themed play that predates Dracula. In December 2016 our production was A Christmas Carol was a smash success. Currently we have one show in production – Shenanigans: A Pirate Cabaret – which is very entertaining and fun for all. We have another show – Titanic: Tragedy & Trials – that is currently holding auditions (tonight at Delaware City Library at 6pm). This show is in 2 parts – part one are vingettes of life aboard the Titanic up through the sinking. Part two is the senate hearings that took place days later.

As you can see, we offer a variety of shows…something for everyone. We offer primarily family-friendly plays with the occasional more adult themed shows sprinkled in the mix. We are a very INCLUSIVE group and love when new faces show up at an audition or to help backstage. I am very proud to be a part of this theatre.

You can find out more about Reedy Point Players at http://www.thereedypointplayers.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/reedypointplayers/

 

 

 

Yes, I’m One Who Marched

On January 21, 2017 658 marches were held around the world. All under the umbrella of Women’s March on (fill in the blank). For a number of those attending it was a protest against the incoming administration. That is NOT the case for me. I believe in marching FOR the causes I care about. I marched for women’s rights, equality for all, LGBTQ rights, unity and reproductive rights. I marched in my small state of Delaware. It was only expected to be maybe 200 people. There were over 1,000 who marched on a chilly, rainy January morning in Newark, DE. I was joined in solidarity with our oldest daughter, a girlfriend of mine, our daughter’s boyfriend and one of their good friends. I met up with/ran into other friends of mine at the march. In spite of my pain physical limitations I made it through the entire walk (2.5 miles) in the misty, chilly rain. It was positive. It was uplifting. It was powerful.

Then the march ended and soon after the negativity started. Yes, I went on Facebook. I was accosted by so much mean spirited, negative, hate speak by people’s post from both sides that I felt my elation from participating in a beautiful show of patriotism and solidarity get punched in the gut. I went from smiling, happy and feeling optimistic to frowning, sad and feeling like our country may never be truly united again.How incredibly depressing is that?

I was saddened to see those who marched across the country posting pettiness regarding comparisons of crowd sizes. I was disheartened to see mean posts regarding the 10 year old son of the President of the United States. I was angry to see so much hatred towards our fellow Americans being spewed by most of my friends (both sides) to the point that I said I had enough.

Some will say – if you’re so offended or upset then just stay off Facebook. Why should I? Why can’t people just STOP BEING MEAN? I enjoy the cute animal posts, the funny life stories shared, the pictures of friends’ children (furry and human), the posts regarding theatre, the posts regarding anything not mean. Information and news is good. I’ll admit I’ve shared a number of controversial posts. I try never to be mean though.

So where am I going with all of this? I’m circling back…back to the march. I’m circling back to that optimistic, wonderful feeling I had after participating in the Women’s March on Delaware. Be optimistic. Be happy. Be strong. Love Not Hate Makes America Great.

#WhyIMarch

Tonight I participated in a sign making party for the Women’s March on Delaware. This is one of the sister marches to the Women’s March on Washington being held on Saturday, January 21. It was so inspiring to be among a group of women all dedicated to promoting/fighting for women’s rights, human rights, affordable healthcare, unity, equality for everyone, and the protection of pro-choice. These women come from all walks of life for one purpose. Some are marching in Washington, some in Delaware, some in Philadelphia, some in New York and some came out just to support those who are marching.

With my physical limitations currently, the March on Delaware will be a challenge, even though it is only 2.4 miles long. But it’s a slow march. We want our message clear. We want our voices heard. I pray it remains the peaceful march that is planned.

Some of you may not understand why we feel we need to march. It’s personal for each of us, but the essential reason why is because things need to change. Everyone should feel safe in this country. Everyone should have equal rights. Every woman should have the right to choose. We all should be united under our beautiful flag.

I love our country, that’s why I march.God Bless the United States of America.

Documenting My Journey…the beginning

Welcome friends, family and others to my journey. Here I will be documenting the journey I am on in relation to my activism, my theatre involvement and life in general. At times my blogs will be lighthearted and at times they will be…well let’s just say a bit more intense. Some of you may remember several years ago I had a blog about life and dating in my 40’s. I hope you all enjoy this new endeavor and perhaps will share the posts that speak to you the most.

So to get the ball rolling…What do I mean by activism? I believe activism to be a very patriotic thing to do. I aim to be active and aware on a local, state and national level through volunteering for organizations I support, showing up at marches/rallies/ demonstrations as needed to ensure my voice is heard, campaigning for candidates I believe will do well by us on a local/state/national level and to do my part to ensure this country is the best it can be. I love our country and feel as a true patriot I must be involved in the process. This is not a new concept to me, but one I have put on the back burner for too long. I had become complacent. Granted, much has gone on in my life since I was last actively involved in causes and politics. BUT, due to various factors that have come into play over the past year, I find I cannot sit idly by and not get back in the game as they say. I will state I am a middle of the road person who, depending on the topic, can either lean left or right on the political scale. I am pro-choice, a fighter for women’s rights, defender of the LGBTQ community, and an outspoken advocate for equal rights for everyone. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a friend. My social/familial circle encompasses people of all colors, religions, sexual orientations and genders. I will stand behind and beside all of them always.

Next up is my theatre involvement. Anyone who knows me (or at least the majority of those who know me), are aware that I am actively involved with a wonderful community theatre group – Reedy Point Players LTD, based in Delaware City, DE. (http://www.thereedypointplayers.com) In 2014 my husband and I became acquainted with and started volunteering at Reedy Point Players (RPP). We have been immersed in this community ever since and love it! I have acted, directed, volunteered for box office/concessions, and worked on tech crew for almost every show since the fall of 2014. I have been on the Board of Directors for RPP for 2 years so far and feel privileged to be a part of this troupe. The friends we have made through our involvement with RPP will be with us for the rest of our lives. I cannot imagine not having these talented, loving, caring people in my life.

My journey in life is more challenging than some and not as bad as others. Over the past year, I’ve been unemployed, homeless, lost my father to cancer, had my husband diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and have had my own physical issues that have made daily functioning a challenge. Why am I telling you this? I will be sharing my life journey with you because perhaps it will help you or someone you know feel like they are not alone in the struggles, joys and challenges called life. Perhaps one person will come to realize that someone really does understand what they are going through currently. This will also give me the opportunity to share how incredibly kind, generous and loving people can be when you are at your lowest point. No matter how many bad things happened over the past year, the blessings outweighed everything. Family, friends, and even strangers showed us love, compassion, kindness and overwhelming generosity to help hold us up when we have been down. I will never have enough words to express how much their support has meant to us. It has been humbling and has filled my heart and soul with such love.

I will wrap up my first blog by saying thank you. Thank you to my family, friends, acquaintances, and others who have helped us and have been so very supportive. You are why I want to be active in our world. You inspire me to do what I can to help and support others. Thank you and know I will pay it forward!