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It isn’t every day that you think you’d be asking yourself, or others, that. And yet today, I find myself wondering just how many people I can no longer look in the face, speak to at a party, or read about in a Christmas letter or a Facebook post anymore.

It’s a lot.

The Syrian refugee crisis, one that has been going on for – surprisingly – a few years now, is reaching a fever pitch in these post-Parisian attack days, where people are now arguing whether or not the United States should continue to admit Syrian refugees seeking asylum from the Civil War. I say that “surprisingly” it has been going on for a few years, because before this last week, no one fucking seemed to know about it.

In 2013, footage was taken covertly amidst a routine gas attack in Syria, where innocent civilians – men, women, and children – were gassed in a public square. Since then, Syrians have been seeking asylum, or refuge, in other countries, as well as the United States from the civil war and the terror being brought on by the emerging terrorist powerhouse – ISIS.

To date, the United States has accepted approximately 355 refugees, since 2013.

Since 2013, there have been no terrorist attacks in the name of Islamic radicalism on US soil. Perhaps there have been thwarted attempts many of us have not heard of, but lives have not been lost at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists in the United States during that time.

There have, however, been several mass shootings in the name of racism, Christianity, and just plain blood-lust.

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The process to migrate to the United States as a refugee is a rigorous one, so much so that it takes a considerable period of time, and many are denied.

Moreover, historically, terrorists within radical or fundamentalist cells do not sneak in to a country they plan to attack amongst refugees. To be clear, no terrorist has ever been proven to have snuck in through a refugee process to a country they then later attack. Ever.

One person involved in the Parisian attacks last Friday had a Syrian passport, but this was forged, with the man having no origination from the country; and then the story was naturally fabricated and stretched by the media.

Rather, terrorists tend to use other means to get into a country, most prevalent being via tourist Visas. They are quick and easy to acquire, and with thousands if not millions of people traveling around the world between countries every day, it’s much easier to blend.

Those are just facts. There’s no debating them. There’s no arguing about these points. They are facts, ultimate truths – plain and simple.

What concerns me about this Syrian refugee crisis, is the response of the public. It is filled with hatred. Vitriolic fervor. And lies.

Post after post has gone viral, claiming statistics, arguing points, and furthering Islamophobia.

Tonight I actually read an article that claimed that 97% of rapes are committed by Muslims.

Are you fucking kidding me? People are accepting these articles as case in point proof to keep the Syrians out – all of them. And to take it a step further and suggest closing mosques. To require Muslims to wear special arm bands.

Um hello, special arm bands to signify a person’s religious designation? Hello, Nazi Germany…good to see you again. (Not really.)

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I get that fear is what is driving people to so radically react to what is happening around the world at the hands of the radical Islamic group, ISIS. But it’s more than driving them to react, it’s driving them to hate and to lie.

And it’s being used as an excuse for the deeply-rooted racism our country continues to hold close to the vest.

Moreover, it’s driving them to act crazy. To argue by personally attacking anyone that has even the remotest ounce of compassion for a people that is helpless and running from exactly that type of terrorism that everyone seems to want to prevent. In the last 24 hours I have been called an “idiot,” a “fuck face,” a “cantaloupe for brains,” a “terrorist lover,” and I have been told that I should be blown off the planet by terrorists wearing bombs.

Because I said we should try to find a solution that addresses people’s concerns, while also acting with compassion.

I have been told that regardless of statistics and facts that have been fabricated, made up, stretched, and lied about, that those “statistics and facts” should still be taken into account. That sure, 97% of rapes probably weren’t actually committed by Muslims (they weren’t), but that’s still reason enough to keep all the Muslims out.

Huh?

Everyone has lost their fucking minds. There, somebody had to say it.

I have friends in other countries, and they have confirmed that Americans have officially gone bat shit crazy over this issue. As the attacks in Paris were going on last Friday, Parisians were opening their doors to strangers to take refuge. The next day, Muslims lined up to donate blood to victims. This week the president of France announced a plan to take in 30,000 more Syrian refugees – and the nation rejoiced.

So why are we so afraid? Or is it that we’re not so much afraid as we are a nation more racist and bigoted than we’d like to admit?

A nation that wants our freedoms, but only if it’s the freedoms that we want. If it’s the freedoms others want, that have been used in the name of violence – well then fuck that. Fuck that, but if our freedoms are used in the name of violence (ahem guns, Christianity), well that’s just another issue and you can’t take my guns.

I am by no means a liberal, though I am also by no means a conservative. What do I identify myself as? A human being. A human being with compassion and an understanding that my duty, just as the duties of others, is to help others in need. Today I told my husband that someone asked me at some point in the last day or two if I would take refugees into my home. My response, of course, was yes – of course. My husband’s response? “Well yeah!” Because we are people guided not by fear of others and what we do not know, but the belief that it is our responsibility to do for others what we would hope them to do for us in a similar situation.

The thing so upsetting about this is that America is doing exactly what ISIS and the other terrorist groups want them to do. To close up and fear; for their fear to become so unbridled that it completely controls all common sense. That it completely controls all common sense that people will openly and without reserve accept lies as reasoning, knowing they are lies because that is better than actually thinking for ourselves.

Now, if you have any points grounded in facts and ideas of middle grounds and a way to help those in need but also increase protection on our land, I would love to hear it. I would love to have a conversation and consider each other’s points. I would love it because then we could still go on being friends.

To date, though, all I’ve heard is nonsense.

How many relationships have you lost over the Syrian Refugee Crisis? I have lost many, and in all honesty I’m not sure I want them back. If I do talk to or see any of them again – those haters of humanity and crafted manipulators of common sense – I’ll say what I am going to say to you all now:

May you all find in times of need exactly what you have given to others in their time.

And may God have mercy on us all, for we have fallen so far.

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I was called an idiot over social media today. Facebook. Comments. Big surprise.

I had commented on one of the hundreds of articles shared this week regarding the death of Cecil the Lion. If you don’t know what happened – i.e. you live under a rock – Zimbabwe’s, and perhaps the world’s, most beloved black-maned lion, Cecil, was shot with a cross-bow by a hunter that paid roughly $55,000 for one of his routine hunting excursions.

The details and the truth of how Cecil – a radio collared animal – was killed and beheaded are still to be uncovered, and the bullshit needs to be filtered out. The dentist who fired the shot, from Minnesota, claims that he was unaware it was Cecil, and that he believed he was paying for legal hunting led by professional trappers. But the semantics are muddied, and I’m sure it’ll be a while before everything comes out.

Today, news has broken that the many cubs Cecil fathered will likely fall the same untimely fate as their father; but not by the hands of poachers, rather the animal kingdom. As I scrolled through my Facebook feed this morning, I counted no less than fourteen shared articles explaining to us laymans of the world how the cubs will likely be killed by the new head lion of the pack, to assert his dominance as well as to bring Cecil’s bitches into heat (you know, so he can spread his own seed around the pack). One analyst actually referred to it as “like an episode of Game of Thrones” – as though we Americans are too stupid to understand a concept without it being analogized with a popular television show.

Not a single, however, called it what it is: what happens in nature.

What we do know is that the world has lost its fucking mind, yet again, over someone that has hunted for sport – more so now, I believe, because Cecil was so beloved. The man has had to close his dental practice for the safety of his patients; and the world of social media commenters has joined in the demand that he (the dentist) be poached in the way that Cecil was.

People have called him everything from murderer to limp dick, and Jimmy Kimmel broke down crying on air last night as he asked the dentist if erectile problems were the reason for hunting poor Cecil.

Some are even calling for the United States government to break its own laws and extradite the guy back to Zimbabwe; even after hearing from lion protection groups that the guy didn’t do a single thing illegally, at least as they can tell now; and it was the two “hired professionals” that had acted wrongly.

So before I go on, lest I befell the same sort of Internet mayhem as anyone else not clearly on the side of the majority: I think that poaching is wrong. I think that even legally hunting innocent animals is – at best – questionable. I am skeptical that selling licenses for hunting exotic animals goes back into a financial reserve to preserve endangered species, as many of the African governments claim.

To be clear: I think it was terrible and tragic that Cecil the lion was killed. And, I hope that the truth to what happened, and adequate justice, is found.

But, on the flip side, I am horrified by the way the general population is handling its feelings about this.

1. There are a lot of other animals and people dying unjustly every day, and no one gives a single fuck about them.

For every cause, there are twenty like it that go undiscussed. I know, I understand that.

This was like when people were doing the Ice Bucket Challenge, and all sorts of analysts and fundraisers came back and said “hey…hows about you guys spread some of that love over here.” The truth to the matter was that – logically – every dollar donated to ALS was a dollar not donated elsewhere; and while every cause needs funds, the love should – from a philanthropic standpoint – be spread around a little more evenly. That’s the problem with overly popular campaigns: they make things less equal, and more like capitalism.

There is no such thing as capitalism in social causes.

The same goes for this outrage of the death of Cecil the Lion. People – if they really cared about the social good of both human as well as animal society – would be spreading their outrage a little more evenly.

They would be calling out the murderers in positions of power who continue to commit genocides on a daily basis.

They would start online petitions and awareness drives to end death by starvation in their own communities.

Jimmy Kimmel would break down crying on air every time there is a mass shooting, or a race-related death (i.e. he would break down crying nightly).

But this is not what anyone does. What they do is they get really really REALLY fucking upset about one thing; one thing that happens to be really popular to be upset about. Then they go ballistic online and in other forums about it for whatever period of time everyone else in the world goes ballistic about it. Then it all sort of fades away and everyone forgets about it, going back to regular life until the next big popular thing to get up in arms over comes up.

People respond to that criticism by saying “well, you can’t spend all your time mad at the world.” OK, sure – that doesn’t seem healthy. But you know what else is unhealthy? IGNORING PROBLEMS THAT EXIST BECAUSE YOU DON’T WANT YOUR FEELS TO BE IN A JUMBLE ALL THE TIME.

I would never – not in a million years – do a cancer walk or an ALS run and yell as I went through it: “there are several other diseases you people are ignoring here!!” But the truth to the matter is just that: there are several other issues that no one knows of or gives a shit about. At. ALL.

Maybe, just maybe, people need to find the right time and the appropriate place, and start talking about that. They need to learn more and have more of a conversation, on a regular, if not daily, basis.

I have chosen routine Facebook comments. That’ll be totally effective …right?

(I am half-kidding.)

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2. Death threats and public suggestions that a person be murdered make me think we aren’t much further along as a society than the lynchings that when on during the time of the Salem Witch Trials.

Jesus Christ on a piece of toast: we have not come very far as a society.

Mob mentality is still a very real, and very frightening thing. I already knew this, and I hope all of you did too. But beyond that, it isn’t just mob mentality, it’s lynching mentality. We – in America – are so quick to jump to conclusions, judge what we deem the appropriate responses to said conclusions, and grab our flaming sticks to go out on a witch hunt.

Do any of you know how many innocent men, women, and children lost their lives during the Salem Witch Trials because of mob mentality, lynching mentality, and public witch hunts?

There are a lot of times in recent history where tragedies have struck at the hands of others, and it’s obvious what happened and how it should be handled. And then there are other times that the facts are more muddied in speculation, or there are a lot of factors involved that need to be carefully weeded through by professionals before the lynching mob heads out with their guns and flamethrowers.

The most terrifying thing in all of it, though, is that we – as a society – just don’t trust anyone anymore. We don’t trust our governments. We don’t trust our laws. We don’t trust our law enforcement. All of this is with adequate and good reason, and yet rather than try to fix the problems with all of those so that we can trust our governments, and our laws, and our law enforcement again, we’ve somehow decided that none of that will be as good as taking matters into our own hands.

Arming ourselves with our guns. Sending our death threats. Banding together with flames in hand to fix matters without any sort of due process or time to let our emotions cool down a bit.

Ironically, this mob mentality is the state of nature that we created laws to prevent; and we don’t like the state of nature. We don’t like that when a lion gets killed, his cubs will be killed by the next incoming leader. We don’t like that the innocent fall to the hands of those with the bigger and better weapons.

I feel as though we need to remind ourselves that what makes us special in this animal kingdom on Earth is the beauty in our ability to reason, to think and to talk. Death threats, calling people limp dick, forming emotion-driven lynching mobs, all-the-while keeping silent about real and pressing issues going on around us all day, destroys that beauty of the human experience. Open your mouths, and say something reasonable. Open your mouths and talk about all these issues.

Cecil the lion was a majestic creature. All animals, except ones that have me inside their mouths, are beautiful. But human beings are – or have the capacity to be -beautiful too. We, after all, are just animals ourselves.

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Unless you live under a rock, or are involved in a much more catastrophic, international crisis (like the one going on over in Iraq; yeah – hello – did people forget about that one?)…then, you are aware of a few certain tragedies that occurred over the last few days; most discussed being the deaths of Robin Williams by suicide, and that of Lauren Bacall of stroke.

Let’s be clear about something: the loss of any human life is, in and of itself, tragic. The loss, for any reason. Any. Reason.

But as the outpouring of sympathies, grief, and broader discussion about depression, mental illness, and suicidal tendencies overtook the world of social media as a result of Williams’ death, the conversation necessarily took a certain tone. A tone that was less about the loss and the future, and more about the moral.

Everyone, mental illness is real – get help.

Everyone, Robin Williams is smiling down on all of us.

Everyone, let’s imagine that a man who committed suicide is now laughing in heaven, because that’s totally what religious doctrine that suggests such a place exists says will happen to people who take their own lives.

I’m no atheist, and I’m also no Bible thumper. But if I know one thing, it’s that some, if not all, religions say people who commit suicide go to hell, or at the very least purgatory. So if you believe in heaven, you should be believing that Robin Williams is actually toasting on the devil’s pitchfork right about now.

Even Williams’ What Dreams May Come has the suicide victim stuck in the middle of hell.

These droves of pithy suicide and depression morals then turned into the haves and the have nots, the haves being those that felt their positivity and opinions on suicide were absolute truth; and the have nots being anyone who said anything the haves did not like.

It started with people talking about whether or not suicide is a choice, which it – by definition – is. (Arguably, it is the most personal choice, as the truest consequence is to no one but the decision-maker.) Calling it a choice pissed a lot of people off.

It continued with people railing on about whether or not suicide is ever justifiable. This is when the “suicide is so selfish” posters came on the scene; and when the know-it-alls of the world came out in droves to claim that suicide is an idiotic, narcissistic thing to do. (For the record: it is neither idiotic, nor selfish. Some of the most intelligent and selfless people I have ever known, or known of, have taken their own lives; Robin Williams is included in that group.)

Then Matt Walsh entered the room, and everyone lost their fucking minds.

For those of you unfamiliar with Matt Walsh, he is probably the most hated blogger on the Internet; so much so that his sometimes-controversial positions have garnered him the infamous title of “douche dick.”

People (mostly bloggers) hate this guy so hard for almost anything that comes out of his mouth, no matter how innocuous it may be. They post long diatribes about hating him on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Often. Then they get very dramatic at the end with “I just don’t want this guy to get more page links, I’m not going to link him…nope, not going to do it, I would feel terrible if he got page hits by my hand!!!!”

Because (1) none of us know how to use Google (apparently), and aren’t now intrigued enough by your psychobabble to go look his newest offense up; and, (2) we should all just blindly believe everything you say.

Absolutely everything, no questions asked.

Well, today I believed it, at least for a while. I believed that Matt Walsh probably made some callous remarks about Williams’ death, and it would just annoy me. I’ll admit to having read things he said that made me mad in the past; not all things he’s said, but definitely some. Still, I agree with more of what he says than probably anyone else on the Internet. I’d never get so crazy about my disagreements so as to talk publicly about him being a douche dick, or whatever the cliques are calling him these days. But we’ll leave it at: I’ve always had mixed feelings about him, so I figured there was at least some probability he’d said something out there.

So I ignored it and moved on with my day. I was busy, so you know…

But suicide is different. It’s very personal to me. It’s very visceral. It’s happened to two people very close to me, within the last two years; so the wounds from their deaths are still open and bleeding. Going about my day, therefore, still kept the question about what Matt Walsh said in the back of mind, just as the discussion of suicide and it’s consequences had been there since I heard of Williams’ death yesterday afternoon. Has pretty much always been there for the last two years.

Then I saw someone share a site called “What Matt Walsh Is Wrong About Today.” That was when I decided to actually read Walsh’s original post about Williams’ death. And as I toggled between the two – one calling Matt Walsh “a dick,” “callous,” “careless” and “ignorant;” the other a (seemingly) careful analysis of suicide and the discussion that needs to be had, I realized that there is a lot about suicide that people don’t seem to understand.

Even more they don’t understand about what Matt Walsh said.

(EVEN MORE about acting like adults. That a group of people have gotten together and made a website to single out someone they disagree with, or don’t like, says a lot about why bullying is so rampant in our culture.)

Without going into all the details of the Walsh controversy, it started with a tweet from Walsh, stating that “When we talk about depression we shouldn’t pawn the whole thing off on ‘chemical imbalances.’ It’s not just clinical. It’s spiritual.”

The responses to that tweet, both on the What Matt Walsh Is Wrong About Today site, as well as Twitter, are insane. As I read through some of them, I realized that people are so ignorant, uneducated, and closed-minded, it’s baffling. Baffling. Suddenly they all seem to completely deny that there is such a thing as non-clinical depression. Clinically, there is – it’s called situational depression (my 10 year old daughter suffers from this). There’s also a depression called “existential depression” which is related to existential (versus acute, situation, or clinical) anxiety (I suffer from this). This is the kind of fantastical ideas that the Existentialists and Shakespeare’s Hamlet talked about.

And it’s even more complicated, and there are even more classifications, than that.

Do you people see yet how complex depression and suicide can be?

There was nothing callous, incorrect, or horrible about Walsh’s tweet. In fact, it’s a discussion that needs to be had, because clearly people aren’t getting it. Because Robin Williams is one of millions that have taken their own lives, and will continue to, until people wake up and stop romanticizing these terrible and tragic emotional situations.

No one seemed to like Walsh’s elaboration on the point (in his lengthier blog post), because people responded in kind by calling him negative, insensitive, one-sided, and – again – a dick. They called his very thoughtful comments ignorant.

If anything, I think Walsh’s post was insightful; and in some ways comforting to know that someone – finally, anyone – understands that the depths and the hells of depression and suicide are so much more complex than just one thing; that it isn’t just about chemicals or illness or disease, but about choices, personal circumstances, and an understanding of the abyss that only the person committing the act of suicide could possibly have.

That these things have to be had in the conversation about suicide and moving forward to prevent them. That you can’t just chalk it up to a disease; that it may not always be simply negativity making the decision to take the pills or slit the wrists, or in the case of Williams, hang from the rafters. That you can’t just say “they’re in heaven now smiling on us, get help if you need it, moving on with my PTA meetings and other mundane bullshit that exists for everyone but those that have succumbed to nothingness.”

Because that’s what suicide really is, that no one wants to admit. It’s succumbing to nothingness. People don’t commit suicide because they want to shine down on us from fucking heaven. They succumb to nothingness because they want the dark, black, nothing of non-existence. They want life to stop, which makes the people referring to suicide’s afterlife sound like the only true idiots in the room.

At the end of Walsh’s post, he talks about joy, and it’s absolute necessity to life. He says

So this, for me, is always the most essential moral at the end of these kinds of sad, terrible stories: we are all meant for joy. We are all meant for love. We are all meant for life. And as long as we can still draw breath, there is joy and love to be found here. I believe that. If I didn’t, I would have left a long time ago.

Joy and love. There might not be much else for us on this Earth, but these are the only two things that matter anyway. These are the forces that brought the whole universe into being, and these are the forces that sustain it, and us, and all life.

I just don’t understand how someone can read that and call the guy a dick. Or a douche dick, or whatever they say about him. And it’s when I read that, and I toggled through even more posts about Matt Walsh and his terrible ways, that I began to wonder what Robin Williams would do. What anyone, really, who has committed suicide, or thought about committing suicide, would do. Would they call this guy names, and personally attack him for talking about these issues holistically and from the point of all sides?

Or would they act with compassion and understanding and the knowledge that only someone who has looked into the abyss could have?

 

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To the writer of “Dear Mom On the iPhone” –

This morning I woke up and served breakfast for everyone in the house. I sat down to eat my own, and as I always do, I checked my email, Twitter, and Facebook. I did miss the moment when my daughter spilled milk all over the table. I’m sure it was ironically adorable, as her sloppiness usually is. But I had taken the time to make a special breakfast, so being absent mentally for a few minutes to clear out my emails and notifications seemed fair. No one’s life is entirely defined as being a parent.

As I scrolled through my email and Facebook, though, I came upon a letter, titled “Dear Mom On the iPhone.” I’ve seen this before. Many, many times before. There are many versions of it, as there always are of Internet memes and cyber-urban legends. (The best cyber-urban legend is the one about the black man on the airplane being moved to First Class…if I had a dollar for every time that one was retold…)

This one – Dear Mom On the iPhone – talked about a mom at the park with her kids. The kids were having a great time and the mom was missing it, because she was on her iPhone. The daughter spun around and her dress twirled; Mom on the iPhone missed that, or just smiled. The son was teetering on something and yelled “Mom look at me!!” and we were to take this as a sign that mom doesn’t care. There were a few paragraphs indicting Mom On the iPhone for using her phone and teaching her children that they are unimportant. Then in the end it seemed like we were all supposed to join forces to judge Mom On the iPhone as a shitty parent, and remind ourselves how much our self-righteous superiority has validated our own choices.

To the writer of Mom On the iPhone, I say: here we go again.

Here we go again, judging people at face value. Do parents often display an addiction to technology – both at home and in public? Yes. Is it an ever-growing problem in our society? Sure it is. But do we know everything about their lives that gives us the right to judge what they are doing on their iPhones, or whether or not ignorance of their child(ren) swinging gleefully in the sunlight is justified? Absolutely not.

Here we go again, telling others how to parent. Ignoring your kid all the time is shitty, yeah. So is feeding your child McDonald’s for a steady three meals a day. But who is the one that has to pay the price in the end? Is it us? Or is it them? Well, sure – it’s actually their kids. But are those our kids? No. They aren’t. Therefore, it’s none of our goddamned business, now is it?

And again, do we know everything about their lives? Maybe the kids are being ignored sometimes because Mom On the iPhone was only given the afternoon off if she stayed in constant contact with work. It’s surely better that she be there on her phone, than not be there at all. Maybe Mom On the iPhone would lose her job if she didn’t respond to emails. Or maybe Mom At McDonald’s only has $5 a day to feed her kids, and the only way to stretch that is to eat fast food. I don’t want to hear any bullshit about how Mom On the iPhone could just ignore her boss’s demand, or how Mom At McDonald’s can cook at home for cheaper. Both are just categorically false.

Here we go again, dictating how others should live their lives. Maybe Mom On the iPhone is a stay at home mom. Her job is that of a housewife. She cleans, cooks, shuttles, cooks some more … does laundry, gets the homework taken care of, chairs the PTA, and supervises the soccer clinic. She has few friends, and virtually no escape. Her every waking moment is spent on her kids. Except that 30 minutes of downtime at the park, when she can put the kids on autopilot and take a breather.

Everyone needs a breather.

Here we go again, demanding that we cease to exist the moment we have children. Sure, people chose to have children and often don’t realize the gravity of that choice. Your kids are there all the time, so you should be too and all that jazz. But having kids is not the end of you. Having kids did not make me love books less. Having kids did not make me want to stop traveling less. The decision to drop one out the vag does not mean that suddenly we have to surrender everything we know and love.

Here we go again, worrying about others instead of ourselves. And this is the real kicker, and why I think the “Dear Mom On the iPhone” urban legend is just another piece in the puzzle that is the Mommy Wars. Rather than worrying about what we are doing as parents, we spend all of our time telling others what they are doing wrong. I can only assume to justify our own decisions. For every version of “Dear Mom On the iPhone,” there is another “Dear Mom…” that does nothing more than tell others how to live their lives as parents. “Dear Mom That Doesn’t Breastfeed;” “Dear Mom That Had a Home Birth;” “Dear Mom At McDonald’s;” “Dear Mom In A Short Skirt;” “Dear Mom That Works Too Much;” “Dear Mom That Had an Elective C-Section” … it could go on forever.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of hearing (or in this case, reading) people telling others how to live. I’m tired of knowing that people are this judgmental and lacking of compassion. I’m sick of being reminded that we all seem to expect everyone’s lives and situations to be just like ours. To the writer of “Dear Mom On the iPhone,” and all of the other “Dear Moms…” there are out there, perhaps you should start worrying about your own parenting. If I were to write a letter to you, it would be all about how you are raising your kids to be judgmental assholes. It would include a little paragraph about how while you are out attacking other people’s values, your kids are learning the quality of self-righteous superiority. That kind of indignation sticks. You are just contributing to the next generation of jerk-offs.

But then I would never write such a letter. I mean I know I just did, but you faithful blog followers know what I mean. Rather than always worrying about others, and expecting everyone to live by the standards we have set up for ourselves, why don’t we just focus on raising our own good kids, that will hopefully become really good adults? Maybe instead of writing letters to others, we should worry only about inscribing letters to ourselves.

So we ran a couple of errands tonight. Those errands included: dropping a frozen turkey off at my dad’s house for Easter Sunday, getting the guinea pig birthday presents for his first birthday (coming up this Monday), and to CVS to get dish soap.

I know. Big night for the B(itch) family.

As I was pulling out of the CVS parking lot, my kid started screaming in the back seat. “Naked!!! AHHHH!” she screamed, and I slammed on my brakes – not really knowing what the hell was going on, and thinking there might be some emergency. Or maybe Ryan Reynolds was visiting our community, and walking around topless. A girl can dream, right?

To my dismay, I saw what she was referring to. Outside this breakfast cafe (which was closed at the time, it being around 7:30 in the evening), there was a grown man getting dressed. He was naked, except his tighty-whiteys. In a public parking lot.

Indeed.

Things are starting to get a little weird around this place. There’s more of that kind of stuff out in public. That whole Korean Hooker Hostage situation went down at my nail salon last year. Kids are doing drugs in our apartment parking lot. And that guy with blue hair last week said I was hot at the Souplantation. So I guess after seeing the guy getting dressed in the public parking lot, it seemed only natural for me to come home to learn that the porn industry is vying to move into the community.

Apparently some months ago the city of Los Angeles passed a law requiring porn stars to wear rubbers when they’re filming their dirty BBW, SBW, MOM, MILF movies. Since then the “industry” (if you can call it that) has been seeking out a new, local hub of operation to take its sales and property taxes. But city after city is creating this “cover your manhood” law, so my town is next in line as the potential successor to the throne of Ron Jeremy.

The weird thing about this is that the small community in which we live is just about the exact antithesis of what you’d think as the new “porn capital of the world.” Probably 90% of our residents are over the age of 90. The other 10% are inbred hillbillies lacking much education. This means that if the local yocals try to get in on all the money-making that is to be had in the porn capital of the world, there will be a lot of senior citizens and rednecks trying to market their homemade movies on the street corners. Just great. Cletis Goes Wild At the BINGO Hall.

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Keep track of my strike time at http://countingdownto.com/countdown/223092

I’m going on strike. Not from a job because – I think we all know – I don’t work. I mean I work at the most thankless job on the planet (housewife and SAHM), but there is no monetary compensation for that.

Yet.

No, I’m going on strike from technology. For the next 48 hours I’m ditching my cellphone, laptop, and iPad, and I think you should too. Here’s why:

#1 There Is A World Outside Your Cellphone

I just have had it up to about my eyebrows with sitting at dinner with people that spend the entire time texting and BSing on their cellphones. My husband is notorious for doing this; and the most egregious part is that he’s just scrolling through his apps doing mundane updates that are entirely unnecessary. It’s so rude, and reeks of the implication that the only world that exists to the people committing this etiquette faux pas is within their cellphone and computer. That the world in which I am – sitting across from them at the table – does not exist when the world of technology is around.

There is a world outside your cellphone. And your computer. Not getting Facebook updates is manageable, dare I say – not a big deal.

Just today I read an article about the growing problem of Facebook addiction, in which it was reported that as many as 1/3rd of people that were interviewed admitted to experiencing feelings of envy when viewing photographs and other updates of others on Facebook. This implies a number of things, but as for this point I think this has a lot to do with the fact that some of us think there is no world outside of Facebook.

1313897240072_6858395Do you faithful blog followers actually believe that life is as wonderful and exciting as it appears to be for some people on Facebook? Every photo is from a party; therefore life is a party? Every update is positive, fun, and full of excitement; therefore nothing bad ever happens to the people on your Facebook page? Nonsense! The only reason why people post on the social networks great and wonderful and awe-inspiring news is because it’s looked down upon to report anything real that happens. People call reality “bad” and “negative” – two words that have been demonized by our terribly childish social network culture.

There is a world outside of your computer. A real world. A world where you are not alone.

#2 Capturing Photographs Is Not the Point

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Recently I realized that I spend more time capturing some moments than actually experiencing them. A blogger, I’m constantly trying to shoot things that can be used for my blogs; but now it’s leaked into every aspect of my life. Yesterday I snapped over twenty photographs of my car being towed. The experience from beginning to end was captured on photograph, and yet when it came time to recall the tow truck driver’s name today when AAA called to survey the experience, I had no idea. The guy really went the extra mile in taking care of us and I was so focused on my own photographic evidence that I couldn’t even take the time to learn his name.

The point of having a good meal is not to capture a photograph of the food. The reason for going on a hike is to get exercise, fresh air, and experience the outdoors. I have friends that have so many photographs of their experiences that I wonder if they even would remember what happened if it weren’t for the photographs, much like I can’t recall the tow truck driver’s name.

And is a memory not sufficient anymore to prove that something happened? Take a picture of your kid at this park, then that park, then this other park, then another. We get it! You take your kid to the park. We would have believed you if you just said it once. 7,000 shots a day of the kid running in the grass gets old. Really old. This isn’t to say that the kid isn’t cute, or the food doesn’t look as tasty as you describe it.

It’s just that technology is replacing even our most intimate moments and experiences.

#3 Technology Really Makes Me Hate People

And lose respect for them. This person didn’t respond to an email I sent in due time. A text message got ignored. People didn’t “like” or comment on my blog.

How many times have you Tweeted someone for them to never respond? How many times have you followed a blogger only for them to ignore you, as if they are too “big” to follow back?

The list of Internet etiquette grievances is a long one – not just mine, but the conglomerate list of all the billions of people using the Internet regularly. Sometimes it makes you hate people to be connected all the time. It makes you hate how not everyone operates by the same standards you do. And it makes you loathe the ways in which they think and act – from political posters on Facebook, to people that use their cellphones and computers as a way to bully; technology has just made it easier for the whole of humanity to act like assholes.

While I am definitely a fan of general misanthropy, I get too angry when I’m online too much.

#4 I Need a Break From Web MD

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I need a break from Web MD. And the news. And Google flu trends. And Sickweather.com. I’m such a hypochondriac, with a glaringly unhealthy level of OCD, that I am obsessed with what’s going on around, who has which diseases, and whether or not I have [insert obscure, unlikely disease here].

I need a break from all that nonsense – I wash my hands; cover my cough; and avoid sick people. How exactly does checking up on where people are sick in my area every day make us any more safe? Am I going to avoid running errands because a few people Tweeted that they had the stomach flu in my area? No. No – we still need milk, eggs, and bread.

But it’s also a matter of not just health, but of the news. This is another thing my husband is horrible with – he is obsessed with the news, and occasionally I am too. It isn’t just one article on something that happened, or a study that was done; it’s all of them that show up in the Google News Aggregate. While I don’t think it’s good to stick our heads in the sand, sometimes shutting it all off is for the best. There is nothing I can do about the fact that North Korea issued another threat to the United States. The fact that emergency room visits from energy drinks have increased by 47% bears absolutely no effect on me.

Obsessing over all of these things is just another way that technology has a hold of our lives, just as in the case of cellphones leading us to believe there is no world outside, and photography applications robbing us of having actual experiences.

Realistically, 48 hours off technology is nothing. I still remember a day when I never used a cellphone or a computer. When I never used a computer – oh what I would give to say I still did that now. What I would give to be able to say that any of us could be successful at anything without all the advances computer and cellular technology can offer. Sure, my Klout score may go down about a point from being offline for 48 hours. I may offend someone much in the way I have been offended by not responding soon enough to an email or a text message. But think of all the things that can come of unbinding myself to the chains of my technology. I don’t even know what the next 48 hours holds. It’s kind of exciting to know that they won’t involve a cellphone or computer.

The real question isn’t “why should I do it?” though. It’s “can I do it?” Can you?

Before Pookie started homeschooling, we had her in a local Catholic school. One of the requirements of families was mandatory volunteer time – you had to do 18 hours a year, or something like that. Taking tickets at the school carnival, checking kids in tardy, lunch duty, and other assorted chum work were what everyone seemed to be doing when we started there, and if you didn’t do your 18 hours a year, you were charged a whopping $150 an hour. Naturally I obliged.

I wasn’t going to be doing any of those sucking eggs tasks, though – this B(itch) volunteered in the classroom.

Usually the teacher had me take a part of the class to the library to be read to. The kids would gather around me, I would select a few age-appropriate books, and then the battle would begin for me to get the story finished with all of them (1) paying attention, and (2) alive. I miss those days. There’s something cathartic about reading a children’s book, and fielding questions like “why are frogs green?” and “where did that baby in the mommy’s tummy come from?” It gave me an opportunity to wax philosophical with Kindergarteners – always a delight, in my book.

Let’s try and recreate that now, faithful blog followers – for I have a doozy of a story to tell. Gather round. Get your fingers out of your nostrils, and your wedgies out of your ass cracks. It’s time for Mama B(itch) to teach you about The Hillbilly Who Cried Wolf.

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There once was an hillbilly named Trailer Trash Mom. She was a good little girl about 3% of the time, and the remaining parts of her life she was evil. When I say evil, I mean she lied a lot. She used people. She was a horrible mother and grandmother. And she was a gossip.

But for some reason, Trailer Trash Mom still had a large group of family and friends around her that supported her no matter what. They gave her money because she had no job. They gave her a place to stay when she had no man to support her. They paid the bill for her false teeth when all of her real ones fell out – they were just that devoted to Trailer Trash Mom.

One day, many years ago, Trailer Trash Mom cried wolf. She was just hanging out with her legs up and spread on a table in a casino lounge. A man caught her eye (or lady parts … only they know), and it was love at first sight (hump). She cried to her family and friends “Wolf! Wolf! A wolf has fallen in love with me, and he is a drummer, and he is going to take me on tour with Madonna!!” Her friends and family flocked to her side. They gave her money for clothes. They got her a new hairstyle and makeup kit – she was going to be going on the road with the new love of her life, and with Madonna!

In the end, the truth came out. Trailer Trash Mom was not going on tour with Madonna. The  whole thing was a story to cover for the fact that the drummer from that night in the casino lounge was married.

There was no wolf.

Some time went by, and people forgot about the incident. Trailer Trash Mom found a new boyfriend and after only a few months she moved in with him. They were happy, although she would often complain of money problems, casino dramas, and other assorted encounters with the law. One day she showed up at her parents’ apartment bruised and bloodied. “Wolf! Wolf!” Trailer Trash Mom cried. “I caught him cheating on me with another woman and he beat me to pieces!!” Her friends and family flocked to her side again. They gave her money to stay somewhere else until she found a new home. They paid for movers to go in and get her things out of the house, while her boyfriend was gone. They called the police and filed reports.

And then the truth came out. Trailer Trash Mom had caught him cheating, but tried to get in on it. Yes, that’s right – she tried for a threesome (I shudder at the thought). The bruised and bloodied state she appeared in when arriving at her parents’ apartment was from getting into a bar fight with someone who had looked at someone new she was trying to put the moves on.

There was no wolf.

Even more time went by and somehow Trailer Trash Mom landed herself a husband. He was no catch, though – a hillbilly living in New Mexico, the man lived off of hot dogs, cigarettes, and a daily case of Coors. Trailer Trash Mom traveled between New Mexico and her parents’ home in California, but it was beginning to become unreasonable financially, since Trailer Trash Mom had no income.

One day while in California she got off the phone and cried: “Wolf! Wolf!! My hillbilly husband has cancer!” Her friends and family flocked to her again, only this time they asked a few questions. A few phone calls later, his “cancer” was really just an infection that a five day course of antibiotics would clear up. But a few weeks later, Trailer Trash Mom got off the phone again and cried “Wolf! Wolf!! My hillbilly husband has melanoma!!” Her friends and family flocked to her yet again, asking even more questions. A few phone calls later, his “melanoma” was all a mistake. It was a crumb just stuck to his face.

There was no wolf. There was no wolf. Her family and friends started to believe there never would be a wolf.

A few months went by this time and one day Trailer Trash Mom got off the phone, yet again screaming “Wolf!!!!!! My hillbilly husband has pneumonia!” But this time the friends and family didn’t really flock; they listened to her, but didn’t really know what they could do. It was Walking Pneumonia, and by the time she found out he was supposedly on antibiotics and feeling better. So a few more days went by and Trailer Trash Mom got off the phone, crying one more time “Wolf!!! Wolf!!! Wolf!!!!! My hillbilly husband has had a heart attack! He’s being airlifted to a hospital in Texas because there are none in the town in which he lives!! Oh the peril! WOLF!!”

But this time she cried and someone checked the Internet. There was a hospital in the town in which he lived. Who knew if there really was a wolf? There never had been before.

So she cried it again – “Wolf!! Wolf!!!” WOLF!!!” to the one person (no it was not me) that hadn’t turned their back on Trailer Trash Mom. A few hours later, a plane ticket was purchased. A car was rented. Arrangements had been made for Trailer Trash Mom to return to her hillbilly husband, on someone else’s dime.

No one but that one person believed Trailer Trash Mom because she had cried wolf so many times before. Did her hillbilly husband really have a heart attack? No one really knows. No one will probably ever know if the wolf ever existed.

No one, but Trailer Trash Mom.