The problem with sharing

Ok I am going to get straight to the point in this one. All your life you are taught to share. When you were just a wee little pup your mum and dad taught you to share your toys with the other kiddies. At first this was very hard. They were after all YOUR toys. Why should you have to share with the neighbor kid who came over to be babysat. Of course you were the first to throw a fit when you went to someone else’s house and they didn’t want to share their GIJoe or Cabbage Patch doll or Tickle Me Elmo.

Well, as time went on you started to drink the sharing Kool-Aid and finally were able to share with just about anyone. You realized that there are more important things in life, like not being in trouble with your mom. You saw that sharing makes people around you happy and in turn that makes you happy.

Now fast forward a few years. No longer is it your mom telling you to share, instead it is Facebook and Twitter and Linked in and a million other sites. But instead of sharing your A-Team action figure or that Barbie Doll that your brother tore the head off of or stuck a firecracker up it’s hind end, you are sharing personal tidbits of information, often times with complete strangers.

So I ask the question. Why is is to easy for many people to share intimate personal details with anyone and everyone via a website? What does it really mean when you tell the world on your Facebook page that you are having the worst day ever, or that you are off to the doctor again, or that perhaps you are soo soo grateful to that friend who just called in your time of need? What are you really saying?

I find that often times, the real message is more of a plea for help or attention. You know that twenty other people are going to immediately fawn all over you asking what is wrong, and when you don’t answer immediately they will text or call and after repeating your woes over and over, you will somehow feel fulfilled.

You might as well post “I am lonely and feel like my friends don’t care about me” or “If you really cared about me you would know how I am feeling and what I need and I wouldn’t have to tweet about it to all the world”. This would be much better.

Why do people have this need to show their vulnerability? Are we all really that insecure? Do we really need the attention of random people that you ‘freinded’ once?

Has the whole purpose of sharing changed? No longer is it about the other person. No longer is it about making them feel good that you shared with them. Now days it is all about you. Making yourself feel good, and needed, and important. Making other people feel bad for you. Bleh!

What if every post on FB and Twitter had to be either funny or interesting? I think this should be the new standard. If it will not make people smile, chuckle or laugh right out loud, either laughing with you, or at your expense, then why bother. Think how much better we would all feel if we were constantly laughing.

Recently I posted a picture to Facebook of some severely burnt nachos. Late one evening I was hungry, or at least bored, so I turned on the oven and prepared some nachos. Just tortilla chips, and cheese and salsa. Nothing fancy. I arranged the chips in a Barstone pan that I probably paid waay too much for and then I carefully grated a mixture of Cache Valley’s finest medium cheddar and swiss cheese to make the perfect treat. Once the oven was hot I turned it to broil so most of the heat would be from the top. I tossed them is and about 5-10 minutes later I opened the oven to a raging inferno. My beloved nachos were a-flame! After the initial shock and hollering to my kids to come see, I grabbed an oven mit and pulled the inferno out and set it on the stove.  I quickly grabbed my iPhone and snapped a pic before dumping the sad mess in the sink and putting out the flames.

A bit later after I had mourned the loss of my nachos and had made a new batch, I decided this was the perfect thing to post to Facebook. It was funny, could have been dangerous, and other people could laugh at my expense. This made me really start thinking about what I put on Facebook. My new personal policy is as follows.

  1. Post must be worthy of at least a few thumbs ups
  2. Post must include a picture if at all possible
  3. Post must make people laugh, or make them think I am an idiot, or make the reader extremely jealous (occasionally only)
  4. Post must not in any way appear to be asking for pity or help or support, nor can it talk about my health, emotions, troubles, etc
  5. See rule #1

What if we all could decide to be a little bit more selfish and share a little bit less of the personal sensitive stuff we might all be a happier people. I am always better off when I focus on the positives and forget about the negatives.

You may hate me, you may love me, but you’ll never know from my FB status if I am sad or lonely or having a bad day, or heaven forbid just need a hug. I guarantee you that.


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Bowling Etiquette

I stepped on to the lane, took a glance at the scoreboard, picked up my ball and lined up my shot. I made sure no one on either side of me was ready and I proceeded to bowl a perfect strike. Or maybe it was a 6, I can’t recall. This was last week bowling with my family at Davis Lanes in Layton. As usual, after we arrived and were putting on our musky scented rental shoes I reminded my three children, 13,11 and 8 about bowlers etiquette and waiting for the person in the lane next to them etc. All three said yah yah dad, you tell us every time.

For me bowling etiquette was learned from my father when as a young child he occasionally took us kids to good old logan Lanes. We always hoped we could just break 100. Early on, he taught us to respect the game, respect the lane, and above all don’t interfere with the lanes on either side of us. He also taught us to keep score. Back in the 80’s, we kept score on a piece of paper, with a pencil. No flat screen TV’s and computerized scoring.

As we bowled last week, I became increasingly aware of, and annoyed by the people around us. I don’t believe any of the people even had a clue what bowling etiquette even is. I looked around to see if by chance the bowling alley had any signs posted, but beyond the no smoking signs and no street shoes signs there was nothing. This saddened me as I realized that maybe bowlers etiquette has been completely lost in the 30 and under crowd. The groups on either side of us seemed like they didn’t care a bit. In fact I had to keep asking one group to try to stay out of our lane when we were trying to bowl.

Then I spotted a father and hist two early teen children a couple lanes over. They obviously understood bowling and etiquette. They patiently waited as the young couple (early 20’s) between us repeatedly interrupted their shot and bowled at the exact same time. It was very pleasant to see some young kids show respect for the game and show proper bowling etiquette. These two kids were fairly good bowlers and probably go often.

My question is this. Why doesn’t the bowling alley attempt to teach proper bowling etiquette? Has it been lost? Does it not matter any more? Are you reading this and saying to yourself, “what is bowling etiquette anyway.” Did proper etiquette leave with the smell of millions of cigarettes when smoking was banned indoors in Utah?

It took me many years to understand why respecting those around us is important. And I am still learning. Whether you are male or female, and whether the other person is younger or older, male or female, it shouldn’t matter. We should always show respect. Be that getting the door, saying hello, pausing to let someone pass by, giving a hand to a child or the elderly. It doesn’t really matter. If we all showed more respect for those around us the world would be a better place.

Next time you are at your neighborhood bowling alley, take a moment to think about bowlers etiquette.

  • Yield to the bowler on your right, and on your left too if need be.
  • Stand off the lane and out of sight of the other bowler until she finishes.
  • Do not intrude into the lane next to you in any way.
  • Only one person should be up on the lane unless you are helping a child.
  • Be ready to take your turn. Good etiquette will not slow the game down.
  • Don’t use someone else’s ball unless you have permission

This concludes my rant about bowling etiquette. Writing this has made me feel old and my gray hair shows it.

I am not a good bowler, but I do enjoy it. Last week I bowled a 124 and a 116. Maybe some day I will take a class, or join a league, or buy my own ball and shoes. Or maybe I will keep renting those stanky orange and green size 11’s that have seen many thousands of stinky socks.

Either way, I pledge to always use proper bowling etiquette and to teach my kids the same.


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2007 North Park Ward 50 mile hike

I have been on three 50-mile hikes with the North Park Ward Young Mens group and each one was special. Below you will find a link to watch the video slide show we made of our August 2007 hike in the Uinta Wilderness. Some day I may fill in more details as to where we went and what we saw, but 14 of us started on the north side of  the Uinta mountain range at the China Meadows trail head on a Monday morning, hit Kings Peak on Wednesday morning and came out the Uinta trail head on the south side on Saturday.

The video slideshow can be found here –

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Feelings of an almost human nature…this will not do

Back in the 70’s Pink Floyd released a song titled The Trial. As a youth in the 80’s I really embraced the oddity of Pink Floyd and this particular song. One line in particular stuck out. …“was caught red handed showing feelings, of an almost human nature. This will not do”….. I think the reason it stuck out to me was that i didn’t really like it when people showed feelings and I didn’t understand why people cry all the time. Plus I didn’t really like too many people.  I have lived the vast majority of my life being unable or unwilling to show emotion. I have plenty of passion and sometimes anger, but that sensitive side was always missing.

As I grew up, got married and had kids I think I found the ability to show love, but still sadness or sensitivity was never there. I would watch the sappiest movies with my wife and never feel a thing. A tear in my eye was not to be. My own grandmother passed away in 2001 and at the graveside service I think my family all thought I was the biggest jerk on earth because I just didn’t show emotion. Heck I didn’t even feel any. My brother couldn’t compose himself so I took his place and read through her life history as if it were a business document. Later on my sister gave me grief for being an insensitive jerk.

Over the years I even tried to “fake it” occasionally and would pause when speaking, trying to put on the allure of sensitivity, but it was just a show. Not ever feeling emotion like this never bothered me except for the fact that I always wondered why I never had ‘feelings’.

Well all this changed in 2005. There I was sitting on the couch watching TV. The big news story was of a missing boy in the Uinta mountains named Brennan Hawkins. Some random kids that missed a turn and went off on his own. Just one more in  a string of unfortunate scouting mishaps. A year or two before, another boy went missing named Garrett Bardsley and he was never seen or heard from again.  As this story unfolded, my thoughts had been more about what the heck went wrong and who was to blame for a boy going missing. Hundreds of volunteers combed the mountains for him, including the father of Garrett who was never found. Then against all odds, 4 days later the news came that he had been found. With this news they showed a picture of his house with a very large picture of Brennan hanging up out front along with some yellow ribbons.

When they showed the picture, similar to the one above, something crazy happened. For only the second time in my life, tears came to my eyes uncontrollably. I was happy and sad all at the same time. I was overcome with emotion and frankly I didn’t like it. I was annoyed and kind of mad that I was not in control. This had only happened to me one time before and that was when my daughter was a few months old and the doctors told us she was blind and would never see, but that’s another story. I was very happy for this young boy who had wandered lost in the wilderness for 4 days and nights, and happy for his family and the many searchers, but what the heck. I also couldn’t stop thinking about Garrett from the year before and what his last days were like, lost and alone.

Well I quickly wiped away the tears with no one else noticing and resolved to not let it happen again, as it had never happened before. Looking back, I believe this day had a profound impact on me as an individual as it helped me to truly be sad for someone else in need and to be overcome with joy when he was found.

At this very time I was preparing to lead a group of young men into the rugged Uinta Mountains on a 50 mile hike. We completed the hike with no incidents but during the week I often thought of young Brennan and Garrett and how alone they must have felt.

I think that working with the youth has changed me. Some of these great youth have really had an impact on my life. I believe I have now felt ’emotion’ on at least a dozen occasions, the vast majority of those being with the youth and other leaders of the North Park Ward. Some of these were in trying times many miles away from civilization, in the very same mountains where Brennan and Garrett went missing. After hiking many hard miles with other great men and young men, overcoming difficult challenges and relying on each other for support, it seems that we are all softened and feelings are shared and bonds are formed that will never be broken.

Though I didn’t really feel like I had a problem, it is the trial of the Hawkins and Bardsley families that helped ‘fix’ me and helped me know what it was like to ‘feel’. I am still not comfortable with it and rarely have these feelings, but when I do tear up or feel emotions it is usually in a time of great vulnerability for me. Very few people will ever see it and those that have experienced it know me well and are some of my closest friends.

If I were to make a list of the top 10-15 most precious moments in my life, besides getting married and the  birth of my three sweet children, almost all of those moments would include the the youth and young men leaders of the North Park Ward.

I still enjoy the music of Pink Floyd and though some of their lyrics are questionable at best, if you ever catch me red handed “showing feelings of an almost human nature,” I apologize in advance, as I still think, “this will not do!”

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Steve has a blog…seriously?

Hugs and Blogs

If you know me well, you may know that for many years I refused to hug people. I know, sounds weird, but I had a real aversion to it. It didn’t matter who it was or what the occasion. I just didn’t like it.

I think it started out when I was a young kid with strange relatives I hardly knew wanted to hug us kids whenever we saw them. Plus the Woolley clan was never the most affectionate bunch of house mates. It just wasn’t our thing. We were more into throwing yard tools and bats at each other than hugging and caring. For many years I just didn’t like people very much and who would want to hug someone they didn’t like? I sure didn’t.

As I hit my late teen years I realized that hugging girls was kinda cool, in fact really cool as long as they were cute, but I still hated all other hugs.

Some years later marriage came along but with that came a whole bunch of in-laws that not only hugged, but they hugged ALL THE TIME. Individual hugs, group hugs, hello hugs, goodbye hugs, I haven’t seen you since, like yesterday hugs, you name it. These weren’t “pat on the back” half hugs, these were full on, juicy, full body contact, looong hugs. Not that this is a bad thing… just not my thing. And hugs only lead to two things. More hugs and even kisses. BARF! I hated every minute of it and dreaded “family” get togethers. I learned to strategically carry the coats, macaroni salad, jello and anything else I could get my hands on when showing up for the party in an effort to avoid all the close bodily contact.

This was hard for my wife to explain, and even harder for my in-laws to understand. They are huggy people. I just didn’t/don’t fit in to the mold.

Once I had kids, it got a little easier as I would carry the coats, potato salad, jello, diaper bag and a kid or two. Then I could keep holding my child throughout the event. It’s kind of hard to keep a death grip on the baked beans throughout the whole party.

Where do I stand now?

Over the past 10 years or so I have learned to tolerate hugs and sometimes even enjoy them. I remember being freaked out he first time one of my Boy Scout’s mom’s hugged me. She was sincere, and emotional and it was a touching moment for her. I guess I kind of liked it. It made me think about the purpose of a hug. What exactly is the purpose? To show appreciation, love, caring…. Sometimes all of the above I suppose. These are things I generally try not to show.

Although I still feel like a hug is a special thing and shouldn’t be abused and should be saved for rare, special occasions only, I am good with them under the following specific conditions.

  1. You are courting someone of the opposite gender
  2. Immediate family as in my wife and kids – no extended family or grown siblings
  3. My mom – I’m not a total jerk and she did put up with me for 18 years
  4. Certain male bonding times – After completing a 50 mile hike – in the parking lot only, not after you get home.
  5. When someone very close to you is leaving the hemisphere for at least 1 year with no contact allowed. Hey, If they’re leaving you must not be that close anyway.
  6. There are times in business when you are dealing with women who expect it and it is in your best interests career wise to reciprocate. (these MUST always be instigated by the woman)
  7. There is a real need, emotional or otherwise of the other person -this one is easily abused. Be careful.
  8. Spur of the moment, the right thing to do. Limited to a few times per year. (Respect the limit)

If we could all stick to these guidelines the world would be a more comfortable place for insensitive souls like me. Sensitivity may well be a topic of a future post.

Why did I bring all this up?

To me blogs have always been a little like hugs. Just not my thing. Many people have them and like sharing them with friends and family, and often times with random people they hardly know. As I have carefully relaxed my stance on hugs, I guess I have also relaxed a bit on blogs. This may be a one time post that no one ever sees, or I may choose to post on a regular basis. It depends how I feel. Will it feel like that creepy full body hug from Aunt so and so that I was trying to avoid? Or will it be more like the hugs from my 10yr old son who squeezes me soo tight, or the “tear in her eye” hug from a good friend in a time of need.

Only time will tell.

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