Mormonism, Politics and Why I’m Saying Bye to Social Media

Guys, I’m so tired. I feel physically tired, mostly because this afternoon while out I was suddenly hit with an enormous wave of depression that has left me alternately sad and apathetic and filled with physical pain.

And also the title is probably overly dramatic, because I’m really only peacing out to Facebook for now because people tend to be less dickhead-ish on Instagram. I have some friends with very adorable children whose lives I need to follow somehow and a makeup business to maintain, after all, so I can’t just go off the grid entirely (although writing that makes me think, “But maybe I could.”).

I’m going to say this once, and then I’m never saying it again on a public forum (and I assure you, I am filled with a lot of trepidation over even mentioning it in a not-very-publicized or even read blog, fear that I will be attacked by racists and/or misogynists or, even worse, friends who claim they love and respect me): I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I’ve been planning on it since 2012 and haven’t read anything that’s changed my position or made me think I’m making the wrong decision for myself. For a much better, more detailed explanation than I could ever give about the root of Hillary’s problems is that she is, unfortunately, a woman, check out this amazing article here (you’re not going to read it, are you? You’re going to skip it and have already thought up horrible things to say to me. Go ahead. I won’t read it for awhile anyhow.). Plenty of men, plenty of politicians, plenty of Republicans have done many of the same “egregious” and “unforgivable” things with little to no consequence, but America can’t seem to give her a pass. Do I love her? Not really. But I certainly don’t despise her, and I think she’d make a very fine president. Anyhow, I didn’t want to say it, but it’s important that you know my stance before I get into the rest of my post.

I am faced with two pretty glaring problems, however: 1. I am a liberal living in a predominately VERY conservative state and 2. social media has turned us all into argumentative, vicious monsters who are quick to anger and slow to forgive. We speak loudly and carry multiple big sticks (or assault rifles, you know. Whatever.), and we believe it is our God given right to tell everyone how wrong they are. I abstain from this behavior because my anxiety can’t take it, I respect my friends, and I think by now it’s been VERY effectively proven that arguing online neither changes minds nor strengthens bonds. It’s a whole new world of us vs. them, but we’re sacrificing families and long-lasting friendships in the name of being champion. If that isn’t America’s tragedy, I’m not sure what is.

Growing up Mormon, I’ve spent a lot of time questioning certain aspects of the religion, periods of disbelief, and moments of quiet contemplation, but I certainly don’t claim to know all there is to know about Mormonism. So most of what I’m about to say is kind of the Gospel According to Mary, and you may take it as you will.

Election years always bring to mind Article of Faith #12, which states: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law (emphasis added).” So basically what it’s saying is we will uphold the law (except when it comes to driving down I-15 apparently) and we will honor and sustain our lawmakers, which includes but is not limited to our president, and that’s the rub, isn’t it? We claim to believe we will honor (which can mean respect, not attack or cyber-bully, or spread lies and rumors) the President of the United States of America, but in a religion that is somehow very Republican (and for those of you not particularly familiar with the Church, we are not told to vote one way or another — this is just how the cookie has crumbled, politically, within the Church’s culture for decades, and damned if I understand it), that’s pretty hard when the president is a Democrat. And I’ll say this goes the other way as well, of course, although the last time we had a Republican in office, social media certainly hadn’t taken off in the way it has today, but Democrats are not exempt from this particular Article of Faith. We don’t have to agree or like it, but we have to be respectful.

Newsflash: most aren’t. #religiouspeopleamirite

This year’s election, which simply cannot come to an end faster for me, has also brought to mind Article of Faith #13, which states: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men … (emphasis added).” So this says very plainly that Mormons believe in not spreading lies, gossip, rumors, or falsehoods, and that we will bestow upon all others benevolence (which is defined as offering charity and goodwill) and virtue (which is defined as moral uprightness). I mean, basically we claim to believe in being literally the best versions of ourselves, kind, tender, forgiving, and honest. So I find myself utterly confused when I see dozens of Mormons all around me (and this is just within my circle of friends and acquaintances — I have no doubt in my mind that there are thousands, if not millions, of Mormons capable of this as well) posting anti-Hillary sentiments on a daily basis. It’s easy to repost a meme or a picture or an article or something that’s awful (even if it may be true). And apparently (and I’m speculating here, but I feel pretty confident in my assumption) Mormons believe in being benevolent to and honest about anyone except for Hillary Clinton because somehow she doesn’t fall under the umbrella of “all men” (I could say something again about misogyny but I don’t want to beat a dead horse). So that’s weird to me. And I feel like there’s some sort of discord and disconnect.

I’ve been heartbroken this year, particularly, to see individuals whom I held in very high esteem be, quite frankly, terrible humans online. It’s shaken my faith, it’s made me question why I belong to the Church still, in spite of everything, and I imagine Joseph Smith, who was martyred in the name of this religion, coming down from the proverbial mount with the 13 Articles of Faith, a modern-day Moses who just received the Ten Commandments, weeping because we’ve built a golden calf and do nothing but idolize it all day long.

The Internet is Ruining Our Lives

When I was a senior in college, taking a senior capstone course in the American Studies department of Utah State (not even including a link to it because it’s a joke … American Studies degrees are jokes), we were assigned the final project of a paper and presentation on a good example of contested space. You know, like how white men came on over and took all of the indigenous peoples’ land and then reallocated it to them, like they had the right. So the degree gave me a certain perspective on America. I can’t help it — take a colonial American history class from the perspective of the native people, and you’ll get all the feels, too. Anyhow, things like ANWAR were chosen, and I decided on MySpace.

Image courtesy of underconsideration.com

Image courtesy of underconsideration.com

Because I’m old. I know. MySpace isn’t cool anymore.

At the time, the Am Studies advisor wasn’t particularly pleased with my decision, although she never told me I couldn’t choose such a topic (I was the only one who wrote and presented on anything pop culture related), and I did get a B as my final grade, so I guess I can’t complain too much. But I did find myself remarkably jealous of all the Am Studies students of BYU last semester who were required to write about things occurring in LA, which … my how the times have changed. She wasn’t familiar with MySpace outside of knowing the name and the general idea of it (social networking? Really? That’s not going to last.), which I think added to her distaste for my decision, and it wasn’t till post-college, a couple years ago, when I realized my paper and presentation were actually awesome. Till then, I’d felt kind of like a failure.

Being a secretary not using her college degree may have added to that.

My thesis was simple: social networking will ultimately alter the way society interacts with itself. Now I realize this seems like a big huge “duh,” but remember I was graduating back in 2006, when Facebook was primarily known as that website for high school students, with no News Feed, ads, suggestions, subscriptions, likes, etc. etc. et cetera. At the time, I think a lot of us weren’t totally aware of how much social networking had changed (AOL chat rooms? Do they still exist even?) and how much it would change us.

The sole reason I decided to make a foray into likening social networking to contested space was because I’d found some scriptures at the Institute building, chock full of personal notes, and I thought the person might want them back. There was one lone email address written inside, and I thought even if it didn’t belong to the original owner, perhaps this friend/acquaintance might know to whom they did belong. So I reached out — I explained the situation, and then I waited for a response. And I got one — the guy didn’t know who it belonged to, couldn’t remember even giving out his email address, and then at the end of what I thought was a simple, almost professional correspondence, asked if I was single.

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org. For more information on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visit http://www.lds.org

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org. For more information on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visit http://www.lds.org

Um, dude. What if I am someone’s grandma. I wasn’t, as it turned out, but I was so thrown by this inquiry (something that I imagine most current readers are rolling their eyes at and muttering to themselves, “What is wrong with her? Totally harmless question.”) that I turned it into an entire senior project. Because who asked questions like that? Who was this guy? What would he have done had I responded? (I did not, by the way, because I am not in the business of becoming the topic of the nighttime news.) Where did he come off? It all seemed really peculiar, and I couldn’t help but imagine social networking was partially to blame.

And I still hold pretty firmly to that. We are a voyeuristic species — we want to know what’s going on in other peoples’ lives all the time, even if it turns out to be stupid or mundane or embarrassing (why else does “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” continue airing? Yeah). And what’s worse (and of course I am lumping myself into this group because you’ll probably be hard pressed to find another person who is as addicted to all forms of social networking as I), we’re more than happy to publish it for all the world. Because at the end of the day, despite how creepy we think voyeurism may be, we want to be noticed, to be followed, to be low-level stalked because it makes us feel important/interesting. People want their lives to be witnessed. So we publish all the things and we share it with strangers, and there’s been a huge shift in communication between “Hi, you’re a stranger, I’ll make a little small talk with you” to “Hi, you’re a stranger, and whatever you won’t tell me about yourself I’ll find on the internet, so you may as well tell me now.” We ask questions that would make our grandparents roll over in their graves , we overshare information that still makes our parents cringe.

And it’s continued to (d)evolve. I find myself opening up to acquaintances much earlier on in potential relationships than I would have even three years ago, and it will probably continue to be that way. It just is what it is, and despite probably our lamest efforts to fight it, we lose every time. I’ve always been something of an oversharer, and the internet and social networking have only perpetuated that. It’s a weird place to be, my friends. I want to stop, I don’t.

Thus enters the Internet Chain Letter. You know how these used to be — those lame email forwards your uncle would send out to the whole family that you’d skim and then put in your junk box because you didn’t even want to bother with it. We used to hate chain letters, and yet now it’s almost as if, as a society, we applaud them. We encourage them. And we act like they’re our human right and that we are entitled to share them with everyone. Literally everyone.

Image courtesy of memebase.cheezburger.com

Image courtesy of memebase.cheezburger.com

One of the more recent chain letters — a rant from a single Texas mom to President Obama that went almost immediately viral — spurned so many feelings and thoughts within myself, I almost sat right down at this very blog and responded in kind with my own letter. And suddenly I realized — that simply made me one of them. And under all circumstances, may God forbid that I ever become one of them. So I ranted about it to Husband (bless his heart for listening to me when I share things with him I want to share with the world) and talked it over with a few friends and sort of got it out of my system. I mean, I totally get it — you write something that potentially thousands of people might read, you feel validated and important and right, and frankly I know no one who doesn’t love the exhilarating experience of being right.

And then we sit back and we wonder how cyber-bullying suddenly got so out of hand, how abhorrent people got their own television shows, how we’re walking around every day, way more stressed and frustrated about everything far more than we ever should. We don’t like the President, we do; we don’t like big business, we’re fine with it; we want to save the planet, we think green people are nuts; we want socialized medicine, we think it would ruin the nation; we think veganism is weird, we think it’s the only way we’ll survive. I used to be really politically savvy, and I’m being serious here. When I was in college, I knew all the political things, and I enjoyed keeping up with them. These days, politics of all type make me so upset, I try to pretend like they don’t exist.

So. The internet continues on. Chain letters will remain rampant. Anxiety levels are higher than they’ve ever been. And maybe we need to change that.

The Mind of the Overthinker

You know how sometimes you’ll be talking to a friend (or even an acquaintance) and he/she suddenly pulls a random topic out of the air? Switches on you when you had no realization that you were actually finished discussing the previous topic? The change is usually accompanied by something along the lines of, “I don’t even know what made me think of this, but … ”

I do this all of the time. I won’t say literally, even though that’s kind of the “it” word these days — after all, most of the time I stay on track pretty well. But I can safely say that I literally always know what made me think of it. I just don’t want to share the thought process.

Because the thought process goes something a whole lot like this:

“I’m making a salad that has apples in it. Our apples are really flavorless. Kate told me apples are out of season, so that’s probably why. I hope Kate doesn’t think I’m lame for eating out-of-season produce. She eats awesome produce. She made kale-potato cakes the other night. I wonder if she’s ever had kale chips. I should ask her if she’s ever had kale chips. She went to this awesome restaurant the other night with her boyfriend. They had delicious food. I wonder when they’re going back next. I should peruse the menu to see what I would order if I ever went. I wish I lived nearer to her so we could actually hang out on a regular basis. When I move to Portland, eventually, I’m going to have lots of friends to hang out with. I am really excited for my upcoming high school reunion. I wish I could have lost more weight. I need to exercise more. Pinterest.”

I also spend a lot of time dwelling. Shadra always tells me to not worry, or to spend my time thinking about something else, but she full well knows that there’s literally nothing she can ever tell me that will actually make me stop worrying. That’s a literally I can stand behind. Case in point: several years ago I attended a holiday party with my parents, and they had this guessing game in which you wrote down your dream present and everyone guessed to whom it might belong. I wrote down shiatsu knives.

Shiatsu. Knives.

For total clarification, those are two totally unrelated things. Shiatsu is a type of massage, and I was actually thinking about santoku knives when I wrote my answer. I still worry, from time to time, whether anyone from that party remembers my faux pas and whether any of them still think I am a total and utter moron. They’ve got good evidence.

“Oh, look, she got her santoku.”

Until all the party-goers die, I’ll worry about how that experience made me look.

Before you get really concerned about me: I realize no one really cares. I’m 99.9% certain they’ve all forgotten about it. In fact, it could be argued that I’ve made things worse by bringing it up for them to potentially read, provided they stumble upon this blog post.

Oh, great: one more thing for me to worry about.

Case in point number two: the unresponsive friend. This will eternally be the bane of my existence. And Facebook has made things even worse by informing me when any of my messages have been “seen” by the recipient. Fact: there is no way Facebook could possibly know such a thing, unless all computers mass produced since the beginning of computing time were actually installed with eyeball scanners. And since I think we can all agree that probably hasn’t happened, I think we can also all agree that Facebook is just ruining our lives, one update at a time. 

Image courtesy of latimes.com

I laid my soul out for a Facebook friend recently, who is probably very busy or consumed with…quite possibly anything and simply hasn’t had the time to respond, but Facebook told me he saw the message last night around 7:15 pm, and I might die any day now without a response. The upside? I am no longer 13-years-old and don’t feel the need to perpetually send more messages till I hear back. If there’s one thing time teaches you, it’s that you can, in fact, suffer in silence.

An Important Fact I’ve Been Leaving Out: I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (most commonly known as OCD.) Those three little letters probably bring to mind:

Image courtesy of wereviewfilm.blogspot.com

or

Image courtesy of divinefollies.wordpress.com

or

Image courtesy of imdb.com – I don’t usually care for spoofs on OCD, but Tony Shalhoub, you get an eternal pass.

and I get that. It’s Hollywood’s way of trying to stop making OCD obsessive and make it awesome instead. True story. In my case, however, OCD looks more like this:

Whoops. Wrong picture. That one gives does NOT help my case.

Better.

I’ve alluded to this in another post, but here it is — all out on the table. I’m mentally disordered and awesome. Mostly awesome. I often feel as though I have all the benefits of OCD and just a few of the drawbacks. This one time, my boss stood next to my desk, dumbfounded, till he finally admitted he simply could not believe how much more organized my desk was than his. (I should interject here, before my parents and Husband fall off their chairs, with peals of laughter, that the office organization basically…stops in the office.) And I am remarkably efficient; to the tune of being let go in my previous position because I got all the work I was hired to do completely finished. You can determine whether or not the efficiency really played in my favor. I’m still trying to determine that myself. Defense calls to the stand how the office was shut down by the police one day after my last, so it was probably for the best. Yeah, I know, way too many lawyer shows this week.

I don’t wash my hands incessantly, I don’t turn the lights on and off repeatedly, and I don’t sit at work, worrying that the oven might be on (on the contrary, Husband has often found the stovetop still on, hours after we finished dinner.) And, seriously, I will cut the mold off food and eat it anyhow. Most of the time.

As for the drawbacks, well, in the last year or so I suddenly determined I hated my eyes and my eyebrows, and have wished them gone ever since. I don’t do anything particularly weird besides wiggle my eyebrows and blink a lot (Richard Gere style), but I think we can all agree that’s pretty weird. Mostly awesome. Also there’s, you know, the worrying thing.

You’ll find books out there, written by OCD-sufferers — memoirs about how they suffered through life till they finally figured out how to not suffer any longer. But I think we can all agree that we all have more than enough reason to write memoirs about how we suffered through life for a plethora of reasons. [Also, if you want to write said book, visit http://shadrab.com for editing tips or to hire YOUR VERY OWN PERSONAL EDITOR. You’re welcome.] I don’t mean to make a mockery of OCD — that’s counterproductive — but you’ve probably mostly been exposed to the depressing or ridiculous. And sometimes it’s about as hilariously normal as anything else with low points and sometimes even high ones.

Low point: total hysteria over heights during a high school choral academy that resulted in my being led from the 2nd balcony to the mezzanine, hand-held, by the director, tears streaming down my face. High point: Books on shelf in order by author’s last name and separated by fiction and non. I get stuff done, people.

And, luckily for me (and Husband and parents and friends, mostly Shadra, who apparently has the longest fuse of any human that has ever lived) it kind of gets better over time. Just a couple months ago, Husband convinced me that I didn’t need to line all the magnets up on the freezer door. According to him, it didn’t look very good.

For the record, it looked AWESOME. But now it looks like this:

Not awesome, but no one has died yet, so perhaps Husband is onto something.

 

 

Do you have OCD? Recently diagnosed? Have a friend or family member with the best disorder on earth? Talk to me — I’ll even personally reply to every comment posted (unless it’s mean, and then I’ll just feel super bad about it and worry for eternity.)

WWF

No, this isn’t actually a post about faux wrestling matches, even though that would both get my post written and be the low point of my day. This is about something else just as terrible, however.

An Introduction: Meet Josh Weed. He has a blog named after himself because he’s that kind of a person and it’s super hilarious and you will probably find yourself, much like I did a few weeks back, reading every one of his posts, snort laughing to yourself while your spouse played video games wondering why you were being such a weirdo. In case you need the additional help, you can find his blog here. Don’t do anything rash and head over to his blog right now because that would mean I’d lose readership immediately and we can’t have that. Finish reading this, then head to his blog and continue following it till he doesn’t post again, and then return back home.

Photo courtesy of joshweed.com. I am nothing, if not magnanimous, so I clearly took great care in choosing the perfect photo for my blog.

All I can really say, without giving too much away, are these two words: Bambi nuggets.

Josh and I have a long history of being friendly pseudo friends. We haven’t ever done anything like hang out with each other, but when I was in middle school I saw him give a riveting performance in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and then I was friends with his sister and then his brother and then his other sister. I never really became friends with his youngest brother because he’s seven years younger than me and that would make me a creep. His mom and dad are probably in my top 20 most awesome adults I know. At any rate, he and I know each other well enough for me to refer to his wife by her nickname.

The Low Point

I’m not entirely positive how it is that I got sucked into this, but I started a game of Words with Friends tonight with Mr. Weed. Why on earth would I do such a thing? Because he has heinously left the world of Scrabble for the stupid game and, well, this one time I beat him at Scrabble and it made me feel really positively about how my life was going, and I can’t help but think it might happen again. [Sorry, Shadra, but I’m not going to play with you. I love you, but if you’re still hanging around the Scrabble board, then we’ll just keep it that way. Mmkay? Hugs!] I know, I know, Alec Baldwin plays WWF so we should all play it, on planes and trains and what have you, but I have a difficult time accepting a rip off of my most favoritest game ever in the history of all games ever. In all time. Plus there’s no dictionary.

But that’s not even the low point. I mean, it felt like it would be as I was allowing WWF access to all my personal information on Facebook, but then this happened:

What the heck kind of letters are these!?

Yeah. Friends indeed.

So, Josh Weed, you’re up. Just try and beat my starting word of two points. I dare you.