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Our culture obsesses overdetermination, grit, tenacity, victory. We are told over and over that hard work pays off, and that quitting is inexcusable. What we don’t hear is that accomplishment isn’t synonymous with happiness and that moving on can be an act of self-preservation.

The first “job” I dreamed of when I was young was a prima ballerina. I didn’t know anything about ballet, but my mother signed me up for dance classes, and I instantly fell in love with my ballet teacher. She was long and graceful—did I say long, I meant, looooonnnggg—and that’s what I wanted to be. Plus, I was a naturally quiet, introverted person, and dance was this revelation. I didn’t have to speak a word to anyone. Well, there’s value in imagination, no? It took no time for me to reconcile the size of my talent and the size of my body and how picking a new job was the smart decision.

I figure I went through a list of 400 different “jobs” that I wanted when I grew up. And then, when I grew up, I went through a list of another 400 (easily). The commonality in every job I’ve held is writing. It infiltrated every role I held in marketing and advertising. It held the top billing when I was a copywriter and a copy editor. As a communications director, writing markedly consumed my day-to-day. Even as an HOA manager, I wrote a great deal. Have you ever lived in a homeowner’s association? In that case, you’ve more than likely received a violation letter for leaving your trash out, or perhaps for your barking dog. 

Fact: I’m not a gifted conversationalist. I’m overly shy and unsure, and I tend to blurt out groan-inducing sentences that make a mockery of the subject I’m speaking on. But when I sit down to write …  and earn my pay … I can sound smart. I think it’s because I think differently when I’m writing. I have time for reverie and rumination. I can feel sections of my brain light up when I write but barely flicker when I talk. I bet if I spoke to you about all this right now, different words and phrases would be coming out, and I’d be boring the pants off you. 

It’s a safe bet I’ll always write. I’ll revel in it as much as grind over it. (If we ever text, you’ll notice full and complete, grammatically correct sentences that may even carry a story arc. What U will nvr C is this.) 

Alas, these days, the only conversations I’m having and the only writing I’m doing is swirling around Covid-related sentiment and the 2020 election. In conversation, as well as in my writing, I know I sound like a certifiable lunatic. I’ve lost politeness. I’ve strayed from being reserved. I don’t go in for small talk. And I chatter on these two topics, pantomiming wildly while making horrible faces.

Again, accomplishment isn’t synonymous with happiness, and moving on can be an act of self-preservation. I had the intention to tell you that after the election, I would be getting back to writing light-heartedly and on every other subject under the sun. But, 500+ words later, I can’t bring myself to say it, much less commit to it. The current narrative has really opened my eyes, and there’s no turning back.

I’m worried about humanity. 

I’m concerned about how technology is designed, controlled, and used. 

I’m frightened of the power of social media. 

I’m worried about schools and what they’re teaching the next generation – my granddaughter’s generation.

I’m saddened over the loss of trustworthy journalism. 

Wildly, I believe one similar story connects each of these. That story is the social dilemma

(See how I played the name of my blog. That right there is what I call perfect ninja-like embroidery!)

What I’m saying is, I can’t let go of any of this. I can’t talk about it because I have a low degree of conversation skills, but I can write about it. And “that” just might be my self-preservation in disguise.  So I hope you like my lunatic. I’m going to be on this topic for a while. In fact, I’ve already registered (FREE) to sit in on a conversation: The Ethics of Technology and Its Impact on Public Health.

Do you think the media is pushing a narrative?

Breaking News: Remember the day Nancy was outraged when Trump called her a third-rate politician. Still, only that very morning, she called him a traitor?

My faith and confidence in objective media are all but lost. And it is scaring the bejeezus out of me. Anyone else feeling the same? (And are you up for some stats?)

This will sound a bit harsh, but here goes: these partisan hacks working for these networks don’t care what the polls say, as long as they have advertisers and an audience. How can a reporter stand in front of a burning building and claim it is a peaceful protest? How can Brian Stelter say, “Fox is so mean to Joe Biden. There isn’t any network that goes after Trump.”

Ignorant bots.

Onward.

Note: These findings are based on more than 20,000 interviews collected between November 2019 and February 2020 – before the novel coronavirus led to a global pandemic and protests for racial justice swept the nation:

  • 86% of Americans see “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of political bias in today’s news coverage (up almost double from 2017, 45%)
  • 69% of Americans are concerned about bias in the news other people are getting than they worry about their own information being biased (29%)
  • Nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) say they see too much bias in the reporting of the news as “a major problem” (up from 65% in 2017)
  • 82% of Americans perceive inaccurate news to be intentional – either because the reporter is misrepresenting the facts or making them up entirely
  • Nearly 8 in 10 Americans (79%) say news organizations they distrust are trying to persuade people to select a particular viewpoint
  • 71% of Republicans have a “very” or “somewhat” opposed opinion of the news media, compared to 22% of Democrats and 52% of independents
  • 70% of Democrats say the media is under attack, and those attacks are not justified, compared to 61% of Republicans who say the attacks are justified
  • Less than 1 in 5 Americans under age 30 (19%) have an unfavorable view of the media, compared to 44% of Americans aged 65 and older who have a “very” or “somewhat” favorable idea of the media
  • Priorities cited by Americans who say media organizations should hire for more diversity differ by race and political party:
    • Democrats (49%) and Blacks (60%) prioritize racial/ethnic diversity in hiring
    • Republicans (51%) and Whites (35%) prioritize diversity in political views
  • 4 in 5 Americans (78%) say the spread of misinformation online is “a major” problem – exceeding all other challenges by the media
  • 62% of Americans say it is harder rather than easier to be well-informed because of all the sources of information available
  • 41% of Americans pay attention to one or two trusted sources while 31% consult a variety of sources to see where they agree
    • 17% have ceased to pay attention to news altogether
  • 84% of Americans say the media bears “a great deal” or “moderate amount” of the blame for the political division
    • The same percentage says the media can heal these divisions
  • Download the full report here:

Are you following the herd?

Animals, when in groups, can make wildly smart or critically stupid decisions. For instance, sheep blindly follow the flock no matter where they go just because that’s what the herd is doing. 

Well, as social animals, people act similarly to sheep. Social psychologists have studied and cited that situations often make people act a certain way, undoubtedly following the crowd. Consider, for a moment, the concept of group polarization. The idea is that like-minded people in a group reinforce one another’s viewpoints. Group polarization, in nature, strengthens the opinions of each person in the group. Good marketers perhaps know this best. I mean, marketing doesn’t have to persuade us that a product is good; it only needs to say others think so. (And now I’ve given you the secret sauce to marketing.)

Clearly, others affect our behavior.

We all like to think we’re innately good and that we’re capable of making our own choices. But our penchant for doing good and our individual preferences have less to do with our innate character and more to do with the situations we find ourselves in. One reason for this is that we live in a challenging world. We use others’ decisions as a heuristic (that’s right, I used that big word), or mental shortcut, to navigate our lives. We believe that we’d be the person who will stand up to evil and that our personal sense of right and wrong would prevail over the herd mentality. But history and psychology show that given certain circumstances, only one out of four of us have the guts to stand up and say, “I don’t agree, and I won’t participate.” 

Compliance with social norms is an integral part of our evolutionary psychology. Back when we lived in tribes, adhering to those norms meant we didn’t get banished into the wastelands for acting the wrong way.

Unfortunately, our compliance with small things ensures that we’ll either be complicit or even participate when the big, bad things happen.

And big, bad things are happening.

There is no doubt that the progression of Covid-19 has been messy and complicated. The news is ALWAYS frightening. Day after day, we hear reports of spikes, new spikes, hotspots, rising hospitalization rates… 

It hasn’t gone away, and people are genuinely scared of the virus.

Around June, I think, someone went on camera and told us the only way to end Covid-19, and the only way to stop people from dying is by wearing face coverings. Four minutes later, cities and counties across the nation implemented mask-wearing mandates in public. You can’t enter a store, ride public transportation, or sit at the park without a face covering. Universal masking – comply with this mandate. 

That’s it. Simply comply. 

There is no science behind this order, just conjecture. 

Let’s look at gyms. Ongoing research by mxmetrics.com searches for outbreak tracing at gyms across the country. They collect granular check-in data. Between May 1 and August 6, 2020, 2,873 gyms across the country took part and provided their data. The result: out of 49.4 million-member check-ins over three months, there was zero evidence that positive cases originated in the gym, and the infection rate was .0023%. This equates to a visits-to-virus ratio of 42,731:1. 

Gyms (at least here in Arizona) require members to wear masks at all times.

Sidebar: In about 10 years, studies will show mass numbers of healthy gym-goers dropped like flys during universal mask mandates. I cannot believe it is safe to engage in vigorous exercise while covering your mouth and nose, thereby constricting breathing. 

The urge to conform to a group is more potent than you think. 

Many times, people become part of a group or mob without even knowing. Masking up at the gym is evidence. There is no science behind the mask mandate. The numbers unequivocally refute the idea that masks are necessary. But the herd wears masks while they workout.

The automatic response to conform is called automatic mimicry. Automatic mimicry is when you follow along without questioning the action or behavior. 

If you haven’t guessed, I am an anti-masker. I think that science should guide public health policy. Still, much of our country has apparently developed a herd mentality when it comes to Covid-19. I’m also opposed to groupthink. 

When a group collectively rationalizes its decisions without evaluating alternative ideas or viewpoints and demonize those who are not part of the group, they risk not seeing dangers. 

Dangers, like the loss of civil liberties.

Dangers, like creating a no-criticism culture.

Dangers, like creating a no-criticism decision-making policy.

Dangers, like losing individuality and logic.

Dangers, like losing common sense and reason.

Dangers, like losing truth and understanding. 

If we continue to align ourselves with one-sided groupthink… if we continue to follow the herd like the sheep do… we will undoubtedly make the world an even more hostile environment than it already is.

The bottom line: Free thought and the expression of that free thought once made America great. We need to stop suppressing our voicing of the truth.

That’s it.  Simply, don’t be sheep.

So what am I missing?

  • Coronavirus is a potentially deadly virus.
  • 7.5 million Americans have been infected.
  • 210k+ Americans have died from it.
  • Our government used it to take away our inalienable rights – in particular:
    • To work and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor.
    • To move freely within the country or to another country.
    • To worship or refrain from worshipping within a freely-chosen religion.
    • To think freely.
  • Only 6% of the reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are solely attributable to coronavirus.
  • We quarantined and closed the country to “slow the spread.”
  • We did not quarantine and close the country to eradicate the virus.
  • We quarantined for months and still got sick.
  • We opened the country, and we’re still getting sick.
  • We were told masks wouldn’t help. We got sick.
  • We are told we must wear a mask, or we won’t be allowed in the store/bank/restaurant/gym/insert name of any business here. We’re still getting sick.
  • We know more about the virus now than we did eight months ago – which means it’s no longer something we don’t know anything about.
  • We know who is more vulnerable to complications, should they get the virus.
  • We know who is more vulnerable, by age, should they get the virus.
  • The media, the critics, and the debate moderators say this is the most critical issue, and it’s on the top of everyone’s minds. The political spin is that this will make or break President Trump’s re-election.

In summary, whether we stay in our homes or go outside, we can get sick. Whether we wear a mask or not, we can get sick. We know if we have a compromised immune system or any disease/health challenge, we’re more at risk. If we’re 65+ in age or older, we’re more at risk. We know we cannot completely rid the world from this virus now that it is here.

So why are people still hung up on this? Knowledge is power, and we have tons of knowledge, right! We can decide if we want to go outside or to that neighborhood BBQ or trick-or-treating. “To think freely” is not only our inalienable right, but it’s also a POWER.

So what am I missing?

So tell me — why.

Thought leaders, social media influencers, and even Ted-talkers advise us about the power that comes from “finding our why.” They tell us “our why” comes from within us, and that it is precisely what drives us. Indeed, only when we know our “why” will we be able to move our life onto a totally new, more challenging and more fulfilling path. They explain, knowing our “why” helps us make more intentional choices. 

It is our mission statement.

It is our conviction.

It is our core source of motivation.

It is hogwash.

It is a brick wall.

Stay with me for a minute.

In the 1940s, Viktor E. Frankl was held captive in a Nazi concentration camp. Through the pain and agony, what kept Frankl from giving up was, yes, his purpose… his “why.” But he found meaning in his fight, and that’s what gave him the strength to push forward through a life that was filled with indescribable pain. 

Let me repeat this: He found meaning in his fight. He didn’t fill his days imagining his purpose following his release; he was “living on purpose.” 

This isn’t a case of “potato, potahto.” Waiting to live until you know your purpose and living on purpose is entirely different.

No matter how hard we try, we can’t force ourselves to find our “why.” 

Not today. Not tomorrow. Not next month. I’ve tried. You see, at some point in life, we have to stop thinking about taking action and act. In other words, finding the right direction in life is something we can create by exploring and experimenting. When we shift the lens in which we view what we’re doing, we change its experience. 

In the past, just thinking about finding my purpose would make me sweat.

My stomach would be tied up in knots searching for answers to questions like, what’s my higher calling? What makes me come alive? And quite bluntly, what should I be doing with my life? 

Butttttt… what if our purpose is very different than what these Ted-talkers are telling us? What if…

Our “why” has nothing to do with what we do. 

There, I said it. Our “why” has nothing to do with what we do. In fact, our purpose is quite simple. It’s to awaken, to discover, and to nurture who we indeed are. It’s to know and love ourselves at the deepest level and guide ourselves back home when we lose our way. The more we do this, the more aware and present we become, creating more harmony in our lives. Everything else is our intense passion, inspired mission, job, hobby, and so on. While these things are powerful and very worthy, they’re not our purpose. Our purpose is much, much bigger than that.

This profound understanding of purpose is felt right in the soul of my bones. 

It diffuses the frustration I experience when my work isn’t appreciated or when my efforts are overlooked or criticized. Sometimes people will treasure my work, sometimes they won’t. Sometimes I’ll get the gig, sometimes I won’t. I’ll be thanked, and I’ll be taken for granted. I’ll give, and I’ll get nothing in return. I’ll be “Liked,” and I’ll be unfriended. That’s life. But, so then what? I have no purpose or meaning?

Absolutely, positively not. 

Tying my worth to that yo-yo circus is exhausting, discouraging, and even makes me resentful. But if I anchor my purpose within, sweet friend, I’m bound to find things I’m ridiculously good at, and I’ll never feel lost or stuck. And as for brick walls, well, I’ll just shift my lens.

Something is transpiring. How woke are you?

I don’ been woke when the pandemic exploded on the scene. I swear it shattered my illusion about everything … from how I view myself to how I interact with society and the world. And how local governments handled the pandemic was pretty tragic. They literally destroyed absolutism for me. This thing let me go to bed at night, trusting things would still be here in the morning. Now I wake up each day afraid to watch the news. It’s really altered my sense of being in the world. It’s like I no longer look in the mirror or at people the same way. 

Let’s get back to being woke.

Like most words, the history of woke is a surprisingly long one. The term was first used in the 1800s, but back then, it only meant the act of not being asleep. Fast forward a few centuries, and the new definition is being ‘well-informed, up-to-date.’ In recent years, both the word and the phrase ‘get woke’ have taken on a life of their own. I’m using ‘woke’ as a one-word way of encouraging people to pay political attention. 

Let’s begin here.

July 2016: Russiagate. Hillary Clinton, the then-presidential candidate, created a fake Trump/Russian collusion. Adam Schiff propelled it. President Barack Obama, the CIA and the FBI knew about it and withheld it from the House and the Senate. John Ratcliffe just made it transparent to the world

In 2014 (maybe even earlier), the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) showed their teeth. In 2016, they released far-left policy proposals. Their political platform took on a “see no evil” approach. In 2020, BLM demonstrations and political violence surge to an all-time destructive high: they burn cities and destroy businesses. They murder people and terrorize citizens. Celebrities, athletes, big-tech, and major corporations hang signs declaring their support to BLM. Talk about tragedy.

2020 election: the democrats show *their* teeth and are blatant with their attempts to destroy America. The democratic-led effort to oust President Trump is as unprecedented as it is outrageous. This is quite true. Their goal is to regain power, even if they have to take down the entire country to get it. They want to change the principles that our country was founded on and which continue to shape our future. Liberals want to rewrite the Constitution, impose race quotas, move to a new American Anthem, and even “Rebalance the art shown in museums across the country.”

If-then statements.

If we don’t start thinking beyond ourselves and being aware of how we fit into a global ecosystem, then we’re cooked. Granted, I’ve only given you snippets and not a lot of substance, but do your own research. Read. Watch. Subscribe to the sources you trust. Look past the tweets and move beyond emotions. What’s important to you? What do you care about? The economy? Healthcare? Taxes? A vaccine for coronavirus? The First Amendment? Maybe the Second Amendment? How about national security, building our military and caring for our Veterans? If you research both sides then you will be an informed voter.

If we don’t get woke to what’s at stake, then what…?