Friday, October 31, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Finding Body Peace

Body Prayers: Finding Body Peace by Rebecca Radcliffe is a short little book about body image and self-worth. It deals with denying the societal pressure to base your self-esteem on your personal appearance while also accepting and loving your body. It's written in an interesting format and is a little cheesy but was still an inspiring read.

When I first started the book, I didn't like it much. The majority of the book is a series of journal-like entries on each page and they start off as pretty negative. My first thought was geez, this is making me feel terrible and these thoughts are so pathetic and sad but then I realized I could easily be reading some of my own journal pages. I have to say that after I reached this conclusion, reading through the book actually made me feel less alone in my feelings.

Each journal-like entry is paired with a snippet of statistical information on the top of the page about societal weight issues, media, and body image. In a way, the writings are responding to these. They all start off pretty negative, but as I kept reading I enjoyed it more as the author started to unabashedly deny the societal view and spoke more encouragingly about her body. Again, I found this was inspiring as it is pretty much where I find myself now. 

The last part of the book is a collection of women's prayers, poems, and affirmations. Again, a little cheesy, but there were some good morsels in there. All in all, I would say this book was an inspiring read and I'm sure I got something out of it even if it wasn't life changing. It's incredibly short, at only 136 pages, so I'd say read it. I will probably read some of the passages from this book again sometime. I would probably give this book 3 stars, but it is worth a read if you struggle with body image. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Game of Life and How to Play It

The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn is considered a "prosperity classic". This is a short read I added into the line of books I am currently reading just to get a break from the therapeutic mental work. I was intrigued because this book was originally published in 1925, so I wanted to see how it compared to other "prosperity" writings I have read. This book was obviously a source for many modern writers, but also offered some new insights to me and information on spiritual law.

If you have read Rhonda Byrne's The Secret and enjoyed it, you would probably enjoy this book. If you think The Secret is a bunch of garbage you actually might still enjoy this book. To me, The Secret was a commercialized rip off of ancient teachings, squeezed into a cheesy package for average Americans. It talks solely of the Law of Attraction and how to "manifest" things into your life. It came off as fairly superficial and tacky. I still liked its message of "you get what you put out", although most of its stories or examples were of people wanting a Lamborghini or other material trappings, which didn't seem very spiritual to me at all, or maybe that was simply because of who the target audience was? Who knows. Regardless, this book, in contrast, is even more simplistic while at the same time being much more informative and dare I say "real" to me.

Florence Scoval Shinn not only talks about the Law of Attraction like Byrne, but other "spiritual laws" such as the laws of Prosperity, Nonresistance, Karma and Forgiveness. She explains about the Power of the Word, stating the importance of our spoken words in bringing us what we declare. She explains the game of life as a "game of boomerangs", declaring "man's thoughts, deeds, or words, return to him sooner or later, with astounding accuracy." She says giving opens up the way to receiving and people must trust their intuition or their inner guidance. To me, all of these things are truth.

She speaks of Love as God in manifestation, the "strongest magnetic force in the universe". She quotes the Bible quite often, explaining from an energetic stand point what Jesus actually meant by many of his teachings. I kind of enjoyed this. I enjoyed her usage of terms like Infinite Spirit for the Divine, as well as her talk of divine design, "Divine right" and Divine selections. Although much of what was in this book was repetition for me, it all gave a different yet similar spin to things I have already read, believed, and felt. I also gained a new understanding of the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve eating from the tree of "the knowledge of good and evil" because of this book, seeing it now as symbolic of the birth of Ego and the shift away from unity consciousness into dualistic thinking. The way I took it, our "banishment" was more of a birth into third dimensional consciousness, shifting away from the unity of the fourth dimensional "God" space. I don't know why I never saw it like this before from other readings, etc. but this made so much sense to me that I had a mini "Aha" moment. (PSA: The Bible utilizes symbolism and is not literal.)

While the book was God heavy, I didn't mind this, but some might. I personally think there is a morsel of wisdom in everything if we can keep from being offended long enough to consume it. The author basically explains how the Universe, being Infinite Spirit (or just an energetic field of potentiality depending on how you look at it...i.e. The Force), responds to our words and thoughts with amazing accuracy. Thoughts ARE things (read Thoughts Are Things by Prentice Mulford, written in 1889, it's another old as shit book about manifestation and the power of thought.) This infinite field can be manipulated if we are aware of our "boomerangs" and the actual language we are using to "communicate" our desires. As within, so without. As above, so below. To every action (thought, word, deed) there is an equal and opposite reaction (manifestation). This isn't just spiritual law, it's physics.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Discipline & Listening: “The Ben Taylor Experience”


In December of 2013 I attended a house concert, my very first, at the Oak Mountain Hideaway House, which is actually just over the river and through the woods from my home.  This was a delightful and highly meaningful experience for me, one that I will (God willing) always remember that has taught me a valid life lesson, in all actuality, maybe a few of them.  The atmosphere was chill, the hosts were warm and accepting, the house was lovely, and the talent was AMAZING!  My first house concert experience was with Mr. Ben Taylor, son of musical legends James Taylor and Carly Simon.  YES!! Conceived of the sperm of JAMES TAYLOR and birthed out of the vagina of CARLY SIMON!!  I watched him perform in a living room, in front of a grand fireplace complete with Christmas d├ęcor.  I also was fortunate enough to meet him afterward and perform a song for the man on the guitar that he played that night, which blew me away and almost brought on a panic attack all at the same time.  It was like meeting the son of gods; it was like having a conversation with Hercules??!  Okay, I am well aware that he is just a man, but aside from his amazing music, he’s my type of people.  As it were, it was a night of music, listening and lessons. 

Upon arriving at that house concert I had never heard any of Ben Taylor’s songs, so I had a completely open mind and blank canvas to accept the strokes of his brushing artistry, or finger picking, beep booping sound box wizardry, what have you.  His music is an interesting mix of impressive finger picking with a touch of pop and some beat box mashing sprinkled on it.  He performed mixes, including his mash up song "Fire and Vain" created using two of his parents' most popular songs.  He did a cover of his father’s, but more importantly he thoroughly introduced you to his style of music in a very intimate way.  Declaring himself an honorary member of the “S.S.S.” club, meaning the sensitive singer/songwriters, he told stories and explained himself in a very personal and down to earth way.  His music is inviting and thought provoking.  This man’s a thinker, that is obvious right away.  His newest album “Listening” had recently been released and we heard tracks from it.  I sat on the stairs in this magnificent living room, with a perfect view of him at work.  It was like being on the set of Storytellers.  After his sets I was left with the feeling that I actually got to know the man, although this was nothing compared to my experience later on in the evening. 

After enjoying snacks and wine while mingling around the place, we ended up approaching Ben once he had settled onto a bright red futon in the basement after giving autographs upstairs for awhile.  At the time, Ben was in the midst of a conversation with a woman I will refer to as E.  E and Ben were talking about a dream that she had at some point in her life about a light house and being somewhere lost in time, one in which she felt held significance and a connection to Ben for some reason. Ben now wore a huge, mesmerizing ring on his right hand that he fiddled with. His report with the woman was open and frank, reflective and not dismissive at all. She was explaining that she sensed a connection between the two of them, something to do with the lighthouse dream. I was sitting right beside him on the futon now, following their conversation, just listening and waiting to continue speaking to him. We had introduced ourselves already but E trailed on and I don’t like to interrupt a good conversation, hell, even a bad one. He described life as a series of “harmonic blips”. So many songs [lives], he said, were similar with the same harmonic blips. And sometimes it recognizes a harmonic blip in another song [life]. Can a blip of oneness create or clone itself or something like that, he mused. Can it?  He said to E to recognize it for what it was---a harmonic blip in time in these bubbles of oneness that we are. Profound. Even more profound hearing the actual conversation, I'm afraid my memory isn’t the best of story tellers. At the end of their conversation I remember him saying “What do you want me to do about it? Should I write a song about it?”  He also referenced an episode of South Park.  “That reminds me of that one episode of South Park...write a poem, mmkay??  Make you feel better, mmkay?? Harmonic blips, bubbles of Oneness and South Park.  Oh, yeah.  My kind of people. When speaking of life and the soul, and how we all hailed from Oneness he said "I don't know what seduced me out of Oneness and into form...[but] I’m not afraid to die because I know that I will go back to that Oneness. My only fear is that I won’t be able to feel or create or write or express [in that state]...” Sitting around musing how linear time is just a created illusion and discussing life after death...my kind of people.
  
At some point while we were all sitting around him my father mentioned that I play the guitar, which mildly embarrassed me but I’m grateful that he did it now.  When asked, I replied that I dabble.  I mean, seriously, this is James fucking Taylor’s son. I dabble, I dabble! I basically am a monkey playing with a coconut and a string compared to this man, his father and his mother. He jumped up eagerly and retrieved his guitar out of the case, the guitar he played that night that appeared to be ancient and well loved, worn in, abused, even.  Like it had grown into Ben somehow at that point, it was THAT well used.  Most of the time I honestly held that thing gawking at it in awe, clutching it to me like the bouquet awarded to the queen of the prom!  It was beautifully scratched and dinged, like an ancient musical artifact.  I remember sitting there wondering in the moment if James Taylor had ever possibly picked up this guitar of Ben’s while jamming at his parent’s house or something?  It was a little overwhelming to think about. The whole thing still remains somewhat surreal to me, while also being one of the realest moments of my life.  But there I was, sitting there holding this artifact guitar in front of Ben Taylor and a handful of strangers. I wasn’t prepared for this, I was trying not to fall into a panic attack right there. Luckily there was wine! I had my sister grab me another drink. Ben pretty much demanded that I play him a song. So I did. 

I ended up chicken shit, and all I could muster up was the most nervous rendition of a cover that I could do. Honestly, it was more a severe case of Swiss cheese brain. I couldn't even remember my own songs in that moment, at least not enough to make it through an entire song. So I went with an automatic cover, which turned out fine. Everyone sang along, including Ben, so that was fabulous, but it was rather embarrassing that I just couldn’t recall one of my original songs to play for him, especially when he specifically asked me to play something that I wrote after I played the song that I did. (KNOW THYSELF!!) "Discipline!" Ben Taylor said. This is when I realized I needed a much more intimate relationship with my own work...and also to grow a big dangly set of balls. It was pretty pathetic in a way, but in the end, I’m glad I didn’t play anymore, because the true theme of the evening was his last album’s title...”Listening.” There were many magical words of wisdom spoken that night, and to think I would have missed out on them had I broke into a song, had I been cocky about myself, or overly eager to impress the man.  Instead, I mostly listened.  At this point, I held his guitar like it was a newborn.  I fondled it and fiddled around on the strings, but didn’t start into song.  I was listening to everyone else. We had a good conversation going, why interrupt it with Ego? My Spirit was drawn to listen. 

It was while holding that guitar that Ben Taylor bestowed some of the best advice onto me. He critiqued my playing, which was awesome. He told me that my pocket was good and was apparently impressed because for being a man that seemed rather in touch with his feminine side (in the sense of spiritual balance) he explained that was ONE thing he was sexist about; he thinks that men are better with their strumming hands, better at holding the rhythm. But he wasn’t mentioning this in a derogatory way, he was complimenting me. He said my left hand was good also, but my right was notably better. So that was pretty sweet, having Ben Taylor basically tell me I have good rhythm, even for a girl. We then listened as another girl that was there cradled the guitar as she crooned out an a Capella song that she had wrote herself. We all tried to convince her to just learn to play. "A little DISCIPLINE!" Ben said this a couple of times that night. Indeed.

This experience has taught me about the value of listening, to others as well as to myself. It has given me the drive to listen to my own story, my own music. It helped me to see that I should take myself more seriously as a singer/songwriter, even if it is just for fun because it is expression. Simply because I am a bubble of oneness expressing itself with my own harmonic blips. I have so many songs because I am simply compelled to compose them. So then I write these things out as I am compelled and I won't revisit them enough to actually hear what I am even saying. I have since this experience started to have my songs recorded, the songs that I couldn't remember in that anxious moment with Ben. In recording my own music, I have been able to revisit each song and get to know it in an intimate way again. I get the chance to actually LISTEN to myself. I learned a wonderful lesson from Ben about the value of being an artist, the discipline it takes, and the art of listening. So, thank you, Ben Taylor, for the wonderful experience, thank you for your impromptu critique, and more importantly...thank you for listening.




Sunday, October 19, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Eating in the Light of the Moon



Eating in the Light of the Moon: how women can transform their relationships with food through myths, metaphors, & storytelling by Anita Johnston, Ph.D.


Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationships with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, & Storytelling is a book written by Anita Johnston, Ph.D. about disordered eating in women. This book points out that 95% of people diagnosed with eating disorders are female, and therefore focuses on women and the divine feminine qualities that she believes become imbalanced with eating disorders. Johnston uses myths, metaphors and fairy tales to explain how the problem with food is really just an illusion; food is a metaphor for a hunger inside of us that is much deeper than physical hunger. In fact, we’re so used to tuning out our bodies’ true signs of hunger that we only know when we are famished or completely stuffed. She explains how it is essential that we learn again to pay attention to the subtle signs that our body is giving us. This book is full of symbolism and is a great journey of self-discovery. 

"Storytellers speak in the language of myth and metaphor," the author says. "They tell us a truth that is not literal, but symbolic. If we hear the stories with only the outer ear, they can seem absurd and untrue, but when listened to with the inner ear, they convey a truth that can be understood and absorbed on a deeply personal level. In this way, stories help us connect with our inner world, to the natural rhythms and cycles of the earth, and to the power of our intuitive wisdom." This book utilizes symbolism throughout to shed light onto the dark places of your psyche and explain that feelings are important and meant to be dealt with, not numbed out or covered over.

Johnston focuses on rediscovering the inner feminine, our intuition, and using that to shed light on our disordered eating. Through stories, the author tells of our struggles with food stemming from hidden feelings and an imbalance in our energies, our intuition has been ignored and our light has been extinguished. There is some reason that we turn to food for sustenance. Johnston explains a woman’s recovery as being a journey into a great labyrinth, where we have to wind around and around until we reach the very center of it, our core where all of our demons dwell, and then we have to face them and make the spiraling journey back out of the labyrinth into the world again. A woman must heal her relationships with her femininity, her sexuality, her body and her Self before she can conquer disordered eating.

I loved the use of metaphor in this book, it really speaks my language. What I got most out of this book was that food is a metaphor for other forms of sustenance, for a different kind of hunger, not only the physical. The most memorable part of this book for me was the metaphor about the animals that were starving and that couldn’t reach the fruit from the splendid tree because they couldn’t remember its name. They sent 3 different animals back to the lion to learn the name of the tree so they could eat of its fruit. Both the gazelle and the elephant could not make it back from the lion without tripping into a hole and forgetting the name. Finally, they sent the tortoise, whose great-great-great grandmother had told about the tree and how to remember. After getting the name from the lion, the tortoise repeated it to itself over and over again until it reached the other animals, “Ungalli. Ungalli. The name of the tree is Ungalli.” It repeated this over and over again until returning to the tree and announcing the name, and immediately the limbs of the tree extended to the ground and the animals were able to eat of the fruit. This story explains how you need to know the name of your hunger in order to recover and how you must keep it in front of you the entire time of your journey. Johnston says that it is only when your hunger is named that you can be truly fed. She explains the difference between nourishment and Nourishment with a capitol “N”. The woman who suffers from disordered eating must keep the name of her hunger in the forefront of her mind and repeat it to herself whenever she struggles with her own personal food symbolism.

This book focuses on how women who suffer from disordered eating have lost touch with their bodies and have become disconnected from their inner feminine; there is an imbalance between their masculine and feminine selves. It highlights the importance of the symbolism in our dreams and suggests using them for knowledge about our hidden fears and feelings. It also guides you, through insights and practical exercises, toward empowerment, explaining how to regain the power of your intuition and get in touch with your feelings, instead of stuffing them down or numbing them away. It focuses on feeding your “shadow sister” who wishes to be heard instead of starved or stuffed, by recognizing those parts of you that have been hidden or lost. Once you can see through the illusion that food is really the issue, you can dive deeper into your feelings and really begin to feel them again. Remember your hunger; always know what it is that you are truly hungry for, be it acceptance, love, respect, or creative expression. Keep it in front of you at all times and you will be able to give yourself the Nourishment that you TRULY desire. The name of the tree is Ungalli!!



SOURCES:

Eating in the Light of the Moon: how women can transform their relationships with food through myths, metaphors, & storytelling by Anita Johnston, Ph.D.
Johnston, Anita Ph.D.
Carlsbad, CA. Gurze Books. 1996

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Almost Anorexic: A Book Review and a Personal Revelation




Almost Anorexic is a book published by the Harvard Medical School’s The Almost Effect series, which discusses the grey area of medical conditions that aren’t necessarily a diagnosable condition but are still definitely not in the “healthy” range. Eating disorders and other medical conditions exist on a spectrum. This book is about falling on the spectrum between healthy and full blown eating disorder, in the grey area with subthreshold conditions that don’t get the attention diagnosable conditions receive. It was a collaboration written by Dr. Jennifer J. Thomas, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and Jenni Schaefer, author of the book “Life Without Ed”, who has recovered from anorexia nervosa, and is chair of the Ambassadors Council of the National Eating Disorders Association. I discovered Almost Anorexic while searching for books that would actually address my personal experiences with disordered eating. This book was the key to helping me to unlock and unearth what was probably my dirtiest not-so-secret secret. I call it this because it is not something that I am proud of and I have a great deal of shame and guilt surrounding the subject and while a few people know, I have never blatantly verbalized or acknowledged it publicly, so perhaps this is a revelation of sorts as well as a review on this helpful book.

People look to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) to know if they have a true problem, but while helpful, it also can be one of the biggest impediments to their actual healing if they can’t find themselves in the book. How do you properly treat your illness if you don’t feel you have a legit problem or it isn’t even recognized as one by professionals, family, or friends? This is one of the things that Almost Anorexic addresses. A lot of the reason people think that they don’t have a problem is because of the diagnostic criteria. Sadly, this can keep them from getting the help they really do need. If someone doesn't meet all the criteria for a disorder, they are typically diagnosed as EDNOS (Eating disorders not otherwise specified) or OSFED (Other specified feeding and eating disorders), which aren't even considered officially recognized eating disorders. I would have been in this group dubbed by some clinicians as “diagnostic orphans”. The point is all subclinical eating disorders are worthy of help.

I never became underweight which is required for an anorexia nervosa diagnosis but, like many other diagnostic orphans, I exhibited all of the same behaviors as someone diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Had I taken the EAT-26 (Eating Attitudes) test back then, I'm sure it would have indicated I had a real problem. I also lost 35% of my body weight which actually WOULD get an anorexia nervosa diagnosis according to earlier versions of the DSM, which called for a weight loss of at least 25%. The DSM has changed since then a couple of times and is now on its 5th edition. In the newest edition I would be diagnosed as OSFED, atypical anorexia nervosa. Even though I gained all of the weight that I lost back after I stopped restricting on top of my intense exercise regime, I still carried many of these behaviors with me into my 30’s; I still struggle with the Binge/Purge pattern even in other areas of my life. Ed is still in my head and still has a big say in my daily life, whether I am fully aware of it or not. Awareness is half the battle. Eating disorders are behavioral disorders, and let’s face it...behaviors don’t just magically go away because you refuse to acknowledge them or time passes. There is still a residue. And while I am not currently dealing with full blown disordered eating anymore, I am still dealing with a lot of behavioral residue from the days when I was. I believe you need to acknowledge and change behaviors or you will unconsciously relive them repeatedly. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.

There is a drastic difference between healthy weight loss and an eating disorder. What I did in high school was not healthy and I know now that I most likely lost my gall bladder at the age of 16 because of how fast I lost the majority of the weight. I also know now that intense restriction is not a sustainable way to achieve weight loss...period. Restriction wasn't my only problem, though, as I also developed an obsessive relationship with exercise. Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body, but not when you force your body to do it as a punishment when you haven't fed it anything for a week. I starved and abused my body, I desecrated my temple. My body didn't trust me anymore after this ordeal, and I am still working on regaining it's trust 20 years after the fact.

I was amazed by how much I found myself in this book, maybe not so much my current Self, but pieces of my Self, and especially that younger aspect of my Self. She was there in all of those pages. The book uses many case studies and personal anecdotes that I definitely found relatable. Almost Anorexic deals with the subclinical end of the eating disorder, while using stories from Jenni’s personal recovery to explain the obsessive relationship people can develop with food and exercise. It not only covers food related problems like binge eating and restricting, but also discusses compensatory behaviors and the highly important subject of body image. Dr. Thomas and Jenni discuss the physiological and psychological changes that occur in “almost eating disorder” syndromes. The second half of the book gives solutions and suggestions for recovery, and also includes helpful activities for you to do on your own, including identifying your social support network, and creating a personalized relapse prevention plan. An interesting exercise from Chapter 6 has you write two letters to your eating disorder, one as if it were a friend, and one as if it were a foe.

In my therapy, I have recently started to dive into this aspect of my story. I thought it would be helpful to "tell someone" as this book instructs. This secret casts a dark shadow on me and I am now working on bringing everything into the light. “For good and for real.” This book is a wonderful read for anyone who has had, has, thought they had, or may have an eating disorder. It is filled with an extensive amount of resources for help. I encourage anyone that thinks that they may have a problem with food and body image to read this book. I also encourage anyone who thinks that their loved one may have a problem with food to think about reading this book. I spent the majority of my life in a state of limbo, somewhere stranded in the middle of the spectrum. Almost recovered isn’t the same as fully recovered and while I’m almost there, I’m not going to settle for almost recovered anymore.

For Good and For Real,
Missie Sue


SOURCES:

Almost Anorexic: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem?
Thomas, Jennifer J. and Jenni Schaefer
Center City, Minnesota:  Harvard University/Hazeldon, 2013. Print.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why I Don't Like You Anymore (on Facebook)



Why do you not “like” something on Facebook? Is it for some passive aggressive motive, snubbing only certain people on your friends list while liking everything else? These people are out there. (You are aware that people can SEE the things you like on Facebook, right?) Is it because you simply don’t like it? Of course, a very likely reason! Is it because you are thinking about what it’s contributing to the algorithm? Doubtful. Wait...what? I’ve seen all of these things, but passive aggression is not MY reason. While I think that it’s very unlikely, it is possible that people may have wondered about my lack of likes for the past couple of months on Facebook, but I assure you that I am an equal opportunity non-liker. I’m not liking other things while not liking yours. I didn’t stop liking people’s stuff because I have something against them or because I don’t like their pictures or stories. I didn’t stop liking only certain people’s posts or pictures to be intentionally snubbing or socially cruel. I don’t “like” anything on Facebook anymore, period.

Some of you might have read either of the two articles back in August from the people who both liked everything on Facebook for two days and DIDN’T like anything on Facebook for two weeks. I was intrigued after reading these two articles. I was intrigued about our ability to manipulate the algorithm Facebook uses to determine our news feed, if we pay attention to what we are feeding the bots. I wanted to free up my news feed; I wanted to see what would happen. So I experimented on my own and stopped liking anything on Facebook...well, mostly. I probably liked two things since I stopped, only because they were posts that needed the support, which is different than an ego boost, AND I do still like comments under posts. This does not seem to affect the algorithm as drastically, although I’m sure that it still does in its own way. EVERYTHING is affecting it. Big Brother Book is always watching. Isn’t that a little scary? I wasn't sure anything would even happen if I stopped using the like, so I used my main account for this and not my Musing Through account and the results of my personal experiment were actually impressive. 

What I found at first was how hard that it was NOT like to like things. But I like it?!?! Nope. Don’t click it. How do you let people know that you like it? You don’t. OR...you actually interact with them and post a comment on their status or picture. GASP! Yes, I started commenting on things that I liked, or sharing things that I liked instead of just simply clicking like. This led to me commenting things such as “Word!” “Right on!” “Yes!!”, “Love it!”, “<3” or at times even just “LIKE!” As a blogger, I can see where actual written responses are more important feedback than a mere ego stroke with the like button. I would appreciate feedback in word form by one person more than I would a bunch of people liking something without saying a word. So not liking led to more interaction, which is a good thing, right? Elan Morgan, the writer who stopped liking things on Facebook, said it best: “The Like is the wordless nod of support in a loud room.” This is very true. So without that silent nod we are forced to either ignore something we like or actually chime in with a word or two about it. We are forced to go from nodding at each other at the party to having an actual conversation.

As the man who “liked” everything for 48 hours painfully discovered, over liking decreased the amount of actual human beings in his news feed and made it a big cesspool of advertising and propaganda.  I found the opposite to be true; once I stopped liking things that I even did like I was noticing a lot more posts by people and pages that I honestly didn’t even realize that I was friends with or followed? This can be even more confusing when these people have since changed their names?? Who is THIS?! I haven’t seen anything from this person in over a year. Do you assume that people just aren’t posting status updates? WRONG! These people are alive!! They are alive and well, hidden in the recesses of your news feed cesspool. FYI, even if you actively LIKE something on Facebook, it will still only show you a small percentage of the posts coming from that page if you aren’t actively interacting with it on a constant basis. If you run a page you know how frustrating it can be when you post something and see it has only been “served” to 3 people out of all of the people that “like” your page. The algorithm really is a bunch of shit! So imagine what you are missing when you don’t even like or interact with it for months because it’s hidden in a lower tier beneath all of the things that you “like”. Actually, I probably have more pages that I follow on Facebook than actual people. My news feed consists mostly of articles and the like but now it's a more even mix. I enjoy this; it feeds me more. (See what I did there?)

Facebook is always changing things, anyway, and they reserve their right to run their site in the most asinine way possible. NPR shared how the social media giant had been manipulating our news feeds in order to conduct psychological experiments on“positive” and “negative” moods, tracking any changes in wording by its users in their statuses, etc. Am I the only one who thinks this is severely whacked?? BUT like everyone else, I checked that box in the agreement, allowing the Big Brother Book to basically do whatever they want, right? What it comes down to really is that Facebook is what it is, and it is also what you make of it. For me, personally, Facebook is the Walmart of social media sites. I also like to refer to it as the “high school hallway” and have big dreams about further explaining my metaphor one day with a blog post. It is a good place to keep up with family and friends, indeed, but we all use it differently and get something different out of it, don’t we? It's a different monster for every one of us, an entirely personal experience! I like to maintain my stance of “I READ IT FOR THE ARTICLES!” Riiiiight. And you just go to Walmart for milk and bread too. Damn the man!

Good or bad? I don’t know. I will say that I have noticed a change in my news feed and that I LIKE this change. I am seeing people I haven’t seen in forever, but am still seeing most of the things from people in my inner circle because I comment on them or they comment on mine. I'm seeing a more even mix of articles and posts from pages that I follow. I’m not a Facebook stalker so I only on rare occasions go to people’s pages and check out their stuff, I rely mostly on what is coming through my news feed even though I am aware this is most likely only part of the story. I was pleased to see a lot of the pages I follow show up again in the news feed as well, because I was led to a lot of interesting articles and reading because of this. I would have missed all of this had I not decided to play with the algorithm. Still, it is really just a crap shoot as to what you are going to see at any given time. Who really knows? I just still find the algorithm a little unnerving; some robot is determining what we see every day on social media sites based on what we click on, calculating and tracking. Besides, they are using our likes for statistical information on products and services. They used to pay people to collect that information, now they just pay Facebook. It is a semi-necessary evil...just like Walmart, even though neither of them are entirely necessary but still rope us in with their convenience. "Everyone is doing it!" "Allllll are welcome! All are welcome!!"

So, does this mean that I will not be liking anything on Facebook ever again? Probably not, it's just an experiment. There is a chance I will start trying to manipulate my feed again and bring certain pages and people to the forefront by liking their content. So you might wonder why I even bother? Well, why not? For one, I like the change in my news feed but also, I like that I am forced to comment on something if I “like” it. It forces you to actually interact with people instead of walking down the great high school hallway of Facebook giving perpetual silent nods at each other. It forces you to say, “Hey there...I like that!” or “That’s cool!” or “How ARE you?” And isn’t that the point of social interactions, to really interact or to dare to connect? Isn’t that what “friends” are for?


SOURCES:

I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here’s What It Did to Me by Mat Honan

“By liking everything, I turned Facebook into a place where there was nothing I liked.”

http://www.wired.com/2014/08/i-liked-everything-i-saw-on-facebook-for-two-days-heres-what-it-did-to-me/

                      

I Quit Liking Things On Facebook for Two Weeks. Here’s How It Changed My View of Humanity. By Elan Morgan (Shmutzie)

 “The Like is the wordless nod of support in a loud room.”



Why I Stopped Liking Things on Facebook By

http://dangerouscupcakedesigns.com/stopped-liking-things-facebook/

 

Facebook Manipulates Our Moods For Science And Commerce: A Roundup by Elise Hu

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Metaphorical Look at the Hoagie of Life

I bought fundraiser hoagies off of my sister-in-law for my nieces recently and they were delivered today. You know the kind, baggies of fillings, packets of dressing, all of that wonderful don't-have-to-cook-the-night-they-come goodness? So I made one up and cut it into pieces for my daughter and I to eat tonight for dinner. She took one bite of her piece and deemed it weird, but then proceeded to come at my sandwich demanding bite after bite. Now, she does this with many foods at many meals but the sandwich thing got me thinking, maybe because I love hoagies and was irritated that she refused hers and wanted to devour all of mine. Om nom nom! But as she was doing this, I couldn't help but think about how it was the same damn sandwich? Why do kids do this? But, then of course my mind took off with the thought metaphorically and applied it to all of humanity like I tend to do with the mundane.

What makes your kid assume or think the sandwich on your plate is any better than the identical one on their own plate? For that matter, what makes people think or assume that your sandwich is any better than the one they are eating? We are always so busy looking around at what everyone else is eating that we devalue what is on our own plate. What's funny is that we all construct our own hoagies. Maybe the bread or the meat is the same but each of us decides which of the baggies we open to use and which we leave, what condiments we add or don't add, how big or small we cut it, which way we eat it. But it's all constructed from the same base...it's really the same damn sandwich!

Life is like a good sandwich. It's a hoagie, it's a submarine. It is filled with a bountiful combination of ingredients of your own choosing, a delicate construction of layers. If you look at life as a sandwich then we are all just eating off of the same endless party sub. So don't try to take bites off of other people or think that others have a better piece than you have, because, after all, we are just eating off of the same sandwich anyway! And how you take it is really up to you. It's your choice; you make your own damn sandwich!

Life is full of variety and differences, but if you take off all of the toppings there are mostly similarities. We all have that common roll, if you will. Life is your own piece of the eternal party sub and if you pay attention to what is on your own plate and are truly grateful for what you have instead of what you don't, there's a good chance you'll find happiness there in its delicate layers, somewhere between the pickle and the cheese.