Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Tag

Too Snarky   3 comments

It happened again.

One of my Facebook friends made a snarky comment about a political process, and their friends piled on with even more snarky comments. Aggressive, spiteful words were used, like “hate,” “cruel” and “horrid.” What prompted the ire? A misstatement of what happened in DC today (they took facts and skewed them due to their personal beliefs). They took that misstatement and used it to justify an outpouring of snark.

So, I removed the friend from my Facebook feed. I’m doing my best to be on a snark-free diet.

What caused this tirade? It doesn’t matter. In this bifurcated political system, both sides think they can say ANYTHING about the other side, because the other side is (insert hurtful words here). Many people think that they MUST say hurtful things about the other side, because to do otherwise would be accepting the other position.

They are wrong.

I don’t care what side you’re on; we’re all in this together. Calling the other side (insert hurtful words here) will not help anyone, nor will it help the country find common ground on the very important issues we are confronted with today.

What would you rather do … build bridges, or burn it all down?


The Use And Abuse Of Facebook

I’m Exhausted

Posted March 31, 2017 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Bullying in 2013   2 comments

Cyber Bully LoserMrsMowryThis weekend I had an interesting conversation with a friend who is a speech pathologist. We both work in schools with active anti-bullying programs. Because we are both employed by public schools, we had to receive training to recognize the different types of bullying and how to prevent them.

We’ve seen young children ‘test’ mean statements on one another. After the child sees a classmate or playmate become visually upset, he usually knows that mean behavior isn’t acceptable. The child usually feels guilty. He or she notices that bullying words have a negative effect, thus preventing further bullying. The internet has changed this learning dynamic. When a child practices bullying online, he or she doesn’t get to see the hurt they’ve caused. They don’t suffer the negative repercussions. So what would trigger a psychological reaction to prevent future bullying? Nothing.

PrintSo why is this important today? To start, social media use is at an all-time high. A Pew Research Center study of teen and adult social media use shows that 81% of teens are using some form of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. While I celebrate the technological literacy in teens, I mourn the amount of cyber bullying that is running rampant on the internet. In October, a 12-year-old girl took her own life after being bullied by two of her female classmates. These girls repeatedly told her that she was ugly, that no one liked her, that she should kill herself…so she did. Without adult supervision on the internet, teens can say and do what they want. Teens are even finding new social media sites because they’re trying to avoid their parents on Facebook.

So what can we do? It is our job as adults (and mine as an educator) to prevent bullying, both online and in person. If your child approaches you with a problem, LISTEN. It may not be the usual teenage drama. Watch for extreme changes in behavior (Note: I know that teens are bursting with hormones, but I’m not making a joke here. Extreme changes.). I know your child wants privacy, but safety needs to come first. In my short time as a teacher, I’ve seen too many teens terrorize one another over the internet, especially in junior high and high school. Coach your child on his or her options to remove a bully from their social media sites. Facebook allows you to delete friends and block them. You can report bullying to HR and have the bully’s account suspended. Instagram and Twitter have similar security measures. If a teen is being bullied over text messages, you can have the number blocked. Be open and honest with your teen. It may seem like an overreaction to go to such measures, but if it saves a child’s life, it’s worth it.Cyber Bullying

Remember, bullying and teasing are two different things. When a teen is bullying another teen, those words are designed to hurt. The internet is a great place to completely slander another person without having to suffer any consequences. A screen can’t show emotion, a screen doesn’t show an emotional reaction. Cyber bullies can hide behind anonymity and distance to do permanent psychological damage. Don’t let that damage become part of your child’s life.

Posted December 4, 2013 by mrsmowry in Living Life

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Unexpected Pleasures   2 comments

30th Anniversary Breakfast on the Linai

We had our breakfast gift on the lanai, anniversary morning.

I love giving gifts and receiving gifts. Who doesn’t?

But the very best gifts are those that arrive when they are least expected.

Velda and I celebrated our 30th anniversary in Hawaii (which I’ve written extensively about. Some of those links are below). We had never been to Hawaii before, so it was a very big deal when we made these plans. It was a rare vacation for us … if it wasn’t a family camping trip or a visit to see family in the Midwest, we simply hadn’t taken vacations. It was an even more rare adult vacation … something we’d never done before.

When we arrived at our hotel in Kauai, we were informed by the staff that we had two presents waiting for us. My boss Erica had sent a bottle of champagne for us to enjoy, and when would we like that delivered?

And my right hand, my good friend Kristy and her husband Aaron, had sent us an in-room breakfast. On what day would we like that delivered?

Simply, we were stunned. These gifts were totally unexpected, but the fact that these good friends wanted to make our special vacation just a bit more special was just incredible.

And 7 years later, those gifts are still very special. Can you say that about Christmas or birthday gifts you got 5 years ago?

This week, the family got another totally unexpected gift, and the result was truly uproarious.

Michael was graduating from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering with a Master of Science degree. There was a family lunch at El Cholo, which is our favorite Mexican restaurant in LA.

And since it was a family event, of course we were checked in on Facebook, and of course we had checked Tony in with us even though he was in Missouri (the tagging war continues!). We had introduced Tony to the glory that is El Cholo last year. He even enjoyed their guacamole. So while we were enjoying El Cholo, Tony was getting text messages of what he was missing. Everyone sent him pictures of their entrees as they arrived. Tony couldn’t have been getting any work done; he was just getting non-stop harassment from the Left Coast.

And then an anonymous gift arrived at our table. “Someone” had sent us a pitcher of margaritas. The only message: “I hope you all get sick, except for Payton.”

Payton assumed it was for her. If was within reach, after all.

Payton assumed it was for her. If was within reach, after all.

At that point, the celebration kicked into very, very high gear. We laughed and laughed … until we finally calmed down enough to take this picture. My goodness, did we have a great time laughing at this gift and how wonderful it was.

How did he get the wait staff to find the right party? How did he DO it? (As his daughter Claire pointed out, all you had to do was look for the big table with 3 big guys and beards. That certainly narrowed it down!)

And then, there were some wonderful margaritas to share. You know how well that would have been received in this family!

And why was it wonderful? Because of the unexpected graciousness of our spectacular cousin. It was the perfect gesture, at the perfect moment.

Unexpected pleasures.

Surprise gifts don’t have to be expensive, and they don’t have to be a part of a celebration. They do have to be heart-felt, personal, and loving. And that can be a candy bar when someone needs a chocolate pick-me-up as easily as it can be a pitcher of cocktails at a family celebration.

Me, I need to pay this forward to other friends & family. It’s not enough to fulfill obligatory gift giving for holidays & birthdays. To truly give gifts that properly, fully express your feelings, you need to find a gift that  is wondrously surprising.  I don’t mean doing the dishes when your spouse doesn’t expect it (though that’s not a bad idea, either).

The good news is that when a gift is unexpected, it’s a surprise for your friend or loved one. And don’t we all enjoy surprising someone we love?


The Incredible Tagging War Of 2011

30: Waikiki

30: Kauai

30: Hawaii

The Magic Of The Unexpected Gift

Unexpected Gift Giving = MilSpouse Joy

Posted May 20, 2013 by henrymowry in Living Life

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The Incredible Tagging War of 2011   1 comment

In-N-Out BurgerIt was Christmas break, and Little Girl was home from college. We went out to lunch at a SoCal favorite, In-N-Out Burger.

And Little Girl fired the opening salvo of a war that still reverberates today.

What did she do? She checked in (because you have to tell everybody when you eat at In-N-Out). She tagged me, and she tagged our cousin Tony. His family had visited that year, loved them some In-N-Out, and she knew Tony would be jealous of where we were. And he wasn’t.

We could almost hear his groans 1,816 miles away. And the war had begun.

Soon, we were tagging Tony and his family wherever we were. Venice Beach. A prison that we drove by. Dodger Stadium. Every airport anyone flew through. If we were there, Tony was there. According to Facebook.

And, of course, Tony gave as good as he got.

Our family was tagged when he went to Spring Training in Florida. We were tagged when he flew to South America on business. We were tagged everywhere his family went. We always knew what they were doing!

And then one day, he tagged us and achieved tagging immortality. He tagged our family as being with him when he visited that mecca of local retail, Walmart. Now, of course, it’s sad that Tony went to Walmart, and it’s sad that anyone thought we went with him. What do they think of us?

But that Facebook tag was seen by Velda’s sister. And Velda’s sister asked their Mother when we had arrived in the Midwest, because she saw that we were at a local Walmart. And Velda’s mother then called Velda’s cell, asking why we kept our visit to the Midwest a secret from her.

Now, Velda’s mother does not use a computer. Imagine having to explain to her that we weren’t actually in Missouri, we were in California. But we were shown as being in Missouri on something called Facebook. And that it was a joke.

That she didn’t get, of course.

I still don’t think she believes us. After all, somebody read about it on the internet.

Posted May 19, 2013 by henrymowry in Living Life, Media

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12 Ways To Know You’re Taking Facebook Too Seriously   1 comment

1. YFB 01ou’re searching the internet for cat images so you can make your own memes.

2. You keep threatening your friends that you’re going to stop using Facebook.

3. You get all of your information from your Newsfeed.

4. When you get an email, you are frustrated that there’s no like button to push.

5. You’ve had serious discussions about the need for a dislike button.

6. You always update your movies section after you see a movie.

7. You get angry with yourself when you go out and don’t check in.

8. You instantly like any post that agrees with your political thoughts.

9. You think that everything “the other side” does is stupid.

10. You know what you think about national news stories before you actually hear the national news story from “real” media.

11. You have more self portraits taken in the bathroom mirror posted than anything else.

12. You’ve never met most of your friends.

Posted April 18, 2013 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Photographing A Toddler   3 comments


Payton on Daddy’s arm, 3 weeks old.

Today we celebrate the first year of Payton Elizabeth Mowry, my first Grandchild.

She recently picked up a new skill: she’s a walker! She walks.

And that means I needed to become better at photographing my favorite toddler.  Here are some tips for you to get the most out of the pictures that will be oh-so-important to you and yours when you are fortunate enough to have a toddler around.

You are not in control. I really don’t care who you are, if you can read this, you’re not in control. The person in control is the little one, with the least communication skill, the least physical control … and TOTAL emotional control of your photographic event. Get used to it.

Schedule a window of opportunity. Go back to point # 1. Collaborate with the toddler’s mother, and come up with a range of times that might work between naps, meal time, the phase of the moon, and whatever else might control the beloved toddler’s schedule. And then, pray that you guessed right. (We didn’t.)

Survey the photo shoot location.  It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting in the kitchen or a park … have several different shots in mind when the toddler is ready for their close up. Different colors will work with different outfits (remember, they’ll stain the best outfit before they get there, so don’t be surprised if they’re in a different color than you expected), so be ready with some variety.

Props are good.  Your toddler may want to play with something, and props look good in photos. Everybody loves a rubber ducky, a baseball, or a fluffy toy.

Mommy’s important. She’s the one that the toddler will naturally focus on, so make sure Mommy’s on board with her responsibility to help focus the toddler’s eyes where you need them. You can have a squeaky toy … but you’ll never be as important as Mommy at this age.

Remember the lighting. The sun will move, the angle of light will change, and toddlers will not accept having bright sun in their eyes. Have the shady spots picked out, or have someone ready with an umbrella, window covering or convenient move of a tree branch.

Move quickly. Have several locations in mind, and methodically move through them in a few minutes. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the toddler’s sweet face with a smile on it for a couple of minutes. If the event hasn’t descended into tears in 15 minutes, you are indeed fortunate. We ended up using 9 different set-ups in 35 minutes.

Take a lot of shots. You are shooting digitally, right? Keep shooting.  You’re looking for that one perfect shot, and you don’t know when an accidental event will trigger that perfect smile, that cute pose, that serendipitous moment that you MUST CAPTURE. Keep shooting. Shoot at the highest quality, so you can print the best shot. Have extra chips for your camera, and fill’em up. You can always hit delete later. In this shoot, I took 255 shots in 35 minutes. That’s an average of 7 shots every minute … and we didn’t get a great shot!

Process quickly. In today’s society, you need to have the pictures up on Facebook within the hour, or you’ll be getting snide comments from the family. Get a fun shot or two up on your photo sharing platform of choice as quickly as possible … and then add more as quickly as possible.  Of course you’ll need more time for the ultimate processing for those perfect prints you’re going to give out as gifts, but you’re not ordering prints first. You’re posting the immediate shots that you can get up on social media as quickly as possible. You’ll probably not be fast enough (because the Mom, Aunt or Grandmother is probably shooting with her cellphone and uploading the pictures  DURING the shoot.).

Print rough copies. I use our color laser printer to get pix up on the refrigerator ASAP. The quality isn’t perfect … but not only does the family appreciate the pictures on the fridge, we’ve found that Payton loves to look at the baby on the fridge! Don’t miss that.

Order prints. Most people still display treasured photographic prints somewhere. Order them, ship them. Out-of-state relatives will thank you. Seriously.


PEM Easter 07

Best shot of the day. The shadow of the flower, that drew her attention, was a total accident. I didn’t see it when I shot this picture … but it is the best of the 235 pictures shot that day. And still no smile.

The Use and Abuse of Facebook   8 comments

As a child of the late 20th century, I am very well versed in technology. I sport my iPhone 4s everywhere I go. I have an iPad, iPod, laptop, you name it. I spend a lot of time on social networking sites and I read numerous blogs. I am part of the unique “First Generation” for many of these trends. I remember what life was like before cell phones, but I also know how miserable it would be without them. I’m also part of the group of young people who has changed the norms for basic types of communication. We spend our days staring at screens and avoiding direct connections to the rest of the population. We’d rather send a text than make a call. We can chat with our best friends online, no matter where they are (as far as Venezuela!). Not all of these changes are bad…but some don’t bode well for future generations. After reading this article, I’ve found I really agree.

For the first time ever, young parents have the opportunity to post ANYTHING about their children online. They can keep Grandpa and Grandma in the loop by emailing photos or short videos. They can give their baby a Facebook page (or their dog, ew). They can invite us all to after-school show-and-tell. But when is all of this too much? When do we start to harm the child psychologically? At what point are we putting our children in danger?

Throughout the article, many parent testimonials discuss the harm in giving a child an internet presence before that child can make the decision himself. I feel like we can take this thought one step further. Once that child reaches 13 years of age (the age limit on any social networking site) and decides to have a Facebook page, he will come upon a little problem. Mom and Dad have been posting photos of him since birth. Now every photo he has ever been in is online, tied to his Facebook. Doesn’t that seem a little unfair? Usually embarrassing baby pictures are unearthed when a serious girlfriend finally comes around. Now every person he knows can see all of his baby pictures. Shouldn’t he get a say in all of that?

Let’s go one step further. Currently, employers are asking for Facebook pages in job applications. They want to see what kind of social networker you are. They’ll have access to your 21st birthday party, that trip you took to Europe, EVERYTHING. And now, they’ll see all of those photos from when you were a kid. Does an employer really need access to all of that? This is an especially scary question if you are like the father that shot his daughter’s laptop on the internet. Why is it alright to humiliate your children on the web? Where once seen, NOTHING can be unseen. That poor girl will have to live with this for the rest of her life. I know that most parents are completely innocent in posting photos of their babies. They’re cute! They’re a tiny human! Kids do hilarious things! But there is definitely a line that can be crossed.

Which brings me to my next point…safety. Do you know who has the rights to your Facebook photos? Not you. In this article about the Facebook photo agreement, I learned that the moment a photo is on Facebook, it’s out of your control. Any photo you upload can be taken by Facebook and used for ads. So that adorable photo you took of your daughter’s first day of school can be slapped on an add for backpacks and seen by MILLIONS of people all over the internet. Another interesting aspect of Facebook privacy involves sharing. If I comment on a photo of a friend, every person who is my friend can see it. The same goes for anyone who comments on my status updates or photo uploads. So what if you invite someone to your son’s band performance and they comment on the event page? If one of their Facebook friends happens to be a child molester, suddenly they know your son’s name. They know what school he goes to and that he’s in band class. With one click, this person knows enough about your son to try and pick him up from school. Scary, right? It’s 100% real. You can have your Facebook set to the most extreme privacy settings and this can still happen.

I’m not trying to call anyone out. I’m one of the BIGGEST abusers of Facebook. I’ve posted a million photos, statuses, you name it. Everyone knows about my cats and what I like to cook for dinner and the wonderful things my husband does for me. Everyone knows when I’m at work or on vacation (gonna stop doing that!).  But when it comes to that time in my life where we (my husband and myself) have to decide if we want to have children, we’ll  also have to decide how much we want the internet to know about it. It’s a scary question for something that seems so innocent. Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with everyone all at once. Maybe they’ll really crack down on privacy and safety settings in the years to come. But until then, I’m going to stop and think before I post things on the internet. In 30 years I don’t want to walk down the streets in Vegas and see a photo of my daughter on those club flyers (oh did I not mention that? Other creepers take photos of beautiful girls they find on Facebook and use them for strip club adverts, etc. FUN!), or pictures from our honeymoon on some hotel ad. I think we need to pause before we share. Does the world really need to see this? Does it need to know? Hmmm…



After this post went up, my brother-in-law emailed a fabulous booklet about internet safety for families. It’s split up by different age groups and the types of risks, so it’s easy to navigate. Definitely worth a read!

Posted October 25, 2012 by mrsmowry in Media

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The Death of the Photograph   2 comments

Facebook is killing photography.  I cringe every time I see a blurry self portrait, or a snapshot that is oh so cute … that’s being consigned to the digital scrap heap of someone’s newsfeed.

William Henry Mowry, circa 1864. This tintype photograph is the earliest photo I have of a family member.

Photography is a relatively recent invention.  Aristotle contemplated how images of the sun projected through a hole in 330 BC.  The first practical, long-lived photographic image appeared in the 1830s, the Daguerreotype.  With the invention of flexible film by George Eastman in 1889, handheld cameras became possible … and mobile media soon followed.

This photo of Simon and Maria Chucalovich’s family was taken by an itinerant photographer, selling his services door to door in about 1922. Photography — much less mobile photography! — was still unusual in this era, and quite a crowd gathered to watch this photograph being taken on the front step of the family home.

Today, if you believe the hype from digital journalists, you might think the only cameras being used are smartphones.  There’s no doubt that the iPhone has changed the way that we think of and use cameras.  Today’s camera phones wirelessly upload your pictures using your favorite app, and they give you instant gratification when you share your snaps and friends see them NOW.

The best camera to take a photograph is the one in your hand … so the more accessible smartphones are, the more likely they will take more pictures.

However, smartphones currently deliver pictures that are generally lower in quality than even low priced “point and shoot” cameras.  The phone manufacturers are certainly improving the qualities of their cameras, but they have a long way to go before they will truly compete with the quality of dedicated handheld cameras.

So, here we are today.  We have more pictures being taken by lower quality cameras.  To deepen the problem, those pictures are almost never saved in a traditional sense … they’re uploaded to Facebook or Instagram or Flickr (and usually shrunk & degraded by the site’s algorithm).  Once on a social media site, the photographer loses control of the image (and those implications will be discussed in a later post).

So if you take a picture that’s important, what do you do with it?  Family photographs are heirlooms.  They are passed from generation to generation.  They are proudly displayed in their owner’s homes.

Unfortunately, today’s smartphones just aren’t up to that standard.  Make no mistake, those smartphone cameras are improving and mobile snapshots can be wonderful.  They are seldom, however, first quality photographs.

If your goal is to capture memories in photographs that last longer than your Facebook newsfeed allows, then you’ll want to find a way to take high quality photographs, display them and store them.

Here’s a resource for the key issues in purchasing a digital camera.

Here’s a “how to” resource for displaying and storing heirloom photographs.

The family of Phillip Patterson “PP” Shull, circa 1905.  This hundred-year-old photograph has been passed through many hands for you to see it.  Note the dog at the corner of the house, which must have been nailed in place to stay still long enough for the long exposure necessary for this photograph!  Click on the photo to enlarge the image and see the dog carefully watching his master.

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