T’is (always) the season for the projection of perfection.

Hug

Hans-Jörg Aleff via Compfight

Social media paints the perfect picture of a life–all throughout the year–but especially during this holiday-heavy season.

I know that I only post things that I want my friends and family (Facebook, Instagram) and the world (Twitter) to see. I know I’m not alone in this.

Nothing is perfect though. Everyone is imperfect, but it’s easy to forget that when you’re staring into a screen.

I think social media is a great way to share the good things in our lives, and I’m not saying that anyone has to post uncomfortable, painful, or embarrassing things online–though if that’s what you want to do, that is fine by me.

We all use social media for different reasons. I mostly use it as a place to share fun light-hearted things. I probably give the impression that everything in my life is sunshine and fluffy bunnies.

Before I post a picture, I can (and do) edit it. I filter it. If I don’t like it, I don’t post it. If it cast me in a positive light, I’ll probably post it. Such is the way of a social media post. On Facebook, I don’t want to post anything that makes other pity me or feel sorry for me or bring them down, so I probably won’t share, “I just got in a fight with my kid” or “I’m feeling insecure about my finances” or “I’m scared that so many people I know have cancer.” I don’t know that I ever will share any of that because of the way I use social media. This might be damaging to others though–others who believe what they see on social media–or see what they want to see/believe (???–still working this out in my head …)

I’ll repeat what I’ve already said though: Nothing is perfect. Everyone struggles. Everyone. I experience struggles similar to everyone I know. I may not post about them, but they are there. 

I have a friend who is struggling more than most right now and one of the things that is really stinging her is that people around her appear to have perfect lives (on social media). She is comparing her reality to this limited view of who we all are.

The point I’m trying to make is that what we project on social media is just a distilled fraction of who anyone is. No one can live up to the image that people portray here (or other social media outlets).

If you are struggling and you feel like you are on an island, I assure you that you are not. If you are feeling that way, know that you are never alone. I’m here. Others are here. It’s okay to reach out. Whether I’ve known you for a lifetime or if we’ve never met at all, I will probably not be able to solve your problem for you, but in my own imperfect way, I will do what I can to help you.

On Bravery

5835392158_abebab8369AshtonPal via Compfight

There are different kinds of bravery.

If you say an act takes bravery it does not diminish other acts of bravery. It does not lessen the courage that another act takes. It doesn’t make anyone else less of a hero.

Who owns the word courage? No one. No one person owns any word or color or cause.

For some courage means fighting for other people’s freedom and comfort. For some, it is heroic just to get out of bed. For others, it is admitting publicly who you truly are.

You might not recognize someone’s act as being brave, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not.

Know that one type of bravery does not weaken the others.

My bravery is not better than your bravery; it is just different. It’s still bravery!

Usually once you understand something, it becomes less of a threat. Sometimes it’s a small tweak in perspective that can change the way you see the whole world. Often, once you understand people who are different than you, you can love them. On occasion, it’s seeking understanding that takes bravery.


It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.

~ Harper Lee in To Kill A Mockingbird


This is cross-posted here –> I have thoughts sometimes.

Kindness Ripples through @phsKINDNESS

phsKINDNESS

Some time ago, I assigned my very small (but mighty) Contemporary Literature (#phsCONlit) class their cornerstone assessment, which was designed to have them identify a social problem that they encountered in one or more of the texts (novels, articles, movies) we read throughout the duration of the semester. After reading countless articles about domestic abuse, teen suicide and bullying as well as novels Winter’s Bone by Daniel Wooddrell, Stitches by David Small, and Saint Iggy by K.L. Going, (and surmising that one of the root problems for the main characters in each of these books could be bullying behavior by both peers and adults) and viewing the documentary Bully (which was more straightforward in presenting bullying as a social problem), the six students (who prefer to remain anonymous) centered on bullying as their focal issue and narrowed that focus to cyberbullying, because it was a problem that they had ALL witnessed, been the recipient of, or participated in directly. (These were not easy conversations and it took a lot of trust.) The assessment tasked them with finding a possible solution for this problem. I pointed out to them that I noticed that I often see students tweeting (and retweeting) negative or unkind things, but that I couldn’t necessarily say the same thing for kind tweets. As a result of the assessment and the dialogue that occurred during the formulation stages of the project, they decided, as a group, to create a Twitter account that tweeted and retweeted nothing but kind words. And @phsKINDNESS was born.

Ironically, at the same time, an anonymous student (but maybe NOT so anonymous because students talk!) from our school created a Twitter account that posted nothing but unkind things. The six students in my class agreed that they would not follow it and that they would not “FAVORITE” or retweet anything that THAT account posted. (A couple of them were following the account and they realized that this was hypocritical and unfollowed it after our conversation.) For the record, the unkind account was deleted not too terribly long after its creation. Ours is still going strong. (One other remarkable moment in this process was when one of the students pulled out his cell phone and told us that he was then and there going to delete and block his ex-girlfriend’s phone number from his phone because all they did was bully each other and he was tired of it. I was so proud of him.)

Once the account was established, they began searching for kindness on Twitter and found it! We tweeted kind things; we retweeted kind things; we followed kind people. And then people started following us. The account quickly had 100 followers, mostly from our community and the Twitter education community. As of the creation of this blog post, we have 236 followers, which, for a non-celebrity account, is not too shabby, though, wouldn’t it be awesome if kindness received some celebrity? We also established an email address (phskindness@gmail.com) to encourage people to submit quotes about kindness and instances of kindness that they have witnessed on Twitter.

In 2014, two students (who were NOT part of the Contemp Lit class that created @phsKINDNESS) and I attended the Wicked Anti-Bullying Summit at the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha, NE. The students who created the account graduated in 2014, but because of my attendance to The Summit, I have continued the account, with the assistance of those who pass along kindness via Twitter and our email account.  I also submitted our project to the The Summit’s project contest and it was selected as a winner. As a result, in either March or April, I get to take 100 students and teacher to a show at either The Orpheum Theatre or the Holland Performing Arts Center. I am going to invite the six students who started @phsKINDNESS, but I don’t know if they want to “out” themselves just yet. They are proud of what they did, but one thing we discussed is doing kind things for the sake of kindness rather than “getting credit.” In essence, whether they come or not, their kindness is being rewarded by paying it forward to the current students of PHS.

In a roundtable discussion with invited members of our school community, our principal asked the students how they planned to sustain this project after their graduation. As a group, we came to the conclusion that they would do so by the way they live. My hope is that they are doing just that, and I suspect that they are. The small but mighty group was an unlikely group of friends who had just the right synergy to pull off the project. My belief and my hope is that they will pay it forward with a lifetime of kindness. They know they have the power to do so.

Here’s a news report by local station WOWT, Channel 6