Random Thoughts: Kindness, Humility, Politics and Hemingway

An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with fools - Ernest Hemingway

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I read this quote in a book the other day and it resonated with me.

It's not easy to admit, but I've become skeptical of the intentions of others. Sometimes I go so far as to question their intelligence. I'm sad to say this because I am not typically a pessimistic or incredulous person. Perhaps my return to bartending has made me cynical.

I always, and sometimes foolishly, believe that most people are inherently good.  I can be too trusting at times and it usually comes back to bite me, but I try not to let these bad experiences stop me from being kind to others.

Kindness is something our society severely lacks. That, and common sense. With the advent of social media, it feels as though people have lost their ability to connect with each other in any real or meaningful way.  

Before the Internet, we used to write letters, or call each other on the phone, or meet for coffee when we needed human interaction.

Now, we have a platform that was intended to bring people together to generate and read content.  I don't think anyone was prepared for the way social media would allow us to rip each other apart.

With a few clicks of a mouse or finger swipes on a smartphone, we can attack, insult and offend each other without batting an eye.

Every time I log into Facebook I'm assaulted by political antagonism.  People no longer listen to each other.  God forbid anyone dares to disagree with someone's opinion.  An opposing belief  often results in insults or declarations of racism and bigotry, or [insert negativity here]. No wonder our country is so terribly divided. 

In the past several years I've felt the urge to abandon social media.  The urge to protect my privacy nags me daily.  The thought of getting into an altercation via Twitter or Facebook is enough to lead my finger to the delete button on every social media account I've used.

On the contrary, cutting myself off from these platforms is difficult, too.  So many of my friends live very far away and Facebook is the only convenient way to catch up on their lives.

I'm tired though.  Social media makes me crazy. It is exhausting.  I'm always worried that speaking my truth will offend others.  Disagreeing with anyone who doesn't share my views can often lead to conflict, or gasp, unfriending someone.  Or, perhaps they unfriend me.  

For the last several years, I've stayed mostly quiet when political or religious posts blow up my news feed. Instead of sharing my voice, I shied away. Only in the last year did I truly begin speaking up once again, and true to form, people will crawl out of the woodwork to attack and belittle me.

There are no civilized conversations anymore. I am unfazed by this reality. That acknowledgment is depressing. Sometimes, I have to play dumb instead of arguing with idiots.  (And no, not everyone I engage in conversation with is an idiot.)

Maybe that's why Hemingway's words (from the book For Whom the Bell Tolls) have echoed through my mind.  Sometimes a man has to act stupid to fit in. Or, did he mean an intelligent man becomes a fool when drunk?  Maybe he simply meant that sometimes we must humble ourselves.

Let's go with that. Be humble.  Be kind.  Be who you are and to hell with everything else.

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