Tag Archives: People

Is anything “real” these days?

6 Sep

 

 

The internet has spawned an “International Attention Crisis” where people worldwide are addicted to constant (24×7) updates and instant gratification by social media, email, voice mail, and other “indirect” (i.e., non-face-to-face) contact with others.

 

Walk into any restaurant, bar, coffee shop, or even car, these days and you’ll seldom find anyone to talk to – in person that is – and you’ll find the same with everyone else.  It’s as if we’ve all become zombie slaves to our electronic connection tools.

 

Sometimes I wonder if there is really any communication happening in person today… except on reality TV shows where fantasy and reality blend seamlessly to convince us that non-communication in our homes and personal lives is okay.

 

Tell me what is real and what is fantasy in these situations:

 

– People sitting at the same table in a restaurant or bar (who are in-person friends) all texting others who are not there;

 

– Drivers in cars watching their smart phone screens instead of traffic all around them;

 

– Children who text their parents from their rooms instead of walking into the same room to talk;

 

– Facebook members who brag about having 5000+ “friends” when research proves that the human mind can accommodate a mere 150-or so friend relationships;

 

– People who call out or disrespect others using Facebook because they lack the guts to communicate directly;

 

– Unlimited texting is more popular than unlimited talk on cell phones;

 

– Twitter is replacing email systems as the preferred method for some corporate communications;

 

– When you meet someone they ask you if you are on Facebook or Twitter before they ask for your phone number or other contact information;

 

– People know you by your photo on social media and don’t recognize you in person;

 

– Interactive voice recognition (IVR) computer systems block access to real people when you need help desk support – sometimes there is no possible way to reach a live human being who can solve your problem;

 

– The only way to bypass circular menu systems and reach a live person at banks or cell phone providers is to say “Cancel service”;

 

– When people say “I’ll call you right back” it usually means they are bored of talking to you and will often text instead of calling back;

 

– “Events” from Facebook or social media fill out your social calendar where you mingle with mostly people you don’t care to meet again;

 

– Life becomes more isolated, more self-reliant, more independent, and less connected (even though it seems you are ultra-connected!)

 

Perhaps it is a sign that I am getting old, but I long for the days gone by when people went to restaurants and bars to meet and mingle rather than post photos and check-in on Facebook.  I’d like to go out “with” people who are not tethered, have a real date with a guy who isn’t constantly checking his email, and have good conversation with friends who are truly interested in my life and vice versa.

 

While it does happen from time to time, the reality is that nothing that was real yesterday (true communication, compassion, connection, and genuine interest) is real today.  Technology is supposed to be a communication “enabler” but I’m wondering just what kind of “enabling” it is really doing to our life today.

 

Is anything (or anyone) real these days or are we all living in the fantasy of virtual communication?

 

Wishing you genuine connections with real-life people!

 

Carol

 

 

Keep your Hand up to Get Ahead…

18 Jun

There are more and more women dropping out of the IT workforce, and since the 80’s peak of 1/3 women in computer science, the statistics are at an all-time low of less than 20% of students being women in computer science programs.

In 2011, an all male team of university researchers published studies and held symposiums aimed to increase female participation in the technical engineering and computer science fields.  The answers are as complex as the questions – with no ready one-size-fits-all solutions.  Is it women not supporting women?  Is it a workplace and environment that does not allow diversity?  Is it an old-boys club that excludes women?  Do women have different needs?  It is all and none of these, but without work and interest to change the future, we will be destined to repeat the past.  Change starts with me and you… and I’ve got lots of ideas (hmmm… a book?)

Here’s a link to an interesting TED presentation on the topic – what do you think?

I LOVE the concept / quote from this video: People (especially Women) need to Keep Our Hands Up to Get Ahead!

(This was in reference to a story she tells where she told an audience she would take 2 more questions.  Once the two questions were posed and answered, most people put their hands down – but not all.  She then proceeded to take a few more questions from the persistent few who had kept their hands up.  Her advice is to Keep your Hand up to gain a step ahead.  Too often, women (especially!)  quit too early (and follow directions too readily) – just because it seems like the game is over!)

Watch and comment (please!)

Here’s the URL: http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders.html

Have a great week!

Carol

Shortcuts and half-baked solutions

2 May

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wow!  Incredibly powerful words from decades ago – yet they have never been more true than today!  Whether in business or in personal affairs, no one seems to value hard work, persistence, or thinking these days.  Relationships are disposable, communication is impersonal (with text-message soundbites), governments look for the quick fix, corporations value capitalism over people, and shortcuts are the norm rather than the exception.

I don’t know about you, but my email inbox seems to attract an ever-increasing barrage of spam – most offering “get rich while you sleep” schemes – and it makes me wonder who is actually working while all of these salesmen are busy promoting.  At tax time (April 15), the Tampa Bay Times featured a front page article showing the latest scam where scammers submit fraudulent tax returns (using social security numbers of dead people) to “earning” an average of $9000. per return.  None of the offenders feared the IRS and they were proud of their endeavors.  Sheesh, what is our society coming to when someone’s 15 minutes of fame comes at a heavy expense to all of us?

Several months ago, the same paper profiled citizens among us vacationing on proceeds their insurance company paid out for sink hole claims for repairs never made.  Both stories highlighted the shortcuts that cost taxpayers millions.

Yet there are millions of other smaller shortcuts to fame and fortune and half-baked scams happening everyday all around us.

Why do we accept (and settle for) short cuts and half-baked solutions in life today? 

The first step to realization is to look at our behavior (before we look at others.)  Why do we take shortcuts or live with half-baked solutions to what ails us?  Probably because it is easier, less work, less stress, and comes with less risk of failure (and rework) to do the least possible.  This allows us to save our energy for things that “really matter” later.  As a result of not doing our best, we are dissatisfied with the results from ourselves or others.

Moreover, when we do do our best, people may not appreciate it, so why bother to spend extra effort?  When we look around, if everyone else takes shortcuts, why shouldn’t we?  The answer is that, in the process, we shortchange ourselves, our children (who learn by example), and our community.

We can see the results of our shortcuts and half-baked solutions everywhere: products don’t last like they used to; quality is down;  expectations are down; product failures are up; and morale goes awry. In the banking crisis, banking professionals bet against their own customers to pursue profits, got away with it, and even got a bonus bailout for their efforts.  No wonder our children seek shortcuts in everything they do.

The Buck has to stop somewhere…why not with us?

When we start to fully perform our work, invest in relationships (they take work), take time to do things right the first time (instead of half-baked), and insist on the same from others, our world (and morale) will improve. The America of yesteryear was filled with innovation, invention, progress, hope and dreams; hard work and integrity prevailed.

I envision a future where I can look back and be proud that I put the effort in to “fully bake” solutions – at least for my life.  How about you?

Wishing you a success-filled week.

Carol

Celebrities among us…

23 Apr

This past weekend I attended a “wrap party” for a local film festival where a smattering of celebrities graced the event and gained local entourage and special treatment.  It must be life as normal for the celebrities who hailed from Hollywood, New York and elsewhere, but for local Florida residents, it was a chance to rub shoulders with some more rich and famous.

I came to be at this event by assisting with coordination and on site logistics and I greeted guests as they arrived at the event.  I am not one to fawn over celebrities (or even recognize less famous ones) so it was interesting to watch others who did. I believe that everyone, no matter their rank or whether they are  peers, strangers, or celebrities, deserve the same level of respect and courtesy (unless they violate that right).  But, this is not a universal stance.

I found it interesting to watch as various actors arrived with large entourage (who walked dutifully behind them) and who expected (and received) special treatment.  It seemed a bit excessive to see “herds” of ten or more being led into the event. (Sheep came to mind…)

At one point, a group of four drunken baseball fans showed up without passes and expected to waltz off the street and be admitted  as if the party was theirs. Without credentials or passes, they grudgingly left.  Two returned later after befriending an actor smoking on the sidewalk, and felt justified in waltzing in as his new best friends.

Who (and what) makes a Celebrity?

In the field of acting or sports – normal human beings are raised to icon-status with outrageous salaries and fame.  From relative obscurity they are catapulted into fame and fortune – with often more luck than stellar ability, and their meteoric rise often falls equally fast. Yet, their claim to fame (for however long) lies with what our society values and holds in high esteem entertainment as a chosen career, over and above professions or occupations that make a difference to others.   We seldom see doctors, health care workers or teachers (whose impact can be far greater than entertainment value) elevated to any sort of “special” status.

Everyday celebrities…

If one stopped to view life as a series of adventures and survival experiences, more of us and the people in our lives would become celebrities, and that might be good.  In my books, everyone who succeeds through life (through the good, the bad, and the ugly) deserves the same respect, honorable treatment, courtesy, love, and decency that award to celebrity.  We ought to be celebrating (and “celebritizing”) everyone when they succeed in life.

Celebrities are all around us – take a look at all the parents, caregivers, workers, friends and colleagues who choose to make a difference, yet whose lives are normal, everyday, and without fanfare.  Would it not make sense to spread the celebrity status around (and maybe gratitude?)

What do you think?  Can you think of someone you know who might deserve a bit of celebrity status today?

Have a good week.

Carol

IWF… the Forgotten Demographic

14 Mar

I  W  F

Invisible
White
Female

I will be the first to admit that I did not see it coming – the slow slide into invisibility that comes with being an over-40 female in America.  My first recognition came when I joined an online survey group offering to pay me for my opinion on a variety of social and retail trends (I quit after the first 20 surveys excluded me for not being in the 20-40 age bracket – the important demographic group).

Next came dining out alone at restaurants where maitre d’s look completely through me to seat couples or families in line behind me (perhaps I should tell him about my 20-30% tipping practice?)

Now I can add craft beer establishments to the list, where if I do not overtly flag someone down, I am unseen for at least 15 minutes (despite empty tables around me).  As an aside, craft beer is also a topic of a blog I write.

The media are no less kind to single white women (age is less relevent here) – especially if we are single mothers (a new target for a senator in WI), or ovulating (note to Rush Limbaugh and elected politicians:  why do we fund Viagra and not birth control?)

  What Happens when Women Age?

Have you heard the Hollywood saying about gender and aging?  Men become “distinguished” (think Sean Connery) and women just grow “old”. Perhaps a distinguished beard would render me less invisible?

Perhaps the invisibility comes from other characteristics?

Could it be that I am independent (my children are grown), or confident (talk about an intimidating trait!), or attractive (I stay in shape!), or financially stable (I pay my own way), or knowledgeable (I write several blogs – one professionally)? No, the people who do not see me do not know any of these things.

Yet, somehow, despite arriving at middle age with status, stature and bearing, these are not enough to ward off Invisibility… (I know it is not “Rejection” because I have not yet met the people to whom I am invisible!)

We are so politically correct in North America so as not to disenfranchise any minority group (if you are disabled+female+veteran+Asian descent you can write your own ticket) or god forbid, offend a member of any minority with a misplaced word – yet a huge majority group – Invisible White Females – is largely disregarded and forgotten.

(It is interesting to note that the average age of women in the US according to the 2010 census is 38, with a life expectancy of 80+ years.  We have a long time to be an IWF!)

What is YOUR Experience?

Certainly males are overlooked, disregarded, or downright ignored at times too, but in talking to colleagues, nothing quite compares to being an Invisible White Female as far as being a non-entity.

I feel like I am fading into the woodwork as I age… what is your experience?  What do YOU think?

Carol

We don’t “attract” the wrong people…

23 Feb

I am living proof that the Law of Attraction (Think and Grow Rich, The Secret, etc.) combined with The Four Agreements and other philosophies work! My life is moving in the right direction with the right people around me, but my happiness journey has not been without its detours and potholes.  My divorce was the beginning of the journey, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  After a quarter century with a self-absorbed husband, I found myself alone with an out-of-control 17-year-old son (his father was my ex who moved away immediately), a stalled career, and ruined finances.  I could only imagine a better life – and today, just six years later, I am finding happiness.  My son is healthy and thriving, my daughter has found a great career, my career is back on track, I have found true friends, and life is good.

It has not been a “cakewalk” – my journey is ongoing, frustrating (at times), lonely, enlightening, exciting, and disappointing, but I am happier than I have ever been. Along the way, the books mentioned above gave me great insight about life when taken in moderation.  However, with books like The Secret, there are overzealous supporters who believe (and spout) myths about the law of attraction.  Believing these myths can actually set you back in your quest for success and happiness.  I would like to debunk two of these “myths”:

Myth #1: You attract everyone into your life with your thoughts.
Truth #1: The world is like a pile of metal shavings… you attract who you attract based on magnetism

In the same way that you cannot choose who you fall in love with or to whom you are attracted, you cannot change this in others.  Humanity is like a mismatched pile of metal shavings (people in the world), where some will be drawn to you and some will not. I believe that attraction between people is fundamentally physiological – either someone is attractive to you or they are not; it is that simple.   The adage of “people like people like themselves” seems to prevail.

What we CAN control:  We CAN change our attitude and presentation to the world and thereby increase our potential attractiveness to other types of people, but our inner beauty and personal magnetism will not change.  What this means is that no matter how hard we “wish”, we would still attract a motley mix of good, bad, toxic, sociopathic, kind, narcissistic, damaged, wholesome and mottled people into our lives. Magnetism is not selective, but allowing them to stick to us should be VERY SELECTIVE! (If only we could buy mosquito repellant to keep away dysfunctional people!)

What this means to your psyche:  When you meet someone who says that you are attracting the wrong people into your life, remember that attraction is not a choice, but selecting who you allow into your life IS A CHOICE.

It helps me to remember that the people who are in my life (through either blood or they were attracted to me and I allowed them to take part in my life) do not have a lifetime pass.  It is my right (and choice) to end or suspend relationships with people who have become toxic to me — even if they passed the screening and selection process long ago.  Even if they are blood relatives, if they inject poison (through verbal or other abuse), we need to safeguard our emotional health and keep away.  We all have the right to positive influences and people in our life!

While you cannot change who you attract, you CAN increase your screening and selection criteria for who you allow to be in your life.

 Myth #2:  Life is a culmination of everything you manifested with your thoughts.
Truth #2: SHIT happens to good people all the time, regardless of their THOUGHTS

Another “rabbit hole” that trips up people who embrace the law of attraction is that “everything in your life you made happen through your thoughts”.  What utter rubbish!

For example, I can tell you that I NEVER wished for – or even thought about – having emotional abuse in my life.  I also did not wish for years of strife with a teenage son.  Nor did I wish for an aneurysm at age 40!  Moreover, I know that whatever strife you have in your life is probably not something you wished for or thought about.  Crap happens and you did NOT manifest it into being WITH YOUR THOUGHTS!

Certainly, our life is a culmination of our actions and beliefs, but circumstances, events and “shit” simply happens, regardless of how much we wish and pray and want something else.  Yet there are those who believe they can control the world with their thoughts and want to convince you that you can too (hmm… was not there a German leader who managed to manifest his thoughts of superiority into world domination?).

I met one of these such people several years ago and it was a downright “scary” experience.  “Mark” was an organizer of a self-help cult-style weekend called Landmark. (Note, I did not realize it was a cult until I saw their abusive and brainwashing at work.) “Mark”  convinced me to attend the seminar (against my intuition) and promised to make it more affordable by picking me up at the airport.  When I hesitated, he convinced me that this was my “ego” trying to keep me from growing and learning. When the weekend arrived, my flight was delayed and Mark reneged on his promise to pick me up.  I ended up taking expensive taxis because there were no rental cars available.  When I arrived at the site, he had lost my paperwork and I had to spend an hour completing new forms.  Strangely, Mark “justified” his poor behavior and the missing paperwork because (in his words) I made all of it happen with my thoughts.  WOW!  Somehow, I had the power to delay the plane, tie up all the rental cars, and psychically destroy paperwork.  When I laughed at his audacity, Mark insisted that even catastrophes like plane crashes are the result of “a group of people whose thoughts are harmonically aligned to bring the plane down.”  Can you imagine believing in such crap?  I left the weekend knowing that insanity is available for anyone willing to embrace dysfunctional thinking, like Mark.

What we CAN control: It is said that life is mostly attitude combined with your circumstances – but at times of strife, it can become so imbalanced that we lose control.  (In statistics, an “average” is the sum of all the events (good points + bad points + all in between) divided by the number of events.  As such, there has to be some great wins to balance out great losses to end up with an average somewhere in the middle!)

We cannot control the crap that happens in our life – bad things happen to good people all the time – but we can choose how we respond to it.  We can stand around the “pile of burning crap” when it lands in our life and make a choice!  We can watch it and wail that it is awful as it burns stronger… we can step in it and get covered in it (i.e., it can consume us)… or we can grab a bucket of water and douse the flames… or we can do any number of other actions.  The reaction and response IS OUR CHOICE, the burning pile of crap that landed IS NOT.

What this means to your psyche:  Stop listening to people who tell you that your life is the way it is because YOU CHOSE IT to be. This is NOT true and you know it! People do NOT choose to be unemployed or lose their home or have loved ones die… it JUST HAPPENS.  These things happen to good people all the time!  Change the things you can, wish (and envision) a better future, and adopt a healthy attitude.  It will not stop things from happening, but hopefully what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

I am sorry that the crap in your life happens to you… it is temporary and you have a choice about your future.  Life can always be better tomorrow, and even in the darkest moments, all you really have to do is make it through the next 5 minutes…

Have a great week and do the Royal We (me, myself, and I) a favor and stop allowing crap to invade your psyche.  YOU are a good person who deserves happiness.  We can all choose happiness and success – but sometimes the universe has a convoluted way of bringing it to us.

Carol

Women who know too much…

20 Feb

On Valentine’s Day I listened to a radio poll stating that most men find intelligent women attractive.  Perhaps this is true in some markets, but the places where I go it seems to just the opposite.  What has been YOUR experience?

As a confident female with good communication skills, I find that I need to “dumb down” most conversations when meeting men for the first time.  When I neglect to do so, men walk away as soon as they find out I “know too much” (in their opinion).  Whether the conversation is about travel, work, or beverages, women who “know too much” often find themselves alone with their thoughts.

I often see attractive, confident, smart women doing this same thing – pretending not to know about common topics of conversation simply to keep a man’s attention for any length of time.  (Note, that inebriated men don’t seem to care if a woman is intelligent and don’t seem to be intimidated.)

Intelligent women may be attractive to others, but only if they keep their real IQ a secret.  Simply talking about foreign travel or world events (non-politically charged!) seems enough to intimidate most men.

Does it make sense to do this; to dumb down conversations and mask the real you?  Is it worthwhile to forego intelligent conversation to adopt people-pleasing behaviors just for the sake of meeting new people?  Having said this, men still pay more attention to “dumb blondes” than smart ones.

What does it say about equality when we have to pretend not to be smart if we want to be noticed?

I spent my high school years lying to classmates about my test scores (lopping off a full grade to fit in).  At home I met with an opposite reaction when my father chided me for missing an “extra credit” question and getting too low a test score.  It seemed (and seems) like being educated just doesn’t pay off for women when it comes to men.

Referring back to my opening statistic, I agree that men probably like to know that women are intelligent, but only to a certain extent: there’s too smart (a turn-off) and too dumb (also a turn off) and everything in between.  Regardless, I contend that cosmetic beauty still wins over smarts in terms of attractiveness.

Conversation starter

Knowing a bit about a subject can be a good conversation starter, but to keep the flow of words going, women need to step back and allow men tell us how much they know (even if it is made up crap!)  Sweet smiles work far more magic than trying to add to the conversation, especially if it is something you know.  Here’s a case in point:  if you talk about a traditionally male subject, such as microbrew beer (confession: I know a fair amount about craft brews), men will feign interest for 30 seconds and then turn to talk to someone else.  The choices are: 1. Dumb it down or change the subject; 2. sit facing the guy’s back; or 3. Talk to someone else.

Perhaps women do know too much… but it does not seem to take much to intimidate a guy these days. What is YOUR experience?  How do you react when you meet a woman who is intelligent and confident? ?  Half of the world would like to know.

Have a good week!

Carol

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