Category: Solutions

How to Talk to the Misguided

Last week I posted these 4 minutes of bad-assery by Greta Thunberg at the UN General Assembly. You’ve probably seen it by now; if not, it’s worth a watch before I share an interesting followup below, wherein I make a case for ditching snarkiness in favor of being nice. (Yes, me!)

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Little did I know that after I posted the video, Greta’s diplomat-busting would go viral. I’d gotten it from the UN website shortly after it happened, but it was speedily shared on YouTube by the Washington Post and others. And my eyeballs got highjacked by the truly weird responses that ensued . . .

Ya know how awful comments get between people who disagree online — esp between left and right — whether it be on YouTube, Twitter, or who knows where? I’m always wondering if I could help educate the misinformed by actually being respectful, and empathetic to their circumstances.

I’ve been told, “No, Deb. It’s a waste of time with those people. We just need to get more Democrats to the polls.” I don’t think my open-minded, dear friends realize how prejudiced they sound when they say that. “Those people” are people, same as “those people” in any era of “othering.”

They’ve just been #InFoxicated by too much right-wing news.

So I’ve started experimenting with my replies. And I’m finding that I’m right.

One of the first posts in the Comments section for the Greta video was from someone called “Lazor Wolf”:

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It goes on, but in the sake of space, here is the first (snarky) reply, and Lazor’s reply back:

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Clearly he’s articulate — he’s just horribly misinformed. (And yeah, I’m assuming Lazor Wolf is a guy; do with that what you will.) So here’s what I said — and I think the most important part is the last bit, about him having a positive impact himself — followed by his surprising reply:

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Well! I actually exclaimed out loud when I got the notification of his reply! And I got a similar reply from another person:

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Whether or not they were just trying to call me out, or whether or not they were willing to let go of their conspiracy theories, they were at least asking for info. Meanwhile people were posting the usual digs, like:

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And (about Greta):

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And even:

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Ugh. But I kindly replied to “Lazor” and “misterkel”:

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(I just noticed that my post to “misterkel” above says “Highlighted reply” — not sure if that’s good or bad.)

I also added this:

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Anyhoo, on YouTube, the links I included are live. And I know I’m only affecting a few people here — if that. I didn’t get replies from either of them (maybe they were busy reading the facts about climate change??). But what if . . . one by one, two by two . . . we helped people understand the reality? By being respectful? And they impacted their friends, and so on?

I witnessed something similar on Twitter in July.

It was when the four Congressional women known as The Squad got under Trump’s skin, and he tweeted his now infamous diss. It was during my week-long artists retreat in Woodstock (to be covered in my summer vacation report), when I wasn’t online much — but it squeezed its way into my consciousness one day.

A Trump supporter replied to his tweet, and I replied to that person’s reply with, yeah, something snarky:


On a side note, can we talk about how I got 258 likes on that?? I’ve never gotten more than a handful. But the next reply put my sarcasm to shame . . . and I watched in awe as the next comment completely turned the conversation around:


It’s good stuff, right?


“Hazam” continued…


And here’s where I was really impressed . . .



Aw. My final reply:


I really did feel so heartened by their exchange. I don’t know if @Hazam_13 is a man or a woman, but their bio says “Study of religion, culture, women/gender issues. Interested in everything.” Needless to say, I’m now following her (heehee) on Twitter.


A smattering of poisons in my parents’ garage . . .

Again, I’ll be posting my “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” report here soon. But if it’s not soon, it’s because I’m heading out to California tomorrow to be with my Dad, who is in the hospital after his cancer took a major turn for the worse since I’ve been writing this. It’s bad. I blame Monsanto and their Roundup herbicide, among others

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It’s Earth Day, bitches.

Last year for Earth Day, I tried to change the advertising business. Not very successfully.

This year I’m not sure what to do.

You know when you’re trying to jump on a train or a merry-go-round or whatever, and you keep hesitating because it’s just going by too fast?

Screen Shot 2019-04-17 at 4.05.29 PMThat’s how I feel right now. And Madam Earth has been in the news quite a bit. But so has the Mueller report, and whatever you-know-who tweets about it — basically the death of democracy has taken over the news cycle. Hi.

So me and the six remaining polar bears on the planet went into hibernation for the winter (and early spring).

I’m waking up now, but I still haven’t read last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine climate issue yet. I keep bookmarking articles like “Plastic Bags to Be Banned in New York” (what?!) and “Six Reasons to Be Hopeful About Fighting Climate Change” (will share one or two shortly) and pieces about a Swedish girl nominated for the Nobel Prize for skipping school and starting her own environmental movement.


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I can’t compete with this.

That said, I’m writing a book. Or I got an agent who wants me to write a book. Of course, since that happened, my fingers have become allergic to my keyboard. I also had to do my taxes, and I was out in California for a few weeks driving my dad to appointments to deal with the cancer that had metastasized into his brain. How’s that for an excuse? And it looks like I’m gonna have to move out of my apartment. 

And I can’t even say I’m even a vegan anymore. 😦 But I’m vegan at home, and I’ve been cooking a lot more.

For the record, the first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970 — Nixon was President. Partly inspired by my hero Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, 20 million Americans of all walks of life took to the streets to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. This movement led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency later that year.

And in former EPA director Gina McCarthy’s words, “EPA is not the birds and bunnies [agency]; EPA is the people [agency].”

So here’s how I’m celebrating Earth Day 2019. I just read H. Res. 109: the Green New Deal. It’s wicked cool —take a glance at it here.

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The Green New Deal. Check out those margins!

It’s only 13 double-spaced pages (you can skip page 1), and the margins are so wide, there are like 6 words per line. It’ll take you about as long to read as it takes to watch a Saturday Night Live cold open on YouTube.

In a nutshell, it pairs FDR-style labor programs to combat the climate crisis and get America’s emissions to net zero. I love it. Plus, if you read between the lines, it really socks it to rich white men (what’s up with those guys?), and provides fun numbers like $1,000,000,000,000 (I don’t even know the word for that) and fun facts like the top 1 percent of earners accruing 91 percent of gains in the first few years of economic recovery after the Great Recession. Not that we don’t already know this, but it’s nice to see it said very clearly and succinctly in a Congressional Resolution. AOC is killing it, right?? (She’s another hero.)

(And for the record, I don’t hate all rich white men. I may even know one or two.)

Okay, seriously? I lost the piece of paper where I copied down the reasons to be hopeful. It’s prob in my recycling bin . . . Oh, I just found the article online; it’s on the website of Columbia’s Earth Institute (where I got my certificate), and Reason #4 is “Environmental protection will survive Trump.” Partly because most EPA day-to-day decisions are handled on the state level, and also because a lot of Trump’s rollbacks have been shot down by the courts, or are merely press releases. And we’re still legally in the Paris Climate Agreement (until the day after the 2020 election). Plus, ya know, AOC.

So hoot and holler for the birds and the bunnies and the bats and the funghi and the octopi and the brown people and the white people and the purple people, and the Earth as a living being — a colossal biological super-system. And in the words of John Muir:

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

Tell me how you’re celebrating Earth Day in the comments!


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Advertising Is Garbage

ED garbage duratrans

Part of the Earth Day campaign. (Before I proofread it, obvs.) More below.

So a lot has happened since I was here last. Michael Cohen. Rudy Giuliani. Scott Pruitt’s hearing. Eric Schneiderman’s bitch-slapping. And a porn star’s lawyer who makes more sense than any of ’em.

In better news, California (where I am currently, hanging out with my parents) will now require all new homes to have solar power. I just did a quick search for other good news, but it’s mostly boring stuff. Donald Glover’s (aka Childish Gambino) This Is America video is pretty cool.

Oh, I also did a couple of fun performances. (Here’s one of them.)

And Earth Day happened. Dunno who besides me really cares about that, but I had to get away from my computer, and into the woods . . .


Plant-based hike.

So I went to Queens. Where I “hiked” with two Columbia friends through Forest Park, to the soothing sounds of the Jackie Robinson Parkway, after we’d eaten the vegan quiche I’d made, and pounded a few Bloody Marys around my friend’s kitchen table.

Because it had been a crazy coupl’a weeks.

Remember the Earth Day pitch I made to the CEO? (Refresh your memory HERE.)


Plant-based brunch.

Did I mention it was for one of the top ad agencies in the world? Pretty sure I didn’t. When I last wrote about it, the CEO of said ad agency had just referred me to the CFO and the building architecture person (the latter is the one who oversaw getting the place LEED-certified when the agency moved into it; dunno who besides me [and her] cares about that). Public Relations was at the meeting, too. They all loved it.

Then things got a little . . . weird. Read More…