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Social Media: The Dummyfication of America

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

It has been a long time since I have written a blog post here on my own domain. A month or two ago, a memory on Facebook prompted me to revisit one of the posts I had made regarding my brother-in-law Michael Lovato who passed away almost 7 years ago. I read what I had posted back then and went on to read several more of my posts from 2011 and maybe even before. Something glaring stuck out in my head as I was reading… I couldn’t believe how I wrote and even wondered if I could still write even close to the same way I did back then.

In today’s world, our ramblings are relegated to quick thoughts with fewer words, far less punctuation, a lot of abbreviations, and stupid memes. And the messages are shared quickly then quickly fade into a distant memory. We find ourselves being alerted each time someone “likes” a post or sends a comment. Sometimes the “likes” come within seconds of posting, and from my own first hand knowledge and experience, we can assume many people “like” a post without actually even reading it.

People today hide behind their social media posts and post things from the safety of their own dark room, calling people names or spewing hatred — all the while knowing that they would never in their right mind actually say something like they posted to a person face-to-face. Of course, they will proudly pound their chest and say “Of course I would say that to your face,” but deep down, they know they wouldn’t. They even pretend to be or believe something they likely don’t, just to make themselves appear holier-than-thou to their “friends” and “followers”.

Social media, especially Twitter, has transformed over the years from a place where you could quickly get first-hand accounts of current happenings, often beating the “news”, to a place where people merely hate on each other and spew incoherent, hateful, and often just plain wrong information. I can’t take it anymore… I really can’t. Yet, I do. The addiction to it keeps bringing me back to checking what people are saying to each other. The founders of social media own and control us.

I honestly fear the world my kids are growing up in. Will they ever learn to truly communicate and respect people? Can they look someone in the eye and have a true conversation with them?
Will their self esteem be grown or shattered by how many “likes” they get, how quickly they get them, or by the demeaning comments left by some coward or stranger who is merely hiding behind their keyboard? I see it already with my daughter and her Music.ly app — often commenting on how popular she is because three people “liked” her video.

I truly believe that social media is absolutely the worst “invention” of my lifetime. For awhile, I thought it was merely a fad. I remember way back when I created my Facebook account. I was sitting in a conference room at work and created it solely so I could see something my favorite band, The Dave Matthews Band, had posted. My love of music and DMB started my journey on what I now deem to be one of the most evil and destructive platforms ever. I even quit Facebook a few years ago, for nearly a year. I unfriended everyone except my immediate family on New Year’s Eve. I got my life back, for almost a year. Then, I re-entered the realm due to my new job which relied almost exclusively on Facebook, fans, “friends”, and followers. I added back nearly anyone I had been “friends” with before, though I tried to use the guidance of only adding people if they were someone I would invite into my home. But then, the urge to add anyone who friend-requested me or that I even met randomly one time took over, and bam — my “friend” list grew and grew.

Daily, I look through the Facebook-selected posts from my friends and see all of the wonderful things they are up to. Sometimes I see the just flat stupid or mean things they say. Sometimes I say mean things or stupid things.  This is not who I want to be.  But it doesn’t end here.  This week, we celebrated the 4th of July, and has become a tradition of sorts, some neighbors and my family tend to shoot off some fireworks around my house.  This year, though I did not purchase a single firework, my neighbors did.  And we had a few small things left over from years past.  We shot off a few parachutes, smoke bombs and a few small spinner things in our cul-de-sac.  Low and behold, the police showed up and informed us it was illegal to do anything in Overland Park except snappers.  Yes, even smoke bombs are illegal because a spark emits.  The police officer was clearly annoyed with his job that day and as I informed him “wow, that is lame” he responded, “yes, yes it is…”.  He then proceeded to hand back the fireworks he picked-up and told us to put them in a bag and head outside of town to shoot them off.  He didn’t fine or even threaten a fine to us — just encouraged us to go enjoy them outside of town.  However, the next day I woke to find the following “social media” like post on our community neighborhood portal:

 

Now, let’s dissect the above thread, shall we?  The original post is from a neighbor who lives about 4 or 5 houses away from me.  I can only presume she wasn’t talking about us, but maybe she was.  The reason I assume she isn’t referring to us is because not a single item we shot-off in our cul-de-sac could have made it down the hill to her house.  Plus, she’s posting about 4 or 5 hours after we shot them off.  But that isn’t even the point.  The point is this lady, hiding behind her keyboard, refers to her neighbors as “aholes”.  Please note I have lived here for 6 years now and not once met this lady — I wouldn’t know her if she came up to me.  I only even know the name and house because of the parties her high school daughter used to throw in our neighborhood when mom and dad were out-of-town (side note:  police showed up on at least one occasion — could that be the destruction of her house she referred to?).  Anyway, let’s move onto the next point.  Nobody replied to her message for a while and she didn’t get instant gratification from her post, so she added onto it 4 minutes later — showing the “world” how much better she is than the rest.

Then, at 9:03 am the next day, she finally gets a bite.  Kathy joins the conversation and gives Susan the gratification she so sought by agreeing and posting that she saw (by saw I think she meant called) the cops who had stopped by our house.  How did she see this when she lives a few streets away?  Easy!  She was hiding behind a tree by our neighbors watching!  Anyway, nobody jumped in to give Kathy the instant gratification she needed so she commented later to her comment about how these “ahole” neighbors were teaching their kids to ignore laws they don’t like.  Anyway, I personally view this as a perfect example of people hiding behind their keyboards and communicating in extremely inappropriate ways — something they wouldn’t be doing in a non “Social Media” world.  Susan would get mad props from me had she came over to my house and called me an “ahole” but she didn’t.

My last commentary on the dummification of America by social media is to explain exactly what I meant by it in the first place.  People read the spewed hatred and misinformation like it is gospel.  Then they believe it and share it, and so do their “friends”.  Some of it might be true (perhaps even me being an ahole) but a lot of it is not.  But until people talk face-to-face and quit hiding behind their screen names and screens, we will continue to digress into an anti-social network of Americans who hate each other and pretend to be who they are not.  Sadly, I think we’re there.

Until next time….

-RE

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1,158 — Wow

Friday, June 12th, 2015

So, it has been 1,158 days since my last post. I guess that means it has been 1,158 days since my Grandpa Cookie–my last living grandparent–passed away. Hard to believe I have been that quiet, or that it has been that long since my g’pa passed.

Well, I am back–at least for awhile. Most likely I am typing this for myself, but today marks day 1 of a project I want to document. Today, we begin finishing my basement. And being married to a cheapskate (sorry, Rebecca), I have decided to general contract the project myself. What makes me qualified to be a construction general contractor? It’s quite simple, really, and is one word:

Google Logo

Google

Yes, thanks to Google, I have all the skills and knowledge it takes to manage this project.

So, here’s how we have gotten here.

On Friday, June 5, I ordered the wood necessary for delivery. On Wednesday, it showed up at 9:00 am — right when they told me it would.

The wood sat in my driveway until today, when the contractor I hired to frame the basement showed up with his 13 year old son and moved the wood into my clean basement. Why the emphasis on the word clean? Well, quite simply since we moved into my new house back on October 31, 2012 (yeah, sorry — a lot has changed since I last posted), our basement has been jam packed with stuff. Why the emphasis on the word stuff? Frankly, I didn’t want to swear as my mother will probably be one of the 5 people to ever read this article.

Over the last few months in preparing to finish the basement, Rebecca and I have:

  • Donated a bunch of stuff to the Good Will
  • Sold a bunch of stuff, including some really nice and expensive stuff from my old home theater, on Craigslist.  Sidenote:  I have some stuff still for sale on Craigslist if you’re local and interested.
  • Taken a load of stuff to the dump.

After ridding of all of that stuff, the basement was clean and ready to begin accepting walls.  That begins tomorrow.

I plan to post some before, during and after photos of the project in the days, weeks and months to come.  My stretch goal is to have the basement completed before I host our neighborhood poker game in September, but no matter what, I need it done in time for our 10th Annual Halloween Party.

So, if you are really, really bored, be prepared to follow along and see the evolution of our empty space below.

Peace — and don’t vote for Hillary Clinton (some things will never change).

RE

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It’s Been Awhile… Now Praying for Grandpa

Monday, April 9th, 2012

It sure has been awhile since I last posted on my blog. Far too long. The emotions of writing about my brother-in-law and his battle against Cancer is just too much, I guess. Sadly, I return to WordPress and my blog to write about another great person who is about to end his earthly journey…my Grandpa”Cookie” Emmett Carlen.

Grandpa Cookie

Grandpa back in July 2010

As I type, my grandfather lies in a bed in an Alzheimer’s home in Southern California. My mom and aunt spending every last day with him. Mom was encouraged to come last Friday, as the end was near. Grandpa is the last remaining grandparent I have, and he, too, will soon be gone. My family is in constant prayer that the Good Lord will take him soon, as his quality of life has diminished and is beyond repair. This, though, began many years ago as Alzheimer’s began to set in.

G’pa was, and is, a great man. When my grandma, the love of his life, passed away back in 2004 after her own bout with Cancer, the signs of Alzheimer’s were already showing. I think my grandma knew it when she departed this world into the next… she prepared as much as she could for him (including birthday cards for all of us throughout the year). Of course, she always took care of him, and the two were quite the duo. You could never leave their house without a smile on your face–their playful arguments. I will never forget them. I do remember as a child being astonished one day as I stood in the living room of their Mills, WY home, hearing my grandpa say “Come here, shit head!” I was so thankful when it wasn’t my grandma that followed him out of the kitchen, but their poodle, GiGi. For some reason, that and the candy jar, usually full of either root beer suckable candy or Atomic Fireballs that was strategically (and secretly) placed by “Grandpa’s Chair” (Grandpa’s Chair was the chair no one could sit in for very long, because when he returned, anyone in it was booted!) Another very fond memory is grandpa sitting there in that very chair, sucking on his candy, using his electric shaver, and watching the TV…either golf or QVN (yes, grandma and grandpa bought quite a bit of stuff off of QVN!).

Grandpa Dancing

Grandpa Dancing

My grandfather worked for as much of his working life as I can remember at the Casper Texaco Refinery. A hard worker and a very handy man, he wasn’t afraid of fixing anything and electrical stuff was his specialty. Grandpa and Grandma both were the odd-balls of the family–basically the only liberals in my family–and boy would they argue their side. Arguing (and farting) was their game — each blaming it on the other or the dog, but we all knew they were equally guilty.

Another vivid memory I have of my grandpa is his “hatred” of Christmas (not the holiday itself, but the commercialization of such). This was quite the contrary to my grandmother who absolutely loved it and all of the decorating that comes with it. I am pretty sure that Grandpa really did love Christmas, he just couldn’t admit it.

Dancing… my grandpa LOVES to dance. So did grandma. And whistling… you could always hear grandpa whistling.

My Family with Grandpa

My Family with Grandpa

Then evil came and began to take his mind. My family has, in recent years, experienced a lot of tragedy when it comes to evil diseases. As if Cancer weren’t enough, I can tell you Alzheimer’s in some way is worse, if that’s possible. At minimum, equally as bad, and definitely hard on the loved ones. C&A are two diseases that I pray will be eliminated in my lifetime or my children’s.

The last time I saw my grandpa was a almost two years ago when most of my family went to California for a vacation and to spend some time with him for his birthday. He looked much better then, physically, at least compared to the pictures I have seen of him lately. My mom sent me one today which just brought tears to my eyes. It’s undoubtedly time for Grandpa to go to the better place, and to spend eternity with his Maker and the love of his life, Grandma Cookie. I have no doubt they will be swing dancing soon, and I hope and pray it will be soon as the suffering needs to end.

Sending lots of love to my mom and aunt Lynda who are with him now, as well as to my Uncle Randy who could not make the journey from Casper. They are the three wonderful children of Emmett and Virgina Carlen, the crazy Democrats who are responsible for me, my sisters, my cousins and all of our kids. Grandpa, you did well. We love you, and we wish you a peaceful journey Home.

Grandpa, Mom, Lynda and Randy

Grandpa, Mom, Lynda and Randy

–Ryan

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Still Undefeated in My Mind : Michael Lovato (7/23/67 – 7/18/11)

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Just received word that at about 2pm Mountain today, my brother-in-law Michael Lee Lovato passed away after a major battle with Cancer.  Mike has always defeated his foes, and I for one still consider him undefeated.  Cancer has been disqualified for cheating.

Mikey and My Sis

Mikey and My Sis

To my sister, Stephanie… I love you so much and will be with you soon.  To my nephew Stevie, you are a stud because of your mom and dad, and we will always be there for you.  To my niece Ashley, we’re there for you, too.

More reflection later.  Rest in Peace, Mikey.  For the first time in a long time, you’re free of health issues.

–RE

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The Fighter Continues His Fight…

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

I do not know what more to say about my brother-in-law Michael Lovato.  I do know this… I always knew he was a fighter.  What I guess I did not know is just how strong of a fighter he is.  After several days of being completely unresponsive, the last few, he has been all but that.  I was so amazed yesterday when I called my mom for an update.  She was at the hospital and actually put me on the phone with Mike–who talked to me!  I was so blown away that I didn’t say everything I wish I would have said, but I did tell him that I, along with my family (the OP Elledges), love him so much and are praying for him hourly.  He thanked me, and it was a joyous occasion.  Then today, I wake to the news that the doctors and nurses are amazed that he is where he is today, and they decided to resume treatment rather than just hospice care.  I do not know today if Mike will win the ultimate battle of his young life, but I am convinced more than ever he has a lot of fight left in him.  And based on his past, I would not  be surprised in the least bit if he doesn’t knock out his opponent, despite him being the underdgog.

Mike truly gives me a whole new perspective on life.   I sit here today, troubled with my own life events… but nothing compares to what Mike is going through.  And I know, if he can continue to fight the good fight, well hell, so can I.  And today, more than ever, I intend to.  If I learn nothing else from Mike, I learn that fighting to overcome hardships and obstacles ain’t no thing.  So I will.  And it WILL change my life.  He is fighting for life, and inspiring me to change mine.  I pray the outcome for both is a victory.  Don’t get me wrong at all… Mike’s fight is much more real and courageous than mine.  But I am going to model my remaining life, no matter how long that is, to be like his.

I continue to pray for Mike and my sister and family,  I pray for comfort and I pray for him to defeat this big, bully “Cancer”.  I know he can.  And I know my sister can remain strong.  And further, I know I can learn from them both, and change my life accordingly.

Love to and prayers for Mike, Stephanie, Stevie, and Ashely, along with the rest of my family….

–RElledge

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Mike & His Fight

Monday, May 30th, 2011

My brother-in-law Michael Lovato is a fighter.  No other way to describe it.  Today, he lies in a hospital room in Casper, WY fighting cancer.  He has already fought and won two rounds of kidney transplants.  Mix in a courageous fight this year against cancer, which just some three weeks ago he was declared “cancer-free”.  Our entire family rejoiced that God had been with Mike and he had beaten the big C.  But now, in just the last week, a very progressive cancer has spread and taken over his body and mind.  The prognosis is grim.  I know if there is anyone who can beat it, it is Mike, but at this point, it looks like a heavenly intervention would be required.

Lovatos_Grandpa

Stevie, Mike, Grandpa, Stephanie and Ashley

My sister, Stephanie, is such a strong woman, or at least she shows herself to be.  I do not know how she remains so strong with all she and Mike have been through.  It is amazing, to say the least.  I am so proud of her for demonstrating such strength and courage in the face of adversity, but I know on the inside, she is weeping like the rest of us.  I’m sure she has her private moments where she let’s it out.  That is good…she needs to.  I know she is trying to be so strong for my nephew, Stephen, and my niece Ashley, both of whom are also showing amazing strength.  My thoughts and prayers are nearly exclusively with them all.

Mike entering our family over 12 years ago was truly a blessing for my sister and my niece.  Mike became the father figure Ashley so desperately needed and longed for.  While he is, on paper, only her step-father, it does not ever feel that way.  He loves Ashley as if she was his very own.  And Ashley needed that.  So did Stephanie.  Then, thanks to Mike, we were blessed with the addition of Stephen some 10 years ago.  What an awesome, strong young man he is.  I can only imagine what is going on in his head.  He absolutely idolizes his father (and rightfully so).  I know Stevie will be the same fighter Mike is, I just pray he doesn’t face a fraction of the battles his father has.  I hope his battles will be the fun kind, as he continues his pursuit of his black belt.

I feel helpless sitting here in Overland Park while my big sister is going through this; but that’s what she wants.  She told me on the phone she wants me to stay here–she doesn’t want me to remember Mike how he is right now.  She wants me to remember him as the champion fighter he has always been.  And I will, no doubt.  This is just another sign of how strong my sister is.  I want to be there for her, but she wants to be there exclusively for Mike.  I respect and understand that.

Cancer is the most hideous disease I can ever imagine.  It takes far too many people, far too soon.  I pray for the miracle that will allow Mike to win this fight.  He is definitely up against the ultimate opponent.  While the odds may be against him right now, I know that I, for one, don’t count him out.

Sending love to and prayers for Mike, Stephanie, Stevie and Ashley, along with the rest of my family,

–RElledge

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Website Update… In Progress

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

I’m currently in the midst of doing some spring, er… winter, cleaning here on RyanElledge.com.  Changing the theme of the website to ithemes.com’s Builder theme.  I have some work to do but will have a chance to continue updating over the next few days, I hope.

Also migrating to a new server.  I have moved most of the sites off my old, sluggishly slow server, but for some reason saved my site for the end.  The website is over but will have to work on getting my gallery migrated over the next few days, so sorry mom, the pictures are down for a short time.  Hopefully by Christmas I will have them up and running here on my new super-duper fast server.

It’s a work in progress but seems to be going faster than the Royals and Chiefs progress, so I guess it’s good enough for the pros.

Merry Christmas, all.

-RElledge

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The Old Dad

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Posted by mobile phone:
not sure how I could have forgotten in my earlier post to wish the world’s greatest dad a happy birthday today. I am so fortunate to have a father whom I am very close to. He certainly has proven to be someone I can always count on. Always there for me and my entire family. Thanks, dad, for letting mom come to Maui with us. I am only sorry you couldn’t join us, and that by her coming you sacrificed a wonderful week with your youngest grand daughter. We all miss you and can’t wait to see you at Christmas.

Happy birthday, The Dad. Love you.

Signed,

The Son

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DMB, SD, PHX…Here I Come

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Posted by mobile phone:
Enroute to the airport to head west to San Diego to visit our data center then to the Dave Matthe2s Band concert tonight. This will be my first show post LeRoi. Will be weird.

Tomorrow, fly to Phoenix to visit our data center there and then to another DMB concert.

Peace, ya’ll.

-RElledge

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