If you’ve ever wondered why the world is so crazy and people across the world are so divided, well here is the answer and how to fix it!
Jaron Lanier: How we need to remake the internet
If you’ve ever wondered why the world is so crazy and people across the world are so divided, well here is the answer and how to fix it!
Jaron Lanier: How we need to remake the internet
They charged into machine gun fire willingly and enthusiastically! As their brothers in front of them were torn apart by the shower of Nazi bullets they ignored their screams of pain and anguish. Instead they picked up the rifles and ammo from their falling bodies before it got wet. They then ran on into the hail of burning lead knowing the call of the same destiny.
How could men do this? They had a vision, a commitment and most of all nothing else mattered more at that moment. It was for a just and honorable cause, the lives of their wives, their families and all that American’s believed in, Freedom!
I have long wondered how humans could commit to such a destiny when they have known so much more? Surely it was not everyone but in the rush to shore those not so willing to sacrifice their lives were dragged along in the current of screaming human flesh rushing to the call of death and destiny. It was for a great cause, it was for an honorable cause, it was for a human cause, it was for God and Country! No matter how good the goal (and I never question these great men) it still spoke of one mysterious magic, something hard to define and explain, the willingness to die for something you believe in! I have always wondered, marveled and been thankful for these men, one of which was my father, whose uniform still hangs in my closet. He did not die in WWII, though he was a medic there on the bleeding grounds covered with bodies; however, he was brave and I am proud of him.
In contrast, just this week I was given a new understanding of how Islamic Terrorism arises and how in many ways it may grow from an energy similar to that which drove the men on Normandy Beach (note I am in no way comparing the soldiers on Normandy Beach to the evil vile nature of terrorists! My only question is how men can willingly give up their lives for a cause.) In the “news” we saw the face of James T Hodgkinson, a homegrown American Terrorist.
Why do I label him a terrorist? Is it not clear that he knew he would die just to kill a few dozen congressmen? Is it not clear that nothing else mattered more at that moment than killing these “evil” humans who had let him and his country down (at least in his mind)? With this event in mind, I think that if we keep an open mind, we can see what makes for terrorists!
If you don’t recall the atmosphere of WWII America (and neither do I personally, I was not born yet), the historical records can make it more clear.
Just look at the Cartoons that were on every movie screen to get a quick idea of how immersed even the children of America were it the war for our very survival.
So I say Congratulations to the fake news media! They have demonstrated the basic technique for turning a person into a killing machine with no regard for their own life. It appears to me that the magical recipe for home growing a terrorist is fake news, 24 hour a day media repeating and distorting every possible event in America to polarize those who forget they have the power to click the remote to OFF! How about FaceBook? Go on most anyone’s facebook page and you will find a mirror of their self deception. As they block and unfriend the opinions they don’t like they begin to swim in a mirror of what they choose to believe. When “news media” makes up any message for money and audience, there is no longer any intent upon sharing the truth of world events and politics. The goal is stirring a frenzy of news consumer emotions and depicting any conflicting news as fake news. Now you have the recipe for home grown terrorists! Make the opposing viewpoint the “fake news” while you are to be seen as the voice of freedom. Now you have a captive audience! Forget about the truth, people don’t stay with you for the truth it is too boring and it requires too much thinking. Feed the frenzy of self deception and make claim to your audience! There is no one to stop you it would seem. Who will die next before we put a stop to Fake News!
In Europe the “well educated” and those with centuries old ancestry may at times look down on America as neo-nascent, primitive and lacking culture but they are wrong. Our gift of culture is a lack of “being their culture” and an ongoing effort of us to create and re-create ours. Let me explain!
Yesterday I was privileged to host a small MeetUp group of bright diverse thinkers. We call ourselves M’s Conversationalists. We are one of many others, a phenomenon that is an echo of 1776 as a way of thinking. We are often the echo of openness to diverse cultures that drives people to leave their homes on the other side of the Earth to come and join us. Join us so that they might experience America. What does this have to do with meetUps?
Consider our small group or another I belong to. In these groups there are what some might call “bleeding heart” liberals, there are some “staunch” stubborn conservatives, there are Libertarians, there are theists, there are atheists, there are those who chose to seek fun each day, there are those who seek complexity and depth and there are even those whose heart is filled with the cultural beauty of their religious heritage but no belief in God himself. The diversity is astoundingly American. The tolerance is astoundingly American. Oddly enough it is not immune to manipulation. It is part of something recently driven to near civil war by the efforts of “intellectuals elitists” who think they know so much more than us “average” American people, something they can manipulate via the new media. This is something that FaceBook, Twitter and the likes does with great power and deceptive tyranny.
Think of it for just a moment so you can see how our MeetUp can at times be quite the opposite. In FaceBook during the recent election, if you had a strong liberal or conservative viewpoint, many people succumbed to the desire to “unfriend” or “mute” the conversations of frequently annoying opposing viewpoints (especially those driven by elitist celebrities or right wing extremists). It became tiresome to listen to the statements or see the posted images describing viewpoints that showed Hillary or Trump in ways our “intuition” told us was ridiculous! So little by little people cut off the sounds of voices that challenged their chosen paradigm. Day after day their discussion room grew smaller and smaller, and the walls shinier and brighter until all they could see in them was a reflection of themselves kissing themselves for being so right! This is the frightening and divisive potential side of social media, even in America! It is how terrorists (Islamic or otherwise) can raise up an Army of fanatics that will kill people of opposing viewpoints.
On the other side there are many Americans who have chosen for centuries to not be deluded by the limitations of cultural, religious, or even intellectual academic arrogance. We called this phenomena America and it is why people still come to us from diverse cultures, religions and thinking. It is a potential openness to eclectic ideas, diverse art expression, unusual music, varied foods, new cultures and more. We Americans, in fact, have an appetite for change and a desire to try the new. I believe it is what makes us the most creative nation on Earth and if kept alive, will make us a nation of survivors and leaders that history has yet to know. But what does this have to do with a a meetup of mostly retired people in South Florida? Everything!
The rules of a good meetup are: civility, tolerance, humor, intelligence, some knowledge, a willingness to think outside the box, a willingness to think, a willingness to share and defend you opinion, an openness to sharing who you are, an acceptance of the importance of knowing people who think differently than you do and at least hear their values, certainly an appreciation of the value of change and the courteous patience to listen without interruption. What comes of this is not that you may change your mind on issues but that you get to know that those who differ with you have as good a heart as you do! You may also realize that no matter how much you read or think you know, you just may find yourself changing you opinion a year from today. What a great opportunity that is, because it is your choice!
So what is so special about meetUp? Nothing really, but the people who make its groups are! It is many American’s who are civil, polite and open to other opinions, knowing that they cannot always be right. It is people who have very opposing opinions, sharing humor and their heart. It is the light heartedness of discussing your favorite food, movie, book or games. It is openness that I believe is unmatched in the rest of the world.
In our little corners, we call ourselves M’s Conversationalists. We are not terribly unusual or unique but we are a meeting that is a short drive for most of us to attend and so there are many interesting people who join us. I hope many others are sharing this fun and American openness of expression and thinking.
Janr Ssor . . .
……………… To not ignore what others will likely otherwise comment was my omission in writing this is a sad note for MeetUp.com. They broke with the spirit of their creation by posting #Resist in every MeetUp members face and creating “sham empty” #Resist groups all accross America. The founders of MeetUp chose to use the financial contributions of its diverse connections and their paid MeetUp organizations money to push MeetUp’s political agenda and opinion. I hope they will wake up and not become another oppressive media. After all, what makes them think they are so bright as to be right and smarter than many of us, rather than just another American opinion?……………………
At a social meetup called “Coffee and Conversation” I had way too much fun last night (if there is such a thing as too much fun). It made me think a lot all the way home. I thought about 3 things: My brother in law’s visit, what made this MeetUp gathering so much fun and that there might be hope for America despite what appears to be the immaturity of Millennials.
I was given the opportunity of hosting the social meetup, because Mike (the usual host) was not available for personal reasons and Marty who founded the group asked if I would help. The meetup is simple. All those attending are asked to write a questions on provided paper squares (like secret messages we passed in middle school) and add the folded surprise questions to one of two ziploc bags labeled: “Current Events” or “Fun Topics.”
The host (me last night) then passes the bags to a person next to them who gets to choose a question from either bag. The host then times them giving them 2 minutes to respond. Others just listen and do not comment. The Same Question, goes around the table where all are seated and each person gets up to two minutes to comment. If they choose not to comment the bags of questions moves on to the next person. When it gets back to the person who chose it originally, the floor is open to for discussion should the group desire. There is one unspoken rule…. treat everyone and their opinions with respect whether you agree with them or not! What is this event? Is it a game? Is it rules for polite conversation? Is it a social gathering? Is it conversation for intellectuals? To me it is a little of all and more as it engenders a lot of fun and a potential creation of friendship and camaraderie among all types of interesting informed people. It seems to attract a wonderful variety of people whose tolerance and respect for others in conversation, should be a model for our nation’s future growth.
One question, at last night’s gathering, that took me by surprise read “What was the best thing that happened to you this last week?” I could not answer it at first, though I picked it from the bag, so I chose not to answer then but to pass it to my left to Gerrie and then answer it when it came back to me and I had more time to think (another rule: you may pass on a question if you wish). Listening to my companions share their experiences reminded me of what I would like to share (attitude) so I did when the question finally came back to me. I talked about my Brother-In-Law, Jose.
This is what I said in response to the paper question: About four years ago, Jose’s wife had a stroke. It left her with a paralysis of the left side of her body (she was left handed) and it left Jose with a major challenge at nearly 70 years of age. However, Jose is a model of the potential plasticity of human beings (their resilience) and, to me, one of my heroes in life! Jose and his wife Margie came to stay with us for a weeks invited vacation at our cozy 2 bedroom villa in Florida (they live in NJ). When we took them to the airport a week later, on the way home I had trouble not crying. I already missed them too much! Jose, who always loved people and being an entertaining host, taught me a lot about enjoying life, every day. Jose never complained about the extra work he had to assume to help his wife dress, walk, shower etc., no he actually made it mostly fun. Jose and I like to cook so we cooked nearly everything (we never ate out) together in the kitchen and had a great time together doing it (I was the sous chef). We took long walks together, when my wife gave Jose a break from his well accepted responsibility as she spent time with her sister (his wife). We had a lot of fun talking as we walked for miles around our community. We had a dance party one evening at our community social center and there you could see the magic that Jose had created. Though his wife could not truly “dance” fluidly (as she had to drag one leg and hold on to him for support) he got her up on the dance floor many times and held her hand while dancing with twice as much enthusiasm. He had his joy reflected back at him by the unceasing laughter and smile on her face. When she was tired and sat one out or if the music was just “too fast,” Jose often got up on the floor near her and danced with her walking cane (without being shy) and made her and everyone around laugh with his very apparent enthusiasm (at making his wife smile). His enthusiasm for life and joy in living was contagious! By the end of the evening, out of the hundred or more people at the event, many had come up to ask Jose to move to the community as they needed him there! Others had asked us to see if we could talk him into moving to our community. I wanted him and Margie to move down here too! It was no wonder that when we left him off at PBI airport and drove home, the air seemed to have been sucked out of the room in the car. My wife and I have a good relationship and we have fun neighbors and what I would call a good life. We are blessed; however, Jose had taught us all something. It was the plasticity of enthusiastic people who rose to the challenge of what others called pain and suffering and turned it into joy. Not that he does not get tired, not that he does not have challenging moments; however, he has chosen joy and surely makes that his life!
So what made the MeetUp fun? It was the attitude and intentions of the people sitting at the table with me. Like Jose, they decided that life would be fun, they chose to not let anyone’s opinions be cause for negativity but rather an opportunity to learn. They chose to treat each other with respect and Always Be Positive (an unspoken rule). They chose to talk from their heart with integrity and in so doing engender trust and respect from others attending. They chose to be light hearted and find the best they could. At that particular meeting, I don’t believe anyone choses “current events.” We were all tired of the political divisions that the media and elitist celebrities have been beating America with for months, since Donald Trump’s election. It was a good decision for all of us. However, even when we do choose “current events” which is most often the choice, this group has learned to discuss important issues in a positive and respectful manner. If anyone cannot follow this rule (and that is very rare), they are politely asked to change their attitude or not return. In 6 months of attending, this has only happened once.
Finally how is there hope for Millennials and America? From what I have seen of Millennials (in my case being a senior citizen it is mostly from the media) they are not impressive. They seem to have lost the “Power Of Positive Thinking” and dwell in fear, anger, anxiety and frustration. They could use a lesson from Jose about how to deal with change in a positive way, one that too many parents and college professors seem to have let die years ago. Yes, a reward for “showing up” is illogical! They don’t seem educated despite attending educational institutions for that purpose. They also don’t seem to have the communication skills and social graces to lead a nation. They cannot even talk to each other over dinner as they would rather text each other while sitting at the same table. On the other hand, each generation seems to be molded by the challenges of its times. It makes them often look odd and clumsy to their older fellow Americans, those of the last generation. This made me think about how my father could not understand my generation, which seemed infected with the dream state of the “The Hippies.”
Driving home from the meetUp, I thought about how odd the millennials were from my perspective as a baby boomer. Some that I knew told me they did not date, Yikes that shocked me! They did not have girlfriends, they did not “go steady” and they did not plan on marrying or rushing to have kids as we did. Instead they met on social media and sent message to each other painted with Pound signs like ” #BORED, what should I do?‘ ” On the the other hand the millennials have adapted to change with plasticity that is inborn in youth and fought for by adults. They use social media (despite its horrific illusions and deceit) to form groups and keep in touch in some ways. They use their phones almost like a rudimentary telepathy to track and share what is going on in each others life so they don’t ….miss out. Many of them still “go out” in groups and dance together, though that may be becoming more of a GenX phenomena.
Years back, Orson Scott Card wrote the Sci-fi book Ender’s Game. It was a story of how a teenager who was good at playing war games was seduced by the military to join a “competition of gamers to end all games.” In reality the war game he thought he was playing on simulators was a real war and the alien race of insect like creatures (the misperceived enemies) he succeeded in annihilating were a real live civilization! In essence, his growing up a a nerdy gamer, empowered his civilization to win a war against what was perceived as dangerous enemies. The lesson? Growing up different is a way to adapt to a changing technological and cultural environment. Because it is different from the last generation does not make it wrong or weak, it just makes it strange. Yes they do appear as cry babies but we will see what happens when push comes to shove and they must make it in the real world (out of college). I would not write them off too quickly. On the other hand, in Ender’s Game the reality was that because of barriers to communication and cultural misunderstanding, Earth did not recognize that the Aliens were capable of peaceful interaction with humanity. We missed out on an opportunity to expand our horizons and share knowledge with a whole new life form. It concerns me that communication via FaceBook, Twitter and other media may do the same for our nation, especially as it is more and more in the hands of Millennials. At the same time, if we baby boomers could detach from our TVs and TV Dinners to date, dance organize and keep America running, perhaps the same will be true for the most recent generation. Keep your fingers crossed and be positive!
I pulled the plug on my practice website. It was a quick death. It took only a few keystrokes and with a click of the “okay” button, it was over. So, why did I pull the plug on my practice website? The answer is, in terms of marketing my practice, the website was dying a slow painful death and needed to be put down. Before I did so, I tried to find a single person who thought shutting it down was a good (not even great) idea. Nobody thought so.