Saturday, August 29, 2015

Does Facebook Need More Misery?

Does Facebook need more misery?

This has been on my mind a lot lately.

As I’ve been trying to deal with my bouts of depression these past few months, Facebook (and social media in general) has been a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, it’s been a great way to share my darkest feelings and get support from friends. On the other, I’ve also felt as if I’ve been burdening others by putting negative energy in the newsfeed.

 This conflict, I think, exists on some level for a lot of people.

There’s an unspoken rule on Facebook that sharing too much negativity is taboo and that posting a status that reveals or alludes to a darker personal issue is simply attention seeking.

Personal problems should be kept personal, talked about in private or among close friends in a closed online setting like messages, email or Skype. 

These attitudes were what kept me in the past from sharing many of my problems online and they’re understandable.

Sharing too many personal issues online does get grating. It’s tiring to see that negativity in your newsfeed.

Yet at the same time I think there’s also a danger in allowing too much positive energy.

What do I mean by that?

Well, social media has a powerful emotional effect on people.

As much as we like to think that Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram are separate worlds from our ‘real life’ deep down we all know that what happens online is just as important as what we do in the office, at home or in the grocery store.

Our selves, for better and worse, are intimately connected to social media and the line between our day to day lives and what we do in cyberspace is increasingly blurry.

If you’re a millennial, this is especially true.

The younger you are, the more your feelings, attitudes and sense of self-worth are going to be informed by your online personas.

Now, you might say: ‘Okay, so doesn’t that mean we should focus on sharing positive or non-negative items so that we avoid bringing ourselves and others down?’  

 Well, in my opinion, no not necessarily.

Much like in ‘real life’ the unspoken rule about not being open about our miseries causes more problems than not.

For someone who struggles with depression, bipolar, loneliness, social anxiety or another issue social media is sometimes the only outlet they have for sharing their misery

Again this is especially true if you’re a teenager who’s practically been raised from the crib with a device in your hand.

If you’re wrestling with personal monsters the constant barrage of selfies, personal accomplishments, funny memes and self-aggrandizing updates makes it that much harder to open up both online and in person.

The fact that most people predominantly share good news about themselves, creates a false impression that everyone you know is in a better place than you and that no one else can relate to what you’re going through.

Essentially, it’s the iceberg effect. With social media, we almost always see the tip of the person floating above the water not the much larger, deeper part that’s beneath the surface.

Most of us know this. However, we’re human beings and that means what we know doesn’t always match up with what we feel.

Even if we know that the doctored Instagram images of Susie with her smiling baby don’t represent the hours of tantrums, dirty nappies and sleepless nights that come we parenting all we see is the smiling picture and that clouds our minds.  

The same can be said of Molly’s vacation to Spain, which no doubt was earned with hours of tedious paperwork and years of being unable to take long vacations.

Because of this, and because we are so intimately familiar with our own shortcomings and faults we bottle ourselves up.

 So what to do? If anything? 

Well, as I said before sharing every single difficulty is not warranted. Disputes with another person, no. Venting constantly about how awful work is, yeah probably not.

However, deeper issues I actually think are worth sharing. Deep personal misery, uncertainty in yourself, the fact that you aren’t as strong as you are at a moment are just as much a part of life as our happiest triumphs.

Sharing our miseries and uncertainties openly allows others to know they are not alone. It allows others to understand that most of us have similar or identical insecurities.

And when we do achieve something, the fact that we’ve been able to overcome the darker periods of our lives makes our accomplishments even grander.

I’m sure there are certain aspects of this issue I have overlooked or haven’t discussed.

However, ultimately I think adding a bit more serious, self-reflective and self-questioning updates about ourselves has more benefits than detriments.

If nothing else, the least we can do is know we aren’t the only ones who hide our miseries behind a smiling profile picture.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Eerily Relevant Mark Twain Quotes About America



'Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.'





'God created war so that Americans would learn geography.'



 'Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.'


'Men think they think upon the great political questions, and they do; but they think with their party, not independently;they read its literature, but not that of the other side.'


 'It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either.'


' is not proper to brag and boast that America is a Christian country when we all know that certainly five-sixths of our population could not enter in at the narrow gate.' 


'A man accustomed to American food and American domestic cookery would not starve to death suddenly in Europe; but I think he would gradually waste away, and eventually die.'



 'Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.'


'We have the best government that money can buy'


 'In America, we hurry--which is well; but when the day's work is done, we go on thinking of losses and gains, we plan for the morrow, we even carry our business cares to bed with us, and toss and worry over them when we ought to be restoring our racked bodies and brains with sleep. We burn up our energies with these excitements, and either die early or drop into a lean and mean old age at a time of life which they call a man's prime in Europe. When an acre of ground has produced long and well, we let it lie fallow and rest for a season; we take no man clear across the continent in the same coach he started in--the coach is stabled somewhere on the plains and its heated machinery allowed to cool for a few days; when a razor has seen long service and refuses to hold an edge, the barber lays it away for a few weeks, and the edge comes back of its own accord. We bestow thoughtful care upon inanimate objects, but none upon ourselves. What a robust people, what a nation of thinkers we might be, if we would only lay ourselves on the shelf occasionally and renew our edges!'


'If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.'

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Badass Women of History- Zenobia



The Conqueror 

Zenobia of Palmyra by Gambargin


A descendent of Cleopatra, Zenobia was a tenacious leader and tactician who challenged the Roman Empire.


A native of Syria, Zenobia was born long after her homeland had been made a Roman province. 


Well educated in classical philosophy, she spoke at least four languages and at an early age was placed in charge of her rich family's estates and cattle herds.


In 258 CE she married a Roman Senator who went on to become the Governor of Syria. Though she had at least one son with him and several daughters the marriage may not have been a happy one as Zenobia refrained from sleeping with her husband except when they wanted children.


Six years after their marriage, her husband and his eldest son from another wife were murdered by a nephew. Since her son was still a minor, Zenobia took over as regent of Syria on his behalf.


Situated on a profitable trade route and inheriting a large army from her late husband, Zenobia was well placed to break with Rome.

Desiring greater independence for herself and encouraged by ambitious courtiers and philosophers at her capital, Palmyra, Zenobia decided to throw off Roman rule and create her own Empire. 


With Rome gridlocked in a power struggle over who would be the next Emperor, Zenobia was free invade Roman Egypt with her armies. Initially unsuccessful, her soldiers drew the Romans north into Syria where they were annihilated on her home turf.

With Egypt and Syria under her control, Zenobia continued her aggressive expansion adding modern day Palestine, Jordan and parts of Turkey to her Empire taking away almost a third of Rome's territories. 


Zenobia's Conquests are in Yellow



Unfortunately for Zenobia, her luck went south in 272 CE when a Roman general, Aurelian, succeeded in becoming Emperor. 


A career military man who had started as a simple foot soldier, Aurelian ended the political power struggle which had kept Rome from focusing on Zenobia's insurrection. 

Crossing into Syria from the north with Rome's entire military might, Aurelian confronted Zenobia in two pitched battles driving her back to her capital. 


Hoping to flee into Persia across modern day Iraq, Zenobia and her entourage were captured by Aurelian's cavalry before they could escape and her Empire was brought to an end. 


Zenobia by Wildweasel339



Zenobia's ultimate fate varies somewhat according to the historical texts


Most accounts agree that she was brought back to Rome as a prisoner by the Emperor and that after being put on trial she was placed under house arrest in a villa in the city for the rest of her life. 

Some accounts also indicate that she may have married a Roman merchant and that one of her daughters went on to become Aurelian's wife as part of  deal to keep Zenobia's people from rebelling in the future.

Zenobia's brief but highly successful campaign against Rome inspired future women monarchs like Russia's Catherine the Great. 


Today, she is most remembered for being an ambitious queen who proved more than capable of going sword to sword with one of the world's greatest empires.

Statue of Zenobia in Latakia, Syria