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if you don’t like it or think I should grieve otherwise, you could perhaps go read something else

‘The subtle mental shifts we experience over time and how they lead us down our paths’

Heidi Jones

There’s my writing prompt. It’s from my friend Heidi, who I saw recently at my thirtieth high school reunion.

That was a trip, by the way. Like a psychedelic one, I mean. The good kind of trip. Glad I don’t do that anymore, though. It was hell on my psyche.

Mine is about fighting. My mental shift is about anger and how I deal with it.

You likely don’t know this about me, but if you know anything about astrology, I’ve got a curious and kind of unsettling chart. What do I mean?

I’m mostly fire. A burning surging seething wildfire, even. That’s only part of it, though. My moon is in Cancer, like the old Joni Mitchell song talks about.

Heidi, remind me to tell you about Trina in that same song, ok?

Anywhoooo…moon in Cancer, which is water, of course. However, my sun and my ascendent are both fiery and passionate. A person with my chart is troublesome.

Truly.

But I don’t put any truck in astrology. Just a bunch of hooey, right?

Right.

Heidi asked a difficult question, because I’m still in the process of transitioning. From a bitter bastard of a scoundrel to a hopefully less angry individual, but that’s still unresolved.

I’m not a nice person most of the time. I’ve mentioned it here before, but I can present a polished version of Lahikmajoe online or in my public life, but in private?

Ask Miriam. Really, ask her. She’ll be direct about it. She doesn’t need to cover up my rough edges.

Sometimes she even appreciates them.

Yet how was I before? I just walked away from conflict when possible.

Let me tell you a story about me when I was new in Germany, yeah?

Here I was in a foreign land, in which I’d lived as a small child and always wanted to return to, not able to communicate so well in the German language. I had my dog and my beer, and I was ok.

Truly.

People in the park were mostly cool, but sometimes there’d be what I call an ‘angry German‘. They’re still out there, in case you think this is a twenty-year-old phenomena that no longer exists.

Even today, I run into really angry locals who’re furious about something or other. Sometimes I stepped in their way or tried to park in the parking spot they thought they’d seen first. You get the idea.

Not all of them are like that, in case you’ve gotten your proverbial knickers in a twist.

#NotAllGermans

Back to my story though, eh?

There I was in the park, new in the county as I said, and some German starts hollering at me for reasons I can’t even begin to comprehend. He says some nonsense about an ‘Anzeige‘, and I know from the context that that’s bad. A Strafanzeige is a fine you get for breaking the law. It’s not important for the story.

So? I walk away.

Simple, right?

You can’t give me your Anzeige if I’m not here for it.

The person never called the police. It was a threat that I knew he or she was in no way going to follow through on.

Ever.

That’s how I used to deal with my anger, Heidi.

I disengaged.

My first marriage? I walked away. Left a lot of money on the table, because I got the only thing I wanted from that marriage.

Ella and her brother

The dogs.

They were my treasure and now they’re gone.

I’ve got new, wonderful treasure, but it just ain’t the same.

Oh well.

You know I adore my wife and our astounding little progeny. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a grateful happy man.

But I miss their floppy ears. I miss how Louis got up in the night and rearranged himself while everyone else was trying to sleep, and how Ella watched over us in the park and made sure her brother kept up.

He wasn’t the smartest dog, if I’ve not said that in a while.

My dogsitter Gitti lost her Joanna a few years back and she moaned about it on Feckbook for ages. I’m sure some friends wished she’d just get over it.

This is my grief. This is how I’m processing it.

If you don’t like it or think I should grieve otherwise, you could perhaps go read something else.

Let’s do it again and again

A photo of Miriam and me showed up in feckbook’s algorithm today. Exactly two years ago today we were back in Liguria, where the progeny was most likely conceived, and we were madly in love.

The memories keep coming — it’s not all smiles & joy, but I suppose that’s the nature of social media. We tend to try putting our best foot forward, or at least I do.

If I air my dirty laundry here, I’m certain to put out far more positive, uplifting stuff to balance out the sadness. This last 2 years has been a roller coaster like no other I’ve experienced.

Regularly, I think back to that scene in the movie Parenthood, where Mary Steenbergen & Steve Martin’s characters are in their kids’ school auditorium and their youngest has gone ‘off script’ & is tearing the scenery down in the process of ruining the school play.

The mom & dad are shown as if they’re on a roller coaster — it’s an astonishingly good metaphor for marriage & life, now that I think about it.

She’s laughing & enjoying the ride, while he’s having what looks like an anxiety attack. He’s terrified of what others think and that his kid needs more therapy and isn’t getting better anyway…he’s essentially sitting in a puddle of his own worries & self consciousness.

This life is no dress rehearsal, I’ve often heard it said. You get one shot, and as much as I’d like to believe in reincarnation, the skeptic in me wins that argument I periodically have with myself.

Miriam recently mentioned that you people out there get the best version of me, but she has to deal with raging asshole. It’s true. My words, not hers by the way.

In a perfect world, I could act nearly as well in my daily life as I pretend to here online. My goal is to show as much of my authentic self as I can manage, while still respecting my family’s and my own privacy.

When I get off this roller coaster one day, I want to be screaming, ‘Let’s do it again! Again, again…let’s do it again!’ Which is my very logical argument why we so desperately want to believe in reincarnation.

Why do people take the wrong things about Facebook so seriously?

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Getting some things off my chest

 

Ok, the first thing I want to say is that when it comes to Feckbook, people just need to settle down. It’s a platform that has changed not just the landscape of the Internet, but has altered the way many people live their lives. It’s not going anywhere in the foreseeable future, so either learn to deal with it or simply delete your account and move on with your life. Why do people take the wrong things about Facebook so seriously?

If you’re one of the seemingly limitless people still using the above-mentioned service, then you’ve no doubt recently seen the status updates that people have copied and pasted to defend themselves from content theft and privacy violations. It’s nothing new – these cookie cutter blurbs of non substance are not only a huge waste of your time, but they sadly show how gullible people continue to be. Take a quick gander at this if you’ve not already seen it:

Facebook Privacy Notice brought to you by the good people over at Snopes.

However, that’s not what made me want to write this post. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m doing more and more with social media and I’m looking at it from the perspective of my growing client base, rather than just as an individual writer amplifying his work.

Although I continue to build Macbeth Knowles Consulting for small and medium sized businesses here in Germany who want to better use social media to reach international markets, I’ve resolved to keep this lahikmajoe blog for the more informal stuff.

I’m offering  some behind the scenes material and some quick and dirty tips about how anybody can improve their social media with common sense approaches. My loyal readers have always appreciated my more whimsical side, and I have no intention of giving that up. Hiding my light under a bushel, as it were.

So, as I continue to take on new clients and cultivate the ones I’ve already got, I’m focused on what I see happening on the social media landscape. Much more important than those laughable status updates above is what Feckbook has done elsewhere. Let me link to it first, and then I’ll sum it up:

New Facebook Rules Will Sting Entrepreneurs

Here’s a bit of that text if you couldn’t be bothered to follow the link:

But small-business owners…will soon get less benefit from the unpaid marketing pitches they post on Facebook. That’s because, as of mid-January, the social network will intensify its efforts to filter out unpaid promotional material in user news feeds that businesses have posted as status updates.

The change will make it more difficult for entrepreneurs…to reach fans of their Facebook pages with marketing posts that aren’t paid advertising.

Businesses that post free marketing pitches or reuse content from existing ads will suffer “a significant decrease in distribution,” Facebook warned in a post earlier this month announcing the coming change.

Look, it’s their site. That small businesses have had the opportunity to use this platform for so long at little or no cost could definitely be seen as a kind of generosity on the part of the behemoth that is Feckbook. That’s not exactly how I see it, but I can certainly appreciate their perspective.

And on some level, I like that Facebook’s motives are becoming more transparent. That can only be a good thing, as most people are still a bit foggy on who the customer is in this business scenario. That’s the bit of wisdom I’ll leave you with as I head back to what’s left of the weekend:

If you’re not paying for the service, then you’re not the customer. A more accurate, albeit crass, assessment of this entire setup is that Feckbook’s true customers are the advertisers and marketers who specifically add to the company’s coffers. I don’t care how accustomed you are to using the platform and how convenient it is to connect with friends and family from far and wide: if you’re not paying for it or being paid, then you’re a glorified content provider.

If it’ll make you feel better, though, to post a status update putting the Man in his place, then by all means, go ahead and do so.

To each his own, as the kids are saying.

Having cake and discussing which direction we’re all going

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Box of pastries…carbohydrates a plenty

Although I’ve got writing assignments and plenty of other obligations, I realised recently that I hadn’t been keeping the horde of my readers up to date on what’s going on hereabouts. For one thing, Elaine came to visit and we continued our Cake Across Europe tour that we began last year in Palermo.

Oh, here’s a collection of what I wrote about all of that:

Palermo Posts

And here’s some of what Elaine made from that trip

Nobody’s Perfect. Even me

Alone and existential in Palermo – What to do?

It seems that while everyone else is cutting carbohydrates out of their diets, Elaine and I go the other direction when we’re together. Plenty of my friends and acquaintances are toying with variations of high protein/low carb eating. Listening to those who’re obsessed with the Paleo Diet, many of our modern health problems are directly related to the effect sugar has on us. The argument goes that because carbs turn to sugar, we’re better off decreasing them as much as we can.

While I’m not going to wade into that debate here, and it’s a tangent I’m not prepared to go onto at this point anyway, I will concede that Elaine and my cake consumption is not the ideal health choice we could make. If I thought anyone was mad enough to actually look to either of us for nutrition advice, I’d include some sort of ‘Don’t try this at home, kids’ warning. Luckily, that’s not a concern.

Instead, the thrust of our week together was brainstorming and planning for how we’re going forward with our online presence. Because at our age, we’re sandwiched between the generations of people who didn’t have any of this technology and the digital natives who have grown up with it all around them, we’re in a position to have watched the good and bad that can be created in an online community.

People get bent out of shape because of something that was said in response to a post on Feckbook, and things can so easily escalate into name calling and blocking and genuine bad blood. We see the power of curating content and believe that our wall or stream on various platforms is like our virtual neighbourhood. So an ongoing topic between us is what to do when people get unruly on your page.

When it’s a genuine exchange of ideas, both and Elaine and I can overlook a bit of invective. A bit. However, when it turns to personal attacks, there’s an advantage in editing out the more cruel voices. Is that suppression of ideas? Censorship?

Yep, it is. It’s my wall. Go pollute your own space with your poison.

I’ve watched carefully over the years how major media sources deal with readers comments. When users still have some ability to stay anonymous, it seems there’s more inappropriate behaviour, but even people using their real names can be schmucks.

So, I’m curious what experiences you’ve had with this. Have you altered the settings on your blog or social media platforms where comments have to be approved first? Do you even bother with such thoughts? What’s your position on this? Don’t be shy.