Social Media

 

 

Social media usage has risen dramatically over the last decade. In 2018, Pew Research stated that 68% of adults in the U.S. use Facebook. * A lower percentage of adult Americans use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat than Facebook. However, none of the platforms dips below 20% and the total numbers are quite significant although even considering overlap of usage between apps.

 

The reason for the rise in social media usage is a combination of general industry growth, desire to connect, business demands, and a desire for attention. The industry has grown as new platforms evolved – each with its own focus and its own attraction to various age groups and types of businesses.

 

Desire To Connect

 

The initial boom in social media – and what keeps it going – is the desire for people to connect. Although you can know what is happening around the world almost instantaneously, people are not as connected to those around them as they were 100 or even 50 years ago. Thus, people turn to social media to (re-)connect with their family and friends that are often spread around the world.

 

People also join groups of like-minded people to discuss issues that are relevant to them, such as, parenting, hiking, or genealogy. Thus, people connect with new people and often receive support for the challenges that they are facing in life.

 

Business

 

As these platforms have grown, businesses have turned to them as a way to connect to their clients. They utilize these platforms for advertising, event announcements, and client engagement. They have replaced some of the traditional marketing methods and are especially important in the coveted 18-49 market, as they are the highest users of social media. It has also allowed businesses to expand their client base in new ways.

 

Desire For Attention

 

For some people, however, the use of social media isn’t really to connect with anyone. It is simply to draw attention to themselves. They use it to dramatize their life or a life that they choose to portray. Often, they play on people’s emotions, gaining attention from people they don’t even know. One must assume that they are starved for attention in real life. Thus, they create a more exciting or dramatic life online by making sure that people notice them. As a result, they gain the attention that they desire.

 

Cause Disruption

 

Some of these attention seekers take it a step further. They purposefully attempt to anger people and create arguments. These trolls never provide real facts and are quick to make highly judgmental statements. If those don’t create enough rage, they will turn to name calling and personal attacks. These trolls gain attention for themselves, but the joy they get is in seeing other people angry. Nothing makes them go away quicker than a calm, logical response where you completely ignore their inflammatory statements.

 

As you can see, there are good, bad, and ugly aspects of social media. It is important to prop up the good. The rest is something that we all have to work together to overcome. Thus, the next time you see an inflammatory statement or post consider what is going to create a positive outcome. If we could make everything on social media positive for even one day, it could change the world!

 

 

*https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

 

who is judging whom

 

In our previous article “Behind the Façade,” we discussed how people often hide their authentic self. This article will further investigate those who changed their façade based on their judgment of other people’s judgment of themselves.

 

When people become focused on how they believe others are judging them, they give away their personal power. Often the other person doesn’t even know that they have been given this power because they aren’t actually judging the person and may not have even noticed them.

 

Questions

 

When someone tells me that someone else is judging them, I typically ask a few questions. My first response generally is, “Why do you care?” In some cases, the answer to this question is obvious. However, in the case of a stranger or acquaintance who is not closely connected to the person, the answer is less clear.

 

Another question I ask is, “What made you jump to the conclusion that they are judging you?” The answer to this question is rarely satisfactory to me. It is something they perceive, but is often not tangible.

 

Who Is Doing The Judging?

 

In reality, if the other person has not directly stated a judgment, these people are judging the other person. However, I don’t believe most are aware of their own judgment.   It is in some ways a self-judgment and in other ways a judgment of the other person. It is possible that they believe they should look or act a certain way, but instead of owning it, they project it onto someone else. Alternately, they are judging the other person as someone who believes others should look and act a certain way.

 

For these people that see themselves through the eyes of others, I have to wonder how their life would change if they stopped projecting their judgment onto others.  It would clearly change. We must stay somewhat within cultural norms. Yet, at some point we need to be our true selves and not define our value on how we believe others perceive us.

 

So, when you start to believe that others are judging you then question yourself, “Are they really judging me, or am I judging them?”

 

behind the facade

 

 

As a child, my mother insisted that we keep the drapes closed at all times. I assume she was worried about protecting the family since she was a single working mother. My dad had died just after my sixth birthday. Therefore, I don’t really remember if she had a similar concern when he was alive.

 

All I know is that she never wanted anyone to see into the house. This became readily apparent one beautiful day when I dared to open the living room drapes. I was severely reprimanded as soon as my mom arrived home.

 

Of course, she also never wanted to be seen by anyone when she wasn’t looking her best. I assumed it was partially because she wanted to be attractive to men. Thus, she was always looking her best when she went anywhere.

 

Others Are Judging

 

Later, I realized that these behaviors were tied, in part, to her belief that she knew how others were judging her. Thus, she felt compelled to show people what she thought they wanted to see so that they would think highly of her. She was concerned with what others thought of her and made sure to show them what she believed they wanted to see. When she wasn’t prepared to show that image, she wanted to remain hidden.

 

I believe everyone does this to some extent.  Most of us put on our best business look for job interviews, are just a bit sweeter than normal when talking to a new love interest, and act a bit different at church than at home. However, there are those that rarely show their authentic self. Instead, they hide behind a façade of what they think people want to see. Those are the ones that are perpetually disconnected.

 

Some of those people end up feeling as if they have lost their identity. They may go through life without ever acknowledging their own value. These types of people constantly put others first and are often everyone’s go to person when they need something. Yet, these people often do not feel valued.

 

Hiding The True Self

 

Other people hide behind the façade as an escape from reality. For instance, a woman may not feel beautiful, thus, she will over-beautify herself. Similarly, a man may feel that he isn’t as good a provider as he believes he should be. In that situation, he may exaggerate his job responsibilities and income.

 

Others have, for one reason or another, come to believe that others’ views of them is critically important to their success and worth to society. These people often create judgments of themselves and attribute them to others. If they actually bothered to have a conversation and learn about other people’s perspectives, they might learn that the people that they are trying so hard to impress, don’t actually have the judgments that they believe they do.

 

Being Authentic

 

A person needs to show their authentic self in order to connect. Hiding behind facades prevents true connections.

 

In our next article “To Judge and Be Judged,” we will discuss the phenomena of people that judge they are being judged.

 

make an offer

 

In our previous article “Garage Sale Connections,” we discussed various kinds of garage sale shoppers. In this article, we will explore our experience having a garage sale where we asked shoppers to make an offer on items.

 

The Rules

 

For our “Make an Offer” sale, people selected the items that they wanted and then made an offer for the items. We reserved the right to counter-offer if the offer was too low. And, we jokingly included in the fine print that people making ridiculously low offers would be fed to the neighbor’s pet alligator.

 

The sale had mixed results. Some people loved that they could make an offer. I believe they ended up buying more because items didn’t have a fixed price. Also, negotiations over the price seemed to serve to create a stronger connection as they often told us about what they were going to do with the items or why they wanted a lower price.

 

There were people, however, that really struggled with the idea of making an offer. Some of them didn’t know how to price the items, but others just couldn’t seem to comprehend the concept.

 

Culturally, Euro-Americans seemed to grasp the concept and be okay with it more than people from other cultures. People from cultures that like to barter seem to be thrown off by this approach, as they didn’t have a starting point. They didn’t know how to go about making a bid for the items. Plus, I sensed a reluctance to make a connection, which is really beneficial in this type of sale.

 

The Most Challenging Issue

 

The most challenging issue was language. When English was not the person’s first language or they spoke little or no English, explaining the concept just wasn’t possible most of the time. In those cases, we resorted to setting a price as that was the only way to make a sale.

 

We also set the price for children as they had no idea what to offer for something. Children always get good deals and generally speaking they are our favorite customers. A big portion of this is that they are the most open to making a connection.

 

Overall, I think we made as many connections or more with people doing the sale in this manner. Monetarily, things averaged out about the same as if we had priced the items. Some offered slightly more than we would have asked while others offered slightly less. There were a few cases where the offer was low enough that we counter offered and we were able to reach a deal in most of those cases.

 

Feed Them To The Alligator

 

We had only one case where we needed to feed a couple to the alligator. Each of them made offers that were just completely ridiculous. The man offered $4 for a nice cased dartboard and a set of very nice unique goblets. The wife offered something equally ridiculous for some other items. I explained the value of the items to them and they played innocent. The man said, “Well, I didn’t know. I just liked them.” Well, you don’t have to know a lot to know that those items are worth more than his offer. These are the type of people that are looking not just for a deal, but really to take advantage of you. They are not people with whom you want to make a connection because that makes you vulnerable to their actions.

 

In contrast to this couple, we had one gentleman carefully picked out some silk flowers. We found it unusual for an older gentleman to be selecting flowers with such care. In our discussion with him after the sale, we learned that he was buying the flowers to place them at the gravesites of his wife and daughter. His story brought tears to our eyes. So, despite selling the flowers for less than we would have liked, we were very pleased with the sale. We were happy to have made the connection for a brief time and happy to know that the flowers were going to honor two people he so obviously loved.

 

Bottom line . . . Connections can be found anywhere – even garage sales!

 

 

 

garage sale connections

 

Garage sales are an interesting time to both observe and connect with people from many different cultures who have many different reasons for being at the garage sale.

 

Some of the people are at the garage sale because they really can’t afford to shop in stores. Our garage sale is usually really good for them as we price household goods and clothing below the price at the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Thus, they can shop at our sale and spend less money. We have also been known to give them a very good discount even on these prices if we feel they have no money.

 

Observation

 

It sometimes requires some excellent observation skills to know which people are truly in need and those that are trying to make you believe they are in need just to get a deal. The two have very different energy.

 

Of course, there are people whose culture is about bartering. Realizing this is the case is important because they are always going to try to talk you down from whatever price is given. My favorites are those that insult you or your items if you don’t accept their very low price. They give me a chuckle. Connecting with them enough to know what is happening gains you money and saves hurt feelings.

 

Then, there are those that speak little to no English. We have found that some of them still manage to easily connect with us while others do not. Clearly, fluently speaking the same language is not required in creating a connection. Likewise, speaking the same language and even being quite alike does not guarantee a connection.

 

Best Connections

 

Some of our best connections are with casual garage salers. Some of them are out just to enjoy the day, some are looking for something to do and to have a conversation with people, and others just enjoy seeing items people have for sale. These people have time and often want to have conversations. We sell less to them, but sometime the connection and conversation lead to sales of unexpected items. They are probably the least predictable of all groups.

The most predictable are the professional garage salers. They come, look for the specific items of interest, buy without hesitation, and leave just as fast. These people are generally not open to connecting, but are easy to spot.

 

All in all, garage sales can be an interesting way to observe people. Listening to people, watching how they look at items, and seeing what they skip over tells you a lot about them.

 

In the next article, we will discuss our experience having a “Make an Offer” Sale.

 

 

synchronous thoughts

 

Synchronous Thoughts

 

Have you ever noticed multiple people or companies having the same idea at approximately the same time? A famous example of synchronous thoughts is the development of the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray developed a telephone independent of each other.  However, they submitted patent applications for the telephone to the U.S. Patent Office on the same day.

 

The same or similar ideas arriving at the patent office close together is not uncommon. This is why the patent office added a requirement that inventors document when they initially conceive of an idea. Otherwise, it was simply a race to arrive at the patent office first.

 

My Experience

 

Having the same ideas as others is a normal experience for me. I’ve had numerous ideas that popped into my head that became commercial products or were patented by others within a few years. Ring (home security system) is such an example. Several years ago, I had the idea of using web cams, which could alert your cell phone, to monitor your home security. Today, the Ring system has a solution that is very much aligned with my idea.

 

Having seen similar ideas show up at approximately the same time many times, makes me wonder why this occurs. Some of these coincidences can be explained by a market need. In this case, multiple people expand the use of known concepts and technologies to create products and solutions.

 

How Do You Explain That?

 

There are other concepts, however, that seem to pop-up around the world seemingly without an explanation. Pyramids, for example, exist in different parts of the world. They vary in structure, but are overall very similar. Yet, there is no explanation as to how these massive structures were conceived by several independent civilizations that are believed to have had no means to communicate with each other.

 

Clearly there is something more at work here than people sharing ideas or evolving existing ideas into something new. Whatever is the source of this phenomenon, one of the purposes it serves or side effects of it appears to be injecting ideas into society.

 

Bringing Thoughts To Life

 

Once a thought originates somewhere in the Universe, the ideas take on a life of its own wandering through the consciousness until people act upon it. Even people that simply think about the idea are unknowingly assisting in making it a reality as their thoughts are blowing life into it. Eventually, the energy is overpowering and someone takes a risk and acts upon the idea to make it a reality.

 

Just think, if we all shared our ideas with the world immediately and openly and the world was willing to listen and act, so much more would be able to be achieved. Inevitably the world would become a better place.

 

listening is the first step to being heard

 

Listening Is The First Step To Being Heard

 

I am constantly hearing people saying, yelling, and screaming, “Listen to me!” They don’t always say it using those words, but they are demanding in one way or another that people listen to them. Unfortunately, this isn’t the way to be heard.

 

Conversation Vs. Being Heard

 

The first step, no matter the topic, is to set a goal of having a conversation about the topic rather than to be heard. Having a goal of being heard cannot have a fulfilling outcome. If you are able to speak every word that you desire and the other person listens, then what do you expect to happen? You spoke. They listened. Is that it? It might be in some situations. However, generally people want the other person to support them or take some type of action.

 

Thus, enters the conversation. A conversation is critically important if you want to walk away from the interaction feeling as if you achieved your goal. Without a conversation, you really aren’t connecting with the other person. You are simply dumping ideas, thoughts, or emotions on them.

 

Now, if a person’s goal is to support a narrative that “no one ever listens to them,” the being heard approach is the way to go. However, I would challenge anyone with that narrative to ask themselves, “How much better would life be if I had true conversations?”

 

Listening Is Required

 

Conversations take more effort and they require listening. If a person only wants to demand that others listen to them, a conversation is not possible. Instead, they must approach the topic as a conversation. Each person must be allowed to express their perspective with a polite exchange back and forth.

 

This is one of the challenges that our society now faces. No one listens; however, everyone wants to be heard. The primary reason that people demand to be heard is that no one, themselves included, is listening.

 

Temper Tantrums

 

When a person demands to be heard and no one appears to listen, they become more and more agitated. Both people (or groups of people) continue to get louder and louder. However, no one is listening to the other one.

 

This phenomenon is much like children having a temper tantrum. Neither the parent nor the child (who may not have the skills yet) takes steps to defuse the situation. Instead, the child causes more and more disruption until the situation boils over.

 

In the case with adults, most should be able to defuse the situation, but perhaps that skill is lacking or the person is gaining something by not defusing the situation. With children, they are often trying to breakdown their parents to get something they want. The same is likely true of adults that would rather demand to be heard than have an actual conversation.

 

Two Ears, One Mouth

 

So, how do we improve society? We do so by connecting with others and having true conversations. Start by listening. As it has been said, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” You might be surprised what you would learn if you really listened to someone with a different perspective.

 

And, you might be surprised that by listening to them, they also listen to you!

 

 

 

In the early days of telephones, an operator connected someone with another party by plugging wires into a switchboard. If everything worked properly, this action established a voice connection between the two parties. However, occasionally the operator crossed the wires and a person ended up talking with someone they had not intended to contact. The analogy of crossing wires spread into communication between people when there was a misunderstanding between the two parties. “Sorry, I think we crossed our wires” became a standard apology.

 

Miscommunication

 

People are not always aware that wires have gotten crossed. Yet, the miscommunication may still cause emotions to flare. In extreme cases, a person may become so upset that they completely disconnect from the other person without the other person knowing why. Other times, however, the person recognizes that there was a miscommunication allowing them to take corrective action.

 

Human beings are constantly involved in some form of relationship with others. Thus, they are constantly vulnerable to miscommunication.

 

Ambiguity of the spoken word contributes to wires being crossed. English, in particular, contains many possible interpretations of the same set of words. Fortunately, it is believed that the actual words spoken may make up as little as 7% of communication with body language and tone accounting for the remainder.

 

Body Language

 

A person cannot convey body language in writing without writing a small script. Although tone can be expressed through the written word, it can be challenging. Thus, the writer must convey their message using only a small fraction of the communication tools available when speaking.

 

Even when speaking, non-verbal communication may be challenging. Often, people are not conscious of the messages being sent to others via their non-verbal cues. Sometimes, the truth shows even when the speaker intends to hide it. For instance, a person’s true feelings may show when they are trying to encourage a friend, but feel in their heart that the situation will not work out. A person has to be both aware and practiced to hide or change non-verbal messages.  Even politicians and others who are coached on body language often slip up and let their true feelings show.

 

Even when the intended message is conveyed, the recipients of the message may not interpret it as it was intended. Connections can become strained. And, sometimes those connections permanently break over something minor.  If properly understood,  the message would be accepted and have little or no impact on the relationship.

 

Things To Consider

 

If a person gets upset about something that someone says or does, they need to consider if they are properly interpreting the message. First, the person may desire to consider if there are alternative ways to interpret the message. Second, the person might ask the other person to explain further. Third, if the person believes they received the intended message, they might explain to the other person the message they received and how it affected them.

 

The person may just find out that wires got crossed. By clarifying the intent, it can potentially strengthen connections with others as they engage in caring and thoughtful communication.