My friend and mentor, Elaine Ambrose, has recently returned from a writing retreat in Ireland. A post she wrote resonated with me, and reminded me of conversations shared with locals on our trip to Italy.
“Why are all the Americans mad as a box of frogs?” David asked as he drove from the Dublin International Airport to my hotel. “I don’t understand all the vitriol. The waste of time is biscuits to a bear.” – Elaine Ambrose, “The Wisdom of Irish Taxi Drivers and Bartenders
We encountered similar questions. I’ve often wondered what people from across the globe think of the constant arguing and nastiness and judgmental tones.
Elaine had re-posted her article, just as I was hunting for the one I had written almost two years ago! Criminy, folks! Not much has changed in that time, at all. In fact, it might be worse.
So, here is an update – and honestly, I didn’t have to change the original post! Just please note, other than the pulling weeds – because spring has only sprung here in the past two days – and the events that caused me to originally pen this – nothing in our attitudes has changed.Criminy, folks! Not much has changed in that time, at all. In fact, it might be worse. Click To Tweet
“For the past few days, I have purposely limited the time I have spent on social media. My boycott started out innocently enough – it was a beautiful day to be outside, planting flowers and pulling weeds. Good for the body, mind and soul.
A day to appreciate all of God’s creation – well, except for the spiders I encountered while weeding.
When I heard about the tragedy in Orlando, I jumped back online to see what had happened; what the latest updates were. Saddened and horrified, I felt sick to my stomach, just as I did on September 11, 2001.
My heart ached, along with so many others, on the loss of human life.
So, I stepped away from the computer and went back outside. To be in nature – to seek beauty on an awful day. Channeling my anger made shrub trimming and hole digging and weed pulling a lot easier. Alone in my thoughts, I was trying to wrap my head around the pain and the anger and the hate.
And I prayed – for my country, my family, my friends; for people I don’t know and for comfort during their horrific loss. I sought comfort in Scripture, specifically 1 Corinthians 13 (Source: BibleGateway), commonly known as “The Way of Love.”
I knew I couldn’t stay away from social media forever, as my employers and clients wouldn’t be happy campers, so intermittently I had to log in.
Oh, how I wish I hadn’t.
What I didn’t expect to happen so quickly was the vitriol and hatred plastered on status updates from family, friends and colleagues.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1
The visceral was loud and strong and, quite honestly, it was horrible. The usual litany of, “You can unfriend me if you believe/support/think differently than me,” had begun.
Like a clanging symbol, and without love, the noise had started, and people were willing to sever ties with friends, family, colleagues, co-workers and anyone who dared to think differently. And the way strangers were acting and commenting on posts of people they don’t even know was beyond sickening.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
I am going to just put this out there – every time I read or hear “unfriend me,” I get irritated. It is the epitome of arrogant and rude. I even wrote about that a few years ago. There are so many things on which we agree, so why can’t we agree to disagree on the rest? Why can’t we discuss what we don’t agree upon like adults? We are not setting a stellar example for our children, or our friends across the globe.
When this “unfriend me” nonsense happens, is it me, or do others feel like they are back in school, dealing with a spoiled brat because he or she isn’t getting their way?
You know what, I have dealt with bullies my entire life. I have gone toe-to-toe protecting the underdog. I know what it’s like to stand up for others and myself.
From the tone of many of these statuses, I am getting the feeling that folks are standing in the bully pulpit, demanding that others acquiesce and agree on everything or lose the friendship.
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” 1 Corinthians 13:11
I have had enough of the childish ways. The simple truth is this: I may agree with you 100%, 50% or 0% of the time. But now, you will never know. Because I am going to do as you ask – I will unfriend you.
Your wish is my command.
“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” –Thomas Jefferson
You know, Mr. Jefferson, I never considered it either. And I still don’t.
My dear friend(s):
I am not unfriending you because we may or may not see eye-to-eye. Nope. I am not letting you go due to religion, politics or philosophy. I am letting you go because you are a bully. Yep, you heard me. You have lost me as a friend because you are nothing more than a bully. And I don’t believe in bullying people to retain friendships or make them change their views and opinions. Just because the whole world doesn’t agree with you does not give you the right to demand that they do. The hatred in your tone comes through loud and clear. I will miss you – even though we differed on many things. Sadly, what we do agree on is now lost. And we won’t be able to be united to help make the world a better place.
It hurts me to let you go, because I love you, my friend, just for you being you – except the bully part. I will miss our friendship, but will continue to lift you in love and prayer.
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13″
That was my post. See what I mean? Not much has changed in two years.
But, I have. I scroll past the hate, and avoid the comments when I can. I refuse to live to be angry. In my own, quiet way, I can be the change I want to see. I will pray. I will live. I will love. I will laugh.
Because our global neighbors and future generations deserve more than a bunch of, as David the taxi driver said, “Americans mad as a box of frogs.”
© Lynne Cobb – May 1, 2018
Are you also growing weary of the noise? Share how you are handling it in the comment section.
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