Archive for December, 2015

I was raised a Catholic and unwittingly consumed all the usual religious teachings over my formative years, including the most ridiculous of all: ‘turn the other cheek’. For years I think I actually believed that heaven would be attainable if I gave the horrible people I met (between the nice ones that is) the opportunity to be horrible…again.

My Zambian friend once said to me that I had the patience of Job. She was right, I do…or did. Most of my blog readers would know this year has been monumental for me. In January, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer and have spent most of this year fighting through some pretty hard treatment yards. When I look back on the person I was before cancer, and now, a lot has changed.

One of the most significant of these changes is in my tolerance of people who offend, who are rude, who have no self-reflection compass, who are arrogant and thoughtless or those who believe competitiveness and ruthless self advancement (of the materialistic kind) is ok. Just like Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” creed, ego-based behaviour that seeks to dominate or compensate for an undiagnosed failing within is not excusable or ok.

Post cancer diagnosis and treatment, that good little Catholic girl has finally been erased. There is no more ‘turn the other cheek’ for me these days. Life is too short, and peace of mind and happiness are gifts that should be fiercely protected.

And the Gordon Gekkos of this world? Well let’s just say they can make friends with like minded people. It’s one party I won’t be lining up to attend.

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Every morning multitudes of people wake up and reach for their phone to check their facebook newsfeeds. On their specially crafted reel of favourites, they’ll scroll through and maybe like or share content with other users. Instead of going to websites, perhaps even newspapers now, people open facebook for connection to society and the world.

It’s the portal to end all portals; one that sucks us in and keeps us there. There are quizzes and tests to take on facebook that predict everything from which movie star you look like, to the year you are going to die. It’s both infotainment and a humongous time waster.

I took one of the tests once – the one about which celebrity you look like. I got the ‘grumpy cat’ – a facebook famous identity. Yes, it’s a real cat who looks grumpy and has more than 8,000,000 followers.

Are we stupid to devote so much time to an artificial and I would say influential learning environment? As of the third quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.55 billion monthly active users. While the grumpy cat mightn’t have much to teach us, the news, lifestyle and new age sites might. Just about everyone – artists, authors, the Dalai Lama – is on facebook.

I remember when I first started out on facebook. I liked Oxfam and the RSPCA, spiritual sites and the New York Post. As newspapers realised the news distribution had entered a new era, they too began to build their facebook platforms but the twist for them is they don’t control the advertising dollars. Facebook does.

And it is attempting to control our memories now too. Aside from the greeting facebook gives you when you logon in the morning, it is now providing you with ‘anniversary’ posts for you to share – so you and your friends can reminisce.

What’s next? Hopefully it won’t attempt political influence though I’m sure there are subtle signs there if you looked.

I would really ‘like’ to take a break from facebook for a week. It would take real discipline, as I’m one of those people who reach for their phone and newsfeed each morning upon waking. Someone once likened that to reaching for a glass of whiskey. They might be right.