Posted in Parenting, social media

Making Connections

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of work and running. I didn’t get much writing done this week because I’ve increased the frequency of my runs. I love summer and I’m trying to spend as much time as possible outside. I also have a new idea percolating, and once I get it put together in my head, I’ll be starting a new project.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about making connections. Last night I went to a movie with a friend, and it was so nice to see her. I hadn’t seen her in a couple of months, and we needed to catch up.

It’s important that we have in person get togethers. Especially now, with the invention of social media where we don’t physically meet anymore. We still need to have social skills. Humans are social animals. We need that interaction to feel connected. We need hugs and physical contact.

Technology is amazing. I love that I can google anything. The internet has made researching for my writing so much easier, but it can’t replace physical touch. I worry about the younger generation’s dependence on their devices. I hear scary stories of them hooking up just for sex and that scares me. Where is the emotional connection that we need for love?

I try to get my kids to socialize in other ways besides social media, and I’ve been successful in getting them to make connections with their friends, but it doesn’t feel the same as when I was younger. The overuse of social media has been linked to depression and anxiety. Experts haven’t proven there’s a link between social media and teen suicide, but along with the rise of social media, there has also been a rise in teen suicide after decades of a decline. This is worrisome. We need to monitor our kids to make sure they’re not becoming dependent on their games or social media, but it’s hard to monitor during the summer months when parents have full time jobs. On the plus side, connecting via the internet is safer in some ways with mass shootings and school shootings on the rise. Plus, with the online connection at least I know where my kids are.  

So, there are positives and negatives to social media use. What are your thoughts? Are you worried our kids will lose the ability to make emotional connections? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Is Social Media Replacing Physical Touch?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week with working and writing. I’m back to running outside. It’s finally warm enough. I’m being careful because of my back, but so far so good. I sleep better when I exercise and my mood during the day is better. I can tell a difference.

But enough about that. I’m back today to talk about our emotional needs. As I scroll through my feed on Facebook, I find many people posting about their emotional needs on social media. Need an ego boost? Post a selfie. Need prayer warriors? Make a post on social media. Don’t get me wrong I’m okay with asking for support on social media, but I’m concerned.

I’m concerned because what happens when social media becomes the only form of emotional support for people? I mean what if it replaces the hug and the touch on the arm? We as a species need physical touch. I strongly believe that. Did you know hugs and cuddling can ward off depression?

Maybe that’s why so many of our young people are depressed. Maybe they’re turning to social media and not getting the hugs they really need. It doesn’t have to be a hug. It could be a touch or just hearing the affection in the tone of your voice. You can’t get that from social media either. I’m not a therapist or a scientist, but I love to research for my stories and other things that intrigue me. So, I’m drawing a conclusion based on my research and I may be on to something here.

We need face to face interaction. There’s no way around it. We need to hear the inflection in the voices of our loved ones when we walk in the door. We need the physical touch of a stroke on our arm or a hug. Social media can’t replace that, and I feel these things are vital to our health.

We need social gatherings more than ever now and family traditions. Any type of face-to-face contact. Our kids need it so they learn social skills, and we can maintain our mental health. We need to use all five of our senses to keep our brain working properly not just our eyesight. What do you think? Am I on to something here? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, Personal

The Importance of Family Traditions

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of writing, working, and throwing a bridal shower for my niece to be.

It was a hectic week to say the least and I didn’t get much writing done, but that’s okay. It was nice to see members of my family that I haven’t seen in a long time, and it was nice to welcome my niece to be into the family.

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about the importance of family traditions. I was able to take a few moments, in between making sure everything ran smoothly and making sure everyone’s glass was full, where I was able to sit down with my cousins and talk about the changes between our generation and the current one.

When my cousins and I were growing up, we played outside as much as we possibly could. I remember going over to my grandparents and as soon as all of us cousins arrived, we’d go over to the empty field across the street and play kickball. I loved going over to my grandparents so I could play with my cousins. I didn’t know it then, but we were making memories and learning how to negotiate and get along with other people. Our parents took photos of us during those kickball games to put into photo albums, so we’d be able to look back and reminisce.

I remember holidays together where we’d all sit around the table and eat turkey and stuffing. It didn’t matter if it was Thanksgiving or Christmas, we always had turkey. Both my parents came from big families, six siblings on both sides, so there were aunts and uncles galore.

I remember lots of love and laughter.

It’s important to keep those family traditions going. We’re going to lose something if we don’t. I see it in my own family. Now, that my aunts and uncles are getting older, it’s harder for them to host the big family holidays. I know as soon as my mom gives up hosting Christmas, I’ll take care of it, but it’ll be with my siblings and their families. I’m going to miss the extended family celebrations we’ve had in the past where all my aunts and uncles get together. I’m trying to figure out a way we can still do it. It has become too much work for my mom to host them.

Family traditions are so important. It gives us something to look forward to in the daily grind of life. It’s a way to stay connected. To tell family stories and learn about our ancestors. I’ve learned things I never knew about my grandparents and their parents just sitting around the table chatting.

With so many people staying connected via social media, I predict some of these big family get-togethers are going by the wayside. I hope not. We will lose something in the process.

I don’t want our family history to be lost to Face book posts. It’s such a great way to connect when you actually get together in person and chat face to face. I think about all the family stories that’ll be lost if we don’t get together. Maybe it’s time I wrote a story about our family and put our history on paper.  

That’s one way to keep our history alive. How about you, what family traditions do you have that you don’t want to lose? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Just saw this on Face book and thought it was appropriate for this blog post! LOL! My sick sense of humor rearing its ugly head!

Posted in community, current-events, Family, friendship, Health, mental-health, Parenting, Teen

In Real Life Connection vs. Engagement

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work, writing, and running. It’s treadmill season at the Orchard household and I did something to my back the other day when I was running. It hasn’t gotten any better, and I fear I’m going to have to go to the doctor and get it checked out. It has been four days and it hasn’t gotten back to normal. Ugh.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about staying connected. With social media we can connect any time for any reason, but is it a true connection? I don’t think so, there’s nothing like taking the time to sit down with family and friends and spending good quality time with them.

The social media platforms, be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, main intent is to keep you engaged. Behind the scenes, they analyze your likes and comments to learn what your interests are so they can plant more of those interests in your feeds. This keeps you on their site longer, and it appears like you’re connecting with friends and family, but in reality, it’s more about keeping you engaged than connecting with people.

Don’t get me wrong I love social media because it allows me to stay in touch with friends in other states and countries, but it doesn’t take the place of a true connection with your family and friends right here.

Just the other day, I had brunch with some friends and then we spent the afternoon painting together. It was an In Real Life Connection. One in which, I’m learning how to paint, and I must say Bob Ross is right, there are no mistakes just happy little accidents. 😉 But I digress, the point I’m trying to make is we need in person connection now more than ever. If we lose the ability to read social cues and body language, we’re going to set the human race back to the caveman era.

Evidence suggests there is a correlation between the rise in suicide rates and the rise of social media. We have more access to more information than we’ve ever had. That means we have access to chat rooms and forums that are pro-suicide. Our kids have access to these forums. So, if you’re dealing with a child with some mental health issues and they find their way to one of these forums, it could be trouble.

Cyber-bullying has led to suicides as well, especially among the younger crowd. Social media has become an avenue for that also. So, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have a connection with your loved ones. We can never truly know what’s going on in someone’s mind unless we watch for the signs.

But that’s not where I want to go with this. I digress again. Sorry. What I want to say is that maybe Social Media is the symptom, and the real disease is lack of connection or disconnection.

I believe that if it’s not the sole cause, it’s a big part of it. So, keep the communication open with your family and friends. Stay connected. Make sure your kids learn how to make an emotional connection with their friends, so they won’t feel isolated.

So how do we stay connected with so many distractions?

  1. Engage in a common interest like hiking or biking or robotics
  2. Have family night where you play a card game or board game
  3. Watch a movie together once a week
  4. Take a family vacation

These are just a few ideas. There are many ways to make connections with your family. How do you connect with yours? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Documentaries, Entertainment, Family, friendship, social media

Technology’s Effect on our World

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy working and writing this week and I’m making progress on my WIP. I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about technology and it’s impact on our society. I had a class reunion this weekend and I got to see friends I haven’t seen in a long time. It was nice to catch up and walk down memory lane with them. Some of them, I’ve been able to connect with on social media and chat via messenger with them. It’s a great way to reestablish old connections.

With social media it’s easy to stay connected and catch up via chats, but there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction. I worry about our future generations where most communication will take place via the computer. I’m worried because I feel they won’t have the ability to read facial cues when talking with their peers because they won’t have enough practice with real life communication.

I’m also worried because I feel our young people don’t get enough physical activity. I see my kids and their friends spending so much time in front of a computer that they’re not getting enough exercise. Childhood obesity is on the rise and I feel the main reasons are the added sugars in our processed foods and the fact they’re not physically active.

So, even though technology has given us the ability to make connections over many thousands of miles, it has had a negative effect on our health, and it has also made our in real life connections more fragile because social media’s main goal is to keep us engaged.

They don’t want us to leave their site. So, they place items in our feeds to keep us there. Different articles on things we’ve liked. For example, if I like a random picture of an elephant, I’ll find more elephant pictures and articles showing up in my feed. There’s a documentary on this phenomenon called “The Social Dilemma.” If you haven’t seen it, you need to watch it. It’s on Netflix and it explains this whole process.

How about you? Do you feel technology has had a negative impact on our physical and mental health? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health

Is Social Media Bad for Your Health?

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of work, writing, and running. This week I saw a post on Facebook (kind of ironic, I know) and it made the statement that Social Media makes you dissatisfied with your life.

I gathered from this statement that social media makes people dissatisfied because we start to compare ourselves to what other people post. The meme went on to say, get off social media, read a book, work in your garden, or go for a walk. Do something that brings you joy and do it for that reason alone. Don’t do something just so you can post it on Facebook later. Do it because you enjoy it.

I agree with this statement even though I’m guilty of spending time on social media myself. I find that scrolling on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter is a passive exercise. You’re not actively participating in life. Sure, you can connect with people and message them and that’s all well and good. I do that myself.  But you’re not actively living.

When you go for a walk, you’re not only doing something good for your body. You’re experiencing life. You’re experiencing the smells of the forest and the beauty of the wildflowers growing alongside the road. That’s living. You’ll feel better getting up and doing something. Going for a walk or a hike even by yourself is much better for you than scrolling through posts on Facebook.  

If you’re feeling frustrated with your life or you’re dealing with a problem and you can’t find a solution. Read a book. Reading is a great stress reliever and I guarantee if you read for even just fifteen minutes, the problem you’re dealing with won’t feel so big. Again, reading is active. Your brain is working, focusing on something other than your problem or dissatisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is a great way to keep in touch with people and make connections, but it’s not good for your health if you’re neglecting exercise or it creates mental anguish. Remember, the goal of social media is to keep you engaged. You have to actively set limits for yourself or you’ll get sucked in. It happens to the best of us.

Remember to actively live your life. Enjoy that walk or run while you’re doing it. Stay in that moment. Enjoy cooking that meal for your family. Enjoy the smells of the spices lingering in the air as you cook. Turn on the radio and listen to music while you work. That’s living. Social media isn’t.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you feel about social media? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Ageism, Health, Personal

Becoming Internally Oriented

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy with work and writing and I’ve also taken a few days off to spend with the family. It’s important to do this. We’re trying to create some lasting memories with our kids. They’re growing up so fast and time feels like it’s slipping away.

Even though they believe they know everything and don’t want to listen to our advice or wisdom, they’re still sweet kids. So, the terrible teens aren’t so terrible. However, this shift in perspective from relying on our advice to trying to make decisions on their own, I see a loss. There’s so much wisdom the older generation has that the younger generation needs.

In ancient times, our elders were respected, and their advice was sought out. When did this change? And why? Now, society tries to make our mature adults feel as if they have nothing of value to offer. They try to push them aside and shove them out of the limelight.

Did this change when manufacturers started creating products to make us look younger? When did we buy into the idea that looking young was the only worthwhile state of being? We’ve become too externally oriented as a society. We need to focus on how we feel. Do we feel healthy?

Look at all the products on the market that really aren’t good for us. All that processed food is killing us by making us overweight. Do you know many diseases are manifested because of being overweight? Diabetes, Cancer, and Heart Disease just to name a few. Our young people need to be aware of this.

They sit in front of their computers playing video games for hours at a time. What is this doing to their bones? They need physical activity to make them healthy and strong. I try to get my boys outside and most days I’m successful, but is it enough?

That’s why listening to our elders is more important than ever now. With the way the media “spins” things, and the way manufacturers disregard the effects their products have on the people and the earth, we’re all vulnerable. No one knows what to believe anymore.

How can we turn this around? First, we need to become internally oriented. Focus on our feelings and our health. We need to turn off the TV and Social Media, where they work on keeping you engaged by posting pictures in your feed based on previous likes.

We can turn this around by focusing on our health and making sure we get enough nutrients as well as sunshine and exercise. It really is that simple.

How about you? Do you have any ideas how we can turn this around? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Connecting with your Intuition

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of editing and a busy week at work. I took a little break from writing my new story because I was editing, and I had to take Christmas decorations down. Boo. I wasn’t happy about that. There’s something about those twinkling lights that cheer me up. But, enough about that, today I’d like to talk about Intuition.

Intuition is your inner guide. That voice in your head that gives you a warning or direction without any evidence that it’s true. There are times in my life when I listened to that voice. It came through loud and clear and I’m glad I did even when it didn’t make any logical sense.

My gut has never let me down yet, and now even more than ever it’s important for us to listen to our inner voice. Why? Because our world is built on creating an image. People create this image for others for many reasons. To get attention. To get validation, or to manipulate.

Advertisements bombard us with celebrities expounding the benefits of exercise equipment or makeup, implying we’ll look like them if we just use this product. It’s not true. We’ll always look like ourselves. We all know this, yet corporations have made millions of dollars by selling us their products based on this implication.

Our politicians create an image, so we’ll vote for them. They work with the media to put a “spin” on an event, or outright lie about something to throw mud at an opponent. So, we the public don’t know what’s true and what isn’t. How do you make a good decision that way?

Look at social media. An individual shares what they want the world to see and keeps the unattractive parts of themselves hidden. When their friends compare that individual’s seemingly “perfect” life with their own, they become disenchanted with their own lives and this creates angst and depression. So, it’s more important than ever to trust our gut.

Image may contain: food, text that says 'Thought for the day- Social Media never shows the whole picture. Perfection is an illusion'

We need to develop our intuition and make it stronger. So, how do you do that?

Well, it’s quite simple but hard to do.

We need to spend time alone and meditate. Take some quiet time to listen to our inner voice. Have a dialogue with it. It’ll take practice, but once you make that connection, you’ll be able to make decisions that are best for you. When we don’t make that connection and listen to that inner guide, we can travel down the wrong path that leads to unhappiness.

Spend some time in nature. It’s so good for us. I was hiking for years before I knew there were health benefits, just because it calmed me. It will have the same effect on you. I guarantee it. Whether you hike through the woods, or along the beach, you’ll experience health benefits. Both are good for you and quiet your mind, so your inner voice can come through.

Pay attention to your Dreams. That’s right, our sub-conscious talks to us through our dreams and so does our intuition. Try to remember your dreams upon waking and write them down. Think about an issue you’re struggling with before you go to sleep and see what your dreams tell you. I’ve found solutions to problems through my dreams. It’s amazing when that happens.

How about you, do you listen to your intuition? How do you tap into it? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Parenting, Personal, raising kids

Are We on the Road to Social Isolation?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving and had a wonderful food coma that day. It was different this year with the pandemic. We stayed home and had a turkey with our immediate family. It was nice, but I definitely missed my extended family, that’s for sure.

Because we had a stay at home holiday this year. I was able to get some writing done. I’m waiting for my Beta reader to get back to me on my story and while I wait, I’ve been working on another one. I really like this new one and I’m hoping I can do it justice.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about the effect the pandemic has had on our society. We work from home. Our kids learn from home. We sit in front of our computers in our homes and do our thing. This is very isolating. I need to interact with people. It lifts my mood to just be on a WebEx meeting with my colleagues. I worry how this kind of isolation is going to affect my kids. The thing is they need their friends and the only way they can interact with them right now as we all hunker down and ride out this pandemic is through their video games.

Sure, they’ve invited friends over, but these visits are few and far between because it’s safer to stay at home right now. So, video games have become their social gathering avenue. So, I’ve been letting them play them more than normal. They need that social interaction and video games have been linked to helping combat depression. So, what’s a Mom to do?

I worry that this will be more than a band-aid, though, and it will become a way of interaction for the future. I worry that the next generation will not have strong relationships because their only interaction will be video games and social media. This pandemic is setting a dangerous precedent. We are getting more and more dependent on our computers. What with social media moguls gathering data about what we find interesting so they can plant it in our newsfeeds, and video games becoming interactive. It’s going to change the way we function in society.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope that the powers that be will make sure our communities don’t change, but that would mean our purpose would have to change, wouldn’t it? The all mighty dollar can’t be the only goal here. It’s going to have to be something bigger than ourselves and our pocketbooks.

So, what can we do until that happens? We can get our kids to take breaks from their computers and watch movies together, play board games, or cards. We can get them moving by taking family hikes and getting out into nature. Anything that would require face to face interaction. That’s how we combat this social isolation. How about you? Do you have any ideas? I’d love to read them, leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in current-events, environment, Family, Parenting, Personal, Politics, raising kids, Teen

Don’t Look Now, But Social Media is Taking Control of Virtual Reality

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a stressful week of dealing with kid issues, a pandemic, work, and writing. Because I had a lot on my plate, I didn’t get a lot of writing done, but that’s okay. I needed to take a little break and refuel.

But enough about that, today I want to talk about a trend I see happening. First, I need to give you a little background, though.  Hubby and I were shopping for a virtual reality headset for the boys for Christmas. We found one we really liked because it wouldn’t be obsolete in two years. Anyway, we were all set to buy it when we discovered that in order to activate it, my son would have to open his own Facebook account.

We dug in our heels and didn’t buy it. We don’t want our kids having social media accounts right now. Especially after watching the show “Social Dilemma.” I remember after watching that show, I made the remark to my hubby that soon this is going to be seeping into the kids’ video games, and not two months later we run into the above scenario.

This is dangerous. The reason being that it’s giving social media platforms way too much control. They are changing human behavior by creating personalized click bait for each member. Their goal is to increase engagement, so your child will spend his free time on their site. Now that they’re invading video games, they’re going after the younger crowd. They’re looking to expand their customer base and more importantly they’re going to gather the same information about your child that they’re gathering about you.

social media, likes, engagement

I don’t know how we can stop this. Facebook bought the company that created the virtual headset my hubby wanted to get for our son, so they can require this. No one is stopping them. So, what happens when your child spends more time with their computer than they do with people? Loss of social graces, loss of the ability to communicate face to face, and the loss of empathy.

All these skills are needed to navigate today’s world. What happens if you as a parent do their do diligence and try to teach these skills to your children? They’ll be the only ones with these skills and get lost in a sea of dealing with socially inept humans. It’s a sad state of affairs. I’m not sure what we can do to stop this from happening.

Do we have the government regulate social media? Who trusts the government these days? What are your thoughts? Do you have any ideas? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!