What Raising Awareness Sometimes Looks Like

Recently, I wrote a post about how influencers don’t need to be political commentators or activists. Then I came across a funny video by Caitlin Reilly, where she pretends to be an actress who is raising awareness about a serious issue. Enjoy!

Influencers Don’t Need to Be Political Commentators or Activists

Should people who have a large online platform comment on political events or become activists for a particular cause? Some would argue yes: Whether you’re amassing Instagram followers or picking up thousands of subscribers on YouTube, you’re obligated to say something about current events and take a stand. Preferably with the “right opinions,” whatever those happen to be.

But is this necessary or desirable?

In many cases, I think it would do more harm than good.

  1. I don’t like the idea that people should feel compelled to discuss a topic. For instance, if someone wants to post tons of awesome photos about gardening, just leave them to it. I can get political commentary elsewhere. There’s no shortage of political commentary online.
  2. The pressure to speak on a topic is often driven by momentary trends. It doesn’t account for what someone may care about most deeply. For example, an influencer may be dedicated to protecting endangered species in the Amazon Rain Forest. It’s a topic she’s researched and can speak about with some depth. But it isn’t necessarily what’s trending on Twitter.
  3. People don’t have the time or inclination to research every topic that dominates the news cycle and social media. If they feel pressured to state an opinion, they’ll often just try to figure out what’s expected from them. (What are their peers saying? Their offline social circle? Their audience?) The opinions they express often aren’t based on careful thought or facts. Most of the time, their main concern is to be socially acceptable and to not get piled on by some of the more fanatical activists. Furthermore, if they’re pressured to comment on breaking news, they may wind up sharing unverified stories and rumors, adding more falsities to the internet.
  4. Following up on the third point, the pressure to speak out often results in superficial gestures. Those gestures mean little in the face of deep-rooted, long-standing problems. You insert a hash tag in one of your posts or chant a slogan at the end of a 15-minute video, and that becomes activism.
  5. I don’t think it’s good for our psychological health to have every channel, every forum, become a battleground on different political topics. If I’m looking for a drawing tutorial, or if I’m watching a video about how to keep plants alive indoors, I just want to focus on art or on nurturing plant life. Being plugged into political issues round-the-clock doesn’t help people become more effective citizens or advocates. If anything, immersion in social media can give people a skewed picture of a topic. It can also warp emotions, putting people in protracted states of rage or despair.

If people want to talk or write about a topic, they can. My concern is with the social pressures, the expectations that someone with a platform needs to use it to broadcast certain opinions. For multiple reasons, pressuring influencers (or anyone online) to take a stance often isn’t a good idea.

A Block Editor Tutorial (WordPress Gutenberg)

Though I’ve struggled with their recent conversion to the block editor, I intend to keep using WordPress for blogging. On YouTube I found a decent tutorial for the block editor, and I followed some of the tips while writing a recent post. (Including how to move the hovering toolbar up and out of the way – shown at around 3 minutes and 45 seconds into the video.)

I thought I’d share it here in case you’re looking for a tutorial that’s easy to follow:

If there are specific features you’d like to learn more about, I recommend opening the video in a new tab in YouTube and checking the description box. You’ll find a breakdown of the video with timestamps.

Huge Song Recommendation List (That I Plan to Keep Updating)

This post has two main purposes: to help me keep track of songs I’d like to keep revisiting, and to share song recommendations with other people. I hope you find something here to enjoy.

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About Love (Marina); Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers); Ain’t She Sweet (Gene Austin); Alive and Kicking (Simple Minds); All of Me (Billie Holiday); All or Nothing at All (Sarah Vaughan); Alors On Danse (Stromae)

American Pie (Don McLean); And She Was (Talking Heads); Angel of the Morning (Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts); Angels (The xx); Angie Baby (Helen Reddy); Anthem (Leonard Cohen)

April Come She Will (Simon & Garfunkel); At Last (Etta James); At Seventeen (Janis Ian); Autumn in New York (Billie Holiday); Autumn Leaves (Edith Piaf)

Continue reading “Huge Song Recommendation List (That I Plan to Keep Updating)”

TwoSet Violin Is So Fun

Two classically trained violinists have been running a YouTube channel full of goofy, geeky humor, music games, and silly reviews, plus genuinely educational content about technique, styles of different composers and performers, etc.

The following are samples of the many videos on their channel (I’ve watched just a small fraction):

Continue reading “TwoSet Violin Is So Fun”

Some Commonsensical Coronavirus Advice From a Doctor

If you have symptoms and are wondering whether or not to go to the doctor or E.R., watch this video.

Basically – for most people – staying at home and calling your doctor for extra confirmation about what to do is the best way to protect yourself and others.

Heading to a clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital with relatively mild symptoms can a) expose you to other illnesses b) increase the chances that you’ll infect others and c) contribute to the overburdening of a healthcare system which needs to make room for people who are most in need of medical attention. If your symptoms are relatively mild, and they aren’t deteriorating into alarm signs (which he describes in the video), your best bet is to rest at home, call your doctor for additional advice if necessary, and take other precautions (like washing hands, disinfecting surfaces, coughing into your elbow, avoiding crowded and confined spaces, and avoiding close contact with others).

A Valentine’s Day Playlist

I recommend listening to these songs throughout the year, but they would make a good playlist for Valentine’s Day too. Not all of them involve romantic love. Some are focused on friendship and one is full of compassion towards the self.

Angels (the xx)
A lovely, melancholic song that flows through you.

Beam Me Up (Pink)
Not a Star Trek song specifically (though go ahead and think about Star Trek characters if you want). It’s a tender, gut-wrenching song – when you miss someone so badly and want to see them again, just for a minute if you can’t have more than that.

Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel)
Uplifting. Through dark times and shining dreams, loyalty endures, and I don’t care if that sounds cheesy.

Dance Me to the End of Love (Leonard Cohen)
So beautiful and should be played at weddings. Also, here’s a gorgeous cover performed by Madeleine Peyroux.

Don’t You Forget About Me (Simple Minds)
Part of my childhood was an ’80s childhood. And the music video for this song (at the link) is probably the ’80iest of all the music videos that ever came out of the ’80s. All kidding aside, I really like this song.

Dreams (The Cranberries)
“Totally amazing mind, so understanding and so kind…” The wonder of love, the wonder of the meeting of minds and hearts.

Happy (Marina and the Diamonds, in the acoustic band version of her song)
I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a personal anthem, but when I first listened to it, it struck deep. This is the one that has a gentle compassion towards the self, a love that may have been absent before.

Kind and Generous (Natalie Merchant)
When you feel appreciation for lovely people in your life.

Misty (Ella Fitzgerald)
Meltingly tender love song, and Ella Fitzgerald is a rare gem.

La Vie en Rose (Rhiannon Giddens)
I love when Edith Piaf sings it, but I’m linking to Giddens, because hers was a beautiful surprise. I didn’t think I’d want to hear anyone else sing this but Piaf.

You’re My Best Friend (Queen)
People know Queen best for their grander pieces, but I’ve long had a soft spot for this quiet, moving one.

Restarting the Blog

A while ago, I stopped posting to this blog. It has remained in an atrophied form, just hanging around in the back of my mind as I worked on other projects. Recently I started thinking about what I could do with it. I’ve updated this page with some of the topics that interest me most. And I plan to start posting here again. (And to clean up or delete some of the older posts.)

I’m tired of seeing this response to the UCSB mass shooting

One response I’m seeing to the mass shooting at UCSB is, “Why didn’t he just get a prostitute?” (or some variation of it: “Couldn’t get a date, why not get a call girl?”) Like all the killer needed was some sex, and he wouldn’t have been violent.

A few reasons this response is poorly thought out:

First off, having sex with a prostitute doesn’t make violent people less violent. That’s already seen from the way that prostitutes themselves are frequently targeted for murders and assaults. Having sex doesn’t make violent, entitled, and misogynistic people less violent and misogynistic and entitled. Sex is not a magical cure for deeply toxic thinking.

The killer wanted power and control. Paying for sex from a prostitute would not have been enough to satisfy his needs. He didn’t just need sex. He needed to have any woman he desired. In his eyes, women weren’t individuals in their own right; they simply existed to be his. (His sense of entitlement also extended beyond his relationships with women to other areas of his life, but women were his main focus.)

And the last point (but not the least important one): prostitutes are people and, except when they’re victims of human trafficking or other kinds of coercion, they choose who they have sex with. They often try to avoid people or blacklist people they suspect might kill or otherwise brutalize them. Who’s to say the killer would never have been turned down by a prostitute? In any case, prostitutes shouldn’t be seen as fodder for brutal, toxic people.