Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
Sunday, September 14, 2014
No matter how clearly we think we are expressing ourselves, someone is going to misunderstand it. It's THE problem with electronic communication. Actually, it's a problem with any communication which isn't face-to-face. People probably used to misunderstood each other's handwritten letters.
The difference between the old, snail mail method and the modern snappier email method is the speed of response time. When you wrote it out in longhand (remember longhand??), you had time to notice if you were being hasty in your response. There was time to rethink, rewrite, moderate your response.
:-D I believe the :-) was invented entirely to convey that what you are writing isn't meant negatively :-(
I use emoticons liberally, though they are considered bad English (they aren't English at all) and childish. Children are good at conveying feelings, so I'm not averse to being childish if it improves communications a little.
I tend to be brusque, both in person and in writing. Short. I try to be witty, but it doesn't always come across as wit. Sometimes, it just sound mean. My attempts to be "cute" can easily backfire and be misread as snide, snippy, and dismissive.
So, if you think I am being an asshole, you should know:
1) If I'm being snide, snippy, or dismissive, it'll be obvious. You won't have to guess. No wondering what I mean. I'm not that subtle. Really.
2) My wrists hurt. My typing is getting worse. Of the emerging issues caused by pain in wrists, the most malignant are missing words. Not misspelled or otherwise mangled. Words that aren't there at all. Particularly unfortunate when the missing word is "not" -- exactly reversing the meaning of a thought yet appearing grammatical.
Lacking fonts that clearly express sarcasm or irony -- both of which are better expressed by tone of voice, body language, and facial expression -- maybe we (me) should consider alternate forms. This is difficult since I have always tended to be sarcastic. (I used to be worse, but I'm in recovery.)
That kind of wit (?) doesn't translate well in text. Not yet, anyhow and until it does, I'm considering humor less likely to be misread.
The second solution isn't a solution, but might help. Before you decide you've been insulted, dismissed, treated with scorn, etc., check with the comment's originator. Make sure what you know is what was meant. That it wasn't a complex typo, or a failed joke.
It's easy to read everything as a form of criticism. I've seen people slide into this by degrees until they successfully misinterpret everything. You need some toughness to live in the virtual world. You also need patience, in the sense of not jumping to conclusions. Finally, you have to remember you are not the center of everyone's world.
One of my many problems with the whiners, complainers, oh woe is me-ers is they have sunk so deep into their own "issues," they forget other people have lives. People can be brusque -- dismissive -- and it hasn't got anything to do with you. They are responding to something going on in their world to which you are not privy.
Usually, you will never know what is or was going on unless they choose to tell you. Because many of us like to keep our private things private. I deal with intimate issues intimately, face-to-face. Or telephone-to-telephone. Not on my blog.
PRIVACY IS A GOOD THING
Which brings me to the final point.
Bloggers can easily contact each other privately. If you have a bone to pick with someone -- or think you do -- try email. Directly. To the individual. Even if your position is righteous and your cause is just, public isn't the best place to resolve a dispute.
Why not? Because it invites strangers to jump in -- which won't help anyone fix anything. Because once you've publicly insulted someone or hurt their feelings, they may be disinclined to forgive you. Ever.
And finally, because squabbling about personal stuff online is tacky. Totally teenage, very Facebook, and not classy at all.
An episode of Law and Order got me thinking (again) about something I've thought about off and on for a while. The subject is "Under what circumstances might I commit murder -- or kill someone -- for any reason?"
We all say stuff. "I'm going to kill you," doesn't mean you are actually planning a murder. You are blowing off steam, saying "I'm so angry, I've run out of words to express it." Garry pointed out that television and movies would be pretty dull if everyone behaved sensibly.
We yell at each other. Sometimes there's a slammed door and I occasionally rattle the pots and pans, but we don't throw things. Don't break things. Don't kick the dogs or get in the car and drive like crazy people. We don't binge drink or comfort ourselves with drugs.
We get angry with each other, though. We think about breaking a window. Throwing a piece of crockery. Then reconsider. Having that picture window replaced would cost a bundle. Never mind.
Under no circumstances do you hurt your pets.
In short, we are rational. We are never so angry we can't see the consequences of our behavior.
I think most people have a hard-wired inhibition against killing people. If we didn't, the world would be a much worse place than it already is. You have to train soldiers to kill. Young men won't (normally) kill other young men unless you break down their inhibitions against killing. That's what boot camp is about, right? Right. You knew that.
Garry said something perceptive, smart, reminding me of one of many reasons we're together. He said "That's why it's good we have things like Facebook. People can go there to rant, rage, carry on. No knives, guns, bats. No corpses. Angry people vent. No one really gets hurt. Like the guys on the sports radio stations who call in screaming about the Red Sox. They're just letting off steam. It's just as well there are safe places for them to do it." (Note: That explains Facebook. Nothing explains Twitter.)
Maybe it's because Garry has seen so much violence and the results of violence. It was part of his job. Not the part he liked, but something he had to accept to be a reporter. I couldn't have done it.
As to my original question, what would it take to make me kill another person? I don't know.
Would I kill to protect my life style or for money -- even a great deal of money? No.
Would I kill to protect someone? I'd want to, but could I? I'm not sure I could kill to protect myself. Many people can't and lose their own lives because they hesitate.
Television, fiction, and mythology notwithstanding, most people's instinct is to not kill.
Inconvenient, but it may be the saving grace of the human race.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Here we are again somewhere in what's probably the most bittersweet or sweet bitter time of the year for most of us. It's the jolly, holly Christmas to New Year period. It's the time of year filtered through childhood memories for many and wrapped in holiday music, movies, and hectic preparations to greet folks we don't often see. We need to force ourselves to shift gears, putting aside worries about health, bills and family drama to put on a happy face for the most wonderful time of the year.
Emotions are curious. The holiday season plays fast and loose with our emotions. For those of us who internalize our feelings, it can be tricky. Smiling is not easy. Showing pleasure or happiness isn't instinctive. It was easy for me to show emotions in my professional life. But we're talking about real life. I'm past the September of my years. Getting into the Christmas spirit is harder than ever. I miss childhood.
As a child, Christmas was a time of anticipation. I was the kid in A Christmas Story. The year I campaigned for the two-gun Roy Rogers set was very anxious for me. My hopes were almost dashed when I thought Santa had not heard me as we ripped though our presents that Christmas morning. But my Dad who always had a funny smile during Christmas and New Year's Eve, motioned to one last present. Yes!! It was the DELUXE Roy Rogers two-gun set with 2 rolls of caps!! Even Mom smiled as I squealed in delight.
I never thought we were as poor as Mom frequently reminded us because we usually got what we wanted on Christmas. Those holiday memories include relatives who are long gone. Our Christmas card list was long and included Aunts, Uncles and Cousins, Grandpa and Grandma who I can still see clearly in my sense memory. I used to carefully print the card messages when I was young. As I grew older, I proudly displayed my penmanship, writing endearments to my relatives. I thought they would be in my life forever.
These days, I am the only one in my family to actually write and mail Christmas cards. I take the time to write messages to each person. Usually I wind up with writer's cramp for my efforts. But I see my Mother hovering behind me somewhere, nodding her approval. I have to remind myself NOT to buy or write cards to Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma and all those Aunts and Uncles. They're all gone as are many of my friends.
Something is missing in those cherished memories. I have to force a smile. I'm not a kid anymore. I'm Gramps, one of the old people as my 17-year-old Granddaughter calls my Bride and me. There is a sense of loneliness that won't go away. The movies are my cure-all.
I grew up as a child of the movies. I saw my first film, The Best Years Of Our Lives, during the holiday season of 1946. My Dad had just returned from the war. He was in uniform and seemed 10 feet tall as we went to the venerable radio City Music Hall to see the movie which is still a favorite with Marilyn and me. Movies and their fantasies have always been a part of my life, my personality. I am comfortable, charming and loquacious when talking about movies. I lose myself in movies, especially westerns and holiday movies.
I can laugh, smile, cry and sing along with favorite movies like It's a Wonderful Life, Meet Me In St. Louis, A Christmas Story, The Shop Around the Corner, and many other memorable films shared in our collective sense memory. But once the movie is over, it's back to reality minus the celluloid good cheer. Ironically it was the same way during my life as a TV news reporter. I did holiday stories ranging from heartbreak to feel-good. Thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people over decades watched those stories and associated me with all the festive times. The real me smiles at the TV reporter me -- trying to separate fact from fiction. Print the legend, as they say in that old western.
One of the nice things about this holiday season is catching up with long-lost friends who've found me on Facebook. One person, a former mentor, who I presumed dead chatted me up, clearly remembering the years when I was a young reporter full of myself.
Then, there was the overnight radio show I did on WBZ radio in Boston last weekend. It is hosted by my dear, dear friend, Jordan Rich. Jordan has been through a very rough patch recently losing a loved one. But he spread friendship and laughter for his gang of movie mavens as we entertained listeners who called in from all parts of the country to chat about favorite holiday movies.
During breaks and commercials, we laughed and giggled like teenagers. The listeners picked up on our mood and said that it was infectious especially for many who were alone, lonely or depressed. I cried a little when an elderly woman thanked Jordan for being a life line. After the show, now close to 4 am, Jordan and I lingered talking about our lives and our families. We hugged each other for a long time with plans to get together again for a movie night out with Marilyn.
As I walked out the door, I looked back and Jordan was smiling. I felt warm outside and inside. That moment will stay with me throughout the holidays and beyond. It's good to be able to smile!