Pandemic Thoughts Part Seven… Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day 2020 has been quite something.  It almost feels like a cruel joke so absurd that it is, in fact, laughable.  So many people have lost their moms, can’t see or hug their moms, or don’t have a mom to speak of in their lives.  They don’t have a mother figure that they can turn to for nurturing… those kinds words, a kiss on the cheek, and positive reinforcement to go forward.

I’m lucky.  I have a mom in my life, and she’s a great one.  Despite me not having been the easiest child to raise, she stuck by me.  I know there were times she had her doubts, but today she is beyond supportive and proud to call me her daughter.

I’m also lucky to have been afforded the experience of being the mother to two very amazing, unique humans.  Parenting under my circumstances has been a challenging and enriching exercise of motherhood, one that I would not exchange for anything.  I try my best to be nurturing with my kids.  But sometimes I feel inept, and am constantly worrying that I am psychologically damaging them in some way.   Because we have such different brains, I don’t get feedback from them as to how I am doing as a mom… So I find it where I can and just keep following my instincts.

I think I’m a good mom.  Everyone tells me I’m a good mom.  But I don’t actually 100% know if my kids think that about me.  It’s a weird place to be.

But I’m not a very good daughter to my mother in similar ways.  Sometimes it feels like we aren’t on the same wavelength because I have weird ways of expressing my feelings of closeness to people.  I used to unintentionally hurt my mother because I couldn’t give her the feedback that I do 100% think she is a good mom.  I am getting better at that…

Because to me, part of being a good mom is about assuming responsibility for another person’s psychological and physical well-being.

In many ways, I do that to varying degrees with other relationships in my life.  The people I care deeply about, that I consider to be my family community, I want psychological and physical well-being for them.  The nurturing part of my brain activates regardless of which family member it is.  It is selfish really, because their happiness and well-being will directly affect my happiness and well-being in the short and (perhaps) long term.  But, on the flip side of that and depending on how connected and intertwined my life is with theirs, when their life goes sideways, mine tends to as well.

Motherly nurturing is a risky emotion to invest with sometimes.

So for this extremely fucked up Mother’s Day 2020, to all the humans out there who invest with motherly love in the other humans (and fur babies) lives, Cheers to you.  The world needs you now more than ever.  It is going to take some heavy duty nurturing to rebuild.

 

 

 

 

Pandemic Thoughts Part Six… Trolls and Mass Confusion

I have no idea what is real or true anymore outside my very tangible physical reality.  And the further I am geographically from the place that a truth is being told from, with “facts” and “figures” the more abstract and uncertain things become for me.  It’s like I have my bubble, of myself, my family, my friends and my job, to my community, to my province, region, country etc.

My confusion about the world out there is really the product of being too connected to an infinite data stream that is guided by algorithms which essentially creates a reality for me as I also contribute to it, so I can never even really be certain that my own personal truths are true…

My confusion about the world out there is also the product of Internet trolls.  Professional, but also amateur peddlers of mis- and disinformation with a sole purpose of wreaking havoc on all our truths.  It’s a whole industry now, probably quite lucrative.  Who’s “behind the curtain?” I have no idea, probably everybody with power, purchasing political confusion from the troll farms.  And things are so confusing right now, that even seemingly ridiculous narratives seem plausible to otherwise rational people.  Political trolls exploit confusion.

Or even more unsettling, the trolls with a particularly emotional axe to grind whether that axe is negative and violent.  These are the dangerous trolls as they can move offline and wreak havoc in our physical communities by sowing confusion and fear in their unpredictable actions.  Rage fueled trolls exploit community vulnerabilities.

And then there are the trolls that are overtly positive and privileged.  Who cause confusion within people about their body image and worth in the world.  They are the peddlers of truth about one’s appearance and lifestyle.  Most don’t recognize that it is only them, and people like them, who have the privilege to access such a lifestyle.  Perfection trolls exploit people’s vulnerabilities.

Oh and how about the trolls that are seeking sexual gratification, or looking to profit off of people’s confusion about their sexuality.  These trolls scour the internet looking for sexual and emotional vulnerabilities.  They systematically lure and groom youth and young adults for real world consequences.  Sexually predatory trolls also exploit people’s vulnerabilities.

It’s safe to say that all trolls are predators.

These days, I find myself in a position to only trust my feelings, emotions and microbial forces which regulate my body.  It’s hard to keep your mind out of rabbit holes though.  And we’re all online accessing those infinite data streams.  Trolls are becoming so good these days, they can camouflage themselves within the data streams.  Needless to say, my trust in information and the avatars that spread it, is next to nil.

And yet, I know that good information and data exists.  And while good information and data has always provided us with a potent weapon against trolls, and has provided a safe haven for truth… the problem is that those trolls are very clever, and have figured out a way to deflect and manipulate it until it bears no resemblance to its original form.

So what are we left with? What tactics can we use against the trolls who seek to confuse and exploit us?  Sometimes ignoring them works, but most times, ignored trolls stir up the most shit.  Partially because they need the attention, but also partially because no one is watching and they can get away with it.  Sometimes revealing them works, but one person’s revelation is another person’s skepticism.  Policing them is very ineffective, as there are usually no objective laws being broken.

It’s quite possible, the only tactic we have in our toolkit is to simply see them, and that’s it.  See them and avoid them.  See them and be mindful of how you interact with them.  See them, and distrust them. But that, in itself, is only an individual solution that doesn’t take care of them on a structural level.

Trolls are predators, and predators prey on vulnerability.  So perhaps our only upstream line of defense is to finally address the vulnerabilities in our communities, rendering all those trolls impotent in their ability to confuse and destroy us, and restoring some semblance of truth into our world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pandemic Thoughts Part Four… Earth Day

I was going to call this segment “Death”… but opted out.

But there is so much death surrounding us right now isn’t there? It is hard to not fall into a pit of despair.  Seems totally cruel that today also marks Earth Day, a celebration of the abundance of life our little planet produces and yet here we are.

The other day while having a social distance chat with neighbors, I was asked whether or not I was “religious” (cause that’s they type of neighbors I have) and I had to say yes.  I don’t really subscribe to any one religion religiously.  I tend to take the bits and pieces I like from a variety of sources, and smush them together into my own religion, personal to me.  Somewhere between Taoism, Buddhism, The Jedi Force and Science lies my religion.

Some might say that that means I am “spiritual” and not “religious”, and that I am not allowed to include science in religion. But I would beg to differ.

I do believe that there is are forces that are external to human consciousness which influences our earthly physical realities.  I don’t necessarily believe those forces are aware of us, but we are in a constant state of interaction with internal and external ecosystems which “beget” certain things.  There is a deterministic nature of my beliefs.

In that, I also subscribe to a belief that there are things that are unseen that we can’t explain, but also that humans have only begun to scratch the surface of what we can measure, study and therefore understand.  I believe the unknowable is knowable, but not because some deity is going to reveal it to us… because we have the capacity to be able to reveal it on our own.  Of course this can only happen if, as a species, we had the ability to admit that there is still more for us to know and understand about the metaphysical.

So all this rambling brings me to Earth Day and more pointedly, The Gaia Hypothesis proposed by James Lovelock in the 1980’s.  Lovelock’s first book on the topic, Gaia – a new look at life.  If my religion had a bible, Gaia would likely be it.  The Gaia Hypothesis is, simply, the proposal that the earth, as a planet, is a living thing… not necessarily a conscious living thing, but that it, when analysed as a whole, had the same characteristics of a living organism that was always striving for balance… a state of homeostasis.

If my religion had a sacred holiday, it would probably be Earth Day.  A day when we celebrate the miracle of physical life and our planet’s ability to be able to support it.

But this Earth Day, 50 years after the first one, the Earth, and much of the life on it is in turmoil, and things are scary and uncertain.  Why would we want to celebrate the ecosystems that have been affecting us in brutal ways?  How can we appreciate the miracle of life when we are surrounded by death and destruction? Is Mother Earth “angry” with us because there are evil people in the world?

Mother Earth isn’t “angry”… Planet Earth is trying to achieve balance in the atmosphere, the oceans and the organisms it hosts.  Planet Earth doesn’t think.  It is neither good/nor evil… it just is.

As the organism on Earth with the most amount of influence on all of those systems that the Earth needs to maintain to host life, humans have a responsibility, the technology, and a vested interest in helping the Earth maintain that balance.  But we squander our privilege on politics and economics and ego that offsets the balance even more.

We don’t have to though.

So this Earth Day, while we are reminded of the frailty and vulnerability of life,  try not to despair.  There are forces at work which we have no control of.  But praying will not help us control them, only intentional action will.  Because despite it all, life is still a miracle, and one day we may come to understand why (if we don’t blow it all to hell before then).