Day 11: Good News #GIG2017

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Admittedly, it would feel off to see a headline that’s positive these days. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing happening in the background to celebrate, nothing uplifting.

Why does it seem so hard to come across anything uplifting these days?

Realize that I chose this topic for today’s gratitude long before so many actors have been accused as sexual abusers. Before a gunman fired his weapon in a small Texas church. Insert any recent story and it’s probably something that will make you think the world is ready to implode on itself and everything is becoming increasingly corrupt.

I get it. It’s hard to not be cynical when all you see is the same kind of message on repeat. By this point, it’s been drilled into our minds so often on a regular basis, we aren’t even shocked anymore. Like the Texas shooting. I mean, I was certainly outraged and heartbroken, but I sure wasn’t surprised. The actual event and its circumstances didn’t reach that emotional core that past events have. Even the heavy focus on the shooter’s mental health hasn’t fired me up like it usually does as we continue to misrepresent and overgeneralize the intentions of violent people.

Really, this is how it has always been. We just hear more of it because we have the technological capacity to. We can download news apps on our phones, even have notifications pop up when there’s breaking news, and when does something positive and heartfelt actually make that “breaking news” cycle? Rarely. You save those for the end of a TV broadcast to convince viewers, even just for a few minutes, that everything is just fine, that the endless tragedy and disaster mentioned in the past half hour doesn’t actually reflect what society is coming to.

And from my tone today, it’s hard to find that slither of gratitude that I usually pull into the mix. For situations like this, it really is hard to be grateful. I choose to not read much news anymore because it throws off any attempt to find hope and optimism. Despite knowing that each story is prioritized on my news feed strategically, that the headlines magnify what has happened to exploit whatever emotions it can muster, I don’t think it’s healthy to expose myself to those sources.

I truly am grateful for the opportunity to stay informed about my community, country and world. I am grateful to be able to engage in discussion and learn about what is happening around me and avoid ignorance of important current events. It’s my duty as a citizen of this country and world to do what I can. Except immersing myself completely in every update isn’t healthy.

In lies where I’m grateful for when there are gaps in the overwhelming noise to remind ourselves of our true nature, and that is to be and do good. I’m grateful to hear how others are making a positive difference in the world, big or small. For example, remember back to what feels like years ago when we all came together to support hurricane victims, the support and disaster relief efforts? How we stepped aside from our everyday lives to help those in need.

But I’m especially grateful for when we are supportive without having an extremely negative reason to begin doing so. Like supporting sexual assault victims long before the accusations of big-name celebrities began emerging. Or advocating for climate change before we damage the environment even more.

As silly as they may seem, I do really appreciate those random little videos on social media people share that talk about seemingly insignificant things, like some random new scientific discovery or a minute-long story about a baby animal, but seriously, what a refreshing relief from logging onto other news outlets. They might seem trivial if you’re looking for hard news, but there’s a balance we need to establish to stay both informed and emotionally sound.

I’m grateful for good news to provide that extra push we sometimes need to make a change. Too drastic of news can be debilitating, too large of a problem for one person to single-handedly address. But what about some inspiration from others doing good in the world? A single reason that not everything is going downhill? Little things add up to bigger things. And seeing how others, people just like us, are still trudging forward, even if it’s through thorny obstacles and muddy waters, can be that one reason a day becomes a good day.

I have always enjoyed the saying, “Not every day is good, but there is something good in every day.” We might continue to focus on every reason why we should be worried, terrified, heartbroken, angry, and pessimistic about the direction the world seems to be taking, but we’ll never be able to silence that sliver of hope and beauty that leads us back to the innumerable blessings in our lives. For every time something goes wrong, chances are there are many more things, now or to come, that ensure the sun still shines. That we will continue to rise each morning with something beautiful to live for.

Perhaps dramatic, but seriously. I’m so grateful for hearing good news. Something turning out well for those I care about and those I might never meet. A new reason to smile today. A recent discovery that might change our lives as we know them. Let us not diminish the value of these faint rays of light.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Day 10: Podcasts #GIG2017

Today I don’t have just some gratitude to share, but some content, too! How exciting is that?

Obviously by the title you can probably tell that each contribution still centers on a theme, and that is podcasts. Besides reading lately, I have gotten increasingly enthralled with this emerging medium. In my spare moments, especially right in the morning and before going to bed, I’m pulling out my podcast app and browsing for the latest episode of my favorites or trying to Google search for my next favorite.

I didn’t essentially see the fad this was and sure didn’t appreciate it. I remember finding the first episode of Serial and not even being able to finish it. I’m much more of a visual person, so anything that requires me to listen and keep tabs of an idea without a chance to pause and reflect is difficult for me.

I still can’t get into strictly conversational podcasts, and more informative ones need to be about an interesting topic I can follow along several episodes to keep me hooked. I’m especially fond of the audio dramas, an expanded version of an audio book or a TV show without the screen to stare at. I love feeling involved in a plotline with characters and emotions and the whole shebang.

Hence why I have my own contribution to make to the growing podcast-sphere. As part of an assignment for my Digital Media class, we all had to make a podcast with plenty of freedom to let us go wild. So the bare minimum was just five minutes with at least two voices heard and some-sort of theme.

And in my essence, I decided to take the hardest way possible to approach the assignment. Knowing my love for audio dramas, recently binging Darkest Night as inspiration, and began brainstorming on my own story to tell. With the help of my brother, we wrote a script, recorded our voices, and produced a podcast of our own.

The Witching Hour is envisioned as an hour-long program that takes some inspiration from horror and thriller genres, including Black Mirror. It uncovers the darkness in all of us and is intended to throw in some twists and turns in there, leaving listeners at the edge of their seats or just thinking far after the audio stops playing.

You don’t necessarily assume you’ll feel emotions when just listening to something. That you’ll be laughing out loud, or your jaw will drop by a completely shocking statement. But hearing a human voice is surprisingly intimate and has great potential. I want to tell some stories that I myself would want to hear, that I would be telling everyone and their mother the next day because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

If you’re into podcasts or not, I’d suggest you give it a try, plus this is my website and I have the right to some shameless self-promotion. Many people still don’t exactly know what these new shows entail, but I see podcasts continuing to buzz from here. It’s a new means of self-expression, to allow creativity and ideas to flow, even learn something new and shocking.

But in comes the time for gratitude because wow, you don’t actually realize the extent of work that goes into a few minutes of audio. All of the considerations to make, the time commitment involved to make sure you publish the best product possible. Sure, the actual equipment involved to start a podcast are minor compared to other media, but there’s still an immense amount of strategy and patience required to make the idea in your head translate as you imagine it to.

I’m grateful for the hard-working people behind one of my favorite pastimes. I’m grateful for a new way to tell stories, learn and grow. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to try it out, and simply put, I’d love to keep making more. The idea of reaching more people in a new way is so exciting.

What am I listening to right now, you might ask? Well, I listened to two seasons’ worth of Alice Isn’t Dead in less than a week. Homecoming came out with a second season without me realizing it, so that was a fantastic few days of quality content. I’m also looking forward to new episodes of Heaven’s Gate and Cults each week because the weird, dark subjects are admittedly my favorites.

Do you have any recommendations for me? New shows, or even your thoughts on my own podcast? Pray tell. I’d love to make more content for you all and just see where it takes me.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Genuine Prayers Online

 

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It’s easy to post a photo like this or write a quick tweet…but what impact might that actually have?

We’ve seen it for every mass tragedy that has hit the headlines. We see it when local tragedies occur, Facebook friends or Twitter followers going through a hard time.

The depth I and many others place in these words can be very profound. It can convey our empathy for others and our desire to act as a support system for those facing life’s many challenges and hardships.

The beauty of social media is its ease and wide outreach. Rather than having to dial up a number or wait until an appropriate event to tell these words to someone in person, we can just grab our smartphones and do the same thing….right?

For as often as tragedy occurs in our world and how often we hear about the next big scandal or crime or war, the frequency in which we see these types of messages from our friends and followers can be as overwhelming as the news itself. And it may even be having the same effects as this constant wave of information has on our psyche.

We all know of the boy who cried wolf. What begins as something very moving and provoking slowly becomes less noticeable after the umpteenth time we hear and see it. We’re numbing to violence. Our tolerance for what actually makes us hurt and become taken aback continues to increase.

The same goes for the messages we post in response to these events. What began as something very thoughtful and meaningful after hearing tragic news is now an automatic response, one that everyone posts, one that loses a sense of genuine feeling and compassion.

Think of this in terms of telling someone you love them. People online constantly tell their friends this with plenty of heart emojis to boot. But if you were thinking of truly telling someone you love them, as if you’re telling your future spouse this or a final goodbye for family member about to pass away, chances are, social media posts won’t cut it. If you’re telling someone you love them like you mean it, you’ll tell them in person.

Or, even better, you’ll show them you mean it. You will act in a way that demonstrates your feelings. Nothing can replace the power of actions, ones that inevitably speak louder than any words could describe. Let’s consider the act of writing out our condolences and any emotions.  Call me old-fashioned, but I think taking the time to even write a card or mail a letter (snail mail, what a concept) to a specific person is much more meaningful than a status update.

Again, anybody with a wifi connection can do that, but it’s hard to judge based off of a short statement what feelings are actually put behind the words. You can’t read someone’s facial expressions or body language. You can’t hear their voice speaking. You can’t glimpse intimately into their life to see how it might be affected. There’s so much that goes on behind a screen that relying upon it as a sole resource or platform for communication will only tell a superficial snippet.

Not only do social media posts for thoughts and prayers feel too detached from the humanity behind tragedy, but it can convey the opposite message it might hope to make. How often do you find in these types of posts actual names of victims or their families? This goes especially for national tragedies that we as media users probably aren’t directly affected by whatsoever. Sure, we might be more on-edge in certain situations and feel awkward talking about a relevant topic for a week or so, but at the end of the day, real lives somewhere have been turned upside down. In the grand scheme of things, your quick tweet won’t matter much. The last thing you should be doing is taking violence and mass loss and turning the attention toward yourself and your own feelings.

Instead of posting online, let’s take our thoughts and prayers into action. Let’s donate our time and resources to those in need. Let’s stand up for the lost and evoke political change that prevents further violence and devastation. Let’s go back to our roots of communication, whether that be in-person or traditional writing, to remember what it’s like to truly empathize with each other, to feel the immediate support from loved ones and community members.

As a spiritual person, I believe in the power of prayer. But prayer is nothing without actively seeking change, using prayer a tool for motivation to use our resources and connections with others to foster human impact. We are vessels in which to act for the common good, to invigorate the spirit that can make this world a better place. Social media itself is nothing without the people online. We as people have greater potential tan we may realize. We’re much more than a quick tweet or status update.

What are your “thoughts” on this topic? Are you tired of seeing it? What can we do instead?

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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