Boomers and Blogging

President Obama is a Boomer. Let that sink in young, ageist death-wish folks. Yesterday on Twitter a journalist wrote something about his shock at the ageism that’s emerged from the COVID-19 virus fear. The resulting thread was full of “death to boomers.” Then some politician from Texas said he was sure that every 80 year old grandmother would be willing to die so her grandchildren could have a good economy. What?

The virus has brought some dark reality to the fore. In Spain and Italy there are not enough ventilators for all the desperately ill people so they’ve had to decide to ventilate younger people and the the elders die (or not). I see the logic, but I also think that has got to be excruciating for doctors who’ve vowed to preserve life. But such decisions are not new to human existence.

Narayama: Death Mountain — fantastic film, but harrowing

As a result of this, I’m going to attempt a social media “diet” as it’s called. I’m not optimistic of success, but I’m going to give it a shot. The main challenge is that I’m kind of hooked. I thank WP for that and a contest I found myself entered in (it was an honor). You might have noticed a “badge” on my page, “Annual Blogger Bash Nominated Blog 2018 — Best Overall Blog.”

It was the strangest thing. I was (as always) minding my own business and I got a notification that I’d been nominated for this award. What? If you won you got a prize and you could take yourself to a party in England. It was very cool because it had come out of nowhere. So, I followed them on Facebook and did all the other things I was supposed to. The contest was very active on Twitter so I became more active on Twitter, a strange, nasty, evil place — but addictive. I followed some blogs, voted for some blogs, and NEVER found whoever it was had nominated me. In the process I “met” two women I like very much. Erin who writes Unbound Roots and Shannon of Must Hike, Must Eat.

I learned a lot from the experience. I didn’t win, but it was fun being nominated. The next year I was contacted about participating, but the contest had changed. The blogs were separated into categories — cooking, the outdoors, child-raising — stuff like that. My blog doesn’t fit any category (that I can see).

As for Boomers — where I live Boomers keep everything going. There’s not much work here, so many young people (who aren’t farming) have to leave. There would be no food bank, no after-school programs, no museums if retired people didn’t step up to do those things. If the 80 year old who runs the Rio Grande County museum weren’t there, there would be no internship for the high school kid who LOVES history, the museum, and the chance to set up exhibits. What training that 17 year old is getting! The local food bank is begging for volunteers right now because it doesn’t think that the elderly people who do 90% of the work should be working now because of the danger of all that public contact. The quilt guilds (we have them here) have mobilized to sew masks and they are, yep, run by boomers.

The niche filled by boomers in my little world is very important yet delicate.
Many boomers are raising their grandkids. Some are substitute teaching. All over the place, they’re stepping in where someone needs it. Maybe we should all be sitting in our rockers on our porches, but we’re not. Well I am, but I figure after 35 yers teaching 10,000 people to write and think, helping save 5800 acres of chaparral wilderness from developers, working to raise funds for a mental health facility for Asian refugees, etc. it’s OK for me to savor the passing parade. My life has been — and is — so far from the stereotype as are the lives of most of the “Boomers” I know.

Featured photo: me walking down a hill at Penetente Canyon, 2017

Millennial and Boomer Communicate with Great Civility on Twitter. Details at 11

Yesterday on Twitter I had a brief and friendly interchange with a Millennial. I didn’t KNOW she was a Millennial until she told me. The dispute was how the Democrats should push a candidate in the upcoming election; who should they choose? Her contention was that, “We can walk and chew gum at the same time” meaning that the candidate can run on something more than just beating Offal. He or she can run on Medicare for All as well.

I contended that I wished this were the case, but to beat Offal, the candidate has to appeal to a very wide range of voters, those who voted for Offal just to get a dig at Hillary, those who held their nose and voted for him because they “always vote Republican,” those who had lost their faith in Offal. I said I thought anyone too far left would not capture those votes.

She replied that she is a Millennial, Millennials want healthcare, and they are the largest block of voters. I was about to reply that I believe healthcare is a right, that I spent most of my working life uninsured (exploitation did not begin with the Millennials) but this is not that election. When I hit “reply” I learned she’d deleted the comment. I was sorry. We were having an uncharacteristically civil conversation on an otherwise often enraged platform.

This young woman had retreated to the arbitrary definition of her herd. Later I thought about me at twenty vs. now. As time passed, I became less “passionate” in a way — maybe that’s what we do, what Hemingway decried in A Farewell to Arms where he sets the young male character up against an older man who says something about patience and the cooling of ardor and says, “That is the wisdom of old men.” This wisdom is criticized by Federic Henry who’s fallen in love with the British nurse who cared for him in the hospital. Frederic is willing to go AWOL to Switzerland to be with her…

As I became older I saw that many of our goals are not reached in one fell swoop, but over time, step-by-step. Sure, I knew that intellectually but what it meant in my own real life? It took a while. The idea for a novel is not a novel. A trail is not trod on a map. There are complications and turning points and hazards we don’t know about until we start out. When I was young — as this woman is — I didn’t KNOW this. And, what my Millennial interlocutor might not know is that Clinton ran on a universal healthcare promise way back in the 90s. We know how that worked out. Americans were upset that he was going to put his wife in charge of that! Nepotism! And Hillary is annoying!

One of the things that put Offal in office is the desire of his base to have it all RIGHT NOW and his willingness to promise that he could deliver it. Their appetite for instant gratification leads them to believe his lies. They know they can’t see the whole iceberg, so if he tells them Ivanka created 14 million jobs when the entire economy added only 6 million, they’re going to believe Offal.

Also my young Twitter friend doesn’t seem to realize that there are Millennials who support Offal. The Millennials alone are not going to fix this mess in the upcoming election. In fact, there’s the danger that — as happened last time when Bernie wasn’t nominated — if they don’t get the candidate they want, they won’t show up at all.

We have a huge mess and, in my opinion, it’s urgent that we get rid of Offal and most of the men and women currently in the Senate. In fact, keeping Offal and transforming the Senate would be a pretty acceptable alternative because it would paralyze him. The most important thing for any voter — whatever generation — to understand is this. None of the more liberal agenda (and I’m only marginally liberal) can take place without one of those two things happening. If both could happen it would be the best outcome. Once the power is restored to the majority of Americans (who either did not vote or voted Democrat in the last presidential election) we’re going to have a big job restoring our position internationally and convincing our allies (if we still have any) that we’re serious about renewing our ties. We’re going to have to come to grips for once and for all with an immigration system that doesn’t work right and we’re going to have to find a way to make things up to the families we’ve destroyed. There’s no reason in the world for this country to have the kind of whacky health care system it has right now and maybe Obamacare can be tweaked to function better as we work toward a more equitable system for everyone. The most important issue to me is climate change — but it’s huge. Maybe we can step back into the Paris Accord.

Offal’s reign has brought up the question of state’s rights, a topic that interests me very much after living in California for 30 years and witnessing the incredible difference between that world and the rural Colorado world in which I live now. How can we support and enhance those things which each state does well and offers to the nation as a whole? Doing that would promote unity in this massively divided nation. We should not be against each other. Being against the government? I get that. Je suis l’anarchie.

Here’s a very funny song for your listening pleasure…

I Quit Facebook

I quit Facebook last summer, cold turkey, and it stuck. For the first few days it was very strange for me, but then…  I have a presence on Facebook now for my novels and to run a fan page for an art guild of which I’m a member. I have no “personal” presence. A couple of my friends followed my lead and, as did I, found their lives were better — more peaceful and more productive.

What continues to be strange is that if you leave Facebook people have serious reactions — they can feel rejected (personally), they can stop being your friends IN REAL LIFE, and it is pretty much the end of contact. I didn’t have a ton of ‘friends’ and most of my ‘friends’ were really friends or good acquaintances. From time-to-time I get emails that say, “We miss you on Facebook.” After quitting Facebook I finished the edits on a novel and began another.


Day One: Facebook. I suppose it’s a kind of drug. Yesterday, I took a step back and thought about Facebook. What’s good about it? Connections with people I want to be connected with. What’s bad about it? It’s a time suck and an emotion suck.  There’s so much bullshit in day-to-day life that looking for it at home on one’s computer just seems kind of nuts. Can I live without it? Can ANYONE live without it in these days? Can friendships survive the absence of that connection? I guess I want to know the answer to that.

Human relationships are already fraught with peril. So… Whatever it is I want from life or have ever wanted from life, well, generally just something that isn’t hedged in by ickiness.

Day Two: It’s a little strange not to check my “wall” and I realize how much of that was habit not curiosity. Reading news stories and checking sources for students, hitting on articles I would otherwise share is also strange, but OK. I remembered my first exposure to Facebook and how perplexed I was that my Facebook friends posted things which were no more content-rich than “I just inhaled” “I’m exhaling now”. Of course, I think I became/have become that person.

We need attention. I’ve had a long email conversation today with a friend from long ago about loneliness. She is very lonely and reasonably so. She’s married to a man a lot older than she is. They live in a beautiful condo but out of the center of things. She’s somewhat introverted and from another culture so making new friends is not all that easy for her. She would really like a social life and I think she needs one.

I’d like one, too, and I think Facebook filled that gap in a way, but not a satisfying way. It is a social life without actually having to “socialize.” For me maybe that makes sense as I live “way to heck and gone” (such was not the case when gas cost 1/3 what it does now) and I work a lot, but for my friend Facebook doesn’t make sense. I don’t think it does for me, either, or I’d still be there.

Anyway, it is an addiction and it’s not going to be gone in one day. I would like to tell someone that my ear hurts or that my painting is going well or that Einstein didn’t say, “Insanity means doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I’d like to craft a rant on students being lazy. But thinking of what I would do on Facebook makes me ask a question I would ask if I were actually posting on Facebook. Is any of that necessary for me to say or for others to know? What is really necessary for me? It would seem that it’s necessary for me to grade papers as they come in and work on a cow painting and maybe ride the stationary bike. Maybe it’s essential to focus on where I want to go with myself and my life and to use my time for that rather than seeking attention. Maybe NOT having THAT attention will inspire me to turn outward toward the world. Maybe I’ll return to long afternoon rambles in the mountains (doubtful with allergies and $4 gas but who knows?). I have definitely perceived the different amount of time I have without Facebook.

An interesting article that describes many of the discomforts I’ve been having:

Now the trick is to stick with it. There are even PLANS for quitting Facebook. T

Day Three:  And so here we are again. I’m grading student papers, most of which are not very good, but I’m just kind of stuck here reading bad writing and non-thought and not being able to breathe and fearing going outside because of the allergens.

But… a friend wrote about using Twitter to promote her artwork. I took a little internet jaunt to see what I could find out and I logged into my Twitter account. The thought of doing anything with it was completely enervating and that was that. Good idea or not, I don’t want to. Kim, who also “quit” Facebook yesterday is experiencing REAL depression and probably needs to see a doctor, but she also thinks Facebook has contributed to her feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and dread.“Ultimately, Facebook is changing the human race. People think, speak and live in status updates. We have become short spurts of witty commentary. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with a person, rather than just their online character. We are all becoming narcissists. 

“We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being ‘alone together’…We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party,” wrote M.I.T. professor and psychologist Sherry Turkle in the New York Times.”As for me — I don’t know much more than I just want to stay away from it, for now at least. One day at a time!Facebook is a tedious distraction. More often than not, Facebook acts as a distraction and not a tool to “reconnect.” In fact, it’s estimated to be costing the U.S. economy billions. Constantly checking Facebook is an addictive habit, and one that is hard to break. We check our smart-phones every six-and-a-half minutes, and part of the reason why is that we’re always refreshing our Facebook pages. It’s hard to overestimate the site’s addictiveness. Alexia Tate, a friend of a friend who I’m connected to on Facebook, took a break from the site for 40 days during Lent last year. When she came back, she noticed that she’d become more of a Facebook fiend than ever. “Kind of like smoking,” she wrote in an email.”

Another article, a very good one, “The Flight from Conversation,” by Sherry Turkle, says, wisely (in my opinion)

“So, in order to feel more, and to feel more like ourselves, we connect. But in our rush to connect, we flee from solitude, our ability to be separate and gather ourselves. Lacking the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people but don’t experience them as they are. It is as though we use them, need them as spare parts to support our increasingly fragile selves.

We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite is true. If we are unable to be alone, we are far more likely to be lonely. If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will know only how to be lonely.”