Do you know what a complete stranger could learn about me in a matter of minutes?
They could learn my name, where I live, that I hate vegetables, what my favourite movies are, how long I was in my last relationship, the size of my feet, what colour lipstick I wear and even what I’ve been feeling lately. In all honesty they could learn more about me than anyone who I would physically invite over for drinks would ever know. Note: this is not a rant about the horrors of social media and the intrusion of our privacy. Screw it, I really don’t care.
But as I started thinking about how much I put out there about myself, the more I started thinking that, good or bad… I actually like putting that much personal information out there. Without knocking on someone’s door at 3am telling them that I am contemplating my existence, I can write it, post it, reread it. Call me naïve but I don’t have concerns about my identity being stolen or being stalked. Perhaps that would change if it happened (knock on wood) but I digress…
I enjoy being a warts and all type of person. It’s a huge step for me on a journey of self acceptance (ohm). It allows me to be brave, it allows me to analyze my faults, to open myself to criticism. I’m by no means perfect and the internet and social media could be the ideal place to pretend that I am. Air brush my photo, write statuses and tweets about how everyday I am extremely happy, manufacture fake achievements, pretend to have more friends than I do, just… be perfect. But see…. not only do I not actually want to be perfect in reality, I don’t want to pretend to be perfect either. If you are at all privy to my musings, blogs, social media, emails, whatever… you will see raw emotion, you will see hurt, you will see mistakes, arrogance, low self esteem, naiveté and self doubt. Every day. Of course I don’t want to inspire mass suicides so this will also be mixed in with joy. But when I feel it. I feel like, if you want to know me, then KNOW me. If you don’t, well delete me and while I obsess over why I was deleted, forget me.
So as I thought about how I revel in the big picture I paint for myself on the world wide web and in the minds of those around me, I randomly thought, what about my dad?
Ok let me explain that more. I was thinking about what it would be like for someone who shared nothing?
My dad is older, in his seventies now and he does not understand social media nor does he want to. He is intensely suspicious of it like a lot of his generation. So there will be no status updates from him anytime soon. But beyond that. I’m his daughter, and I know barely anything about him. I’ve seen him cry twice and we never talked about it. I don’t really know what he likes, what he hates, what he wants out of life. I don’t know what scares him, what gives him joy, what makes him reflect. Sure I could tell you what he watches on TV, maybe what his favourite meal is. But if you asked me to paint a picture of my dad, my canvas would be more like a puzzle than anything else. Missing many pieces.
Realistically, he is in the twilight of his life. My sons are going to ask about him when he’s gone. And there is no person, no reference and certainly no website that could tell them what they are going to undoubtedly want to know. I realize that there exists an older, more stoic and reserved mindset. But what does that leave us in the end?
So you could argue about the pros and cons of living a public and very open existence. You could talk to me about privacy and decency and ego. Talk to me about how this phenomena has shaped our culture. Say, back in my day, yada yada yada….
But when I die, my children can look back and know who I really was, flaws and all. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. But I lean towards the former when I think, what does anyone really know about my father?
It seems to me that if you suffer from a physiological response to emotion or outside stimuli on a somewhat regular basis, the next logical step to take is to analyze why you are reacting this way. Here is what I have learned about the human reaction of emotional crying.
Crying is the shedding of tears in response to an emotional state. It all starts in the cerebrum where sadness is registered. The endocrine system is then triggered to release hormones to the ocular area, which then causes tears to form.
The phrase “having a good cry” suggests that crying can actually make you feel physically and emotionally better, which many people believe. Some scientists agree with this theory, asserting that chemicals build up in the body during times of elevated stress. These researchers believe that emotional crying is the body’s way of ridding itself of these toxins and waste products. Research suggests that emotion-induced crying is therefore, at least in part, an excretory process which removes stress-related toxins.
Biochemist William Frey has spent 15 years as head of a research team studying tears. The team found that, although tear production organs were once thought to be vestigial (left over from evolution) and no longer necessary for survival, tears actually have numerous critical functions. For example, the simple act of crying reduces the body’s manganese level, a mineral which affects mood and is found in up to 30 times greater concentration in tears than in blood serum. They also found that emotional tears contain 24 per cent higher albumin protein concentration than tears caused by eye irritants
“As an adult, you cry much less than when young, and your crying is more often subdued, teary weeping than the demonstrative, vocal sobbing of childhood. . . [T]he trauma that causes your crying is now more often emotional than physical. However, whether intentional or not, as adult or child, you cry to solicit assistance, whether physical aid or emotional solace. Paradoxically, your adult cry for help is more private than the noisy, promiscuous pronouncement of childhood, often occurring at home, where it finds a select audience. The developmental shift from vocal crying to visual tearing favors the face-to-face encounters of an intimate setting. The maturation of inhibitory control gives adults the ability to select where and when crying occurs, or to inhibit it altogether, options less available to children.” – Robert R. Provine
Physiologically speaking, emotional tears are elicited when a person’s system shifts rapidly from sympathetic to parasympathetic activity—from a state of high tension to a period of recalibration and recovery. Depending on the circumstances, individuals typically describe such shifts as “letting go,” “going off duty,” or “giving up.” Of course, nothing is literally “released” when these biophysical changes occur, although the person’s adrenaline level drops and the body relaxes.
While there is good evidence that crying makes people feel better, there is little evidence showing any cathartic effect of crying, if by that is meant some sort of peaceful relief from tension or another emotion. No cathartic effect of crying has been observed when people are asked to cry as opposed to suppressing their tears while watching sad events.
If crying is not physiologically beneficial, what then is the purpose of emotionally aroused tears? Is it entirely psychological? Recurrent sociological interpretations emphasize the communicative value of crying. Crying, like a shout or a sneeze, attracts the immediate attention of others. Tears provoke an emotional response in the observer which, in the more skeptical views, not only elicits sympathy but acts as a manipulative tool.
Other ideas about crying fluctuate between the sociological and the biological. Darwin noted that the main expressive movements during crying (and other actions such as laughing or blowing the nose) lead to a rise of pressure in the chest and abdomen, which leads to increased blood pressure in the eyes. In order to prevent damage to the eyes, the muscles around them contract. Darwin considered that this protective contraction “was a fundamental element in several of our most important expressions.”
A British pamphlet from 1755, Man: A Paper for Ennobling the Species, proposed a number of ideas for human improvement, and among them was the idea that something called “moral weeping” would help:
We may properly distinguish weeping into two general kinds, genuine and counterfeit; or into physical crying and moral weeping. Physical crying, while there are no real corresponding ideas in the mind, nor any genuine sentimental feeling of the heart to produce it, depends upon the mechanism of the body: but moral weeping proceeds from, and is always attended with, such real sentiments of the mind, and feeling of the heart, as do honour to human nature; which false crying always debases.
In this text and throughout human history, some tears have been considered good, and some, like those that are not “genuine,” have been held in contempt. Some tears do honor to human nature, some debase it. This distinction is one of the perennial strands of the cultural history of crying, found in ancient fables, medieval monastic treatises, court culture, and our own films and sitcoms. But while it is fair to say that the “good cry” and the debased cry have always been with us and always will be, what constitutes a good cry changes over time. If a young woman were to fall on the ground weeping in a restaurant, say, and wash her father’s feet with her tears while begging for his forgiveness, few people would find it as appropriate or heartwarming a sight as a group at an eighteenth-century British inn might have, or as eighteenth-century novel readers clearly did. And the same is true for the other judgments we make about tears, as when we deem them to be normal or excessive, sincere or manipulative, expressive or histrionic.
New analysis by Dr. Oren Hasson of TAU’s Department of Zoology shows that tears still signal physiological distress, but they also function as an evolution-based mechanism to bring people closer together.”Crying is a highly evolved behavior,” explains Dr. Hasson. “Tears give clues and reliable information about submission, needs and social attachments between one another. My research is trying to answer what the evolutionary reasons are for having emotional tears. My analysis suggests that by blurring vision, tears lower defences and reliably function as signals of submission, a cry for help, and even in a mutual display of attachment and as a group display of cohesion,” he reports. His research, published recently in Evolutionary Psychology, investigates the different kinds of tears we shed — tears of joy, sadness and grief — as well as the authenticity or sincerity of the tears. Crying, Dr. Hasson says, has unique benefits among friends and others in our various communities.
Approaching the topic with the deductive tools of an evolutionary biologist, Dr. Hasson investigated the use of tears in various emotional and social circumstances. Tears are used to elicit mercy from an antagonistic enemy, he claims. They are also useful in eliciting the sympathy — and perhaps more importantly the strategic assistance — of people who were not part of the enemy group.”This is strictly human,” reasons Dr. Hasson. “Emotional tears also signal appeasement, a need for attachment in times of grief, and a validation of emotions among family, friends and members of a group.” Crying enhances attachments and friendships, says Dr. Hasson, but taboos are still there in certain cases. In some cultures, societies or circumstances, the expression of emotions is received as a weakness and the production of tears is suppressed. For example, it is rarely acceptable to cry in front of your boss at work — especially if you are a man, he says.
Multiple studies across cultures show that crying helps us bond with our families, loved ones and allies, Dr. Hasson says. By blurring vision, tears reliably signal your vulnerability and that you love someone, a good evolutionary strategy to emotionally bind people closer to you. “Of course,” Dr. Hasson adds, “the efficacy of this evolutionary behavior always depends on who you’re with when you cry those buckets of tears, and it probably won’t be effective in places, like at work, when emotions should be hidden.” Dr. Hasson, a marriage therapist, uses his conclusions in his clinic. “It is important to legitimize emotional tears in relationships,” he says. “Too often, women who cry feel ashamed, silly or weak, when in reality they are simply connected with their feelings, and want sympathy and hugs from their partners.”
In one study of personality and crying, the circumstances of crying in the previous year were rated, and personality questionnaires filled out by 70 male and 70 female volunteers. The death of a friend and breaking up rated highest in terms of occasions. Women cried more frequently and intensely than men, and in both sexes crying positively correlated with personality variables related to empathy.
It’s true that women are more prone to crying than men, at least after they reach puberty. Women have more of the prolactin hormone, which contributes to tears and how much people cry. There also is a difference in the shape of men’s and women’s tear ducts, although it’s unclear whether this is a cause of more crying in women. Another reason women cry more could be that women get depressed more than men, and people cry more when they are depressed. Social mores also permit women to cry, whereas crying is considered unacceptable behavior for men.
Women seem to worry more than men, and it could be that they’re also more prone to feeling stressed. In women, the part of the brain that deals with stress is linked to the area that controls hormones and digestion, which is not the case in men. That means that women tend to exhibit more physical symptoms from stress than men. Women also have more stress hormones than men. After a traumatic experience, a woman’s stress hormone levels take longer to get back to normal levels than do a man’s. Could it be that some of these physiological effects come across as emotional ones?
A purely human act, it seems that with extensive research that crying is essential to the way we relate with our emotions and each other. With the most modern studies proclaiming tears and emotional crying as a purely positive way to shed stress, toxins and built up chemicals there remains one intangible but very real challenge.
Or even if you just feel…. blah. Written by Jessica Cooper, TIME magazine’s 2006 person of the year, it completely encapsulates a list of seriously simple ideas, very often over complicated.
“Life is amazing, but sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge because of all the sticky situations and straight-up terrible nonsense that happens in our lives.
Let me guess: Right when you FINALLY think something is going great, something bad happens again. When does it end, right? Why you? Why can’t you just be NORMAL like “everybody else”? How come it seems like some people have no problems at all, and you’re stuck under a constant avalanche?”
Exactly how I feel right now.
She continues to list ten ways to keep positive, change your mind and ultimately how you respond to life.
I might add…
11. Just breathe.
If something is overwhelming you at any point, clear your mind and just concentrate on forcing breath in and out of your lungs. Seems silly but if you can delay your sense of panic or unease for a short time, it is always lessened.
Shauna Simpson Shinn There’s nothing wrong with sexuality and the human body. It’s natural and beautiful. I’m not ashamed at all. If sex and nakedness makes a woman a whore then every mother in the world is a whore. Go whores!!
Shauna Simpson Shinn No fighting Uncle Jesse. I’m not a whore. My kids are fine. If someone doesn’t like my pictures then they shouldn’t let their kids look at my page. The pictures are designed to make people feel good.
Oh no iam a tuff guy unlike you puss.I may not spell very well but I have alway and can still back back up everything I say.I’ve kick over and seen wat you look like and you ain’t much .any knock can talk thrish from up there
Shauna Simpson Shinn I love you, you love me but think I’m a whore and I’m ok with that, Eric and Sara like naked people too and I love them and they love me. All our kids love us. Do you SEE all the love around here?? It’s great. Besides, that one girl in the pic had great boobs. Huh, huh? That’s gotta put a little pep in your step 🙂
Eric Hey Jesse, if you have to tell people you’re a tough guy, you probably aren’t. I live in ****, OH. Look me up when you get to town. Of course, that means you’ll need to be able to read road signs, and map directions. Your prospects of doing that successfully seem dubious (dubious means doubtful).
All I know about you is that you’re practically illiterate and willing to call people a whore for some fairly tame pictures posted to their own wall, not yours. Who are these imaginary kids she’s corrupting with those images anyway? Sounds to me like you’re a large’ish asshole who hates his own life so much that he spends most of his time sitting around drinking, feasting on the regrets of his mis-spent youth, and trying to drag others down into the shit spittoon he calls a life.
Like I said, look me up when you get to town and I’ll be happy to test your mettle. (Mettle in this case means personal strength and willingness to back up the blank check your mouth just wrote).
Shauna Simpson Shinn Eric you meant to say you love everyone right? Right. Uncle Jesse is my good friend’s Uncle. He’s a war hero and he lives in Texas. Different world. He’s usually a very nice man he just doesn’t like boobies I’m guessing. P.S. Is it wrong I think the word mettle is sexy? Is that adding fuel to the fire?
Shauna Simpson Shinn You can’t be mad at an entire culture of people that believes things like that. I just hope some of them open their minds a little more to love and kindness. Holy fuck we have SO much hate and judging in this world. It’s a BODY. He has one, you have one, I have one. To be appalled at it in an artistic photo means what for our society? That this is a worse thing than war, crime, hate and bullying? I think it’s beautiful. In my opinion only.
Eric I think he’s just an old fart who doesn’t understand how FB works. He seems to think that any kid can see your profile and that’s what he took exception with….but his opening position was calling you a whore, and that just seems..I dunno, asinine? Maybe that’s too polite a word for it.
Love your body. Get your priorities straight and realize everyone has one, there is no shame in seeing one without clothing. We are all sexualized beings and the problems only arise when we fight against this. These photos should not make you angry. If they do, really think if that’s a healthy way to react to a beautiful naked body.
There is absolutely nothing offensive about the human body. Nothing indecent and nothing inappropriate. Out of all of the things going on in the world today, a naked body is not something you should be worried about.
Over the state of the world we live in. I really don’t even watch as much news as I should. I’m busy with kids and I only catch a small portion of what’s going on. But what I do see, chills me to the bone. * I will be sampling various quotes to use the media to expand on my thoughts.*
Now I’m going to take into account that a lot of the media I see is American, as the Canadian media is pretty much non-existent to those who don’t have the time to go search it out. And we all know that American media is fear-based. They want you to be afraid of what they are saying.
“Fear-based news stories prey on the anxieties we all have and then hold us hostage. Being glued to the television, reading the paper or surfing the Internet increases ratings and market shares – but it also raises the probability of depression relapse. In previous decades, the journalistic mission was to report the news as it actually happened, with fairness, balance, and integrity. However, capitalistic motives associated with journalism have forced much of today’s television news to look to the spectacular, the stirring, and the controversial as news stories. It’s no longer a race to break the story first or get the facts right. Instead, it’s to acquire good ratings in order to get advertisers, so that profits soar.” -Deborah Serani, Psy.D.
But that’s not the core of why I’m afraid. It’s the global culture of hate and separatism that seems to be consuming the general populace. We focus on the U.S.A but that is because they are the epicentre of media and that’s what we see. In truth, it’s everywhere.
“Hate comes from, or is closely associated with, anger; hate gives its bearer a high, and an interminable yearning for more. Hate feeds on itself; it grows on the hater and embraces and engulfs the person into total surrender, so that a person becomes one with it. Hate is like adrenaline: Once it starts flowing, it is hard to stop. It keeps the misanthropes going, and they do not want it to stop. Hate makes the hater feel invincible, vindicated, justified.
And hate begets hate. Hate hardly ceases to enlarge itself. Hate is contagious.” – Pornpimol Karnchanalak
You hear these stories about rape and murder. Corruption in government. Rights taken away. Suicide. Bullying. War. Genocide. Different degrees of hate and disgusting behaviour. This is our world. And I have two small boys to raise in it.
“The world will know peace when it is able to pull itself out of the dark ages, when all religion is dead and all minds are open.” -Ben Haggerty
I want to consider myself and my sons to be global citizens. To contribute to society. To help make this world a better place. But at this point, what can we do? Can we stop the killing and poverty and abuse and racism? Now that’s not to say I’m naïve enough to believe that these things haven’t been around in some incarnation as long as humanity itself. But is it just the magnification of the media or is it so much worse than it used to be? Are isolated tales of good and kindness enough to combat the sorrow our society is based on?
“It starts with you my good man. We as a society have lost our voice of compassion or rather it has been drowned out by fear and selfishness. Some of us like you and me are at the awareness stage. We realize that there is a problem. The next thing to realize is that you can’t help a single person if you first don’t help yourself. Becoming aware is not enough. You have to act on that awareness. Show compassion and selflessness to the people around you and expect nothing in return. It’s a hard thing to do, not judge your neighbor, but once you’ve gotten control of yourself you have a better influence on the people around you. I see the norm of today being service to self, so I say to you and anybody else that has the question, the place to start is with you. How you interact with the people around you spreads like wildfire. Be the change you want to see in the world and you will see people come out of the “woodworks” so to speak.” -William Bruno
Ok. So be the change. I’ve heard it before and I believe it to be true. But what about the rest of the world? I don’t want to wait for everyone else to understand. It hurts me to see so much pain around me. I want to shake everyone with hate in their heart and tell them to open their eyes and see what they are doing. See what they are destroying. I can live with it but I don’t want my children to have to.
I also believe, that it is part of the human being’s intrinsic nature, to hate. When someone hurts me, I feel it. When someone hurts someone I love, I feel it. An uncontrolled anger that wants to hurt and punish and cause chaos. When I was in second grade, I tore a schoolmates art poster because I wanted to. And I didn’t feel badly. It’s ingrained from the moment we are born. Your circumstanced and upbringing either foster or filter this emotion. But it’s always there.
“Professor Semir Zeki and John Romaya of the Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology at UCL, examined the brain areas that correlate with the sentiment of hate and shows that the ‘hate circuit’ is distinct from those related to emotions such as fear, threat and danger – although it shares a part of the brain associated with aggression. The circuit is also quite distinct from that associated with romantic love, though it shares at least two common structures with it.
The results are an extension of previous studies on the brain mechanisms of romantic and maternal love from the same laboratory. Explaining the idea behind the research, Professor Zeki said: “Hate is often considered to be an evil passion that should, in a better world, be tamed, controlled, and eradicated. Yet to the biologist, hate is a passion that is of equal interest to love. Like love, it is often seemingly irrational and can lead individuals to heroic and evil deeds. How can two opposite sentiments lead to the same behaviour?“” – University College London
So for me, this is what I’m doing. Every time I feel hatred welling up inside of me, I walk away. I, at great personal sacrifice, discard the pleasure my brain believes I’ll reap from revenge or nasty comments or meanness of any sort. This is what I will do now. I’ve had 27 years of slip ups and the odd hateful outburst. But with the state of this world, we can’t afford one more slip up. I can’t stop the feeling from happening, but I can stop myself from doing anything about it. This won’t change the state of the governments, end hunger, stop violence, encourage education versus ignorance. But it means that I, personally, am not contributing to it. So I can tell my sons that I tried to live in the world how I wish it were. Maybe I didn’t only put love out there for my entire life but I can tell them that it reached a point where I realized, I’m accountable for everything I put out into the world and deserving of everything I get back. I can only hope they live this way too.
“Human life is a truly beautiful and amazing gift, and along with the opportunity to inhabit these bodies and this planet comes a great responsibility. Humankind was given the capacity for unlimited mental processes, and as a result, we are custodians of this planet, and responsible for the advancement and evolution of our species. In order for humanity to evolve to the next level necessary to create a more peaceful and unified society, each individual must tap into their core of potential and achieve a level of self-realization and improvement, which is the ultimate key to creating a better world.” –Mark Matus
All I can do is continue to try and push love through every open mind and every pair of ears that will listen. I encourage you to be kind. I encourage you to look at the negative and hate-filled things you will encounter everyday and if you cannot stop it from happening, walk away. Being a part of hate is the same as being the beginning of it.
I encourage you to change your own definition of humanity.