Random Thoughts, October 2019: Weird Podcast Experience, Suicide Prevention, Halloween Dangers and More

I haven’t done a random thoughts article in months, and there’s just too much bouncing around my brain lately, so I’m going to throw it on the page and see what happens.

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I’ll do podcasts with anybody, regardless of who they or their target audience are, as long as I, or porn addicts, are not made the butt of a joke.

I taped one yesterday and when it is available, I’ll have it on the front page of the website and on the appearances page as I do with all of them. This was one of those appearances that was far less about my story and more about pornography in general.

What was really out-of-the-ordinary for me was that this gentleman hosting the show was trying to draw a lot of conclusions about what he felt was the disintegration of our society and porn’s role in it. That’s not an objective viewpoint, and the world is misinformed about pornography enough that it doesn’t need me making stuff up off the top of my head.

My view of society is that it changes and evolves. As individuals we can interpret whether those changes are good or bad, but there is no correct or incorrect answer. It’s all subjective. Was society better in the 1950s when the woman stayed home with the 2.5 kids and the man was the breadwinner? I don’t know because both of my grandmothers had jobs, so my parents weren’t raised in that environment. I know there is a segment of society who feels the world was better with that as the stereotypical family dynamic. So, which culture is better? I guess it depends on your personal opinion of a lot of factors.

As the questioning moved forward, I shared the true statistic that straight women watch more lesbian pornography than straight men watch gay porn. When he asked why, I shared an expert’s opinion I’d heard and agree with, but since I had no hard data, it was really only a guess, and it had nothing to do with morality. That opened the floodgates to questions about homosexuality and its place in today’s society, and the questions started with wording like, “Wouldn’t you agree…” instead of “Why do you think…”

He was a good interviewer in clearly trying to get me to say something I don’t believe, but I’ve been interviewing people professionally since I was 17. I’m not easy to trap. I’m very curious to see how this one turns out.

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Screen Shot 2019-10-22 at 6.15.21 PMCheck out this congratulations logo I got from WordPress during the day yesterday. Why the heck am I congratulated for this random number? Why not 1,400 or 1,500? It’s very peculiar. Thanks to everybody who has liked what I’ve written over the last two years. I’ve really felt a deeper sense of connection over the last few weeks since I’ve started writing almost daily than at any other point.

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Sometimes the search terms that people use that lead them to my site are downright cryptic. I have no idea what “resentment porn on Tuesday” means, but I hope they got their answer. The other day, somebody visited the site after searching for “I’m a porn addict. Is life over?” I’m hoping the person meant in the hypothetical sense of if they have no possibility of having a “normal” life, however they define it.

If they meant the idea that their life should come to an end, that makes me sad. I hope that nobody who is struggling with porn addiction – or any addiction for that matter – thinks their addiction is an unwinnable battle that should end in suicide. I’m proof that there’s plenty of hope. I know there was a strong possibility I would have gone down that road had the police not intervened. I had seriously considered it once, but thankfully woke up from that haze before I went through with it.

If you’ve got an addiction of any kind, or think you’re going to commit suicide for any reason, take 10 minutes and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. There is nothing that you can go through that can’t somehow be made better. And I understand seeing it as an option, believe me, I really do. It does feel like things will never get better. Just give them a call.

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Ashley L. Peterson reviewed my first book today at this link. I think it’s a very fair reviews, as I wrote in the comments. It’s always harrowing when somebody gives a review because I feel like since it’s my story, it’s almost passing judgment on who I am. I walked away relieved.

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While I abandoned my re-entry to the Facebook world, I have entered the world of LinkedIn for the first time. I’m still not totally sure how to use it, but at least it’s a place where I don’t have to read how blessed, psyched to go to the gym or ready for the weekend everybody claims to be. If you’re on there and want to connect, just send an invitation to Joshua Shea. I’m the one who is getting tattooed in the photo. Yeah, maybe it’s not professional, but I am who I am, and that’s a guy with nine tattoos he likes wearing far more than a suit and tie.

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As Halloween approaches, you may get the typical media hysteria in states like Maine, Kentucky or Indiana where there are no laws about convicted sex offenders (with either hands-on or hands-off offenses) passing out candy. These are actually the forward-thinking states.

Did you know there is not one confirmed case of a sex offender abducting or harming any child they did not know in the history of our country as result of a visit to their door on Halloween, yet dozens of states have laws against sex offenders of any kind handing out candy? The reality is 90% of hands-on sex offenders know their victims, with about half being family members, and the vast majority are groomed over time without force.

And while we’re talking about Halloween misconceptions, did you know that there have been less than 10 verified cases of candy tampering in 60 years, with only one happening since 1999 and of those cases there was only one death? Almost every reported incident (about 80 between 1959 and 2010) has been proven to be a hoax. So, there’s another thing to not be so scared about on Halloween. The media is good at hysteria because hysteria sells.

Is There Anything Wrong With Following Blogs of People You Disagree With?

I’ve been adding a lot of blog sites to my Reader list recently and I have noticed a trend that many of them actually stand in contrast to my core beliefs, or are so out there philosophically that I’m drawn to what these people have to say.

I first came in journalism in the mid-1990s. While Rush Limbaugh had figured out it was a good business ploy to play to the right claiming that the media was bias, we really didn’t have sides in the media at that point. Today, I have a bit of a different opinion about how things have changed, but that’s not the point of this.

In trying to not take sides, I was always taught to cover both sides of an issue, without making any value judgments in what I was presenting.

Sometimes that wasn’t simple. I heard the Grand Wizard of the almost-defunct Maine chapter of the Ku Klux Klan lived a couple of towns over, so I basically knocked on his door and asked to interview him. Despite the fact he was well spoken and treated me with kindness and dare I say, warmth, I still found his core beliefs repugnant. Nonetheless, I reported what I saw and what he said, talked to a couple of anti-hate groups, wrote down what they said and was done with it.

Up until that point, I couldn’t tell you what the modern KKK stood for, or against. I just knew it as the southern cross burning and lynching group of 50 years earlier. Was it wrong that I learned this information and shared it?

I loved being a reporter. I met famous people, got to experience things for free people spend a lot of money on, have seen historical, dangerous, exciting and tragic events unfold in front of me and genuinely felt a duty to be the eyes and ears of the community – the entire community.

More than two decades later, I still like to get both sides of the story and learn people’s takes on what is happening in the world. I find people, especially those who disagree with me, fascinating. I think that I should be able to hear what the KKK guy has to say without it making me racist or pro-KKK. Allowing someone to share a differing opinion does not, by default, mean you share that opinion.

But it seems like today, we live in a culture where you have to agree 100% with whatever ideological camp you’ve assigned yourself to and if not, you’re a traitor to some indefinable cause.

Here’s a thought for you: Somewhere out there, you will find somebody who has the completely opposite world viewpoint as you. How you feel about Donald Trump, education funding, military exercises, sexual culture, religion/spirituality, abortion, the death penalty, etc., there is somebody out there who opposes you on each of those things.

Are they completely crazy? If they’re half crazy, doesn’t that make you the other half? Are they not crazy at all and just wrong? What makes them wrong? What makes you right? Can you intellectually, and not emotionally or ignorantly, defend your positions?

Many liberal people were freaking out this week when openly gay liberal talk show host Ellen Degeneres was sitting with former President George W. Bush at a Cowboys football game. Why? Because Bush has beliefs that don’t completely line up with Ellen’s. Many people feel that their beliefs are in lockstep with Ellen’s and for her to sit with a Republican that hasn’t prioritized an LGBTQ agenda makes her a traitor.

I loved her response: ““I’m friends with George Bush,” DeGeneres said. “In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different, and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK.”

Michelle Obama seems very close with George Bush and has said he’s a warm, wonderful man, despite their political differences. I’ve read accounts from CIA agents who say that he was their favorite leader to work for because he was the most decent, respectful President.

George Bush probably made the most mistakes as president since Jimmy Carter – who by all accounts is another amazing human being – yet is that any reason to shun him? These days, many say it’s the very reason you should shun him.

In real life, I don’t know anybody who blogs on WordPress, despite sometimes knowing a lot about them. I don’t know if I’d enjoy their company or become genuine friends regardless of our similar or different beliefs.

It’s easy to read the blogs of people who have beliefs I agree with and would be even easier to stay away from people who I think have fundamentally flawed viewpoints.

I follow blogs from many people who live in Africa or South America. They seem like wonderful people, although most of their views on marriage and sexuality differ than mine. I follow blogs from a few who do not believe the way the mental health community handles medication is correct, despite the fact I know my bipolar medication has saved my life. I disagree with them vehemently, but still read one blog from somebody who thinks all addiction is nonsense. I read blogs from Scientologists, anti-vaxers and conspiracy theorists. Despite not being religious, I read blogs from people who constantly refer to their religions or religious texts of different varieties.

I would not want to get in a talking head opinion/fact debate with them, and don’t usually leave dissenting messages. Those are the things that turn me away from traditional news these days. Let’s talk, not argue.

The only thing I don’t think I could read is a blog that advocated violence against children or animals or anything containing actual hate speech; real hate speech…not disagree-with-me speech. People confuse the two these days.

We’re living in a world where “cancel culture” is all the rage these days. If your tribe finds something that somebody else did offensive, you attempt to boycott them into oblivion. This allows us to skip due process and punish who we decide are offenders of our opinions directly. Why deal with the courts when you can just render a verdict on Twitter?

I think it’s fine to have opinions and I think it’s natural to find yourself drawn to others with the same opinions. I just think you’re missing out on a lot of perspective, and potentially some genuinely good people, if you allow your opinions to rule out learning about those who are different than you.

 

A Tale of Two Interview Experiences

Call me crazy, but I have come to believe that one of the reasons I was put on this earth was to talk about pornography addiction. With every interview I give, it becomes a little clearer to me that I’m supposed to create awareness for those have none and be a voice of hope for those who are dealing with it. I know it sounds simultaneously spiritual, egotistical and insane, but it feels more genuine and authentic than few things I’ve done in my life prior.

I rarely say no to interviews because my feeling is I should be flattered and honored if somebody wants to give me a few moments on their radio show or podcast. They have worked to cultivate an audience that neither my book nor message may reach if I don’t take the opportunity.

Sometimes this leads to what the Ancient Egyptians called clusterf*cks. And sometimes it leads to a great exchange that I walk away re-energized from, ready to continue spreading the message. I had both happen to me over the last week.

About a month ago, someone sent an email identifying himself from a radio show and asked if I’d appear a few weeks down the road. I did a Google search to confirm it was a real show and a real radio station, then said OK.

I followed the call-in instructions. Aside from guest booker, I have no idea what role he plays in the show. I was put on the air with a very religious evangelical preacher lady.

The first couple minutes went OK as she “mmm-hmmm”ed and “Amen”ed her way through my story. I started to push the conversation toward the public health part of my message, sharing statistics and she started making up her own truths. I tried to be polite, while saying I couldn’t confirm her information. She then launched into a judgmental piece on pornography itself…how the content is disgusting.

Internally, I don’t disagree, but I also know my battle isn’t against pornography itself. It’s not against the industry and it’s not against what material specifically “does it” for you. My message is it doesn’t matter what the pornography specifically is, it’s all about the addiction and I think judging people on what they like is part of the problem of secrecy. When you condemn someone’s tastes, they’re not going to confide when they decide to look for help.

We moved on from this and she started asking me to quote Scripture. Those of you who read my site regularly know I’m spiritual, but have many issues with the religion I was raised in. I tried to be polite and decline for fear of misquoting, but by this point, I felt backed into a corner. I said I think spirituality plays a role in recovery for most, but the few verses I can quote have more to do with reading prayer cards and signs at sports events.

She ended the interview casting out the demons of addiction in all of her listeners. Suffice to say, we’re all cured now.

I thanked her and went on my way, but for most of the day, I wondered if it was my fault for not doing a deeper due diligence about the show and I should have known what I was getting myself into, or if this guy was intentionally vague about the show, both being the host and the subject matter.

Maybe it helped somebody. Maybe it was the most effective interview I’ve done. But, geez, it left me feeling like something just didn’t click and it’s not like on live radio I can say stop and have a discussion.

On the flip side of the coin, there are those that I do and feel like I want the world to listen because we hit every beat and delivered the message in an easy-to-understand and hopefully entertaining format.

I recorded a video podcast with a pair of doctors last week that was posted over the weekend and while I rarely listen to the podcasts I appear on except to hear the quality, I was actually sucked into this one and listened.

The show was called The Mental Breakdown and unlike many interviewers (probably 95%), they had read the book, so they could ask questions about my story that were interesting. I’ll answer the prompt, “Tell me about your book…” all day long, but when the host can tell me about my book, it’s a much better interview for the listeners. The host should be a guide for the audience, who knows nothing about me, not just another member of the audience learning everything for the first time. That’s part of the reason I try to send materials in advance. Even if they don’t read the book, they can know some information.

I guess it felt more like a conversation than a question-and-answer session. I’m including the links below, both the video and the audio. If you have any time, or you’ve been looking for one thing I’ve done to listen to, this is it.

The book has seen an uptick in sales over the last two weeks. Thank you to anybody who purchased it. As of writing this, Amazon is offering it at 11% off. Random, huh? Click HERE to buy.

Audio Only from ITunes