Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Have Lost My Patience

Recently I read a post, Decency and T-Shirts,  over at Older Eyes concerning the Utah mom that was offended by some T-shirts displayed in the Pac Sun store in Odum, Utah.  (BTW...Older Eyes is such a great blog.  I highly encourage anyone that wants to read thought-provoking, interesting articles to go over there. )

As I was saying...up to the point, I read Bud's article concerning Judy Cox's displeasure with the T-shirts, I knew nothing of the story.  For any of you, that also might be unaware of the details let me catch you up... a mother was shopping with her 18 year old son  in a mall in Odum, UT and passed a window display of t-shirts showing scantily clad women. Odum, UT is a city that is made up in large part by members of the Church of Latter Day Saints members and has some rather stringent laws pertaining to the display of sexually explicit material.  Judy felt the shirts in question violated those local "decency" laws.  After speaking to the store's management, she was told that the display was a corporate decision outside of her control. Then.. she went to the mall management.  They basically told her that they would check into the matter but it would take some time.

Soooo...Judy went back to the store and bought every one of the shirts that she deemed too explicit for a store that caters to young children.  She was quoted as saying "These shirts clearly cross a boundary that is continually being pushed on our children in images on the Internet, television and when our families shop in the mall."  She paid $567.00 for the shirts and says that she plans to return them before the 60 allowable return date policy by Pac Sun.  She hopes that in that time she can work on the policies that allow them to be displayed.  In the mean time, the shirts won't be available to purchase.

Anyway...my post isn't really about whether Judy is being too over-reactionary or too "up tight" or too puritanical as much as it is my dismay at how people have reacted to the story.

After I read Older Eyes article, I Googled the subject and was shocked at the reaction to people to Judy and/or her purchase of the shirts. Overwhelmingly people ranted against her and often gave her implicit directions on "what she could do".  Some of the more imaginative suggestions involved Judy's husband.  Crude, to say the least.

Thought Number One:  Virtuous or Villainous

If you are a comment reader like me, I would be curious if you find as time goes on that more and more the comment sections are full of venom and animosity. It seems for every rational, intelligent point of view there are dozens that are vile.  In response to the offending T-shirts article,  Gawker had hundreds of comments vilifying people of various religions including Mormons, Catholics, and generally Christians.  (one guy called them Christens...which made me think if you are going to insult a group at least spell the group's organization correctly) saying:

Please stop insulting both our intelligences and just say what you mean to say when you throw around the word "family": "White, heteronormative Christian families where women are treated like sexual cattle". This would be both more precise and less subtly offensive to everyone who doesn't fit your rigid, bullshit.

Over at the New York Daily News the very first comment says: The American Taliban are alive and well in Utah. Time to send in the troops.

After reading dozens of comments making the leap that anyone associated with organized religion is a zealot or assume that they stereotypically have only one way of looking at things,  I became more than a little irritated.   I would be hesitant to use the phrase "old fashion" values as it might imply that I am not opened minded regarding current social issues.  I tend to be very liberal by nature, so most things I would be firmly in the "pro" column but I am also Christian. (or Christen as the case may be)

(I only mention this in passing as, I am very respectful  of other people's choices to follow/practice a religion or not.   Who am I to think that my thoughts on the subject are any more accurate that yours?)

Back to the topic at hand...Not every Christian is as easily offended as Judy as far as T-shirts in the mall.  But in her defense.  She didn't rob the store and hold someone at gun point, she bought up the product that she wanted removed.  I admire she followed her conscience.  I am laid back on that sort of thing, I would of just walked on by.  If I had been with my 18 year old we probably would of had a discussion  that was very frank. I wasn't the kind of parent that tried to shield my kids from much. (By the time my kid was 18 I am pretty sure he knew what girl's parts looked like and wouldn't have been caught dead in a trashy t-shirt depicting semi-naked women.)

BUT...Really, when did having a belief system (within the confines of being legal and moral) set people up as being the enemy?  When did having virtues become so abhorrent and vile?

Thought Number Two:  Being KIND is a virtue.

I was looking at various lists of "virtues" in preparation for today's post.  There are numerous sites that have varying lists of supposed virtues.  For a master list of  Virtues, Vices, and Values you can click here.  How handy to have a list to tell you what traits are the good ones to have versus what traits aren't.

All in all, my thought here today is that while I believe in people's right to express their opinions, whatever those opinions would be...WHY can't they be expressed in a kind and mannerly way?  Why does every little incident require animosity and confrontation?

Can't we agree to disagree. OR discuss things in a civil manner?

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Did You Just Say That?


 Have you ever wondered if comments that you made in passing or thoughts you posted online, were received in the manner you meant them? 

It seems that this week, I am both the receiver and the deliverer of ill-conceived comments. 

Thought Number One:  You Might of Phrased that a Tad Better

Several times this past week, I have found myself irritated at what I know to be comments made in passing.  The commenters in each case,  didn't mean anything personal but, never the less, I felt a pinch.

sweetest cat ever!!
In an effort to catch you up to how the comments came about...I have a little Russian Blue cat, Carmen. Carmen is 14 and has been my sweet pet since she was a 3 month old kitten.  A few months ago, Carmen appeared to have a stuffy nose.  HMMM...can cats get colds?  I took her to her vet and after a series of tests..nothing seemed wrong.  Allergies?  She got some appropriate medicine but no improvement.

A month later, she had lost a pound.  On a seven pound cat that is a lot of weight loss.  More tests ensued... still nothing showed up.  Another pound was lost.

 My vet referred me to a specialist.  An  endoscopy, a CT scan and a biopsy later, we were told the sad news that Carmen has a very aggressive cancer in her nasal passages.  Radiation would be far worse than the cancer, but there is a medicine available to inhibit the growth of the tumors in the short term.  Carmen is now being pampered in our own little version of hospice until we deem other actions need to be taken. 

ANYWAY.... I was telling my manicurist about this sad turn of events, when the person sitting in the next chair decided to weigh in.  After making it clear she is a "dog person" she went on to say that she would never spend more than $200.00 on an animal.  "They are animals after all" ....according to her. (Clearly...she doesn't know my Carmen, or she wouldn't say that.)

Then... a friend who really was trying to console me, mentioned a member of her extended family had just lost a dog. She said she was sympathetic as she knew losing a pet is difficult.  She said she was tempted to get her family member a cat but  her family hates cats. 

Now...I know neither of those people were trying to be cruel or insensitive but, of course, I am overly sensitive right now on the subject.

Which leads me back to the idea...there is such a  fine line between what we deem innocuous comments and comments that possibly are hurtful or offensive. 

Thought Number Two:  Misinterpretations

I usually err on the side of caution, as far, as making comments go.  I have, for example,  never asked a woman "When is your baby due?" only to find out the woman isn't expecting. Nor have I ever called a person by the wrong gender, even if I had no idea if it was a man or a woman. (Actually, I am very good at using unisex pronouns...it's a gift, really.)

 BUT....a couple of days ago I left a comment on a blog that was "in part" misinterpreted and "in part" not written as concisely as I should have written it. It might not be apparent by my various posts, but I try my best not to be unkind. My comment wasn't meant to offend or be rude. I tend to think that is how it was received.  After reading the blog author's response, I sincerely wished:  1. That I hadn't left a comment.  2.  That I had written that comment differently. 

(BTW...fellow, bloggers...I appreciate those of you that have contact emails available so if there are thoughts that we would share outside of wanting them to appear on the comment section.  Some of my best comments come from those of you that email me directly.)

But in most cases of making "less than tactful" comments, usually there is no
Everything is open to interpretation.
taking it back.  That is especially true on the Internet.

I had a friend that had the unfortunate habit of every time she was upset by anyone or anything, she would immediately go home and shoot off an email to "state her case."  This caused her immeasurable pain in the long run.  Often she was remorseful about her ill-advised emails and lamented that she had to quit doing that.

 Seven years ago, she and her daughter had a disagreement.  In her usual manner, she sent off a volatile email  bringing up every old wound she could think of.  The daughter, responded by blocking her phone, emails and every other form of contact.  Oh, my friend tried, hundreds of times to apologize through a myriad of ways....to no avail.  Then my friend died last September.  Her daughter did not come to the funeral. 

I have to say, I saw the original email and while tactless, it wasn't  the worst exchange I have ever seen between mothers and children, so I fault the daughter on being extremely overreationary. Still...how does anyone know how the other person perceived something without the sake of a two-way, face-to-face conversation?

 Times are a' changin' as far as the bravado of commentary and the apparent over-reaction to those comments thanks in part to people being able to remain somewhat anonymous, the widespread availability of ways to instantly send your thoughts to someone, and the ease of use of electronic messaging...all allow for people to say exactly what they want to say with no filters.

Be aware though,  those thoughts that you send out might in time cause you regret in some form. OR maybe you feel perfectly justified in saying whatever you feel like saying.....Just keep in mind, you may have wounded someone with your misguided barbs.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Would That Be Considered Age Appropriate?

Beware ageism, sexism, cynicism, skepticism...I will find you where ever you are...Some of you
I will embrace, some of you I won't

I am realizing as I age, I have become very aware of various "isms".  A hyper-awareness, really.  My powers for sensing any of the "isms" borders on "Superpowers".  This is especially true in regards to ageism, skepticism, cynicism, and sexism. 

Thought Number One:  What Were They Thinking?

So imagine my shock and dismay when I heard that Itunes  pulled the app "Plastic Surgery & Plastic Doctor & Plastic Hospital" game off of their site.   I wasn't shocked by it going away as much as I was shocked to discover it had existed and I had missed it.

It turns out that that this app was geared for girls NINE years old and older to "fix" the unattractive girl and make her more Barbie like. According to the games intro, it says "This unfortunate girl has so much extra weight that no diet can help her.  Will you operate, Doctor?"  Then the player  gets to inject her with anesthetic, make incisions with a scalpel, and suck the excess fat from her body with what appears to be a bicycle pump.

Already, I see a problem.

Lipo and a face lift...that is going to hurt

Really?  They use a bicycle pump?  Who knew???

Who would of thought this was fun or appropriate for young girls to judge the girl as unattractive and then "need" to fix her?  Evidently the creator, who is listed as  Corina Rodriquez , thought this was a great premise for a game. The people at EverydaySexism weren't laughing and started a Twitter campaign to protest. Evidently, the public's disapproval resulted in the game being dropped. 

I, absolutely agree with the EverydaySexism people,  that there is a component of sexism involved with the game but there are a lot of other  "nesses" and "isms"  involved as well. I would say one of the biggest issues is the  age inappropriateness with a dab of ageism. To me, it appears that there are a couple of  issues with regards to age.  The age of the "unfortunate" fat girl is targeted to a younger woman...the implication that women are not able to be anything other than young and beautiful.  

Thought Number Two: Speaking of  Age Inappropriateness

As all my readers know, I tend to be conflicted on most issues and aging and body image is currently resting smack-dab on the top of the heap of things that bother me.

That is the complete list. Let me know if I left any out.

In one breath, we are hearing more and more "experts" tell us we need to love our bodies and except ourselves for who we are.  BUT, how is that possible when we are constantly bombarded by programming and marketing that reinforces that only young, perfect bodies are beautiful.  I feel  a pinch of hypocrisy every time a commercial comes on that talks about anti-aging products while the model who is smearing the miracle product on her face is still in her 30s. 

I am all "in" on working diligently to ward off  the effects of aging.  Eating right...check!  Exercise...check!  But, let's be realistic.  There isn't anyone that is going to look 30 when they are 70 or 80 even if they spend 100s of thousands of dollars on plastic surgery. Last week when Oprah turned 60, there were several interviews that claimed 60 is the new 40.  One interviewer compared Oprah to a 30 year old.  (can we say "suckup?)  NUH-UH...60 is still 60.  Some people carry it off better than others for sure....but a 60 year old has still been around for sixty long years.

Just this morning, I had a run-in with feeling my age....well actually I was feeling like a 7 year old in a time warp.   I had to have a wisdom tooth pulled this morning.  (I would say if there are numerous errors in this post, I might suggest that pain drugs are causing that....that's the excuse for today anyway.)
I haven't lost a tooth since I was a kid.  In fact, it was so long ago, I don't really remember the last tooth that was pulled. Of course, on those teeth it was more the "wiggle, wiggle" bite into something and it's out...kind of deal.   This time it was more complicated with an oral surgeon involved.  Why my wisdom tooth decided to come in at this late date and start crowding the other teeth that had already staked their claim on my limited amount of gum real estate, I have no idea.  That tooth, doesn't understand that coming in at this late date is not age appropriate.  Guess we showed him. 

Do I get a lollipop after this is over?  No ...not even a free toothbrush???

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Oh, For the Love of Tweets

Daft Punk Took Best record and best album..which is really a miracle given the
fact, they repeat the same couple of lines over and over and over.
Thought Number One: Twitter: What is it Good For? 

 Historically, I haven't spent a great deal of time on Twitter.  To tell you the truth, I don't quite understand the purpose of sending out little wisps of thoughts to what may be, in my case,  the smallest group of followers in Twitterdom. (that would be @veryconflicted for those of you that like small intimate gatherings) There is also the fact, that it is very difficult to limit myself to 140 characters.  (You don't seem shocked by that.)  Up until recently I would of said the sole purpose of  Twitter was that it provided a barometer for celebrities to check the status of their popularity while at the same time rudely pointing a finger at those that are less popular.   I am assuming you don't hinge your self- worth to the number of followers you have on Twitter.

Katy Perry is the most popular according to Twitter
As a rule I don't typically  participate a great deal on any of the  social networking sites
unless, of course, you consider blogs as a type of social networking. 

It isn't that I don't see merit in some of the sites that actually have resulted in people connecting or reconnecting. I love to see what my school friends and relatives are up to.  Unfortunately, I tend to find other parts of it trivial and avoid marketing components of it.  I can't believe that I am the only one that is finding that I dis-LIKE being told by every business under the sun that I need to go to their web site and LIKE them.  I currently am not LIKE-ing the word LIKE.

As for today...I am talking about my foray onto Twitter.

It occurred to me a week ago Sunday,  that there weren't many programs available to watch on TV thanks to  the 4+ hours taken up by the Grammy Awards.  As I like music and was too lazy to search  ON DEMAND for a movie, I figured I would power through "live" TV. 

For those that weren't watching, during the opening number, Beyonce does a dance routine with a chair.  Does the idea of someone doing a dance in a chair getting wet sound at all familiar? Well for me it had a certain deja vu quality about it. It reminded me of Jennifer Beals in the "Maniac" sequence of Flashdance.

Also, I  began to wonder if anyone else beside me, wasn't loving this opening act.  (I am sure heads are exploding at the thought I didn't find this opening act  "the bomb".)

In an effort to find out the answer to these questions, I did what anyone that was within reach of an iPad or Smartphone would do.  I signed onto Twitter to see what the masses were saying.  Turns out that I am the only one in the universe that wasn't losing their mind over how wonderful this was and no one was mentioning "Maniac." I am, also, the only one on the planet that wasn't gushing and spewing nonsense about how Beyonce and Jay Z are the most romantic couple EVER.  (For those of you that missed this...by this point in  time...Beyonce and Jay Z were both on stage doing some serious rub-a-dubbing against each other and the cameras  are zeroing in on booties and crotches) Yeah,  the whole routine was totally the essence of romance. (do I need to point out the sarcasm here?)

Which brings me to my point....Alternate reasons to use Twitter other than stalking and/or measuring the popularity of a celebrity.

A. Finding affirmation and endorsement of your opinions related to "whatever" is happening.
B. Getting confirmation on how odd/wrong/unique you are or affirm  that you are "normal". 
C. Getting the opportunity to spew random opinions into the universe so others can A. or B.

Thought Number Two:  The Great Divide

I will say that because I have spent so little time on Twitter, it was somewhat of a learning experience.
The speed of  "tweets flashing before one's eyes" doesn't allow for participating in any meaningful way.  I had signed on to the thread  #Grammys so over the course of the 4+ hours of programming, there were 15.2 MILLION tweets.  Needless to say, every time I looked down at my phone there were 100s of new tweets.  

If Gaga tries to bite me, I will push her off of her shoes.  That's bound to do some damage.

I, also figured out rather quickly that some of the Twitter comments were nearly as entertaining as some portions of the program itself. The comments consisted in equal amounts of praise, mockery and comedic one-liners. There seemed to be some areas of general consensus as well as some of the acts brought a wave of opposing tweets.

Because this year's Grammy Awards performers were fairly divided between older groups and younger groups, there seemed to be some age divisiveness involved as well.

 Age disparities? Yes, how else can you account for this?

While  Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr sang a duet ..one of the tweets that came up asked:   
Where are the other two Beatles?  Pretty rude of them not to show up.

And there were hundreds that went along those lines....

Really??  These people have no idea who the Beatles were?

Of course, there were a lot that were just one-liners...and I do mean A LOT.

Again..for those that missed the program...Queen Latifah married 33 couples on air. I am not sure you would of put that together with this being an awards show...but yes, Queen Latifah was made a Commissioner by the State of California so she could legally marry all the couples.

Commissioner Latifah marrying 33 couples along side the wedding singer.
which led to more tweets....

Soooo...while I don't think I will become a habitual "tweeter"...it was a fun experiment to see how people interact online during a program.

Do you Tweet?  If so...what do you enjoy about it?  If not...what are your thoughts?

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