Posted in Musings and Reflections

A Hidden Life – Why I’m Leaving Facebook

Recently I had the privilege of attending a pre-showing of the movie “A Hidden Life.” To say that I was profoundly affected would be an understatement. I sense that there will be other changes occurring in my life as I continue to reflect on the quiet faith and conviction of an Austrian farmer, yet there is one that I feel I must make in the new year.

That change is to leave Facebook, at least the public, manually posting part. (My PeaceGrooves and Lyndaker Inlay pages will update automatically when I post to my blogs for now I think, but I will not be maintaining them or overally obsessing about visits, comments, etc).

I have appreciated connecting and re-connecting with many folks I have known over the years. I have been encouraged by comments and likes for various posts or endeavors I have shared.

Yet I have also been frustrated by the tendency for folks to engage in online discussions that are really not very productive or to present opinions that they otherwise would not dare to do so face to face. In other words, there seems to be a greater appreciation of the relationship, lack of ego as it were, when one does not have the distance the internet provides. There is also an illusion of it being a safe place to share anything when the reality is, it is anything but.

There is a moment near the end of the first Highlander movie when the main character states that with his new powers, if he is quiet, he can hear the thoughts of everyone in the world. As much as I would love to, I can’t, nor can I keep up with the lives of my friends on Facebook. I’m not the Highlander. Nor am I God. I cannot nor should I strive to be omnipresent. And it can be overwhelming at times looking into the rather strange window that persons choose to present on FB. As much as I feel I have something to share too, there is quite a cacophony out there, with a plethora of voices competing to be heard, and so, as difficult as it may be, I am going to remove one voice, my own, from the noise.

I began by limiting the notifications I received, even at the cost of missing birthdays. Still I found myself succumbing to the temptation to visit FB. I continue to be in the process of limiting all of my notifications, because I am realizing that my everyday life is constantly being interrupted and my ability to remain attentive is subverted by the distractions. I have yet to find a notification, however important, that fits the definition of “the one necessary thing.” I must ask myself if I am growing more receptive to the still small voice that calls me from my cave (internet cafe?) or less so as a result.

The older I get, the more I realize that I am on borrowed time, and there is no substitute for real rather than virtual interactions with people. If I am honest with myself I have fallen into the illusion of connection that FB presents. I must also confess that I have sought out validation based on responses or lack thereof to my posts. And I must ask myself if my online presence is truly Christlike or is it quite frankly about feeding my ego?

I must admit that I spend way too much time online. Am I happier as a result? I don’t think so. I also wonder if some of my discontentment is fostered by my scrolling through FB posts. I did see a survey awhile back that stated that folks who left FB were less informed, but happier. Am I the only one obsessed with information, suffering within the paradox of sensory overload yet never getting enough? And do I really want to keep giving away pieces of myself and my loved ones to the internet giants?

Part of this is about taking my life back. Like Pavlov’s dog, I have been well trained. And similarily, no matter how much I salivate, the bell, however loud, is no substitute for real food.

I’m not withdrawing from the world. Rather I hope to be more fully engaged in the world….the real one. I seek less face-time or Face-book, and more face to face. I invite anyone to visit or give me a call. My line and door will always be open.

Or feel free to comment here or zip me an email. I do intend to continue to explore contemplative writing as long as it does not feed the ego and remains prayer, which requires much practice. To that end, I have found blogging quite helpful. Again I welcome your responses and reflections here now and for future posts.

I hope to do more longer length writing. Perhaps on paper like I used to and not so much on the screen. I’ll keep working with my hands. I’ll still have an online presence I think but I want to be fully open to the possibility that perhaps I should have none.

Other changes are in the wind I think as I continue to reflect on what it means to live A (more) Hidden Life.

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree (Poems)

Detente of Discomfort

this world of love hate
a presence on the web
leads to reconnections
with old friends
affirmations of life events
and yet tis so easy to
forget the one necessary
to become distracted
to lose oneself to the
fear of hacking
(a strange word, so like a bad cough when you think about it, disease?)
to join the endless narcissism

i go back and forth
to keep or delete my account
that is the question
and others
to remove myself
from it all and return to what was before
would i miss it?
is my life so much
better now?
or have i merely succumbed
to the virtual voices crying out
when what i really need
who i need to connect
is the one of flesh and blood right here
before me?

for now it is enough
to keep these questions
ever before me lest
i forget who i was
the days before i
was snared by the web
trembling here with
the myriad connections
in a kind of
detente of

Posted in Musings and Reflections

From Facebook to Amazon, these are the default privacy settings you should change – The Washington Post

Hi folks,

This is a pretty important (and kind of scary) article on protecting your privacy, and what information/activity is automatically being recorded mostly without our knowledge.

I spent today following the recommendations. I suggest you do the same.

Posted in Musings and Reflections

Stop Blaming Facebook for Your Stupidity

Maybe it’s because we don’t have to put “www” in front of urls anymore, but there seems to be a collective amnesia as to exactly what the internet is.

AKA, the World Wide Web.

As in the most. public. place. ever.

As in anything you post on the internet can be seen by anyone.

So show some discretion, people!

Vet the links you share before you share. Make sure you’re not a mouth piece for some entity masquerading as something completely different.

Heck, vet your rants and opinions before you post them. Ever looked back on something you wrote years ago and been embarrassed? Yeah, well the journal entries are a little more public now, aren’t they?

Think! Reflect! Then respond.

Stop reacting to the latest . . . well . . . whatever!

Stop being a slave to the 24/7 news cycle. No news is good news, right?

And above all, stop leaving the responsibility of protecting your privacy with Facebook, Google or any of the host of, well, other web hosts.

If you don’t want the world to know where you live, what your kids, your body, or your dirty laundry look like, then quite simply don’t click upload.

Sure, Facebook needs to be held accountable for Russian trolls, fake ads, Cambridge Analytics, and such. There is much they can do to clean things up.

But really? Really?!

“C’mon, man!”

It’s the World Wide Web, for Chris Christie’s sake.

Fix Facebook?

Sure, but you might want to try some of them same tools on yourself.

Editor’s note: Midweek Essays are posted every Wednesday. See the publication schedule for details.

Posted in Longreads and Essays

The Complex of a Thousand Eyes

Eye Window by kmlsI am a mirror.
I reflect exactly what I feel a person thinks of me.

I am always sensitive to the people around me, constantly being distracted, when perhaps conversing with one person, or even when I am alone, by thoughts of another, brought on by sight mostly. In the classroom, in the cafeteria, while walking to and from class, when I feel the presence of someone I may or may not know near me (out of the corner of my eye), my thoughts quickly turn to that person. I become that person and try to see me through their eyes. What do they think about me? And so I try to act what I think they see me as and if I don’t feel they see me as “good,” I will talk loudly so they can hear. I don a quick masquerade to raise, or even lower me in their eyes, to put forth an image of falseness.

To those whom I wish to open myself to, I do. To those I do not, I do not. But it all depends on how they see me. I am like a looking glass, clearing long enough sometimes to allow brief glimpses of the real me, someone I don’t even know, but remaining cloudy, murky, most of the time. This is so I can play my little game of mockery, of flitting to an fro from extremes, not allowing anyone to put a handle on me, to point to one description and say that is me. By becoming for a moment the person they see me as, I give them a false impression of who I am and so the game goes on. It is a form of protection. The lie is that I am manipulating, mocking, them, when in actuality I am allowing them to manipulate me, to constantly live a life of masquerade, a lie.

It is a complex. To feel wherever I walk seemingly thousands of eyes watching my every move like buzzards waiting for the kill so that when one false move is made they will pounce upon me in my weakness. Perhaps this is a very dim view of my fellow peers, but as a mirror, I wonder if I am not reflecting what many other people, even you, feel. Can you feel them like live coals burning into your back? It is the old fear of the unknown. Not knowing what if anything a person is thinking of me. So I try to figure it out and in panic put on a masquerade of indifference, of ignorance, of not giving a damn, when in actuality my very life depends on it. Every fiber of my being cries out for the acceptance of others, to be seen as I really am: a man who has been hurt and who wants to break the barriers of his own hurt, to see and help the hurting of others.

This is a result of being mocked as a child, of being broken down unmercifully, until all that remained was my pride which is like unto a monster now, self-conceit to build myself up, to admire myself because I feel no one else does. That is the dilemma, the never ending circle. For nothing turns off the acceptance of other people more than being obnoxious, indifferent or self-conceited. These monsters which cloud the vision of myself to others must be slain and the glass must clear to reveal a weak, bleeding heart that will only thrive and be hurt in the world outside. This must be done soon or like all mirrors in time this one will soon crack and shatter into a thousand little pieces from which no one, not even God, can piece back together.

Or perhaps it is this brokenness which leads to healing. Is it a lack of faith in the creative power of the Almighty to say that He cannot mend the pieces of a shattered life? There must be release from the Complex of a Thousand Eyes and, Lord, if that means to be shattered where nothing within is hidden and my true self is revealed, weak and unprotected, then so be it. Lord, I am willing.

My God, I hope I am willing.

Journal Entry – March 2, 1987, 4:30pm