Tag Archives: social media

Love abounds from … strangers!

Our English language lacks the words to describe adequately the feeling that fills my heart at this moment.

My bride is ready to do battle with the cancer the team at Medical City/McKinney found inside her brain. Her resolve is remarkable, indeed.

What has been astonishing has been the love that has poured in from people we know quite well but, more to the point of this brief blog post, from those who barely know either of us or do not know us at all.

It is coming from individuals who are friends of friends of ours, or those who know our sons and our daughter-in-law. They are Facebook “friends” who read this blog.

Their support, prayers, good thoughts and karma coming toward us fill us both with gratitude beyond all humanly measure. It has been astonishing and in this challenging time it has helped sustain us as we seek to make sense of the changes in our life.

So … I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to those who have taken a few seconds or minutes to express their love and support for my heroic bride as she prepares to bulldog this latest of life’s challenges.

She is a champion of the first order. Her stellar and steady outlook is buttressed by the “thoughts and prayers” that come her way.

Thank you.


Everyone is famous … for 15 minutes!

Andy Warhol clearly was ahead of his time.

The avante garde artist once declared that “In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” I don’t believe he foresaw the advent of social media when he made that declaration.

But it has happened. Social media in all its forms have delivered fame to many millions of human beings who don’t deserve it, but who have it anyway.

Who knew?

To be brutally honest, the instant — if fleeting — fame is one of the aspects I detest about social media. I get that it’s an efficient way to get messages out there. I heard today how retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who got crossways with Donald Trump over the Ukraine matter that led to Trump’s first impeachment, continues to use Twitter to deliver his version of the truth.

Many of these instant celebrities have used social media, namely Twitter, just to promote themselves. That’s fine. I use Twitter, too, although my roster of followers is nowhere near where it is among many millions of others.

Thus, I cannot claim any sort of “fame.” No worries. I don’t intend to seek it.

I’m just going to sit on the sidelines and watch others grasp for fame. Many of them will get hold of it. They might keep it for a while.

I just wonder what Andy Warhol would be thinking today as we all watch his prediction pan out. He is likely laughing out loud!


Stop the lies!

The current political climate is giving me pause, forcing me to rethink a pledge I made on this blog many years ago, which was that censor or block anyone on my social media network because of their politics.

You know, of course, that I consider myself to be a “center-left” blogger. I extol what I call “good government progressivism.” That’s another way of saying that I do not accept some of the wacky progressive notions being tossed around. Free college for everyone? A non-starter, man.

But wait! There are a ton of individuals on the MAGA right wing of the great divide who keep telling lies. They use my blog to foment those lies when I comment on them. They will respond to a comment I offer about why I consider The Big Lie – the one about alleged theft of the 2020 presidential election – to be a threat to democracy. They say there was widespread fraud. Yet they provide the same amount of evidence of such fraud as the Godfather of The Big Lie, Donald Trump: none!

I am not going to be a pansy about criticism of my comments. I don’t mind receiving barbs. Seriously. It’s OK with me. What troubles me are the lies that critics use to buttress their shameful responses.

They contend that President Biden is suffering from a lack of cognition. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They continue to insist that Biden wasn’t elected POTUS legitimately. Texas has a congressman, first-term Republican Ronny Jackson, who insists that Democrats are seeking to destroy the nation’s democratic process. He is full of sh**!

All of this leads to ponder whether I want to renege on my pledge to allow this blog to be an open forum for discussion. Well, I won’t take it back. I am not going to allow the fomenting of lies.


Change is inexorable

The more I lament the changes occurring in the world of media and in the delivery of news and commentary, the more I realize that I likely am seeking to do the impossible.

That would be to stop the inexorable, inevitable change that is occurring right in front of us in real time.

Now that I have recognized the obvious, I ought to declare my belief that there always will be a need for people who do what I did with great joy — and modest success — for nearly 37 years.

There just will be fewer of them and they will deliver the information — and, yes, the commentary — in different forms.

I have lamented the shocking (in my view) decline in newspapers’ standing in people’s lives and in the communities where they live. Two Texas newspapers where I worked — the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise — both have gone through grievous slashings of staff and resources in this changing media climate. The absence of reporters blanketing the communities served by these newspapers has taken some adjustment for many of us.

Then I have to remind myself that someone, somewhere, in some capacity is writing text that tells communities about what is happening there. They’re delivering that news via those “digital platforms,” which newspapers still are struggling to understand sufficiently to make enough money to keep going.

That brings me to one more point: There was a time as recently as the early 1990s when newspapers were highly profitable for their owners while at the same carrying huge payroll expenses. I heard of mid-sized daily newspapers operating at a 40% profit margin. I can tell you that there are more than a few Fortune 500 company executives who would kill for that kind of bottom line. It well might be that newspapers got lazy and didn’t think enough “outside the proverbial box” to prepare for the change that arrived suddenly in the early 2000s.

As sad as I get at times at the demise of the industry where I worked for so long and which gave me so much joy, my sadness is offset by the realization that I no longer must live in the middle of that turmoil every working day of my life.

I’ll leave that to the up-and-comers who are joining the fight.


Calling all comments!

As much as I enjoy blogging and foisting my world view on those who take the time to read my musings, I now want to express an annoying frustration with High Plains Blogger.

It is the lack of varied responses. My blog draws responses from a narrowly defined audience, as best I can tell.

Do not get me wrong. I appreciate those who do take the time to comment on my offerings. They read them on a few social media platforms I use to distribute these posts. I also am acutely aware that High Plains Blogger is being read by a worldwide audience. Readers from dozens of countries on every continent inhabited by human beings have read these offerings.

More to the point. I am astounded at how so few of them take the time to comment on the “reply” block on the bottom of my blog posts published on Word Press. One guy is a regular commenter. He’s a critic of this blog. I generally don’t engage in debate with him because there’s little point in individuals talking past each other. He won’t change my mind and I won’t change his mind.

Another gentleman chimes in on occasion, often to respond to the critic. I hear from maybe two or three other commenters who take the time to reply infrequently to my Word Press posts.

I guess I am using this post to call for greater, more varied response to my offerings.

Or … could it be that I am boring the readers of this blog? Gosh. I hope that’s not the case.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep slogging on with a word of thanks to those who take the time to read these messages. If you have a response to share, then by all means speak up.

Oh, and I fully expect the critic I mentioned earlier to offer his usual brand of venom.


Staying away from initialized responses

I want to say a few words about a trend that became prevalent with the advent of social media and about how — as a general rule — I choose to communicate like a semi-normal human being rather than relying on this social media trend.

The trend is the use of initialized phrases. You know what I mean: LOL, SMH, LMAO, BTW, ICYMI … whatever. I can’t remember ’em all.

What’s more, I am not at all nuts about other abbreviated word forms that appear on my Twitter text messages: plz and ur come to mind immediately.

I prefer to write in complete sentences, using actual words with real definitions that one can find in a standard desk dictionary.

Why mention this at all? I guess it’s because I fear we are bastardizing our language, turning this complex language called English into something not entirely recognizable.

It was bad enough that my journalism career contributed to the destruction of my penmanship skills. My fellow journalists out there know of which I speak. I was forced over many years to write as rapidly as I could to be sure I can publish the quotes accurately from the individuals who were doing the speaking.

The result was a gradual decline in penmanship … for which I received good grades when I was in elementary school. I once was proud of my handwriting. No more, man.

Social media have taken that destruction to another level.

I am somewhat active on social media. I use email, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn mostly. I just want to resist the urge to type those silly initialized references to phrases I normally would write or speak, although I do understand the reason for their existence in the first place: Twitter allows only a few characters to generate a message, so these are space-savers.

Oh, this modern method of communicating. It drives me nuts.


Trump legacy leaves scars

No matter what happens to Donald J. Trump and his political future, the individual’s legacy is going to leave lasting scars and wounds across the landscape.

The scars remain in the millions of destroyed friendships his presence on the political scene has inflicted.

I know of what I speak. I have lost some friends over the past five years because of disagreements over Trump’s “contributions” to American life. I blame Trump for that.

It sickens me terribly to admit these relationships have been torn asunder because of disagreements over policy. Except that Trump brings out the worst in many of us. I count myself as a casualty.

Even during the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, I maintained friendships through serious disagreements about President Nixon’s role in that hideous crisis. Of course, there was no such thing as “social media” in those days. We relied on TV and radio and printed media in the form of newspapers and magazines. These days, the communication is instantaneous, and it allows those of us to say things without giving our remarks a first– let alone a second — thought before speaking out.

Trump has mastered the manipulation of social media to the extent that he knows the impact he has on people’s relationships.

What troubles me the most is that some of these severed relationships — not many, mind you, but a few of them — involve people with whom I have been friends. Others, though, have involved individuals with whom I have casual contact, or who I have known only through social media. If they decide they dislike my world view and my loathing of Trump, they’re free to go their own way. I have done the same thing.

Many relationships have remained intact, largely because we don’t discuss politics when we’re in each other’s presence.

It’s the actual friendships lost that I mourn.

For that I will not forgive the source of that loss.

Damn you, Donald Trump!


Social media produces kindness

Many of you know my thoughts on social media. It at times gives me grief, but then again it can result in positive thoughts and actions among those who consume its content.

I heard a story today on a morning TV news show about a group of Tarrant County, Texas, athletes who are playing benefit baseball games to assist people in need. How did they get the word out to round up athletes to take part? Social media.

My wife noted this morning how social media outlets have produced these acts of kindness and compassion. Back in the Dark Ages when we were that age, she reminded me, we didn’t have that kind of instant communication available. Many of us did do wonderful things for people in those days, but we often had to look hard for opportunities, as they weren’t presented to us regularly on smart phones and computer tablets … which didn’t exist!

We would volunteer our time though our houses of worship or through schools.

These days, we hear about youngsters gathering up their resources at the latest alert they get via social media and distribute some of their treasure to those who need it.

This is an example of social media bringing out the best among our young people. Yes, I know there are those who act out badly as a result of bullying and other social media contacts.

I just want to offer a good word to those young people who — when alerted via social media about suffering that occurs around them — put their high energy to work for the good of others.

Y’all make us proud.


A flash from recent past worth repeating

The picture you see here takes me back. It was taken in 1961. It shows two presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy and the man he succeeded, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Kennedy won the 1960 election by a razor-thin margin over Richard Nixon, who served as vice president in the Eisenhower administration.

What precisely are these men discussing as they stroll through the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md.? Beats me.

But the picture came with some text that someone posted on Facebook. It reads in part:

This is not a political post. I am posting as a service to Facebook users too young to recall such times. This is a picture of President Kennedy, a Democrat, and former President Eisenhower, a Republican … It hasn’t always been, “I won and you lost.” We used to understand that we are all better together than we are when grouped in opposing camps. Competition is fine, as long as you understand who you are competing against. It’s not productive to burn something down, just so you can stand on the smoldering ashes.

This photo seems rather quaint, but it’s also instructive to those who have no memory of how we used to function at the highest level of our government. Men succeeded each other at the pinnacle of power and the individual who ceded that power to his successor made himself available to provide counsel and advice.

We haven’t seen this occur in recent times. The most recent presidential election, tragically, has resulted in perpetuating hatred among Americans of differing points of view.

The cause of that ill will is clear to me: It comes from the defeated candidate for president in 2020 refusing to concede that he lost. His refusal has fed the anger that still burns among those who follow him down some path to oblivion.

I am no Pollyanna. I know there is a way to restore the collegiality that formerly existed between those of differing political parties. It can start simply with the defeated former president doing what is right. He could stand before a crowd of journalists and call put an end to The Big Lie, the one he repeats by telling us about phony allegations of “widespread voter fraud.”

It won’t happen. I just thought it helpful to show you how it used to be … and how it could be once again.


Silly me … so much for offering a different view

Gosh, I guess I was more optimistic about my membership in a social media group than I should ever have been.

I joined a conservative group on Facebook several months ago. I joined to read what the other side is saying about issues of the day. My eyes have been opened, not because I am surprised, but by the various directions certain arguments are able to take from those seeking to make a point.

That’s all fine.

Then I chimed in this morning with a comment about former national security adviser Michael Flynn. A member of this group called Flynn an “honorable man.” Bear in mind that the retired Army lieutenant general set a dubious record by serving just 24 days before he was kicked out for lying to the FBI. I merely questioned the individual’s assertion that Flynn is honorable.

Then came the push back.

To be clear, it wasn’t vicious or malicious. It was, um, just pointed and it told me in clear terms that the folks who belong to this group are in no mood to hear from someone with my particular bias; they are interested only in hearing the bias expressed by those with whom they agree.

I suppose I need to recognize that liberal-leaning social media groups aren’t inclined to welcome thoughts from those on the right. There. I just did recognize that lefties’ bias is as intractable as those who oppose them.

The only criticism I heard that compels to respond directly came from someone who accused me of adhering to the “fake news” media outlets. I will say only that Donald J. Trump and his cabal of cultists are the masters of promoting “fake news.” Example? The Big Lie about the 2020 election being stolen and rigged. That is as “fake” as it gets!

Hey, I won’t take any of it personally. I’ll just be sharing my world view on this blog, which is open to anyone who wants to read it … even those who disagree with it.

If so, let me know what you think. I won’t bite back … I promise!