Marti's Theory

Archive for the ‘Essays/Opinion’ Category

It all started a few months ago…

I was about to go somewhere cool or do something fun when I noticed a little thought, way in the back of my brain, picturing how I’d post it on Facebook. Another little thought, from a different part of my brain said, “Whoa … that’s weird.” And then both thoughts were gone.  Poof.

But the idea of it kept coming back, as well as the weirdness of it.

Do I REALLY – even if it’s subtle – frame my life in terms of social media?  Does anyone else? And if so, what the heck does that mean??

So I began to notice it more and yes, I kinda do.  And it seems that others (but not all) on my friends list might be doing it as well.  I repeat: NOT ALL. Just some. That subtle little “here’s my life” spokesmodel slant was creeping in to our posts.

Now I’m the first to sing the praises of Facebook regarding my ability to keep in touch with friends and especially with my all-over-the-planet family.  And I’m the first to laugh at how a friend and I tend to FB each other from different rooms in the same location.  And it’s certainly a useful tool to publicize events for my Ed Center and for my Rotary Club.  I love marketing and enjoy the challenge of getting views and likes and — OMG, I’m starting to market myself!

Okay, that’s just strange.

What’s even stranger to me is this:

I NEVER EVEN NOTICED I WAS DOING IT.

Dang.

So I decided to step away from Social Media for a bit.  Not completely, though.  I still play with our Facebook Rotary Club of Lahaina page quite a bit, and with my Lahaina Education Center page a little as well.  I visit groups that I belong to, and use lists a bit.  And I’ll scroll through five or six posts a couple times a day. But frankly, “staying away” hasn’t been that difficult.  Why? Because – and I include myself in this, most definitely – I think we post too much.  If you were here, would we talk every day? Probably not.  So do you need to hear what I am up to, three times a day?  Definitely not.  Frankly, I don’t even care what I’m up to that often!

Oh, I could go off on a number of tangents here, like:

  1. Friends list – do you even KNOW all 500 of them?
  2. FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – our unique 21st century fabricated nonesense
  3. Oh, never mind #3.  I’ll just post memes about it. (heh heh)

But I think I’ll stop here, and just give you one, no finger pointing, “oh, that makes sense” kind of conclusion–

I think the culprit is the scattershot All Friends or Public approach to posting.  Who in the heck are we addressing, anyway? Often when I post, I’m thinking of a specific person, or a specific group.  So I’m thinking I will explore the idea of more targeted posting. Targeting posts??!!  Oh yikes, marketing strikes again…

I give up.

But before go, I want to ask you one question – have YOU become a sub-conscious self-marketer?  Think about it.

Marti’s all time favorite Facebook meme.

Marti’s second favorite Facebook meme

In 2007, a young college student named Michael from an online writers’ site told Lori and me about something called Facebook.  We each promptly opened a profile, designated either other and Michael as our “friends” and -for me- it stayed that way for the next couple of years.  Those were the My Space days and, since I lived in a beautiful yet very remote part of Maui, the early days of social media really appealed to me.  It gave me a little mainland fix.

Fast forward a bit.  My Space, which was quite a nice little thing, was eclipsed by Facebook and began to wither away, due to a sudden lack of nourishment and has been on life support ever since.

Since then we’ve learned to tweet and snap and make circles and lord only knows what else. Apparently we are not into cockney accents here in cyberspace, as the occasional “Ello” only echoes through empty halls.

But then there’s Facebook…. the enduring (though not particularly endearing) Facebook.  Why are we all still there?  Lord knows, we grumble about it enough.

I think the reason is  that there’s an accrued investment factor.  Friends, families, grandmothers, exes, co-workers, non-real-life friends that we’ve gathered up over the past decade … have almost all wandered over by now and it’s so easy to have one access point for all these people.  Except for that one word: Almost.  They’re ALMOST all there.  And now the point is starting to come into focus for me.  (I don’t pre-write or plan what I’m going to say – welcome to the circuitous pattern of Marti’s Thinking Process)

ALL of my friends are not on Facebook.  In fact, one of the few people on this planet who holds the title of Marti’s BFF Forever is not and has no plans to be.  And there are others.  A friend who I see weekly and socialize with occasionally is not.  Email, text – yes.  Facebook – no.  I’m continually surprised when he isn’t aware of something that is happening and then remember … oh, he’s not on FACEBOOK.  And one of my favorite aunts?  No FB, no computer.  I actually have to call her on the PHONE.  Yes, it makes calls, I am reminded.

So…

Put these musings together with the fact that I am savoring a reclusive, crotchety phase where I find social media annoying as hell (yes I KNOW what your political opinions are and I knew them throughout the last fifty memes) and simply want to cut down on the inner and outer NOISE in my life and voila … the No Facebook week was born.

How was it?  Well, to be honest – I only made it through five days.  In the beginning, I did log on a couple of times, but didn’t much care and logged out after reading just a few things.  Mostly I only wanted to make the little red numbers go away. So it was easy. But what made me go back to FB last night, two days earlier than planned?  Well. I was home alone, watching an old Criminal Minds.  (To toss in my usual digression – I’d never seen the procedural FBI drama until a couple of months ago, when I began to Netflix it from the beginning. Since then, it’s about all I watch.  Sort of the TV watching version of eating only PB&J sandwiches for a week.)  But anyway… They start and end each episode with a pithy quote that is designed to make the viewer say, “OH MY GOODNESS, YES. HOW RELEVANT AND PROFOUND!”  And I admit with slight embarrassment, that’s usually exactly what happens.  And the closing quote last night was a MUST SHARE.  So I did.  On Facebook, automatically.

Here’s what struck me as the interesting part:  I posted because I had something to share and no one immediately present to share it with.  Does that mean I wanted someone here, in my house, to tell it to?  Oh hell no.  It was a long, people-intense day and right now my little house feels like my own private sanctuary.  BUT … I find it interesting that it was my need to communicate OUT that caused me to automatically log on and share the quote.  And that – I think – is sort of the point.  That, and the whole idea of social media being a double edged sword.    Now I have very strong opinions about both of those concepts, but I’ll stop here and let you think about them on your own. And yes, I know this ALSO means I should probably lay off Criminal Minds for a bit.   And – as always – feel free to comment.  ;- heh.

Marti

Matthew Gray Gubler as Spencer Reid

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wizardofoz5740

The Wizard of Oz was released by MGM in 1939, with music by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. I know every lyric of every song, and more of the spoken dialog than I’ll admit in public.  “Optimistic Voices” is the name of the short piece that plays when the gang first sees the Emerald City in the distance, and may be my favorite part of my favorite movie.  I love the 1930s style of the tune, and also get a kick out of Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow) looking around puzzled, as though he’s thinking, “Hey, where’s that music coming from?”  Just a tiny throwaway bit, but fun.

But it’s hard to understand the lyrics as sung by the choir in the flick. As many times as I’ve seen that movie (don’t even ask), I didn’t really know what they were singing until someone brought it to my attention a few years ago.  Harburg wrote the lyrics as a sort of as a “code” to an America which had just crawled out of an economic depression and a war. In an effort to find a clip that didn’t have an ad longer than the song, I found something really cool. The audio portion of the first link is actually Arlen and Harburg singing it in rehearsal for the choir to get a feel for it. How cool is that? Nevertheless, my main point of posting this is for the lyrics. Aren’t they great? So very simple…

Here’s the Arlen Harbug clip:
Optimistic Voices Rehearsal

And if you aren’t a movie trivia geek like me, here’s the actual scene from the movie:
Optimistic Voices Choir from the Wizard of Oz

And here are the lyrics.  If you’re still with me, I recommend opening the second clip and reading along while they sing ’em:

You’re out of the woods
You’re out of the dark
You’re out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light

Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the face of the earth or the sky
Hold onto your breath
Hold onto your heart
Hold onto your hope
March up to the gate and bid it open

You’re out of the woods
You’re out of the dark
You’re out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light
March up to the gate and bid it open, open…

Wishing you all – individually and collectively – sun, light, hope, open gates and glorious places in 2015 and beyond…
xo,
Marti

I was a fourth grader, and had spent Sunday at my grandparents’ farm.  I didn’t care whether we left and got home BEFORE The Ed Sullivan Show started, or whether we watched it at Baba’s and left after.  All I knew was – my ten year old self just had to see what the hype was all about.

By this time, I already was aware of how influenced we could by our friends or the cumulative roll of public opinion.  I couldn’t articulate it in those terms, but it made me cautious.  Excited but cautious.  Like … all this hoopla could be a crock.

So I waited.  Ed did his introduction, calling them “youngsters from Liverpool.”  I remember that he pronounced their name funny – everyone else said it was though it was spelled Beadles, but he said it, either as Bea Tells or Bea’les,  I found that odd.

Girls screamed their way through the intro, while my parents and uncles cracked jokes.  The camera switched to the performing stage and there were the Beatles. Weird hair (for the times) combed forward, matching suits, looking pretty much like they did in photos we’d seen.  Okay, let’s see what this —

“one, two, three four…”

“Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you, tomorrow I’ll miss you, remember I’ll always be true…”

From the first three words, I was transported.    Where?  I don’t know.  It wasn’t just that I developed an immediate crush on Paul. It was about the whole experience.  All these years later I still cannot explain it.  The best I can do is say this – some gut-deep part of me that I didn’t know existed was opened, awakened.  It was exciting.  Scary exciting.  We had laughed at the photos of British teens fainting in a state of hysteria but as I watched them, I understood.  As dramatic as this might seem to those who were not “there” – it was a true paradigm shift.

And the first of many such shifts, I have to say.  For the next six years, they did it over and over again.  Every Beatles album took us someplace new, someplace we hadn’t even imagined.  And the musical world followed.

As the band broke up, I continued to listen to them individually.  Loved Plastic Ono Band, thought All Things Must Pass was heaven. Switched loyalties among the four of them over the years (yes, Ringo, too), thought they all went on to great individual careers but I always missed the alchemy of “The Fab Four.” When I later learned what the word synergy meant, I understood it by thinking, “oh, like the Beatles.”  Alchemy, yes.  The universal elixir, turning base metals to gold.  That’s what it was.

In the past twenty years or so, younger friends have asked in in total earnestness:

“What was so great about the Beatles?”

When asked that, I pause.  I can tell them that everything they ever did, they were the first ones to do it.  I can site classics like Yesterday and rattle off a dozen tunes from the Lennon/McCartney song writing team.  I can point to George’s superior guitar skills, even at the young age of 22, or John’s cutting edge insights or Paul’s ability to know an audience.  But the truth is, I can’t explain it.

You had to be there.  You simply had to be there.

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I am from the mainland, a second generation American from Eastern European ancestry.  That is my background, my history.  My grandparents gave up everything they had and everyone they knew just for the privilege of living in America.  They never regretted it, never looked back.

I grew up in the same house for the first 18 years of my life before wanderlust grabbed me.  I moved from a steel town in Ohio to Miami, Florida, back to another part of of Ohio, to Denver, Colorado, Napa, California, Los Angeles and finally – nearly 28 years ago – to Hawaii.  First to the Big Island, then to Maui.

Yes, like so many others, I came to Hawaii from somewhere else.  I love the culture dearly but I am not Hawaiian. And I don’t try to “be” Hawaiian. I’m mostly grateful and happy that I live here.

Nevertheless, every January 17th, no matter how happy I am, I am overcome by a sadness. On this day, 121 years ago, the government of my country, the land that my grandparents gave up everything for, overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy.  Why?  Because the Queen’s desire for a new constitution which would bring a balance of power (BALANCE, not absolute) back to the Hawaiians might be a little troublesome to the American businessmen’s long term plans of trade and commerce.  Seriously.  That’s why.  The Hawaiian Islands was a monarchical kingdom that the US, represented by a small handful of men, then “conquered” for our convenience and profitability.

Sound familiar?  On my more radical days, it feels like it’s happening right here again with the whole 1% vs. 99% thing.  Or maybe not.  I don’t really know.

But back to the point.  When I first came to Hawaii, this revelation about the overthrow confused and upset me, made me sort of uncomfortable, even embarrassed.  I’m not sure why; my people were getting stomped on in Europe while this all happened.  But it did.

Now it just makes me sad.

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After choosing to step down in order to save the lives of her people, this is the attitude of Hawaii’s exiled monach. If you want to learn about compassion, selflessness and class, read about Queen Lili’uokalani.

Okay, Christmas..

For years I’ve tried to distill the meaning of Christmas into its essence, into something that doesn’t divide us, but instead offers something we can all relate to. And for me, it comes down to one concept:

Hope.

There the world was, a few thousand years ago, in the middle of political unrest, caught between a burgeoning economy and an expanding empire that utilized an increasingly brutal use of coercion to maintain that empire. In other words, things were kind of a mess.

In the middle of all this, a child was humbly born who would, as a young man, try to explain that rather than brute force and politics, the better (and frankly, more practical) route would be love and compassion. And to top it off, he tried to explain that every one of us carried the potential for those traits – love and compassion – within us. Really? Dang!

Hope.

Things are a little dark out there this year (arguing over whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Really?) but for me, a good focus for this time of year is to believe that he was right – that love and compassion do, in fact, exist within us all.

My wish for us all (myself included, lol) is that we are able to access those traits within ourselves.

Hope. Now THAT’s a gift.

star-body

I close the cover of Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, which had me entranced for an entire week and I think:

“Now what do I do with the rest of my life?”

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit.  But seriously – isn’t that the effect  of a good book?  By the first chapter, doesn’t it somehow nudge its way into the number one priority in your life?  Please tell me other people experience this.

A really great, engrossing novel is worse than being newly in love.  I go through the motions of my day – through the tasks of a job I love, interact with friends who I truly enjoy, all the while waiting for the moment I can get back to The Story.  Because that’s the key, right?  A great STORY.  Or is the the characters?  In this case, I absolutely know Alma.  I mean, I know her.

The Signature of All Things has me particularly baffled in this regard-

There is nothing about this book that should interest me.  Why in the world would I want to read about a nineteeth century botanist?  I care about neither.  There’s little dialog; all narrative.  But damn… She had me from the first chapter.

Over the past few months I’ve spent a lot of time reading “bargain basement fiction” – eBooks that cost less than a couple dollars.  It’s true that I’ve found a few gems there.  But mostly?  It’s been okay stories with amateurish writing skills.

How wonderful it feels to read something from an author who can actually WRITE.  If Eat, Pray, Love is all you know about Elizabeth Gilbert, please check out her other work.  I had no idea….

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