Archive for the 'How I see it' Category

29
Mar
13

Kindly Read Your Bible

There are a great many ignorant people who call themselves Christians and like to spout off about how other people behave and call out folks for supposedly persecuting them and whatever else. As a Christian myself, I’d like to remind y’all to actually read your Bibles front to back at least once, and preferably two or three times, before you open your mouths again (or type out your religious opinions on Twitter or wherever).

One of my twitterfolk just posted today that he blocked someone for stupidly chastising him that Jesus was the only person ever crucified.

Really?

Only person?

Even if the ignoramus in question didn’t know history, and the fact that Romans routinely crucified people to send a really harsh message about what they were capable of doing to dissidents, you should know from reading the damn Bible that two other people (thieves) were being crucified right next to Jesus!

Christians who can’t be bothered to actually read their Bibles or pay attention in church are, in my opinion, not allowed to comment on their own religion, criticize others’ practice of it, judge anyone (and if you read your Bible you’d know you aren’t supposed to judge), correct anyone on spiritual matters, etc.

It’s bad enough to read the Bible and misunderstand it…or take the symbolic parts literally…or not consider context…or anything else that leads to ignorant attitudes. But when you can’t even get the facts straight on something as basic as crucifixion, you simply need to go into a corner and leave the rest of us alone.

Oh, and may you have a blessed Easter season if you recognize it as a spiritual time and/or a holiday celebration.

16
Oct
12

The Oppressed Christian?

In the early days of this blog, I think I may have posted a few times on the prevailing view of supposedly well-educated U.S. citizens (and probably those of most Western nations) toward Christianity. More on that in a moment, though, after I ridicule off-the-deep-end evangelistic former child star Kirk Cameron for his take on his own “crucifixion” for his beliefs.

Cameron is a moron. He left his critical thinking at the door a long time ago (if he ever possessed it), a fact made most obviously when he did a video with another loonball Christian about how the banana is “the atheist’s nightmare” because it somehow proves the existence of God. (Here on YouTube, and also here)

I’m a Christian. While I don’t know the precise nature and scope of God, I do believe in Him and that Jesus was His son (whether literally or spiritually) in whom was vested God’s power and the ability to grant salvation to all humans, among other neat skills like healing and making wine out of water, both of which would come in handy at a lot of parties (oh, Jesus made jokes, people, and I love my savior; don’t go pointing sacrilege fingers at me if you’re Christian).

None of these beliefs of mine, however, interfere with my belief in (and respect for) science. I simply have faith that there is a spiritual realm and a temporal one, and you can’t prove or disprove one with the other.

People like Kirk Cameron, though, make people like me look bad. And believe me, there are many people like me. Some 20 percent of the U.S. populations considers itself “unchurched” now (that doesn’t meant they’re all atheists; some of you evangelical atheists out there need to read about those stats more closely), so it’s clear that the church in all its forms has failed miserably to move with the times (regardless of the specific faith). And move it must, the Christian church being one of the most notable these days, as it always has in the past, adapting and evolving many times, no matter how many Christian leaders try to convince people otherwise.

Cameron thinks he’s being crucified for being called out on his homophobia, a bigotry which is entirely out of step with Christian love and acceptance of people where they are at. (By the way, in fair disclosure, I’ve had some out-of-step opinions about same-gender relations in the past on this blog, but even though I no longer see it as a sin…even when I did, I didn’t see it as worse than any other sins we all commit.) Cameron is, again, a moron. Also a slightly blasphemous moron, since Jesus and a whole lot of other people endured Roman crucifixion, and based on what I’ve read about it, no level of public ridicule compares to that suffering. So, suck it, Kirk Cameron.

Now, that said, I am going to continue to hold to a theory that I’ve espoused before on this blog, and that is that Christianity gets the side-eye a lot from other people, even people who sometimes attend Christian churches. So, if the name “Jesus” comes out of my mouth, I can pretty much anticipate that many people in hearing distance are going to tense up. If I discuss my faith or the value I see in it, I can expect that I will get a lot of ridicule, whether spoken or unspoken.

And I don’t just mean from atheists; this cuts across most lines. Moreover, this kind of attitude is generally reserved for Christians. Sure, plenty of racist, demagogic, jingoistic bastards look askance at Muslims in the United States, but what I’m talking about are the more educated and/or “aware” people, who don’t judge any other religion (Wicca, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.) and often express curiosity about them, but openly show disdain toward Christians, even when said Christians aren’t behaving badly.

Kirk Cameron is wrong that he or Christians in general are persecuted in the United States. Far from it. They still hold great gobs of influence and don’t have to worry about being strung up for their beliefs. But it is true that, much like the notion that white men are the only group you can joke about safely now (somewhat true), Christians are one of the few religious groups you can make open fun of with little chance of blowback (unless you’re in the rural portions of the Bible Belt, perhaps).

I say this not to defend Cameron, who had earned all kinds of reasons to be made fun of because there is little thought or logic behind his statements. I say this to remind everyone that Christians are people, too, and most of them aren’t going to bite.

Or even try to convert you.

So let’s band together in making fun of Kirk Cameron, if nothing else.

28
Sep
12

A New Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, reportedly in Heaven,
hollowed be thy name.

Jesus’ cred undone,
by callous Christians,
putting petty desires front and center.

Give us this day our daily dread
as we bask in cruelty
and co-sign the cruelty of others

And let us not head toward redemption
but push others under the bus.

For those of you who didn’t grow up in the church, the more traditional version…

“Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
05
Jun
12

Fringe-worthy

This will probably sound odd, coming from a guy who has admitted to writing erotica with a kinky twist and has near-encyclopedic (well, compared to most of the population) knowledge of the wide spectrum of fetish sex (though not even a fraction as impressive a record of dabbling in them), but I think people who operate on the fringe often deserve a second or third look in life.

I don’t mean that they should be shunned, persecuted, assumed to be horrible people or anything like that. But I do understand and even advocate the need for us to be aware of them and to try to understand their motivations, whether bad or good.

More importantly, I think we need to do that in both directions.

That is, not only do those of us who don’t share the alternative lifestyle or fringe behavior need to pay attention to the person, but also those who share such interests or support those people need to also step back and assess things at times.

It isn’t about profiling or pigeonholing or stereotyping. What I mean is that we all need to think more critically and not make assumptions that either demonize or deify certain behaviors.

This came up in my mind today thanks to a woman I know about who claims she’s being persecuted for wanting to home-school her child. I won’t name any names for a number of reasons, but her story is fishier than a working oceanside wharf. Many other home-schoolers and un-schoolers have rallied around her but I’m not so sure she deserves their blind and unwavering support. The problem is that her supporters, and supporters of such educational practices in general, will defend one of their own at the drop of a hat in many cases without really knowing the person’s situation.

Would they do the same if a pastor of a small church was engaging in questionable behaviors, acting paranoid and trying to isolate young people from family and society?

No.

Why?

Because some small churches are toxic. They might be cults. They are sometimes very small and off the mainstream track because they espouse crazy things and seek to promote and instill unhealthy mindsets. Most small churches are probably small because they simply don’t have many members and finding a church home that fits well is hard, but some are just hotbeds of wrongness. For that matter, some big churches are pretty sketchy, too, but while they promote groupthink at times, they don’t do as good a job of isolating people from the world.

Likewise, there are parents who advocate home-schooling and un-schooling because they are themselves dealing with issues…or, perhaps, NOT dealing with them and letting them fester. If a parent has mental health issues and decides to take a child or children out of the mainstream to teach them and protect them, what might in fact be happening is that they are isolated their children and inculcating in them a whole new generation of mental illness and skewed world views.

No, there is nothing wrong with home-schooling or even un-schooling, though I think the latter is way too unstructured for most kids and I think few parents can pull it off well. Hell, the wife  and I have considered the possibility of home-schooling at some point for at least a defined period of time. But we shouldn’t be quick to defend home-schoolers and un-schoolers simply because they practice a similar behavior to one we also practice or support.

And since I started off with sexual examples and metaphors, why not lob a grenade over in that camp as well?

If someone is into bondage and domination stuff, that doesn’t mean they should support every dominant person out there or encourage every submissive to do what their master or mistress says. Some of those relationships are thinly veiled domestic abuse, and we shouldn’t assume everything is peachy and fully consensual and healthy simply because the acronym BDSM has been slapped on it, no matter how sexually accepting any of us are, myself included.

And there are so many other fringe and alternative sexual behaviors, too. Some of which I’ve tried, some of which I’d like to, some of which I’m not so sure about and some of which I wouldn’t do without a gun being held to my head (and possibly not even then). If you happen to get involved with someone who has a kink you don’t share, you should probably think long and hard about that. Not to make the person out to be a deviant or freak (though that may be true at times) but to assess how important that kink is to the person and whether or not you can be in a relationship that might require that kink to be explored in order for the relationship to survive.

Also, to make sure the person you are with isn’t a freak who’s a danger to you. This is good advice in general, but what I see is that vanilla people are too quick to think a fetish means deviancy, and kinky people are too willing to assume fellow kinksters are OK when some of them are seriously touched in the head.

So, critical thinking, folks. Please use it.

Don’t rush to defend people with whom you agree, because some of them are deranged or dishonest. Also, don’t rush to judge people with whom you don’t share views.

But above all, be aware of who is around you and why they are doing what they do. Paranoia isn’t cool, but awareness is. We should question everything. Not everything all the time and in great deal, but we should question anyone’s motivations.

And sometimes that includes our own.

01
Feb
12

Of Anecdotes and Ideologues

No one loves an anecdote more than someone with a strong ideological agenda.

I mean, don’t get me wrong—most everyone likes a good anecdote. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But it’s like the lifeblood of an ideologue to have a ready collection of anecdotes to make their points and to show you that their beliefs are true and that you should agree with them and not question them. Or argue. Or point out completely obvious logical fallacies.

Whether liberal or conservative, religious or atheist, environmentalist or land baron…whatever. Stories are the key.

And that’s what anecdotes are, of course. Stories. But like folklore or fairy tales or any other story, they don’t equal truth. Truth may be in them. If they are tales of something that happened, the tale itself might be true in general terms. But tales don’t equal truth.

Yet that’s what people at the extreme end of a belief would have you believe. That’s why they whip out anecdotes like pedophiles give out candy to children to lure them into their vans.

For the conservatives, it’s so often the mythical “prosperous welfare cheat,” who in most stereotypical form is portrayed as black, female, parent to several kids, operating some under-the-radar business, driving a really nice car and living the high life in public housing while collecting food assistance, free healthcare and actual money from the government, too.

Never mind that if such people exist, they exist in numbers far too small to make an impact on the system. I know that conservative folks, especially the rich at one end and the blue collar/pink collar ones at nearly the other end, like to believe this is a real problem. It isn’t. Sure, there are lazy people on public assistance, but they don’t live any kind of “high life.” I’ve seen too many of them through my wife’s work in social services. Most people don’t want to be on the dole. It sucks and it doesn’t get you anywhere (though it might keep you alive).

Also, what the conservatives fail to point out when they trot out their often-racist welfare cheat anecdotes is that the vast majority of people on public assistance are white. In fact, many of them are Republicans and live in states with Republican majorities.

But why let facts and real truth get in the way of a good story?

I could go into the lovely anecdotes about abortion, “curing” gay men, how African-Americans and Latinos are more dangerous than whites and things like that, but why beat a dead horse when I’ve rolled out the gold standard already? And yes, I know liberals have their own misleading anecdotes, too. But you know what? Even their most outlandish ones are way closer to the truth than the conservatives’ are. Feel free to argue with me on that if you have some good examples, but I doubt you’ll get very far with me unless you abandon logical arguments.

17
Jan
12

The Gift of Getting Out of the Way

What do you do when a person you love dearly needs something that you cannot offer, or has a problem that you cannot solve?

And no, I don’t mean something that you can offer them later or figure out a solution to later. I mean things that are totally, completely and irrevocably not in your power and capabilities to do. Ever. Not for lack of skills or wont of trying, but because some things simply aren’t possible for some people to do for somebody else.

Sometimes, the answer is simple.

Not necessarily easy, but simple.

You don’t try to offer a half-ass substitute to the thing you cannot provide and you don’t keep trying to find solutions.

You stop. You get out of their way. You give that person space and you support him or her as best you can.

Why?

So that they can see clearly enough, past the obstacle that is your well-meaning insufficiency, and look for someone or something that will solve that problem.

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but one that more of us need to for the sake of our relationships of all kinds in our lives.

29
Nov
11

Lack of Focus

Or, perhaps, the title of this post should be “The Wrong Focus.”

Some of the most fervent people pursue their missions from entirely the wrong standpoint, and so it is with many conservative, fundamentalist Christians, because they aren’t really as focused on the fundamentals as their descriptor would suggest.

See, my problem with the “fundies” isn’t so much that they want to promote biblical ideals and Bible-based behavior as it is that they put at the top of their agenda subjects on which Jesus didn’t really focus and/or that are only hinted at vaguely in the Bible…while also putting at the bottom of their priority list those things on which Jesus spoke most clearly and directly.

So, on the one hand, they’ll pick out a Bible passage about ancient punishments for hitting a pregnant woman in the belly and killing her unborn child, along with God’s words in the Book of Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” and say, “See! God hates abortion! Let’s go have a huge campaign against women controlling their own bodies and hijack freedom of choice and science while ignoring more pertinent issues that affect more people.”

Never mind that causing the death of a woman’s fetus in an act of violence or irresponsibility was a crime because it assumed the woman wanted to give birth and you took that away from her (i.e. took the life that she had charge of). Also never mind that the quote from Jeremiah is about foreknowledge and foreplanning on God’s part, not about when life begins. Never mind that Jesus never once mentioned anything about fetuses, and his words are the ones Christians should focus on most.

And then, on the other hand, with poverty rising, kids and adults going without food, healthcare becoming increasingly inaccessible and the rich hoarding more and more of the money just because they can (even though they don’t need that much), you’ll see fundies cringe at any notion that even hints at socialism or talks about fairness and sharing, even though Jesus spent huge gobs of his time talking about economic fairness and taking care of the less fortunate.

Not to mention the fact the early Christian church essentially practiced communism, or something very close to it.

But they’ll ignore that and point to his parable of the talents and claim Jesus was a free market capitalist even though the parable is talking about spiritual growth and responsibility, not wealth creation.

Shaking my damn head…

08
Oct
11

Deac’s Towering Babble

Just a miscellany of thoughts today.

Out of a Jobs

Now that a couple days have passed, and perhaps souls are soothed enough now that I won’t get virtually stoned to death by any of you, let me say this: Steve Jobs’ death is no more important or unimportant than the death of a nameless beggar on the most secluded New Delhi street. Seriously, people, I’m tired of the cult of celebrity and the #rip hashtags that clog Twitter whenever someone “important” dies. Why do we get all choked up and bent out of shape by someone with a rich (literally and figuratively) life dies and yet we give just passing notice (or none at all) to people wrongly killed for crimes, or little brown-skinned children kidnapped or murdered, or anyone else? Perspective, people. I think the Macintosh and many other Apple products are great, but if you see them and the guy who spearheaded their creation as ways to fill empty places inside yourself, I worry about you. They are toys and tools. Cool ones, yes, but Steve Jobs was a flawed human being like the rest of us…not a more valuable one, no matter what his accomplishments.

Things that Bear Re-tweeting

Some thoughts I’ve tweeted about in recent days that I think are worth sharing here (in slightly modified form from original in some cases):

  • I wonder sometimes why fellow Christians who vehemently deny evolution, climate change and cosmology don’t just believe in a flat Earth, too.
  • People who think you can’t question “God’s Word” because God will get mad should pay attention to how long He’s put up with Jews bitching at Him
  • Just because SOME climate scientists have fudged numbers doesn’t give you license to discard all climate science. That’s as dishonest as calling ALL Christians judgmental hypocrites just because some very visible evil Christians make the news.
  • If you believe Earth is 7,000 or 8,000 years old because of Bible, you lose right to criticize anyone’s scientific method or judge what is pseudo-science
  • Argue long enough with a right-winger, being rational and fairly balanced in your views, and you will be called a fascist, socialist AND communist (because apparently, looking at multiple angles on issues and thinking critically is somehow totalitarian and un-American)
  • If someone from the left wing or right wing disagrees with you, expect to have your words “most”, “should” and “consider” either implicitly or overtly changed to: “all”, “must” and “require”

Media Now the Shark in the Water

These days, whether because of lazy journalism or because the corporate oligarchs are telling the publishers and editors of media publications and news stations not to run “anti-business” fare much, we see a world in which the Tea Party gets media attention for any little screeching gathering and insane GOP presidential hopefuls are treated as if their views are valid no matter how much their shit is made up or is out-of-sync with reality…and the news hardly even reports on the “Occupy Wall Street” folks (or marginalizes the protesters) until police start roughing people up.  Really, modern media? You won’t cover something until there’s blood in the water for you to fight and thrash over? And before you accuse me of not understanding the news or ratings or anything else, I’m a journalist and have been for more than 20 years.

07
Oct
11

Religion by Any Other Name

With fair regularity, I’ll see an atheist post something online, whether as a tweet, a comment to a blog post, or whatever, basically saying how much better a world it would be if we just eliminated religion altogether.

How much less hatred there would be. How much less unkindness. How much less discrimination and abuse. How much less divisiveness. How much less hypocrisy. How much less war. How much less violence. How much less shame. How much less…

…and sometimes, as I read this, my sense of “What damn world do you live in” surges up like a food-poisoned dinner, and I respond, online, to explain to them patiently that it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference.

They almost never agree.

You see, I bring up very valid points. In fact, my points are virtually unassailable, though the atheists insist on stubbornly assailing them anyway, showing that they can be just as pigheaded as fundamentalist Christians or uber-Orthodox Jews or extremist Muslims.

You see, they will point to things like the Crusades, or the Spanish Inquisition, or a host of other well-known historical events, and say, “See, that’s what religion does!” In addition to ignoring every good thing that flowed from religion, they fail, more importantly, to take heed of the fact that in all those cases, the impetus behind the evils was rarely anything religious. Oh, it may have been billed as such, but it’s always about power, wealth, land, etc. And usually, there is a ruler (king, empress, pharaoh, dictator, etc.) or a ruling class behind it all, using religion as the rallying point or prodding the religious institutions and using them as tools for the dirty work.

When I point out that capitalism (a flawed institution that I both love and loathe) and communism (great idea, but impossible to execute humanely in large populations) have been responsible for more suffering and persecution than religion in modern times, I’m ignored, and told about how much influence Christians have on the political process.

When I point out that non-theistic liberals have stomped on as many freedoms at times as right-wingers, I’m met with a blank stare (of the virtual/electronic variety).

When I note that so much of the violence in Africa is caused by warlords and ethnic conflicts…and add that so many Eastern European and Asian conflicts are also ethnically/culturally based, I’m told that really, it was religion that started those divisions originally, and thus religion is to blame.

This is why I have, at times, compared atheism to being a religion unto itself, because its most firm adherents aren’t content to practice their beliefs. No, they seek converts. They enact doctrine. They begin to exclude people and judge people. I’ve known some great atheists and count many of them among my friends. But just like church-folk, I find many of them abrasive and pompous. They have dogma, too, and they can be guilty of evil. Some of the most evil bastards in modern history were functionally agnostic, truly agnostic or atheist.

What irks me is that even if you can make the claim that religion is responsible for most of the world’s woes, past and present (which you can’t because at best it’s an one-fourth partner along with economic, social and political/ideological doctrines), eliminating it won’t help.

If you outlaw religion, or zap everyone with a mind-ray that makes them reject the notion of any kinds of spiritual higher powers (God, Goddess, loa, Vishnu, etc.), they will make their own faiths all over again.

I see this so clearly these days in online communities.

Mrs. Blue still reads many parenting/mommy blogs and visits parenting forums at times, and I see all the time how many “non-religious” women have essentially defined motherhood as a sort of goddess role. It is sacred. It is for women alone. The children belong to the mother. The father is there to serve. The role of motherhood should be honored as a special calling and duty. Now, I think the world of women, mothers or not. But the level of importance that many women in these online venues attach to their roles goes beyond the reasonable and laudable. It goes into worship. It goes into judgment and exclusion and excommunication of those who don’t agree 100% with the official doctrine. If you dare to raise your voice at your child or spank them even once, you are shunned. If you are a father who dares to look at porn or want sex occasionally outside of making a new baby,  you are sick.

But hey, it’s not just the extreme moms.

Let’s take sexuality. Yoga, while spiritual, tends to be pretty much clear of deism for most people (at least here in the United States). It’s a way to connect in non-physical as well as physical ways, but it’s more about calming, centering and clearing out the detritus. And yet I’ve seen tales enough of Tantric Yoga people who damn near form cults of sexuality. Or, as long as we’re on the topic of sexuality, how about BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism)? I’ve made no secret that I probably know more about kink than most of you dear readers. I don’t practice BDSM myself, but I’m well-acquainted with many folks who are, and I keep tabs on things, and you know what I see? Lots of worship. People who reject the notion of God now give themselves over to another human. Not simply as a submissive who gets whipped occasionally or tied up or insulted, but who gives over all the choices to some dominant man or woman and literally worships that person. I’ve seen folks so devoted to the BDSM lifestyle that actual sexual activity in a BDSM context is rare or non-existent. They are fulfilled by the surrender or the control (depending on whether they are the sub or dom) and they find it spiritually fulfilling.

Humans seek the divine, and they will find it almost anywhere. There are fundie Christians who can twist the Gospel to make it look like Jesus taught the value of free-market Capitalism. I kid you not. Jesus noted that money/greed was a kind of god, and humans have proved him right, as they set themselves up as gods based on money, and demand their “tithes” of the more lowly. I see people get quite riled up over food and what is the “right” way to eat and to grow/raise food for us to be good humans and to be right with the Earth.

Spirituality is part and parcel of being human, and that is why the majority of the population believes in a higher power. Even if we’re wrong about that and the atheists are right, it’s clearly hardwired into us on some level that we seek an ethereal connection to something beyond the temporal lives we are locked into. We seek enlightenment. We seek to get outside ourselves. We seek validation from unseen forces.

Whether gods exist and we acknowledge them, or whether we create them and invest them with pseudo-reality…it doesn’t matter in the end. You cannot eliminate religion. If you strike it down in one form, it will rise up in another. If you’re an atheist and you’ve managed to shed all that, cool for you. You’re a rarity. Just like geniuses are. Or savants. Or true artists. Or serial killers, for that matter. You are not the norm if you have completely severed yourself from spiritual notions. That doesn’t make you bad or flawed, but it means you don’t see the world like most people do. You are an aberration. Perhaps a beautiful and wonderful one, but an aberration all the same. And, most likely, the majority of atheists who think they reject all divine/spiritual notions would find they worship at some kind of altar in life, if they were only to truly and honestly look at themselves.

Stop blaming the institutions or philosophies for how messed up the world is and how much evil there is in it. The blame for the world’s ills is much more pervasive.

It’s not God, real or imagined. It’s not religions. It’s not faith.

It’s all of us.

All. Of. Us.

All.

17
Sep
11

Twitter’s a Drug, Y’all!

So, I’m taking some time off. Wish I could say it was some time off work, but nah, it’s time off from Twitter. I’m going to give it a week and see how things are, then decide how often I want to be on it. (For the record, Twitter is my main form of social media…I hardly ever log into Facebook, Google+ or any of the other major or minor networks)

The decision (which I tweeted about, so people wouldn’t wonder where I went) struck some people as sudden, a few of my favorite tweeps among them—and my wife as well—but there’s a reason. Well, actually, more than one, but most of it boils down to time. Twitter takes time. It can take too much time, and when your life is already chronologically challenged like mine, that’s a big thing. Then again, most drugs are time-stealers.

Yeah, Twitter’s a drug. I said it. More on that in a minute. (And it doesn’t mean I think Twitter is bad.)

So, how did I get to the point I figured I need a good chunk of time off? Well, the tipping point came Saturday morning, when my wife told me she was a bit surprised I didn’t check on her the previous evening when she was sick, and simply came to bed at around 1:30 (which is a pretty usual time for me, just so you know), rolled over to my side, and went to sleep. Apparently, she meant it as a light comment. But it didn’t sound light. And my response led to a response by her which set up a nasty feedback loop. I won’t go into details. We both overreacted. Doesn’t matter who “started it” or who “overreacted more” or even if there was any quantitative difference. But an interesting thing that my wife did was to strongly suggest I not interact with her on Twitter anymore. The “why” isn’t important. What is important is the impression she had that my presence on Twitter with regard to her had caused her some hurt. (How does this tie in with the whole “not checking on her while sick” thing? Trust me, there’s a connection, but let’s not get off track now.)

Also, for what it’s worth, we’ve both apologized to each other for the morning weirdness, and my wife has indicated it’s not necessary for me to step back sharply on Twitter interactions with her nor mentions of her on Twitter. Nor did she ever tell me to stop tweeting for any amount of time. Let’s make that clear.

That very same day, a few hours after the blow-up between me and the wife had blown over, one of my tweeps responded to a tweet I had made the night before. It wasn’t an angry response, mind you. But it was a misunderstanding of the thrust of what I had posted online (Something to the effect of “By what strange alchemy does the Japanese language make most of the men sound angry and most of the women sound inherently giggly?”). My intent, aside from a slight bit of humor, was to point out that whenever I hear Japanese (and this is the only language I’ve witnessed this in), it so very, very often evokes specific gender differences and cultural mores in the very intonations. But my tweep first noted I was engaging in stereotyping and then in sexism. I wasn’t doing either, because my point was what it sounded like, not how I viewed the people who spoke the language, and I simply wondered at why that occurred in the speaking of that language so much.

It didn’t turn into a Twitter argument or anything. She’s reasonable and I explained myself. So, no bad blood. But, on top of the comments by my wife, it was another example of Twitter causing me to step in something I hadn’t intended to step into. Having cleaned up both messes (the encounters with the wife and the tweep) doesn’t make stepping into them to begin with any more pleasant.

So, I started thinking about Twitter. I started thinking about how I use it to be witty. Or snarky. Or edgy. Or insightful. Or banal. Or a combination of these and other things. I wondered if I’m using Twitter too much and trying too hard. Could it be that this particular social network was encouraging me to engage online frequently to the detriment of my interpersonal relationships (marriage, parenting, friendships, etc.)? I thought about how Twitter works in my life. Every few days or so, I might have a day when I didn’t check Twitter much, or at least not until nighttime when Little Girl Blue was in bed, but I pretty much checked it every day. Most days, I checked it frequently, and often I would go back a ways and see what tweeps were saying. Even when I didn’t go back far, just looking at responses to me or by my favorite people on Twitter could take a while.

Does it eat up all my time? No. I’m not addicted. But Twitter IS a drug of sorts.

This isn’t all bad. Alcohol is a drug, too. I like to have a glass or two of wine most nights. I like beers and ales. I rarely get drunk, but a light buzz is nice when the day is done and I no longer have to go anywhere by car or deal with deadlines. Also, almost every day of my life involves caffeine, which is also a drug. Nicotine and marijuana are both drugs, neither of which I have any particular grudge against. There are many other drugs, of course, that are of more concern to me and which I would likely never so much as touch, and most of them do tend to begin the ruin of many a person’s life. Then again, even the hardest drugs can be used more or less responsibly by a precious few people without leading to addiction, personality changes or whatever.

So, calling Twitter a drug isn’t an insult. I’m not knocking Twitter, nor am I making judgments or casting dispersions on people who use it. After all, I plan to come back to it. And Twitter isn’t the only form of social media that can eat at our time, sometimes too much so, or even lead to addictive behavior among some users.

Thing is, though, I could get more done if I stepped away from Twitter. In fact, by stepping away I’m already getting something done: I’m updating this blog for the first time in a while.

I’m trying to write commentary and short stories for four blogs that are solely my own (two publicly attached to my name and two that remain anonymous due to sexual content) and a fifth that I share with someone else (also anonymous and sexual in nature…yeah, I’m a randy kind of guy…sue me.)

Twitter easily eats a couple hours each day. Probably more many days. Sure, I stay up late and do a lot of the tweeting then, and it’s not like I tweet when I’m supposed to be doing work for my paying job, but it still eats up time. Time that could be used for other forms of writing I’ve been neglecting, my fiction being the one first and foremost in my mind. But I also could be catching up on the many movies I want to watch on DVD or streaming on Netflix. I could be catching up on several great cable TV series that I missed because Little Girl Blue hogs the TV during the day and evening. I could be reading more novels that I want to read.

Yeah, you noticed I didn’t mention family. That’s because I don’t do all that much social media when it’s family time or the wife and I are doing stuff. I’ve been known to check Twitter very quickly at times, for example, when we’re shopping or something and I’d otherwise be standing around looking clueless while my wife is picking out clothes for our daughter or something, but I rarely take it out if I’m actually supposed to be engaging with my family. Still, the fact I even do…however rarely and briefly…pull out my phone and turn on the Twitter app during the occasional meal out still says something about the druggy nature of Twitter.

Again, drugs aren’t all bad. If I’m losing my mind due to exhaustion I may need to guzzle my coffee quickly when my family is trying to talk to me. If I’ve had a really rough day, having a glass of wine at dinner might be a good idea just to chill a bit.

But to my mind, there are a lot things I could have been doing that I wasn’t because I was on Twitter (all my blogs have suffered in recent weeks for lack of regular updates, for one thing).

Am I giving Twitter up? No. I like it. It’s fun. And it doesn’t cause me to become violent, spend all my money, engage in hazardous sex, crash my car or anything like that. As far as drugs go, it’s not a bad one. But I’m going to clear my system of Twitter just a little and then reassess after a week how I feel and how often I really want to be on Twitter going forward. I need to find out how much I get done without it, to better gauge how much time I should spend with it in the future.

Maybe that will mean getting rid of many people whose tweets I rarely read. Maybe it will mean taking every other day off of Twitter. Maybe it will means a strict time limit each day. Who knows?

You won’t see me on Twitter for a week, give or take, but maybe you’ll see me here more often.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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You can reach Deacon Blue/Jeff Bouley at deaconbluemail@gmail.com.

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