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Choosing Who Makes Money Off Of My Clicks.

I write a lot on Facebook and sometimes over here, about how much I avoid clickbait or inflammatory media. I’m not just talking about political nonsense, I’m talking about ALL of it. The article that is going to tell me exactly how I’m ruining my kids? That article is a piece of crap because really it’s just 2 paragraphs and most of it is a quote from a real study that said NOTHING about ruining my kids. The article bashing one candidate because their running mate is a creationist. The article that can not BELIEVE the actions of those celebrities. I avoid ALL of it. I try to A) Only listen to NPR which might lean left but at least is non-profit and B) Only give my eyeballs to media sources I don’t mind giving money to.

Because your eyeballs are money. And articles about celebrity affairs are making more money than articles about the refugee crisis. And that’s because they’re getting more eyeballs.

I’m not saying frivolous media doesn’t serve a purpose. I read a ton of “What to expect?” articles about my favorite TV shows. But I’m saying – right now – our online world is terrible. Giant media groups makes gobs of money basically repackaging someone else’s content and putting it under an inflammatory and click-baity title. Enjoying the periodic frivolous article about cats is now part of a giant problem where AMAZING journalism is getting pushed under the rug because Amy Schumer said something about her boobs.

(I love Amy Schumer. That’s not the point.)

How would our online world look if EVERYONE stopped giving their eyeballs to click bait? Or, more importantly, what if we focused EQUALLY on high quality journalism and reporting. Because – let’s face it. Biased media makes more money than non-biased. And that’s because it creates clickable headlines that pull people in, whereas balanced reporting is dull and boring.

ALL of us complain that too much media is bias.

And yet, we are the problem.

There is a lot of good reporting out there. My world was forever changed by Nikole Hannah-Jones’ reporting on Fair Housing for ProPublica. Why is that not taught in our history classes? Why did I get to the age of 40 without every realizing that red-lining was a REAL thing that happened and created the ghettos? Why do we focus on a few key Black History figures in February but we never discuss how Black Americans were screwed over with refusal for home loans? How did I not know about George Romney – who basically pushed to desegregate neighborhoods by using the “ask forgiveness later” method? (He was not forgiven.) This was a POWERFUL rabbit hole to fall down into when I started reading one day. And my the money from my eyeballs went into pockets supporting real journalism, and not repackaged content with a clickbait title.

I read the Mother Jones piece about prisons the day it came out. I sat in bed and went through the ENTIRE THING. And yesterday? Our government announced the ending of the privatization of prisons. But you know what? That piece? Only made $5,000 in ad revenue. That’s it.

So, what do we do? Well. I try to focus on giving my eyes to long-form journalism and avoiding shitty clickbait. But I also donate to Mother Jones and ProPublica. Because I used to pay for a newspaper subscription and why shouldn’t I use that money to support high-quality journalism online?

But mainly? We have to quit clicking the terrible aggregators. Mother Jones broke down their situation and how to support their efforts. But the clickbait? It’s doing so much more than just creating a world where “real” journalism is unsustainable. Click bait is also building a divide in our country. Inflammatory political headlines are why people say things like “I just don’t understand how you can vote for that person!” because the only headlines they click, are the ones spotlighting the terrible things that person has said or done.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with any Trump policies no matter how much I dig. I’ll be honest. BUT – I do see that if people ONLY read the terrible things about Clinton and none of the other things, then they’d be just as terrified of her as everyone else is of Trump. Terrifying and Inflammatory articles get clicks. Boring articles about successful policies do not.

So I’m making a concerted effort daily to NOT click on the inflammatory headlines. Even if they help reinforce my beliefs. IT IS HARD. They’re so alluring! But I try my best. Instead I subscribe to long-form journalism and I listen to NPR which is non-profit. Does it all kinda lean left? Yeah. I guess. I’m not sure there’s real “unbiased” media anytime or anyplace. But at least it’s non-profit. That’s something in today’s media.

Imagine if we all tried to avoid clickbait. What would our media sources look like then? Would news become boring again?

I wish.


Going Towards The Light

Recently I stumbled upon knowledge of old gossip in one of my communities. You know, the “Did you know that 15 years ago those people you love and respect did this?” kind of knowledge. It was a weird moment because I wanted to immediately hit “rewind” and unlearn this tidbit. I spent a lot of time thinking about, “Why? Why do I wish I hadn’t heard that?”

First and foremost it’s because the Zoot of yesteryear, the one responsible for that chapter full of shitty behavior, fears that people who love her now will someday the same experience. “Did you know that back in the late 90s Zoot had a hedonistic wave that destroyed small villages?” Ugg. I couldn’t run for President y’all, the skeletons would just start falling out in waves.

So that’s definitely part of my distaste for gossip, I can too easily imagine being on the damaging end of that scenario. But also? I was intrigued by the fact that I didn’t soak it up like I used to. Coincidentally, I also had a phase where I would seek out gossip. WHAT? So-in-so did that? Really? TELL ME MORE. I ate it up and I loved it. Now? Not so much. I spent some time dissecting that and I think a lot of it is because I don’t hate myself as much as I used to, so I’m not needing that validation from other people’s misery. “Oh? They did that? Good. I don’t feel so bad about the stuff I did.”

Kinda like how I used to hide smoking from everyone I met because I didn’t want them to know I did that terrible thing. But then if I found out they smoked? It was like angels in heaven singing. YAY! I’m not the only idiot!

I also think a friend on twitter summed it up well: I don’t have the energy to care about gossip any more. The more I thought about the “new” information the more I realized, “Wait. I think maybe I knew that story afterall.” I think I had actually been privy to that gossip before, but the part of me that has no energy for grudges, just wiped it all away.

But mostly? I just think we should all be able to be who we are TODAY. I don’t think I should have to know all of the demons from another person’s past. Why would I want to? The older I get, the more I realize that we are not the same person every decade. At least hopefully not. And most people I know are spending time trying to better themselves in some way, so why would I hold their past against them?

So…I’m going to just allow myself to forget. Kinda like I did last time, I guess. And just be happy in the knowledge that I’m not a Gossip Girl anymore. I don’t seek it out. I don’t thrive on it. I don’t need to know the faults of others to ignore my own. We are all complex – full of light and dark – and I’m going to just be the moth and stay in the light of all of the souls I meet.

A Homemade Lullaby

One of my Go-To stories to tell is how I thought – until the age of 9 – that I was the BEST SINGER IN THE WORLD. In my head, my voice matched those on the radio and in church I sang loud and strong like I was the leader of the choir. I sang in my room, in my shower, EVERYWHERE. I loved to sing and I was the singingest singer in all the land.

And then – one day in 3rd grade – a girl name Michelle sat next to me at school mass and quietly told me after, “Hey. You really can’t sing very well but you do it REALLY LOUDLY so I wasn’t sure if you knew or not.”


I went home and immediately recorded myself singing on a tape and played it back and HOLY SHIT, Y’all. SHE WAS SPOT ON. I WAS TERRIBLE.

I mean, there’s “kinda bad” and “can’t carry a tune” and then there’s “causes blood curdling agony” and I was much closer to that final level on the scale of terrible singers and I was OH SO DAMN LOUD.

And while that moment was heart-breaking and embarrassing, I’m weirdly grateful to Michelle because I might have gone on to an embarrassing moment on American Idol without her.

But I still love to sing. And I still sing. I just do it much softer AND I make sure I tell my story often enough that everyone around me is aware that I know I’m terrible so they don’t have that awkward moment of hearing my voice and then thinking, “Oh god…” because…It doesn’t matter! Kim knows she’s a terrible singer! So we can just enjoy her terrible singing with her!

Or something like that.

When E was a baby I would do what all parents do, I would sing him to sleep. I often sang church songs because they were my favorite, but I also made up one that I sang the most often because it was simple and easy to sing.

Oh E-li-ah, E-li-ah,
I’ll always
Love you!
Yes I always
Will love you
No matter
What you do!

And I would sing it over and over and over.

Then I had Nikki and it turns out

Oh Ny-oh-ka, Ny-oh-ka,

fits perfectly. So she heard the song a million times too. And then with a slight change in rhythm I was even able to do

Oh Wes-ly, Oh Wes-ly,

and sing him the same song.

So it was my thing, I guess. And lately, Nikki has really wanted the calming lullaby/back rub before bed so I’ve been reviving the tradition of singing my homemade lullaby. Her anxiety hits her hardest at night and she gets sad and scared and she really likes the relaxing effects of a back rub combined with a lullaby and it MAKES ME SO HAPPY because, she doesn’t care how terrible I sing. I love when she asks for it because first – it gives us a little bit of a callback moment to infancy and she’s growing up so fast those moments are cherished. But I also love that my voice and my lullaby can still soothe her even if Simon Cowell would have shunned me.

Truthfully, it’s more of a whisper and doesn’t require much tune so even a terrible singer like myself can’t screw it up too much. When I composed it during E’s infant years I made sure to keep it soft and uncomplicated so that anyone overhearing my lullaby wouldn’t be in too much agony. But it is still singing and I always joke with her about how happy it makes me she wants me to sing to her even though I’m a terrible singer. Last night I laughed and said, “I should record this and do a blog post about it.”

She said, “Mom! Do it! Because it’s a great song and you wrote it!”

HA! So not only does she not mind my out of tune voice, but she is also impressed that I came up with it ALL BY MYSELF. Turns out she also loves that it is customizable. She’s always thought it was pretty amazing that I had a song that I could stick the kid’s names into.

See? Whisper sing. The secret of all terrible singers.

It’s a small moment in her life, this lullaby/backrub moment. But I still think it’s one that will stick with me because she needs me and as she gets older that’s more and more rare. And it gives me ONE THING I can do to help her with her anxieties.


Again! With the Pooping On The Joy!

I’ve written before about the trend of pooping on people’s joy and I’ve seen it recently with the popularity of Hamilton. Not in concrete: That thing you love sucks! type of ways. But the more subtle, I’m a special flower because I don’t like what everyone else likes! kind of way which tends to also still be done with a Pooping on Joy flare to it. There’s a lot of things I don’t like that the rest of the world likes: See every grown-up TV show that is currently popular. But I don’t do these hidden self-righteous posts that are all I know I’m going to lose friends but: I DO NOT LIKE GAME OF THRONES. I watched one episode and it was just too ridiculous. which is just such a WEIRD thing to post.

Because I do not like Game of Thrones either, but I’m not even going to support your status because it just sounds weird. Instead I post things like: Reminder: You won’t get any GoT spoilers from me because I don’t watch the show since it’s not aimed at 15-year olds and playing on The CW. Because that’s the truth of it. Give me a teen show on The CW and I’m all in. But give me a show with sex and violence and I get all prudish and MY EYES!.

See? I point out I don’t watch it but I do it in a self-deprecating way so it’s not pooping on the joy of those that DO watch it.

But Hamilton? JEEZ. The snark! The snubbing! The self-righteousness! I know they’ll probably take away my citizenship but I don’t like Hamilton. It’s bad r&b and bad history. THAT IS AN ACTUAL TWEET I SAW. It’s just snarky. And again -it’s not obviously mean – it’s better than “EVERYONE WHO LIKES IT SUCKS!” But it’s subtle in the pooping on the joy. Like, the person wants to make sure the world knows they don’t like this thing and they do it with a snub to it. I POOP ON YOUR JOY!

And now? Now with the Pokémon! EVERYONE IS SNARKING ON POKéMON! Well, at least everyone who is not playing it. Yes. It’s terrible that people are catching Pokémon at the Holocaust Museum and the 9/11 Memorial…but what is the actual problem here? People not being reverent? Because I’m certain there are kids bored at those places snapchatting their friends every day. I know because my Dad drug me to museums all the time and I was always bored, no matter how tragic the topic or how much respect it warranted. I’m still dramatically sighing in the corner and keeping an eye out for cute boys.

Now, if the problem is that it’s an adult doing the Pokéhunting in those museums? Then that adult is an asshole. And should know better. BUT IT IS NOT THE GAME’S FAULT. That person is just an ass. Don’t be like, “Damn game!” Instead be like, “Jeezus, who knew there were such obvious assholes in the world? Too bad the PokémonGo game now spotlights those asshats!”

I actually saw someone snark about it being just another colossal waste of time and let me tell you something: I BEG TO DIFFER. Something that brings someone joy? IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME. Even channel surfing. Or playing facebook casino games. Or binge-watching The Bachelor. If something brings you joy? Even if it’s just because it provides a mindnumbing escape from your stressful life? IT DESERVES MERIT.

(Full Disclosure: I love PokémonGo, even if I’m avoiding fighting anyone or going to any of the gyms because I’m scared of losing my Pokémon.)

If something makes you smile? BE PROUD OF IT. Many people go through life with no things that make them smile, so enjoy your thing! And if other people are smiling about something that does NOT make you smile? Just let them be. No need to snark or minimize their enjoyment. Find your own silly thing to enjoy. There’s plenty out there.


My Unfair Distribution Of Empathy

It is very hard for me to understand how other people don’t get the same information as I do and come to the same conclusions. I know that sounds silly because I’m the queen of empathy – but I seem to have an easier time having empathy for people in TOTALLY DIFFERENT situations as me, than I do for someone who lives a similar life as I do but makes entirely different choices even when exposed to the same information.

Someone over a decade ago pointed out to me that casually throwing around the word “retarded” was offensive to many people with mental disabilities or who loved people with mental disabilities. I was offended at first, I’m pretty sure I even ranted about “political correctness” in my head. But eventually? Once I put my pride aside? I accepted her polite correction and adjusted my language accordingly. YET – the same issue has gotten so big that there’s even an official campaign and people still refuse to change their language because they don’t like being told what they can and can not say.

If an uneducated person who isn’t exposed to people like me constantly posting links to stories about the End The R-Word campaign uses the word “retarded,” I can weirdly empathize with them because that was me 10 years ago. But someone who I know has heard of the efforts to rid the world of the casual use of it, yet still uses it? I struggle desperately to understand their point of view. I find myself getting more angry with them than with the poor Mom without the internet who is struggling just to pay her utility bill – much less have time to learn about campaigns to correct language.

The issue that this relates to currently is the response of “All Lives Matter” as a “protest” of sorts to the whole “Black Lives Matter” movement. At first? I had the same response in the days following Mike Brown’s death when the hashtag first gained popularity. “BUT ALL LIVES SHOULD MATTER!” But then, as usual, someone casually pointed out to me that the point is that all lives don’t matter. That the black community, especially in poor neighborhoods, see unjust deaths at the hands of police officers regularly and no one cares.

Since then there have been at least a million other metaphors used to explain it. There’s all houses matter, there’s the fair share of dinner metaphor. There’s quotes from everyone from John Steward to Trevor Noah. Every day now I see at least 50 GREAT explanations about how/why #alllivesmatter is unnecessary. About how #blacklivesmatter does not negate the value of other lives. Especially blue ones. I see defenses and explanations all over the place and YET…YET…people still insist: ALL LIVES MATTER without realizing that they’re not countering anything. OF COURSE THE #BLM COMMUNITY BELIEVES ALL LIVES MATTER. That’s the point. They WANT all lives to matter. But their deaths often do not.

I just really struggle when someone of my same race/class/education level gets the same information I do and does not come to the same conclusions. The same goes for the idea that many people still believe homosexuality is a choice. Even if a gay person explains to them, “No. This is who I am. I could no more choose NOT to love someone of my same gender than you could NOT to love someone of a different gender.” They still won’t believe it. They justify it with Satan, or blame it on society, or something. They don’t walk away with the same view I do, “Oh. Okay. So that’s just part of who they are. Why would I treat them differently for that?”

There’s really no point to this entry other than vocalizing this struggle lately. I really try to be the queen of empathy. I try to dig deep and understand how people become who they are and how they come to see the world how they do. I see a young black man raised in a broken family turning to crime and ending up in and out of prison his entire adult life and I think, I can see exactly how he ended up there. Put me in the same situation and I might have ended up the same place. I see his life of violence and I actually can empathize in a weird way because it’s so different from my life experience that I can somehow see myself taking the same path if you put me in his shoes.

But give me a middle class white woman in the same community as I am, exposed to the same resources and people, and she still uses the word “retarded,” thinks homosexuality is a choice, and constantly responds with #alllivesmatter to all of her #blm friends and I angrily think, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND HER AT ALL! I have an easier time offering empathy to the 60-year old black man in prison for murder than I do the soccer Mom who won’t share a bathroom with a transgender woman.

It’s a fault of mine, I know. And I’m really trying to dig into it to allow myself to be able to show the same empathy to people on my same walk but who have different interpretations, as I do for people on entirely different journeys. I guess I’m just wondering if anyone else has this problem? Anyone else have an easier time letting behavior and attitudes slide from people different from you are than people who seem very similar?