Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
Note: it's the new NBA season, but here's an unpublished piece from 2004 I'd like to share with you. Very timely, I think. Take care. - Chat
Now that the Presidential election is over and Americans have chosen who will lead them for the next four years, it's time for this country to focus on more important things. Such as who's better, Shaq or Kobe? The ongoing feud between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant has gotten nastier and uglier by the day. Just think, their personal rivalry will come to a head on the holiest of days, Christmas.
Jingle bells, jingle bells, drama all the way.
It's so sad to see this sniping going on between two great players. Now their former coach, Phil Jackson adds his two cents plus in a new tell all book detailing his last season coaching the Lakers, not putting Kobe in a good light. Of course, Phil favored Shaq so you be the judge of that. However, even before Phil came along and helped the two win three championships together, the drama between the two occurred long before that. Now Jerry West and Elgin Baylor never called each other out in the newspapers, nor did Kareem Abdul Jabbar publicly complained about the spotlight shining on Magic Johnson. Maybe there was tension between teammates beneath the surface, but at least they spared the fans. The long term dissention of Kobe and Shaq is no different than Dr. J complaining that two of his Philadelphia 76ers running mates, like World B. Free, hogged the ball too much and disrupted the team aspect of the game.
Whether you're a fan of Kobe, Shaq or just don't care about either, one thing is clear. This is one debate that should end now. The real debate should be who's not the better player or even the better person. It should be whether we waste our hard earned dollars spending it on expenses like parking, food and team gear watching a poor quality of basketball or should we desire not to attend a game until we get our money's worth. That's what the real debate should be, not choosing between egos.
P.S. Kobe and Shaq (as of now, 2017) have made up, so it's all good!
WHEN I began this blog over a decade ago, I envisioned a forum where I would share my written musings with you, the readers, on the issues of the day. Little did I know that in 2017 political and social discourse would evolve into instantaneous outrage, personal attacks over disagreements over 'talking points' spewed out, and constant harassment of an individual online. I am fortunate to say none of that has happened on this blog (yet), but in the larger world of social media and the internet, it has turned the corner into something far worse.
I reference this by saying on a Facebook post some weeks ago. I shared the following:
It's easy to 'lock arms' for the sake of unity, but the issues that caused athletes to take a knee or lock those arms, won't go away....
I wrote this in response to the heated debate of NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem. My point was that as teams now prefer to lock arms instead of kneeing, the social issues of police brutality and bias in the court system will not change. What should have turned out to be a thoughtful, yet spirited debate turned into a worthless discourse where the person drops Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's name in our argument using these exact words:
MLK is turning over in his grave on this one
Naturally, when a debate turns into dropping the name of a man hated by a segment of society over fifty years ago turns into someone 'speaking' for the man, I had to respond. Now, I've written my share of Dr. King in the past but I don't claim to speak for him. He's dead. Now I thought I gave a very good response to the debater's follow up, but as I did that, I failed to list the issues the athletes are protesting about. Dr. King doesn't need a defense not then, not now or ever. His 'body of work' spoke for itself. I can say that I received my 'reward' for the response when the debater decided to simply say that because I didn't see his point of view, that I am 'moronic'. Sigh. You see how 2017 just turns folks against each other? (smile)
In the past, I've had my share of heated, passionate debates with progressives and conservatives. I believe we should have the right to openly express our concerns in a respectful, reasonable manner. It doesn't say much when one side spends time name-calling the other side just because they've seen other 'opinion hosts' do it to their guests. If you've seen my posts in the past, you know this type of nonsense has gone on since 1983 when it was nothing but a Hot Seat and five years later when a Loudmouth exposed himself to the world. One could say the rise of a Wally George or Morton Downey, Jr. and their antics was the genesis of what we're seeing today. Lack of civility among Americans. But I digress.
I'll speak on this in a later post, but it's not surprising a foreign country through the use of the internet would exploit our various social divisions. The men and women who log on the internet in this country frankly doesn't need any outside 'help'. The division was festering long before this medium was invented and now that it has a voice, an invisible face (shout out to the anonoymous comments online) and thanks to this medium, it has a purpose. The purpose in not educating ourselves by seeking out new information, but to allow complacency and ignorance to take over our minds.
As a writer, I love to discuss anything and everything with my readers, followers and fans. When the conversation degrades into name-calling, ignorant taunts and so-forth, not much mentally and intellectually can be gained. Hopefully, there will come a time when we decide to have more discourse in our debates. There can be no debate at this point our online expressions need to be more disciplined.
P.S. Now I know why the 'experts' believe writers sharing their political opinions on the internet is never a good idea! (wink)
YOU CAN not get away from it - no matter how hard you try, the internet is constantly in your brain leaving the residue of serious and 'fake' stories. All day and all night it's nothing but fake and mixed news stories, pop culture happenings, sports and entertainment on your phone, laptop, wherever it appears. You see and read results from the latest Trump tweet, Russia scandal, tragic national disaster news, the failing economy, health care, it goes on and on. It has been said, 'you can't make this stuff up'. Even if Serling and Bradbury were alive today and tried, they could not come up with a better nightmarish scenario than what's unfolding in front of our eyes right now. Are we at war with North Korea yet? It would be a good idea to 'deprogram' ourselves from the internet and social media now. Right now. Trust me, rather than let tech guys (or hackers) performing 'data mining' on your brain, you should be the one in control of it.
The 'superinformation highway' as called by former Vice-President Al Gore has turned into mental gridlock in rush hour. Political parties and their backers have digital outlets aimed at presenting 'the truth', whatever is relevant to them. Activist groups push their causes from accountability of police actions to gender equality and same sex identity. You spend hours and hours sitting in your chair while your mind absorbs all of this. Your body on the other hand may develop a disease or painful aliment caused by your sedimentary lifestyle. Get up and walk around!
Year after year, it gets worse on the web. You sit there reading these websites which offer you no true solutions for the life you live along with spending hours watching or hearing YouTube videos with hosts who love to vent, profundicate, rage on the topics of the day and the issues they care about. You feel so compelled to return to that channel only to discover while it may be 'entertaining', the right to develop your own thoughts and opinions have been 'robbed' from you by these same hosts. May I offer one piece of advice? Please take time to think for yourself. Don't let a voice on the internet rob your thoughts.
The personalities you subscribe to look at you as a number. Besides that, they don't care much for you at all. You're one of the few thousand they brag about on their shows only to get their numbers up. Why are you wasting your life to these folks who operate these YouTube channels or online websites? Shouldn't the internet be used as a tool to help improve your life instead of becoming a slave to it? If you log on to social media for a year and don't see one significant change in your life, then it has become the master and you the servant. It has become your god, an idol your worship with a stroke of the keys. Learn to use this internet or deprogram yourself before it completely takes over your life. No matter who or what you are on this earth, you deserve better. Much better than stuck with the gridlock in your mind.
This is a subject I feel I should address. It's not based on a serious subject nor a thought-provoking piece, but since we're all here on the internet, I would like to ask one serious question?
Why are we all here?
From the late '90's to the present day, the internet has changed from chat rooms to message boards and social media. The websites we used to visit are gone or have been taken over by a larger media entity (Black Voices on Huff Post for example). So even the internet itself has changed with the major tech giants controlling what we post, see and read. In the case of social media which has endured justified criticism in the past few days, our very hearts and minds can be changed to fulfill an agenda. This prompts me to ask the question again: what is our purpose for staying on the internet?
As an author, the 'experts' say I should use this medium to gain more fans for my books. Invest in my 'platform' and 'brand' to build my audience. I have to say after years of writing this blog and becoming involved on social media, it hasn't 'moved the needle' much. I would say when I was the executive director for the L.A. Black Book Expo, we relied heavily on social media to get the word out. As an author? Personally my absence in the literary world hasn't resulted in thousands of followers and fans. Even when I post important information about the literary world, it does not capture the attention of the public. Rather than 'throw my hands' and just give up, I've decided the few people who sincerely follow me, care what I have to say and even read my posts (like this one, hint) are the fans and followers I appreciate. Although I have an online newsletter, I find social media for most is an easier way to keep up with me rather than sending an email to subscribers.
Due to the fact the internet is flooded with countless authors or people who write books, it's a near impossible task for someone like myself who hasn't published a book in years to gain the type of followers sorely needed to build on that 'platform' or 'brand'. As a businessperson, maintaining a healthy social media presence is a must. Your business can either succeed or fall into the digital abyss depending on the time spent posting, sharing pictures, creating a narrative. As far as using social media sites to promote your business, it's better to own your website and other digital content unless you risk your works remain in limbo on Archive.org (The Wayback Machine)
Whatever your purpose for surfing the net may be, be sure it works for you rather than allowing yourself to be controlled by the various memes, drama and 'discussions' on the internet. You don't want to find out that website you supported is actually a tool for others to exploit your emotions which is what they want. Don't let it happen to you. Use the internet as your tool, not for the benefit of others.
Life is to be lived, isn't it? It's not for concentrating too much worrying about things out of our control for which there's nothing we can do about anyway, so just enjoy what life is because it's much too short.
This is all I wanted to share with you. Take care.