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/

 

The Art of Forgiveness

 

 

It is easy to gripe and complain about everything from work to family stresses to world politics. However, it is much more gratifying to seek out the good in everyone and everything along your path. It is easy to say, “But, so many things really are wrong with the world” or “Nobody gives good service” or “This person isn’t pulling their weight.” All of these things may be true, but seeing all the negative in the world serves no purpose.

 

Implications

 

This does not imply in any way that you do something reckless. You can’t  just assume the other person is a good person. You still need to be aware of your surroundings and follow your intuition about people and situations. However, it does directly imply that you should look for a speck of optimism in the most hopeless situations.  Likewise, your should find something positive to hold onto in everything – even bad experiences.

 

Experimenting

 

Try experimenting with looking for something good, positive, or optimistic. Start with simple easy situations. When a restaurant’s service is slow, don’t grumble and complain. Instead, realize that you are being given time to enjoy your companions. Alternately, if you are alone, you can spend the time relaxing. 

 

If you are in a rush and this happens, realize that you may be getting the message to slow down. You can also consider that perhaps you are learning that this restaurant is not a place to go for a quick meal, which may be useful information in the future.

 

Likewise, try giving a positive word or a smile to people that you encounter. Smiling and saying, “Hello” costs no more than scowling and ignoring people. That word or smile may make the other person’s day and it is guaranteed that acting in a negative way will do nothing to benefit anyone – especially you.

 

Additionally, notice small things (and big things) that people do – mowing the lawn, helping with a problem, cooking dinner, or taking out the trash. These are all positive things in the world. When you really look for the positive, the world changes into a much better place than it seems if you let all the negativity overwhelm you.

 

Transformation

 

As you find more and more positive things in the world, you may find yourself transforming from a critic to a cheerleader. You will find yourself expressing gratitude more often, you will be on the receiving end of more smiles, and will find more and more positive things in the world. Most of all, when you replace a negative thought, action, or word with a positive one, your energy level is raised and your heart is satisfied.

 

Embracing Differences

 

 

In our previous article “Unique Individuals,” we discussed how the differences in talents, abilities, circumstances, interests, and personalities make individuals unique and how that is beneficial to society.

 

In this article, we will take a look at what it means to truly embrace the differences in people. All the differences previously mentioned must be fully embraced plus differences in body styles, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, choice of food, and even political beliefs.

 

This means far more than saying that you are open and that you respect diversity. It actually means walking the walk, which is more complicated than most people realize.

 

It’s Not Easy

 

Truly embracing differences means respecting other people’s rights to believe, say and do whatever they authentically believe within the constraints of the law. It becomes complicated, however, when beliefs clash. In this case, we must be very careful not to say that one person’s right is more important than another person’s right, which happens frequently in today’s society.

 

Right And Wrong

 

Although a given belief might be more or less accepted by society, doesn’t mean that the other person doesn’t have a right to have the opposite belief. Neither belief, however, should be used to threaten or harm others. Even those that hold the most accepted beliefs are in the wrong when they try to use their beliefs to harm others.

 

Likewise, suppression of opinion is against the foundation of our country. It may seem like the right thing to do to keep unpopular or negative opinions quiet. However, this is not only against our governing rules, but also sets a very dangerous precedent. The problem is that once suppression of voices is allowed, other voices may be suppressed. And, one day . . . that voice may be yours!

 

Truly Embracing Diversity

 

Thus, it is critically important to be open to allowing people to express their opinions. That, however, is only one step toward truly embracing all people.  To truly value diversity, you must also listen to opposing beliefs and opinions with the mindset of seeking to understand.*  

 

Sometimes you have to look past negativity or roughness of presentation to understand the other person’s perspective. This can be a considerable amount of work. However, without this effort, a person cannot truly understand the other person’s perspective. Thus, they cannot legitimately speak out against that person or the person’s ideas.

 

The bottom line is that it is important that we truly seek to understand opposing beliefs, opinions, and life circumstances. It is through this understanding that we grow as individuals and as a society.

 

* Concept by Stephen Covey . . . Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

 

 

unique individuals

 

 

Each of us is unique. We have various talents and abilities. How we use these is often tied to our personality, circumstances, and other interests. Thus, the same talents and abilities may manifest very differently for different people.

 

An Example

 

A simple example can be defined by considering two people who are very good with science and technology. One may really enjoy spending time alone and diving deep into a topic. That person may become a researcher or a technical expert in a specific field. Meanwhile, another person who is equally capable loves working with other people. The second person may select to be on a team project or lead a research project at a university.

 

Likewise, a third person may be very good with science and technology, but hasn’t attended college due to lack of opportunity or simply choice. In this case, a person who has the same talents may not have all the same knowledge. Alternately, they may have the same knowledge, but not the same credentials. This person may work as a science technician or research assistant.

 

Benefits

 

Talents, abilities, interests, circumstances, and personality add together in a way that makes every person unique. If this were not true, life on this planet would be a very different existence. Things would have to change because otherwise there would be roles that would go unfilled. In the same light, life would be boring because everybody with a given talent would be the same.

 

I try to imagine what it would be like if all singers sang exactly the same and had the exact same taste in music. How boring would that be?

 

Likewise, what if everyone who was outgoing wanted to lead the exact same organization? You would have far too many leaders for one organization and none for another.

 

Thus, it is so very important that we maintain the uniqueness of the people in our society. It is through that uniqueness that we thrive!

 

In the next article “Embracing Differences,” we will discuss what it really means to embrace differences in people. It may not be as simple as you think.

 

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.

 

the search

 

 

In the previous article “Family Connections,” I discussed some of the reactions when people learn that one or both of the parents that raised them are not their biological parent. In this article, I explore the connections and feelings that often arise during the search for a person’s birth parents.

 

Now, rare cases exist where the person takes a DNA test and immediately finds their birth family, everyone loves each other, and they live happily ever after. However, that isn’t the norm.

 

Expectations

 

A person shouldn’t expect anything other than a rollercoaster ride when looking for a birth parent.  Emotions will go high when the person sees a DNA match. Then, they will fall through the floor when the match does not respond to messages or hides all their information. This process may repeat several times.

 

Likewise, the person searching may contact a DNA match, who puts them in contact with other family members. Just when they start building a strong connection, someone else does a DNA test and it blows a hole in the theory of who the birth parent is. Now, they are left dangling.   They feel connected, but they aren’t connected the way that they think they are. In some cases, they may not be connected at all.

 

News of a mis-connection can be almost as emotional as learning that one or both of your parents are not your biological parents. This is especially true in cases where the new connections were supportive and welcoming, while the parents that raised the person are deceased or the relationship with them is strained.

 

The Process

 

The process can be lengthy and the result is not guaranteed.   It is very easy for people to become too excited, which often scares off DNA matches. It is equally as easy for people to become frustrated, lose interest, and just give up.

 

The best possible approach is a slow, steady approach where the person makes lots of connections. This allows emotions to be more even while allowing the person to build relationships with people that are related, if only distantly. Building connections with these people helps the person learn information that is useful in solving their parentage puzzle. Possibly, more importantly, these connections help the person to feel connected to family.

 

The final article in this series “Found, Now What?” will discuss the ability to connect with birth families and the associated emotions.

 

family connections

 

 

As a genealogist, I have become involved in helping people find their birth parents. It is always an interesting journey and although there are various common scenarios, each journey is unique.

 

The Reactions

 

Some people who have found out that one or both of their parents aren’t who they thought they were express no interest in identifying and meeting their biological parents. These people usually feel a strong connection with the parents that raised them. Often their perspective is that there is no need to find out who their biological parents are given that they will always consider the parents that raised them as mom and dad.

 

Other people report always feeling like they were adopted or never believing that their dad was their biological father. These people are not at all surprised when a DNA test reveals that their intuition was correct. Many of them report feeling disconnected or like something was missing in the relationship.

 

Other people fit somewhere in between these two perspectives. Some are surprised, but embrace the possibility of connecting with more family. These people still view their parents as their parents, but are open to learning more about themselves and their roots. Some people that fall into this category are people who grew up as only children. They are excited at the prospect of finding siblings.

 

Another reaction is to feel lost and/or angry. In these cases, people feel as if they no longer know who they are. For these people, learning that one or both parents who raised them are not their biological parents is devastating. It can take time and professional counseling to get through this very personal crisis.

 

Connected?

 

To me, it appears that some people sense the lack of connection all their lives. But, others want what is comfortable or desire a connection with the parents that raised them so much that they fear knowing about their biological parents. Yet others are comfortable with any and all connections. It is a very personal situation and is unique to that person.

 

If you are going through this, know that although your situation is unique, most likely there is someone out there that has been through something similar. Seek counseling if you are struggling. Also, know that there are groups of people that can help you find your birth parents if you so desire.

 

The next article in this series “The Search,” will dive into expectations when searching for your family.

 

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.