The Long Way Home 1.26.24 The Long Way Home 1.26.24 100% 11

My old friend and one-time cigar purveyor Anthony posted a meme on Facebook the other day. In the days when he sold cigars I knew that he and I shared an affinity for the philosophical. We share a love of books, too, and he now teaches college English. I tap a keyboard for slave wages and collect Social Security. 

The meme was a picture of one of the daily traffic jams in this country with the statement, “You’re not stuck in traffic; you are traffic.” 

Think about that.

As a chronic user of Mr. Zuckerberg’s creation, I realize I’m not stuck in that noxious wasteland that is Facebook; I am that noxious wasteland. 

I’m not despairing, just self-aware. 

I avoid posting long-winded arguments about whatever issue has riled me or other citizens on community Facebook pages. I avoid arguments with the people who create verbose posts—the ones who repeat a lengthy argument repeatedly, answering everyone who dares to give a contrary position with the same argument they wrote previously.  

Come on, guys (primarily males, but sometimes female), if you post it once, it’s there for eternity. Stop repeating your argument, and we might take you seriously. If you have to answer every one, you’re scratched from my list.

In my newspaper publishing days, I had three conditions for accepting a letter to the editor: 

It needed to be signed. Why should your opinion matter if you aren’t willing to stand behind it? 

It needed to be fact-based. You may have information not previously known, but it better be verifiable.

At most, 250 words. Any more wouldn’t make a point. Write as much as you want, but the newspaper will cut it if you don’t. 

For better or worse, no such conditions are needed to post opinions on social media. Which is why the whole system may have “jumped the shark.”

My opinions here sometimes generate a vitriolic email or phone call. They don’t change my opinion (unless some unknown fact arises). I don’t engage in a counterargument with the commenters since I already know how they feel. 

No one needs to share my opinions, and I don’t need to enter into arguments after mine have been shared. Life is, as they say, too short and too filled with other concerns to make arguing satisfying.

The saddest part of social media abuse is that people let their feelings get hurt. Too many people are easily offended, become resentful, and carry grudges that end friendships and lead to escalating arguments leading nowhere.

I’ve hurt some feelings more than a few times over the years, usually with a sarcastic comment that I thought was funny. 

My old friend Jim Morrison, not the long-dead leader of the Doors but the guy I was stupid enough to be in the trucking business with, had a saying whenever someone slapped him down (hurt his feelings). “Well, that’s another member of my fan club who  won’t pay his/her dues next month.” 

When I get my feelings hurt, I repeat what brother Jim would say. 

And when things go wrong, I remember another of his wise(ass) offerings: “It’s just another ‘Oh Well’ in a long and continuing line of ‘Oh Wells.’” 

“Be Good, and you will be lonesome.” Mark Twain. “Be lonesome, and you will be free.” Jimmy Buffett