Hey all! Happy 2017! ::insert bad and cliche joke about not seeing y'all since last year:: I am THRILLED to announce that I am all moved into my new place! How was everyone's New Year's Eve? Mine was great; a few loved ones came over to christen the new place. Everyone was dressed up, yet it was low key and lots of laughs were had. Ironically, my new couch has yet to be delivered so I improvised with my patio furniture and teal folding chairs. #soclassy There we were being all dressed up sitting on a patio bench inside! I called it my "White Trash Chic" party. Sadly no photos were taken, but I think you get the picture!
Regardless of your world views, I think everyone can agree that here in the states that we are more polarized than ever and 2016 was a crazy political year. In the theme of my new series Behind the Memes (a soft open debuted last month and mid this month another segment is coming) I thought I'd discuss the changes I want to see in the world that we all could agree to if we wanted. Since New Year's is a time for resolutions it seemed like an appropriate segue!
My Two Cent Ideas for Solutions:
- Never talk to someone in a tone that is suggesting that they need to see things your way. Regardless of right or wrong, we are all complex people with different viewpoints due to how we were raised, what we have studied, and personal biases based on our various other personal circumstances. Yelling, belittling, and name calling is NEVER productive and only adds to aggression. Even if a point of view infuriates you, remember to have compassion to the view holder.
- Familiarize yourself with the opposition's view. If you watch a 24 hour news station, flip between all the other 24 hour news stations during commercial breaks. Multiple studies have been done that show that people become more staunch in beliefs they already held when when they don't look at viewpoints outside their own. You should watch a counter opinion news station, not so much so you can change your own mind but to hear what is being said from the horse's mouth versus what's being reported what's being said. Sometimes news stations (and newspapers) sensationalize talking points for ratings and to keep their views amped up. Knowing what is actually being said humanizes the other opinion (sometimes). And, you may actually agree with one or two points made, even if your whole outlook stays the same. Same goes for if you read the news; for every site you peruse that enforces your world view, check back with the other side is reporting.
- NEVER. STOP. LEARNING. Read. Watch documentaries. Check out both ones that you will agree with so you can expand on why you hold the world views that you have (and not just limit your opinions to what memes say), but also ones that challenge your opinions. I blame school for being about grades as to why Americans seem to have a disinterest in learning; grades don't necessarily reflect intelligence and enforce a learning style more dedicated to memorizing and likely forgetting information as opposed to thinking critically and applying knowledge in a meaningful way. Learning is actually really fucking fun, especially when you're not being graded on it. The more you know, the more enriching your life will be. Reacquaint yourself with learning. It will lead to more intelligent debates (as opposed to emotionally driven, bottom of the barrel, name calling squabbles) and you will better understand references that politicians and public figures make in speeches and promises, and therefore be a more educated voter.
- Specifically, study history, psychology, and religion. When you study history you can better compare current events with historical events and make a decision about where you think our future is heading, and what you want to do about it. When you study psychology you both not only can possibly understand yourself better, but you can spot tricks being used to influence your opinion. You may also spot personality disorders in public figures, and either have compassion for them and/or decide that they're not fit for various jobs and not vote for them. And finally, when you study religion you learn about what people actually believe as opposed to the soundbites that are attached to what is usually a horrific event. Religion is immensely complex and yet so few people take the time to study religions different than their own. Weirdly few people also understand all that their own religion actually promotes or how it started in a historical context. Most wars have stemmed from religious differences; if we don't want to blow up the planet over things we don't understand, we need to start understanding the differences, commonalities, the good, the bad, and the ugly that all major religions bring to the table.
- Maybe also study science and geography. Even if science is not your thing or goes against your religious principles, it's still an important thing to know the basics on. Science plays an amazingly large role medicine, so that can make you be a better patient advocate for yourself and loved ones in a time of a health crisis. Like familiarizing yourself with opposing world view in regards to politics or religion, knowing what scientists are actually trying to convey is worth it over glossing over a meme. Most people can agree that judgement and gossip are bad, but science has been judged unfairly due to watered down and whisper down the lane gossip in recent years based on half truths and misunderstandings, and unlike other forms of "gossip" this behavior is largely accepted. Understand what scientists are trying to convey, please. And in regards to geography, we as a nation don't do too well in this arena. And it's especially embarrassing when we're at war with or involved in some conflict in a country that we can't even name the continent it's on, let alone whereabouts it is in said continent. If we're going to hate other countries, let's at least know where they live on a globe! (Kidding. Kind of...)
- Ask yourself why you are posting a politically charged rant, article, meme, or YouTube clip on your social media where all friends, coworkers, family, and former classmates will see it. Are you looking for a fight? Do you honestly think you'll change minds (and if so, why?). Are you looking for attention? Are you posting in hopes a few friends see it and you all can get a good laugh about it? Are you boasting that you feel proud to agree with the point of the media you're posting? Social media is still so new, and therefore dividing and conquering our subconscious reasons for engaging in it is easier said than done. But if you start asking yourselves the whys of what you're doing instead of just blindly and impulsively posting, eventually some self awareness may take over and you'll realize that you're right for doing things the way you're doing things or you'll curb some of your activity for the better. Win, win!
- Stop calling people un-American or unpatriotic just because they don't agree with you. This one drives me nuts, personally. We all live in America because we were either born here and like it enough to stay or we immigrated here because we saw something good here that we didn't in our old country. Just because we have a concern, complaint, or question the motives of either elected government officials, the military, or big companies that are in bed with the government, doesn't mean we "hate" America or are somehow unpatriotic. It's kind of like how being a good parent or being a good friend sometimes means voicing an unpopular opinion that needs to be said for the betterment and safety of someone we love. It's not all fairy circles under rainbows talking about how much we love one another. Individual people, political parties, companies, and the government will make mistakes. Pointing out concern for those mistakes is a form of showing love because asking that someone do better means you want the best possible outcome for all. As many of us are not in the same political parties, we will disagree on what's best. But don't confuse that for somehow not loving or wanting what's best for our country.
- Not all means of poking fun at something are equal. A friend from college ranting on his/her Facebook page about politics or hot button current events is not the same thing as a sketch on SNL, a story from The Onion, or a comedian in a comedy club poking fun at the political landscape. A rant online or in person amongst friends have the sole point of view of expressing a stance and critiquing those who disagree. Something done in the name of comedy may be siding with a certain point of view, but they aren't saying things to necessarily provoke, change minds, OR offend as much as they are trying to find the humor in a situation that is otherwise not funny. Humor is a way of coping and making sense of the world. We are entering a world where people less and less understand this distinction, so much so that I'm strongly considering making this topic one of my earlier Behind the Memes topics. (If you don't know understand what I'm saying, feel free to Google "Jerry Seinfeld and PC Culture" to start falling down the rabbit hole and familiarize with what I'm saying in the meantime.) As I mentioned in my inaugural Behind the Memes post on social media, I think because normal people, news outlets, and celebrities alike are on all social media platforms it gives the illusion that everything that's being said has equal power. Humor is starting to be misunderstood and being judged for something that it's not. It's okay to have lines in the sand or to simply not find something funny, but realize a non-comedian friend ranting on Twitter and a YouTube comedy sketch on a hot button issue popping in a newsfeed are two different animals with two completely different intentions. Learn the distinction and love the distinction, because it will set some of your anger free!
- Listen instead of quietly waiting your turn to talk. If you are the type to get into debates with people, remember to genuinely wait for the other party to finish talking and actually hear what they are saying. Too many people are only "listening" to be polite while waiting for their turn to soapbox again, and/or pounce on someone for a buzz word not considering the context in which the word was said. Listen with your brain please, and not just your ears.
- Don't hate people based on one difference. One of my favorite quotes goes, "You can't hate someone once you know their story." It's a huge basis of why I'm throwing myself on the tracks and am going to "story tell" my private thoughts, reactions, questions, and reactions to the 2016 election in roughly two weeks, as well as some other hot topics each month. I'm hoping by me doing this it's a start, no matter how small, to not seeing other humans as walking soundbites with no further depth. For instance, whether you're pro life OR pro choice, you're going to meet people that have the opposite stance. Regardless, you may have the same taste in music, have an identical value system regarding how you treat people, and be on the same recreational soccer team. I'm truly not a Susie Sunshine kind of girl, but there really is so much to like and admire in people as individuals. Don't write someone off or dislike someone based on different world views, or at least not for those reasons alone.
What do you guys think? Agree or disagree? Did I miss anything important? (I'm sure I did.) I think the world would be a way better place if most of us even committed to two or three of these bullet points. These kinds of behaviors are a way of acting locally while thinking globally, which is the best attitude you can adopt when you're feeling hopeless about the state of the world.
Style Details: I'm wearing the Bernie Dexter Sharon dress. I reviewed this dress in a different print HERE and I highly recommend this cut. Last New Year's post I wore this dress but in the black Paris print. Read that post HERE! The earrings/necklace are Kate Spade, the jacket is an OLD TJ Maxx find, the purse is Melie Bianco via DSW (old), and the shows are the coveted Barbie head shoes from Jeffrey Campbell (read more about them HERE).
On a personal note, you may remember from last year that I'm not into New Year's resolutions as much as I'm for striving to do better at check points based on smaller increments of time throughout the year. Even so, I did start 2016 speaking to wanting to be more candid on the blog, showcase my humor and even weirdness, and so forth. If I may say so, I believe I accomplished that! Despite needing a few absences on the blog the second half of 2016 due to a demanding schedule and illness, I worked really hard and for the first time maybe ever I felt like I was leaving a year with the idea that I more than broke even. I've had a lot of moral and "on paper" victories throughout my life, but this year it felt like I had some tangible and measurable success and I'm beyond thankful for this new, strange, and wonderful feeling! My attitude is the same this year as last in that I want to work hard, continue to evolve, and always try to do and be better. I have some small-medium announcements regarding the blog within the next few weeks (all good stuff), but for now I'll wrap this up. What about you guys? What are your thoughts and feelings going into 2017? Are you excited for a new year, sad to leave 2016 behind, or totally apathetic? Ha. Sound off in the comments! XO