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No Exclamation Necessary!

May I please make a respectful suggestion for everyone on both sides of the aisle when it comes to the sites we read and the outrage they stir up? If the headline contains an exclamation point, don’t get sucked in. If any of the sentences in the body of the article contain exclamation points (except for direct quotes – and even then, it’s iffy), don’t get sucked in.

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Real news sites lay out the facts – they don’t try to stir you up with exclamation points to emphasize the outrageous things they’re purporting to have occurred. And I’ve stopped following the sites that try to rile us up like this. Are some mainstream news sites biased one way or another? Yes. But that doesn’t make what they’re saying fake news.

But when you see those exclamation points, beware. Before your outrage kicks in, do a little research to see if what you’re reading actually happened. There’s enough real news out there to fuel your anger.

As Sargeant Joe Friday may or may not have said, “just the facts, ma’am.”

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Look At Me!

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There’s a social media post going around that basically asks, “Aren’t you glad that you got all your youthful indiscretions over before the advent of cell phones and everything you do being posted online?” And everyone over the age of 30 shouts, “Yes, yes, and yes!”

 

 

 

Can you imagine what it’s like to have every moment of your life out there for the babyworld to see? In the beginning, it’s the parents posting baby pictures, birthdays, first day of school, and soccer games. But once that first cell phone falls into those hot, little preteen hands, watch out, world.

 

 

globe.2Every thought, every spat, every crush is now in the public domain. These kids have no filters, no sense of privacy at all. They put their bodies out there for public display, and their dislike of teachers, their parents, their bosses are all considered fair game. There’s no sense of the future or any kind of consequences for sharing their soul with a world that gobbles this stuff up, and then ruthlessly spits these kids out.

 

 

There have been studies that conclude that the brain doesn’t fully mature until the pinky.swearage of 25. Or older. So back in high school, you might have done a few things that you kept from your parents. Just saying. And kept these indiscretions from everyone else except for your very best friends in the world.Who were sworn to secrecy on pain of a terrible, horrible death. You might have done stupid things, but they remained your deep, dark secrets. On the whole, you transitioned into adulthood with the follies of your youth largely safely behind you.

 

loveYou might have had serious high school crushes. Again, shared only with your BFFs. And certainly not with the object of your desire. In fact, it was beyond horrifying to think anyone would know about the guy who you spent every moment of your day longing for. How embarrassing to let the world in on your private thoughts!

 

Fast forward to today’s kids. How horrifying it would be for them if no one cared Monkey takes selfieabout those once-private, personal longings. Now, every minute of their lives must be shared with the world in order to validate their existence. A perfect example is the constant taking of selfies. Does anyone else feel that this is the new form of falling in love with yourself by staring into your reflection in the water?

 

 

 

proposalSome of this online sharing is fun, and not only for kids. Posting your own parodies of popular songs has become a thing. Or cute things babies or animals do. I am getting a bit concerned about the new wave of marriage proposals, however. What was once a sweet and private moment has now become a case of one-upmanship, with videos, crowds, singing and dancing as part of the package. As if there wasn’t enough pressure on the poor guy when he pops the question! It’s now got to be worthy of a Broadway production, or he’ll be considered a failure.

 

There is no assumption of the right to privacy anymore. Kids eagerly share their lives with not only their friends, but perfect strangers. The more the merrier. And then the day comes that they want to go to college. Or apply for a job. And they have no idea why they’re turned down. Posting pictures of every meal you’ve ever eaten is one thing. And seriously, how many meals have you eaten that are actually worthy of that kind of publicity? But putting thoughts or pictures out there that never go away, that can adversely affect your future, is not innocent fun. This generation has never really known the concept of anonymity. But the Internet is forever. Nothing really goes away. And it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Or take a picture of it.

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Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

 

TAKE ME AWAY (re-post from June 6, 2012)

How frustrating is it to realize how much money we are spending these days on things like cable, Internet, cell phones, etc.? And, not only are we paying exorbitant amounts of money for these services, but it seems the more we pay, the less service we actually get. Frustration levels rise, satisfaction levels are in the pits.

Example #1 – our Internet service. Awhile back, we started noticing that our wireless service would go out a few times a week. It was annoying, but not unbearable. Eventually, the interruptions became more frequent, at least once a day. I called our provider numerous times, each conversation taking at least an hour and never resolving the problem. Finally, about a year ago, they sent someone to the house who examined all the wiring, proclaimed all was well, and all we needed was a new router which he promptly installed. All seemed great. I had a sense of well-being wash over me. That was the first sign that something had to be wrong. I’ve been around long enough to know that no problem is ever solved that easily. You get lulled into a sense of well-being that makes the inevitable fall even harder and more painful.

Soon, it became apparent that not only were the Internet disruptions back, they were worse than ever. Literally, every two minutes for much of the time. I’d be working on something online, then everything freezes and I get a message that I have to close my browser and start all over again. Really? So I called my provider multiple times. Always with hold times no less than 20 minutes, and at least another 40 minutes jumping through hoops. I was told that the problem was that I should lower my security settings. I hung up. Calling back another day, I was told that they would send out a high-level team who would be able to figure out what was wrong for sure this time. That I would hear from this team within 2 days. It’s been at least 2 months and no call. I guess they’re not going to call. And, they’ve worn me down. I just spend my days cursing the computer, the Internet provider, and anyone else in sight.

Example #2 – our cable service. Once upon a time, there were 8 channels and, since that was all we knew, we were satisfied. (Yes, I am a dinosaur.) Now, there are approximately 80,000 channels and half the time I still can’t find anything to watch. Plus, it still irks me that I have to pay for something that used to be free even though we supposedly have such a wide world of choices. In spite of the fact that there is satellite TV available, our local cable company can still do pretty much whatever they want by way of rates, programming choices, etc. In the beginning, however, they tried to assuage our concerns by offering packages that included premium channels and twisted our brains into thinking we were getting amazing deals if we got all this for under $100. To watch TV! So, we signed up and thought we were happy. Soon, the packages started disappearing. Now, they offer bundling. I have declined this particular option since the ineptitude provided in one service does not need to spread to all of the services we receive. I like to spread the incompetence around.

Awhile back, I noticed that on the TVs in the house that weren’t hooked up to boxes, several channels had disappeared. I contacted our provider at the time and was told that now that we had digital, these channels were no longer available on our unboxed TVs. Even though we had been assured, when we switched to digital, that we did not need multiple boxes in the house. Our rates have once again gone up, our options have shrunk, and yesterday, I noticed about 6 more channels had disappeared. I called again and got a very lovely rep who had no idea what I was talking about, even though I thought I was being very clear. First, she told me that she would transfer me to the repair people. I assured her that I didn’t need repair, I just wanted to know why they took my channels away from the unboxed TVs. Then, she told me to unplug the TV box and plug it back in and she would send me the channels and all would be right with the world. I told her that it wasn’t the TV box, it was the fact that they had taken my channels away. While she put me on hold for the next 10 minutes, I wondered about that thing the cable reps do when they magically send channels through the air to your home – what kind of crazy voodoo is that, anyway? She finally came back on the phone and announced that those missing channels had become digital channels and were no longer available on TVs without boxes. Duh! I told her I was very upset about having to pay such high prices for less service. She told me I could add boxes to each TV in the house for an additional $5 apiece per month. I hung up.

Example #3 – our newspaper. We originally signed up to get our local paper on Saturdays and Sundays for a fairly low price. It’s not a great paper, definitely in need of a good proofreader, but it’s still a newspaper that gives us some kind of news. Although lately, it’s shrunk to the size of a 3rd-grader’s essay on what they did for their summer vacation. Anyway, a few years into the subscription, we were told we could get the Wednesday paper for no extra fee, and somehow, that included Tuesdays as well. Fine. And this went on for years.

Recently, I received a bill that was much higher than normal, so I called. After an interminable wait, I finally spoke to a human who told me that the rates had gone up due to subscriptions now including online access. And no, you don’t have a choice about it. So I asked if I could go back to just Saturday/Sunday delivery. I was told they don’t offer that anymore. How about just Sundays? Yes, I could do that and it would include online access, but it would cost about $10 more per month than I had been paying for 4 days a week. Sigh. But I said OK. Then, I tried to access my account by both phone and then online – I got error messages saying I had no account. I went onto the subscription page online and lo and behold – I could get the paper only on Saturday and Sunday and, it was less than they were going to charge me over the phone for Sunday only! So I called again this morning. I was on hold for approximately the length of the “Today” show. I told the rep the problem and she told me that they had no information about the online price so she could cancel my Sunday subscription and I could re-subscribe online for the new deal. Which I did.

I know I’m not the only one frustrated by all the money we’re paying for services that are either sporadic, unreliable, or just way more expensive than they should be. We dream about getting away from it all one day. But then reality hits that due to all the things we supposedly need these days, there isn’t any money left to get away from it all. No wonder we’re all so cranky!

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved