Social Networking Etiquette

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Have you ever logged on to Facebook, MySpace or Twitter only to read that a former classmate has just revealed their most intimate secrets to the world? Your mouth drops slightly because you would’ve never expected such a thing to come from such a refined person.

In the world of social networking, we’ve all read things that should’ve been stored in a diary that’s held under lock and key. And too often, we are trapped in believing our thoughts are still suppressed from the world.

But what should go in the “status update” spaces?  There are many different kinds of people and personalities so naturally there’s a mixed opinion on what should go in the space. Liberal people tend to not care as much about the often over dramatic status updates; while the reservists tend to critique the updater…in many instances steering them away from posting such content.

Let’s define social networking. No…no I’m not going to get too philosophical. Basically social networking is a place in cyberspace for us to intertwine being social and networking. Sure some people use it primarily for networking, but majority of us use it for social purposes. It’s a way to escape in to a world away from our current realities.

People who only use social networking sites to network don’t post many personal updates because they’d rather include an uplifting quote, or promote their business.  Although it seems perfectly acceptable for them to do this, there is one flaw to their method…they come across as robotic. I like to call them cyberbots. The friends linked to them usually don’t feel the social aspect of their updates; therefore these kinds of people are often the first to get dropped when a social butterfly decides to clean up their friend lists.

Being too liberal on social networking sites is a crime most of us have committed at some point or another. It can happen in many forms. The most common is when people give overly emotional updates. Come on, you’ve seen them…”Any guy that cheats on me is stupid!”, or “I got two baby mommas and I’m proud of it!”. The other kind of annoying update is the one that gives a status on simple things like “brushing teeth”, “eating breakfast”, and “nice day outside”.

It’s better to think twice when posting an update. We have to keep in mind that although it’s easy to write what we feel, we don’t want to come across as too dramatic or too reserved.

If you don’t blend the social with the network aspect, you can come across too social or too networky. This is a mistake you should avoid. It’s better to be yourself, and limit yourself to two updates per day. For example, you can post one network update and one social update – but be mindful that you might want to space your dramatic social updates a few weeks apart.

The key to balance it out is to ask yourself  the following question, what is my purpose for posting the update? If the answer is because you are on an emotional high then it’s probably better that you release your energy in another form. And if your reason is to inspire or network, then just make sure that you haven’t done so that day.

If your friend is too social or too network driven on social networking sites, then you can always post a link to this blog in hopes that they will get the message!

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Abodam!

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He stares out of the window watching the birds play in the bath because it’s his only comfort. He wishes that he could fly away with them. Friends have abandoned him over the years and his family has too. He wonders if the birds would be loyal to his supernatural ability.

A woman in a white coat approaches and hands him a pink tablet. “Take your medicine” she says as he growls at the thought of being drugged for most of the day. “It’ll help you think clearly” she reassured.  But he knows different. It will only satisfy the staff and the others that call him crazy. He will sleep most of the day and feel groggy during the rest. His body once full of energy now drained because experimental medicines work against his natural self.

His life turned upside down when voices inside his head told him things that no one else could understand. For instance, one day a voice told him to pull the fire alarm in his building because the kitchen was going to catch fire. Rather than being a hero for preventing such a devastation, he was scorned because no one understood why he’d do such a thing. No one predicted the fire but him.

Shortly after, he barred the windows in his parent’s home because a voice told him that someone would break in otherwise. Although they tried their hardest not to believe that their child had gone insane, they couldn’t help but label him delusional and paranoid.

Other occurrences of the voices getting him in to trouble were sporadic but enough to scare his friends in to isolation. Soon he accepted the fact that he just might be crazy. His last episode landed him in this treatment center. He beat up a man because the voices told him that the guy was a rapist. The judge found him mentally insane and ordered that he seek treatment. To this day, he doesn’t understand why the rapist was a victim of a victimless crime.

Treatment doesn’t help – no matter what they have you to believe. The idea of being drugged and sleeping most of your life away is no way for a man to live. He might as well be among the walking dead. “Especially since they don’t understand me,” he whispers before he swallows the pink pill to satisfy the lady in white standing in front of him.

As dawn turns to night, he doesn’t move from his spot. Dozing in and out of pointless naps and embracing the voices within his head he sobs. He doesn’t understand why he’s made out to be such a crazy fool when the voices are just as real as you and I. “I’m not crazy.” He reassured himself and the voices seem to reassure him too.

The next day a preacher walked in to pray with him, just as he’d done every week for the past three months. This time the man looked up at the preacher and asked “do you think I’m crazy?” The preacher looked down at him and said “I pray for your mental health”.

Irritated, the guy asked again, “Do you think I’m crazy for hearing these voices that no one else hears?”

The preacher reassured, “God didn’t create you this way”.

The man snarled because he knew the preacher was not being straight forward with him. He had to become smarter in his approach.

“Do you talk to God?” He asks.

“Well, of course” the preacher responds.

“Then why aren’t you a patient in this hospital with me?” The man quickly replies.

Stumped the preacher looks around the room. “What do you mean?”

The man filled with emotion stands in front of the preacher, “If you hear God speaking to you, and no one else can hear him speak to you, then why am I the only one labeled as crazy between us two?”

With no answer, the preacher looks down at his bible. He’s not shaken or afraid, but for once in his life he realized that he didn’t have a justification for such crazy talk.

“Is it because you label your voices God, and mine are just voices? Or is it because my voices foresee things that no one sees?” The man exclaimed.

In a silly sort of way the preacher knew the man had a point. There was no mistaking that the voice of God was real, but he figured he shouldn’t doubt the man’s voices either. Especially if he were living to not judge him.

Hmmm.  Abodam [crazy] is only in the eye of the beholder uh?

– Written by Beatrice McClearn

The Forgotten

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For too long America’s capitalistic schemes have forced an unfortunate few in the lower classes of society.  These socially disadvantaged families have dealt with a history of often tragic circumstances.  Forgotten and pushed under the rug as if they were yesterday’s dirt, their cries for equal opportunities are unanswered.

On the flip side, because they are products of their environment the often tragic hard lessons of life are passed on to the youth;  breeding new rivals and new social radicals that are determined to leave a legacy of street credibility.  Their focus is different than ours in the sense that they don’t care about the decrease in home values nor neighbor courtesy.  Loitering serves as a “no trespass zone” for many. Forget about the value of education since video games and music videos were their teacher.

Drug dealers and their protege keep police cautious. Forced to choose between snitching and living, silence sweeps the community while the noise from neighborhood gang wars take over.

All the while, those who’ve mastered the art of capitalization snub their noses at these unfortunate few. “So long as we keep them out of our neighborhood.” Says many of us who pay for overpriced housing just to steer clear. Working jobs we can’t stand and playing the game of the rich often causes tragic issues under the surface that are not so obvious. Health issues due to stress, work coming before family and divorce just a breath away, I’m inclined to remind those same people “Those who live in glass houses, should not throw stones.”

There is a price for everything. Whether or not you are willing to pay is a different story. And although not everyone is on this extreme side of the fence, it’s a great reminder to show us that we are one. Understanding each other is key to a better America. Helping and teaching should be a part of life. And for those who disagree, just think…”whose job is it to teach?” Is it the parents of these low income families? Well…yes of course. But is it also the responsibility of those with the resources to help but choose not to?

“If you give a man fish, he will die within a week. But if you teach a man how to fish, he’ll live for a lifetime.” Why not teach, why not restore the value in the neighborhoods.  “A smart man can play ignorant, but an ignorant man can never be smart.” So why does all of the blame go on those kept down by their environment? These famous statements haven’t stood the test of time for nothing. There’s truth behind these words and so I believe that if we want to see a better economy, safer neighborhoods, and clearer visions, we must first get our hands dirty. This goes for everyone!

– Written by Beatrice McClearn

Coverless Book

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Yesterday morning I noticed a homeless guy sitting on a bench.  His duffel bag was cocked over the side of the arm rest and his head nearly fell in his lap as he slept his way through the passersby and loud engines.  As I approached him I was able to get a clearer picture of the frail old man.  His shoes were worn, although his jeans were fairly in tact.  Nothing but a sweatshirt protected him from the frigid weather, and his hands shriveled from the night before.  His hat seemed to keep him warm, but who really knows how long he’d been out in this weather and if the night was really so kind.  Right next to his duffel bag was a change jar, with a sign made out of cardboard “Need Food. Please help!”  And even though he wasn’t ‘working’ the change jar at the moment, something tells me that he won’t mind if it working for him until he awakes.

“Mommy look,” a young boy pointed as he and his mother made their way around the homeless man.  Careful not to get too close, the mother snatched her son’s hand, wrapped inside a cozy glove, and swiftly moved along.  When they passed, the young boy turned around and peeked his eyes above the hood of his coat to see if the old man had awakened.  It was at that moment, I realized that the woman’s aggressive response instilled a bit of fear in her son.  Unaware of what was happening, the old man continued to sleep.

Rather than continue walking, I made my way to a bench just opposite of the old man. I reached in my purse and pulled out my brand new BlackBerry.  I sat there for ten minutes pretending to pull e-mails from my company address.  In reality those ten minutes were spent quietly observing reactions of passersby.  Not that being homeless is unusual in Washington D.C., but rather taking the time to notice is quite rare.

At any rate, during my random observation I learned that the response of most people was inhumane.  The stares he received were cold, just like the weather and the temperatures he endured the night before.  A few people commented as they passed saying things like “he stinks,” or “I’m writing my local congressman.”  A few times I was certain that the old man was awake but rather too ashamed to raise his head.  So to avoid the blow of the stones he found solace in pretending he didn’t exist.  Afterall I guess he thought we felt the same – that he didn’t exist.

The cold wind began turning my bundled body to ice, so I got up from my spot and walked over to the old man’s jar.  I reached in my purse and pulled out the first bill I saw. The old man looked at me with helpless eyes and whispered “thank you ma’am” before I had the opportunity to put it in the welcome hole.  My heart stopped a bit as I remembered ridicule he’d endured in just the ten minutes I observed him. 

Something came over me and told me to put the $10 in his hand rather than the jar.  So I did.  He was taken back by the fact that someone would actually touch him rather than feed him money through a jar barrier. “Bless you,” he continued. This time he opened his mouth wide enough for me to notice that he was missing most of his teeth.  I didn’t want to speculate if it was due to a drug addiction or lack of healthcare, so I left it for what it was.

“No, bless you.” I say to him as I sit next to him on the bench. “I want you to grab something to eat with that money.”

“Yes ma’am.” He says. 

“Do you have family in the area? Anyone you can call?” I continue.

“No ma’am. I lost my house, my family, and my sanity all within a year.” He looked back at the ground and allowed the guilt to overpower him once more.

There was nothing I could do or say except, “There’s always a redemption period. Whenever you muster up the strength to allow yourself to go through that and move forward, call me and I’ll help you find a job.”

He nodded and I wasn’t sure if he took me seriously, but just in case he did I reached in my wallet and handed him my business card. I know it was a risky thing to do, but I felt it was the humane thing to do.  If I were Christian, I’d probably have asked, “What would Jesus do?”

I walked away from that meeting more touched by his situation than I was with my own.  I wasn’t certain if he’d call, but at least I may have given him hope.  In my eyes, that’s much better than cold stares and snide remarks. 

In today’s paper I read that a homeless man was found dead in the same area I met my friend yesterday.  I read the article repeatedly with a sunken heart.  I learned that he was the infamous James Tolson, former owner of Jay’s Tire Company a big name in NASCAR.   I learned that he sold his empire when he lost his wife and daughter in a house fire caused by a gas explosion, and that he gave all of his money to charities around the city before taking a few items and floating around the U.S.  He has one surving relative, an uncle in Philadelphia, who had unsuccessful attempts to find him after the incident.

I dropped the paper in disbelief.  “He gave up a life of luxury to find just a little bit of solace within himself,” I thought.  How could I be the one to judge him and think that he needed or would accept a job from me? Was I wrong?

This morning a young flirty couple replaced the old man on the bench.  My judgment and curiosity from yesterday was replaced with guilt.  How dare me. How dare the rest of the passersby?

– Written by Beatrice McClearn

Drill Baby Drill

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In the 2008 elections the key Republican candidates started a “drill baby drill” movement and many supporters vowed that off shore drilling should occur sooner than later. Although I will never be a supporter of the notion, I hope that many of them have changed their mind considering the monstrous devastation affecting the Gulf Coast.

In April 2010, an oil rig exploded and not only killed about a dozen workers, but began pouring millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf.  Multiple breaks in the pipeline have disturbed the home of millions of animals that help stabilize our economy. Disgusted by the outrage, many Americans are speaking out about the tragedy and asking that something is done to ensure this never happens again.

What baffles me more than anything is that an emergency plan was nonexistent. Moreover, the government will more than likely not fine BP oil for their negligence. It would be nice if moving forward fines and penalties are in effect for such devastations.

The clean up effort will be ongoing for years to come. And as an environmentalist, I think that BP should shut their doors for a bit and go out there and help in the clean up effort. This may seem outrageous to a few, but really the profit made in the first quarter will be enough to sustain them I’m sure. And I’m sure that the raised gas prices because of this tragedy will aid them as well.

I wish all environmentalist and unselfish people could move to a planet that can live up to its potential freely. The rest of the population can stay here and shit where they eat. Essentially that’s what is happening. The seafood industry will suffer and so will countless other living things including humans because of this.

If I could encourage Obama to do one thing, it would be to re-evaluate his efforts to start off shore drilling. I like him as a President but I think he should focus more on his campaign promises of staying eco-friendly.

Health Care Reform – What Does It Mean?

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No matter side of the fence you’re on, we all partake in the monstrous health care reform that passed through Congress earlier this week.  It’s expected that over 32 million Americans will now benefit from the provisions in this bill. 

In case, you haven’t had the opportunity to take a look at the new bill, here is a quick outline.

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The new bill requires that all Americans have health care coverage by the year 2014.  If coverage is obtained through an employer, then nothing has to be done.  Businesses with more than 50 employees they will be forced to provide health care coverage or face fines up to $750 per person.   Unfortunately, if an employer does not provide health care coverage, then the uninsured must find coverage, or be fined up to 2% of their income.  Exceptions apply to those on the poverty line. 

In terms of Medicare, the bill will create a board that will oversee medicare.  Their primary goal would be to find ways to reduce fraud and waste. It’s believed that these will help make medicare more efficient – especially for the elderly. 

The Federal Government will regulate any new health coverage plans to ensure that they provide minimum coverage and are following protection laws.  Although public option is not included in this bill, there will be a state exchange which will be regulated by the government and again must provide minimum coverage.  It’s important to note that illegal immigrants and those already covered under their employer will not have an option to purchase state health coverage.  Under the new bill, plans cannot discriminate against pre-existing conditions, such as pregnancy, illness, obesity, etc.  These plans also have an unlimited amount of coverage because in the past many health care agencies would simply stop paying after they reached their cap.  Make it clear that the bill does not give federal assistance for abortions.  Therefore no health care plan under the bill would provide abortion assistance.

Funding for the bill comes from taxes on pharmaceuticals, insurance companies and medical supply companies, which is projected to average billions of dollars.  The reduction of fraud and waste in the current medicare system is also expected to save billions of dollars. Thus, it would actually help save money over the next ten years.  

Somewhere along the way this bill that benefits so many Americans is seen as a democratic victory.  I still don’t understand it but here’s a list of the 39 democrats who voted against the bill.

Representative John Adler (N.J.)
Representative Jason Altmire (Pa.)
Representative Michael Arcuri (N.Y.)
Representative John Barrow (Ga.)
Representative Marion Berry (Ark.)
Representative Dan Boren (Okla.)
Representative Rick Boucher (Va.)
Representative Bobby Bright (Ala.)
Representative Ben Chandler (Ky.)
Representative Travis Childers (Miss.)
Representative Artur Davis (Ala.)
Representative Lincoln Davis (Tenn.)
Representative Chet Edwards (Texas)
Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.)
Representative Tim Holden (Pa.)
Representative Larry Kissell (N.C.)
Representative Frank Kratovil (Md.)
Representative Dan Lipinski (Ill.)
Representative Stephen Lynch (Mass.)
Representative Jim Marshall (Ga.)
Representative Jim Matheson (Utah)
Representative Mike McIntyre (N.C.)
Representative Mike McMahon (N.Y.)
Representative Charlie Melancon (La.)
Representative Walt Minnick (Idaho)
Representative Glenn Nye (Va.)
Representative Collin Peterson (Minn.)
Representative Mike Ross (Ark.)
Representative Heath Shuler (N.C.)
Representative Ike Skelton (Mo.)
Representative Zack Space (Ohio)
Representative John Tanner (Tenn.)
Representative Gene Taylor (Miss.)
Representative Harry Teague (N.M.)

Coincidentally, only one republican voted for the bill Anh Quang Cao (L.A.)

Extreme Muslims

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Such a shame that a few extremists managed to destroy the beautiful faith of Islam for the rest of the population.

I wasn’t born a Muslim, but I’ve had the pleasure to come in contact with those who practice Islam. From what I see, it’s not too much different from any other religion. It teaches to love, honor, cherish, and stand up for what’s right.  The same as Christianity.

The recent attacks on soldier’s at Fort Hood has motivated me to write this blog. My heart goes to those affected, as well as the family of the suspects. I’m sure that this is an embarrassment for them as well as the rest of the Islamic community.

And I find it saddening that Americans mostly Christians can’t differentiate between extreme Muslims and extreme Christians. Daily extreme Christians make their way through the rubble. Preaching against gay rights or abortion privileges.  Back in the day, it didn’t take too much for the extreme Christian to hide behind the bible in why it was okay to rape, hang, and enslave other human beings.

I want nothing more than for Americans to stop pointing the finger at mass groups of people. When can we see that in order to truly be a diverse country, we must first start by isolating incidents on a case by case basis.  To categorize or scare others in to thinking that a group of people (Muslims) are dangerous only adds to the racist cycle.

It’s getting old, and quite frankly I wish we would move on to something else. I wish that extreme Muslims will stop being so extreme. I wish the same for extreme Christians!

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