I Have a Gripe

February 9, 2017

What Ever Happened to Being Polite?

Remember when Facebook first started? People would send each other pictures of Starbucks coffee and reconnect with long-lost high school friends.

My how things have changed.

Now social media is all about political hatred, being snarky to each other, and overall rudeness. It reminds me of how some people behave when they are in their car and get into fights with others stuck in traffic with you. It is easier to be mean to people when you aren’t face to face.

be-niceI know so many people who have fought with, unfriended, or blocked people they have known for years. Some are even family members. And even when you try to have a civil discussion with someone, it quickly turns hateful. Assumptions are made regarding political opinions, ancestry, religious beliefs, and the like; most of which are usually wrong. You know what they say about assumptions.

And while it has become worse since the presidential election, it was pretty bad beforehand. I even know many people who have given up on Facebook completely.

It is very sad. I feel like Grandma needs to give people a smack in the back of the head and remind some of good manners.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have no problem when people openly disagree with other’s opinions. This is a big part of what makes our country great. However, I do hate when things get snarky, rude, and downright mean. While I haven’t unfriended anyone, I have “unfollowed” and reduced the number of people that appear in my Facebook feed. I feel like there is more than enough hatred and negative energy in the world that I don’t need it showing up on my feed. For whatever reason, I easily pick up on other people’s energy and it is very hard for me to manage. I am also not going to set myself up for a beating by those who disagree with me. I find myself sharing less and less because I just don’t want to deal with the negativity that can come my way.

So I am asking for everyone who reads this to take a step back and think about what you are posting before you hit “post.” I haven’t walked in someone else’s shoes and I try to keep that in mind when I post something. Whether you call it the Golden Rule, Do Unto Others, Ethic of Reciprocity, or something else, I ask you keep that in mind.

It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.

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November 13, 2016

The “selling out” of the sisterhood

Filed under: News,Politics,Values — alvb1227 @ 7:59 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have been told I am the worst feminist ever. Guess what? I really don’t care. As the reaction to the presidential election continues, I saw an article that actually referred to Clinton losing as a “sell out” of the sisterhood.

Um, what? Seriously?

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I am not going to vote for someone just because of their gender or someone feels it is “about time” to have a woman as president. I am going to vote for someone based on who I feel will do a better job for this country and their interpretation of the Constitution.

Now, truth be told, I (like many) wasn’t really crazy for either of the candidates from the major parties.

I have posted about what I think feminism should be before and I know many disagree with me. And that’s OK. We are allowed to disagree with each other and still respect each other. I would like to share another example of why I often disagree with “the sisterhood.”

Last week I was in a conference room and was listening to a discussion between a few colleagues. I chose not to participate and just listened. They were talking about a very high-ranking executive and how inspiring she is. And yes, it is laudable she has achieved such success. Then the discussion turned slightly to “encouraging” girls to go into STEM careers, (don’t EVEN get me started on that one), and actively recruiting women for high ranking positions.

It took all my effort not to have what I refer to as a “gumball moment” (brain to the mouth like a gumball machine – absolutely no filter whatsoever). I just kept my mouth shut. I knew my opinions would not be appreciated.

First of all, I HATE STEM. As many of my regular readers know, the lack of the arts in school today has me over the top annoyed.

Yet, I digress.

If girls have an interest in something that happens to be a male-dominated field, such as a STEM field, then fine. If they don’t, that’s fine too. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have spent most of my career in male-dominated fields. First, in prepress and then in IT. Now, I didn’t expect special treatment because I was a woman. You know what I did? I worked. I proved I belonged there. When I worked in prepress, I was one of two women in a prepress role. The other women in the company included the secretary and two customer service reps. When I wanted to learn how to “strip” (film people, get your mind out of the gutter), I was told to “go back up by the computers where I belonged.” You know what I did? I took lunch times, after work, whenever possible, and showed I really wanted to learn. I eventually learned how to run a vertical camera, fix and maintain a film developer, and make bluelines. I showed them with my work ethic that I deserved a spot. I didn’t bitch about being a woman gave me a right or that they were being sexist.

I often tell another story about a man I worked with in the printing realm. He was not a fan of women in the industry and generally wasn’t quiet about it.Again, I just went about doing my job and increasing my knowledge. When a major problem took place he said I should be the one to go fix the problem. That I was the only one who knew what I was doing. That was probably the best compliment I ever received. I won this guy over. Not because I complained that I deserved his respect. I earned his respect.

That’s what I want. To earn someone’s respect. Not demand it because I am a woman. That includes demanding a particular job because there should be more women. All that is just crap.

Now I’m not naive enough to say there is no such thing as sexism. If someone doesn’t respect me just because I’m a woman, then that really isn’t a person I want to be around anyway. Throughout my career, I’ve experienced the “boy’s club” first hand. Yes, I’ve missed promotions and I’m sure it had to go with my gender. And yes, it made me angry. The way I looked at it, they didn’t deserve my respect. I continued to do my job to the best of my ability and ultimately, the joke was on them. They missed out on a great employee that could’ve provided even more of a contribution than the position I was in at the time.

So people ask me “well, what would you tell today’s young girls?” I would tell them the world doesn’t owe you a damn thing. You will come up against adversity in life and you will have to deal with it. Don’t cry sexism and demand respect. Earn it. Don’t feel obligated to go into a STEM career because you are being told to “break the glass ceiling” or some other nonsense. Believe in yourself. Rely on yourself. Know that you can take whatever is thrown at you. Be strong. And don’t feel you need to be what I call a “traditional feminist” because you always need to support “the sisterhood.” Being a feminist should be more than about supporting the sisterhood. It should be about not being afraid to go your own way. Even when it’s not popular with fellow femme fatales.

August 30, 2016

Freedom of Expression vs. Freedom from Consequences

“There’s a place in the world for the angry young man. With his working class ties and his radical plans. He refuses to bend he refuses to crawl. And he’s always at home with his back to the wall. And he’s proud of his scars and the battles he’s lost. And struggles and bleeds as he hangs on his cross. And likes to be known as the angry young man”
~ Billy Joel

So last week Colin Kaepernick turned a hose on the hornet’s nest by choosing to sit during the National Anthem before a pre-season game when the San Francisco 49ers took on the Green Bay Packers. His reason was to protest the treatment of minorities by police and other groups within the United States.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

I have been a fan of the Niners since childhood. I had a SERIOUS crush on Joe Montana. I thought it was terrible when Alex Smith was traded and Kaepernick took over as the first string quarterback. But, I went with it. I thought he was a good player, but I didn’t think it was right that Smith lost his job because he was injured.

Kaepernick’s decision has sparked commentary, debate, and anger from what seems like every side of the ongoing discussion about race in the United States today. Personally, I disagree with his decision to sit down. I feel it is disrespectful to all of the members of the military and their families that sacrifice for our freedom. I love my country and I can’t imagine not standing.

The NFL does not have a policy on making players stand during the National Anthem. I know of people who do not stand during the Pledge of Allegiance or the Anthem and while I disagree with their decision to do so, it is their right to not participate.

Everyone makes their own decisions. That’s what this country is all about. We need to be willing to tolerate decisions made by others, even when we don’t agree. It is when people refuse to listen to each other when we don’t agree that debate turns to hateful vitriol.

Now what?

So Kap stirred up debate across the country. He has everyone’s attention. Now what? I would hope he uses this attention to do something positive. Go into communities where you feel there are issues and start a dialogue. Listen to everyone. Respect flows both ways.

Here’s the rub…

Now here’s where things get rough. Exercising your freedom of expression can come with consequences. There are rumors that Kap may be released from the Niners. He hasn’t been performing well, but it is interesting that this rumor begins to circulate right after he refuses to stand for the National Anthem. The point to remember is that if you are going to go out on a limb you need to be ready for whatever comes your way. Some people will be supportive and understanding, while others will vocally disagree. Still others will reduce to name calling and other nonsense.

“I believe I’ve passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage. I found that just surviving was a noble fight. I once believed in causes too. I had my pointless point of view. And life went on no matter who was wrong or right.”
~ Billy Joel

There have been times over the years where I opened my mouth in the name of what I felt was right. Sometimes the wind was with me and other times I got hit hard. I used to be a pretty serious hot head. Call it getting old (I prefer to call it “wisdom in age”), but maybe I am learning to approach things differently. I try to remember the old “honey vs. vinegar” line. I try to remind myself that I have not walked in someone’s shoes. Yes, I still get angry, but I try to stay calm and hear the other side before I spin like a top. When someone starts yelling, I stop listening, so I assume others will do the same. It doesn’t always work, but I try to remember that we are all works in progress.

August 7, 2016

Journalist vs. Commentator

This shouldn’t be semantics or money. People will read this, and they’ll believe us.
~Henry Hackett, The Paper

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. More specifically, I wanted to be a journalist. One of my favorite movies is The Paper and my favorite classes in college were my journalism and print production classes. I did well in those classes, and more importantly, I was good. I wrote for The Setonian, my college paper, and even elevated to News Editor at one point. I wrote some pieces that made me very proud. There was a racially-charged fight on campus that I covered. I did some stupid things, like go to a guy’s dorm room alone to get his side of the story. I went (well, I tried) to a BSU meeting to get a comment. They asked me to leave, but I got the story. I wound up getting threats and was assigned an escort to go to classes for awhile. I pissed everyone off. I knew I was covering the story right when I got hit from both sides. It was a rush. Too bad Hurricane Irene flooded my basement and all my clips went in the dumpster.

Layout nights weren’t always a lot of fun (yes, old school layout, like running galleys through waxers and making box corners with 2pt rule and a blade). They were especially painful when layout would last until 3:00 a.m., my news writing class was at 8:00 a.m. and I was allowed zero excuses to miss. I still loved it and learned a lot. I could read upside down and backwards so I could understand how typesetting progressed. I memorized the AP Stylebook (I still have my original spiral bound copy) and to this day when I read a news story or hear a reporter on television, I am mentally editing what they are reporting based on my learning from my advisor, Professor (now PhD) Gottlieb.

When Dr. Gottlieb (who was also the advisor of the paper) would review my work for approval to publish and gave me a “good job” it was the ultimate high. In 1991 I received the Wordsmith Award for an essay I wrote. I was also a finalist in the photography category. It was awesome. I had grandiose plans of becoming a hard journalist and eventually an investigative reporter.

Well, I graduated into the worst job market in decades and took whatever job I could. I did wind up in print production, so it was at least an area I really enjoyed. My journalism plans, however, were put on the shelf. As the Internet rose in popularity and print began its slow descent, I had to find something else. I became the exact opposite of a journalist – a flack. I now work in digital marketing and specialize in SEO and analytics. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud that I am self-taught in all this technology and am always learning more. I am, however, very sorry I never had that chance to become a real journalist. At least I have my blogs that feed my writing outlet.

Why am I explaining all this? There’s a reason, trust me.

I hate columnists! Why do I have all these columnists? I got political columnists, guest columnists… celebrity columnists – The only thing I don’t have is a dead columnist. That’s the kind I could really use…. We reek of opinions. What every columnist at this paper needs to do is to shut the fuck up.
~Bernie White, The Paper

I read and watch a lot of news and every day I am increasingly ill. The profession I so desperately wanted is now a joke. Journalist, columnist, commentator – at one point in history they were all individual jobs. Now it is hard to tell the difference. For example, look at the following two headlines and ledes that cover that same story:

The New York Times
Can G.O.P. Tell Donald Trump, ‘You’re Fired’? Probably Not
We are in the midst of yet another of Donald J. Trump’s self-inflicted spirals of terrible news. And with prominent Republicans saying they will back Hillary Clinton and others announcing this week that they won’t endorse Mr. Trump, there has been yet another round of speculation about how the party could get rid of him.

ABC News
Senior GOP Officials Exploring Options if Trump Drops Out
Republican officials are exploring how to handle a scenario that would be unthinkable in a normal election year: What would happen if the party’s presidential nominee dropped out?

ABC News has learned that senior party officials are so frustrated — and confused — by Donald Trump’s erratic behavior that they are exploring how to replace him on the ballot if he drops out.

Neither of these pieces are labeled as an editorial. The New York Times piece, however, reads like a blog post. This is NOT news. It is opinion peppered with news. The ABC News piece is more down the line.

Here is another example.

Chicago Tribune
Body cams give close-up, disturbing view of fatal police shooting
Newly issued body cameras worn on the front of officers’ vests provided a disturbing, close-up view of the tragic events and questionable decisions made when Chicago police fatally shot an African-American teen trying to flee in a stolen sports car.

The word “disturbing” should not be anywhere in the headline and the lede is even worse. I was taught to ALWAYS take care when using adjectives and adverbs. This is NOT objective journalism. It is meant to incite.

There have been many different topics recently in the news that have been provocative. The presidential election, race relations, and a lot more. Unfortunately, many in the news industry and not hiding their personal opinions and biases.

This is not the level of journalism that sparked my soul. Maybe Dr. Gottlieb should teach some reminder classes.

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