Category Archives: Social Rules

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

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Apparently, many Facebook users are unaware that they can easily block messages from a person WITHOUT also blocking them on Facebook.

Think of it as being able to go out and meet a friend without worrying about them calling you at midnight – or when their cat needs a taxi. Because they can’t. That’s how blocking on Messenger works. You choose. You don’t have to rip your phone out of the wall if you’re not giving people your phone number to call you.

Let’s face it, we all have a few friends who can’t resist sending the modern equivalent of chain emails via Messenger. They probably need to read the directions for a box of toothpicks. They just can’t help it. You can’t change them. Others, for whatever reason, seem to be prone to sending viruses to us, or getting hacked/cloned and sending malicious links with titles such as “Video Of You I Found!” or something politically charged like “Obama Killed Your Grandfather” to grab our attention and make us click the link before we turn on our brains.

Sidenote: for those of you who don’t know, it is always wise to start a new Messenger chat by using personal words that inform the recipient that it is from a ‘real’ person, rather than a bot or hacker. Something like, “Hey, this is X. I really like the idea of you wearing a sweater made of pink insulation” will do nicely.

There’s no reason you can’t use Messenger safely. It’s no different than being friends with crazy people. You don’t just yank open your mailbox without listening for a timer in there. Instead of throwing the baby out with the rose-scented bathwater, I suggest a more reasonable approach: block each offender as they send you nonsense, instead of punishing yourself and all your other friends. Get a suspicious message? Get 2,652 gifs that would give anyone a migraine or cause convulsions upon viewing them? Block the person who sent it.

I don’t know how many crazy and clueless friends you have, but I think it would take less time to block each person as they behave stupidly than it would to misuse the incredible communication platform that works on almost any platform or device, from anywhere in the world. We have our problems with social media, to be sure, but most of the consequences are our own fault, precisely because we aren’t using them as intended.

I could be wrong – but it seems like you might be over-reacting or not thinking clearly about how you’re dealing with this.

If you post “Stop sending me stupid messages on Messenger!” the idiots are not going to realize it is them you are referring to. That’s what being stupid does to us. It explains voting, comb-overs, and wearing tight clothing. They don’t get it. Stop preaching to everyone. Target each offender when they send you a message. It only takes once, and you’re done.

P.S. You can use Facebook to private message someone without using Messenger. All you need to do is post and set the privacy control to that specific person. Only that person will be able to see.

And if you’re going to say something ridiculous like, “But something could go wrong!” you’re already using the wrong platform. Something did go wrong. You’re making it hard for the rest of us to contact you when you should be only making it hard for the idiots to do so.

Signed, An Idiot

The Curtains Must Open

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Absent pedigree collapse, which occurs when the same genetics overlap in one tree due to noodling between relatives, I have 126 5th great-grandparents. Pedigree collapse is why our family tree pyramids are amazingly flatter than we would conventionally expect. Historically, about 80% of all marriages involved 2nd cousins or closer, due to geographical limitations. Most children resulted from people living inside a 5-mile radius. Modern people cringe at the idea, but proximity inevitably leads to relationships.

Life will find a way, as Malcolm said, whether it’s dinosaurs or people.

Because of the thousands of people in my main family tree and the fact that I’ve been using DNA for many years to trace my lineage, my DNA trail is remarkably old for some of my family tree branches. (And demonstrably absent for other alleged branches.) Occasionally, I encounter tree owners who hide or keep their ancestry tree private, which might be useful or warranted for current generations to protect their privacy. Still, it is 100% pointless to do it past one’s grandparents. Even if you’re not willing to pull the curtain back, the statistical likelihood that another descendant will do so approaches 100%.

The number of people using DNA results exponentially grows past three generations. Whereas paper trails and family history can be manipulated, expunged, or hidden, DNA is the math that draws a map directly to one’s ancestors. As more participants share their DNA, the tapestry of everyone’s relationships becomes incredibly detailed. Our ability to use algorithms and computers has rendered secrecy to be moot.

In the case of the example pictured, my DNA and family tree draw me through 7-8 generations, with multiple confirmations across hundreds of people. For whatever reason, I have a gap with my 4th great-grandfather Murphy, thanks to those who think hiding the identity of the person to be valuable.

Due to DNA, however, I can easily ‘ignore’ the missing 4th great-grandfather and jump up to the next generation with my 5th great-grandfather Murphy. This happens because of many people related to the cousins and siblings of my unidentified 4th great-grandfather having shared their DNA results. Using census, marriage, and other records, it is straightforward to use the process of elimination to identify the ‘secret’ ancestor. If it is someone unexpected, such as the mailman, it is likely that multiple DNA sources from other family lines have identified their overlap.

Given a large enough sample, no one currently alive escapes multiple points of intersection with our living DNA map. In case you’re wondering, it takes only a small percentage of people to finish a complete DNA map for every person alive today.

In other words, as I’ve said many times before, DNA will always ‘out’ a person’s intention to keep their family secrets hidden. People might not talk, but DNA is the hidden voice that lies in plain sight.

Unlike many, I find this to be a comfort. It’s probably a good thing, too, if for no other reason than I am powerless to do anything about it, regardless of my opinion.

DNA, in combination with my insistence on personal transparency, led me to discover a new sister. It didn’t allow me to force my search onto her; it allowed her to make the same choice and meet in the middle. Using my example, it is possible that one of her children or family members eventually would have come forward anyway, resulting in a similar discovery of new siblings. It just would have happened later or after my death. Whether we are comfortable with the idea, our DNA roadmaps are subject to the whims of those we’re related to, as the Golden State Killer famously discovered.

Yes, of course, DNA information can be abused. Using the possible negative consequences to justify a knee-jerk reaction is more a symptom of our inability to be responsible citizens and govern ourselves maturely than it is of a warning against using DNA at all. You leave DNA everywhere you go. Even now, your body is shedding your entire genetic structure into the air, on the floor, and on almost everything you touch.

My DNA experience also confirmed that some of my aunts and uncles had reason to be fearful of my dedication. Though most of them are now departed, their harsh demands about the silence of some of our family history are soon dispelled. Some of the secrets seem tame now. Others belie something unsettling. Their demands actually created a stronger desire to find out what all the fuss was about. Thanks to them, I have a specific list of questions that strike directly into their concerns.

People with nothing to hide also tend to welcome sunlight. If someone seems overly concerned, you should always assume it’s a sign you’re looking in the right direction. It’s not always the case. It is, however, logical.

Regardless of how we interpret uncovered facts, they don’t alter the truth they reveal. It’s an ongoing fascination of mine to observe the reluctance of some people to see their stories mapped and visited by other eyes.

For me, for now, forever, I embrace the universal nature of DNA.

May the curtains be forever opened.

Only 8 Pictures

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I have only 8 authentic images of my grandpa Cook. About half are pictures of pictures, taken at opportune moments. I’m lucky to have any. Many people escape their childhoods with no pictures. Given the number of times my family moved, in conjunction with my mother’s proclivity to burn residences to the ground, it’s a miracle any pictures fell into my hands.

My life only overlapped with my grandpa’s life for ten years, seven months, and one day.

Every picture I have of grandpa is on Ancestry to view and keep for anyone who wants them. Evidently, a lot of people have. Likewise, almost every picture I have of my dad and mom is on there, too. I’ve never once shared pictures without someone finding value in them – even people I’ve never met, and especially people who discover they are related.

For many of the family members who’ve departed, I have hundreds of pictures online, so that they can be experienced easily, and probably preserved for several lifetimes. It might be overkill, but experience has taught me that someone will find real joy when they see the photos.

I routinely get a private message along the lines of “Holy cow! I’ve never seen such a complete variety before. Do you have others?” I politely write back, saying, “Sorry, I’ve put every image I have of him or her on here. There are others, locked away in books, in basements, or in dusty boxes – but I don’t have access to them.”

This was recently true after I uploaded hundreds of pictures to an aunt, uncle, and cousin who passed away in the last decade. The response was overwhelming. It was a bit of an effort to organize and upload them all, but I know that my pictures will, at times, be the only pictures of these people that will be passed on and survive.

At times, I get messages from people who have locked down their accounts so that all pictures are private and secretly unviewable. Sometimes, these same people ‘borrow’ mine and lock their copies away from everyone else. Shame. I try to remind myself that someone at least saw the pictures and found them valuable enough to swipe. For the same reason, I leave all my family discoveries open to those who are related. There’s no real point in forcing people to do the same work over and over.

I don’t understand the inclination to put a picture in a box, closet, or hidden place. They are no more accessible than those who ‘borrow’ mine and lock them away digitally. They might as well be on the moon.

Countless times, people have reached out to me to tell me their families assumed no pictures existed of their loved ones. More than once, someone has told me that they’d never seen a picture of their family until they found my pictures. I can’t imagine that bittersweet moment. I work to ensure that I’m not part of the problem.

I don’t own a picture that I don’t have digitized, shared, and available for everyone to enjoy. Not only so that they can never be truly lost forever when calamity strikes, but so that they can be shared, even with unknown future generations, as they look back in the past.

A picture in a box, album, or closet is lost forever.

You just don’t know it.

A Lot of Pickles In That Handbag

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Forget the original lyrics. Here’s my take on current events. You’re welcome, X

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I wish that we had one species of venomous birds. People would pay a lot more attention outside, look up more often, and probably sound more natural as they scream.
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If you say, “That’s the last straw!” there is probably a liberal who is happy but gets the wrong idea.
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I wonder if Napoleon had gone by the name “Leon” if he’d been as aggressive as he was.
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I was going to order a personal pizza, but because I was going to eat it, I instead ordered an impersonal pizza – because it was nothing personal.
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I frequent a bar that offers free peanuts because I loathe indentured foodstuffs.
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I bought a ticket in the nosebleed section, not realizing that the usher would punch me in the face. Bravo, for accuracy.
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I got into a fight with a flock of chickens. It’s a lot of exercise bending and throwing punches that low. So, I winged it.
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Once someone points it out, it’s hard to not think about the fact that each time you paint the inside of your house, the interior gets incrementally smaller.
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The patent office sent me a letter to advise me that no one had patented the idea of aardvarks in leotards.
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X’s rule of news site commentary: If you post comments on a news site, especially in anger, you’ve demonstrated the opposite of whatever intelligence is.

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One disadvantage of being a twin is that you can never convince someone that you forgot your sibling’s birthday.
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For us old folks: In a very short time, 2060 will be closer than 1980.
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The world would be much more musical if people’s heads sounded like marimbas when you punch them. Especially at boxing matches.

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The Elder Observation: The world isn’t fundamentally different; your focus, attention, and energy, however, is more likely to be concentrated on the extremes, especially as you grow older. Choices in clothing, food, music, and opinion dwindle; use this tendency as a warning sign that you’ve grown rigid.

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I wrote a movie about a dyslexic hacker. Unfortunately, it was 789 minutes long.

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“Go Tell It On The Mountain” sounds like prank advice.

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It’s not relevant, but I wonder if Bigfoot’s cellphone plan has roaming charges.

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Thanks! Panache, wit, and an actual laugh – all without even opening the envelope. While I certainly appreciate anyone with the nerve, time, and interest to send me a card of any kind, I confess that I’m often surprised by the lack of reciprocity of my admittedly weird efforts to keep life interesting. When it comes, I gain a little hope that not everything I do falls on deaf ears, dim eyes, or uninterested v̶i̶c̶t̶i̶m̶s̶ people in my life.
Signed, The King.

Card-giving is a declining art form. It’s okay to kill tradition and even stick your tongue out while you’re doing it.

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While getting dressed for the formal event, I suddenly realized where the cliché “the ties that bind” originated.

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I can’t help but feel a little put out when the pastor announces that “almost everyone” should join him in song.

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Some doubt that Bigfoot is real. As for me, I doubt he’s a Baptist.

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The “It Is What It Is” Cliché Comparison

 

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“Truth sounds like hate to those who hate truth” has to be one of the most meaningless clichés on social media. It’s clever, but meaningless, like a quick conversation at the coffee kiosk on an early Saturday morning.

I see it used by fundamentalists, by liberals decrying the prejudices of conservatives, and all manner of people who need a convenient way to stigmatize those they identify as their detractors.

“Any quote, axiom, cliché, or saying that can be equally used by polar opposites is meaningless in all contexts. It is the “it is what it is” of social knowledge.”

The Tenderfoot Allocation Hyprocrisy

OLD FOLKS BLAMING

A bit over-the-top, stereotypical, and harsh comment designed to derive a rise in people’s blood pressure:

Regarding those “Bring back home economics class so that millennials can actually learn something” memes… Given that 1/2 of workers live paycheck-to-paycheck, I’d say that the problem isn’t young people not knowing how to change their oil, bake a cake, or sew a button. I’d say it’s the majority of their elders failing to understand real economics – or having practical views and solutions for pervasive economic policies that benefit everyone.

The younger generations didn’t get us to here.

We did.