The Politics of Facebook Friendships

So this is a post I’ve been thinking about for sometime and I’ve re-written it a dozen or more times because it sort of comes out as a smug “rules for friends” on Facebook and that’s not what I want to write. It’s my way of thinking about friends on Facebook and it doesn’t have to be anyone else’s. The great thing about Facebook is that you get to make it what you want in terms of socializing or promoting or a business or being accessible. In that sense everyone should have a plan that works for them.

Over the years, I’ve realized that there are certain things I don’t want to see on my timeline. The recent comments that many people were making about asking those who supported Donald Trump to unfriend them troubled me. First, there was the question of whether I only wanted to be friends with people who thought like me. And honestly, no. Because some of the best friends I have are really different from me. Diversity is a great thing.

On the other hand, Trump’s comments are really, really hateful and scary. In fact, sadly, the only thing Dick Cheney and I agree on is that Trump would make a horrible president. Do I want to be friends with people who would support someone who wants to take the United States down the same road as Germany went down in World War II? Or even that the US went down in WWII by imprisoning American citizens in internment camps because they happened to look like the people who attacked us? When does unfriending someone limit my exposure to other ideas and when is it taking a moral stand?

I don’t know what’s going on in anyone’s head. I can read what they post on Facebook. And I realized that this is less about controlling them but controlling what I am connected to and exposed to.

I don’t want to see pictures of animal abuse. However, I understand why some people share those things. I understand they are able to wade into a really horrible situation and try and make sense of it in a way I cannot any longer. I don’t want to see that. Unfortunately I do know it happens and I respect and applaud the people willing to help. I’ll stay friends with them but I’ll unfollow the pages that they share that show pictures like that. If I have to, I’ll unfollow them but remain connected to them in the background because their heart is in the right place.

I don’t want to see images and status updates that denigrate, dehumanize, or demonize a person or groups of people. I realize that sharing many articles, some of which are great articles if you can get beyond the headline, means that sometimes we share hate. If the intention of the sharer is about raising awareness of a horrible issue, that’s something I’m okay with in my feed. Issues come up. I believe in personal growth and I’m willing to be challenged on some ways of thinking.

If the article is just tearing down a person or group of people, I’m not interested. In fact, if someone that I’m friends with posts articles that mostly do this, they will probably be unfriended. I might just hide them from my timeline, but if I go back and everything continues to remain negative and hate-filled, I’ll unfriend.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to participate in denigrating or dehumanizing anyone. I’m not perfect. I’ll probably fail in that as a one hundred percent rule, but I want to minimize that. I want to limit my exposure to people spreading hatred and I think it’s a far better use of the space I have for hatred to learn about ways of stopping it.

As for friends in the background, there’s a point at which I don’t even want any ties and connections to that sort of hatred even if it doesn’t show up in my newsfeed. It’s like having friends that gossip behind your back. I don’t want that.

So, do I stay friends with people who support Donald Trump? What if they rarely post anything political?

As I said, my standards on Facebook are about diversity, humanity and being challenged. If they aren’t posting things that are hateful and as one supporter told me, “I don’t agree with everything he says,” when challenged about his stance on Muslims, I’m currently not unfriending them.

It wouldn’t change their political stance. I mean, when was the last time someone rethought their political stance because a near stranger unfriended them on Facebook? If anything, it would consolidate their position of “rightness” and my position of “wrongness” because I just wasn’t willing to hear the truth.

Worse, it would make me exactly like Donald Trump and in that I would be a hypocrite. I wouldn’t be making Muslims and Hispanics “Other”.  Instead I would be demonizing and making his supporters “Other.” I would be dividing the world every bit as much as Mr. Trump does.

I don’t want to be a divider. We have enough dividers in our world today.

I want to do something different. I want to unite people. I want to understand people. I want a world where there is so much love there’s no room for people to think like Mr. Trump. My stance won’t create that world, but maybe, just maybe I can offer enough love and peace in my little corner of it that we’ll be a tiny bit closer. At the very least, maybe there’ll be less divisiveness in my own spirit which creates a more peaceful world for me and those closest to me.

It doesn’t mean I accept Trump. As I said, if you fill my world with hate, I’ll unfriend you, and if you’re a politician I’ll work very hard to make sure you don’t have the power to spread that hatred. I’ll do that by voting, by marching, by writing letters to other powerful people, by sharing messages about how we are better people than he believes, how humanity is better than he believes.

I don’t understand how people that I’ve seen care for the sick, speak up for the voiceless, and offer support and generosity to people they’ve never met in person can support a man who spews so much hatred. I’ll never understand it and I hope it ends. But maybe, I can be that voice of their “Other” and let them see that the “Other” is not so scary that it has to be dehumanized to face. Or not. But at least I’ll be able to face my “Other” and do that. And at the end of the day, the only thing we can do is face what we can face.

I said it above. I’m “currently” not unfriending them. If this exercise becomes overwhelming or too harsh, I’m offering myself a way out. But for now, I’m not participating in the great divide.

Recap 2015 and Looking Ahead to 2016

So I was pleasantly surprised to see how well I did for my 2015 year long goals:

  • Attend Anthology Workshop in Lincoln City. This is mostly planned so I should be able to. The move will challenge me though. DONE and it was great! So great I also went to the Mystery Workshop there taught by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
  • Send out more short stories. I want to get at least another five out and in circulation. I got out many more than five short stories and got some rejections. I’d like to do more next year.
  • Publish 4 books. I may not make this one, but I have two acupuncture books to get out there and I don’t want to fall behind on the Whisper series either, so two more of those. Two Whisper novels and two acupuncture books so done!
  • Find a social arena in my new town. This is often tough for me. I’m keeping it general, whether it’s joining the Unitarian Church or a volunteer group or finding a local book club. We’ll see. I did join the local author’s association. I have not, however, gotten out and joined anything where I’m social.
  • Trademark my publishing business (this in addition to changing over business licenses and such when I get to the new living area). Not even close.
  • Publish either an anthology of shorts or an omnibus edition of Whisper (or both). Got the omnibus edition of Whisper out but not short story collection.

So basically, I got the big ones done and the personal and publishing professional ones did not go as well.

Goals for 2016

  • Attend Anthology Workshop in Lincoln City. Wouldn’t miss this for anything.
  • Write two short stories a month and get at least one of them ready to send out. A stretch goal: write one a mystery and one fantasy and get both out to publishers
  • Publish 3 books (two fiction and one either fiction or non-fiction)
  • Self-publish at least 6 of my short stories. A stretch is to publish a collection as well.
  • Find a social arena in town.
  • Take a class that is not from Dean and Kris

I’m laughing at myself a little for the last one. I have a couple of ideas for classes that aren’t Dean and Kris classes so this might push me to do them.

I really want to get my name out there and I think having short stories published in other venues will help a lot. Even if I don’t get anything but rejections, I’ll have a better chance of being noticed with more items to my name. I’m focusing on fiction.

And like last year, I want to focus on other books besides Whisper. I’m still not happy with any non-Whisper books but who knows? Maybe I’ll write something brilliant that I want to get out there!

 

Untold Stories

frontuseUntold: 12 Stories of Successful American Acupuncturists in the New Millennium which I put together with Jason Stein, LAc is now available on Amazon and other major retailers. It has it’s own website, Untold, which includes the raw video interviews that the acupuncturists gave to Jason.

The goal of the book was to bring hope to acupuncturists. Many people chose the field of acupuncture because they want to help people. They’re looking for ways to do this that get to the root of the health problems people have or they’re looking for a holistic medicine that sees mind and body as one. Upon graduation they have huge student loan debt and making a business successful feels overwhelming.

Starting a business is hard. It’s hard to keep going and it’s even harder when you are struggling to feed yourself and feel like no one is listening to you when you search out patients. Stories come up of how many acupuncturists don’t make it. The numbers are probably not so different from those in any small business but acupuncturists are healers, not business people, so as a profession we don’t have those numbers. Further, the debt taken on adds a further burden. The business of wanting to be a healer feels hopeless.

I wanted to remind people that there were practitioners who had made. There were people who were acupuncturists doing what they loved with acupuncture and making a living. The book branched out and talked to people who had moved on from the profession, from a place of success and not one of failure, to give practitioners ideas about retirement and ending their practice. Jason and I also found people who were inventing their own products and creating new paths.

Over all, I have hope that this book can reignite hope to those working so hard to further the profession.

New Book: Points to Ponder

kindlefrontFinally got my newest book Points to Ponder for the Acupuncturist in Business finished. It wasn’t that it was a long time to write. It’s been done for some time. But getting it edited and then formatted and published while moving took longer than I expected. But it’s finally here. It’s in ebook and print and available at your favorite retailers. Check it out.

Writing the Short Blog Post

There are people out there who insist that to have a good website and to show up well in Google, that you have to blog. I’m not sure if it’s true, but a lot of people worry. And certainly having a blog can help.  Google likes websites that add and change content on a regular basis. This means that the sites are active. There’s also a bit of weight given to how much content a site has, which means that over the long term, blogging can add a lot of content to your site, even if you just write short notes. But there are a lot of factors in Google’s algorhims and they change regularly. There are blogs devoted to getting your website to show up on the top pages of Google. Many of them disagree with each other. They do agree that a blog helps but so does the length of time you’ve had your domain.

Not everyone has the time or inclination to write long blog posts. Some people find that short blog posts work well.

So what do I mean by a short blog post? Well, let’s suppose John Doe, LAc writes a great blog post on his blog Acupuncture Clinic of the USA about acupuncture and holistic healing. His words reflect my own ideas and I want to share.

What I can’t do:

  • I can’t copy and paste his article in its entirety
  • I can’t use the image that he used, unless I have purchased the same image from a stock photo site or I have permission from him to use his image.
  • I can’t claim his words as my own in any way shape or form.

What I can do:

  • I can write a short article that says something like this, “Check out this article from John Doe LAc on acupuncture and holistic healing (insert link to the article here). I agree with his points but as I am not a great writer, I thought I’d let him say this in his own passionate words. Let me know what you think of the article.”
  • I can also write a longer article that may quote the article by John Doe. If I do this, to be really safe, if I quote once sentence, I probably want to write a bit longer article so Google knows that I have something original to say about this.
  • I can add my own image to my site that goes with my own unique article.

What does this do for me or John Doe?

  • It helps John Doe because he’s got a nice targeted keyword link back to his site.
  • It helps me add content to my site with out the agony of writing a long article on a subject I am interested in but don’t want to write about.
  • The question at the end allows me to open a dialogue with my patients and clients.

Another example might be someone quoting a post about acupuncture and insomnia. Maybe a final note would be something like, “Many of you have mentioned friends or family members who have trouble sleeping. I see a lot of patients with this problem. Jane Doe wrote this amazing article on how it can help.(hyperlink to the article).”

When writing short posts like this, you can always find material via Google Notifications. You can set them to notify you about articles about acupuncture or health specialties that are of interest to you, your patients and potential patients.

Short posts aren’t as good as completely original content. Original content where you might write two hundred to five hundred words on a topic allows you to write longer articles that can get indexed for a particular keyword, which can then bring more traffic to your site. If you are not a specialist, this may or may not be helpful to you. After all, if you are across country, chances are, I’m still going to find someone local.

Short articles like this are a great way for acupuncturists to utilize posts that others have written without plagiarizing  the writing. It allows you to offer something good for them, which is a link back. It means you can save most of your time for marketing strategies that work best for you.

Want to learn more about blogging? Go to the experts at CopyBlogger. They have a blog which has a ton of free useful information. They also have books and seminars and webinars for those who want more indepth learning. Whatever your learning style, they undoubtedly have a way to help you learn. And they’ve been around forever so they understand not just websites and SEO but the unique needs of someone writing a blog to sell their sevices.

 

Recap 2014 and Looking Ahead to 2015

So how did I do on my goals for 2014?

  • Indie publish 3 books.  I did. Websites for Acupuncturists, Little Dog Lost and Death Interrupted all came out last year.
  • Take 4 out of 6 virtual retreats with Mark Silver. I barely got that one. I managed the first four. The next two came after my husband got laid off and I was typically busy or frazzled or both for the last two. I missed that.
  • Take more classes with Dean Wesley Smith. I took two more online workshops and one lecture. It was an easy goal.
  • Join a writer’s organization. I joined the PNW Writer’s Association.
  • Write more shorts and submit four of them to publishers. I did that. I submitted at least two of them to every publisher that seemed a likely candidate. I didn’t get any published but I got them out there. I need to do more of this next year.
  • Deconstruct a book in a genre and write a book in that genre after that. I did that. I took apart a Juliet Blackwell cozy. And then I wrote a steampunk cozy. It wasn’t intended to be a cozy but I wrote it right after I deconstructed Blackwell’s book.
  • Write at least 5 more books. I did that, but barely. Many won’t see the light of day. Others might get out there in a few years.
  • Change the look of my publishing site. I did that. See it here.

So what do I want for 2015?

Well, at the beginning of this year, my husband and I are moving across country. I am hopeful that this won’t set me back too much but it could and I need to allow for that. I also need to remember that goals are things I can do something about. Dean Wesley Smith mentions this in his goals section and it’s important for me to remember. I wanted to start getting my feet wet sending out stories to publishers and I did that. I can’t control if they get published. Chances are if I do more, I’ll have better odds so I need to keep at it. So what do I want for 2015?

  • Attend Anthology Workshop in Lincoln City. This is mostly planned so I should be able to. The move will challenge me though.
  • Send out more short stories. I want to get at least another five out and in circulation.
  • Publish 4 books. I may not make this one, but I have two acupuncture books to get out there and I don’t want to fall behind on the Whisper series either, so two more of those.
  • Find a social arena in my new town. This is often tough for me. I’m keeping it general, whether it’s joining the Unitarian Church or a volunteer group or finding a local book club. We’ll see.
  • Trademark my publishing business (this in addition to changing over business licenses and such when I get to the new living area).
  • Publish either an anthology of shorts or an omnibus edition of Whisper (or both).

I think I can do these. Some of those are things that will be clean up type things for the move and others move my writing and visibility along. I was pleased that I sold something every single month last year. I hope to do that again this next year or at least start selling *more* books. I took out an advertisement and while I didn’t sell as many based on the advertisement as I’d like, I did sell two more sets of the next two books, which suggests that people liked the series enough to try the next two. Which means I’m doing something right!

I’d also like to branch out into other writing projects. Whisper is great and I know those fans like it, but I want to write more pure fantasy and I have other ideas for urban fantasy and sort of cozy type mysteries. We’ll see what happens.

Discussion and Diversity

Every now and then I learn something on Facebook. Not from the articles posted there or from the information someone posts but from the way people act.

What I’ve noticed is a growing trend among people who don’t want to engage in discussion but just spout their views. If anyone disagrees these people do a couple of things. They might start an argument and get very hostile. I’m slightly more comfortable with this overt engagement. They are willing to discuss. I’m not saying that hostility is okay but sometimes what comes across in the written word as hostile may not be hostile when someone is sitting around in a group talking. There is no body language to diffuse something. Things get out of control. I’m an admin on three different groups with three very different focuses and you see this now and again. Someone says something that is triggering to the other person and then suddenly things escalate.

The other way people shut down discussion is by blocking another person. Even if that person was not saying anything particularly offensive. Sometimes you get emails about why someone can’t find a thread they were participating in and you realize that person starting the thread blocked them. And if you go back, you see that they might have been putting forth their own views but the other person didn’t want to engage. Even if those views were not stated in a hostile or confrontational manner (no matter how hard I look). And that makes me sad for the world.

We are so divided on so many things. And here people go starting to shut down any sort of meaningful discussion on topics that really don’t need to be divisive. For all that we are supposed to be so enlightened and looking to ourselves for the issue, what I see on Facebook is that people are acting on those triggers and immediately laying blame to others and refusing to hear other sides to a discussion. That’s a problem for me. That’s a big problem because the discussions on Facebook are not life and death. They don’t mean the end of our world. But if we can’t discuss small things online without deciding that we don’t want to hear a voice that speaks differently than ours, how will we ever discuss the big things?

 

New Book, “Small Animal Acupuncture Point Locations”

This isn’t a true review. I don’t do animal acupuncture as I’m fortunate to have an amazing veterinarian who works with my cats. She’s well versed in a number of alternative modalities and we primarily use homeopathics with my cats, which I find work wonders.

However, there are many practitioners who want to work on pets. I worked in a veterinary hospital for a long time and I still suffer a certain level of PTSD after that experience. In a pinch I would work on my own cats but no one else’s.

Becca Seitz has a broad background in studying healthcare. She has background working with shelters, forcing to confront animals in intensely stressful situations. She was the person who first talked about compassion fatigue in shelter workers, which led to a series of articles I published on my cat blog. And now she has written a very thorough book called Small Animal Acupuncture Point Locations.

Becca is also involved with teaching a class on animal acupuncture. I highly recommend the course for any practitioner interested in treating pets. If you can’t make the class, then purchase the book. If you ever hope to treat pets, this is a must read.

Websites for Acupuncturists is Here

websites1front1I finally got Websites for Acupuncturists edited and formatted for publication. It’s available on Amazon in both ebook and print.

I wrote this book to address many of the questions I’m seeing in social media. This is less a how to book and more a should you book. It offers some explanations about what you get with a general easy set up site (like Weebly and SquareSpace), what you get in a profession specific managed site (like AcuPerfect Websites and QiSites) and what you have to do to do it yourself.

I think a lot of people start out trying to do it themselves without having any idea of the options or what it means to be on a managed site and what their options are. I’ve kept the price low and offered as much information as I can to help people determine whether they have the time or the interest in creating their own website. Things are getting so much less expensive that there are many more affordable options out there than there were even a few years ago.

Generation Gap

I’m on the other side of the generation gap. I’m 51. It’s not my age that made me stand up and realize that, it was a number of little things. It was realizing that sometimes people were saying things on Facebook that made no sense and I had to ask why. It was having to explain why I said I liked being able to get software more cheaply and easily for a PC than a Mac.

For those too young to remember, back in the 1990s, when real computer nerds like me had Macs, you actually had to go to a store to purchase software or get on a catalog mailing list. Most available software was for PCs and most stores had only an aisle or two  for Mac software. In addition, what software there was typically cost 20 to 30% more than comparable PC software (even if it was by the same manufacturer).  Yes, things have changed.

But what really made me realize I was on the other side looking back, was a young woman stood up at Comic Con. She stood up and talked about how she couldn’t believe anyone thought Nichelle Nichols was a feminist on Star Trek. She was, after all a glorified secretary. Now, point of fact, Lt. Uhura was a glorified phone operator (look it up) and not a glorified secretary. More importantly, she was on the bridge, offering information (if not an opinion) to the captain of the ship. She was not just the wife or mother of someone. She was a strong, unmarried (so we believe) female who had a career and, in 1966 when the show premiered, that was huge.  While I am pleased to say we have come far enough that this has to be explained, I am saddened that those  strides in equality are being forgotten.

There are always things that could have been done better but in 1966, the producers were taking a chance on her. And that’s something that shouldn’t ever be forgotten. I am only informed because I lived it. I am the older generation who took certain things for granted that young people have never heard of. I struggle with things others much younger than I am don’t understand.

I grew up on records and cassette tapes. I dialed phones with a rotary dial and it was great to get a touch tone phone. I worked at places with phones with extra long cords so that you could walk farther from the base (and all the potential tripping and jumping that required).  I typed on a typewriter. I wrote my first stories on typewriters. I submitted typewritten stories only to be horrified when I found a typo when the editor sent it back. Once it was in the title.

I knew how to manage PC DOS as well as MS DOS, but DCL was the command language I was most familiar with. My contemporaries learned Fortran and Cobal, LISP and C. I know Pascal and Basic. I have since learned C#, PHP and of course HTML and CSS. I have used  Amigas (first multiprocessing machine), Macs and now PCs. According to Huffington Post I should be able to program my DVR or my TIVO to record a show, but I no longer know how to do that. I don’t watch much television  and I let my husband program those systems. There is just so much to re-learn.

I still hand install WordPress because I feel more secure that way, although I am often questioned. I don’t sign up for things that I don’t want to. I am suspicious of online software that requires I pay monthly, particularly when it is accounting software.  I am told that nothing is secure by young people. And I remind them I lock my doors too even though that’s perhaps not completely secure.  There are things I learned. While nothing is secure, I don’t know why I shouldn’t lock my doors, why I shouldn’t question who wants my credit info and make choices deliberately.

The worst thing? It’s having the discussion with a twenty year old online and only after you try to explain something obvious do they say something that makes you realize how young they are. Chances are, by the time they are my age, there will be constant images and you’ll no longer hide behind a faceless avatar offering you fake age. Of course the old folks will hate having to show off their older faces and have people know they are elders though. At least I hope so. Because right now, I can show off my cat’s face on my avatar and no one needs to know what I look like this morning.