“When the walls come tumblin’ down.” ~ John Mellencamp

So, blech.

I’ve blawged about toxic positivity in the past (you can take a look-see at it here) and one of the top ‘guru’s’ regarding this movement is was Rachel Hollis of the “Girl, Wash Your Face” and “Girl, Stop Apologizing” fame. Both of these books have been New York Times best sellers and yes, I’ve read them; I started thinking about these when one of my students in my Marriage and Family class chose “Girl, Wash Your Face” for her book review. She wrote how she was moved by Rachel’s advice and wants to live her life more like Hollis herself. I can understand that because when you first read books that contain mountains of toxic positivity, it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit. Then, you start to eventually understand that once you climb a mountain, you have to make your way back down. (Note: I hate the use of girl in her titles…I am not a girl! Saying ‘boy’ to a man is a slam…why is saying ‘girl’ to women OK?) 🤔

Anyhoot, why am I picking on Hollis? And, isn’t this bullying…something I absolutely abhor? Well…no. It’s not. Here’s why: Hollis has built a career on her positivity approach, no judgement stance, strong marriage example, etc. which have all come tumbling down. And she herself is the reason behind the fall.

First, Hollis is very well known for HER inspirational quotes on Instagram and come to find out, they aren’t even hers. The best example? In April, 2020, Hollis posted this:

I hope like hell y’all know this is NOT an original Hollis quote…in fact, it’s a Maya Angelou quote for which she was given no credit at all. So, Rachel ‘apologized’ for this blatant plagiarism by saying this: “This morning I found out that my social team posted a graphic on my Instagram yesterday that said, “Still… I Rise” and then she goes on to explain how there is no excuse for this oversight.” Well…gee. She says there is no excuse but quickly blamed her social media team. Yes, she said she was responsible since she’s leader of the team, but it still sounds like a way to get the blame off of herself. If she truly wants to take responsibility and apologize, she needs to NOT mention the team she apparently leads and simply say “I’m truly sorry for this post…”.

And, this isn’t the only quote Rachel has taken credit for…another example: “Ambition is not a Dirty Word” is actually Debra Condren’s self-help book (2008) of the same title. Hmmm. There are many others. Now, as a professor (🤓), I STRONGLY emphasize to my students the importance of citing sources and referencing quotes…to me, plagiarism is lying. Right? You are claiming someone elses work for your own. Isn’t that cheating? Lying? SO…it’s interesting to me how Rachel can have a chapter in her Wash Your Face book that says it’s a lie that you CAN’T tell the truth. Well, Rachel…maybe that’s not a lie after all…because you seem to not be telling the truth in this sense.

Then, there’s the toilet fiasco she has recently been embroiled in. Here’s what Rachel said just a month ago in a deleted TikTok post: “Someone commented and said ‘You are privileged AF, and I was like, ‘You’re right, I’m super freaking privileged. But also, I worked my a** off to have the money, to have someone come twice a week and clean my toilets’. And then she said ‘Well, you’re unrelatable.’ What is it about me that made you think I wanna be relatable?”

Okey dokey. In her books, she writes about how judgement has to stop among women, yet she is saying her housekeeper is a toilet cleaner. Really? That sounds pretty judgey to me. I have a feeling her housekeeper does more than scrub where she poops. And relatable? She doesn’t want to be relatable? Relatable means you’re approachable…empathic…cordial…responsive. I’m sorry, but those are things I want to be. Then, in the caption to the video, she lists other women: Harriet Tubman, RBG, Marie Curie, Oprah Winfrey, Amelia Earhart, Frida Khalo, Malala Yousafzai, Wu Zetian who she says are all “unrelatable AF”.

Harriet Tubman

Heh? Rachel compares herself to Harriet Tubman? The hero who escaped from slavery, led 13 potentially fatal missions using the underground railroad, and freed up to 70 slaves in the process? And Malala Yousafzai? The youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate (2014) who is an educational activist for women and children in her native Pakistan? THEN, if these comparisons aren’t bad enough (regarding all she listed), she says they were all unrelatable AF. For those of you in ma’s age group (old and older 🧓👴), this means “as fuck”. I’m sorry, peeps, but saying the word ‘fuck’ when talking about these women is demeaning. Like when Justin Beiber said Anne Frank would have hopefully been a ‘belieber.’ OOOKKKAAAAYYYY!

And Rachel’s ignoring of societal constraints so many people find themselves in really pisses me off. “You and only you are responsible for who you become and how happy you are.” Well…not really. Name a female president. Name more than 3 female CEO’s. Name an African American President (President Obama is mixed race). Get my point? It’s not right…but it’s a reality: there are constraints in our society that affect who we become. Period. Further, you can’t force yourself into ‘happy.’ When the crux of the pandemic hit and small businesses closed with the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, it was hard for these people, who spent years and years building their businesses, to be ‘happy.’ And what about the Asian American community that is being targeted for COVID? People being spit on…harassed…set on fire…slashed with box cutters, etc. In some areas, the discrimination against Asian Americans has increased 9 fold over the course of the pandemic. This does not lead to ‘happiness’ for those being targeted…it leads to fear, anger, disillusionment and confusion. Right? So there ARE barriers in our way to who we become and how happy we are. If there weren’t, this would be a utopia and believe you me, grasshoppers we are not living in a perfect world.

Finally, Rachel has given us a front row seat to her marriage in which we found out these things: she was 19 and he was 27 when they met but he never asked her age (hello…she could have been underage); he used her as a booty-call (her words) during which he was emotionally abusive for the first couple years of their relationship which only started to change when she was on the road to becoming a success; and he told her he would only be a part of her company if he could be the CEO…if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have anything to do with it and she capitulated to the ultimatum (what a dick-ish demand on his part…narcissism anyone?). They went on to have a “Rise Together” relationship podcast as well as live conferences where people could go and hear them wax on about their great marriage and how you can have one too…for the low low price of $1800 (not including the travel, hotel and food). Come to find out, they weren’t as happy as they made themselves out to be and have recently divorced after 15 years of marriage.

YES, I KNOW! I am the LAST one to gripe about someone’s divorce since I’ve had 12 3 myself (shutty the mouthies 🙄). But, I’m also the last one to say my relationships are perfect and were problem free. I’m also not purporting you should be someone’s ’emotionally abusive booty-call’ for a couple of years. Here’s some advice the Hollis’ shared at their conferences: “We feel like it’s possible—we know it’s possible—to have an exceptional relationship despite the stresses you have in your life.” And, “Don’t give notes. Give praise.” in which this goodie is telling women to not bring up anything negative about their sex-life. Apparently, his pleasure is the only one that matters. And if there are issues? Work through them with better communication and a therapist. But really, based on Rachel’s own advice: your happiness is up to you so if you want to be happy in your marriage, just be happy. Duh. Why didn’t my hubbies and I think of that? 🙄

Lastly, Rachel got a boob job after her kids were born. So what…right? No biggie…unless…you’ve said you have to accept yourself for being good enough. There’s nothing wrong with plastic surgery…unless…you’ve preached body positivity. C’mon, Rachel…actions speak louder than words.

Look, my point here isn’t to bash someone, but to let people know that so many of the influencers and self-help gurus out there are simply parroting platitudes, re-packaging what has already been sold, and giving advice that they themselves don’t follow in order to make money. Period. Yes, I want my students to read read read! But, I also want them to read smart. You can’t take things as gospel just because this person has a multi-million dollar company. You shouldn’t emulate someone who isn’t living their words themselves. You needn’t copy someone elses’ ‘perfect’ marriage which was actually created out of emotional abuse. You can’t blindly take the advice of someone without knowing what advice they actually live by. We all need to be smart consumers of self-help books and the people we follow and put our trust in. Because sometimes, they simply don’t deserve our support.

Kristi xoxo

Here are 2 excellent videos that talk more about Hollis:

“Take me back to the good old days” ~ Tommy Collins

So, with Bill and I being in isolation because we have COVID, we’ve been watching a lot of true crime (very uplifting when you’re sick 🙄) and just finished ‘The Night Stalker’ (Richard Ramirez) on Netflix. As fascinating as it was regarding the investigation of this serial killer and how horrible we felt for all those he victimized, here’s what really got us: how old the film clips, tv’s, clothes, cars, etc. looked. When we started watching this, we both would have sworn that the time period being shown was the 60’s, but alas, we would have been wrong. It was the 80’s.

Courtesy of parade.com

Heh? The 80’s look OLD to us? Archaic? It was the 80’s…our era, baby! Just a few years ago…right? Well…no. I remember when I was growing up and grandma and grandpa would talk about the 40’s and 50’s and to me, it seemed like a life-time ago (and it was…literally…duh…🙄). Now that we’re in 2021 (the year in which I thought everything pertaining to the Jetson’s would be happening), the 80’s was a life-time ago; after all, my sonshine was born in 1993 and he’s 27. Damn!

So after the show ended, Bill and I started to play the ‘Did you ever imagine…’ game, and we realized how much the world has changed in the decades that followed the cool one we were teenagers in (OK, I was never cool…nerdy/homely would be a better descriptor for me 🤓). Here are some examples:

  • Didya ever think that we’d hold a phone in our hands…without cords…that had a MUCH bigger computer capacity than the combination of every single computer we ever used in high school had?
  • Didya ever think that you could ‘send’ a message to someone instantaneously?
  • Didya ever think the world would be connected and we could access that knowledge every single day without leaving home?
  • Didya ever think ‘books’ would be read electronically?
  • Didya ever think you’d be able to take a better pic through a PHONE than you did using the most expensive camera out there when you were a kid?
  • Didya ever think we’d have electric cars?
  • Didya ever think there would be a more graphically ‘real’ game than Pac-Man?
  • Didya ever think there would be something to ‘hold’ your music that was more compact than a Sony Walkman that used cassettes?
  • Didya ever think you wouldn’t be using VHS tapes someday?

And the list goes on and on.

My first camera! The film just popped in…what could be better than that?

Take cameras: my son is a professional photographer and he is a hybrid shooter in that he uses film and digital cameras. The first time he started shooting in film, he was so excited! You would have thought he discovered an ancient civilization that hadn’t been seen for eons. For the first few months, he would show me every single pic he took on film and he was just gob-smacked by how they looked…they were so ‘vintage’! And, every time he did this, I’d be giggling inside: “Sweetie…what the hell do you think ALL of your baby and childhood pics were taken with?? ”

And the computer stuff really does boggle my mind. I remember sitting in Mr. B’s computer classes in high school and trying to wrap my head around ‘Basic Programming’. In only 1 semester, I learned how to program a computer to scroll my name on the green and black screen! It was quite an accomplishment. Really. If you would have told me that computers would be the size of your palm someday…AND…we would carry them around in our pockets and be obsessed with them…I would have said you might be a tad delusional.

Courtesy of Reddit

When hubby 2 and I got our first ‘real’ desktop computer, we were a bit afraid of it, and after getting an AOL disc to use in it, we were petrified. The disc said we had like a zillion hours of ‘internet’ time and we couldn’t understand what the hell the internet was and why the hell we’d want ‘on it.’ We popped the disc in after O was in bed for the night…that way, if something horrible happened, he wouldn’t be a witness to it. A funny, screechy, dial-y sound (much like how my voice is described 😐 ) started and we thought the computer was blowing up. After about 5 minutes (SO FAST!), we were ‘online’ and had no idea what to do. Hubby started clicking around on things on the AOL homepage but we closed it out because there was nothing that interested us. Here’s what we said (word for word): “The internet is stupid…I’m never using it.” 🤨 I guess we were sorta wrong on that one.

Courtesy of Screen Rant

And movies? Good lord…I remember traipsing to the local ‘video store’ and checking out a VCR and a movie…this would cost about $40! BUT, since VCR’s were around $600-700 in the mid-80’s, this was a steal! My boyfriend and I’d lug this badboy home in the ‘suitcase’ it came in and then spend a grueling hour trying to figure out the fucking wires that needed to be connected while ma was shouting down the stairs: “Don’t mess up the damn TV!” After saying some not-so-nice things to each other during this fiasco, we’d finally get it hooked up, watch the movie (in our house…oooooo…😲) and then unhook it the next day to get it back before we got hit with astronomical fines. Tech at it’s best!

For my son, using Netflix and Hulu is nothing…he’s been doing it since he was a teen. He doesn’t remember a time when movies weren’t at our fingertips! I do though…and I’m still amazed that you can watch about anything you feel like with a few clicks. And I LOVE how you can stop watching something after a few minutes and go on to something else. When I would ‘rent’ VHS tapes, I’d watch the movie even if I hated it…I didn’t want to waste money by not watching it. BTW, I just got my first talking remote for my cable and using it amazes me…I don’t even have to change channels myself anymore!

And social media? I never dreamed…in a million years…that you’d be able to connect with anyone and everyone in the WHOLE world you wanted to with the ‘click of a mouse’. Further, who could ever have seen the effects of doing so? I’ve been off Facebook now for a few weeks and really don’t miss it at all…except for seeing what my sweetie students are up too. I certainly don’t miss the gossip, political fighting, high-school type antics among adults, etc. In fact, my stress level has decreased knowing I can just enjoy something without worrying about having to post it. It’s freeing! 😛 Plus, I just finished a quilt, have kicked ass on getting my classes set up, and am running 4-5 miles a day! Know what? That’s better than clicking on a thumb for hours at a time!

Anyhoot, how weird to think the era I grew up in was as many years ago as when my gramma would talk about the depression. It’s funny how time goes by so fast, but then you sort of get stuck in a time and it stays the same in your mind as if it were just a few days past. Sometimes I miss those good ole days when kids were out riding their bikes all over the city, and were playing tag at night under the street lights, and playgrounds were full and waiting for a swing was your biggest worry at the time. I feel like people were more connected back then…regardless of the social media and technology we have today. We called each other and yapped for hours on the phone. We had slumber parties and would stay up all night telling naughty stories and freezing each other’s bras. If you wanted to date someone, you had to ask them face-to-face…no swiping…and then you’d actually talk and do things together with no phones interrupting your time. You also didn’t have the pressure of ‘having’ to take photos to post to prove to others you were having fun with so and so. You didn’t have to worry about documenting everything…you just lived it and made the memories in your head where they aren’t judged. People felt better about themselves because you weren’t comparing yourself to others on social media and feeling less than because of everyone’s ‘perfect’ pics. If you had an issue with someone, you actually had to talk to them…not see it splattered across an open platform that everyone reads and can judge you by.

As much as it ages me, it’s like it was a more ‘innocent’ time…more laid back…more linked…united. I didn’t take pics of my son 100x every single day…film and developing were expensive! But when I did take pics, they were special and showed a time in his life that I really wanted to capture; then I’d mail copies to the grandparents for them to stick on the fridge. I didn’t force him to pose or stop playing with him to get yet another pic to post because it wasn’t about the pic…it was about us simply being together.

My life was my life…it wasn’t a life that was open for others to criticize publicly. If I wanted to learn about something, I got actual books and read them and studied them and learned from them. I didn’t passively ask Alexa for an answer…I found the answer myself.

So yes, I’m old. Yes, I’m feeling nostalgic about the 80’s. And yes…even though it was far from perfect, there is so much I miss about it. I guess I’m finally one of those people who yearn for the ‘good ole days’…and in fact, I think a lot of us actually do.

Kristi xoxo

“It might sound crazy but it ain’t no lie…Bye bye” ~ NSYNC

So, I’ve been reading about the perils of social media for quite a while now and since I’m of a…cough cough…’older’ generation, I’ve seen its affects on people first hand and how different our society has become in the last 10 years with it. I’ve also debated whether or not to heed the warnings of the many researchers out there and am wondering WHY quitting social media is such a difficult thing to do (especially if you’re Kylie Jenner 😳).

One of my favorite books about the topic is “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” by Jaron Lanier. In it, he talks about very compelling reasons to do this and one that stuck out to me in particular is how social media is causing us to lose our free will.

When social media first reared its head in the early 2000’s, I truly thought this would be a catalyst for bringing people together and breaking down social barriers…I was wrong. In my experience, it’s actually done the opposite: for example, people aren’t allowed to have political opinions outside of the parameters of their ‘friends’. And if you do? “I’m going to block you, you %$#$@ since you don’t think and believe what I do. If your opinion isn’t my opinion, you’re wrong.” Heh? We’ve become even more short-sighted than ever in that we have to follow THE opinions of the day and not necessarily our own. And if we do put ours out there? Get ready to lose friends, colleagues, etc. Now you tell me…how is that breaking down barriers? Isn’t that just making us all ‘sheep’ and when we’ve come to a place in our society where we feel we aren’t allowed to speak our opinion, isn’t that digression as opposed to progression? (OMG…I just read that last sentence and I sound so freaking smart! 🙄)

Then, along the lines of losing our free will, we are also being put into smaller and smaller boxes. I talk a lot about boxes in my sociology classes. I believe that we are ‘boxed’ from the first moments of our life: class boxes, gender boxes, race boxes, etc. Isn’t social media just another box? Nothing makes you feel worse about the taxes you owe than seeing ‘friends’ from high school going on their 45th cruise in 2 years. And, look at your friends list…and others. Aren’t they pretty much segregated? Yes, some whites have black friends and vice versa; however, around 75% of whites don’t have any black friends on social media and for blacks, it’s around 66% who don’t have any white friends (PPRI, 2014). I don’t think that’s ‘bringing us together’…right?

I also resonate with Lanier’s suggestion we are being followed in more ways than one, and so many other researchers (as well as ex-social media employees/engineers/creators) say the same: algorithms are put in place to make sure you stay on social media: you wait for the next squirt of dopamine regarding social media posts…you are shown what you are most likely to buy…you are shown a skewed side of politics…you are ‘fed’ what FB and others want you to eat. In other words, social media controls us…not the other way around.

And I sometimes get told I need to be in the ‘cage’ more! Ma will leave a comment about something and then ask me if I’ve read it. When I say no she asks why I haven’t yet. “Well, ma…I’m not on my phone all the time! I like to turn it off and take breaks. You know, for my sanity and all.” Or, I find out about milestones in my family on FB and wonder when we started to find it ‘normal’ to learn about these personal things in such a public arena. And if I haven’t been ‘on’ FB for a few days, I’m not in the loop and too bad for me. Hmmm. Wouldn’t the ‘loop’ be better if we actually talked?

I know we are all busy…trust me, teaching 8 classes keeps me on my toes. But since the average American spends about 2 hours a day just on social media, I can’t help but think if we weren’t on social media using this time, we’d have the opportunity to eat lunch together or shop together or get together in person.

Another interesting read is from medium.com called “How Technology is Highjacking Your Mind” by Tristan Harris. In this paper, he talks about how technology is taking over and running our lives in so many different ways; in terms of social media he says that one of the ‘hijacks’ is how we fear missing something important if we do get off of the platform. Are we going to miss a cool video? Or being in the middle of a ‘popular’ discussion? Or not getting an invite to an event? Or not getting to have even more potential friends? Hmmmm. Is this what keeps us chained? Our fear of being left out?

We are social animals and we have to be. Most animals can care for themselves very early in life and we can’t…we have to get along and interact in groups from the beginning because of one pesky need we have: to survive. And this need for belongingness has no end…everyone needs connections and after so many years of use, social media accounts have become THE connection for so many. Can we ‘live’ without it?

I know that when I’m down, posting things and getting ‘likes’ and comments gives me a sense of validation. But think about that. Validation from people having spent less than half a second touching the ‘like’ icon. Seriously? THAT’s our validation? Having a blue thumbs up? Hmmm. I’ve come a long way in a couple of years and if I haven’t learned anything else, I’ve learned this (this is going to sound very Oprah-ish): NOTHING anyone says about you means as much as what YOU say about you (I’m going to copyright this sentence 😐). So, someone from school that was too snotty to talk to me then when I was their peer suddenly ‘likes’ my pic so all is good in the world? No. It’s not. When did external validation become so sought after? So coveted?

In his article, Harris talks about Cornell professor Brian Wansink who showed how you can trick people into eating more and more soup by giving them a bottomless bowl that will stay filled regardless of how much they eat. With these, people ate 73% more calories than those that had regular bowls but underestimated this calorie count by almost 150. Isn’t social media the same? It’s our bottomless bowl of videos, quotes, pics, etc. We’ll never ever see it all…so we keep coming back for more and more. But, after our hour or so of swiping is up, what do we really have? An hour watching others live their social media lives (not necessarily real lives) while we pause our own? Hmmm.

So, I’m going to be off social media for a time and deactivate FB (while still maintaining messenger for texts). I don’t know why it’s giving me a weird feeling to do so…it’s an app! A screen. But deactivating it feels like I’m really making a sacrifice. That, if not anything else, shows me how addictive it is and how well the companies that run these social media platforms have us at their mercies.

Goodness…what will I do with those saved hours every week? Hmmmm…quilt? Make string art? Start painting again? Walk Eddie more? Run more? Read more? Be naughty more? Blog more? The possibilities are endless and if you want, please check in with this blog from time to time…I love having you here and writing is such a passion of mine. This is something I’ll never give up. 😍

Kristi xoxo

There’s none so blind as he who can’t see.

So, an article came up in a newsfeed the other day and I can honestly say I was more gobsmacked than I’ve ever been in my entire life on this earth (around 40 years or so… 🙄).

First of all, I want to assure you I have not, and will not, ever ever ever be a part of TikTok. I don’t really get the premise outside of people dancing and singing and making videos to share, and the only person I know who actually uses it watches young girls shake their boobs and behiners (he’s my age). I’m sorry…call me crazy (many have 🙄), but I think this is a bit creepy…to say the least.

Anyhoot, there’s something called ‘trauma porn’ and it’s where people either ‘pretend’ to be victims of something or they use their own story in a sensationalized way for attention.

I knew this existed (because I’m just so gosh darn smart) but when I saw this picture, I was speechless.

So in this case, we have these young women pretending to be holocaust victims.  Peeps…please read that sentence again.  These women are pretending to be concentration camp victims and my question is who, in the name of all that is holy, would ever…in a million years…think it’s OK to appropriate this tragedy and use it as a way to get viewers on fucking TikTok? Seriously? I’m speechless (which is quite unnatural for me to be 😳.

As I often do, I’m typing this outside on my laptop (while Eddie and Dottie frolic around…eating poop…and yapping at absolutely nothing) and my beautiful neighbor came out with her dog.  She asked what I was doing and when I told her about this trend and that I was trying to write about it, here’s what she said: “You know, people my generation have never really faced trauma or tragedy anywhere close to the holocaust and how can they even imagine what it would have been like?  How could they ever presume to know that pain?  They’ve been shielded from so much anyway.”

Continue reading “There’s none so blind as he who can’t see.”