Americans are lonelier than ever before, according to a growing body of research. All those “friends” we have on the giant social network may be part of the problem
Is Facebook really making people more lonely? Or are lonely people attracted to Facebook?
These are some of the questions posed by a recent article in TheWeek.com.
This is the paradox of the Facebook age: We have an unmatched ability to connect with other people through social networks, yet we still “suffer from unprecedented alienation,” says Stephan Marche in The Atlantic. Evidence from the growing body of loneliness research seems to suggest that the two trends are almost certainly connected. While American tradition holds that there’s nothing wrong with a little individualistic solitude, the isolation of superficial connections with hundreds of Facebook “friends” might just be too much for us to handle.
(California high school student, Ellie Ritter, talks to her friends through Facebook: A growing body of research suggests that a connection is not the same thing as a bond/confidant. Photo: Lacy Atkins/San Francisco Chronicle/Corbis)
But is it fair to blame Facebook for all this?
Here are some reactions to Stephan Marche’s views…
- Lonely people are drawn to Facebook: “Facebook isn’t making us lonely,” says Walter Frick in BostInno. Most research shows, in fact, that already social people are social online, and loners are loners in both real and virtual life. Marche makes a convincing case that “lonely people are more attracted to the internet,” and Facebook can “attract and reflect loneliness.” But if you’re lonely, get offline and go talk to someone face-to-face. Don’t blame the internet. 
- Facebook is alienating: “Marche’s piece is a riveting read,” and if you don’t think he’s onto something, try Googling “Is Facebook making us lonely?” says Connie Schultz in the Shelby, N.C., Star. You get 7 million hits — clearly plenty of us “have been fretting about our Facebook addiction for some time now.” The problem is that Facebook encourages us to be “phonies,” always relentlessly and annoyingly happy. And without real intimacy, there’s no real friendship. 
- Loneliness was a problem long before Facebook: The problem with Marche’s central question (“Is Facebook Making us Lonely?”) is that our loneliness epidemic started long before the birth of Facebook, or even the internet, says Jeff Bercovici in Forbes. But Marche’s actual argument is subtler: That Facebook causes some people to get depressed by reading about other people’s purportedly perfect lives. Is that true? I’m not fully convinced, but it’s a great discussion to have, and a great way to sell magazines. 
A great discussion indeed!
Of all the things a close friend or loved one can do to you, betrayal is one of the worst.
It is the element of breach of trust that cuts deeper than the knife in the back. As the saying goes, “Backstabbers are only powerful when your back is turned.” Why was your back turned? Because you trusted the traitor.
On a national level, treason is perhaps the worst crime there is. The traitor is betraying the entire country and putting it at risk.
On a personal level, a traitorous friend can destroy your faith in people… or at least in that person. You can become mistrustful of others and be tempted to close yourself off from friends and family.
In addition to whatever actual damage the betrayal costs you physically, psychologically, emotionally, financially, etc. the blow to your spirit can be devastating.
Traitors and backstabbers don’t just affect the people whom they betray… they bring down society as a whole. We want to be truthful, honest and open. We want to be able to trust others. And when a betrayal becomes known, it’s almost as if, even temporarily, a tiny crack forms in what we feel society should be.
We hate them, and rightfully so, because traitors and backstabbers are loathsome creatures whose actions not only hurt the victim or victims of their betrayal… but make our world a bit worse off.
Special thanks to author and screenwriter Michael Plumides. Some of his experiences as a ‘backstabee’ during his years in college radio provided the inspiration for this piece. Thanks, Mike!
I do not own a pet nor will I ever again.
There was a time when I did own pets.
There was even a time, way back, when I owned four… count ‘em, FOUR… cats.
I’ve had goldfish and turtles. I even had a snake once.
To this day, in all my life, my best friend in the whole world was a black Labrador retriever named Trista.
The day Trista breathed her last was the day I vowed I would never own another animal, domestic or otherwise.
When she passed away at the age of 13, I came as close as I probably will ever come to having a nervous breakdown.
Relatives of mine have died and I did not weep and sob as much as I did on that day.
I cannot and will not bring myself to do that again. I seriously don’t think I’d be able to handle it.
In the aftermath of Trista’s death, one by one over the course of a few months, I murdered all the plants in my house. All save one, which I tried to kill through active ignorage. The little thing… an aloe… seemed to thrive on neglect.
Eventually, months and months later, I tossed a small glass of water into it, partly out of pity and partly out of curiosity as to what would happen. Within 24 hours the aloe had perked up and started showing signs of life, as if nothing had happened. That spiky-edged little twerp earned her place in my home.
Eventually, I started to do the same.
Riposa in Pace, Trista.
This evening, Friday April 6, at sundown is the beginning of Passover. It is by far my favourite holiday.
I will be leaving for Toronto Friday morning.
This blog will shut down until after Passover.
I hope to return Monday April 16.
Until then, may you all have a meaningful and spirit-filled holiday season.
There are certain types of persons who, given any amount of influence, command or authority, become drunk with power.
They get tipsy on tyranny. Pissed on prestige. Soused with strength. Potted on privilege. Muddled with mastery. Smashed on supremacy.
And I am not necessarily talking about those who actually wield supreme executive power. You don’t have to be a tyrant or despot to get loaded on leadership (ok, that was the last one, I promise).
In fact, if anything, there seems to be an inverse relationship betweem the rank of the person and the degree of power or amount of the authority granted… and the corresponding reaction thereto.
In other words, the smaller the person and the more mediocre the rise in power… the more likely it is that said person will behave like some banana republic dictator thereafter.
(‘One Bullet’ Barney)
Picture Barney Fife being made ‘acting Sheriff’ for a week while Andy is away. You get the picture.
While this phenomenon can happen almost anywhere, it often happens in an office setting. A person is given a promotion with the responsibility to supervise and manage his former colleagues. Most people, I am happy to say, perform their new jobs well and are very admirable in the fact that they do not turn into Josef Stalin.
However… every once in a while, someone gets promoted and we discover to our mutual horror that burning within that small, dark heart is a desire to exploit his new-found power and lord it over his former peers.
He sneers at and denigrates those who are now ‘under him.’ He suddenly is too busy to have lunch with his now former friends. He begins to mistreat them, using his position to exact punishment for perceived wrongs done to him in the past, or worse, just for the sick thrill of it.
Just to be clear, I am not talking about someone who has risen to the level of his incompetence, as per The Peter Principle.  Someone who is merely incompetent is not, by definition, a cruel overlord. Far from it. Such a person is often a pitiful creature that evokes pathos not hatred.
The person who becomes a bad boss upon being granted power already had dormant within him or her the seeds of evil. It took the granting of authority to water that seed and make it bloom into the vile, carnivorous plant now occupying the manager’s office down the hall.
Underlings feel powerless. They submit to the ill-treatment because they feel there is nothing to do other than leave. And for many, that is simply not an option. They need the job… so will put up with being mistreated because they feel that have to. Some may try to undermine the newly-minted superior and thwart his every plan. Those with connections with upper management may try to crush him from above. Some may try to ‘manage upward’ to limit the danger posed to them (see footnote below). But for the majority of underlings, they look upon their former friend, former colleague, former co-worker and peer with an impotent loathing.
But what of the new bureaucratic oligarch himself? Unlike ‘normal, decent’ management types, he uses his power (or what little influence and authority he now has) as a weapon of oppression, not as a tool to further the interests and ultimately help bring about the success of the enterprise. Part of it could be mere self-aggrandizement, demeaning and snubbing others to make himself feel (or look to others) important as befitting (in his eyes) his new station. But part of it could be something more sinister… a kind of workplace sadism, on a certain level. To that person, inflicting pain is not merely a means to an end… i.e. making others respect his authority; it is an end in and of itself.
Such a person is deserving of the deepest loathing.
We can only hope that their tenure is short-lived. As with the Barney Fife analogy, we all know that Sheriff Andy will be back next week so we try the best to stick it out until Monday.
Until then, those drunk with power earn our contempt… and hatred.
 The Peter Principle: “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” In other words, employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position in which they cannot work competently. The principle holds that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently. Eventually they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their “level of incompetence”), and there they remain, being unable to earn further promotions. Peter’s Corollary states that “in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out their duties” and adds that “work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.” “Managing upward” is the concept of a subordinate finding ways to subtly “manage” superiors in order to limit the damage that they end up doing. It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, a humorous treatise, which also introduced the “salutary science of hierarchiology.”
I like to think of myself as a rational, even-minded person, I really do.
However, every once in a while (and far more often than necessary), I run into certain types of people who drive me to distraction… to the point where I hate them and, as a result, almost everyone.
The ‘jerks du jour’ I’d like to discuss are the humourless.
People with NO sense of humour. They don’t laugh. They don’t smile. They take everything seriously. Nothing is funny to them. Even when they know something is meant as a joke, they take an almost perverse pleasure in pretending it was said seriously. They meet every punchline with a blank stare, every rim-shot with a derisive sneer.
When presented with the type of person who wears frivolity like an impenetrable shield, they shake their heads mournfully.
They sap the fun and pleasure out of life.
Not content with being humourless themselves, their mission is to drain the cheerfulness from everyone around them. When they walk into a room, you can almost feel the energy waning. People hang their heads and sigh or groan.
I have no idea why humourless people are the way they are and, frankly, I could not care less.
Someone near and dear to me married a humourless person. When I met the spouse-to-be, I was immediately struck by the fact that the person never smiled, let alone laughed. What kind of person never cracks a smile? The marriage did not last. No one was the least bit surprised.
Humourlessness is, to my way of thinking, a sign of an unhealthy mind and a sick spirit.
Deep inside, I know that this type of person is more to be pitied than censured… but I can’t help it.
I do not feel compassion for them. I do not sympathize with their predicament. My heart does not bleed for them. I do not say to myself, “There, but for the grace of G-d, go I.”
I just hate them.
Thinking about them makes my hair hurt.
I used to get a copy of Gothic Beauty Magazine every quarter!
Four times a year, every year, for a long time.
I myself was never goth. I suppose you could call me ‘goth friendly.’ The goth world has held my fascination ever since I first saw goths in the Queen Street West area of Toronto many years ago.
Gothic Beauty Magazine was my own little window into that world. It is a treasure trove of goth-related information.
From the About Us section of the Gothic Beauty website…
“Established in the fall of 2000, Gothic Beauty features fashion, music interviews & reviews, entertainment & art, profiles, lifestyle articles and events. Published by Holiday Media, Gothic Beauty has become America’s favorite Gothic magazine.”
One of my favourite things was checking out the advertisements sprinkled throughout the magazine. It was a special treat to look up the websites and admire the amazing products made by these small independent individuals and companies. There was a company in Montreal (the name escapes me right now) that produced the most incredible goth jewelry! Unbelievable stuff. And the magazine is full of great places like that.
It’s seems like ages since I picked up a copy. I am way overdo!
If you are goth, goth friendly or goth curious and you ever run across Gothic Beauty Magazine, pick up a copy and see for yourself.
Better still… subscribe!
I recently received a wonderful gift from some very dear friends!
This little gizmo is one of the coolest things I’ve ever owned. And it sounds perfect for my life. I am always running around and sometimes I have a few minutes to check my email or Facebook or whatever but I don’t have enough time to run to a nearby computer terminal. Now with my new best gadget, I am always able to check up on the little things. The big things can wait until I am in front of a real computer.
My dear friend, SB, gave me a quick tour of his own Playbook a couple of weeks ago and I was instantly a huge fan. When I got the little cutie (Thursday night last week), I decided to bring it to Toronto with me so I could spend a bit of time with SB and learn the ropes.
I didn’t have much of a chance to check the little squirt out on Friday during the day. Before I knew it, it was the Sabbath. OK, I figured, I’d give it a spin Saturday night. Saturday night, I was way too busy. I was totally swamped Sunday from 6:00 am until about 5:00 pm. The only thing SB and I could do Sunday afternoon was charge it up and do some initial steps.
Today, Wednesday afternoon, with my BBP all charged up and ready to rip, I started using it. I was finally going to take my little honey-bunny out for a spin.
As the fabulous Janice Litman would say…
“Ohh… myy… GAWD!!”
I am SO loving it, you’ve no idea!
It’s going to take me a bit of serious experimenting to really get the hang of things but I must say, she’s pretty straight forward.
Anyone who has grown up with computers will know almost instinctively what to do. You bond very quickly. It almost becomes a part of you as you become a part of it. In a way, it is a means of ‘achieving perfection.’ You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.
Oh, no! Maybe this is how The Upcoming Robot Uprising begins.
My innocuous, innocent little doohickey… the Harbinger of Doom!
Is this how the world will end? Not with a bang but with an “Ohh… myy… GAWD!!”?
I think I’ll name her Janice.
Well, my little geeks and nerdlings, it is the time of year when the stomach bug  spreads like jam on toast and your friendly neighbourhood Vampyre Fangs is no exception, I am afraid to say.
I must say, I was feeling pretty chipper when the Jewish Sabbath arrived. I attended services at a tiny synagogue in The Baycrest Terrace retirement home in The Heart of the Old World, ran into several old acquaintances and colleagues, walked over to the home of my generous and hospitable hosts and sat down to a wonderful Shabbes dinner with beloved friends. The atmosphere was warm and convivial, the conversation sparkling, the mood both spiritual and festive.
Halfway through a fabulous meal, I could not escape the feeling that something was amiss. A few minutes later, there was no mistaking the warning signs. Not wanting to spoil the evening for the other guests, I excused myself and made my way to the downstairs bathroom. I arrived in the nick of time.
I will spare you all the ghastly details. Suffice it to say that I felt like a frog losing its lunch. 
Once I composed myself, I returned to dinner. Fortunately for me, with all the Sabbath songs being sung round the table, no one heard me downstairs. Phew! Needless to say, I experienced a certain loss of appetite.
About ten minutes later, a return visit downstairs was needed. I tried to get there as speedily as possible. As close as my timing was on the last visit, this one was even closer.
I did feel a bit better afterwards. I returned once again to the dining room, enjoyed the company and the conversation and, in time, bade my farewells to the hosts and fellow guests. On the walk back to Château Burke (the spacious manse at which I stay when I am in Toronto), I felt quite good. I went to bed, confident that the worst had passed and that the unpleasantness was over.
My confidence was misplaced. Twice more throughout the night, I skipped to the loo, my darlings. A most disagreeable night, indeed.
I had originally hoped to attend a bar mitzvah Saturday morning. That was now more or less out of the question. Although I felt much better (by comparison), I was still a teeny bit queasy and felt it would be best if I just lay in bed for the morning, hoping for the best. I was out like a light until about 1:00 pm.
(Sorry. She still looks good!)
I woke up a new person. It was as if nothing had occurred the night before. Albeit tired and a bit sore (my stomach muscled ached from all the exercise they’d recently been put through), I felt great.
I wasn’t going to take any chances. At lunch, all I had was a small bowl of soup and some ginger ale. So far, so good. By evening, I was 120% my old self!
The next day (Sunday), I once again limited my food intake to soup. Through an abundance of caution, I did not go to a dear friend’s birthday party that afternoon. Sorry, MP.
This morning (Monday), I awoke bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, fit as a fiddle and ready to fly. Still playing things cautiously, I will not immediately tuck into the hearty repasts. Steady as she goes, Sulu!
I am nothing if not a Fraidy Cat.
 Stomach bug: aka Stomach Flu, aka Gastroenteritis.
 A frog has the ability to empty the contents of its stomach by everting its stomach all the way up to and even out of its mouth. As gross as this is to imagine (or watch), you’ve not lived until you’ve experienced it yourself!
It’s New York Fashion Week!!!
Having said that…
Egoists drive me up the wall and across the ceiling.
And no, I don’t mean egotists.
An egotist is basically someone with an over-inflated sense of self-worth. An egotist is full of himself. A conceited, boastful braggart. 
Today I want to focus on egoists. Egoists are completely selfish, self-absorbed and self-centred persons. The “I am the centre of the universe” kind of people who make you want to take a large metal rasp to their noses.
Strictly speaking, egoism is a term used in Ethics to mean ‘a theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of moral behaviour,’ although this sense is not dominant today. 
The sense that is dominant today is the one that goes something like, “the world ends about 18 inches from my body!”
Egoists can only think of things in terms of themselves.
Egoists invariably steer conversations their way… because, after all, it’s all about them. They are quite clever and resourceful in doing so.
Earthquake in San Fransisco in which dozens perish?
“Oh, how sad. There is this wonderful little restaurant I went to in Chinatown. I loved it. It’s one of my favourite places. I hope it’s OK. I’d hate the thought of never being able to go there ever again!”
The Pope dies?
“I remember when I was at the Vatican. Something awful happened… I forget what… and I couldn’t get to see the Sistine Chapel. I was only there for two days. It totally ruined my trip to Rome!” 
I, I, I… Me, Me, Me… My, My, My!!
I find it hard to fathom their head-over-heels dippiness about themselves because, trust me, once you get to know them, the vast majority of egoists usually have a lot to be humble about.
I once knew a young Wiccan-wannabee girl who told me she was totally bummed out on 9/11. Was it the unspeakable evil of the attacks? The horrific loss of life? The deep feeling of violation on a national scale?? No!
You see… she was in a mad rush that day and did not send out ‘positive energy’ as she usually did during her morning rituals. Seriously… this girl was feeling guilty all day on 9/11 because she believed that in a very real way, while the attacks were not technically all her fault, she for sure could have prevented the death, devastation and national trauma had she just risked being late for class that morning. She was so distraught, looking at those burning and collapsing towers again and again, thinking… if only I’d sent out my good vibes, none of this would have happened!
(Oh, get a grip!)
If I’d known her at the time, I could have saved her family thousands of dollars in rhinoplasty with my $20 Walmart metal woodworking rasp.
Honestly! Myopia is one thing but… DANG! 
She must find it difficult to stand under the combined weight of all that chutzpah and sheer bull.
Listen, egoists… I want to tell you something and I need you to pay close attention because it concerns you and I know that is important to you.
You are not the centre of the universe. And we now have the Hubble Space Telescope photos to prove it!
I have a rasp… and I am not afraid to use it!
 Please don’t get me wrong. I have a burning hatred for them too. Believe me. But as far as I am concerned, as annoying and full of hot air as egotists might be, they are easily dismissed with a contemptuous wave of my hand.
 Oxford English Dictionary Online.
 And who the hell books only two days for a trip to Rome, anyway??
 Yes, I said ‘dang’ and, by gum, I meant it!