It's been a bit of a ride the last few days around here, but I will get to that in a minute. First, the things that I was intending to write about this week.
Am I pretty or ugly?
This is a thing. Usually girls, usually teens, post videos of themselves on youtube and ask the eternal question Am I pretty or ugly?
Nothing like hormonal self confidence issues being thrown to the wolves of the internet, right?
Our society is one excessively obsessed with appearances as it is. We want to look just like the airbrushed models in the magazines, like the celebrities that go into hiding after giving birth until they get their bodies back, like the beautiful people on the screen.
Not much of it is real, though, since all of that comes with an entourage of make-up artists, hairdressers, stylists, editors, airbrushers, professional photographers and agents who approve only the most flattering angles.
Even with the fake reality of this produced and manufactured beauty, it's still what far too many people compare themselves to.
There have been many people who have written lately about the dangers of selfies themselves, because it tells these girls that their worth is tied up in their looks alone. The videos go even a step further.
As the mother of two girls, I have to make it my job to teach them that their external appearance is just a piece of who they are. That the world is a cruel, heartless place. That they have value and worth and beauty that has nothing to do with the number of likes a picture receives or upvotes a video gets. That they have to find that value internally, and not seek it from other people - especially the ones online who will say things while hiding behind a screen that they would never say in person.
The internet is not a nice place, kids. Don't ask for it's opinion on anything. Trust me. (more on that later)
Asleep at the wheel
On Sunday, a train derailment in New York killed four people and injured many more. It has come out that the conductor, William Rockefeller, was most likely asleep at the wheel until just seconds before the accident. The emergency brakes were applied only six seconds before the crash as the train sped toward a turn that should have been taken at 30mph.
Instead the train was going 82mph and several cars flew off the tracks.
I guess what bothers me here the most isn't actually the fact that he fell asleep. As horrible as his lapse in judgment is, he will spend the rest of his life living with it, and may possibly be held accountable in criminal or civil cases in the future.
What bothers me more is that the NTSB has pushed the railroads to install safeguards to prevent these types of accidents for many years, including devices that can slow trains coming into curves automatically, removing operator error from the equation. The safeguards, though, do not appear to be mandated. Metro-North, the line the accident occurred on, is in the process of purchasing such equipment. They just didn't get to it soon enough.
The Intolerance of the Internet
Tom Daley, the British Olympic diver came out publicly yesterday. He elected not to label himself, instead saying that he is currently in a relationship with a man. He has had prior public relationships with women.
Is he gay? Is he straight? Is he bi-sexual? Is he just a sexual being who happens to dive?
Does that really affect anyone's life?
As all things like this tend to do on the internet, he received many favorable responses from supportive fans. Then there were the homophobes who came out of the woodwork and decided that it was their place to call him every name in the book, proclaim that they are no longer fans of his, and so on and so forth.
Ignore the haters, Tom. Love whoever you love...just keep doing what you're doing. The rest of the world supports you.
Speaking of the internet
I've been writing almost five years now on this blog. I've posted something like 2,400 posts. I've written about my life, my losses, about news, about legal cases, about injustices in the world, about natural disasters, about cancer and other diseases, about anything and everything I can think of.
Then I wrote about Paul Walker and the internet went boom. The post went viral. I was not at all prepared for that to happen, if I'm being honest. I didn't say anything really in that post that I haven't expressed before. It wasn't the first topical thing I have written. It's not the only time I have written about the untimely death of someone in the public eye. It's not the best thing I have ever written, not by a mile.
Yet, it's the one that went viral. I don't really understand why, but I'm not asking too many questions.
I am trying not to be too frustrated with the people who clearly read that post and nothing else I have ever written, who have made some very unkind assumptions about me, who have slammed me in ways that I haven't had to deal with before this. I'm trying.
As writers, we want to be read. We want to connect with people, more than anything else.
Those connections, though, they come with a price. In the world of the internet, that price is exposure not just to the kind people of the internet, but to the unkind ones as well.
I am doing my best over here to keep a clear head. I stand behind what I wrote. It has never bothered me if people disagree with me. In fact, for those who've been here a while, you know that I welcome intelligent debate. The insults, though, I could do without.
I'm not a machine typing out words. I am a person.
A person who is growing thicker skin by the minute out of necessity.
For those of you who are my true longtime fans, my deepest gratitude. For those of you new to my writing, whether by way of this piece or something else, welcome. I hope you stay. For those who judge me based on one post and decide to hate me, that's too bad.
I'm pretty fucking awesome.
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