Saturday, December 20, 2014

Don't Forget the Smiley Face!

Yesterday, I made an attempt to post something. Anything.

A friend, one of my closest confidants on the planet (among several in the close circle of Robland, a small enclave of Friendlyville*), reached out to me and patted me on the back for just getting back on the horse, so to speak.

* Friendlyville was the dirt under my parent's deck. Several of my neighbors and I created a whole town down there with rocks and plastic shovels and Tonka trucks. The good old days of filthy pants, a wiffle ball game, lots of sweat, and a cold drink. Magical.

My friend knows me as well as anyone, and I can't argue the truth: that by posting something, I'd begin to conquer whatever gremlin had crawled inside of me. Well clearly something is working because I'm here again. Still gremlins to beat though.

I need to get to the point.

In our modern-day world of tweets, blogs, Facebook (evil and otherwise), Snapchat, Instagram, and so on, we get so many characters. We write, and context is lost before the vultures circle. Or we have our moment that gets filmed or reported and, again, you don't know the whole story.

Think of the Doughnut Inn story from July, in which a four-year-old child was "banned" from the store. Ah, that was one side. Not so fast.

My great friend Kait Shea hammered the story home. Interestingly, the fury died on the vine after. Incidentally, the comments on Kait's story are, well, read for yourself. Typical. Yet a little research would have indicated there was more than met the eye. We have countless other examples, and if you don't think the recent situations in Ferguson and Staten Island aren't examples, then you're not paying attention.

But let's just rush to judgement - the same thing we've cursed about for hundreds of years. Tony Stewart thanks you.

Oh by the way, Doughnut Inn is still blissfully open on Connecticut route 25 in Monroe. I drive past it all the time. The coffee's great.

Earlier today, over on Gawker, I read a fascinating story by Sam Biddle on the Justine Sacco tweet of a year ago. Oh, you don't remember it? You will.

It appears that Ms. Sacco wasn't a racist monster. She tweeted something - a parody, basically, sans emoticon - and had her career (and her life) were nearly destroyed.

This is the firestorm we live in, from Mr. Imus and "hoes" (Don't. Get. Me. Started.) to anything and everything in between, we are always just a minor flub away from personal disaster.

We all experience it to a degree. We all know these constant misunderstandings - small or not. I truly believe that. Personally, it happens a lot with me. Whether it's a tweet, text, ichat, or blog post, more often than not I have the tongue firmly planted in cheek, demonstrating my love of the fantastical.

An example: I've told you about my friend Susan Shultz's novella The Blacksmith. It is brilliant, and is just the beginning for her. I've already seen a few lines from the next novella. Wow. (Oh, and The Blacksmith is still just $.99 from Full Fathom Five Digital. So do your friend a favor and buy buy buy!)

Anyway, my silly mood went off the rails earlier this week, and I concocted a Broadway musical version of the novella. Susan would rather have her lead character make a souffle of her than ever see that happen, but even she admitted that it was rather funny. The whole conversation went via ichat, which is our standard around HAN.

Conversely, if we somehow misread the whole thing (again, it happens all the time), it could have gotten weird, but laughter prevailed and all was well. But one things gets out of context, or one sentence - one word - dripping in too much snark? It can be game on. For anyone.

It's sad that we live in a time where an emoticon - a smiley face or whatever - is the key. I had somebody say that to me several years ago, when they were becoming "the standard."

Sigh. Yet it's true. Now would have helped Justine Sacco? Probably not, and I suppose that brings us back to the old thing about thinking twice (at least) before pressing "send."

I'm also often wonderfully misread in person. Don't ask me how. I've perfected it and it's my recipe.

So do we come back around to if we are too sensitive? (We are) Do we need to just take a step back? (We do, and we won't)

We all know we're too overworked, overtaxed, overstressed, and so on. The kids need to be bathed, fed, and put to sleep. The bills need to be paid. The plumbing needs to be fixed. Plus we all need an hour to watch Real Housewives of Ridgefield.**


A smiley face. That's what it's come to.

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