communication, modern problems, social media

Compassion fatigued woman writes, “I don’t give a hoot about you…”

This morning, I happened to read an article in The New York Times about how the recent Gridiron dinner turned into a COVID-19 “superspreader” event. The annual “A-list” event, is held for journalists and politicians by The Gridiron Club and Foundation. Last week, many famous and powerful people, including Judge Merrick Garland and President Biden’s sister, Valerie Biden Owens, were in attendance at the dinner. One week later, over 50 people who attended the dinner, most of whom mingled maskless for hours, sipping cocktails, enjoying food, and watching skits, tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, no serious illnesses have been reported. Everyone who attended had to prove that they were fully vaccinated, although they were not required to present negative COVID test results.

I checked out the comment section. Sure enough, I found the usual reactions. Lots of people had obviously commented without reading. There were some political statements made. Many people were smugly informing the masses of their personal practices regarding COVID prevention, while simultaneously lecturing everybody else on what they should be doing. Some people were derisive, while others were insisting that COVID is no worse than a cold or flu. All I could do was shake my head.

Just as I was about to move on from the article, I noticed a particularly interesting exchange. It reminded me of my “fuckery” with Mary last week, when she left me a nasty comment because I wrote the word “ridiculous” in a comment section. These three women– total strangers– butted heads. And one of them wrote, “I don’t give a hoot about you.” Wow… that comment made me recall the old Woodsy Owl PSAs about and not polluting. “Give a hoot! Don’t pollute!”

Who says “I don’t give a hoot” anymore?

So, looking at this discussion, it involved three women. One tried to be empathic, even as she corrected the hostile woman’s use of “affect” vs. “effect”. The other was somewhat “nice” at first, then seemed to get angry and told the hostile one to “f off”. And the hostile one wrote what, I think, a lot of people are feeling right now. She’s “over” the pandemic crap. She’s got compassion fatigue. I can relate to that, even though I don’t think I’m as mean as she seems to be.

I think the hostile woman is tired of caring about COVID, like a lot of us are. It takes energy to be worried, and a lot of us don’t have energy to spare. A lot of us are tired of preachy comments from people like the first commenter, telling everyone to “wear masks”, “socially distant” [sic] (funny how she corrects the hostile woman but doesn’t correct her own mistake), and “get vaccinated”. I know people are frustrated, but I wonder if the folks who feel the need to preach have ever actually changed anyone’s minds when they order people around in comment sections. Why would a stranger in a comment section heed your unsolicited advice about COVID? Hostile lady who says she “doesn’t give a hoot” is being brutally honest about the state of things and how she feels about it. And she obviously doesn’t want to be convinced otherwise. If she hasn’t listened to the experts, why would she listen to a random commenter on Facebook? It’s baffling.

I don’t agree with the hostile poster’s opinions that the vaccines don’t work. They obviously do help people stay out of hospitals. I also don’t think her other opinions about people being “lazy” are accurate, either. Some people are lazy, but not all of them are. To me, she just sounds like someone who’s over the whole thing. I can’t blame her for that.

However, as someone who has lived the last two years in a country where masking never went away, I don’t believe that masks are all that effective. They might have helped in the very beginning, when we had no vaccines or anything, but their current effectiveness is probably pretty marginal. Here in Germany, we’ve been forced to wear the godawful FFP2 masks for awhile now, and yet COVID cases continue to rise. I suspect it might be because while we all have had to wear masks, we haven’t been forced to cover our eyes. The virus can also infect people through that conduit. Also, the masks come off for certain activities, plus people don’t wear them properly or replace them as often as they should. So, in my opinion, mask wearing is largely theater. I also think that we’re all eventually going to get infected, no matter what we do. That’s not to say that I think people shouldn’t try to avoid getting sick. It’s just that it’s probably inevitable… and as another poster wrote, there are a lot of other problems in the world that we need to pay some attention to at this point.

As for the Gridiron dinner, it sounds like the COVID infections are a bit of a non-issue. A week later, over 50 people got the virus, but they’ve all reported mild symptoms, because they were all vaccinated. Pretty soon, COVID spread could turn out to be a lot less newsworthy, since it’s going to spread. That’s what viruses do. So, it’s probably time for us to find ways to either clean the air, block the virus, or treat the symptoms effectively.

I did find it interesting that the first commenter– the one who demanded that people go back to following the rules– felt the need to tell the hostile woman that she’s a “nice” person and doesn’t want to spread COVID. The hostile woman made it very clear that she doesn’t care. She doesn’t give a hoot. She’s like a lot of people right now– totally over the whole thing. So why was the “nice” person trying to engage with her? The other lady who commented– the one who wrote that she worked two jobs and got a college degree– was correct in realizing that the woman who didn’t give a hoot doesn’t care. She told her to “f off”. And yet she still tried to engage with hostile lady. LOL… I don’t know why ANY of them bothered commenting. What a waste of time. But at least it gave me something to write about besides Ex.

I think, when it comes to COVID-19, I’m pretty much middle of the road. Even though the mask mandates were supposedly lifted in Germany last weekend, I haven’t rushed to go out into the world again. It’s not because I’m necessarily “afraid” of the virus. To be honest, watching how things are deteriorating in the world these days, I don’t think it would be such a bad thing to be beamed up, although I would rather that experience not be painful. But I don’t want to deal with the mask bullshit. We aren’t legally required to wear them anymore in most places, but there’s still the whole social pressure crap to deal with and silent judgment from other people who probably ought to be minding their own business. I do think the vaccines are worth getting, and I think they are more effective than the masks are. Like I said– Germans have never stopped wearing them, but people are still getting sick. And I doubt people are going to appreciate being told to wear safety goggles in public. What does work is staying away from other people.

Anyway… at the end of the month, we will be taking a trip to three different countries. Hopefully, we won’t get sick. But if we do get sick, at least that particular cherry will be popped. Hopefully, we will survive. I do feel for the hostile lady. She probably isn’t really as mean as she seems. She’s just tired of this shit, as are we all, and being ordered to be “nice”, “kind”, and “compassionate” by a sanctimonious stranger is annoying. She probably just wants to be left alone, yet wants to communicate that to the masses, who feel compelled to respond to her. And I feel for the other ladies who are concerned and want to be helpers– or influencers– or whatever. However, they probably ought to get clued in on the fact that most people really don’t give a hoot anymore. Being empathic and kind is good… but don’t expect to change hearts and minds that are resolutely made up… and fed up.

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communication, complaints, Military, rants, social media

“Educate yourself!” Most of us would be wise to follow our own advice…

The featured photo is a meme that was posted by a popular veteran’s page on Facebook.

Happy President’s Day, everybody. We had a boring weekend at home, as is par for the course in these pandemic times. In ordinary times, we would have gone away for the weekend, but I’m actually glad we didn’t do that. The weather has been downright crappy. This weekend was cold, windy, and rainy. There was some sun on Saturday, but the temperatures weren’t very pleasant. And since Germany still has COVID measures going on, that makes me not want to go out. I don’t enjoy being indoors with a FFP2 mask strapped to my face and people watching my every move to make sure I follow the rules.

Does that sound paranoid? It probably does… but this is an attitude I’ve noticed over the past couple of years. People are watching. I generally do follow the rules, but I don’t like the feeling of being surveilled by strangers. My desire to go out and see the world isn’t strong enough to deal with that kind of scrutiny, so I just stay home.

I spent several hours yesterday creating a new “AM Gold” playlist for my music library. I downloaded quite a number of albums and spent some money I probably shouldn’t have. But, as I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post, ordinarily we would have gone out of town and spent the money anyway. We will be taking a trip next week to see our dentist in Stuttgart, then we’ll go spend the weekend in France. Hopefully, the weather will be somewhat better for that. I hope the COVID rules will be less onerous in France, too, but I’m not holding my breath.

We’ve come to a turning point in the pandemic, as was inevitable when this shitshow started in March 2020. Even cautious Germans are discussing dropping some of the rules. As of March 20, which would mark the second anniversary of the plague, most COVID restrictions are set to be rescinded. Masks are still going to be required, which I know makes a lot of people happy because they feel safer when people wear masks. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I hate the masks with a passion and will be delighted to see them go. But I generally follow the rules, so all I do is complain and avoid being in situations where masks are needed. Other people are much bolder about their rebellion, which sometimes leads to trouble.

Yesterday, I noticed a thread on Wil Wheaton’s Facebook page. He wrote a very kind and caring post about how he hopes those who haven’t been vaccinated will get the shot(s), because pretty soon, it will be every person for themselves. I appreciated Wil’s thoughts on this. I think he’s reasonable and well-informed.

I wish all famous people were this decent.

Not surprisingly, Wil got a few rude comments about how this is all a conspiracy to make money for politicians and “Big Pharma”. I was impressed by Wil’s reasonable and calm responses to the people who pushed back against his rational thoughts on the vaccines. And there were also comments from the other side of the spectrum. Several people lamented about how no one cares about them or their lives because they are immunocompromised. They are legitimately scared that when the rules are rescinded, their lives will be in danger.

On one level, I can sympathize with people who are immunocompromised. It is scary to think that soon there could be a “free for all”. However, on another level, I want to tell them that this is the way it’s always been. It’s really every person for themselves. For two years, people have lived with rules that have upended lives and caused significant problems. Some people have died during the pandemic, not because they got the virus, but because they suffered from mental health issues or delayed necessary healthcare. Or they’ve been in accidents or been victims of crimes. The sad reality is, life is about risks. COVID presents another one of many risks that we all face every day.

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect people to go on living with these rules and restrictions indefinitely. I also don’t think it’s realistic to assume that the whole world is going to get on the same page when it comes to their behaviors regarding the pandemic. Politics and religions, as well as cultural mores and personal needs, play into how a person behaves. I know that some people will choose to wear face masks for the rest of their lives. I don’t think there should be any issue with that. It doesn’t hurt you or me if someone chooses to wear a mask. On the other hand, other people will not want to do that. I think that should be okay, too.

I noticed one sanctimonious comment by a guy on Wil’s post who wrote he has a “needle phobia”, but still managed to get vaccinated. Someone else added, “I would tell anyone with a needle phobia to consider how many needles they’ll be subjected to if they are hospitalized because of COVID.” To those two people, I would say that neither of them understand phobias. The first person probably doesn’t have a legitimate “needle phobia”. The second person clearly doesn’t understand what it really means to have a phobia. People who have a phobia have an irrational fear, and even downright terror, of something that doesn’t ordinarily cause people to be scared.

For instance, I have a phobia of mushrooms. No amount of telling me how delicious they are, or how their flesh feels like a rubber ball, or how they are beautiful or cute, will make me want to see them, touch them, smell them, or eat them. I freeze up when I’m confronted by mushrooms. I know it’s ridiculous and irrational. That’s what makes it a phobia. Trying to scare people who have needle phobias, with mean spirited comments about what they will face if they are hospitalized, isn’t helpful. All it does is scare them even more, and it shows a stunning lack of compassion, as well as great ignorance. People have laughed at me for my whole life for having a phobia. I wish I could help it, but I can’t. Fortunately, avoiding mushrooms due to a phobia is not a life or death issue, as avoiding the vaccines might be.

One attitude that I’ve gotten really tired of is the constant need to shame people and discount their opinions. I’m not saying it’s wrong to express disagreement with someone. I’m saying that I’ve gotten tired of the derisive and downright rude responses people have toward each other– people they don’t even know– simply because they disagree. It’s on both sides of the pandemic issue. I don’t think it’s helpful, for instance, when someone writes a negative opinion about, say, vaccines, and a stranger posts a GIF of a crying toddler. Someone did that to me at the beginning of the pandemic. My response was to tell her to knock it off. That shit doesn’t help, and it’s rude and disrespectful. I won’t be having a dialogue with someone who does stuff like that. It doesn’t change hearts or minds, either. All it does is cause people to double down on their opinions.

This image is a false equivalency that really isn’t helpful.

Above is a photo that appeared on VoteVets, which is a left leaning Facebook page for people in the US military community. I know what the intent of sharing this was, but I don’t think these kinds of snarky, shaming posts are helpful. I also don’t think there’s any comparison between the two situations. One photo involves an adult person who presumably chose to join the military for whatever reason. Another involves a person who needs to go shopping for essentials. Everybody has to shop, and some people legitimately have good reasons why they have difficulties wearing face masks. Not everyone is suitable for military service or would willingly make the choice to serve. Moreover, I think it’s tasteless to use servicemembers to guilt monger others.

Sure enough, there were plenty of shitty comments posted about this image, with very few people changing their minds. It was just an echo chamber of negativity, wasted time arguing with people with diametrically opposed opinions, and plenty of virtue signaling thrown in for good measure. Actually, I’ve come to expect that in a lot of groups or pages devoted to the military community. Disrespect toward others seems to be a guiding principle, as long as there isn’t rank involved. It’s like they take out having to salute their leaders online, directing their rudeness toward perfect strangers. I’m so glad Bill isn’t like that.

Just a few days ago, there was an excellent editorial in The Local Germany written by someone who thinks Germany should be more tolerant toward people who can’t wear masks. The author cited his friend, an artist with autism and severe sensory issues that cause debilitating physical symptoms when she wears a mask. The artist lives in Britain, where people can get medical exemptions to wearing masks. Here in Germany, her experience was mostly very negative and unnecessarily nasty. Zero tolerance policies often lead to innocent people being punished, or people getting punished when they shouldn’t be, due to unforeseen circumstances. Since the article is behind a paywall, here are a few snippets:

What I think is especially sad is that whenever someone expresses an opinion, he or she is liable to be personally attacked by someone they don’t know. This is someone who doesn’t know a thing about the person they are insulting. They don’t know or care why someone has the opinion they have, nor do they care about the person they are insulting. They just spew aggression and insults. I know this is borne out of frustration and fear, not to mention the very real fatigue that comes with daily bad news about the rogue virus that keeps mutating and making people sick and/or killing them.

But… I’ve got news for those who think this COVID-19 lifestyle should go on forever. People die every day for a huge variety of reasons. Since March 20, 2020, I have lost three family members and a dear friend. Three of the four of them were pretty young to be dying, but not a single one of them died of COVID-19. COVID is just one of many risks that we face every day. A person who wants to go back to a more normal lifestyle isn’t a bad person for wanting that after two years of lockdowns, face masks, and limited travel. Yes, it would be great if every single person on the planet had 100 percent regard and consideration for other people, but unfortunately, that isn’t the way of the world. I wish it was, but it’s not. So instead of fretting about what’s going to happen when mask and vaccine mandates go away, I think it might be more prudent to take the steps that will mitigate risks and hope for the best.

There are always going to be people who think it’s too early to relax the rules. There will always be at least one person who will say the pandemic isn’t over yet. They probably won’t even be wrong. I commend those who are committed to being disciplined, as long as it makes them happy to be that way. I don’t think it’s right to condemn other people who choose a different path. This simply can’t go on forever, and there’s never going to be a situation in which everyone will be satisfied. That’s because we all have opinions, and those opinions are shaped by our own perspectives. If you want people to respect your views, you should probably try to respect theirs, even if you think they are dead wrong. I strongly doubt that we’ll ever have a situation in which everyone agrees. Part of living in a free society is having the ability to disagree.

I know it’s a pipe dream that people will be nicer about disagreements. I sure wish it weren’t so, though. For all of those who are screaming “educate yourself”, I would like to say that they should follow their own advice. Stop and think about it for a moment. Maybe that person does have a valid point. Either way, you probably don’t have to be an asshole to them… at least not at first. I know it’s easier said that done. So often, I’ve been tempted to leave a snarky or rude comment for someone. Then I’ll approach with more respect. Finally, I usually just delete my comment, because unfortunately, I’ve found that commenting on social media is just a waste of time. That’s mainly why I blog.

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complaints, rants, social media

Sanctimonious preachers on social media…

It’s Monday, so I figure it’s time for a rant. I’ve ranted about this topic before. I’m going to rant about it again. Brace yourselves, or move on to your next Internet station.

Last night, an acquaintance of mine through social media and a now defunct messageboard, shared a whole shitload of “memes” and photos with quotes on them. Everything she shared was basically a lecture to the masses, imploring them to straighten up and live the way she thinks is right. I finally had to hide her posts because, while I was fine with one or two of them, I didn’t need to see two dozen. I just went and counted, and she literally posted 24 of these fucking social media social justice warrior posts.

I didn’t need to see that. Especially since she wasn’t the only one “preaching” by using other people’s photos and viral posts. It’s bad enough when one person does it. It gets super annoying when several people do it.

Today, as I write this, another social media acquaintance– this one a relative I’ve never met in person– is sharing for the masses. This is what she just posted…

Are people’s minds ever changed by these kinds of posts, even if they are based in truth?

I don’t even disagree with the above sentiment. I do think, for many people, what is written above is true. I don’t think it’s true for everyone. I mean, there are bound to be people on the Internet who really have done a lot of reading and researching of scientific journals. For some people, it’s their job to do that. There was a time when it was my job to read epidemiological studies and papers and translate them into layman’s language. But regardless, I don’t think the attitude in this post, while understandable, is particularly helpful or effective. I also don’t think it’s pleasant to read something like this. I wouldn’t like it from someone I know personally, and love. I especially don’t like it from someone I’ve never met in person. No one likes being cussed at and insulted. It’s not a good way to convince people.

Below are just a sampling of what I saw on my feed yesterday. I don’t necessarily disagree with the messages, but I don’t like the tone of them. They’re bristly and rude, and they don’t change anyone’s opinions. They just piss people off and divide us all.

I am all for cooperating with others. I’m a big fan of empathy. I just don’t think these kinds of messages, particularly spread among “friends”, are useful. At best, they mainly rally the like-minded. Anyone you’d actually want to change their views and their practices won’t be swayed by memes, especially when they are offensively stated.

I mainly ignore the people who share this stuff. I tend to unfollow the worst offenders. If they really get obnoxious, I unfriend… but I tend to put up with a lot of sanctimony before I go that route. Most people probably mean well. I just don’t think a lot of them spend much time thinking before they share. Or maybe our society has simply become so crusty and calloused that we don’t care how other people might take these “viral” truisms. I, for one, am a lot more convinced by people who use their own words, rather than stale memes and “quotes” from others… especially since so many quotes aren’t even correctly attributed or presented in context.

What if I don’t wanna?

Every once in awhile, I share something written by someone else. But most of the time, they are funny observations. Like, for instance, I shared this last night…

This is the kind of stuff I like to see. Give me something that will make me laugh.

I don’t need someone passing along a stale meme to tell me how to behave or what to believe. If my mom couldn’t get me to behave properly, you won’t be able to, either. And most of us don’t want or need someone telling us how to act. I would certainly love it if people would stop championing right wing nutjobs. But I’m not going to tell another adult what to do, especially with someone else’s lame ass social media post. If I feel the need to do that, and care enough to want to risk the fallout, I will do it using my own words. Besides, I thought Facebook was supposed to be a fun place for friends to meet and reminisce. At what point did it become a place for soapbox activism? Especially when the activism is hostile and rude?

Yeah… this one I can agree with wholeheartedly.

When it comes to preaching, I’m with George Carlin. I think social media activism and virtue signaling is a lot like the whole “Baby on Board” phenomenon. Check it out, cuz George was onto something.

Don’t tell me your troubles, lady.

Well… that about does it for today’s post. We are going to be traveling to Austria tomorrow, so I may or may not have a chance to write. It depends on what time we get on the road. After two nights in Austria, we will move on to Croatia, then Slovenia, then back to Austria and home. I hope it all goes off without a hitch. I have missed traveling so much, and I’m ready to plan our next trip. For now, I have to get some chores done. Bill is taking his very first class through the Jung Institute in Switzerland. It’s an online seminar. I have a feeling he’s going to love these studies. Maybe he’ll even become a qualified shrink someday. Meanwhile, I’ll keep practicing my guitar.

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humor, music, social media

Oscar the Grouch never invited anyone to his trash can…

The weirdness of the past nine months are starting to get to me somewhat. Last night, I was feeling “cheeky”, as the Brits would say. Although I haven’t personally suffered as much as a lot of people have, I have been feeling kind of “tense” lately. Little things bug me more than they might usually, not that I’m a particularly laid back person to start with.

I always get a bit nutty during the holidays. When I was growing up, the holidays were always fraught with expectations that were never quite met. As I became an adult, the holidays became downright unpleasant. For several years, my eldest sister hosted our family gatherings in her house. I can remember a lot of fights with my sisters and tense moments with my parents, especially my dad.

The last time I spent Christmas with my family of origin was in 2003, just after my sister Sarah had her son, who turned out to be the last grandchild. Imagine that. My parents had four girls. You’d expect there would have been a lot of grandkids for them. But nope… My sister Betsy had two kids, a girl and a boy, Becky never married, Sarah had a son, and Bill and I couldn’t have kids thanks to his vasectomy. The older I get, the more I think that might have been a blessing. Family life has become surreal these days. I feel kind of divorced from mine.

Add in the shitshow that 2020 has been, and this year’s holiday season is even weirder than usual. So I had a good laugh when I ran across a funny video by Sandy and Richard Riccardi, a talented couple on YouTube and Facebook who make funny parodies of popular songs. A lot of their material is political, but sometimes they do songs about common situations that come up in everyday life. I think the first song I ever heard by this funny duo was a song called “Unfriend Me”…

Listen all the way to the end for the punchline.

Since Trump came on the scene, this couple has come out with some very amusing songs about him, as well as some of the current events that affect everyone. I like a lot of their stuff, but I don’t always love what they do. Like, for instance, I wasn’t a big fan of this song…

Yeah, I know… I know… but I am so fucking tired of hearing about it.

To be clear… I get that the masks are necessary for now. I’m just really fed up with some how people feel emboldened to constantly clobber people over the head about them. I hate the aggressive, belligerent, and obnoxious hashtags, and in your face slogans like, “Wear a damn mask!”. I don’t think those types of messages are helpful. They certainly don’t inspire respect or compliance.

Yesterday, I was reading a Facebook thread started by true crime author Kathryn Casey, who wrote that she had sent away a couple of maskless workers who had come over to do work on her house. The workers mocked Casey’s husband when he asked them to wear masks while they were working. A thread ensued, in which people were congratulating Casey for sending away the maskless workers and hiring a different company. Casey’s choice to fire the workers would have been alright with me, but accompanying those comments were others that were hostile and aggressive. One lady wrote about how she was tired of how non mask wearers were so “belligerent”. Then she wrote, “Wear a damn mask or stay home!”

Another lady wrote that she was tired of people telling her to “wear a damn mask or stay home.” She explained that she has an eating disorder, lives in a remote area where grocery delivery is unavailable, and has a medical problem that prevents her from wearing a mask. None of her friends or family have offered to help her, so she’s been having to deal with people getting up in her face about her lack of a mask for what, I assume, is a real medical problem.

A third woman came along and, in a rather haughty, holier than thou tone, asked what the woman’s medical problem was. She included a news article (which is what everybody seems to use to cite their points these days) and claimed, per the news article, that there are very few medical problems that actually prevent a person from wearing a mask. This woman added that maybe she could see it if the woman with the eating disorder had a burn on her face or something. But otherwise, she felt the lady with the eating disorder was full of shit– despite not knowing her or her personal situation.

I couldn’t restrain myself from commenting. I feel like a lot of people aren’t really giving this issue much consideration. If I sit here and think about it, I can think of several medical problems that might make wearing a mask difficult or impossible for some people. Just off the top of my head, I’m remembering the two men I’ve met at different times in my life who were literally missing parts of their ears and had trouble using their hands due to injuries they’d sustained in wars. Then there are people who don’t hear well, have speech impediments or breathing problems, deal with severe anxiety or PTSD issues, or have trouble with their vision.

But most people don’t stop and consider people who really do have legitimate problems with wearing the masks. They just say, “Wear a damn mask!” If someone doesn’t or can’t comply, they think they are entitled to an explanation regarding another person’s private medical situation. And they think their opinions about another person’s circumstances have merit, and they are entitled to weigh in, even though they don’t know the other person from Adam and aren’t any more knowledgeable about the pandemic, or public health issues in general, than the average person is.

The “Wear a damn mask” slogan, in my opinion, is too aggressive. Those who truly don’t care about others will simply ignore it. Those who can’t comply will just feel worse than they need to about something beyond their control. And that harsh directive just adds to the overall dehumanized, dystopian, and downright creepy vibe in the air this year. It’s very depressing to me. Although personally, I don’t have it bad at all, I often think of the relatives I’ve recently lost and think they’re lucky to have escaped this living hell. The future seems bleak, and the constant anger and polarization only makes it worse. It makes me want to check out.

I can’t be the only one who feels like this, so I decided to respond to the woman with the eating disorder. I wrote that I was sorry she was having a hard time and I hoped it would get better for her. And I find it rich that people are complaining about belligerent “anti maskers” while they make aggressive demands like “Wear a damn mask!”, and aren’t willing to consider why people legitimately can’t or won’t wear a mask. I added that I won’t ask her what her health problems are, because they are none of my business.

Frankly, if I see someone who isn’t following the rules, I just stay away from them, if I can. I don’t automatically assume they’re selfish assholes. While I’m well aware that there are selfish assholes out there who simply don’t want to comply with the rules, it’s less depressing to me to assume the best about people whenever possible. Or, at least I like to tell myself that.

After that little exchange, I was feeling tense. But I ran across another funny, snarky song by the Riccardis. This one was called “Braggy Christmas Letter”. It had nothing to do with any of today’s most annoying and pervasive topics. I just thought it was funny, so I shared it.

I don’t get too many of these. It’s probably because I don’t go to church.

I had a good laugh as I listened to this song. It reminded me of how, about fifteen years ago, I ran across a family Web site created by a Mormon doctor in Wyoming who, by all images, seemed to be living the perfect life. I remember this guy had every single braggy Christmas letter he’d ever written posted on his site. He’d been divorced, but he even included the letters he’d written while he was with his first wife. I remember sharing that site with people on RfM, who are very familiar with “braggy Christmas letters”. While I don’t think the Mormons have cornered the market on this particular habit, I do think churches that promote a “prosperity gospel” message– ie; if you’re doing really well financially, that means God is smiling on you– prompt certain religious people to send these types of Christmas messages, even if they’re stretching the truth. It’s the whole, smug “seriously, so blessed” vibe that, on the surface, may seem harmless, but can make other people feel really small and devalued.

I didn’t think the above video would be controversial, but somehow even the most innocuous things can become that way. Why? Because everyone is different and sees things differently. Apparently, some people like getting “braggy Christmas letters”. I’m sure they have their reasons for feeling that way. Maybe they genuinely like reading that others are “seriously, so blessed”, with expensive houses, fancy cars, perfect figures, and fat bank accounts. I guess they’re above the petty, snarky people who poke fun. Or they like to appear that way.

I don’t mind getting newsy letters that contain positive news, especially when they aren’t mass produced. But there’s a big difference between a friendly letter with happy news in it and a letter that seems meant to make other people feel insignificant and second rate. The letter Sandy Riccardi is singing is the latter type, and I can’t imagine being happy to receive one of those, especially if they come every year like clockwork. I wonder if the people who were being contrary on that thread actually listened to the song before they commented. Or maybe they just wanted to feed their own egos by being contrary and “above” the snark.

So I got even more tense and grouchy… and Bill, who is always game to make me laugh (and it’s not hard to do), said “You know, Oscar the Grouch never invites anyone to his trash can.”

To which I responded, “But I invited you, Bill. How do you like the smell?”

And then we both laughed.

There was a time when most people had real conversations with people face to face or, at least, on the phone. Nowadays, a lot of us connect via social media. That can lead to a host of communication problems that range from everything from misunderstandings to people feeling emboldened to be mean or smarmy because they’re behind a screen. Some folks also feel that social media is the best place for them to preach or “set a good example” for others to follow. I will admit that it’s annoying to me when people feel the need to check their neighbors and give them unsolicited “special help”. It makes me grouchy.

At the risk of rambling on too long… here’s another example that came along last night. I read a news article in the Washington Post about people who have decided to get plastic surgery during the pandemic. Why? Because they don’t like how they look on Zoom calls. I don’t usually comment on newspaper’s Facebook pages because comments there invite interaction with unusually obnoxious people. But I thought this was an innocuous comment…

I don’t even wear a bra anymore. I figure people can deal with my sagging boobs as well as my wrinkles and jowls. It’s been a rough year.

A lot of people thought it was funny. But then I got this response, which sounded like something my mother might say…

I choose to care about my appearance because if I look good, I feel equally good!

(My mom did actually say that shit to me when I was a teenager, dirty and stinky from hanging out at the barn all day, or simply not wanting to dress up and put on my face. Mom likes wearing her makeup. I don’t. What can I say? People are different.)

So my response was…

Here… have a cookie. Or a Coke and a smile… and then, kindly STFU. You do you, and I’ll do me, mmmkay?

Most of us are legitimately guilty of being smug sometimes, and inflicting our self-righteous, superior bullshit on others. Sometimes I do it myself, although I try to be conscious of it. I mean, you might say I did the same thing to the woman who was harassing the lady with the eating disorder about her reluctance to “wear a damn mask”. But I doubt the lady with the eating disorder will offer me a cookie, especially as I dwell in my trash can of grouchiness.

One last note: I think my landlord’s grandsons think I’m grouchy. They rang my doorbell yesterday while I was binge watching The Crown. I thought they were delivery people. I opened the door; the dog was barking; I wasn’t dressed; and they were speaking very quietly in German. I didn’t understand or even hear them very well, so I said I didn’t understand and closed the door.

In my defense, in Jettingen, I used to get visits all the time from all manner of people wanting to sell everything from many kilos of apples and potatoes to religion or charities. The visitors came in all shapes, sizes, and ages. I had not met my landlord’s grandchildren, so I didn’t know who they were.

They rang the bell again, and my landlord asked me if I wouldn’t mind fetching their ball, which had gone over the fence. I felt pretty bad, and I noticed that one of the boys was cowering under our front stoop. I got the ball and tossed it to my landlord. Then I noticed he’d left us a wheelbarrow full of firewood. Later, I spotted their ball in the backyard again and felt another pang of guilt. I guess the kids were too afraid to tell me the ball was back in my yard. I tossed it over the fence for them. Hope they find it.

I’m really not a bitch most of the time… I’m just on edge, as we all are. Hopefully, next year will be better.

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