Anti-social media

Few phrases irritate me more than “social media.” Well, let’s be honest: few things, period, irritate me more than social media. I spent years swallowing that grape-flavored Koolaid before finally bailing out of it two years ago. The freedom of no longer bearing the weight of that burden was tremendous, and since then, I have never looked back.

Of course, traditional definitions of social media include blogs, and I am writing a blog post, so did I really leave social media behind, after all? Yes and no, but mostly, yes.

To me, blogs are anti-social media. They give space for longer form writing, opinion, story-telling, and exploration of mutual interests. Blog authors are lying if they tell you they don’t care about “likes” or comments or followers, just like regular social media. But it’s a different kind of thing, much less instantaneous, more muted, and less inherently intoxicating than “likes” you might get elsewhere. Frankly, it’s because there is a lot less traffic — fewer eyeballs finding your stuff. And I’m genuinely ok with that. I never aimed to be widely read in the first place, and I never intend to sell you something through what I write, least of all some unrealistic, fairytale lifestyle.

I do not write here to be “liked.” If someone likes what I write, that’s a bonus. In contrast, most social media is all about “likes” and creates such a self-centered swirl of expectations and hope for attention that it can be quite addictive and destructive. And so, so shallow. Other social media platforms are the proverbial mile wide and an inch thick. They perpetuate unrealistic expectations and by the way, vacuum up every bit of personal data they possibly can in order to sell you to someone else. That is the grim reality.

Part of my approach to anti-social media, like this blog, is to deliberately not over share, or to reveal a lot of specifics about myself or my family. That is a protective measure, a defensive posture, yes, but what I do share here is genuine and honest. Also, it is not monetized by ads because I choose to pay for the service so that the content I create is fully under my control. I think privacy and user control are hugely important.

So, if I seem to keep readers at arm’s length, that is because that is precisely what I am doing. Don’t be offended because I choose to abide by certain important principles in writing this blog. If that’s not your cup of tea, move on to somewhere or someone else. I don’t mind.

Artisanal, liminal, seminal

Sleep, lots of it, has been my modus operandi of late. I did mention that I am an Olympic champion at napping, and you don’t maintain that high level of achievement without lots of practice. In truth, however, I really have been tired and unfocused. It is hard to get anything substantial done, to muster up the oomph, even though there is actually quite a lot to do.

Another activity (I’m using that term very loosely) that I excel at lately is watching videos. In other words, I watch other people get things done while I just sit in my armchair, vegetating and stagnating.

I am bored, tired, overwhelmed, and unmotivated most of the time. I’d like to snap out of it if only it didn’t take so much energy to accomplish. The local weather — high heat and humidity — does not help at all. Nor does the plethora of insects that converge on me as soon as I step outside.

So, I just sit inside the house and read and watch and think and sleep and eat. Wash, rinse, repeat. Notice that talking is not mentioned in that list, because (much to my wife’s irritation) I am not a good talker. Frankly, people who talk a lot annoy me. I don’t mind being silent for long stretches, of being alone with my thoughts. In fact, I crave it.

Something I think a lot about are words. They fascinate me. Their use, especially in written communication, is interesting and thought-provoking and sometimes, irritating. An example of the latter is overuse of the word “artisanal.” Everything that is overpriced these days is artisanal. As if that makes a hill of beans worth of difference. Are we really that stupid as a society? I sure hope not.

Or take the word “seminal,” commonly used to describe something that influences other things, such as a research paper or academic book or a particular movie. I just can’t get past the fact that it has a completely different, earthier meaning as well.

I like the word “liminal” quite a lot, although it’s teetering on the edge of overuse and soon may be just as reprehensible as artisanal. (Overuse = bad, in my vocabulary, if you can’t tell.) The word has a few different meanings but the one I prefer is when it is used to describe a position that is in between two others. Basically, it’s a fancy way of describing a fence sitter.

I tend to sit on a lot of fences, metaphorically, so maybe that’s why I like the word. If you’ve ever sat on a fence in real life, you know that it is not a very comfortable position to be in for long periods of time. Such is my life.


In addition to coping, I realized today that I am grieving. It is a natural and healthy thing although it can be overwhelming. As noted with my previous post on coping, grieving, too, can last a long time.

Although readers may naturally wonder what I’m grieving about, I won’t go into specifics. Things I’ve learned recently help the past several years to make more sense. Some things have clicked now, and I can see why. But exploring that new knowledge also brings new levels of pain and grief.

Of course, grief comes out of loss, and there are many things that have been lost. Also, as many know all too well, grief comes and goes in waves. It mixes well with other strong emotions like rage and guilt and helplessness to make a sometimes powerful cocktail of feelings.

Thinking about the pandemic or racism or…you name it, there is a litany of current issues to choose from…brings its own level of grief as well. I think many of us are grieving on a daily basis even if we don’t realize it. We grieve for what we once took for granted or what never has been or what might never be.

I struggle with God and faith, and metaphorically and in reality, my sight is sometimes blurry. It is hard to see clearly through the rain and the tears. However, I believe — I know — that God sees our brokenness and that He is the great Healer and Restorer. What or who we think is hopeless is never hopeless to Him. He is able to do far exceedingly above all that we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).


I have often said, and heard others say, “I’m coping.” Usually, that implies something positive. It’s like saying, “I’m ok, I’ll be alright.” I’m learning, however, that coping isn’t really a good thing, or at least, it is not ultimately positive.

You see, I’m learning that there are things I’ve been coping with my whole life. Coping, but not resolving. There is a difference. Coping is meant to be temporary, yet it can last a lifetime. Coping implies that you are not where or what you want to be, that you are incomplete or unfulfilled.

The opposite of coping might be resolving. By that I mean, resolving it (whatever “it” is) or pushing through something until you have reached what or where you want to be. To reach a place of peace and rest and acceptance.

It’s a difficult process, working to resolve issues or situations or people with whom you’ve been coping, perhaps very effectively, for years and years. It’s exhausting. Sometimes, it is quite discouraging as well. However, I keep reminding myself that coping is not enough, and I’m increasingly finding that I can’t just cope any more.

My body, mind, and spirit somehow won’t let me just cope, or just be satisfied with coping. I’m at the life stage where apparently I’m ready to reach a resolution and then move on.

Lord, show me the right path to resolution, to achieve it gracefully and with acceptance, and help me to continue holding Your hand.

Tick talk

These days, I don’t spend enough time outdoors but when I do, I always enjoy it. There is a lot to see, to take note of. I spy interesting things like Indian pipe, or a particularly colorful mushroom, or a bird I can’t identify. These are small moments of joy.

However, if there is a creature besides the mosquito that I really wish had never come into existence, it is the tick. They are everywhere; I can’t even walk in my own yard without the possibility of having a tick latch onto me somehow.

Throughout my growing up years, I spent a lot more time outdoors. We knew of ticks back then, of course, but there was not a single time — not one — in all those years and spending time outdoors in almost all 50 states and most of Canada, when I ever had a tick on me. I took no special precautions and went through all kinds of spaces where ticks love to be. I wonder why they are so prevalent today. Others have suggested to me that it is because of an increase in deer population; I don’t know.

But I do know that they give me the heebie jeebies.

Some years ago in northern Wisconsin, when our kids were still fairly little, I stopped in order to take photos of beautiful wildflowers growing alongside the road. I had to walk a little way away behind the van to get the kind of photo I hoped for, and concentrated on taking as many photos as possible. After several minutes, I walked back to our van.

I was startled to see that everyone was waving wildly at me and I could hear them trying to call me as I came up to the van. When I sat back in the van, they all told me I’d just missed seeing a black bear amble across the road in front of us while I was so busy focusing on wildflowers!

What does this have to do with ticks? Well, when I started driving down the road again, I felt something crawling on my neck, and felt around to discover to my horror that it was a tick. Boy, it was a miracle I did not drive right off the road and crash there and then. It took some agitated moments before my wife figured out what to do with it.

All senses alert now, I felt sure that ticks were crawling all over me. And yes, there was one more yet to be found, crawling up my leg. Once again, angels must have been watching out for us to prevent a wreck. That one, also, was eventually disposed of safely but only after losing it for a few minutes. (A tick loose in a car packed with people!) Whew.

They seem to particularly like the hair on my head. That’s a big part of why I now choose to wear a hat whenever I possibly can outdoors during times of the year when they are active. Fortunately, so far I have avoided having a tick firmly buried into me because once they get to that stage, you have problems, and there is always the worry about Lyme disease. Ugh.

Another day and life goes on

Sometimes, you just have to accept another day when it comes, and also accept that life goes on. Sometimes, you focus solely on putting one step in front of another, and be satisfied with that.

I’ve been watching a lot of videos about people who survive in challenging wilderness situations, or other situations where they are tackling a really big project such as a large property renovation. I’m not sure why the attraction for me to these types of videos, but at the moment they seem both inspiring and comforting, somehow. And, the most valuable videos, to me, are just downright interesting, and not at all showy, or reality TV with huge air quotes. So-called “reality TV” is anything but.

In addition, portions of the Bible keep randomly coming to mind, reminding me of the promises of God, that nothing is impossible where He is concerned.

Yesterday late afternoon, I went on a bike ride with our youngest in the closest forest preserve to where we live. Some time ago, my brother gave me his (very nice) trail bike because he no longer used it, and I simply had not ridden it that much yet. Physical exercise of any kind is abnormal for me, unfortunately, and it showed. I loved it and am eager to go on another ride. However, I only went about 3-4 miles and nearly passed out. I found it hard to walk or breathe, and was dizzy for a while. There’s a long road ahead to improve in the health department.

Two skills at which I am Olympic champion caliber are sarcasm, and napping. But I really have to work on this physical exercise thing and it won’t come back easily. Here’s to more of it, though.


I’m raw and unfocused today. Overnight, we learned some news that is hard to process and absorb. Think of the aphorism about ripping the bandage off of a deep wound that has not healed, and maybe never will. And then seeing that the wound is deeper, much deeper, than you ever realized before.

I am devastated.

I still believe God is over all, but I also am trying to process, and will be doing it for days, months, and years to come, the question of “God, where were you?” Also, “God, where are you now?”

If you are someone who believes in prayer, may I ask for your prayers for my family? If you in turn need prayer, I am glad to do that as well. Thank you.

Hurting those who love us

Something I have known and experienced my whole life is the truth of the statement that we often hurt those who love us the most.

It’s a strange thing; maybe a basic part of our human condition.

And the sad part is, there is no winner in it. The one doing the hurting is hurt every bit as much the one they hurt.

Have you ever experienced this? My heart is heavy and this is all I feel capable of saying for today.

Gritted teeth

Today has been a day of gritted teeth. The optimism and positivity I’ve espoused before have been hard to muster. Sometimes I think we literally have to cling to them desperately, like holding on by our fingertips as we dangle over a huge precipice.

Yesterday, I finished a very large project that affects everyone in my organization and in truth, touches everybody’s workflow. I led the project but it was very much a team effort, and so many others deserve recognition and praise. But they don’t receive that. It is a success, a big improvement. Even so, response has been decidedly meh, especially from most other people in my organization.

But there are a few positive things I can focus on, such as a faculty colleague (the only one so far) who wrote me to say, basically, “I can tell this took a huge amount of work, and I know there will be complaints, but I love it!”

A real shot in the arm, something we all need sometimes.


No, not the American holiday. I refer to just the word: thanksgiving. It means, at least according to one definition, “an expression of gratitude, especially to God.”

Today, and for days to come, I am focused on giving thanks. Things in my life continue to be challenging and upsetting, but lately, there have been some distinct answers to prayer as well as positive things that are happening.

Not to be coy or mysterious, but I won’t go into specifics at this point. Maybe I’ll talk about them in some future post; I’m not sure. For now, I am writing this post from a position of thanksgiving that is a bit rare for me. I am still digesting a few recent developments, still coming to grips with their implications.

But one thing is certain: today, I am thankful. Naturally speaking, I tend to be a “glass is half empty” kind of person, and I have found little to be positive about for a very long time. But it is good to focus on and celebrate answers to prayer. Yes, it does happen!

I am reminded of the following modern hymn, sung in part by the incomparable CeCe Winans.