Don Hartness

A scribe in an alien world

I deleted my Facebook account…

and nobody noticed (the link is for those that don’t know why; it’s written into the code). I didn’t stop there either. Although I still have a Twitter account (on the right here) and a Google+ account (since I use Google’s platform), they amount to nothing more than a directory listing (I was going to say “phone book”, until I remembered that some may not know what that is).

All of that is besides the point. Here is the point: I couldn’t be happier.

Over the last year, I’ve made some new friends. They come from different backgrounds, economic classes, and genders, but each relationship has one thing in common: it’s not online. It’s offline. I don’t see them or talk to them everyday. Some I don’t see for weeks. But when I do spend an hour or two with any of them, the interaction is a precious jewel that I cherish for the rest of the day. By forging these relationships, I realized something that others are beginning to see, although it’s hard to put into words.

In a previous post, I made an off-hand comment that researchers have discovered that loneliness can actually kill you. If that is true (and there is a lot of research to support it), then social media is the first step. To use an analogy, social media is to genuine human connection what an endless diet of chocolate cake is to good nutrition. There’s nothing wrong with a little chocolate cake, or even a semi-regular helping of it.

But when it’s all you eat, wellllll…

Some have tried to describe this ethereal human connection that social media just can’t satisfy (such as here and here) and they’re quite good, but the link below is the best I’ve seen so far (since it captures everything the other articles are hinting at).  I got this link from a friend of mine and it is, quite possible, the best four and a half minutes you’ll spend all year.

If you worry about the effect of social media, or you find yourself increasingly lonely in spite of all of your “friends”, then this one is for you. Perhaps your New Year’s Resolution should have been to lay off the chocolate cake?

Loneliness Illustrated so Beautifully You Will Need to Tell Someone

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A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household

Suppose you grow up in a town along the coast. This town is on the edge of a large inlet bay, from which the town makes its living by fishing the waters in the bay. As you grow up, it is commonly assumed that you will make your living from either directly fishing the bay, or from  supporting those who fish the bay, just like everyone else.

However, you’re different than the others. Whereas they are content with provincial life, you wonder where the bay empties. You ask around. You are told that the bay empties into something called an “ocean”. Your elders tell you that only fools dare to head out into this ocean. Many have perished, and if you don’t get these silly ideas out of your head, you will too. Read the rest of this entry »

Painting with words

The ineffectiveness of language is astounding.

Oxford estimates that the English language contains approximately a quarter of a million words.  If you count all the slang words exchanged in everyday speech, there could easily be three times that number.  Since words are the building blocks a writer uses to convey a thought, a concept, an ideal, or an emotion, you would think, with these words at his/her disposal, that a writer could effectively construct anything their heart desires.

Sadly, this is not the case. Read the rest of this entry »

I hate Christmas

There. I said it.

I thought about waiting until after the holiday to say it. Just because I hate Christmas doesn’t mean you should. Did you have fun opening your gifts? Did you get some time with your family? Did you enjoy your family’s traditions? For all of this, and many more, I say “Good” and “I’m happy for you.” I truly mean that.

But I think it’s important to take a moment, between the wrapping paper and the eggnog, to ponder what follows. No, this post is not a Debbie-downer (it does have an upbeat note at the end, I promise).  I also don’t want a pity party for me. I’m not telling you what follows because I want you to feel sorry for me. Rather, my hope is that you remember what follows when the next holiday rolls around (if it’s too late for this season). If you do, maybe you can remove the sting a bit for those that share my sentiment.

There are more of us than you realize. Read the rest of this entry »

Human privilege

One of the classes I’m taking in preparation for my graduate program (and the major reason I haven’t been blogging much lately, if you were wondering), is social psychology. It has been, by far, the most entertaining subject that I have studied in a long time, the reasons for which are the subject of another post (or quite possibly a series). The recent topic is racism and prejudice. Our instructor showed us the following video by Tim Wise, an anti-racism author and speaker who also happens to be white. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with Tim Wise’s political views (as some who follow me know, I could care less about politics in general) but I think he makes a very convincing case in this presentation. It is 55 minutes of your life well spent:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SIINVfqnxw

Our class was asked to write a paper on one thing we learned from the video. Being the overachiever I am, I didn’t write about one thing: I expounded upon the whole subject . What can I say? It touched a nerve. My essay follows below: Read the rest of this entry »

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