notquiteold

Nancy Roman

In The Face Of Unkindness

Every day on Twitter, my dog Theo posts a tidbit of advice for a happier life. I will admit that I help him because he doesn’t type or spell well.

But Theo also helps me because he definitely provides me with a happier life every day.

Someone asked me recently how I (or Theo) come up with all those bits of wisdom. I answered that I didn’t have to come up with ALL of them… only one. One each day. I have broken down my project into just one sentence a day. One good sentence. And looking at it that way, it doesn’t seem so difficult.

Of course, some of my/our sentences are better than others. Theo has his mediocre advice days. But there’s always something. Maybe a mediocre line of encouragement may resonate with one person who is looking for just that tiny snippet of support.

Most of our inspiration comes from love. From understanding. From the trust and affection that my friends and my family (and dog) and even strangers reveal to me constantly.

But once in a while, Theo is inspired not by the goodness of our souls but by some display of unkindness.

Today, for example, he wrote (and I transcribed)

The idea for this tweet came from the comment I received on my birthday blog. (What You Can Learn)

I had tons of sweet and supportive comments on this post, in which I wrote that twenty years -perhaps how much time I have left in this world – is still plenty of time to learn and do a great amount of wonderful stuff.

But to my astonishment, I also got this:

OMG! Evil? Psychopath? Drop dead?

No one has ever said that to me. Ever. In my whole life. Even my great enemy, whose name I am not sure of but it might have been Joyce, who, when I was thirteen, called me “Stupid” – and that hurt a lot. But evil?

After my heart stopped pounding and the flames stopped coming out of my every orifice, I thought about what part I really do play in this apparently-young person’s anger.

Have I played a part in destroying children’s future? Yes, I think I have. My generation has certainly significant guilt in ignoring climate change. And it is mostly people my age who are still denying our environmental crisis because that is so much easier than trying to do something about it. We are definitely leaving our children a horrifying prospect. So if that is what she means (and I am assuming it is a woman, since most of my readers are women, not for any other reason), yes, I am guilty. I’m sorry that I have been as careless as most people with the trail of waste I have made my whole life. I promise to try not to add any further burden in my remaining years.

As for my part in destroying the economy – Sorry, no. Only rich people have had the power to do that. Us regular people have just tried to get the bills paid. I have no responsibility for whatever it is she may mean – and I am unsure what that may be. I’m not sure the economy is even that bad – although I am sure that wealth is unfairly distributed. I have used the only power I have – my wallet and my vote – to support a fairer allocation of wealth, health care, and education.

Laughing smugly? I laugh a lot. I love to laugh. I also cry a lot. But smug? No, I honestly am not smug. I truly believe I have empathy and respect. And you can’t be smug unless you have neither. (I do admit to a kind of smugness when folks use the wrong ‘its’. But that may not qualify me as evil.)

I could have deleted that comment. Some of my friends thought I should. But I thought about all the sadness and anger that must have precipitated that response. Something hurt that child badly. Even if it was not me. And that makes me sad.

So I wrote:

I wish I had been more eloquent. But it will do.

As Theo said, I hope she feels better soon.

And as far as my dropping dead – that will come soon enough.

23 Comments

  1. Amadda obviously has some issues. Good response by the way.

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  2. The amount of vitriol spewed on various social media sites (often with no provocation) saddens (sickens?) me. I would have deleted a comment like that, but I like your approach (and Theo’s) better. Maybe really angry people (like Amadda) just need someone to tell them to “get better soon” (I hope it helps!)

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  3. Kathy Zurcher

    You may be the kindest person I have encountered on Twitter. Your response to Ammada and your self-reflective commentary are evidence of that. Your thoughts allowed me to back off my immediate angry reaction. Now my heart aches for the person who lives life filled with such rage and hatred toward people she doesn’t know. I prefer to fill my world with people like you.

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  4. People who are unkind are sad people because they must have a sad life to be so unkind

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  5. Ray G

    In my (humble) opinion, the onus, or maybe source, of that person’s feelings and opinions are quite possibly, if not certainly, attributable to that person’s failings in life. Not being able to accept his/her guilt for their present condition, he/she passes it onto someone else. Perhaps they were demeaned sometime in their life, or lost out on an opportunity to another person. How easy it is to assign the blame to someone, or some generation, other than oneself. I generally find that most people who are genuinely wronged about something may tend to remember it, but do not allow the setback to prevent another attempt at some sense of success. Occasionally we encounter people who blame everybody else for their failings, but we usually ignore them, as you should this person who wrote that piece of worthless drivel. Just another one of the disadvantages of social media.

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  6. Wow. I am glad you handled it with such grace. I might not have been so kind, but see, I learned something of great value from you and Theo today. I appreciate your presence on the planet.

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  7. You handled it well. Where did that come from? Evil? Smug? Maybe the person wrote to get attention. I am slightly older than Boomers but I am still living and voting. This person must really have nothing to live for and bitterness will consume her as will age will bring her down if she is this bitter.

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  8. This was spam. I got the exact same comment verbatim on one of my blog posts on Feb 11. I recognized it as spam, but it still disturbed me, and I wrote a post about it on Feb 12. I figure it was a spam blast from a hate group or, who knows, a foreign country maybe? I did delete it, just because, but I did include snippets of its quotes in my follow up post. So sorry
    that you were a recipient and upset by it as well.

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    • ps: I heard from others that they had received it also, which is why I am so sure it was spam.

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  9. Wow! I would have been crushed by a comment like that. Even if it was spam as Kathleen has indicated. I confess that I take to heart things that are written on my blog. In real life, not so much. That being said, my first thoughts were how sad that this person was and deeply broken. Your words in reply were perfect for the situation. You and Theo do good work.

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  10. Anita

    Ammada’s response saddens me more than angers me. What strikes me is the victim mentality. I suggest she changes that and starts counting her blessings instead of perceived slights, or her future will be nothing but anger and hatred. Theo is so smart (as usual) when he says, “I hope you feel better soon.”

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  11. I have several children. One of them tell my husband and I that same thing routinely when he’s in a down mood. (He’s bi-polar) Very hard to hear and hard to reason with people that are spitting mad at you for something you alone did not do. Trying to live and do the best we can in these trying times is hard enough. I love to read your blog. You are funny and uplifting and I love to see Theo and you! Thanks for being you!

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  12. I think that comment might actually have been spam. I check my blog’s spam and trash now and then, and it was in the trash in mine. I don’t remember putting it there, so wordpress must have. But it was the exact same comment, word for word. (I don’t remember if the name was the same.)
    Still, if it had been a real comment, I think you reacted to it appropriately. The accusations come from her pain or hate, not from your actions. Personally, I have little patience for sweeping generalizations or for internet attacks, so I hit the delete button. But we all get to react as we see fit, and I love how you turned it into a positive blog post!

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  13. Raising a 12-year-old granddaughter, I get a lot of rage and hate spewed at me that should be directed… well, I won’t say to whom. It hurts so much, but I have to keep reminding myself that the rage is not about me, who loves her and provides her with a good and loving home, it’s at the world that hasn’t quite fulfilled her expectations. You never know where that rage comes from. It’s sad, but I try to live with loving kindness always, often through tears.

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  14. Actually, I think you handled that quite eloquently. Unfortunately there are too many people in the world who want to place blame for all of their problems on someone else. It is not always the easiest thing to look inside of ourselves for the change we crave.

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  15. Pam

    Ammada’s response didn’t define you. It defined her, poor girl. There really is a lot of vitriol out there. Glad you let it fly right past! Really, the best way to make people regret what they just spouted is to respond with kindness. Now you’ve given her something to think about.
    Great post, as always!

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  16. I have to say that you handled that with openness and integrity and didn’t respond in kind, which is what so many people do. It is refreshing and has certainly given me more hope that people can be kind even in the face of such animosity. I can certainly appreciate how the cruelty in this world can really hurt you, destroy your sense of who you are / can be and lead you to blame others for the things that go wrong in life. You totally proved that there is a lesson and an opportunity to change ones direction when you evaluate what went wrong and look for how to make it better vs taking your negative energy and launching it at others. I love your positive attitude x

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  17. I have to say, I appreciate your writing “voice” and how you handled this very much!

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  18. Like

  19. That was a measured and wise response, Nancy. Mind you, whoever it was might have been trolling…if so, they will have been disappointed by the lack of outrage on your part.

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  20. With age comes the maturity you have shown here. May all Boomers -and humans- aim this high. Toni

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  21. Jean R.

    Image my surprise when I read your blog for the first time and came across that nasty comment, having gotten the same one left on my blog in February. I wrote part of a post about it—the last three paragraphs. https://misadventuresofwidowhood.blogspot.com/2019/02/from-president-ford-to-nigerian-princes.html I love your dog’s reaction. I used to blog as my dog in a dog blog community so I know how much fun it can be to our pet’s ‘secretary.’

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  22. LOVE this. I love how you used this negativity and turned it into a positive lesson.

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