The Value of Social Networks

There are two camps when it comes to the value of social networks. Either sites like Facebook and Twitter are destroying our culture or they're the best thing since fire was invented.

I, personally, fall somewhere in the middle most of the time. However, there are times when I loathe it. Like when someone almost runs me off the road while they're trying to text about American Idol or when my poor college professor wife comes home from a rough day irritated because she gives the students ten different ways to access the same information but they can't bother to write it down or bring it to class. Instead, those students sit there the whole class and text their friends. I need to stop myself now on that topic because I could really go off on a soapbox about it. *sigh*

The good part, but also sometimes not a great part, about place like Facebook is the ability to be in touch with people all over the world, family you rarely see, and friends you'd lost touch with. Sometimes though, you remember why you don't still have those people as a constant presence in your life. Friends make crude or insensitive remarks. An issue or major event happens to you and they don't ackknowledge it. I've even had family members "unfriend" me. I've had former classmates "unfriend" me. One was someone I would have considered a best friend back in the day. These things can be painful and hurt your feelings, but the good part about that is that we learn if we, the human beings that we are, really matter to others.

Granted, I am a VERY opinionated and political person. I have my views, particularly when it comes to gay rights, that I'm passionate about and will fight over - verbally or otherwise. Some things are just worth fighting for and my right to be an equal in this world with others is one of those things.

So, when I spend a decent amount of time sharing information that matters to me, that affects MY LIFE and MY FAMILY, and it is essentially ignored by people I thought had a little more humanity and depth of character, it's frustrating and hurtful. The hurt doesn't last long because then I just get pissed off and type up a blog like this. For the last couple of weeks, since the events in Egypt unfolded, I calmed down my Facebook presence and tried to be more lighthearted. Then the events in WI and the Republican attacks on our freedoms kicked up this week, and I went on a tirade yesterday. Education is one of my soapbox areas. You want to get me going debate with me on education. I was a teacher, and now I work in higher education and trying to complete a doctorate in education. My wife is a college professor and working on her dissertation. Most people I know are in education in some way, and now I'm co-chair of the first GLSEN chapter in TN, so yeah, I get fired up when the topic turns to education.

With everything going on in the world and with all of the news I share, what do I see on my friend's status updates on Facebook? Some freakin' trees on Auburn University's campus have been poisoned and will likely die. OH! You would have thought someone had kicked their dog! Oh, the outrage. And someone on one of the friend's lists responded about having twisted priorities to do something like that. WTF?! Are you serious? They're pointing fingers about "twisted priorities" when a revolution took place to unseat a dictator and install democracy (btw, not a damn one of my conservative friends on FB even mentioned it!) and the Republican party (which these same friends voted into office...thank you, oh so fucking much!) is systematically tearing down unions, women's rights, child labor laws, and not to mention going after, you guessed it...the queers. Yet, a FUCKING TREE gets their attention.


Oh, and to top it all off, an old high school friend, after being an FB friend for probably over a year now and hearing me go on about equality rights for me and my family, decided yesterday to "like" an anti-gay marriage page on FB. Nice! She survived the last round of me deleting people off my friend's list because she hadn't directly been disrespectful before, but I don't think she'll fare too well this time.

See, that's the good thing about social networks. While sometimes it stings a little to know that people you thought were once decent people think you're a worthless piece of shit, at least their actions prove to you that they're not worth knowing. I know some people would say, "Yes, but shouldn't you keep your friends close, but your enemies closer? At least you'll know what they're planning and how to counter." Honestly, there's no countering that. There's no countering hatred or fixing stupid. They're stuck on stupid and like being there. One day, the way this country is going, I'll probably see these people across a battle line before I could ever hope to reach their hearts. Some people aren't worth trying to save or teach or talk to. They've deemed I'm not worth listening to. Why should I give them the respect they can't extend me?


The New World Order...Republican-Style

Thanks to the election of a new Republican majority, we have a new world order taking place. I just want to say "thank you" to the people (friends and family) who refused to listen, who bought into the fear and bigotry, and who selfishly thought of only themselves this last election. Are you happy now? Is this REALLY what you wanted? For all of them, when it comes home to bite YOU in the ass, just remember: WE TOLD YOU SO!!!

For those who watch something other than Fox News and reality shows or read something beyond Sunday morning cartoons, it's no surprise to see that about a dozen states are being calculatingly attacked by their new Republican governors and legislators. Everything from labor unions, including eliminating child labor laws, to health care to mental health services and school safety has been attacked since they took office. The focus isn't on jobs unless it is to force people to hold as many as possible just to pay their bills.

The biggest story is coming out of Wisconsin. The Republican governor there is going after the teacher's labor union in an attempt to dismantle it all together. The employees, God bless them, aren't taking it. They have been demonstrating for the last few days and the numbers are growing every day. It's what one person has termed "going Egypt" on them.

The same thing is happening here in Tennessee and reports have also been told about it going on in other states. This is part of the process of building the New "Republican" World Order. This IS 1984 in action. Make people so poor and disenfranchised that they can't do anything but work to keep their heads above water. They have no time nor money for getting further training or education. They can't pay for their kids college so their kids are destined to lives of minimum wage (if that!), long hours, and poor conditions. It's the method of keeping the masses under their thumb and controlled. An uneducated population is a controllable population.

A poster on Facebook said it far better than I could. Below is what she said:

The attack on public sector employees is the first stage in a larger agenda to transform all states, not just WI, into 'right-to-work' states. Private sector unions will be next, - they will be broken up, busted, and outlawed. The demonizin...g of public employees and those who protect them, is part of a larger attack on every working person in this state, and soon enough, this nation.

This is part of a larger far-right strategy to turn every state into a 'right-to-work' - NO UNIONS/UNIONS ARE ILLEGAL - state. Right-to-Work means right to be fired on a whim (for being too tall, too short, too black, too female, too fat, too liberal, too ugly, - whatever the employer disagrees with or doesn't like), - it also means right to work for less - no say in wages, no input on benefits, - just whatever the boss wants to pay, and it will be a race to the bottom as states and businesses compete to get the lowest prices to the consumer etc. while shortchanging employees, - right to work also means right to work in unsafe, unsanitary, dangerous, and in all other ways bad working conditions, - no union, no voice, - no say about public or worker safety, no input into the workplace environment, no recourse for things like discrimination based on sex or race or age, - it's open season on every working person, - all in the name of making 'a better business climate' - in essence, every job will be a worse than Wal-Mart job, - no benefits, no living wages, temp or part time would be the norm, erratic hours, no stability, and no say in how things get done or how you are treated as a human being who also happens to be a worker.

This is the vision of Walker and the GOP. State and NATIONAL.

If we can take Walker down on this issue, we might be able to prevent it from taking off nationally, - it is not just about demonizing the public workers, - though this is also part of a larger strategy to demonize and destroy the public sphere so that it becomes inefficient and cannot function - and what can function with limited funding and with such poor treatment of workers, etc. - so, once they demonize the public sphere, they will set out to sell it off, piece by piece, and privatize it. Once something is privatized there goes the voice of the democratic people - there goes the input of the public, there goes the fact that public spaces, places, and things have to be open for everyone, have to be accessible to all, have to serve the people, and have to be free from things like censorship (libraries, for example) and subjected to certain standards and etc (schools), - once something is privatized it is no longer democratic, it is no longer ours, - it is a source of profit for one or a few people, and it is up to them what gets done, what gets taught, what is available, who gets in, how things get done, and etc. And the bottom line is no longer the public good or the public need, but profit, and profit only.

This is the picture being painted and the agenda being pushed by Walker and the WI, and National GOP.

This is what we are up against.

Additionally, Walker's attack on Unions is important because Unions back Democratic candidates more often. The recent ruling by the Supreme Court gave corporations and Unions the right to contribute to campaigns. Since most corporations back the GOP, it was easy to see the impact of this decision, - the GOP had big wins and big money in the midterm - big money was spent by outside sources, - and the Unions spent some on the Dems, but since Unions don't have as much, well, -anyway. The key here is that if you break the Unions, - make them illegal, cut them off from their people, break the solidarity, take away the funding, take away the networks, you also take a way the support for Dems in 2012, - this is what the GOP is after. Walker is going to come after the emails of public employees soon, - to ensure that the Union can no longer contact those who used to be union members, to further break up contact and solidarity and destroy networks and communities.

Add to this the attack on voters rights, - VOTER ID, - this will disenfranchise - this is it's only purpose. Voter fraud is false, - and not a threat, - 14 cases in two years, in WI, is hardly something to crack down on, and all were caught, and the system works, - but VOTER ID is aimed at making it harder for some people to vote, - you have to pay for another state ID, - you have to have money and a DL to get this ID, then you have to have this ID with you when you vote, - to get this ID you have to have money, a DL, and time to go to the DMV, you also have to be very well informed on what is happening in order to know that you can no longer vote without this ID, - this bill puts up unnecessary barriers to voting, - primarily for poor people, - and also for the elderly and college kids, - they also want to do away with same day registration and make it harder to register to vote. SO add this to it, - and this is 2012, - they want to make sure less people vote, and these people they are targeting tend to be the people who would vote for Democrats, in many cases - they are also framing the need for VOTER ID as protection against 'illegal immigrants' voting, - which has never ever been a real thing or a problem. Thus, they are hoping to intimidate Latino voters, - add to this they are going to try to attempt to pass Arizona style racial profiling laws that would further create fear and intimidation in communities of color in WI.

And then, finally, with eyes on 2012, add to this the census data, the redistricting, and the fact that rather than actually rely on facts, the GOP will break up districts in ways that give them more districts, more power, and more control, - it does not matter where people are, where population grew or declined ,what matters is how to squeeze out and shrink Democratic districts, transform independent districts into GOP ones, and increase the number of GOP leaning districts, - thus, more power for the GOP in the state and more power for the GOP nationally.

I am sure there's more to add. I just know it. Add to this Walker's attack on pregnant women and children and the poor and the ill, - taking away Badgercare, - and add to this his stance against the health care reform bill, - taking away other access to health care, - the move is to make people desperate, - to make the poor even poorer, to make the middle class into the new working poor, and to make it so that people will end up wanting to do anything for any wage just to stay afloat, to break solidarity, networks, connections and to turn WI into a third world country, complete with third world environmental and labor laws - namely NO environmental protections, no labor laws, and no public safety laws, - this is what Open For Business means, - businesses get the power and the voice, they get what they want, and those of us who work, - and consume, - well, we are supposed to smile and say thank you, because if we get too rowdy, well, the national guard is here to take care of us.

And to top all of this off, all of these things even when taken together do not decrease the debt, and surprise, do not limit government. This is BIG GOVERNMENT at its worst and most oppressive, and this is no way to bring jobs jobs jobs, or balance a budget

I think we could take some lessons from Egypt.