Monthly Archives: August 2010

Texting As An Obsession

I remember when people wrote long, heartfelt letters in longhand.  Then came the typewriter, which helped us lose the beauty of the handwritten word with lovely penmanship.  Then the telephone came along, where early “party lines” enabled snoopy neighbors to overhear your spoken sentiments.  After that, we had the fax machine which cut out the middleman in quick delivery.  Then emails quickly took control – you could write and write and get an almost instant response.  No waiting in anticipation at your mailbox for weeks hoping for that personal connection you started and which you hoped would be closed with a return missive.

And now we have devolved even more into text messaging.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I text message about five times each day, on average.  I do it for a quick alert – it’s better than hawks or carrier pigeons.  As far as interpersonal intimacy is concerned, however, there is none, except for “sexting,” which is anything but cherished intimacy.

A survey on the website mashable.com highlighted this ever-diminishing level of interest in true personal contact and showed:

For people under the age of 25:

 49% think it’s perfectly okay to text while eating
 24%….while using the toilet
 10%…while having sex [not to be confused with real sexual intimacy]

For people over the age of 25:

 27% think it’s okay to text while eating
 12%…while using the toilet
   6% …while having sex.

This brings multi-tasking to a new low.

I realize the younger generation believes valuing certain things like privacy and modesty is “old fashioned,” and these sorts of compulsive texting practices are harmless and they don’t see themselves as rude, inconsiderate or clueless, but when they turn 40 and have children, it’s amazing how many of them finally see the negativity in diminishing true intimacy and needing incessant and relatively meaningless interaction just for the sake of thinking they’re important, or because they don’t want a moment of “boredom,” or because they’re just making a frantic attempt to distract themselves from life’s responsibilities, obligations, challenges and fears.

Not being able to concentrate fully on one task, one in-depth interaction/conversation, not seeing important life experiences as serious and sacred is a problem.

Parents with minor children have a responsibility to help children curb their out-of-control impulses, whatever they are.  Make sure you have a contract with your phone provider that allows for up to 10-15 texts per day instead of the average of 100 texts per day kids are doing now.  Have them pick and choose what is most important to them to use up those precious texts.  Have them learn something about prioritizing and budgeting and making choices using some deep thought.

Parents, this is YOUR JOB:  to teach your children to moderate behavior in appropriate ways, or else you turn out-of-control children into out-of-control adults, for whom a million texts will be the way they measure their worth and their daily happiness.

Quote of the Week

Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.
               – William Butler Yeats
                  Irish poet and dramatist
                  Winner of the 1923 Nobel Prize for Literature
                  1865-1939

Shooting Pool is Great Therapy

I’ve been taking lessons in shooting pool now each week for two years.  My teacher, Al Vafa, is a pro:  an interesting, funny, smart, thoughtful guy, and a magnificent pool player.

If I am in the right mindset, the average “not that serious” pool player would have a hard time beating me.  Again, that is if I am in the right mindset.  It took the better part of the first year of lessons to stop saying “I suck,” to stop crying, getting angry, and even once actually breaking my costly pool cue.

This was not just about pool.  This was a metaphor for my life.  My dad was ferocious with me.  I remember the day before a science project was due for a school science fair, I went into the back yard, picked out some flowers, pulled them apart, glued them onto a poster board, and named all the parts.  It wasn’t very neat, and it wasn’t very brilliant, but it was something to hand in so I wouldn’t get into trouble.  My dad came home, took one look at it, and went ballistic.  I was up most of the night with him, tears streaming down my face the whole time, redoing the project in HIS image.

The next day at the science fair, when the judges came to my “perfect” project, I said…nothing.  They asked me questions.  I remained silent.  They prodded me some more, but I remained silent.  Finally, writing on their pads, they moved on.

One of my teachers called my parents that night to find out what in the heck was wrong.

My dad, furious we had done all that work and then I hadn’t presented it properly, demanded to know why I said nothing.  Fearfully, I answered, “Because it wasn’t mine.”  I honestly don’t remember what he said after that, but this was the atmosphere during all my “growing-up” years.
 
Two things came from that experience:  one really good, and one really bad.

The really good part was I became highly motivated to prove to him I wasn’t “stupid” (as he constantly called me).  That gave me self-motivation and a drive to work very, very hard.
 
The really bad part was I found it hard to forgive myself the realities of a learning curve (i.e., it takes time to master things).  I was hard on myself when I couldn’t do well quickly.

What does this have to do with shooting pool?  It has been magnificent therapy.

After the breaking of the cue stick, I struggled to remove my emotions and accept the learning curve and the reality even pros miss sometimes.  I learned my mind had to be clear of self-recrimination in order for my body and brain to work on the strokes.  I learned I could have fun while not being perfect (something my dad never learned in his life).

I also got this lesson from learning how to sail:  doing my job (steering) and working with a team (the boat’s crew).

This is one reason hobbies are so important:  they help you learn life lessons in a safer environment.

I am grateful for all the friends and teachers who have helped me appreciate life more and enjoy myself in a deeper way.

George Stephanopoulos Got It Wrong

I know there are some people listening right now who are tuning into my show for the first time because maybe you’ve heard some things about me in the past couple of weeks.  I’d like to correct some myths you might have heard.  First of all, I am not now… nor have I ever been… related to the vampires of Transylvania.  I only bite when asked.

If you watched Larry King last Tuesday, then you heard I’ll be ending my national radio show in December after 17 years.  Seventeen years.  Well, I never got the criticism I couldn’t hold down a job.
 
Oh, I’m sorry. Actually, I’m wrong.  Because last Wednesday – the morning after I was on Larry King… George Stephanopoulos… does everyone know who he is?  He used to work for the government?  George Stephanopoulos?  Well, he now has a full-time job on “Good Morning America.”  And last Wednesday he had this to say about me leaving radio.  Benjamin….roll tape.

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

I’m sorry, could you say that again, George?

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

I’d like to make it clear for the record and for those of you who are …. Confused.  I own my own company.  I own me. The only person who can fire me… is me.  And I didn’t fire me….  (pause)

I just gave myself 4 months notice.

Honestly, I didn’t hear about George’s little SNAFU until this morning.  But my staff heard about his gaffe last week.  So they called ABC and - the network George is on… they called ABC and asked “Did we hear that right?”  And “Would you mind issuing a correction?”
 
And the producer at ABC was very nice.  She seemed to understand George had made an error… a factual mistake on a news show… and she would see what George and ABC would do about it.  So here it is, a  whole week later.  Can I tell you what they’ve done about it? 

SFX:  (Sound of crickets)

Nothing!!

Let me get this straight.  You make a factual mistake.  You know it’s a factual mistake.  You are asked to correct your factual mistake…  And a week later…

SFX:  (Sound of crickets)
 
Hmmmmm…
 
My guess is they think nobody heard it, so therefore… it doesn’t matter.
 
You know… if a tree falls in the woods and no-one’s around?  If a newscaster makes a mistake and he has no ratings???

Well, you know I am a believer in free speech and debate.  I just prefer to pontificate myself, but that’s just me. So I figured I would let a larger audience hear George’s opinion and play it on my show today.  Could you play George again, please? 

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

One more time – George’s opinion as to why I am leaving radio…

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

Now that’s George’s opinion.  I was going to be fired.  My opinion is I was NOT about to fire myself…  It would hurt my feelings.
 
Now, we’re going to play a little game here.  If you think ABC and George Stephanopoulos should be accountable and correct their factual error, I want you to let them know since they’re a news show.  Go to my website:  www.drlaura.com.  You’ll see a link to a page where you can send George and Good Morning America an email telling them… George Got it Wrong about Dr. Laura.  Dr. Laura did not fire herself…

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

Okay.  I am having a little fun here.  But I do have a serious point to make.  And that is news sources are supposed to be coming forward about facts and not someone’s OPINION, AGENDA, GUESS, OR WISHFUL THINKING.  The reason most of you (and enough polls have shown this) don’t trust news reporting much is because you’ve realized much of what passes for NEWS these days is IN FACT opinion, agenda, guesses, wishful thinking,  or in this case… just wrong.

Sarah Palin Tweets in Support

I want to make a public statement about Sarah Palin; former Governor of Alaska and candidate for Vice President of the United States. 

As you know, Tuesday night I announced that I will leave radio at the end of my contract in December so I can speak freely and openly about issues that concern me without fear of retribution against my advertisers and radio stations.

 
On Wednesday, in her Tweet and Facebook, Sarah Palin made strong statements in my support.  You may remember that, two years ago, I was less than enthusiastic when she was selected by John McCain to be his running mate, as my concerns were that having responsibilities for small children should preclude such a decision. 
 
In spite of my criticism of that time, Sarah Palin came out in support of my decision to move on and tweeted this:
Dr.Laura:don’t retreat…reload! (Steps
aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased
2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence”isn’t
American,not fair”)
 
Dr.Laura=even more powerful &
effective w/out the shackles, so watch
out Constitutional obstructionists. And
b thankful 4 her voice,America!
I spoke with her yesterday and told her how impressed I was with her character.  You don’t see such character much these days.  I believe most folks would have had a more negative approach considering I had not been supportive at that time.  But, nope, not Sarah.  She is gracious and a woman of principles – no petty reaction.
 
She and I have a lot in common.  We both find ourselves on the receiving end of vitriolic partisan attacks.  We both made huge changes in our lives to be able to protect the people we love and have a freer context in which to try to help America’s families.
 
By the way, we had to end our conversation after a few minutes because she had to get her kidlet off to first day at school.  Seriously adorable moment.

What I’ve Learned From the Events of the Past Week

Listen to “What I’ve Learned From the Events of the Past Week” here

To those of you who are listening right now, I appreciate it.  Thank you for tuning in to my show. 
 
Now, last Tuesday I used a word that I had never used before on air.  I pulled myself off at the end of the hour.  With one hour to go, we played a tape.  Truthfully, I was so upset with myself; I was shaking.    
 
That same night I wrote my apology (about 8 o’clock at night).  That same evening I gave Don Barrett, who is the publisher of LARadio.com, a statement which he published at 7am the next morning.  I got my people up early and put the apology on my blog at 8am.  We sent a letter — sort of – it was an email) to 200,000 members of my online family to let them know that, at noon, that day, I would be issuing an apology.  I would fully apologize for saying that word at the top of my show on Wednesday.  And if you haven’t heard it and would like to hear it, you can, still, because we posted it at www.drlaura.com.
 
I have no trouble apologizing when I’m wrong and I never apologize for effect.  I apologize ONLY when it is really coming from my heart.  In over 30 years in radio this was the first such circumstance and I made the promise that it will never happen again. 
 
Well today it’s one day short of a week since I said the word.  And I thought, today, I would talk to you about what has happened… and what I have learned.
 
Now, the day I said the word… I received a variety of emails from listeners.  There were many that expressed disappointment.  Several said that they felt they would have trouble listening to me again.   To each one of those emails, I responded with a personal apology.  I even read one of those letters during the on-air apology.
 
And then, after I apologized, I received more letters.  Many asked me why I needed to apologize.  A few said they were still upset at what I had done.  But most of the letters I received, while expressing dismay with what I did in the first place, were appreciative and gracious, accepting my apology. 
 
I want to make it clear to you that my apology on Wednesday morning didn’t have any conditions… it didn’t have any hesitation… and I think it’s important for everybody to be clear about the sincerity of that apology.  It was made while there were absolutely no demands for me to apologize.  Nobody had demanded that I apologize.  It came from my heart because I knew I had done the wrong thing. 
 
Now, despite all my efforts and sincere desire to express my remorse fully and publicly, it was not until Thursday evening that the news media started getting on the story.  Since then I have received support from many of you thanking me for the apology and encouraging me to soldier on. 
 
However, as the media have rebroadcast my error again and again and again and again, compounding the damage which I shouldn’t have done… and never intended to do in the first place… the effect has been that my words have offended many, many, many, many more people and there are many who are saying they will not accept my apology. 
 
Now, every time I take a call from one of you and you are upset with yourself that you’ve done something wrong and you want to make amends, I tell you you have to follow the four “R”‘s -
 
Take Responsibility for your mistake.  Make an immediate apology.
 
Show true Remorse.   Don’t try to explain away your action or defend it.
 
Repair what is in your power to Repair.
 
Make a commitment to never Repeat.

  • Responsibility
  • Remorse
  • Repair
  • Repeat

Those are my four R’s.  I’ve been teaching you guys that for over 30 years that I’ve been on radio.
 
But there are things out of my control.  There will be people out there who will not accept my apology.  And, just like I tell you folks, we can’t control that.  I can’t control that.  I hope they will listen to what I have to say, and watch what I do.  But the only thing that is in my control is what I say and do.
 
Now, what makes me sad…what pains my heart deeply…is that, beyond the reasoned letters which I continue to get, I have heard comments from some broadcasters and letters from some people that cannot be described as anything other than hate-filled diatribes.  Hate-filled.  This does not make me angry, but it hurts my heart. 
 
My hope with my apology, which was true and immediate and uncoerced, was that the silver lining might be that a dialogue be started to stop hate and bigotry.  I still hold out some hope… but I am a realist and I fear that there are those who frankly want to encourage hate and anger.
 
Now, when I first started out in radio, people would disagree…they DISAGREED…they didn’t HATE.  They didn’t try to censor, they didn’t try to destroy an opposing point of view.  Instead…they just argued and debated, and argued and disagreed, and debated and argued.  But our society has changed dramatically.  Self-appointed activist types breed hate, breed anger, breed destruction should anyone hold up a mirror or dare to disagree.  This environment, as you know, is not only in radio and television…it is in politics; it’s in every area of our society…in your neighborhoods, in your school districts, at work… 
 
But for those of you who don’t accept my apology, I’d like to say… that’s your choice.  But I hope, in time, through what I say and what I don’t say… through what I do and what I don’t do… you’ll change your mind. 
 
For those of you who accept my apology:  Thank you.  And I hope I will continue to earn your good will and grace.