Reclaiming Reality

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There was going to be another "top 10" list here today. It's all written up and ready to go. But things change and priorities shift. We need to have a little talk.

Bad Things happened on last Friday. They happened last Thursday, Wednesday and Tuesday, too. If they didn't happen in real life, they happened in the TV shows you watched, or in the things that your friends and favorite celebrities posted to Facebook, Twitter and the like.

Bad Things and Big Things will continue to happen. They will be packaged up to be entertaining or newsworthy based on marketing formulas and the opinions of focus groups. You will see passionate people living at extremes. You will hear of people who go too far in indulging their faith, their jobs, their kids, or their possessions.

You will learn that arguments should involve screaming, and that disagreements must build to a climactic showdown at a consistent pace. You will learn that angry people go to war, or go to court, or go to jail, or go shopping. You will see photos of expensive, beautifully plated dishes at fancy restaurants. You will observe people living their lives with the volume always set to 11. You will become desensitized to overly sensitive people.

You will not hear about how your friend had a nice, basic chat with someone in line at the grocery store. You will not hear about your friend's oil change, where nothing was found to be wrong with their car. You will not see photos of the leftover tuna casserole that your sister had for dinner. You will not, outside of The Onion, hear of the parent who simply said, "Study more, let me know if I can help you" when their kid flunked a test.

There is a line between interaction and conflict, and it is not "fine". It is as broad as a highway. There is a big gap between having an adrenaline response when necessary, and always anticipating disaster. There are enormous fault lines between the pattern on a coffee cup, the protests of college students, and the Paris incidents of 13 Nov 2015. And there is - or there should be - an unspannable chasm between how trained members of the media react to each of these and how we go about our daily lives.

We are headed into a season where many of us will be reunited with family members that we only see once a year. Instead of our normal friends that we picked for having social values similar to our own, we will be mingling with the people that we must talk to due to a combination of fate and genetics. We will be traveling with high-strung strangers and faking pleasantries with our coworkers. We will be revisiting longstanding family traditions that we may love or hate, but must repeat every winter for reasons lost to time.

Those of us in the US are also headed into a season of political upheaval that will last for the next 12 months. We are globally facing a situation that may lead to another extended conflict in distant countries. This is a time when we need level heads and warm hearts.

We need to reclaim Reality.

As a way of providing contrast to all of this, we invite you to join us this winter - and for as long as you like - in sharing the basics of our lives.

Instead of sharing photos of your fanciest feasts, take a shot of your normal dinner at home.

Instead of talking about your latest purchases, tell us about how you went to the store but forgot what you were looking for.

Instead of ranting about all the people who did you wrong, talk about all the people you spoke to in normal, ordinary ways.

Instead of taking selfies in fancy holiday dress or in your absolute worst #nomakeup state, show yourself as you normally go about your day.

Instead of feeding the big flame wars that pop up in online comments, step back and say "hey, this is not how people should talk to each other."

If Big Things or Bad Things happen, by all means talk about them! But do not let them be the only lens through which your friends and family see you.

Join us with the #ShareReality hashtag. Help us remind each other over the coming months that extremism and rage are not OK. If it's hugely successful, that's great! If not, that's OK too. We'll let you know either way.

Published by

Kay Cleaves