social media: it’s enough to make one anti-social….

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Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.
~ Oprah Winfrey

So why don’t we do that? It’s a question I asked myself recently and am going to strive to do better in the future.

When social media first started it was “What a great idea and what fun!” Today? Today I often wonder.  It seems to be more and more the virtual play ground where the idiots you choose not to associate with in real life congregate.

As a blogger, I accept I am an acquired taste. I am fine with that.  As a human being off the screen in the real world I am also an acquired taste. But if we were all identical carbon copies of one and other the world would literally be overrun with Stepford Wives.

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As a blogger, I am not a compensated blogger.  When I write up a business I visited, or a restaurant I ate at, or a non-profit event I attended it is because I paid to do those things just like everyone else. Well maybe not like everyone else because there are bloggers and social media “influencers” who are…. well… compensated.  In other words their good opinion is paid for in some fashion.

When I write, it’s my own experience, good or bad. I bought the goods, ate in the restaurant, bought a ticket to the non-profit event, used the paid services of a company.  There are people out there who do not. They expect goods and services and even fees to write something up.  Sometimes businesses are afraid to NOT slide them stuff because of what they might write or say on social media.

There are even people who take money for supposedly all sorts of services but it is really just about getting free stuff and then moving on to the next business? I have a lot of friends with small businesses of all kinds, so that really bothers me. From a moral compass standpoint, it also bothers me. It’s like blackmail, isn’t it? How do you live with yourself? How do you take the proverbial food off of someone else’s table?

Now onto the more personal side of social media.  Why are the keyboard tigers allowed to roam freely and wreak havoc?

I am an admin of several Facebook groups.  I have strong opinions so I do not mind strong opinions. But I do mind people who harass, badger, curse a lot (so ugly to see in writing) or who are just mean spirited to be mean spirited.  Or love to be super passive aggressive while just simply trying to stir the pot.

Recently I just quietly deleted the comment of a man who was just being an ass.  To me. For no reason. I had never spoken with him or even interacted with him online.  The comment was essentially abusive.  I chose NOT to respond which would have started an online flame war.

What is a flame war? This is what a flame war is:

In online forums and other online discussion spaces, a flame war is a series of flame posts or messages in a thread that are considered derogatory in nature or are completely off-topic. Often these flames are posted for the sole purpose of offending or upsetting other users. The flame becomes a flame war when other users respond to the thread with their own flame message.

I chose to be an adult and admin for the greater good.  I never said anything, just removed the comment and took advantage of Facebook’s mute feature which is a handy tool if used properly to cool off a situation. Well, the person who commented then decided to start private messaging me.

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Note the use of your over you’re.  Up until this point I had not removed the person from the group.  Just muted them for flaming comments. Who they are is immaterial to the conversation.  They were a stranger with a case of keyboard cowboyism. After sitting on the interaction and pondering it with other admins, we decided they would be happier elsewhere.

One of the groups I admin is a gardening group.  It is large and popular and has grown from local to regional to national and international membership.  I wanted a place where people could come from all levels of expertise and even professionals.

My group is blessed to have not only regular people but gardening professionals and growers who freely share their knowledge and expertise.  A good portion of them are paid for their expertise handsomely so I think we are really lucky.  I am a rabid gardener but I don’t know everything so I like to learn and share information.

Sometimes even in a gardening group people get like the Sharks versus The Jets.  Yes, a theater reference. West Side Story — an award-winning decades old adaptation of the classic romantic tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet”. The feuding families become two warring New York City gangs. And that is what people get like on social media.

There was this thing happening in the gardening group that really was so ridiculous.  This divisiveness between organic based gardeners versus everyone else. Someone who was a professional posted about their own HOME garden with a helpful tip. A person I had had problems with before started challenging them.  The professional never lost their cool and answered all questions gracefully.

But the aggressor, who had demonstrated a similar pattern with others in the past, wouldn’t let it go. It turned from a conversation of opposing points of view to badgering.  It was unpleasant.  This person doing the haranguing hadn’t learned from the comments other admins had removed, so this time I muted them. And told them I was doing it and why.

They never said anything, but their supporters then started.  It was unfair and they should basically be allowed to turn a nice group into a place where many felt uncomfortable.  One of the champions of this person started messaging me.  They literally messaged me yesterday at 9:32 AM.  I did not see the message until 10:04 AM or maybe a few minutes later, because hello I was having an actual life. Do you live on the Internet? I don’t live on the Internet. I spend far too much time on it some days and I am making an effort to NOT be that way.  But when you are an admin of Facebook groups especially, people seem to have boundary issues.

So this person who messaged me was responded to.  But that wasn’t good enough.  They had to then try to start a passive aggressive situation of their own on the gardening group page. They wondered if they were “safe to post” like a pack of rabid dogs was suddenly going to appear on their doorstep and rip their keyboard, phone, or tablet from their hands.  As an admin that is a post that will escalate tensions that may exist.

I messaged the person and asked WHY they had to post that when I had actually taken the time to respond to them. My description of the timing was different she says. Ok she lives in my area is there a different time zone I am not aware of?

Then she says:

Not sure where the disconnect here is coming from, but blessed are the peacemakers.
Peace.

BTW, the word “ramblings” implies a kind of laid back, relaxed enjoyment of gardening. So, maybe chill out.

She goes on to say how she is just “speaking her truth” and she’s a “stream mom” and so on and so forth. And how I was wrong to mute the person who had been badgering people about…gardening.

No honey, I am not perfect and I get tired of being a babysitter. And with a couple of thousand people to manage virtually, some days it is exhausting. One gets tired of being a babysitter and a referee of adults who should all know better. But for some reason when it comes to social media they lose their manners and inhibitions….. social norms and acceptable public behavior flies out of the window. It is crazy. And face it, we have all seen people go off the rails.  Not naming names but look at a certain elected official on Twitter, right?

Having had enough of this back and forth, I blocked that person on messenger and removed them and the admins had to create a new rule so people got it:

New Group Rule as people seem confused: aggressive or passive aggressive comments towards gardeners for their decision to use biological (organic) or non-organic chemical controls in their garden will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be removed.

It’s a gardening group folks, not an environmental activist group. No one should be chastised for their gardening methods on their own property.

We all do not have to agree but just because someone chooses organic vs. non-organic or vice-versa does not make them a bad person.

Babysitting. Babysitting I do not get paid for and toddlers are better behaved at times.

It’s the love hate relationship with social media.

Then there are the people who capitulate to the whims of the social media haters and badgerers.

Years ago (as in 2013) I was part of a closed Facebook group still from where I used to live.  I was still new enough to Chester County that I wanted to keep up with where I had lived essentially most of my life. Moving to a place as an adult over 25 is very different than when you are young and starting out.  It is not as easy to meet and get to know people and although I had already fallen in love with Chester County, I sometimes still missed where I used to be because  I missed a lot of my friends.

I did not, however, miss the BS of the Main Line. And long before I moved west, back in the early days of Facebook I decided that some people I did not wish to interact with on social media because they were horrible to me in real life, even in public. You see, that was a drawback of being a blogger and a sort of social activist.

There were literally people who would eviscerate me in public and in letters to the editor of the local paper at the time as well as leave comments on local  and regional media website articles that were truly horrible.  They weren’t just being Internet trolls, they were bullying and harassing me.  They wanted to tear me down because at the end of the day I did not see things exactly the way they did and the way they told their minions to think.

It was a great sociological study.  It was taking the theory of bullying in the middle school lunch room to a whole new level.  And these were also the people who would holler like stuck pigs if kids were bullied in school or on the playground.  And I would just watch and wonder why they didn’t get where the kids were learning the unpleasant behaviors from?

So when I joined Facebook, I decided rather than risk further interaction with some fo these people, I would take the high road and just pretend they weren’t there and preemptively block them.  I wasn’t talking about them, I just wanted to limit their access to me personally. I am not a public official and wasn’t then either.  I was just a woman they didn’t like very much. I could live with that. Not seeing them around on Facebook was very peaceful.  Of course, that is why Facebook has privacy settings, right?

Lo and behold the admin of this community group from where I used to live messages me.  How she was going to have to remove me  from the group. Not for anything I had actually posted (which by 2013 was literally a couple of banal things like recommending a plumber), but because I had chosen to block these people who were miserable to me in the real world when I joined Facebook.

Say what??

I tried to explain to her that was to keep the peace, I wasn’t blocking her as an admin and group page owner. I was being responsible in an effort to avoid unnecessary online confrontations.  But oh no, her definition of community  was she chose to capitulate to literally adult mean girls and they had the right in community groups to see everyone.  I tried to explain I chose not to do that because I did not wish to have them have a window into my life.

Truthfully, I did not care about her group and belonging at that point.  I really didn’t need it, I was fine in my new life and her actions made me realize that.  But it was the principle of the thing. How can you self-profess to be a good person by demanding they open themselves up to unpleasant people in a social media group? (But this is a person who wants everyone to love them and needs to feel as if they belong, so in a weird way it made sense, didn’t it?)

The rules of social media groups in general include you can’t block the admins and moderators. But you CAN block people you don’t get along with or who make you feel uncomfortable for whatever reason. It is WHY privacy settings exist.

A couple of years ago, I decided to quietly unfriend this person on Facebook. We really were never truly friends, maybe short term acquaintances. So I decided to let her and some others go. Lives change, people change right? I never commented on it, I just let go.

Then yesterday, someone asked me about the garden group this person had.  They lived down closer to where this person lived so I said sure, I will send them the link I used to belong to it.  Only I could not find the group. So I asked someone else and they sent me the link.  They also told me I was no longer in the group.

A real WTF moment because it is a gardening group.  Not politics, not activism. Gardening. As in what I spend a lot of time doing. And I hadn’t been in the group, had never really posted in it ever and truthfully had never used the group much to begin with because to be honest I never learned anything from it. It was too basic for my knowledge base, and well, my group was better. But for whatever reason this person removed me and blocked me.

Oh social media Groundhog Day.  So I will admit I did message her about my discovery and how I discovered it.  I also said I really didn’t care that she did it, but  the principles of hypocrisy is what bothered me.  So I said to be equally fair I was removing her from my gardening group.  Sorry not sorry, you don’t get to benefit from my hard work and the expertise of those who post there and not share.  Not being able to share when it comes to gardening is just one of those things I find wrong.

Much to my amusement, when I went to look at the message I sent I saw that she had blocked me.  I still have her home address, I should really send her a thank you note. I do not need people like that in my life on any level, even peripherally. Kind of like the woman who made a point of telling me that she couldn’t invite me to her Christmas party because other people wouldn’t come if I was there. Yes, that is true.  Crazy, but true. And I didn’t ask to be invited in the first place.

Also crazy but true? Legitimate cyber bullies and cyber stalkers.  Social media is a kaleidoscope of crazy at times.

And that is the thing about social media. So many people need it to feel good about themselves. Or feel popular.  Or even powerful. But it’s all virtual.  I have come to the conclusion that I will more and more narrow my focus.  I have my writing, activism , love of historic preservation and things like gardening and cooking and photography.  I also have my true friends and I don’t need a huge collection of faux friends to fawn all over me.  I don’t need or want the self-proclaimed power brokers of people online, and those who take advantage…do you? (Think about it.)

Another thing that is getting to me on social media are the essentially social media based networking organizations you have to pay for.  Women are especially drawn to them and I have had friends who have belonged to these groups.

Women don’t realize they don’t have to pay these groups to raise their own business profiles and make friends (which exist mostly on social media – I can’t truly define it as camaraderie in real life can you ?)  And no one I know ever grew their business out of these groups but instead remarked on the cliquishness and time wasting of it all…and that these groups are expensive. You pay to join a group, you get let into their Facebook pages, then you are expected to pay to attend events, right? And what do they do for you? Who is making the money here and aren’t the chapters of these things like, if not actual  franchises?

Social media is a weird, weird place getting weirder every year. And I say that having been in it and on things like Twitter practically since inception (I joined in 2008, Twitter launched in 2006).

I started blogging back in the dark ages.  I was once part of this amazing site called Philly Futures which started in 1999.  I joined it at some point after 2002, and was part of it for a few years.  It was lots of different bloggers and was activism-centric.  They used to do things I thought were cool like Missing Monday which focused on missing persons. Philly Futures was an early voice in the genre of “citizen journalism.” It wasn’t a mommy blog or a monetized blog, it was a lot of good writing and interesting topics.  I miss it.

Sometimes I think social media has morphed into the land of the shallow.  And everything has to be light, happy, and airy fairy where unicorns fart only pastel rainbows. What I liked about the early blogosphere in the dawn of social media is it was real, and you could be real without chronic online castigation.

Look around at Facebook, Instagram, whatever your poison.  How can all those people have those perfect lives, really?  What happens if we pull the curtain back? And the photos.  Do some not realize that occasionally their personal photos are well photos that are better off left offline? To be enjoyed privately?

I am a blogger, yes, but I am still a fairly private person.  I like enjoying my family and friends offline.  You can’t grow a garden online.  You can’t cook a meal online.  You can’t go barn picking online. We can’t spend all of our lives online. Maybe it’s time to liberate ourselves somewhat from social media.  We used to exist fine without it, after all.

Think about it, when is the last time you wrote an actual letter?  I am going to hang out in my garden and commune with nature and check out butterflies.  I will leave you after this rambling post with an online article about types of Facebook posters. It’s very funny.

10+ Types of Facebook Posters

RobinB Creative
Humorous Caricatures of Social Media Users
Social media has existed since the earliest times.
Imagine, if you will:
An early, nomadic hominid, scratching an image onto the wall of her cave-shelter. Picture her wonder, joy, and surprise when she returns, a season later, to find an image left by an unknown “other”.
There, on the cave wall, is an “answering image” — with splashes of colour. She has no idea who “commented on her wall post”, but she knows she’s not alone. There has been a response to her unintended friend request. She is experiencing shared humanity and kinship, beyond the immediate circle of her tribe.
Over the years, they may have gone on to share information. I imagine them sharing hunting stories, food storage ideas, and even recipes. I see them inspiring each other to greater creativity by means of their developing art. Maybe, they even shared some personal details.
Did other people, passing through, add to the story on “her wall”?
Basically, humanity has been obsessed with “social media” ever since.
As cultures and technology developed over millennia, so did long-range social interaction. Passed messages, and formal mail services replaced cave paintings. Books spread thoughts and information to larger numbers. Telegraph, telephone, newspapers, and radio, further widened global information sharing.
….Social media, of various kinds — for good or bad — has become integral to our society. For people in my age-group (50s — plus or minus), that usually means Facebook.
I’ve isolated ten different caricatures of Facebook posters — although the first does have four sub-types. [CLICK HERE TO READ FURTHER AND YOU WILL BE GLAD YOU DID]

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vintage en blanc

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Next week is the En Blanc week in our area.  These all white outdoor picnics for grown-ups start August 20th, when Diner en Blanc hits center city Philadelphia. It’s slightly more laid back Chester County/Brandywine Valley counterpart Brandywine in White is August 22nd. (Yes you need to have registered and paid in advance for both events – both sell out.)

En Blanc events have been all the rage coast to coast in the US, Canada, and Europe for the past few years. I don’t know how long for certain – other than the first one was in Paris over 20 years ago.

These white dinner picnic party organizers are serious about their white…decorations, dishes, attire and even food.

So to me it is a perfect excuse to have fun with vintage finds.  And you don’t have to spend a fortune.  Places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, hospital and church thrift shops, the Smithfield Barn, Consign-It in Kennett, the Habitat for Humanity ReStores in Kennett and Caln, are just a few places you can find fun things at a fraction of the cost. Also don’t forget yard sale groups on Facebook, eBay, Etsy, and the humble garage and yard sale. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a look.

Now some people prefer Crate and Barrell or say William Sonoma, and that is fine, but how often are you going to do ALL WHITE? So why spend like it is the proverbial last supper? Have fun with it and you can mix and match! Personally, I had the vintage glassware already for years and the napkins and tablecloths.

The glassware had been gifts from friends who were cleaning out their pantry closets and cabinets when I needed stuff. Again,  I have had them for years. The linens came from church sales and the Smithfield Barn.  All stuff I have used before and love.

The tablecloths at the time were like $8 and $12 and the napkins were part of a lot I bought from the Smithfield Barn for under $20 and the plates came from the barn too (recently) and were a big $1 a piece.

vontage 1The mid century funky silverware was a steal of a deal from a thrift shop in Virginia that also sells on eBay. It was truly inexpensive and the silver plate napkin rings are just something I have picked up here and there for at least 25 years. None of the napkin rings match and I never pay more than a couple of dollars an orphaned napkin ring.

Old picnic baskets can be found at a lot of church rummage sales especially.

You have the most fun with these picnic events if you do it with a group of friends. You divvy up the table settings, food, flowers, beverages, and so on.

If you are attending one of these events and still looking for your “look”, seriously try thrift shops and garage sales and whatnot (as mentioned).  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a fab and fun tablescape! (You can also get great ideas off of Pinterest!)

Thanks for stopping by!

curt schilling takes on cyberbullies. good. for. him.



Good. For. Him. 

Seriously, I have quite a bit of respect for former Phillie and World Series winning former RedSox pitcher Curt Schilling.  Talk about good sportsmanship.

Why?

Because he took on cyberbullies  to defend the honor of his precious daughter. 

It started innocently enough. He sent a tweet out to congratulate his daughter on where she was going to college.



Even if he is a public figure he should be allowed to do that, right? 

Apparently not, and soon it was raining cyberbully trolls on Twitter.



There were a lot more than this and some were kids, but a lot were adults including a DJ somewhere and some part time person who worked for the NY Yankees.  So Curt took on cyberbullies and outed them to the world.

Good.For. Him.

As you all who read my blog know, I was cyberbullied over a period of months last year . I knew exactly who was doing it , and much like  Curt I kept a record of it. This was done to me via Facebook. Not many people “liked” the page and I found out after the page was removed that my friends reported the page daily to Facebook for months as being vile and cyberbullying. 

I had the main cyberbully, the author of the page, and then there was a person who shared the posts and obviously fed them information. I considered them a bully too. 

Then there was the handful of people out there who would chime in. Not one of them knew me, had ever had a conversation with me, had ever met me socially. They knew nothing about me.  They didn’t know the cyberbullies.  They didn’t like some of what I wrote and some cases, and that was the justification for their behavior.

Around 20 or 22 men and women, some who are members of the Chester County community and them participating with a cyberbullying effort is kind of astounding, yet they did it. They  just decided to pile on in that mob mentality that any kind of bullying often takes on. A few of these people even have school age children. 

And again, they didn’t know me, they have still never met me, they have never ever had a conversation with me, and they had nothing to judge me on other then they didn’t like some of the things I had written over the years. It sounds crazy and it is crazy. But it happened and it’s true.

Shortly before Christmas, the page disappeared. It was a wonderful Christmas gift and I have never publicly thank my friends (but I am now)  who worked so hard to get that page removed. You see Facebook, doesn’t take cyber bullying particularly seriously when it is happening to adults  , and I had gotten to the point where I was tuning it out but occasionally saving screenshots as evidence. (I was advised to do that by law-enforcement. )

Now I’m sure my critics are saying “I can’t believe she is making this all about her ” but I am not. I merely sharing my personal experience as it applies to what I am writing about. And unfortunately for me, I can now say I have personal life experience with cyberbullying. And similarly to what Curt Schilling writes about, it’s not too difficult to figure out who it is exactly who is bullying you. And it’s astounding that people think it’s okay that these things are done to you. Or that you won’t discover who it is exactly. What is even more astounding is contemplating how people who used to be part of your life in a loving and supportive manner actually do these things, let alone total strangers. A thin line between love and hate and all that.

As I said before, as an adult, you often have the ability to have better coping mechanisms then the kids who experience cyberbullying , but it doesn’t mean anyone should experience it. When it happens to our kids, the cyberbullying is often just part and parcel of other real-time in-your-face bullying that kids experience.

What Curt Schilling has done is huge. He used his celebrity for good here. He is to be commended. Because of him an even brighter light now shines on cyberbullying and he has given courage and fortitude to those being bullied; through his actions and his position he has shown people how wrong this is. I also applaud him for doing this as a father for his child. That is love.

Now it would be terrific  it if other celebrities and sports figures would follow suit and just spearhead a grassroots nationwide campaign to declare war on #cyberbullying. For those who are doing the bullying out there, save your retort. Opinion is one thing, cyberbullying is something else entirely.

And it doesn’t just happen to kids. It happened to adults and not much is done  to combat adult on adult cyberbullying.

Before I link up Curt Schilling’s blog post, here is some other coverage on this:

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling fires back after trolls’ violent, sexual tweets about teen daughter

 NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. Published: Monday, March 2, 2015

Christian Science Monitor: Curt Schilling defends daughter from Twitter bullies with help of followers

Former Red Sox pitching star Curt Schilling named the cyber bullies on Monday who targeted his daughter online with vulgar comments.

Washington Post Early Lead 

 March 2 at 8:31 PM  

Boston.com: Schilling Throws Perfect Game With Response to Misogynist Trolls

Here is an excerpt from Curt Schilling’s blog post:

The world we live in…Man has it changed. ADDENDUM!

MARCH 1, 2015


I thank God every day that Facebook and Twitter, instagram, vine, Youtube, all of it, did not exist when I went to High School. I can’t imagine the dumb stuff I’d have been caught saying and doing.
If you are a dad this is something you well know already, if you are a dad with a daughter this is likely to get your blood going. If you are a boy, or young man, or husband, and you haven’t experienced children yet, or haven’t had a daughter, it’s next to impossible for you to understand.
My daughter, my one and only daughter, has worked her ass off playing sports the past 9-10 years. She’s loved it, and I’ve loved being able to both watch, and coach along the way.
Last week we were told she’d been accepted to college and will begin playing softball there next year.
Clearly an incredibly proud day.
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And of course, like any dad in the modern world I said so.
Now I’ve been using computers since 1981. I was a professional baseball player for 22 years. I played 10+ years in Philadelphia. I played 5 in Boston. I shared a locker room with well over a thousand teammates and I played and lived at school a year before doing so.
That’s all to say I am absolutely aware of social media and how it works. As someone who’s said about 2.34 billion things he shouldn’t have, I get it.
….tweets with the word rape, bloody underwear and pretty much every other vulgar and defiling word you could likely fathom began to follow.
Now let me emphasize again. I was a jock my whole life. I played sports my whole life. Baseball since I was 5 until I retired at 41. I know clubhouses. I lived in a dorm. I get it. Guys will be guys. Guys will say dumb crap, often. But I can’t ever remember, drunk, in a clubhouse, with best friends, with anyone, ever speaking like this to someone…I understand this……I have a nasty habit of talking, a lot, about anything anyone asks me and totally unconcerned about giving you my opinion. You will never question where I stand, right or wrong agree or disagree on anything….The amount of vitriol I’ve heard is not an issue. I am sure I’ll hear more.
But I have to ask, is this even remotely ok? In ANY world? At ANY time?
Worse yet? No less than 7 of the clowns who sent vile or worse tweets are athletes playing college sports.
I knew every name and school, sport and position, of every one of them in less than an hour. The ones that didn’t play sports were just as easy to locate.

I’ve kept every tweet…

women and social media

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One of my mother’s favorite expressions is “never complain, never explain”. As I flip through Facebook this morning while having my coffee, I thought I would pass it on. Some people might actually need it cross stitched and framed. Do you sense sarcasm here? Just a little bit? Sorry, I just find women and social media an oddity at times.

There is a lot of glass half empty and what the world owes people going on online. But maybe that is just social media: our own personal platforms for way too much grexing. (“Grexing” is Pennsylvania German for whining, complaining, or brutzing.)

I understand that everyone has troubles at different points in their lives and I totally get feeling the need to vent now and then, but there are some who are always seeming to be this way. I don’t know if they are this way in person all the time at this point or if this is just their online persona. But it’s like they are constantly negative and chronically angry and how is that healthy?

Trust me, I can whine with the best of them. But when you seem to be barraged with it from certain people all the time it gives you pause for thought. Is the glass really always half-empty? Why isn’t it ever half-full?

None of us are perfect, but do some of us simply expect too much of other people without looking to see what we can do by standing on our own two feet? It’s just that when I see some of what some people are putting “out there” for the world to see versus friends I have who lives with horrible diseases every single day and are among the most positive people I’ve ever met, it just makes me stop and think. I know women who are living with diseases like multiple sclerosis and metastatic breast cancer. Truthfully, these are the women that inspire me. They have every right to complain, but they don’t. They live. And they live positively and with love.

Whatever happened to personal accountability? Why is the world responsible for everything that goes wrong in our lives? We are all capable of free will, so unless we are being dangerously coerced or abused, aren’t we the ones making those decisions? From businesses to kids to life to men it’s giant gripe-fest some mornings. In some cases I can’t help but wonder if it’s karma, and I feel bad even thinking that, but when you treat other people poorly or rudely for long enough, what happens? Is it the old adage of everything that goes around eventually comes around?

A dear friend’s husband said to me that I need new people in my sphere, and I don’t think I necessarily that but I think some need a new outlook. And I’m not Pollyanna every day, so don’t misunderstand me, it’s just sometimes I am left silently asking these people a question. That question is how are we responsible for your personal happiness? And I am not silently asking that question to be mean. I want to know how it is we are supposed to be responsible for own lives and our families and their happiness? And yet we are called disloyal and worse if we don’t jump on the online bandwagon of support, which I don’t get. Do these people want true friends or sychophants?

Personally, I am someone who can be extraordinarily hard on myself. I am probably harder on myself than anyone else ever is. But when I see other people’s negativity head on it gives me pause, and makes me look inward at myself and my attitude too for that matter.

And then there are the women I see in groups who ask questions of total strangers that I don’t know that I would even voice out loud to people I know. Some of the questions range from the “lady you need boundaries that’s very personal” to “say what did she really just say that?”

And in group forums, there are some women who seem to view everyone else as the Shell Answer Man for lack of a better description. Sometimes I wonder if these people can get out of bed in the morning without seeking consensus first. Looking for referrals for a doctor, hair salon, restaurant, service provider I get those questions. But what I don’t get is when people post things like they have a cheating spouse and spouse was a cheating person before they married them and they just caught them at it again and what should they do should they just stay or should they leave? Really??? This is something you ask a thousand strangers ??

Another another favorite topic in the group forums is what to pay the babysitter. I’ve come to the conclusion there are a lot of cheap women out there.

And then there are the women who seek actual medical advice from a thousand strangers they don’t know and who definitely aren’t medical professionals- yes, that consensus seeking syndrome again. And I’m not talking about their asking medical related questions in a group that is geared specifically towards a disease or disorder. I’m talking about the women who should be filed under the category of “there are no boundaries on this bus”. And really, I don’t need to read what color your kid’s poop is either. (Yes seriously I have seen people post things about that.)

The thing that amuses me about some of these women when I see what they’re writing in public (and if it’s on Facebook or Twitter or other social media, it’s in public) is that these are often the type of women that I would run into a few short years ago who would say “I don’t know how you can blog. It’s so public.” And the tone of voice and face that would accompany comments like this was like I was doing something well, dirty.

Yes, to an extent, the Internet is like a giant bathroom wall. Which means what exactly? A society we are changing how we share? Or it’s just nice to have a place to vent? Or we should learn to once again to occasionally curb the streams of flowing consciousness?

Another amusing thing about women and social media are the ones who try to develop a particular persona that’s really not who they are in real time. I’m talking about the ones who are all so sickly sweet and posting cute little phrases often with photos constantly while they God bless everyone and thank God for blessings everything. And I am not speaking of the people I know who are truly good and Christian women, I’m talking about the ones that think we don’t know how they treat other people in real time and how viciously they gossip when they’re off their social media pages.

I really respect women who are who real and true online and off.

One of my favorite things hands-down still about connecting with women I know on social media is it’s a way to keep up with relatives and friends who are spread out and scattered to the four winds. It’s really nice to see pictures of their kids, and hear about what everyone is doing. One of the sad things however, is you can also see those who are starting to self-destruct and disintegrate. It makes you wonder why their families don’t see it too at times.

And then we all know people who seem unable to have actual conversations any longer, yet you can read all about it on social media. Maybe I am showing my age that I lament the lost art of conversation and even thank you notes. But I do think people don’t talk to each other enough any longer. Texting and tweeting and Facebooking are not talking. They might be a form of communication, but it is not the same nor a substitute for speaking and having conversations. And this doesn’t just occur with adults, it occurs with the young – our kids. And I think our kids need to be able to communicate and express how they’re feeling traditionally not just via social media and texting. And a lot of times they can’t.

I know some people I know are going to be annoyed or almost paranoid by this post I’ve written. Ladies, rest easy, the one thing that has never changed with me in all these years is telling you exactly how I am feeling person to person. If I had an issue with you I wouldn’t allude to it vaguely on a social media feed or in a blog post, I would tell you. In other words I’m not gonna play whisper down the lane behind your back yet in front of your face like a lot of people do on social media, this is just something I was thinking about as I was drinking my coffee this morning.

Thanks for stopping by and please, try to see the bright spots in life. It’s really easy to be negative, it’s much more work to be positive but so worth it. Life, every day, is a gift.

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so sunoco isn’t sleazy and sunoco isn’t sunoco?

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We just celebrated the 4th of July which celebrates our freedoms in this country and apparently Sunoco officials don’t care for free speech and freedom of opinion? And maybe they don’t like that eminent domain word but what did they expect when they went to the Public Utility Commission to try to get around local zoning? Seriously?

There is this new article in the Inquirer about SuNOco, and apparently SuNOco isn’t SuNOco and isn’t sleazy? So is this pipeline is a mirage then? Are we imagining all the road disruptions and closures and all the public meetings are really the meeting of the quilting society or something?

I am very confused.

A rose by any other name and all that?
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Apparently SuNOco’s public image is taking a beating? Does that mean their retail business is feeling a pipeline pinch?

It is up to personal choice if Chester County and other Pennsylvania residents choose to patronize other gas stations, right? We don’t live in a communist or otherwise single state run country where we have no choice as to where we buy gas, do we? Did they ever consider in addition to image issues that a good percentage of the time their gas is also just more expensive than other gas retailers?

So now will SuNOco that isn’t really SuNOco be buzzing around changing the corporate branding on their pipeline property sites like the sign seen every day at a crossroads in Upper Uwchlan? And what of the Sunoco Logistics website with the teeny tiny Sunoco logo we all know so well?

And while they are answering questions, what is it precisely they do with endangered wildlife when they find it (or more appropriately it is pointed out to them) ? Someone told me they were told the wildlife (like bog turtles and such) is moved someplace and then brought back to the habitat in which they were discovered? Is this true and how do they know which wildlife goes where down to the individual creature?

This Philadelphia Inquirer article today gives many the vision of a corporate shell game doesn’t it? And is the talking head of the split personality oil company the same guy who used to be an amazing reporter for the paper now making him the news?

So who is SuNOco? And if they want a better corporate image maybe they shouldn’t be trying to force feed Pennsylvania residents a pipeline? Could it be a lot of this petroleum posturing is that this just isn’t residents saying no? Could it be SuNOco is a little nervous that politicians from all over on both sides of the political aisle are starting to speak out too? Could they be nervous that the residents objecting are growing daily in numbers and esteemed environmentalists are taking their side?

Sorry SuNOco, sorry SuNOco PR team, people are unified about not wanting you in Chester County no matter what you call yourselves aren’t they? Welcome to a public relations hell of your own creation and seriously what did you think was going to happen? That everyone was just going to be o.k. with your taking people’s land and adding flare stacks in densely populated areas? Did you think a county that has a large percentage of residents on wells wouldn’t be concerned about pipelines and so on? Maybe you have a friend in Governor Corbett but not everyone else is feeling so chummy?

Great article Philadelphia Inquirer!

Philadelphia Inquirer: Sunoco fights connection to pipeline firm
By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: July 06, 2014

Sunoco’s good corporate name is taking a beating these days, as community activists and bloggers post snarky statements under headlines like “Sleazy Sunoco,” linking the company to fracking and eminent domain …..in the hands of careless journalists and picket-sign painters, the companies all just become “Sunoco.”

According to brand consultants and public-image experts, Sunoco the fuel retailer faces a big challenge disassociating itself from the actions of its corporate doppelgänger…..Sunoco Pipeline, a Sunoco Logistics subsidiary, has asked the PUC to declare it a public utility to bypass local zoning restrictions. ….”Sunoco, Sunoco Logistics, Sunoco Pipeline?” said Tom Casey, a leader of the community opposition. “There’s a lot of confusion about who’s doing this. Who are these people?”

Casey had heard company officials explain that Sunoco Inc. and Sunoco Logistics are two separate companies, with different missions. Then a public-affairs officer handed him a business card that identified him as a Sunoco Logistics employee. The other side of the card identified him with Sunoco Inc.

“He has the same job with both companies at two different addresses,” Casey said. “That’s confusing.”……..If this bothers Sunoco, its spokesman, Jeff Shields, is not letting on too much.

Nor is the spokesman for Sunoco Logistics, the selfsame Jeff Shields, who said in an e-mail that the pipeline company “is proud of its roots with a company and a name that has represented good corporate citizenship and American prosperity for more than a century.”…Sunoco Logistics, which was spun off as a separate company, is still contractually obligated to support Sunoco’s retail operations. But its new ventures, such as the Mariner East project, are unrelated to its former parent company.

Both are now units of Energy Transfer Partners L.P., a Dallas company that bought Sunoco Inc. in 2012 and acquired the controlling interest in Sunoco Logistics……Sunoco Logistics could rename itself something else – say, SXL – to provide some cover for Sunoco. But image experts say crusader activists would see right through such a strategy.

“That would backfire on the company double time, because now the public’s suspicion of evil would be confirmed by the company’s efforts at deception,” said Rob Frankel, a Los Angeles branding expert…..Sunoco Inc. already has a long history of oil extraction, and so an association with a pipeline transporting hydraulically fractured Marcellus Shale gas liquids is not an image-altering event, said Oscar Yuan, a partner at New York brand consultant Millward Brown Vermeer.

20140707-110547-39947204.jpgSelect photos in this collage are courtesy of public photos of Just The Facts Please on Facebook of which this blog is not a spokesperson or representative, just a fan.

keep your joy

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How do you keep your joy? How do you keep your joy in the face of unpleasantness?

It is very true that you cannot control the actions of others, you can only control your own actions and behavior.

As a writer and a blogger I have been a target of unpleasantness. It is nothing new, but that never makes it right. When you write, you are putting yourself out there. You will have fans of your writing as well as the detractors. Sometimes the people are those you know, but a lot of the time they are just strangers.

When people love something I write, or a photo, or a recipe it is such a nice feeling. That is what makes blogging so fun. It’s a very neat connection at times.

I am blessed with meeting some very cool people throughout the years I have been writing. I have also had some unpleasant experiences. The two topics that seem to cause unpleasant experiences always seem to get whittled down to two topics: politics and animal rescue. That is why I don’t write about these two topics very much any more.

One of the newer topics I have touched on a couple of times now, and will continue to cover is cyber bullying and cyber stalking. It’s real, it happens every day. It happens to kids and adults alike. It is an unpleasant side of the Internet.

I have been a victim of this welcome to bizarre-O world behavior for a while now. It began a couple weeks before my 50th birthday. The people doing this to me used to be in my life. They left my life of their own accord years ago. Only they didn’t really leave. They have tracked me via the Internet.

It is sad and disturbing at the same time that these people have nothing better to do. They pore over blog posts looking for ways to twist topics I have written about. They skew and oddly sexualize things. From a psychological perspective it’s obvious they need help, and a lot of it.

For the most part, I ignore the whole thing. You see it is pretty simple why they persist: they are miserably unhappy people who want to steal the joy of others and pervert it. It’s sad and stuck all at the same time. But I can’t control their actions, I can only control my own. And I choose to be the better person in the equation.

But what this experience has done in addition is spurn an interest within me. Cyber bullying and cyber stalking is a very timely topic in this country. Today I read about U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) and his efforts to do something about cyber stalking.

In a Canadian publication I found the story of a mom crusading for most simply put, respect. You see, her teenage daughter committed suicide after being cyber bullied by a thirty-five year old man.

In The Providence Journal in late May there was a very thoughtful editorial on cyber bullying. The writer points out the high profile cyber bullying cases we hear about are the ones that lead to suicide and so on . Basically, if the case is dramatic and flashy, it gets attention.

The thing is this: I am an adult. I can consider the source and tune it out. My rational mind knows that it is the handiwork of truly messed up people. But not everyone can process cyber bullying pragmatically for lack of a better description, especially in a lot of the cases, the young.

There is a fascinating editorial in the New York Times today. Here is an excerpt:

The Opinion Pages / OP TALK New York Times : Rise of the Internet Hate Machine
By JAKE FLANAGIN JUNE 16, 2014 11:37 AM

Welcome to the age of Internet hate, when “it’s never been easier to send an anonymous death threat,” writes Jack Shafer for Reuters…..The Internet and social media have drastically altered the conventions of traditional bullying, threatening and harassment. Phenomena once thought native to playgrounds and high school locker rooms are now a bug of human interaction through technology — for children, teenagers and adults alike.

Has the Internet made us more hateful? Or has the Internet simply made it easier for us to exercise our in-born spite?…..”I was so puzzled by people who were telling us that anonymity was the reason there was so much vile meanness and attacks online,” said the Canadian journalist Paula Todd in a video interview with the National Post. ….Ms. Todd is the author of “Extreme Mean,” which examines “motives and machinations behind cyber-abuse — tormenting, trolling, harassment, cyber-bullying, stalking, and sexual extortion — and the toll it is taking on children, youth, and adults around the world.”

….In a cover story for the January 2014 issue of Pacific Standard, Amanda Hess relayed her own personal encounter with cyberabuse: a Twitter account set up for the express purpose of issuing threats — like stalking, rape and decapitation — to the popular Slate staff writer. “I felt disoriented and terrified,” she recalls. “Then embarrassed for being scared, and, finally, pissed.” She continued, “headlessfemalepig was clearly a deranged individual with a bizarre fixation on me. I picked up my phone and dialed 911.”….But online misogyny need not always be wielded by men. There are countless examples of women utilizing the Internet and social media to spread hate. …..Women victims of Internet hate also aren’t limited to progressive ideologies. Ms. Hess is a celebrated feminist writer with a largely liberal readership, but conservative women are no less exempt…..

Take the time to read the entire op-ed, it is fascinating. My bringing up cyber bullying on my blog will without a doubt cause a renewed flurry of bullying attempts towards me. I expect it, and I don’t care. Their behavior is theirs to deal with. But this topic of cyber bullying is garnering more attention every day and that is a positive thing.

Even the United States Supreme Court is getting interested in this with regard to Facebook in particular:

Huffington Post Politics: Supreme Court Will Hear Appeal Over Online Threats
| By By SAM HANANEL
Posted: 06/16/2014 10:05 am EDT Updated: 2 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will consider the free speech rights of people who use violent or threatening language on Facebook and other electronic media where the speaker’s intent is not always clear.

The court on Monday agreed to take up the case of an eastern Pennsylvania man sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for posting online rants about killing his estranged wife, shooting up a school and slitting the throat of an FBI agent…..For more than 40 years, the Supreme Court has said that “true threats” to harm another person are not protected speech under the First Amendment. But the court has cautioned that laws prohibiting threats must not infringe on constitutionally protected speech. That includes “political hyperbole” or “unpleasantly sharp attacks” that fall shy of true threats.

The federal statute targeting threats of violence is likely to be used more often in the coming years “as our speech increasingly migrates from in-person and traditional handwritten communication to digital devices and the Internet,” said Clay Calvert, a law professor at the University of Florida.

Calvert, one of several free speech advocates who submitted a legal brief urging the court to use a subjective standard, said people mistakenly seem to feel that they can get away with more incendiary speech on the Internet, in tweets and in texts.

According to the Justice Department, 63 people were indicted on federal charges of making illegal threats in the 2013 fiscal year. That was up from 53 cases the previous year.

At the end of the day, it’s simple: don’t let people steal your joy. You know who you are and so do the people who love and care about you. There are a lot of sad and disturbed individuals on this planet, don’t make their issues yours. Also remember that God don’t like ugly and neither do most individuals with a conscience.

Thanks for stopping by!

maybe it is time to tell sunoco to get the frack out of chester county?

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I am all for capitalism, don’t misunderstand me. However, what I don’t like is capitalism at the expense of where and how we live. And that pretty much sums up Sunoco and their quest for pipeline domination.

Take this timely news about Sunoco Logistics. And a gigantic oil spill attributed to their pipeline in Ohio…..that has affected among other things a nature preserve.

Huffington Post: Ohio Oil Spill: Mid-Valley Pipeline Leak Released More Than 20,000 Gallons Into Oak Glen Preserve

CINCINNATI (AP) — Federal environmental officials now estimate more than 20,000 gallons of crude oil — double the initial estimates — leaked from a pipeline into a nature preserve in southwest Ohio.

Meanwhile, Sunoco Logistics said Monday that the pipeline has been repaired and re-opened. Sunoco shut off the stretch of Mid-Valley Pipeline from Hebron, Ky., to Lima, Ohio, early March 18 after a leak was confirmed.

Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said under a federally approved plan, a specially engineered clamp was placed on the 20-inch diameter pipeline, which had a 5-inch crack that leaked oil. The clamp was tested before oil flow resumed Sunday evening.

Shields declined to say how much of the oil supply was disrupted in the last week in a system that runs about 1,000 miles from Texas to Michigan. He said the information is considered internal company business…..The oil leaked into an intermittent stream and acre-sized marshy area in the Oak Glen Nature Preserve just west of Cincinnati. Teams from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio EPA and other federal, state and local agencies responded after Sunoco Logistics reported the leak at about 1 a.m. EDT March 18….. some small wildlife has been affected by contamination.

Define “some”? I have friends with existing pipelines going through their property where Sunoco is drooling to put more. These are more rural friends with land that looks like a nature preserve because it is so beautiful and full of wildlife and scenic natural water sources.

In some positive news on this topic, East Goshen this week voted to intervene along with West Goshen. I think it is SO important for these municipalities to go to the mat for their residents. Slowly some State Senators also seem to be getting involved, but my wish is they do more than write a few letters. Political resistance needs to be fierce. The time for polite is pretty much over.

I never thought I would think about this pipeline issue. But I am and someone left a very valid comment that made me think. It is on the Just The Facts Please Facebook page:

How did this argument become “Not In My Back Yard”? I appreciate the passion and concern but to say move it a mile down the road only shifts the burden onto another community.

That was never the reasons for fighting this to begin with.

The real issue is that a for profit corporation is walking over cities, towns, and communities on its way to higher profits for their investors. If we use NIMBY in this fight WE WILL LOSE.

For me it has always been about stopping the process and not allow Sunoco to steal from our state to ship 90% away. There were people in the Northeast region this winter that were freezing due to a lack of propane, while Sunoco stockpiled it. This should be unacceptable for everyone

I have to say I feel this person is correct about the NIMBY thing and makes several good points. Chester County communities should band together whether they are immediately affected or not. This is a “big picture” issue as well as being intensely personal to those affected right now.

NIMBY is Not In My Back Yard. I thank the good lord above I don’t have Sunoco in my back yard right now. But I could. Most of us in Chester County are all close enough to Sunoco and other existing pipelines. So I wholeheartedly support my neighbors’ efforts in neighboring municipalities — I don’t want this in my back yard either!

Sunoco Logistics as has been said repeatedly in the media is applying to the Public Utility Commission to become a utility for natural gas purposes. The cliff notes version is if they get this they more easily get the power of eminent domain basically to seize property when they want under the guise of eminent domain for public purpose. It’s not so public purpose, this is to positively impact their corporate bottom line so in my humble opinion doesn’t that make it eminent domain for private gain? How despicable, right? Do we work hard so we can live in beautiful Chester County so they can take our land and destroy what we have worked hard for??

Another interesting thing to ponder off of the Just The Facts Please Facebook page:

If you think that Sunoco’s desire to be honest should not be questioned, then here is something to think about.

In Sunoco’s filing with FERC (OR13-9-000) they state that they have already committed 90% of the product to ship (par. 5). That leaves 10% for domestic use. They also cite that FERC has not established a minimum percentage of capacity that must be set aside (par. 14). Sunoco claims there is no major market in the Northeast for the product (par. 4). Apparently the 55,317,240 (2010 census.gov) that live in the Northeast region are nothing compared to the Norwegian population of 5,109,059 (wikepedia.com) Our question would be if PECO claimed the same thing and wanted to ship excess electricity to another country would this then be alright with FERC. The answer would most likely be no. PECO is required to allow any and all customers to tap their lines. A Sunoco representative, Joseph McGinn—Senior manager, Public Affairs, has already stated when asked about tapping into the line “you cannot connect into it, but if PECO wanted to get it to you then that would be a possibility.” Sunoco Pipeline LP/Sunoco Logistics LP wants us to believe it is OK for them to ship our resource to another country, not pay taxes to the townships along the way, devalue our homes & regions, and destroy the place we call home only to put money into their investor’s & politician’s pockets.

Sunoco Logistics comes in and pays once for use of your land. You don’t get an annual rental fee, if you buy a property with a pipeline from them already there you get nothing, correct? Except if you have pipeline running through your property you get all the risk of having a pipeline in your backyard, don’t you? Which includes not merely environmental concerns but economic concerns as well, right? If you don’t think property values of residential real estate won’t be affected by a pipeline running through it, I would have to say my opinion is you are ever so sadly mistaken. It doesn’t take much to adversely affect a property value does it?

In Chester County a great deal of us don’t have access to natural gas to heat with. Why? Because the only gas lines are pipelines and are Sunoco’s and some other companies for their profit. They aren’t for residential usage and supply. We can have propane tanks, oil tanks, or heat with wood or wood pellets. But that gas is for other people.

Not only does Sunoco want to suck our natural resources out and ship them elsewhere and not give residents access, they don’t even pay their fair share of taxes for using the land and sucking it dry . Which is exactly why as a Republican I am saying people all across Pennsylvania should have yet another reason to send Governor Tom Corbett packing. Start with sending him a message in the upcoming gubernatorial primary. Write in Daffy Duck if you have to.

I have also personally decided to avoid filling up the car at Sunoco gas stations whenever possible. We have plenty of other brands and stations to use out here, and well Sunoco gas stations are the most expensive most of the time anyway, so it’s also being more economical. Yes, I am talking a personal boycott…personal choice and all that if you care to embrace the concept, right?

Another thing you can do is sign and send the letter available via the Chester County Community Coalition website to the Public Utility Commission. Power is in numbers, so the more people who take the time to do this simple thing, the better.

A website called ChescoPaGreen has a lot of information. I am a visual person so the maps they have really hit home. Chester County is literally all carved up by these pipelines.

It is time to stand up to Sunoco and the rest of big and small oil criss-crossing Chester County. The ratio of risk vs. reward is skewed in the favor of big and small oil and any politician or related company or person in their pocket. We as a collective of residents are bearing the burdens and the risks. Safety, property values, environmental concerns (how many of you out there depend on wells for your water?), and so on. We don’t see much in the way of benefits and these companies aren’t even paying their share of taxes let alone actually compensating people properly who have had these pipelines carve up their properties.

If you can’t go to meetings, please contact the Public Utility Commission and ask them to DENY Sunoco. Contact television stations and ask them to join our regional news websites (like PaNewz.com), regional and local newspapers like The Daily Local, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Main Line Media News and give residents more of a voice. Also contact elected officials. On every level for local to Harrisburg to Washington DC, but remember a lot of politicians take donations from big business and individuals involved. You probably can’t expect much from lame duck elected officials, but contact them anyway. Like Congressman Jim Gerlach, for example. He has plenty of pipeline near where he calls home in Chester County.

Again, I didn’t think this would be an issue I really cared about and I was somewhat ambivalent for a long time. But then I moved to Chester County. We live in a beautiful county and we have sacrificed enough already between developers gobbling up ever scenic acre they can get and existing pipe lines.

I am just thinking enough is the word of the day. As in Chester County has given enough.

Time to hit the pause button.

I don’t have a pipeline running through my property. But I could. That makes it more than enough for me as a Chester County resident to say “NO”. Please say “NO” as well.

Thanks for stopping by.

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