The sadness of social media

While the effort began innocently as a way to connect college students and others together.
The world which includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and dozens of other companies which seek to build an audience. They bring us together for communication, use us as an audience for their advertisers, and collect information about our computer habits so they can gain money by using or sharing our data.
Now they are being scrutinized as private companies for judging what we say and hindering our ability for our opinions to be seen by others by shadow banning and or creating algorithms that prevents everything from being seen by everyone who chooses to follow or like an individual.
Social media is now taking over as the medium of delivering news and information which creates an unusual problem. Now real news comes to us right beside the opinions of anyone and everyone.
Anyone can state their opinion, form it as a news article and get people believing their false or slanted information as the gospel truth simply because it floats through next to legitimately prepared, reviewed and presented information.
Whether it’s a small or big town social media bully attacking a volunteer, a business person, or public servant, to create a fervor against them, or a child telling a tale about a fellow student in their school, the result is the same. Someone is being emotionally harmed by the actions of someone else for their own gratification or gain while others are fooled into believing the falsehoods.
Many of the companies claim their staff are policing such, but it seems many of their actions that are exposed reflect the old saying of “Straining at a knat while swallowing a camel.” They spend more time on restraining legitimate free speech while not dealing with individual abuse and bullying.
Realizing that they are not going to protect us. We must be the real police of such behavior. First and foremost, we should be cautious of inflammatory statements about individuals no matter their source.
Seek more information. If you know the person, do the courtesy of contacting them to alert them of the offense. If you feel the information is untrue or see it to be bullying or an attack, report it to the social media company. The main action, if you are a close friend of the author, then call it privately to their attention that you disheartened by their actions.
In the past, our personal negativity generally passed to a circle of six to 12 people and stopped. But today, we all have the ability to share a statement and potentially hundreds to thousands see it, and have the potential to believe it and share it further. That makes our job as a human being even greater than ever before. We must take responsibility for what we say, post, share and promote on our social media pages.
Social media is an amazing tool which if used well can bring us together, if used for evil purposes, it can bring us and our civilization to destruction.
I urge our federal and state authorities in taking a greater interest in how these companies do their business to make sure that they provide a fair space available to all, and that their efforts to protect us from ourselves, do that while not destroying the freedom of speech we all rely upon.

Truth, nothing but the truth

The importance of truth in everyday life is something that each of us are responsible for upholding.
When thinking on the topic of honesty, I fondly remember back on the Andy Griffith Show episode where “Opie” wants to sell his bike without mentioning all the little things that are wrong with it. “Barney” decides to take on selling real estate and the Taylors are considering selling their house and buying another in the same episode.
Andy neglects to mention the little odds and ends wrong with the house until Opie brings these things to the attention of the buyers. While Andy becomes frustrated by Opie’s honesty, Opie is confused by Andy’s separate rules for adults and children. Andy finally realizes that Opie is right.
When we are in our late teens, we sometimes add a few years to our age so we can do things adults do. As we get older, we tend to shave years off our age so we can appear younger. Are these lies?
When attorneys are faced with defending people that they know or suspect are guilty, does this strain their ability to be honest when they stand in front of a judge or jury to defend a not guilty plea?
While extreme situations like war can sometimes bring on the need for good people to be faced with challenging choices concerning their convictions, it is often on faith and truth that they must rely to get through the bad times.
But there are, no doubt, times when honesty may be strained.
Members of a generation of Americans were disenfranchised by the feeling that our government was lying to them in the 1970’s during Watergate and the latter part of the Vietnam War.
Were they lying?
There is an old joke about how you can tell when a politician is lying — their mouth is moving.
I wonder sometimes what happened to good, old-fashioned honesty.
Honesty does exist in each of us. All we need to do is remember each and every falsehood we utter has an effect on someone else.
It may only be ourselves we hurt as we build a house of cards trying to remember each and every white lie we have told so as not to be caught.
What is the point of being dishonest? Do we gain anything?
There’s an old song called the “Royal Telephone” where the singer asks the operator to get Jesus on the line.
Would you tell a lie in exchange for a conversation with our Savior, Jesus Christ himself, on the phone? I wouldn’t. If I did, what would we talk about?
Remember: “From your lips to God’s ears.”
If you remember that he is listening, it does make you think more heavily about what you do and say each and every day.

Overcoming adversity

Often in life there are obstacles which we can never foresee coming our way.
It is often during these times we really come to know what we are made of, whether we can overcome adversity or simply crumble beneath the weight of whatever is thrust upon us.
In the valley below the Gravelly Spur, the prosperity of the 1950s had given way to most folks living comfortably. The desperation faced by many during the Great Depression was long since a memory. The faces of those lost in World War II were slowly moving from being ripped from presence to fondly remembered family members.
Granddad Bill was in his 70s and had given up full-time farming just to keep a few head of cattle and plant a light garden with some of his favorite vegetables.
He rose early one morning, and as usual placed the black cast iron pot on the wood stove to heat water for some coffee.
He turned on the radio to listen to the price of stock as he made his JFG coffee.
He took last night’s biscuit out of the breadbox over the stove and put some homemade strawberry preserves on it. As he reached it up towards his mouth, he dropped a bit of the preserves down on his faded blue overalls that showed more than 20 years worth of trips down to the old barn and hundreds of boilings in Grandma Kitty’s cast iron wash pot.
He took the kitchen towel and wiped it away. He sat with his coffee, sipping it from the cup saucer,and finished his biscuit as he listened to the Martha White Bluegrass Show on WSM.
He then pulled on his old brown work boots, put on his hat and headed off towards the barn.
It was not unusual for him to be gone for quite a spell when he was out with his cattle in the morning. Grandma Kitty had gotten up and prepared a full breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs, fresh biscuits and sawmill gravy. When he did not return after a while, she became worried, slipped on her green coat, pulled on her bonnet and took off down to the tattered barn.
As she called to him, she heard no answer; her worries intensified as she called louder and began looking more quickly through each stall.
As she reached the last stall with no luck, she heard a banging coming from outside. She raced towards the sound and found Granddad Bill lying next to his old Farmall tractor. He was banging on it with an old board.
When she found him, it was apparent he had suffered a stroke; his face was drawn, and he could not speak or use his right side. He could only look up at her in desperation.
This man who left home in his teens on horseback to go west wasn’t even able to pick himself up off the ground.
Grandma helped him to his feet and got him to the house. She laid him in the bed near the wood stove and sent to town for the doctor.
Old Doc Lawson said there was not much that could be done except keep him comfortable. Everything was up to God and Bill. The doctor suggested calling all the family in just in case.
When Pearl arrived, she could not get in her mind that her father — the pillar of strength she adored — could be leaving soon. She joined the family vigil around his bed, providing constant care, massaging his affected limbs, helping him eat and coaxing him to speak.
She stayed with him night and day, lending him her strength until he could use his own.
She had dozed off by his bed when she was awakened by the sound of her name: “Pearl, Pearl… water.” She knew then that Granddad Bill was on his way back.
And he did come back, regaining his speech and the use of his arm and his leg, although he did walk with a cane after he recovered, returning to doing what he loved — tending his cattle.

A story from the Randall’s book “A Mountain Pearl: Appalachian Reminiscing and Recipes.”

A laugh with Rufus A. and Madeleen Doolittle

One of the more interesting characters I have met in my life is my second cousin twice-removed Rufus A. Doolittle. No matter how many times the family removed him he just kept coming back. If you meet Rufus on the street, he will always have on his old blue Bibb overalls covering nearly 300 pounds of his favorite dishes. He always said he was built more for comfort than for speed.

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