Unity—Is That What We Really Want?

I don’t.

There’s no way I want to be unified with white supremacists or Nazis. Or people who are devoted to pushing others down in the false hope that they will stand taller. Or with anyone who takes delight in others’ suffering.  Continue reading “Unity—Is That What We Really Want?”

The Viral Spiral of Negativity

Have you ever noticed that it can take just one negative coworker to really bring an office down? Or how one parent berating an umpire can “inspire” others in the crowd to do the same? Or how one person gossiping can open the door to others chiming in and “sharing,” too? Continue reading “The Viral Spiral of Negativity”

So Much to Share…So Little Time to Check Facts

I vividly remember the first email I received that made me both scared and skeptical at the same time. It was many years ago, and it was a forward (always a forward!) that said that licking envelopes can result in spiders growing inside your mouth.  Continue reading “So Much to Share…So Little Time to Check Facts”

3 Reasons Why We Like 3 Reasons

We might be able to trace the origin back to the 10 Commandments, but listicles (not to be confused with any anatomical parts) have exploded in popularity. If you’re a Facebook user, blog reader (which I hope you are, since you’re here), or newsletter receiver, you are well aware of this. We like things enumerated. We like bold letters separating concepts. We like plenty of white space. Continue reading “3 Reasons Why We Like 3 Reasons”


We used to call them selfers in my family. They were the photos that you took when no one was around to help you out and take one for you. We have selfers of being in Hawaii, at the Grand Canyon—places that you went and wanted to have a photo to remember that you were there.

And because back in the dark ages before digital we used to send our film out to get developed, we would have to wait (?!) to see how well we framed the shot. Often heads would be cut off or the shot would pretty much be one looking up everyone’s nostrils. It definitely was not a precise science but a fun gamble to see what you ended up with.


Being silly in Hawaii with our groovy underwater camera
Being silly in Hawaii with our groovy underwater camera


We’ve gone from having to drive up to a Fotomat (remember those? They were those little house-like kiosks that you’d drop off and pick up your film from?) and wait days to view our photos, to having it immediately available to see. I remember when I used to have to pay attention to how many shots I had left on my roll—now I can click till my heart’s content.


Oh, look! We came up for air!
Oh, look! We came up for air!


As I looked back through my photo albums (also a pre-digital reality for me…) to see what selfers I might have to share for this post, it was interesting to see the evolution. When I went to Europe after I graduated college, there is not a single photo of my friend that I traveled with and me together. Zero. There are a few pics of us alone—at the railing of the Eiffel Tower, on the Piazza San Marco in Venice—but not a single one of us together. As I looked in albums of later years, I found an occasional selfer typically taken on a vacation.


Too bad the kid wasn’t cooperating. At least the dog was.


Hard to imagine in this age of the selfie, isn’t it?

Yes, as we are all well aware, the word evolved into selfie, and when most people—thanks to their cell phones—carried a camera everywhere with them, the prevalence and reasons to take a selfie evolved, too. And then phones started to have front-facing cameras for you to see the framing as you took the pic! Look out, world! The phenomenon blew up.

Coinciding with this easy ability to snap selfies was the evolution of social media. With a couple touches of the screen, you can share a pic in any number of places instantaneously. For many, Facebook is their modern day photo album—a place to house all sorts of photos—including selfies.


ND game
Yep, I shared this on Facebook while I was freezing my hm-hms off at an ND game.


There’s a lot of freedom granted us in the digital world. And with this freedom comes the opportunity to make some, shall we say interesting choices.

We are definitely a culture of instant gratification, but there’s also a shift in mindset, too. Now we have congressmen and NFL stars taking pics of their peeps to send to whomever. We have kids in middle school doing the same. In fact, we have apps like Snapchat where a person can send a photo and have it “disappear” after viewing (unless the recipient takes a screenshot).

I guess that speaks to the quantity and quality of what is actually being sent. If you want a photo to disappear (even though it risks getting captured and saved), then…what is it that you are sending?

I remember when my college roommate took a surprise photo of me in the shower. Let’s just say I was less than thrilled. I made her give me the photo and the negative when she got them developed, but even knowing the guy at the Kodak store could see the photo creeped me out. Now women sext to guys just trying to get them interested in going on a date.

The selfie culture is so ubiquitous that there’s a new TV show coming out this fall with that as its name. (It’s actually supposed to be a remake of My Fair Lady. Wha??)

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not coming down on the concept of selfies—I have taken plenty and still get a kick out of them (as evidenced by the photos here). But I do wonder what the impact of this focus on self means in our society. Our desire to capture ourselves for others to see can be funny or interesting, for sure…but it also can be rather self-involved.

I really do wish that there were a few photos of my friend and me on our European expedition. They would have been nice keepsakes to have. But the photos I do have from that trip show the beauty of what we experienced. A far cry from the recent “news” story about Kim Kardasian being in Thailand and snapping 1200 selfies. I’m thinking that she just may have missed the beauty of Thailand, don’t you?

I do feel a bit sheepish—or selfie-indulgent—in sharing the photos I have in this post, but I wanted to share a few old school selfers. It does feel very “look at me!” though. Hope it doesn’t strike you as Kardasian in any way.

That’s just a tad too selfie-ish for my liking.

The 9/6 Perspective

There are few times when a finger is pointed at you that it’s a good thing. Maybe you’re getting picked for a game of kickball or maybe you’ve raised your hand to be chosen for Let’s Make a Deal…but usually a finger aimed at you is a call-out of some sort.

Merriam Webster defines it as “the act of blaming someone for a problem instead of trying to fix or solve it; the act of making explicit and often unfair accusations of blame.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting exhausted with our culture of finger-pointing.


finger away


The polarization of society is something that really hurts my heart. Be it politics, religion—any number of social issues—people are so busy being adamantly, unwaveringly “right” and often just denigrating and denying the other side’s perspective, that our world is filled with hatred and so-called “righteousness.”




When I taught high school English, one of the exercises I created to try to get students ready for a healthy debate was what I called the 9/6 Perspective. (I had to put the numbers in that order because calling it the 6/9 Perspective would cause too much giggling in a room full of teenagers).

The exercise was very simple. I wrote a figure boldly on a piece of paper, set it on a desk, and had all of the students circle around. Then I’d have two students stand on either side of the desk and tell me what they understood to be written on the paper. Without fail, one would say “a 9” and the other would say “a 6.”




I’d ask them “Are you sure?”

“I know my numbers, Ms. Ancona….”

“Of course I know a 6 when I see one…”

They were certain of the facts in front of them.

Then I would ask the rest of the class, “Well….who’s right?”

This would result in multiple voices speaking up…”They both are!” “It depends!” “If you’re on either side, it looks right!”

And so on…And eventually we would put words around the reality that each “side” saw their own truth—though the answers were completely different.

But it was still their truth.

How you see things matters. Where you’re coming from matters.

And the same goes for the other person.

Now don’t think I see myself as righteous in this respect—my own stances can be passionate for sure (ask me about equal rights, gun laws, or preaching love over law and be ready for an impassioned response)—but I know that when we shut the other side down with scorn and disdain, we simply grow farther apart when the real challenge is learning to live together.


Attractive Woman with Her Books


Acknowledging and listening doesn’t mean agreeing or embracing. To listen to a 6 when you are a fervent 9 doesn’t mean they win or you give in, but it hopefully brings the debate to a healthier level where opinions are offered without calling names or spewing hatred.

The ease with which we can “plant our flags” and take stands on Facebook and Twitter has only made the situation worse. It always saddens me so when I see someone share their hatred of “the other side” in a post, and then see the “likes” and comments that follow.




Before the ease of social media to share such things, the circles of disdain or hatred were smaller—or at least more under the radar. Now people share how others “disgust” them right after they post what a great time they had at the beach.

I think we can be better.

The person who sees a 9 when you know a 6 is right is still…a person. So while we can hold tight to our belief in 6, let’s not just be “disgusted” by the 9-seer. Let’s instead work toward what we might be able to do to get that person to walk over to our side of the desk and see the 6. Or maybe we need to do the very same to see their 9. And maybe when we’ve done that neither side will have budged a bit, but at least we might better understand why they believe in what they do.


Hand Reaching


I don’t mean to simplify life’s complex issues and people.

I know it’s not easy to extend grace when we are passionately entrenched on an issue…

…but I believe it’s what we are called to do.

And I very much believe in what the late, great Maya Angelou said time and again: “We are more alike than we are unalike.”

And if we look at one another that way rather than with contempt, we just might have ourselves a better world to live in.