Tag Archives: Social media

Saturday Morning

The house is asleep. It’s quiet. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafts through the house as I clear my eyes and set my sights on a brand new day; a day that offers fresh opportunities to impact my world in positive and constructive ways.

Yes, I am a morning person. I’m that guy who wakes up ready to go, ready to get the day started. On a weekday morning, things move quickly as I take my devotional time, prepare for work and mentally run through my calendar and the day’s meetings. But Saturday mornings are different. There is no clanging alarm to rouse me from my sleep; I awaken naturally – 6:39 this morning – I slept in! I take my time catching up with friends on Facebook, reviewing and updating my Twitter feed, reading my Bible, and sipping coffee as I contemplate the week just past, the weekend upon me, and the week to come. In the quiet of Saturday morning I remember how blessed I am to have good people in my life, a comfortable home, a fulfilling career, and a God who loves me even in spite of my many shortcomings.

That’s all I have to say today. If you’re reading this, put a smile on your face, thank God for another day of this wonderful gift of life, and be a positive influence in your corner of the world. After you’ve had your coffee, of course!

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Saturday Morning 7.15.2017

 

Godless Chatter – Who, Me??

A kind person blocked me on Facebook a few months ago in response to my sharing some memes that were aggressively critical of President Obama. That got my attention. After a thorough review of my posts I realized she had a point, and since then I’ve made an effort to temper my Facebook posts to avoid mean-spirited political jabber. Instead, I try to focus more on encouragement, the Lord, and the good things of life. Each morning I scroll through my posts from the day before, pleased to some extent with the progress I see but sometimes reminded of how easy it is to be sucked into the pit that Paul calls “godless chatter”. I still post politically from time to time, as it’s important to be engaged, but hopefully with factual and thought-provoking content.

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2 Timothy 2:14-16 NIV


We Christians must be wary of being drawn in to “godless chatter”, but with the immediacy of social media, it can be easy to fall into that trap. Note Paul’s warning here: those who indulge in such chatter will become more and more ungodly. As I scroll through Facebook and Twitter I can see that. We Christians must strive to be salt and light in all aspects of our lives. We are to be Christ’s workers in the harvest field, speaking and living a life that points straight towards our Savior. When we indulge in the “godless chatter” Paul speaks of here, our witness is tarnished and we become ineffective.

Christian friends, let us seek to honor God in all that we do – and in all that we post.

Independence Day 2015

Much of historical significance has happened in our country over the past couple of weeks. As I peruse my Facebook and Twitter feeds and watch America’s news networks, a very disturbing picture begins to emerge; a picture of a nation on the brink of collapse.

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” Matthew 12:25

Social media presents an amazing opportunity to reconnect and renew old friendships. It is also a forum in which we can participate in our national conversation with people from all over the country. Unfortunately, we are squandering that opportunity. All too often, we throw barbs at one another, not seeking understanding or even fruitful discussion, but only seeking to advance our position over those with whom we disagree. It gets so bad, that I sometimes log off of social media for a day or two just to get relief from the insults flying back and forth.

I used to be a fan of Fox News until I got sick and tired of watching panels of so-called experts, presumably gathered together to discuss a topic of interest from their different points of view, reduce themselves to yelling over each other to be heard with the host not allowing those expressing opinions in dissent with his own to complete their thoughts. Other so-called “news” channels are guilty of the same useless banter. It is not at all helpful; instead, it serves to increase the divide that is growing ever larger by the day.

Our nation appears to have lost the ability, maybe even the desire, to have open and honest discussions with one another. I believe that, if this continues, this will be the demise of our great nation. We Americans must stand up, rise above the fray, demand quality reporting by our media, and resist the temptation to cast stones at one another.

The First Amendment to the Constitution preserves our right to speak freely, among other things. What does that mean? I’m no Constitutional lawyer (I’m not a lawyer at all, actually) but based on my understanding of American history and my understanding of the intentions of our founders, I believe there is intent here that we Americans have the freedom to speak our minds. Obviously, given the fact that we are all humans and none of us possess perfect knowledge or wisdom, we are going to disagree from time to time. Can we not, out of respect for our fellow citizens, allow such disagreements to take place without shunning the person with whom we disagree? Do any of us really want to live in a society in which we can lose our jobs for sharing an opinion with which some disagree? Can we not disagree with one another, even on important topics of national interest, without attacking each other personally in an attempt to reduce those on the other side of the issue to the ranks of the stupid and uninformed?

Today we celebrate Independence Day. On July 4, 1776, a nation was founded on the principle that people’s rights are inherently theirs by virtue of their Creator, not granted by government. We were founded on the principle that we are not subjects of our government; rather, our government serves at the will of the people. I’ll bet there were some heated discussions as the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were developed. Whatever disputes arose were negotiated and worked out, and the American people won. Friends, let us not effectively shred those documents with trite and fruitless banter. Let us not allow those who seek to divide us (they’re out there, and they seek power only for themselves) to succeed. Let us unite as Americans, understanding that each of us has worth in the eyes of God, knowing that at times we will have to agree to disagree, but also understanding that a nation divided against itself will not survive.

I love my country, I feel blessed to be an American, and I know you do, too. Let’s start now to rise above the fray and come together to save this great nation.

Happy Independence Day and God bless America.

On My Mind: A Car, A Meeting, and A Conversation

Here is what’s on my mind this evening. I hope it adds some value to your day, but even if it doesn’t I’m happy to get this off my chest.

A Car: Ode to a Prius

Taking delivery of my 2015 Toyota Prius V, Texas Toyota of Grapevine. 6.19.2015

Taking delivery of my 2015 Toyota Prius V, Texas Toyota of Grapevine. 6.19.2015

If you had told me three weeks ago that I would trade my nice, luxurious 2007 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer SUV for a Toyota Prius I would have told you that you don’t know me very well. I purchased my Expedition in December, 2013 and was instantly taken by it’s massive size, comfortable ride, and luxurious appointments. Even the meager average 15.4 miles per gallon fuel consumption did not mitigate my affection for that vehicle. It also didn’t hurt that the Expedition won me instant credibility among the Fort Worth elite as I parked it in the Justin lot at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo alongside the vehicles of other rodeo volunteers.

As I write this today, I am the proud owner of a 2015 Toyota Prius V and, yes, Texas Toyota of Grapevine gladly accepted my Expedition in trade. I drive a lot in my job, and in just over a week’s time I put almost 700 miles on my new Prius, averaging just over 40 miles per gallon. My Prius is stylish – and that’s not just my opinion. Every colleague and prospect I have driven thus far has offered that feedback. The car is smooth, quiet, and equipped with cool gadgetry that I am still learning to operate. Based on my simple math, I have saved 29 gallons of gas – about $75. The gas savings alone will cover over half of my monthly payment and I am pumping significantly fewer toxins into the air. I’d say that’s a win all around.

A Meeting: The Value of Face-to-Face

"These dogs are barkin'!" ~ Del Griffith in Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

“These dogs are barkin’!” ~ Del Griffith in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. June, 2014

I have been blessed to enjoy a wonderful career in corporate risk management. Topics that many would find dull, such as safety protocols, claims management, and insurance terms & conditions are quite interesting to me. In Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Neal Page said something along these lines in his rant against Del Griffith’s boring stories, “I could sit in an insurance seminar for days and listen to them drone on and on with a big smile on my face. People would ask me, ‘how do you do it?’ and I’d tell them, ‘because I’ve been with Del Griffith.’” On that point I disagree with Neal Page; I thoroughly enjoy those seminars!

I enjoyed some great meetings today; meetings in which we discussed strategies for safety and claims management and how sound practices in those areas can enhance the work experience of employees and the customer experience of guests. During a break this afternoon I was struck by the fact that we humans were created to be relational; to interact with one another, to shake hands, smile, agree and even disagree. Technology has led us to a fast-paced business tempo in which we often communicate via email, online chat, or conference call. Even our social relationships are moving more online as we interact with friends and family via the plethora of social media outlets available at the click of a mouse. Those things have their place, but after a day like today, I’m reminded of just how important it is that we engage our world without the barriers of pretense or technology. Nothing replaces sitting down and talking.

A Conversation: Why Don’t We Talk Anymore?

Speaking of sitting down and talking, I was once a Facebook Ninja. At least, that’s the best term I can come up with to describe a person who pages through his news feed and pounces on others’ comments on topics upon which I disagree. Often, those posts would launch a rather ugly exchange that served no purpose but to tick one another off. I’ve made a conscious effort to change my ways over the past year or so, and while I am still tempted to drop a vitriolic comment every now and then, I’m happy with my progress to this point.

8.9.2014 Enjoying a delicious home-cooked Brazilian feast with dear friends, courtesy of the Dunn's.

8.9.2014 Enjoying a delicious home-cooked Brazilian feast with dear friends, courtesy of the Dunn’s.

We are living in very historic times, and we are quickly losing the ability to talk to one another about things of extremely great importance. The media no longer reports news; it spins statements and circumstances in an effort to drive ratings. In my opinion, the so-called news channels and the national and local network news outlets offer very little of substance or value to the American people. We the People are no better, for we readily consume the kool-aid offered up by our favorite TV spin doctors, regurgitate bits and pieces of it on social media, and commence to attacking one another for being stupid and uninformed. As all of this plays out, I fear we are squandering the greatest nation that ever existed.

I have good friends from all political persuasions. We sometimes trade barbs on social media, but I haven’t talked personally with many of them for years. I’ve often toyed with the idea of hosting a “Friend Summit”. It would be a weekend to gather friends from various walks of life and political ideals and discuss the issues of the day – everything from taxation to immigration to gay marriage – not necessarily to try and change each other’s minds but to arrive at least at an understanding of where our perspectives are coming from. But most importantly, my aim would be to reinforce for each of us that we are all children of our Creator, we all want to live a good life, and we all need each other. I’m still kicking this idea around in my head; I wonder if anybody would come.

Culling Twitter: Quality vs. Quantity

When I made the decision to give up Facebook for Lent this year, I never imagined that it would lead to a flurry of activity on my Twitter account. Therein lies the problem.

There is much about Twitter that I enjoy. I enjoy the opportunity to interact with very bright individuals whom I would likely never meet outside of Twitter. Many Twitter users dedicate their accounts to offering inspirational quotes or passages of Scripture; I’ve been blessed from time to time by several such posts. I once had a brief Twitter conversation with former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner – that was cool!

Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said on ESPN Radio yesterday morning, “The Internet is where losers go to try and feel important.” I know of many very smart and influential people who actively use social media quite constructively, so I disagree to some extent. However, I think I understand what he was getting at. The context of his comment was a discussion about the backlash celebrities receive when they opine online on current events, such as the recent Freedom of Religion Act passed in Indiana.  In discussing the backlash, Sir Charles said that this is why he is not a user of social media. As outspoken as he tends to be at times, I’m a bit surprised by that, but I get it. My Twitter feed has exploded with bigoted comments, expletives, and a host of misinformation just on Indiana’s new law alone. Commenting on such things can be risky, for offering a comment with which an aggressive user disagrees often leads to name-calling and, at times, personal attacks. As these uber-aggressive superusers spew their poison, complete misunderstanding and tarnished reputations often result. Multiply that by political spin from users of all political spectrums on every topic imaginable, most of it twisted to disparage the opposing point of view, and Twitter becomes in large part a cesspool of aggressively communicated and potentially harmful misinformation, much of which is posted by individuals who would hardly be considered experts on the topic about which they are commenting. So while Charles Barkley may not be an expert on social media, his assessment has some degree of validity and his avoidance of it in this context seems to be a rather wise decision.

I picked up almost 300 new followers on Twitter during Lent. One doesn’t gain followers by being silent; one must engage Twitter to gain a following. Admittedly, the thrill of surpassing 400, then 500, and now almost 600 followers led to my using any means necessary to further increase my numbers, including choosing to follow almost any user that first followed me, thus contributing to what has become at times a very ugly Twitter feed. Much of my feed is filled with tweets from users advertising products, forwarding bits of misinformation, or exchanging barbs with one another; none of which I am interested in reading. As a result, items of true interest to me often are buried beneath the rubbish of the cesspool, and sometimes I am drawn into the cesspool myself. I try to be very careful about what I post, but on a few occasions I have gone back and deleted tweets that, in retrospect, helped filled the cesspool rather than contributing to a positive dialogue. Of course, engaging Twitter and building a following was not my intention when I made the decision to give up Facebook. Even as I type this, I’m rather uncomfortable with the notion of having people “follow” me. There is only One worthy of following – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Succinctly stated, Twitter has become a distraction for me. I sit here, over lunch at my desk on Maundy Thursday, bearing a burden of guilt for not having prepared for Easter as I intended. When I first began composing this post, my intent was to remedy this problem by exiting Twitter altogether. Then I scrolled through my feed. I saw Scripture. I saw prayer requests. I saw news items of interest. I saw personal friends. And, yes, I saw garbage. I realized that I was about to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Twitter, and social media in general, is just like anything else. It has it’s positive aspects, but too much is simply too much. Hence, rather than making a complete exit, I am embarking on what I have dubbed “The Big Cull”. I will shave my list of users I follow to include only those who post quality items that will contribute to what will become a very beneficial Twitter feed. I’ll lose some followers, for sure; I don’t care. The high has passed. It’s not about how many people I interact with; it’s about who I interact with and what each of them brings to the table. What I really want to do is keep the baby and dispose of the bathwater.

Although my giving up Facebook for Lent didn’t work out quite as I had planned, my eyes have been opened. My use of social media will continue, but on a much more measured basis.

And, now, let “The Big Cull” commence. May God will richly bless you this Easter season and beyond.

Abuse and Use of Power

American politics seem to be getting nastier by the day, from both sides of the political spectrum. I am disappointed in the Grand Jury’s decision to indict Texas Governor Rick Perry, not to mention the fact that charges were brought in the first place. I am equally as disappointed in John Boehner’s talk of a lawsuit against the president. This sort of activity – seeking any means by which to take down political opponents – will bring this country down. It is a waste of taxpayer money as it distracts us from the important issues playing out day by day. Such activity is in no way good for the country – it is intended only to forward the personal agenda of the individual initiating the divisive action.

We voters must wake up and rise above the partisan kool-aid being served up by both political parties. We must demand true leadership from those we elect to serve in our state and federal governments. We must stop drawing conclusions based on social media soundbites and the so-called “experts” on the so-called cable news channels. We must expel from office those who abuse their power and demand real leadership from those whom we elect to serve us. They work for us – never forget that.

Friends, we have the power of the vote. We don’t have to agree on everything, but for the health of our great nation we must agree on this: we must agree to use our power of the vote wisely. We must dig deeper than Facebook, Fox, MSNBC, and the rest. We must reject the partisan kool-aid and insist on facts. We must demand that those elected to serve do so for the good of the nation, not to forward their own selfish personal agendas. On this, each of us, whether liberal or conservative, should be able to unite.

#roadwarriorprobs

I credit my good friend John Adams with coining the hashtag #roadwarriorprobs. He uses it frequently, and I’ve adopted it as one of my favorites. We use it to describe the good, the bad, and even the ugly that we who travel frequently face from time to time. I like it so much, that I’m bound and determined to grow its use in the vast, wonderful realm of social media.

#roadwarriorprobs – the business trip that takes an unexpected turn as the flight home on Thursday is replaced at the last minute by a drive to the next destination to address an urgent situation that has just come up. When this happens, is your glass half full or is it half empty?

 

Relaxing in the Executive Lounge at the Hilton Hotel in Oak Lawn, IL. 5.22.2014

Relaxing in the Executive Lounge at the Hilton Hotel in Oak Lawn, IL. 5.22.2014

#roadwarriorprobs – that moment when you’re sitting up in bed at the local Hampton Inn watching the Duck Dynasty clan, knowing that many of your friends and family envision you enjoying a lavish dinner or a night out on the town.

 

My view at the Hampton Inn. Living large! 3.21.2014

My view at the Hampton Inn. Living large! 5.21.2014

#roadwarriorprobs – speaking of that lavish dinner, there are perks to business travel. One of my favorites comes in the form of relationships, and enjoying a fine meal in the company of people who I’ve come to genuinely like over the years to the point of considering them true friends.

 

The Cowboy Ribeye at St Elmo Steakhouse, Indianapolis, IN. 5.21.2014

The Cowboy Ribeye at St Elmo Steakhouse, Indianapolis, IN. 5.21.2014

#roadwarriorprobs – the snowstorm that wreaks havoc on your travel schedule as it transforms a major US city into a beautiful winter wonderland. Do you stay inside and fret or do you get out and enjoy the beauty?

 

Original image taken on Broad Street, just north of the Doubletree, looking at City Hall just a few blocks up. 1.1.2014

Original image taken on Broad Street, just north of the Doubletree, looking at City Hall just a few blocks up.  Philadelphia, PA 1.1.2014

#roadwarriorprobs – that sigh of relief that comes when the wheels go up, you’re in the air, and you are finally able to unwind as you look forward to seeing your family upon arriving home.

 

Blogging at 30,000 feet

Blogging at 30,000 feet

And last but not least…

#roadwarriorprobs – sharing the fun with the one you love.

My wife and me enjoying the beautiful pool at the Ritz Carlton Beach Resort, Naples, FL. 2.15.2014

My wife and me enjoying the beautiful pool at the Ritz Carlton Beach Resort, Naples, FL. 2.15.2014

None of these are problems per se. They are the little curve balls life throws us, sometimes when we are least expecting it. Life is what you make it, and I’ve learned over the years to appreciate these times. And when God blesses me with an unexpected moment while I’m away from home you’re likely to see me share it on social media with my favorite hashtag. Fellow road warriors, feel free to join me!

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