Learning journey for facts and truth

I’ve spent most of my life with the belief that I understood the world around me. A belief that our newspapers and television news stations delivered information that was worthy of us to know and wouldn’t alter or change the details to serve other motives or purposes. Several months ago I came across an article on a fringe news site (it was fringe to me at the time) that put serious doubt into my mind about the validity of the news that I had been convinced was truthful. My interest in the possibility that things were not as they seemed was ignited and I started on a learning journey that has helped me expose a lot of the misinformation I had previously thought was the truth. Call it what you will; fake news, misinformation, semi-truthful, etc., it wasn’t the whole story and I was starting to see the holes.

The path to learning started, for me, when I was opened to an alternative idea that questioned my current sources of news and information. No longer did I see what was being presented to me as the whole truth, further pushing me to find the details, information, and facts that I now desperately wanted to learn. Around this time I had started seeing posts from several people I followed that were having the same type of awakening of the mainstream media being not quite what they portrayed themselves to be. I decided to reach out, away from WordPress, to learn where they were at and sort of compare notes. I’m glad that I did, because what they were able to steer me towards helped accelerate my learning and I quickly became obsessed with the new sources of information presented to me. Each article that I consumed opened my mind a little more and pushed me to better understand what was going on around me that had been hidden from me by the mainstream media.

There have been missteps, incorrect conclusions drawn, discovery that a good source was actually biased and of course, most news agencies tracked back to one of 5 or 6 large corporations. The hardest part of seeking out facts, without bias or lean, has been finding sources that demonstrate they dont’ have bias or lean. Unfortunately, the truth is that every news source, regardless of independent or mainstream, has a little bias or lean depending on the authors and readers. I had to update my approach to find sources that were predominantly in the middle, or moderate, that reported with equal bias to both the left and the right depending on the story being reported. To date individual bloggers have been the greatest source of facts as there is an inclination of authors to support their opinions with the sources that led them to their conclusions. In Saner Thought, The Ripening Wanderer, Learning to Speak Politics, R.R. Wolfgang; all are passionate about their own views and will support them with their own sources. There are many more, and to those that I’ve had deep exchanges of comments with that aren’t included, I’m updating my blogroll over this coming weekend.

I don’t always get it right. Some of the conclusions I come to are off base, but not because I don’t understand or am blind to the actual facts or truth. Some of my conclusions are based on experience, of which, I don’t have a lot to draw from within my new reality. I’ve been privileged to have several followers, who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, leave comments that help me understand where I wasn’t quite right while at the same time offer an alternative. Helpful and intuitive comments that make me look forward to seeing orange dot in my WordPress application or get a ding on my mobile phone. Rarely do I get any negativity that prompts me to trash a reply, in fact, I’ve only had two in the 5 years I’ve had this particular blog. From what I understand, that is rare and uncommon, however with only 100-ish followers between WordPress and Twitter, it’s plausible.

Undoing 30 or so years of filtered news will take some time and I’m certain that I will continue to not get it right all the time. I’m hopeful that there are others going through the same type of learning journey that I’m on right now and thankful that the people I’ve come to admire online share my open-mindedness. I will freely admit when I’m wrong, and as demonstrated already, I’ve managed to get it right and offered an alternative to someone else that allowed them to change their own minds. This is an interesting community on WordPress, so many different types of people who, if in real life, I would probably not have ever connected with. I can honestly say to my family and friends that I have met people (online) that live all over the world and connected through words. My learning of the world around me will continue, and as such, I hope others will join me as we all find our own truth.

#friends, #learning, #mainstream-media, #online-connection, #politics

Fearful of the future

Once again, I read about another situation where civilians targeted police officers and people ended up being killed. I’ve seen conflicting information about whether the gunman called police to the scene on purpose or if it was just something else entirely, such as “wrong place at the wrong time”. There isn’t enough detail in the news that I can completely trust enough to know which side is right. To be honest though, it really doesn’t matter, people died for something that didn’t need to happen. I’m referring to the gunman AND the police officers, not one or the other. The thoughts and feelings I’m experiencing are hard to put into words.

I’m the first one to admit that I’ve said and done the wrong thing at the wrong time. In some cases, I was provided the opportunity to apologize and in others I wasn’t and lost the respect of the other person. That is all my fault, partly because I wasn’t thinking, partly because I was naive, partly because it’s what I had believed at the time and hadn’t been given all the details or facts. In all cases, I learned from those experiences, rather, the experiences that I was provided the chance to learn from. The individuals that enlightened me rather than hate me understood that some things just aren’t known to everyone all the time. They took a chance on offering their knowledge to me in a time when I probably didn’t earn it or deserve it, but had hope that a fellow human being could be helped to understand the bigger picture.

I grew up in a white neighborhood and went to a primarily white school. It wasn’t until I entered high school that I had fellow students that were not white. I was dumb, naive, and stupid about the larger world that I hadn’t experienced yet. At no point though did I treat anyone differently. Everyone started with the same level of respect and acceptance when first meeting me. It was only after their actions dictated a change in respect, I never got to a point where I didn’t accept anyone. My life the past 40 years has been dotted with situations that fall into the “shouldn’t have said that” and “shouldn’t have done that” moments. What most don’t see when they only look at the surface though is the fact that I’ve learned from every situation where I had done or said something stupid. As I progressed through high school, college, corporate work; those situations where I said or did the wrong thing have grown farther and farther apart.

A particular experience, that I’ll never forget, involved a co-worker at one past job where I was in my early 20’s. For months I picked up on negativity directed at me and others on the team that were white. Meetings were especially brutal for me specifically as I didn’t have the operating knowledge required to back up my ideas or suggestions. This person continually had the upper hand with me and I can’t recall a single idea that didn’t have a “devil’s advocate” approach from them. Months of this took place and I just accepted it. At the time I had no idea why I was the usual target, but reflecting now I can see why. One particular day, a specific comment was directed at me that struck a nerve as it turned personal that was directed at my wife. I asked, politely, to meet with them privately and they reluctantly agreed. I asked them why I was being singled out? I asked why they never gave me a chance? The answers weren’t surprising, but my follow-up caught them off guard; “Why does the color of my skin determine if I’m worthy of your respect and acceptance? At no point in the last 6 months have I been anything but respectful and accepting of you as a fellow co-worker. Do I not deserve the same?” I asked they just think about my questions before answering and excused myself from the room, I didn’t feel it was necessary to stay after confronting someone so personally. It was a few days later that they called me into the same room. I got answers to my questions that confirmed my belief that I was superficially judged and they didn’t allow themselves to see past that. Our working relationship improved from that point forward but it never progressed farther than that, mostly because of my unwillingness to mix work and personal life. I did earn their respect and acceptance and I like to think that I learned a little from the situation in that until you let someone know where you stand, nothing will ever change.

I try so hard to not judge others. I’m a fallible human though and nothing is ever perfect. It’s the imperfections in life that makes everything so interesting. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I tend to accept more rather than reject, a fact that isn’t lost on me as this usually happens in the opposite direction for most people. I can’t recall how many times I’ve talked to my Grandparents and realized over and over that they were truly racist and bigoted people; a product of their time unfortunately. My parents chose not to instill those ideals with my brother an I and I’m thankful for that. It helped me to see and recognize the behaviors that perpetuated the violence and hatred from centuries past. I’ve lost friends over the years because they got angry with me for my refusal to polarize “with my own kind” (their words, not mine) when violence erupted over race. I’ve also distanced myself from people that perpetuated that kind of hate and rhetoric because I just don’t think it does any good to get that angry over something. Sure, there are bad people out there, sure things will happen regardless of our best efforts, but I cling to the hope that we’ll start to learn from our mistakes and expend energy on positivity rather than negativity.

I’m fearful for the future for the first time in a long time. Seeing and hearing about escalating violence is a major contributor to that fear in that it being a cycle that really never ends. It can get worse, or we can recognize our negativity and decide collectively to make a difference. I consider myself part of the solution more so because I’m willing to accept and learn from my mistakes, but that only works if others recognize that I’m going to make mistakes. Mistakes due to lack of knowledge or life experience, not due to malice, racism or bigotry. Where are things going to go? It’s up to the human race to decide, because in the end, our brains are grey and we all bleed red.

#acceptance, #black, #fear, #learning, #racism, #respect, #violence, #white

Do we really “know” the Internet?

Wan's WorldI came to work today with a hat on because it was so nice I had all the windows down in my car.  The hat has a graphic on the front similar to the hat Mike Myers wore in Wayne’s World and says “WAN’S WORLD”.

“Man, you liked those movies enough to actually wear one of the hats from it?” says one of my co-workers.

“No, look closer.  There’s a reason you make mistakes…  your eyes don’t work!”

For the sake of this post, the dig on him wasn’t necessary, but I thought it was funny.  Anyway, he looks closer and asks me what was a WAN and why would I have it on my hat.  My response to him isn’t necessary to put here in that I’m a Systems Administrator, and so is he.  The question itself is just stupid to ask in my opinion.  For those of you who aren’t in an Info Tech role, WAN stands for Wide Area Network and refers to the global connection of a network outside of its LAN, or Local Area Network.  **GEEK CONTENT** Think of it like this, a LAN is likened to all the computers in your house linked together either by wire or wireless connections.  The WAN in this example would be the connection to your Internet Service Provider (ISP).  Examples of ISP’s are Comcast, Verizon, Embarq, RCN, etc. **END GEEK CONTENT**

The fact he asked the question sort of got me thinking about how the majority of people don’t really know what their email, Facebook, Netflix, and other stuff they do actually does or how it is presented to them.  A great dialogue from the show Criminal Minds sums it up quite nicely.

“The Internet is the greatest experiment the human race has ever embarked on that none of us really knows anything about.”

I paraphrased, its been a while since I saw the episode.  If you look it up, tell me what it should be and I’ll fix it 😛  People who know me will attest to the fact that not knowing about something or knowing how it works drives me absolutely crazy.  I almost get obsessed with learning as much as I can about something that totally perplexes me.  A good example of that is when I took my first computer apart, completely, just to put it back together.  Sure, you’re saying lots of us do that….  but do they do that BEFORE ever turning it on for the first time?  Yeah, that’s my point.

Having been around technology since I was 12 years old, there is still a lot I just don’t understand or even realize there are things that I need to understand.  The Internet is an unquantifiable network of computers interlinked around the world that 99% of the human race doesn’t have the ability to truly appreciate the shear complexity of the whole thing.  No one person on this Earth can say “I know the Internet completely.”  We live on our little Internet islands where we have information served up

#geek, #internet, #learning, #unfiltered