All Together Now

beagle-behind-barsNot long ago, somebody reminded me that an abuser’s strongest weapon is not his (or her) fists and not harsh words. The tactic every abuser can use with devastating results is simply to isolate the abused.

The effects of being pushed off in a corner by yourself are appallingly negative and long-lasting. You doubt your own judgment, you doubt your value, you doubt dog started itthat things can change, and begin to see yourself as a victim, even if the only thing keeping you from associating with other people is a threat of disapproval. When you’re prevented from being around other people who approve of you, your spirit dims, and depression beckons. This is part of the reason why locking up so much of our population hasn’t made us any safer, but that’s another discussion.

Isolation has been on my mind as I’ve decided to pull back from some of my social media associations.

fightingIn my FB feed in particular, I’m seeing some hateful, nasty stuff. Part of me wants to counter-comment, to splatter links all over those posts, to get up on my hind-lawyer-legs and yeah-but the nasty people into being nicer. What entity claiming to be a Deity of any stripe wants us hatin’ on each other, fer cryin’ inna bucket?

CuddleI worry about why the media wants us to feel isolated and powerless, about who thinks they’ll step into the void created by fear and skewed journalism. “Knock it off,” I want to say. “Stop the self-interested spinning, ALL ya’ll.”

But a rant from me (or you, or you) won’t work. Once fear gets hold of us, we’re very hard to reach. We isolate ourselves, clinging to those who fear what we fear, and agree to hate what we hate. We get cozy with our real or imagined victimhood, and burn up all our courage just looking for more news stories to scare ourselves with.

world peaceWell, pooey on that. I believe in love. I believe love can inspire us to grow in ways we never dreamed we’d be brave enough to grow. I will keep writing the books that say what I believe to be true, and I will try to model the values I hope will keep us all connected:

Respect,  particularly as it relates to open-minded and open-hearted listening.

Kindness, for everybody, not simply toward the people I like. We’re all scared and tired, and in need of compassion.

Patience, because we didn’t get into the present swamp overnight, and we’ll not win free of it easily either.

Darius use this oneHonor, because sometimes I will get it wrong, offend, step on toes, and I need to take responsibility for my mis-steps.

I will delete posts that try to scare me out of my ability to reason for myself, or that offend my sense of decency. Other than that, I believe in love. So that’s how I’ll try to act.

How to you keep the values that sustain you front and center? Do you feel like they’re under attack, and what would make you feel less besieged?

To two commenters, I’ll send the new AUDIO version of Darius: Lord of Pleasure.



How sad, though, to neglect the bonds of love and good feeling, in favor of the utilitarian

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38 comments on “All Together Now

  1. I wonder sometimes why nice people are picked on? Used by others?
    What’s wrong with being nice?
    Is it a far fetched concept?

    I have learned that sometimes you have to let go of friendships, work relationships and just say no to requests and learn to be true to yourself and what’s important to you as a person. My family, home, my corgis and my love of books centers me. Its my goal to stay on a positive path and to avoid any negative detours.

    Good for you to stop the negative comments. Nora Roberts wrote an excellent blog about negative comments and reviews.

    I find your blog very positive and though provoking….and I will work on patience this week!

    I am starting Nicholas tonight. Looking forward to his story! 🙂

    • Nicholas is a good story to read for patience. He’s not an alpha hero, and yet, he doesn’t get pushed around.

      Nora’s “Bite Me” blog post has made a lot of rounds on the author loops. I hope she sets a standard of etiquette that spreads to FB generally: Review on review sites, socialize on social media.

      Makes sense to me.

  2. Unfortunately there are too many trolls out there who feel that civility does not count in electronic communication. I have seen my sister rise from the ashes of an abusive marriage and find her feet, I have stepped back particularly from Twitter when I see the abusive things that people say. Somewhere along the way, people have lost sight of if you don’t have anything good to say then say nothing at all.

    • You’d like Nora’s blog post, too, Martha. She’s making much the same point, and saying that “It’s just my opinion,” doesn’t excuse you from plastering that opinion in the most inappropriate places, and being a turkey about it.

      I also fault the media. Somebody decided at some point that being shockingly rude and bigoted was good for the ratings.

      So I don’t have a TV. Neener, neener.

  3. I have also started pulling back on Facebook. I block posts that are randomly sent out, usually political in nature, that are phrased in a way designed to be the most controversial. No matter how you respond (provided that you do!)you will be SWARMED by people eager to tell you how wrong/ignorant/ugly you are. I joined to keep in touch with far-away friends and family, but the negativity can be tough to stomach! I have started making more phone calls, writing honest-to -gosh letters, or even just an “I’m thinking of you” card.

    • I wonder if FB notices that the feed has become less social and more controversial? Or maybe it has always been controversial, and I’m only getting hit with it now.

      Seems to me, we need to compensate somehow for lack of an independent press, and the internet is a logical place to look for accurate news. I’m not finding it through FB, though, so I’ll keep looking.

  4. I think it is the anonymity of social media that makes some people lose touch with their humanity.

    I remember many years ago having one of those moments of clarity while driving. I found my self cussing (not out loud)at the guy in the car in front of me because he was going too slow. I remember catching myself and thinking if I were walking down the street and the person in front of me was going too slow I would not say “move you stupid jackass” – I would not even THINK that. Caused me to take a good look at my driving habits and either put on a classical radio station of say some prayers while driving. Put me in a much better frame of mind.

    I worry about the younger generation because they seem to rely more and more on social media instead of face to face communication.

    I read with interest your remarks about nasty reviews because just yesterday I was on the Amazon website looking for another book for my kindle. I had it narrowed down to three but one of the authors was new to me so I was looking at the readers reviews. I don’t normally notice them that much because I figure they are readers like me – not professionals. What was interesting was that this book had overwhelmingly good reviews and only a few bad ones. But one of the bad one went into a very detailed reason why she didn’t like the book.

    She was not especially snarky just very picky in my opinion. I noticed that she had lots of comments and I figured they were all of people who liked the book telling her why she was wrong. Well I was wrong. These were people who did not like the author – most of them had not even read the book. Talk about snarky – these people were awful. I was tempted to throw in my two cents and tell them all to take a breath – this book is fantasy folks – get a grip!

    • Anonymity has a lot to do with what can go wrong on social media. One of the subtle aspects of name calling is that it dehumanizes the person insulted. They are not a person, they are a ______ insert ethnic slur of your choice.

      If you were only allowed to call them by name, would you be as insulting? It’s what you’re saying: If you’d been eye to eye with the person in the slow car, if he had a face, then you could not have raged at him.

      And as for reviews… I know many readers take a lot of time and put a lot of thought into them, and that’s much appreciated. I do wonder, though, if it’s not simply enough Amazon gateway drug. When they’re figuring their algorithms that affect a book’s visibility, they don’t care if you’re getting good reviews or scathing reviews. They only care that you’re bringing traffic to their site.

      That tells you something.

  5. There are a few things I do to sustain myself: I meditate every evening for about 15-20 minutes, I make the time to read and write daily, and I delete Facebook posts I find offensive or just don’t wish to see; sometimes I’ll even stop following people who persist in this. I realize that some days will be good and some bad, but that the bad is only temporary.
    I would love to listen to the new audio recording of Darius, my favorite Lonely Lord.

    • Darius is a good guy, and James Langton did an EXCELLENT job with his story…

      Meditation seems to have no downsides, and a lot of upsides. For anxiety, depression, self-esteem, blood-pressure, immune function. Can’t beat the price, and all it takes is ten minutes a day.

      But would we ever introduce this practice into our schools?

  6. Nora Roberts recent blog post entitled “Bite Me” resonates with me on internet troll behavior…esp after a few unacceptable happenings on my blog. I couldn’t cope at the time with that popping up in my virtual kitchen, so I stopped. Now I wonder if I should start posting again or utilize other ways to share recipes etc. No tv and a solid line up of ad/media blocking apps for my Chrome browser helps keep my online experience more civilized.

    • I’m never prepared when somebody gets their emotional bullwhip out, and starts flailing away at my valuables. It’s arrogance, at least, and maybe mental illness, too. I also think a certain kind of person has radar for who’s hopelessly nice, and can be treated poorly with impunity. I hope you do get blogging again, if you enjoyed it.

      But you have to wonder WHAT somebody was thinking, to dis Nora’s work on Nora’s FB page, and then take issue with the resulting scolding.

      Figurative death wish? I mean… to tangle with NORA?

      • The day I signed on to Facebook, I knew that I could only post items that the whole world could criticize. I had learned years ago not to forward interesting emails to my contacts and that same philosophy went with me to Face book. I still slip up with share and comments. I shared to a friend’s time line something that he deleted as it was political, I did not realize this. As for my spontaneous comments, oh well, guess I must live with them. In truth my years teaching helped me. My first year parents would say “I just do not know what is wrong with my child” and I would proceed to tell them . I quickly learned that in would not survive in education unless I made changes. When parents lashed out at me, it hurt. As a middle child I learned to pick my battles. The old “thank you for your comments” is good. Delete works well. But, I like to play dead and wait. What goes around comes around and those who bully others (you do know that most of this comes from a bully) eventually get their reward or their children get bullied and the have an awakening. I have also learned Facebook is addicting. But that is another story.

  7. I don´t know if it´s luck or that I surround myself with kind people, but I don´t see much hate on my timeline, TG. Could be I´ve stopped following people who express such things =)
    I´m a live and let live, or love and let love, kind of person =) I rather huggle than argue. Although, if I get attacked, I do give back.
    It was a rude awakening on Twitter, I made a comment once and was attacked by trolls, but I blocked them and since then it´s been all quiet and lovely again. It did teach me, though, not to stick my head out or say anything that awakens trolls SMH.
    I don´t understand why people think it´s ok to attack or be awful online.

    • My FB page is a lovely place, but then I venture into my feed, and I wonder how some of those posts got to me. I also see threads that are just endless contentious, this arch liberal/conservative posting relentlessly inflammatory material, that gets trolled by that arch conservative/liberal.

      I’m comforted by history, though. If you read about the London social season of 1832, nobody had any fun. The Catholic question had been so utterly divisive, then parliamentary reform drove huge wedges between even close relatives, arguments broke out everywhere, or people simply gave up trying to socialize.

      The issue, oddly enough was that both houses of parliament represented established interests rather than the electorate, and that voting had no real meaning when so much of the electoral choice was controlled by those with money.

      The Reform Bill passed, it didn’t create anywhere near as much change as people feared it would, but it started a process toward a more representative government. Two years later, everybody was back to socializing like crazy.

      The more things change…

  8. I’ve long known the only person who can take care of my mental and emotional well-being (on or off social media) is me. I have friends who can support and sustain my efforts, but it is my job to create a safe, healthy place for myself.

    People who post racist, sexist, angry, fear-mongering or other hate based items are deleted. It’s that simple. As a single woman, living alone, social media is a great link to others and I refuse to accept ignorant negativity in my safe places.

    I’m careful about which news sites I read and I limit goes much time I spend reading about tragedy. I also look at A LOT of cute cat pictures. 🙂

    • Yes on the kitties! I hadn’t thought of FB as one of my safe places, but it’s a worthwhile perspective, and I think Nora would agree with you. My page, my rules. Your page, your rules.


  9. Excellent post, Grace! I find it increasingly sad and disturbing that the supposed impartial press seems determined to emphasize those acts, events and stories that spotlight our differences and those things that keep us apart as a society. They seem determined to keep any sort of controversy or trouble stirred up simply to see what happens next. They are doing the one thing a true journalist is never supposed to do. They are creating the news.

    I have noticed many people seem to thrive on chaos, as if it is some sort of drug. They post things, they make comments, they post reviews and opinions with no other purpose than to draw attention and fire upon themselves. This accomplishes two things – they have the adrenaline rush of the ensuing controversy and they paint themselves as the victims of those who disagree with them. A very narcissistic approach to life.

    Peacemakers and those who emphasize love, triumph, and the power of togetherness are ridiculed and those who preach division, victimization and hate are held up as revolutionaries – in music, movies, books and politics.

    Being nice doesn’t sell. Common courtesy doesn’t sell. Reconciliation doesn’t sell. Good manners, honor, devotion to duty and to each other doesn’t sell. And those who profess a love of these things are often ridiculed. Is it any wonder I prefer the world of Regency England?

    And anyone who is arrogant enough to stomp onto Nora Roberts Facebook page and insult her work and her readers has SERIOUS delusions at best and is interested on being featured in Romance’s Most Wanted at worst, and not in a good way!

    It is difficult not to be drawn into the fray. And I have to remind myself arguing with some of these people is very like trying to teach a pig to sing. Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig.

    Thanks for being the voice of reason and for suggesting civility, while not fashionable is something to strive for as it brings us closer to fulfilling our potential as human beings.

    • Erm, tell us how you really feel, Louisa!

      You raise a good point. The media has much to answer for, and I wonder over and over, WHO benefits from a nation divided? WHO is getting such a big kick out of seeing people with real problems (half of all public school children living in poverty is a problem for me) shoot around the room backward over minor issues?

      Or is this simply what happens when you end a Cold War? We knew for decades who our enemy was, and the rest of the world backed one of two large opponents. Us and Them, could not be simpler.

      That falls apart, and instead of knowing what you stand for, you’re still in the bad habit of defining yourself by what you’re against.

      Kind like dancing backward, if you ask me.

  10. Well said Grace! I too get fed up to the back teeth with some of the more salacious comments, and for the baiting comments also. I read your books because they make me feel good, whether the stories are based in the 1800’s or modern day. I skim over the negative comments and sometimes I delete the comment and the author right off my FB. If we lived our lives according to Grace – the world would be a far nicer and safer place that it is today.

  11. I never read through all of the comments on Facebook, so I have not seen the nasty stuff. What on earth are they thinking? Why are they reading your books if they don’t like them? There are zillions of books out there. Some of them put me right into a coma. I bet those would suit.

    I have a problem with the isolation thing myself, not because someone else is putting me there, but because I am. I get so tired of trying and getting that judgmental stare or whatever. I do need to snap out of it though, we humans are social beings, heard animals… you know?

    And excuse me, but I do not think the goal of never offending anyone ever is a good one. It leads to shallow, kind of sickeningly sweet “discussions of the weather”. If we are going to embrace the diverse entity that we humans are, then we need to be able to tolerate being offended sometimes and say whatever we want to ourselves & friends to settle… as long as it does not involve harm that is.

    I try to live that way myself… sometimes I succeed

    • It is interesting that talking about the weather was a safe, polite topic used during the Regency. I wonder how Regency manners would handle the modern day approach of “shoot from the hip” style of speaking. I wonder if they would consider us to be lacking in manners. My mother raised me with the “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing” philosophy. I follow it most of the time. I have said many times, no one knows what I am thinking. Kindness is under appreciated.

  12. Happy New Year!! I’m a little late, I know…

    It is freeing, isn’t it? Getting rid of all the online negativity? I made it one of my New Year’s Goals to be more positive and a generally happier person. Ever since eliminating the negative forces that certain people seem to exude, I have made steps towards accomplishing that goal.

    As for staying grounded, I make sure to surround myself with those ideas I believe in and find the positive in every situation, no matter how bleak. Cloudy day? Time for a hot chocolate treat. Working long hours at the Day Job? I am gainfully employed. Fave Niece and Nephie live on the other side of the country? That boy knows how to FaceTime and he’s not even talking yet!

    Even though I’m not an overly religious person, I do believe in Faith, Hope and Love.

    Faith in something bigger than myself. Hope that everything turns out for the best. Love deeply, unconditionally and often.

    And be sure to share it with everyone you meet!

  13. I joined FB (and Twitter as well)simply because I had to to create a FB page for my chamber choir. I use a combo of my legal name (if you knew me, you’d see which parts)for FB and have *no friends* other than one of my kids and my best friend from high school & her sister! I do next to nothing (other than post stuff about auditions or concerts or events)on FB. I do have a good time reading my friend’s news-feed but I am puzzled about her announcing her dinner menus or posting a pictures of the food!

    The real reason I do nothing is my own sister hateshateshates FB (joined for her business as well several years before I did) and she has me a bit frightened. She has experienced *Grown Up Mean Girls* trying to outdo each other. She tells me she felt like she was back in junior high, wearing the wrong shoes and having the wrong hair while belonging to the wrong crowd. They were mean to her for NO REASON….we’re in our 50s for goodness sake! She was quite frantic, almost everyday for several months because of it. She deleted her original page and now uses a different combo of her legal name as I do. The high school chums who drove her crazy now have lost track of her and she has regained her sanity. It’s too bad because there are people she misses….but the others…not so much!

    And speaking of my chamber choir—I’m writing a book about *Choral Ethics*. Many of the values you speak of, Grace, are what I expand on for my profession. Kindness especially is a forgotten skill with my peers. Many feel it makes them seem less of a professional if they are kind……couldn’t be further from the truth! My professional society has encouraged me because no one else has written anything about this. It is not always the *norm* to be nice and I thought it was time to do something about it in my own niche.

    I do have to say, I have found Twitter to be a much nicer place. Maybe because I only deal with other arts/music organizations but the arts groups on Twitter are very, very nice!

  14. I work at a bank so I get to deal with people one on one everyday. I am horrified at peoples behavior at times. I wonder if they are just miserable people out to make everyone they come in contact with miserable too. I find that if I ignore the attitude and kill them with kindness, it makes me feel great. I have learned to just let it go

  15. Impossibly hard question.
    I am glad you will delete such comments. A lot of people don’t. Because you know, the freedom of speech. Which I am all for, of course. But seriously, I applaud you taking action on your blogs or posts.
    I don’t feel like my morals are under attack. As a middle aged woman, I don’t find it hard to stick with them. It was harder when I was younger. Which is understandable.

  16. First, I am truly sorry that people have written unkind and hateful remarks to you through FB. That’s just not right.
    My faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and God’s written word, the Bible, keep me centered no matter the awful or trying situation. Lately I’ve relied heavily on Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” So many times, being a take charge personality type, I think I know what’s best when I really don’t. God has a plan and He dreams bigger and better for my life than I every could.
    When I run into people who are unkind to me, those who speak harshly or without thought, I remember Proverbs 15:2 & 4, “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” I try not to associate with fools, but the world is full of them. The trick is to move on with an upward spirit and ignore them.
    Continue writing, Grace and don’t suffer fools.

  17. Sorry to hear about the negative FB comments. I signed up to FB about 3 years ago. Used it about twice. Found it boring reading about everyones’ problems – got enough of my own – so I haven’t used it since. I am still happy writing, or telephoning or just catching up with friends. I like the face to face contact and if people think I am old fashioned, well, thats their problem not mine.

    Grace, Iove your books, all of them, and am looking forward to the next ones this year. Please keep up the writing – its great

  18. Nora Roberts has been getting some nasty negative comments on her Facebook pages. She wrote a blog about keeping it positive for 2015. This lasted a week. Her blog in response to the ongoing negativity is one of the best I have read. She entitled it “Bite Me.” One of the things she mentioned was people defending their nastiness with the phrase, “It is my opinion.” Nora said, fine, have your opinion, but keep it to yourself. She mentioned an example of a guest in someone’s home criticizing the host’s decorating and when the host expressed hurt or upset over the unkind comments, receiving the “It is my opinion” justification. Manners should apply to any situation and they are sadly lacking in the social media world, because people feel safe behind their screens and keyboards. You are right to say they isolate themselves. In face to face or telephone conversations, there would be facial or vocal cues to let the offender know that feelings were hurt. That is what is missing in the printed words on the screen, the connection to feelings. You can express your opinion and disregard the consequences of your unkindness or nastiness. If you are so disgruntled with others, stay off social media, or confine your opinions to your own page. And if you are angry about something, don’t rain on the parade of those who are not angry. Keep your negativity to yourself. If your can’t, don’t act offended because you are deleted and banned. The strangers acting so nasty to other strangers is so disturbing. I recently wrote to someone that you don’t have to respond to a person’s post, if you disagree. You can just look at it and scroll on past it. Not every post needs a comment, if you can’t keep the negativity or nastiness in check. I said treat it like a bumper sticker on a car that you disagree with. Are you going to chase the driver down to express your disagreement with the viewpoint expressed in the bumper sticker? If you say “yes,” I would be very worried about your mental health. Where is the etiquette guide for social media? It is sorely needed.

  19. Recently, a young person I am acquainted with experienced a life altering consequence due to posting an angry twitter message to someone considered a college friend and roommate. It could have easily have been on FB too!

    If a face-to-face confrontation had been made instead of dashing off a thoughtless comment through social media, the individual would not have had to return home, to the dismay of parents, family and friends.

    One can apologize for heated or thoughtless words spoken in anger to a person’s face. However, once posted on social media it is entombed forever. Social media is faceless. Honor, respect,kindness is easily forgotten.

  20. Hmm… The weather has been beautiful for the past couple of days in Charlotte, NC. Seeing the sun and warmer temperatures always puts me and everyone else in a better mood. I write in a journal with a fountain pen and that gets me a perspective about what is going on with myself and what I am feeling. I hung out with some girlfriends on Saturday. We had a good time. It is easy to be miserable. It takes a lot of work to be filled with quiet joy, but it is worth it.

  21. I’ve just realised, thanks to your blog, another way I was abused as a child. What an eye-opener.

    I must write it into a book.

  22. I’m so sorry that trolls are despoiling your Facebook page. But, I like your attitude: love, respect, kindness, patience, honor. But the greatest of these is love.

  23. You are so right. That is one of many reasons I don’t watch the news. It is all stuff to make you afraid or hate. They basically control how we think. Making us feel to afraid to go out doors and talk to each other. To embrace each other’s differences instead of fearing or hating them. The media seems to be controlled by the powers that be. What are they so afraid of? Maybe that if we love our neighbor, that we will stand stronger together with them.

  24. My cats always blame the dogs.The dogs give me the big, brown, puppy dog, “didn’t do it, please don’t believe them, mommy” look but I have to say, I believe that all the animals have conclaves where they set up the scenario and then suck me in to play. It doesn’t matter what the outcome is and I believe that the cats roll around howling up stairs when I give the dogs a stern talking to about house manners and living together in peace. The dogs unfortunately, do not have long attention spans and will, in turn, snicker at the unhappy cats when they have left one of the dog bones in the cat water or litter box.It is never a dull day in the animal kingdom at the Ceccarelli household. Today the tropical fish were carrying signs that read “humans unfair to the trops” because the pilot light went out on the furnace. Although it was 57 in the house, the fish have their own heater which was running. I told them they didn’t have a union, and it was “at will” keeping them alive. The toilets still work. I noticed they were quiet after that. The cats hid under my bed covers and the dogs just shook their heads. Laura

  25. Years ago, I went on Facebook to see what the surviving members of my generation and the friends of my children were doing. Now, I find it filled with negative political and social comment, posts of recipes I would seldom care to cook, ads for practically everything, and prayer requests. Only two people seem to use it as a window to their worlds. Both are pet lovers and always feature their pets in their posts. They rarely are promoting any agendas except maybe their favorite college football team. I can’t count the number of times someone’s comments have had me posting my challenging rebuttal but fortunately, my good sense prevails and I delete it before posting it. Why can’t we accept the differences in people, instead of wanting a world populated with only a whole bunch of me!