a meander

Different things matter to different people. I can be a little introspective at times. But I also often think things happen for a reason.

Last week was another week of my past and present being together. It was a weekend of family and friends. Still small and careful gatherings in our COVID19 world. And masks where asked without complaint.

I am really lucky to have amazing friends in my life, including from grade school and high school. I saw some more at a brunch yesterday. And my family, I just love.

One of my friends did something yesterday which was so touching. He told me how much it meant to him that my husband and I were the way we were in high school, and that he was grateful that we were always just his friend.

You see, back in the late 70s and early 80s, Main Line private schools were integrating yes, but it doesn’t mean that there weren’t huge invisible dividing lines inside the schools. There were. Maybe not all of the time, but they existed. My friend spoke of being a black boy from West Philadelphia at a Main Line private school – in this case, my alma mater, Shipley. I never really thought of it until yesterday, but him coming to school with us at first must’ve been literally like putting him on a different planet.

Maybe I was just that naïve back then, or maybe it was just a different time but I didn’t think of a lot of this then. He was just another one of my high school friends. And he was a nice guy who grew up to be a nice man. I did recognize that the truly not so invisible dividing lines often existed, but I often didn’t necessarily pay attention to them like I didn’t pay attention to cliques back then. My friends were simply my friends.

There’s that phrase hindsight is 20/20, except when I’m looking back now I’m looking back with the eyes of an adult. Back then I was just a kid. But no matter what our race, creed, color I think we all have to live through the past to reach today, right?

I guess this is why today, I often have issues with what I see going on around me. And part of what I see going on around me is a general dumbing down of life, even after all that we have gone through in this country over the past few years.

A lot of that dumbing down occurs on social media. I actually had a conversation with someone yesterday afternoon where they were talking about how are you bridge that gap between what’s actually going on in your life and what people want to see on social media? I guess the short answer is you have to live your own truth. Nobody’s lives are perfect.

Things I’ve seen lately on social media that drives me crazy include the responses people have to those discussing some of the particularly bad school board candidates who have cropped up. I’ve written about them.

A lot of these candidates are just absurd. And they’re not absurd in a good way that they are just good theater and amusing to see go by, they are absurd because they are such bad candidates that they could cause real damage to local public education systems.

But here in the fluffy white clouds of social media you can’t call a spade a shovel or a shovel a spade or even a trowel. You can’t actually have your opinion the way you wish to articulate it. And I’m not saying cursing up a storm, just telling people how you feel and why about a candidate in a school board race. Apparently a lot of us, myself included, did not get the memo with the requirement of pink fluffy bunnies and bubbles. And they have new champions like the couple of blogs which have cropped up for the election season.

I’m being called ageist and mean because I simply don’t understand how a candidate who has been invisible the entire campaign season for the school board races in Great Valley School District who is a teenager and college student will have time between classes and keggers to be on a school board? That is not ageist, that’s accurate. It’s common sense. If she was Alex P. Keaton with boobs, we would have seen a lot of her around, not just her Cher/Madonna campaign signs all of a sudden a couple of weeks before the election.

I think it’s that whole theory of everybody gets a gold star today, instead of actually earning the gold star.

But the thing about this weekend, is it was yet another weekend after such a long time, where I actually spent time with people who matter to me, including family, and reveled in the ability to have normal conversations with people. There wasn’t that built in censorship of overly paranoid political correctness, there was just good conversation. And even if we didn’t agree 100% with the other person’s opinion, there were no Facebook-like meltdowns. We talked, we laughed, we shared.

This matters to me. It matters to me to be able to have realistic and real conversations with people. They don’t necessarily have to be super deep all the time, they can be light social setting chit chat.

Being real matters. And part of being real is not sitting your entire life on Facebook telling people an alternate view of reality. Maybe your life on your planet is grand, I don’t ask people to move there and elect you supervisor of a real place, or to a school board.

And then there are the people who hide in the shadows and send all the nasty messages about what you write and say.

While we are speaking Facebook, let’s talk about the people whom you don’t know who just want to message you whenever the spirit moves them. Sometimes that spirit is moving them in the middle of the night, or other times it’s just when you’re not available. And when you tell them you’re not available, they don’t respect those boundaries they don’t take those social cues, they just keep going. These are the people that demand respect, but they don’t give respect. If you were to contact any of them, their response would be “why are you contacting me?“ yet conversely, you are supposed to just drop everything when they private message you?

It’s like society is becoming a caricature of itself. It’s kind of fascinating to watch, but it’s also equal parts scary and pathetic. In the 18th and 19th century there were scores of political and social commentators who wrote these fabulous plays and drew these damn funny cartoons and lampoons of life in that time.

Take Richard Brinsley Sheridan who wrote the play “School for Scandal” in 1777. It was a comedy of manners. It’s still a hysterical play. Most of you have no idea who he was or this play, which of course is an entirely another conversation on what I think is lacking in today’s world and in education . But think if we had a time machine and we took Sheridan from the 18th century London to 21st Century today and put him on Facebook. What would he have to say?

I can tell you at the end of the day my friends and family are what matter to me. Having a home we love, husband and child I love, pets I love. What matters to me also is being able to do things like garden because it brings me joy. Or to decorate for Christmas.

What doesn’t matter at the end of the day is the minutia. And there are people who definitely count within that minutia because that’s where they should be, in the category of minutia.

Liberals of convenience running for supervisor don’t impress me, and don’t tell people to vote for them because they are your political party, anymore than anyone who has a brain should vote for a good percentage of these newly minted politicians running for school board. Remove the political parties, and look at the people as individuals and listen to what they are saying and not saying.

This seems to be the season of a lot of social media candidates. You don’t see them around, but you see them on social media. A couple you don’t even see on social media, and you don’t see them around. These are not anyone’s candidates. These are jokes.

And while I would love it if people adored my opinions 24/7, in truth it would actually be a little creepy. Life is made up of variety, not Stepford Wives named Karen. Stupid doesn’t live here.

The lack of behavior modification, the ability to take social cues, and respect boundaries is something that bothers me regarding social media. Sadly it has spilled over into the real world. Hopefully it will eventually correct itself.

Thanks for stopping by.

(A brief post script on the photos- I took them but they don’t have any real connection to this post. I just like the variety of architecture that you find in places. And the graffiti was in a place I had never noticed it before.)

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