What Goes Around

What goes around comes around, they say, and that’s at least as true on social media as anywhere else in life.

Two weeks ago I replied to a photo of a Newfoundland puffin with one of my own from the Shetlands — and just thinking about being able to “reply” to a photo with another photo makes me smile — and suddenly my Twitter feed was full of puffin photos (even a Welsh one) posted in response to mine. And that made me smile, too.

Last week I cited James Garner as an example of an actor who seemed to wear a role as a second skin, and suddenly my Twitter feed was full of nostalgic posts/photos by Garner’s daughter and his fans. OK, OK, I smiled again.

Contrariwise, when I retweeted a cranky-but-fair op-ed assessment of a given politician’s failings, the blasts came from both sides. Apparently my retweet of a thoughtful and carefully worded critique was UNACCEPTABLE for, simultaneously, going WAY too far and not going ANYWHERE NEAR far enough. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

I admit that I can’t recover my exact state of mind when I hit “retweet” on the political commentary, but I know my current state of mind exactly and it is this: The world has a surfeit of anger. I likely can’t keep it from coming around, but I can refuse to send it out in the first place.

If cranky generates outrage, and cute puffins generate . . . more cuteness, then I’m in. Like, with the puffins I mean.

And James Garner. He was pretty cute, too.

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8 Responses to What Goes Around

  1. Alison says:

    I’m with you! I’ve spent a fair bit of the Pandemic feeling angry, and expressing my views far too widely. I’m getting to the point where I need some “cuteness” as I continue to follow my own guidelines on “keeping safe”

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Alison – Sort of on topic, several years ago I saw a movie (Still Alice, I think) on dementia and one of the lines in it stuck with me. The main character was an English professor who quoted Dylan Thomas’s poem on his father’s death: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” She said, “I don’t want rage to be the last thing I feel.” We have to deal with the world as it is – and anger is often warranted — but I know I find it very easy to get stuck on one channel and forget there are lots of others.

  2. Ken from Kenora says:

    The Bard’s ‘the play’s’ has been replaced by ‘the re-tweets the thing’. Your experiences along with that of the Washington Post and that of it’s latest internal strife are a wonder to the non twitter people out here. I’m sure that most of your viewers will know this but a respected WaPo reporter re-tweeted a broad brush joke about the female half of us and was blasted by another reporter. This ignited a civil war, reporter #1 was sent home for a month and the unrelenting complainant had to eventually be dismissed. Sheesh.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Ken – I know. It seems excessive for something that might have been handled by a private conversation – or a conversation with a joint supervisor. Back in the day (waaay back) I had some such conversations and mediated a few. It’s not fun, but everyone moves on – often, wiser.

  3. I think much of the anger felt towards institutions, be they of government, church, education, or some other effort at social support and change, is based in ignorance of what the institution is capable of doing — never mind the particular individual thrust by desire or circumstances into a leadership role. People look to institutions as if they were endlessly wealthy and wise parents — qualities ascribed to God. But even the vehicles of God are made up of humans with endless limitations who have limited wealth and knowledge, let alone “wisdom.” Of course, we will be in a perpetual state of frustration and anger if our expectations are unrealistic. At the best of times, we still have to make the most of an imperfect situation, which is all the leadership can do, too. I recall a man who told me he was not anti-Church but anti-clerical. In other words, he had no use for the clergy; his expectations were of the worst. But he thought the system of beliefs and ideas that formed the Church were worthy of respect and emulation. From this standpoint, the priesthood of all believers could still flourish. The true Church was as strong as its faithful members. Might a similar perspective be applied to those other institutions that elicit so much of our anger? That’s a genuine question because I haven’t tried to do it.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Realism (something that keeps us from being cynical or unreasonable about what can be achieved) is likely a good target. Otherwise, as you say, we keep bumping up against the unhappy fact that the world doesn’t match our expectations. Some anger does, indeed, seem to be at what I might consider to be the inescapable human condition. As for considering the limitations of individuals in institutions, maybe today’s Words Worth Noting from John Robson can help (a quote apparently from Thomas à Kempis): “Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”

  4. Tom Watson says:

    I’m not on Twitter, nor do I intend to be, so I’m never tempted to retweet. If something comes around it didn’t go around from me.

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