Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adios Facebook

My oldest daughter has signed off permanently from Facebook. After a series of conflicts and misunderstandings caused by her use of this social network, she decided it wasn’t worth it. I understand her reasons and even, agree with her, but I’ll miss her daily comments and entertaining updates. It’s a shame that a handful of ignoramuses have caused this situation which also, have caused me pause to think about the overall use of Facebook.

My daughter was born to be a social being. By the time she'd turned one, she was jabbering constantly, with much of it already in English! She loved to communicate whether it was talking your ear off after school or writing novel length citations in cards or letters she frequently gave others. Facebook was created for people like her and its too bad it hadn’t remained in the hands of people like her; whose only objective is to happily and harmlessly stay in touch. Sadly there simply aren’t enough like her...

Originally Facebook was created as an online social networking site that people could play games, keep in touch and have fun poking one another. I don’t believe anyone thought that it would also, become a magnet attracting hackers whose only intent is to wreak havoc, a forum for malicious and often untrue bullying or an updated venue for gossip sessions. I never envisioned when I signed on many years ago, that it would devolve into such a setting, but given human nature; no one should be surprised. Even the old-fashioned forums such as “coffee” cliques, quilting circles or boys-night-out routinely fell into gossiping and back-stabbing others.

The problem with Facebook or any other online social network is that the assumed anonymity gives individuals additional courage to be more vicious. We just can’t enjoy fun, nontoxic interactions with one another without resorting to unprincipled behaviour. It’s seen everywhere that technology has allowed faceless communication as far back has Bell’s telephone. Sadly technology has unwittingly sanctioned a whole new social crisis; that of cyber bullying, personal defacement and humiliation.

Most of us would never admit to any of these crimes, but then most of us would never admit to the old-fashioned bullying and gossiping. But who is responsible for all these hurtful things? I know, I know...it’s “They”. “They” post spiteful statuses on Facebook. “They” send defaming text messages on their cell phones. “They” are responsible for this new wave of trouble.

It’s a shame that “they” drove my daughter off of Facebook, but when you think about it, maybe those of us who just want to enjoy some harmless socializing, we could opt to get together around someone’s kitchen table and just do it. You know...like the old days!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gamma Roars her Engine

I was at my 2 year old grandson's birthday party recently and while enjoying the festivities one of my beautiful, smart and interesting granddaughters asked me, "Gamma, come play with me?" Now this particular granddaughter wasn't the 14 year old. Oh noooo, that one may have asked me to trade make-up or dating tips; which I felt reasonably equipped to handle. No, the granddaughter in question was the 3 year old whose idea of play involves real play; like dolls and trucks for instance. What else could I say, but a resounding and eager, “Sure Honey, why not?”

Now I’m 55 and haven’t played with little trucks, cars or dolls for many years or perhaps, decades! This was going to be interesting! So down I went creaking and popping to the floor and began roaring the engine of the wee minivan she'd handed me. Honestly it must have sounded somewhere between a backfiring Mac truck and a bewildered grizzly bear woken in mid-winter, but it appeared to satisfy my granddaughter as she smiled approvingly at her dear "Gamma". Let the play begin!

My “girl” was a three inch Disney figurine of Cinderella while my granddaughter’s was Sleeping Beauty. Our props include the aforementioned minivan, two small train engines, a partial train track and one regular sized dump truck. Out of this I must create something called “play” that would entertain a three year old. I must have been triumphant because we'd barely begun act one of the three act play I’d hurriedly conjured up from the rusty recesses of my creative imagination, when two other wee party goers wanted to join our little duo.

Amid screeches of, “That’s mine!”, “I want that one!” and a plaintive, “Gammmmma...” the four of us attempted to sort out toys, while my mind I swiftly restructured our three act play to include two more players. Meanwhile, my ingenious granddaughter left and soon returned with several more Disney “girls” and a couple more vehicles thus, ending the prop distribution dilemma. In the meantime I desperately searched the room for an escape route, finding none; I decided the show must go on!

Although I can’t say any of the actors stayed on point, soon we were all knee deep into the storyline and everything was moving along quite nicely. That is until the frustrated two year old had an artistic fit and suddenly threw his “girl” and vehicle offstage and attempted to snatch my granddaughter’s! Naturally a tussle ensued which totally broke the ambiance of the moment. Creative temperaments can be so difficult to manage.... still with tempers settled down, the show managed to go on; while I continued to plan my getaway.

Aside from several more interruptions by artistic temperments we played... Disney “girls” danced and sang, trucks and trains raced and crashed, wee actors gleefully laughed the laughter of childhood; while “Gamma” lost track of time. Eventually our little group was interrupted by a signal from Grandpa that it was time to depart; silence fell upon our group. “Gamma” had to leave. The show was over. Amidst the “Awwwws” from the children, I heard a stranger speak for me saying, “Already?” “But we’re not done playing....”

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where did Moving Go?

While at my doctor's office the other day I read an article about a woman in Ontario who is spear-heading a grassroots movement to get children walking to school. It seems one day while waiting to pick up her own children after school, she noted how there were many parents doing the same. This troubled her enough to form a group; which I can't recall the name but, it was an initiative to urge schools to create walking routes so kids could walk safely to and from school. The article went into great detail regarding this initiative, which I won't go into, but it disturbed me to think that in a single generation we have been brought to the point of having to form movements to get our kids to move! This astounds me. What in the world happened?

In the past it never occurred to parents that we’d need to encourage our children to get moving? Childhood was naturally active. Our kids played actively; running, throwing balls, swimming, skating and yes, even walking. These were run of the mill activities that they did without thought or planning. When and how did we get so lazy?

It seems we mainly blame the progress of technology whereby kids have become glued to electronic games, television, etc. Even that industry is responding to our inertia by creating new games that simulate real activity such as tennis, ball-playing and roller skating. What became of the real deal? Why aren’t parents facilitating the bona fide activities? These commuter games aren’t terrible in and of themselves. They could actually be beneficial during inclement weather or fun for a change of pace, but they shouldn't’t be an indispensable tool to get our children off their butts.

Children are naturally active from the time they start to crawl. All, but the rarest kid loves to run, whoop, holler and in general drive adults crazy. Some are natural athletes, eager to join a sports team; others are more given to free-play creating any manner of rowdy games and activities. In the past parent’s greatest challenge was to modify and direct their actions and choice of activities. Never did we feel the need to create initiatives to get our kids moving and playing. Kids and play.... like milk and honey, peanutbutter and jam just went together.

Perhaps there’s more afoot than simply blaming the advances in technology for our children’s lassitude? Maybe we share the same disorder and are merely setting poor examples that our kids are emulating? After all children learn best through example? How often do we jump in the car when we could walk? How often is the elevator more alluring than the stairs? Do we swim, bike, skate or hike just for the fun of it? Do we walk to work, or park far enough away to enjoy a brisk walk at the beginning and end our day?

I believe we are built to move as an innate part of being human. Children move as a normal part of learning and discovering their world. This is how they discern their limitations and their natural, inborn talents. Movement is done spontaneously without scheduling. If we are concerned because our kids are always sitting around playing computer games or waiting for the ride to school, the fault may largely rest on us. We set the example. We set expectations and limitations. We facilitate activities. Maybe we should get off our butts, thereby starting our own initiative, setting the first and best example!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blogging with Purpose

I've been struggling for ages to take blogging seriously and post on a regular basis so; anyone who takes an interest can anticipate when a new post will take place. I've given my blog a loosely based theme about searching for Eden which I feel is what many of us truly desire. "Eden" represents a desire to live in peace, with happiness and a life filled with passion and purpose. I felt this would open up a world of blogging subjects that I could venture forth and share my thoughts on. It hasn’t happened for me and my question is “why not?”

Why haven’t I been able to post on a regular schedule? Are there not enough subjects I could gab about? Do I lack time to do this? Truth is there is lots of subject matter and I have plenty of time so, why do I lack motivation and consistency? I think there may be a couple of reasons why I’ve been so apathetic and lazy about blogging. One is that I don’t HAVE to do it. Secondly, which corresponds with the first reason is that I have no set schedule to follow. I’ve left it to random inspiration which apparently doesn’t hit me too often.

I want to write and I feel writing could be my calling in life. Yet, I know I need plenty of practice before I could entertain the notion of doing it professionally. When I discovered blogging (thanks to my oldest daughter) I thought, “Wow, this could be a perfect venue to become a better writer!” I still believe this, but it can’t help me if I don’t do it with serious intention. So, what to do about my lack of motivation?

I prayed about it and God gave me an answer. Yea! I found a blogging calendar in which I choose subjects ahead of time, set regular times for writing and study, schedule in consistent blogging days and basically approach blogging as if it were a job. It is 2011 calendar so I have almost two months to get my ducks in a row and make a commitment to regular blogging in hopes of giving any current readers a reliable supply of my witty and inspirational banter (dubious as that may be) as well has possibly gaining more readers and building up a regular audience. What better way to step up your game than to have someone scrutinizing it?

So, this is my plan for 2011. Wish me luck. Watch for the changes in content and purpose for my blog so, hopefully, one day I can begin to realize a life-long dream of becoming a writer...