Is always being “connected” good?

March 10, 2019

There is a company that Realtors and many others use to stay in touch with their past or future clients called Constant Contact. The company specializes in using electronic and paper-based messages to keep your name and product in front of people. One technique is called a drop-mail program, which is sort of like the Chinese water torture that the name conjures up in the imagination. Constant Contact keeps drip, drip, dripping emails and/or paper mail notes to the recipients until the give up and buy something or use the services being advertised. At least, that is the theory.

Our lives have evolved over the last couple of decades to include the concept of being constantly in touch, being connected somehow. For a while it was through emails and the “Crackberry” became the tool of choice for those who became hooked on constantly checking their email. More recently, of course, the smartphone and aps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp have dominated our time and attention. We are morecouple-looking-at-phones connected than ever. But, is that a good thing?

Stories about distracted walkers getting hurt or distracted drivers getting into accidents, sometimes very bad accidents, would suggest that being this connected in not good. We may laugh at the videos of people walking along fixated on their phone until they walk into a fountain or out into traffic, but it is really not funny. It is certainly not funny to see people blow through a stop sign or light because they are looking at their phone. What we don’t see are eh countless other hours a day that these people are oblivious to the people and event around them because they are absorbed in their connected world of their phone.

It is not just dangerous physically to be so focused upon that world, it is harmful and dangerous to be that disconnected from real life. Social skills fall by the wayside and are left undeveloped. Communication skills become bastardized by the use of catch phrases, acronyms and whole thoughts being reduced to 2-3 letters that are easy to type. Face to face communications, where body language may be studied to help interpret the situation are replaced by screen time where misunderstandings are commonplace and emoji’s attempt to replace facial expressions.

Of course there are very good uses for our smartphones and I’m not advocating that we get rid of them. They are wonderful tools for finding information when you need it and they even allow for great communication with others when distance is an issue; however, they are no substitute for good, old fashion conversations face to

Emoji_Face-with-Pleading-Eyesface with others. Don’t let you phone take over your life. Remain in control of it as a tool; otherwise it can become your master and lead you into electronic isolation. Maybe there’s a three letter word for that – SPS (SmartPhone Syndrome) –

So, maybe always being connected is not a good thing. Maybe it’s time to put down the phone, look up and see what’s really going on around you. Maybe you should put a smile on your face and say “Hi” to someone instead of ending an emoji to Wave at them over Facebook. You may be surprised how much more fun it can be to actually talk to someone, rather than sitting there typing away on your phone.

Oops, got to go. My phone just beeped. It might be something important. Or not. Someone wants to know where I am and what I’m doing. Maybe I’ll find out where they are and what they are dong. How exciting.


Don’t rust out…find new challenges…

March 9, 2019

Seen recently on the internet – “Most people rust out due to lack of challenge. Few people rust out due to overuse.” (Denis Waitley)

Like rust on things, rust on people can be prevented with a little effort. The key message in Waitley’s saying is to keep finding new challenges for yourself. Many people “retire” from work and almost retire from life. They no longer have the challenge of lazygetting up and going to work every day and many fail to challenge themselves with new things to do, new skills to learn or new knowledge to be gained. They begin to rust because they are not using their minds and bodies as they were meant to be used.

Admittedly, our bodies change as we get older and start to put some limitations upon what we can do physically. That just means that we need to adjust by doing different things or doing things differently. That’s one of the mental challenges that we should be focusing upon – not quitting, but finding new ways of doing things that we love to do. caregiverAnother challenge may be finding new challenges to replace those lost with the last job. Some may take on new or different jobs, as I have. Some may find both the challenge and satisfaction that they seek in volunteer work. I do some of that, too. The key (to steal a phrase from Chevrolet commercials) is to find new roads (new challenges) to keep yourself busy and stave off the rust.

Taking on the challenge of a new job, especially one in a field that you have no experience in can be both a physical and mental challenge. You must learn new skills or maybe just sharpen and adjust old skills and you usually must learn a new vocabulary of the terms and words that the new job uses. Both are a bit frightening, but that ads to thevolunteers challenge and the rewards of the new job. Some may find new jobs that take advantage of management skills that they have developed over time. The challenge there is to recognize the differences in the job settings and to find the best ways to implement the skills that you may have developed in a big company setting to a small company or non-profit organization. That can be quite a challenge.

It’s really easier than you think to find new challenges. The need for volunteers is everywhere around you. You just have to try a few to find one or two that suit your needs, your interests and the time that you have to give. Most churches have lots of volunteer opportunities, so check with your church. Then, there are all of the non-profit service organizations that exist in every community in America, from Meals on Wheels old-ladyto local mobility services. If you can drive a car you can help them. There are community food banks and homeless shelters that need help. There are local retirement homes that are full of people who would just like someone to talk too. If you can talk and listen, you can do that.

The point is that there is no reason to sit around and rust out. Some get it in their heads that no one needs them anymore. Not true. There are tons of people that need you, but you just don’t know who and where they are. Get off your duff and find them. Be useful and be patient with yourself and with the new challenge. You’ll be in learning mode take actionagain and isn’t that exciting! You’ll figure it out and it will feel great when you do.

Don’t rust out. Find those new challenges. What are you waiting for?


Start your day with a laugh?

March 4, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this piece of advice – “I love people who make me laugh.  Laughing cures a multitude of ills.  It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”  (Audrey Hepburn)

The important message there is the ability to laugh. For some it is the ability to laugh at themselves; to take life less seriously than others do. When we let life get so serious that we can no longer laugh is when we get into mental health problems. People who experience depression have temporarily lost that ability to see any humor in life; theydepression3 can no longer look at what is happening and laugh. Sometimes things in life can seem so bad that they become absurd. It’s at those moments when the ability to look at the situation and just have to laugh at the absurdity of it all that can get you through it.

I have almost always had the ability to see the humor in life, even in it’s most absurd moments. My wife and I often say in bad situations, “Someday we’ll look back on this and laugh.” Of course, just saying that usually makes us laugh in the present, too.

Some comedians based their whole routines around making you laugh at the absurdity in their lives. Rodney Dangerfield was one such comedian and his stick based upon how absurd his life was never failed to make everyone laugh. Here’s a routine from the old tonight show – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MecU2keW54I

I believe that it is important that we retain the ability to see the humorous side of life dumb blob guyand not get so serious about it that we lose the ability to laugh at it and at ourselves. My first reaction to having done something stupid is usually to be mad at myself, but that lasts only a moment until I see the humor in the dumb thing that I just did. Then I step back, have a good laugh and move on with life. It helps immensely sometimes to be able to see the humor in the absurdity of life and in our own reactions to things that are happening.

One of the things that I have advised in this forum in the past is to start each day as you finish your morning routine in the bathroom by looking into the mirror and making a funny face 2funny face. Stick out your tongue. Scrunch up your face. Do whatever it is you need to do to make yourself laugh at what you see. Break the grip of seriousness on you the first thing in the morning and see if that doesn’t make your whole day better. Laugh at yourself first and then find the humor in whatever life throws you way during the day. Life cannot defeat you if you can still laugh at it.

Can you still laugh? Make a funny face today.

Have a humerus week ahead.


Technically – misused, overused and generally abused

March 3, 2019

If there is a word in the vernacular that I would nominate for banishment it is the word “technically”. Look it up on Google and you find this –

technically/ˈteknək(ə)lē/- (adverb)

from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1 : with regard to or in accordance with a strict or literal interpretation of something (such as a rule, a term, or an official description or designation)

2 : with regard to technology

3 : with regard to technique (as in a performance or movement)

from Vocabulary.com – Something technically true is actually, really true or correct but it may not be the way people think about it. For example, although people call a tomato a vegetable, technically it’s a fruit.

and the definition that I like the most and think best describes its current usage –

jerk

 

from the Urban Dictionary –  What 12 year olds say to sound smart. Often found said by smartasses to make someone look wrong and stupid.

Recently I called into the local Detroit Free Press office to report that I had not received a paper that morning. I usually find the paper on my front lawn when I return from the first dog walk of the day at about 6:30 AM. That morning there was no paper and none when I checked again at about 7:15 AM. So, I called to report that I had not received one.

Of, course, I got an automated voice-response system and dutifully worked my way dinosaurthrough the various menus and options until I got to the place where I could say No to the question, “Did you get a paper this morning?” Upon answer that I had not received the paper, the machine (a machine!) proceeded to make me feel stupid by replying, “Technically, the carrier has until 7:30 to deliver your paper, so it is not yet late.” There was an implied “dumbass” at the end of that sentence, but the machine graciously left that part out. Perhaps the machine was programmed to say that by some 12 year old who found it amusing to make the machine sound superior to whatever dumbass was calling in before the deadline. Technically, I was not amused.

Also from the Urban Dictionary definition comes this further explanation –

When used at the beginning of a sentence, this word is a variety of the ‘filler’ word basically. Another direct replacement for technically is essentially. Maybe the speaker sees his or her own bad speech patterns and recycles these three words while speaking. Filler words add absolutely nothing to the sentence being spoken. Other filler words include like, just, and stuff and y’know, but they tend to be in the middle of or at the end of a sentence. Filler words are rarely used in writing and are part of acquired speech habits.

So, technically, the use of the word “technically” adds nothing to the sentence. It’s, like, just a verbal indication on one’s own level of ignorance or verbal incompetence. Y’know? Just sayin’, dude.

Say or press “1” if you understand or 2 if you are technically lost.