Like so many others yesterday, I watched the tragedy in Boston unfold on the news – standing with co-workers in the lunchroom, mouths covered in horror, heads shaking in disgust, eyes tearing up in sadness at yet more lives lost and damaged beyond repair. The act of one person ruining the lives and hopes and dreams of so many. What was supposed to be a triumphant celebration of achievement, a joyous occasion of accomplishment shattered by unspeakable violence. More questions of what can we do, more fear of where we can go, and more disgust at the actions of cowards. Our country mourns yet again; this time with another city, with another demographic, over another type of violence.
I think any writer with a modicum of a platform, no matter how small it may be, would be remiss in not addressing this attack on some level. The part I need to address is hope. Yes, hope. Since the advent of social media, anyone with access to the internet can voice their opinion publicly, can share their thoughts and feelings and words. And so very much of what I saw on Facebook and Twitter yesterday was, for the first time in a long time, simply support. From tweets simply reading, “My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in the tragedy in Boston,” to statuses sharing from all over the world, “NY Loves Boston,” “Dublin’s Heart is With Boston,” to pictures of the Boston skyline, to entire articles depicting the emergency personnel and civilians alike running toward the injured instead of away from the chaos.
The helpers. The picture and words I saw the most yesterday were that of the beloved Mr. Rogers, who said this, “Always look for the helpers.” What phenomenal advice. Look for the helpers. Look for the ones who are doing what they can to make a horrible event bearable. There were so many yesterday. The exhausted runners who should have been celebrating the culmination of years of hard work with an ice bath and a chair continuing to move, to push wheelchairs and help people up and give blood. The people of the city of Boston opening their homes and hearts to those stranded in a strange city that had just been attacked, no questions asked. The restaurant owners giving out free meals without regard to their bottom line. Google setting up a site to help frantic family members find their loved ones. The emergency personnel; the doctors and nurses and fireman and police and EMT’s and servicemen who have dedicated their lives to helping being put to the ultimate test and stepping up once again. The list goes on and on.
Smartphones make it almost frighteningly easy to immediately share pictures and videos without censure; many of us saw some raw video footage of people with limbs blown off, puddles of blood, and tearful horror within minutes of the explosions. But so much of what I saw yesterday gave me hope. These videos were unscripted; this was real life and real reactions, and so much of it showed helpers. These are real people. This is the real world we live in. In the midst of explosions and terror and unknown, these were real people that did everything they could to help. And that is what our country is made up of. Helpers. We’ve shown it over and over and over again, in New York and Pennsylvania on that dark day in 2001, in Newtown just before Christmas, in Boston yesterday, and countless other times; there has always been more helpers than evil. There has always been more love than hate. We just need to remember it.
There’s many who will say I’m being naive, that I’m trying to find the rose-colored lenses for a pair of broken glasses. I’m okay with that. Because I’m right. I may not always remember it, but we’re surrounded by helpers. Try using my rose-colored glasses – you’ll see it too. Instead of the sadness of the homeless person on the corner, you’ll see the helper who drops a quarter in his cup. Instead of the frustration of a crowded bus, you’ll see the helper give up his seat for a tired mom. Instead of anger at being stuck in a long line, you’ll see the helper patiently counting out change for the elderly person at the front. And instead of pure evil in a time of terror, you’ll see the helper in not only the people in Boston that physically risked themselves, but in the millions of us around the world who did what little we could to show our support. To help.
Mr. Rogers was a smart man. Always, always look for the helpers. They’ll be there.
I love the Facebook. Love. It. It’s where I get a disproportionate amount of my news, catch up with old friends, find out what my peeps are having for lunch, and find the best videos of cats. I am, without question, guilty of checking in most places I go as though no one can get through their day without knowing I’m at the Fifty/50 Club, overstating my cats’ importance in the universe, and occasionally posting pictures of my dinner. (Which I will defend. I challenge you to not see a picture of my fabulous pot roast without wanting some for yourself.)
That being said, waking up this morning to 57 updates about how cold it was kind of made me want to punch things. I know it’s cold. I live here too. So do 97% of your friends. They all woke up to the same weather outlook on their phones – hardly any need to post a picture reminding everyone how everything on your body is going to freeze immediately upon stepping outdoors. Yes, it’s zero degrees. If it were July, or perhaps we lived in Texas, this would be news. Being that we live in Chicago and it’s January, I feel as though telling everyone it’s cold is akin to posting, “Hey, it’s morning! The sun came up again.”
Those aren’t the posts that make me crazy though. (Mostly because it’s entirely possible I’ve done it in the past. But no more!) These are the ones that make me want to turn off the internet forever.
So Sad Right Now.
- Said status is usually followed by multiple inquiries as to the poster’s mental health and wellness, which is then followed by the original poster responding with something super cryptic that gives zero information. What?? What’s wrong? First of all, you’ve piqued my interest, which I have to believe was your intent. Now I want to know how to proceed. Do you need consolation? A hug? Thoughts and prayers? A swift kick in the ass? Do I need to send flowers? And most of all – WHAT HAPPENED, DAMMIT???
Great news!!! Can’t Tell Anyone Yet but Yay!!!
- You dick. Everyone thinks you’re pregnant, FYI. And when you aren’t, and you follow up with something like, “We’re moving!” we are disappointed. If you can’t tell your good news, it isn’t good news yet.
And Then I’m Going Here, and Then Here, and Then Here, and Finishing Up Here.
- My life is boring enough, thanks. I don’t need to follow along with your mundane-ass errands, each of which you will check in from. You made it to Whole Foods? Awesome! And here I was sitting on pins and needles wondering if the traffic was going to put a dent in your timeframe.
If This Page Gets 10,000 Likes, This Child Will Get to Ride a Unicorn. TO THE MOON.
- There is plenty of good that can come from Facebook viral campaigns and I do not mean to detract from that; I have surely been known to post something on the long shot it will make a difference. But snopes.com exists for a reason, folks. That girl Penny has been missing for like four years. It’s not an Amber Alert anymore. “Post this if you want to erase cancer! ABC Company will donate $1 for every like!” No, they won’t. But they now have 200,000 people following their page. Is there a word for slimy marketing? Because that’s what this is. Stop feeding the bear. Please.
Have I ever been guilty of irritating, irrelevant posts? Absolutely. I’m not excluding myself from the above criterion. But I’m relatively sure we can all agree that if you don’t care that I am on my way to grocery shop, chances are I don’t give a fuck that you are either. Let’s make a conscious effort, shall we? Saw someone tightrope walking an electrical wire across the street at 8AM? Pictures, please. On your way to the gym? Not interested.
What status updates make you want to quit the internet?
Last year around this time, I published a post detailing all of the things I wished would stop in the year 2012. The fact that none of these things stopped happening kind of hurts my feelings. The Kardashians are still famous and somehow the celebrity gods found something even more annoying than them in Honey Boo Boo and her rotten cow family. We’ve added even more reality TV shows and now watch with baited breath to find out what the hillbilly duck callers will do next and which poor sap will get humiliated the most at a pawn shop. Since no one of any authority will listen to me regarding things we didn’t need more of, here’s some things we learned in 2012 that will hopefully make us better in 2013.
Never has the above been so true as it was during the presidential elections this past year. Social media has given every American with access to WiFi and a modicum of “knowledge” to blast their opinion all over the internet, and wow, did this election make us ugly. On one hand, in my mind it’s a good thing that so many were talking about the issues, interested in the outcome, and genuinely vested in the election of our President. On the other, I am absolutely gobsmacked horrified that so many of the public have the mental capacity to cast a vote for the leader of the free world without having a damn concept of the English language. And from everything I saw, the more vitriolic the hate, the more atrocious the spelling. Facebook and Twitter gives everyone a platform, and I’m pretty sure this election proved that NOT EVERYONE DESERVES ONE. ”obamas sucks!” ”Hey Mitt Rouamney, no one wants a mormom president,” “baracks an idiot, i didn’t get no free phone,” and “romneys totes winning this debacle,” are some things I saw in Facebook posts and Twitter feeds. The tweets from this election alone should convince all leaders — fuck everything else, we really, really need better education. Because I am seeing the future, it does not contain apostrophes and I. Am. Frightened.
My new favorite person in the world may be Jon Hendren. He took some time this Christmas to retweet some extremely ungrateful (what I have to assume is) teenagers’ horrified responses to their Christmas presents. What I took from it is that teenagers? Pretty much suck. We are apparently raising the most entitled, poor-me generation to ever walk the Earth and the proof? Is in Twitter. From the above picture to the lovely Beliebers venting their extreme frustration at the Newtown shooting interrupting the Ellen show with their idol, Twitter is proof that if you are under 18, you really shouldn’t have a platform. Granted, plenty of folks over 18 (and 21, and 31, and 40,) probably shouldn’t either, but at least they are old enough to be accountable. I have to hope that those of you sending this crap across the internet will be embarrassed at yourselves later in life and wish that perhaps you hadn’t published such a self-centered thought. ( I hope. Please, please, be better.)
There’s an ecard for everything. EVERYTHING. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been known to post them occasionally on my own facebook as they do make me laugh. But we have gotten to the point that every. single. fucking. situation. IN THE WORLD can now be pared down to a cartoon and a clever saying. Drink too much? There’s an ecard for that. Kids driving you crazy? There’s an ecard for that. Husband’s a stereotypical male? Ecard. Stepmother’s pet monkey keeps borrowing your rainbow sweater? Ecard. Bipolar neighbor’s pet ferret keeping you up at night? Ecard. Have to flip your pillow over in the middle of the night? Ecard. Tired of the rodeo clown riding a unicycle down your street with a lasso? Ecard. It’s out of hand, folks. Out. Of. Hand.
The above? Are the top Google searches, by category, in 2012. I’m skipping over the fact that when it comes to the TV show category I don’t even know the first two and the third makes me want to stab my eyes with hot forks because, well, if I think about it too long I want to stab everyone in the eyes with hot forks. But the rest – seriously? Is there one thing on this list – ONE THING – that has made an actual difference in anyone’s lives? Of course, to any of those close with the celebrities who have passed, and those affected by the storms, these were life-changing events. But the rest of us? The general public? How stupid and superficial are we?? Is anyone else concerned that there is not one political figure, not one search on gay marriage laws, not one argument about health care, nor one search on education?
We need to smarten up, folks. Let’s make 2013 the year that we stop glorifying hot messes and start jumping into actual reality, not TV reality. Reality is not pawn shops making millions on a television show. Reality is not neatly explained in a cartoon. Reality is not supported by twitter feeds of our favorite celebrities. The line between reality and social media is markedly different and we need to realize that before Honey Boo Boo is the goddamn president by fucking default.
Happy New Year Everyone!!!