Too Much

I don’t post political stuff here as a rule. “Politics” and current events can feel both very removed from and very intrusive in our daily lives. I know many quilters and crafters use their projects to escape the everyday, or to provide meditative time for processing events both worldly and close to home.

We have reached the point, are past the point, of too much. Yet I fear that it is still not enough, enough to break the hatred and fear rather than feed it. We (as a society, not necessarily you individually) feed hatred and fear when we escalate our language online, when we treat each other with less respect, when we reject common courtesies in favor of our own momentary needs.

What do we need, so DAMN urgently, on the phone, that we can’t leave it alone while driving? Think about how you used your phone ten years ago. Ten years ago did you need to have it against your ear as you made a sharp left turn? As you drove down the highway? As you backed out of a parking space? I’ll bet not. This is one trivial example of selfish concerns, of choosing our own needs over that of our fellow drivers. Now take this out another level. Ten years ago did we need to put in writing, with disrespectful language, how very very wrong a family member or friend or total stranger was? And if we did, did we publish that so anyone could see it? When did our need to express disapproval or disrespect become so important, more important than the other person involved?

And every little disrespect paid chips away at our common fabric, our community. It allows the fear and hatred to grow. After all, if people in your family, in your community, treat you so badly, so cavalierly, why should you trust them? Even more, why should you trust the “other,” the “foreigner,” the stranger, the refugee, the person of a different color or religion or occupation?

It is too much. I am tired and I feel helpless. I do not fear the “other.” I fear us. I cannot make this better by myself. While I have tried with great effort to become more respectful in my communication, I often fail. But I try. I need other people to try, too. I fear what will happen if we do not.

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39 thoughts on “Too Much

  1. jimfetig

    There always have been elements within every society that has ever existed, the purpose of which is to seek advantage for power and personal gain. One tried and true method is to sew hate and fear – fear of the other, the different, new, the change, and especially what we don’t understand. Demagogues do it one way while organizations like the NRA do it another. What we must remember is why we exist as a nation; and we need to use our noggins more and our viscera less.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Building fear is a great way to build power. But then there are the rest of us who aren’t necessarily trying to gain power but spread fear rather witlessly. Think of the hoaxes/scams/threats that shows up on facebook, like one I saw the other day. It was a picture of a little boy saluting a US flag, and the caption was that facebook had removed it (from where?? there it was!) because some ferners found it offensive. So SHARE if you think we should all be able to salute the flag! How many people spread that crap without even considering it’s a hoax? They (mostly) aren’t trying to gain power, except the power to salute the flag without interference. But every share makes someone suspicious, fearful. I could go on… oh it disgusts me…. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  2. Cindi Lambert

    Of all the quilting “stuff” I’ve read today, your message is by far the most important. I agree with everything you brought up, especially this phone business. I have a cell phone. If it rings when I’m driving, the person must leave me a message because I will never pick it up and answer it while driving. I’ve always been like that, way before they brought out laws for it. Your comments on respect are also right on track. People have become mean on places like Facebook and other social media. I try very hard to be respectful of everyone and to treat everyone kindly. It does not always work, but I try.

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  3. Sue

    I looked at my FB this morning and wanted to ask everyone there to just shut up for awhile. I couldn’t hear myself think above the din. I’m taking a breather. I think we all need to sit down and think for ourselves a bit. Appreciate your post, and I’m trying, too.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thank you, Sue. Last night Jim and I decided we need to spend a lot less facebook time, and that was before we knew of last night’s events. I literally feel sick to my stomach. Just trying to process… Thank you.

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  4. snarkyquilter

    It’s all too easy to wax vituperative about events based on incomplete/biased information. I’m afraid social media only fans these flames. After all, it’s easier to be nasty when you’re not face to face with the person(s) and you can do it in 30 seconds. My personal theory is that people just have too much time on their hands now that life is so much easier, physically. If you’re toiling away in a sweatshop or farming/ranching you’re just too busy and too tired to devote the energy to much hatred.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Social media is not all bad, of course. But it certainly makes it easy to spread assumptions, lies, and half-baked ideas. And it’s sure easy to to nasty, as you say. Do I want us all to go back to sweatshop lives? No indeed. But the old advice “get a life!” might apply. Thanks, Joanna.

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      1. snarkyquilter

        I hope you don’t think I believe everyone would be better off toiling away just to keep body and soul together. Rather, I meant with the luxury of freedom from that struggle many of us have it’s too bad our time isn’t better spent.

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    2. Sue

      I think it’s not so much time on our hands, as the availability of the instant response. Think about it, we can send a message in seconds that reaches maybe a few hundred people, and if half of them react it multiplies to thousands, and it’s all kind of anonymous. No personal responsibility. I’m not sure ( or pretty sure this is not) a 100% good thing. I’m astonished how many people take what FB feeds them and just run with it, though. You’d think we’d know better!

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      1. Melanie McNeil Post author

        Almost everything my facebook “friends” post is actually reposts or shares or links to something else. Very little of my friends’ posts are original comments about something personal to their own lives or thoughts. And when they do share or link to something else, they don’t first check to see if it is true. They do, as you say, take what fb feeds them and run with it. If you read it on the internet, it must be true, I guess.

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  5. Jim Wheeler

    There was a time, I can remember it dimly, that the word etiquette was meaningful in many middle and upper class homes. Books on the subject, by Emily Post notably, were guides to cooperative and respectful social behavior of all kinds. Even the U.S. Navy had its recommended manual on everything from respectful forms of address to thank-you notes. I would like to see a revival of etiquette, but in the age of the internet I just can’t imagine it.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Manners… We used to learn them from our parents and teachers, we used to teach them to our own children. But somehow things got out of hand. It isn’t just the proper way to make introductions (does anyone do that anymore?) but the basic courtesies of treating someone with civility and warmth. We’ve lost it, and I don’t know how we’ll ever get it back. Thanks, Jim.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, I appreciate your support and all the wise and supportive comments here. I know other people feel the same. But we are drowned out by the louder, scarier voices.

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  6. katechiconi

    One more good reason why I don’t do Facebook or Twitter or any of the others. Another reason why my car has hands-free installed so I don’t need to touch anything or move my hands to answer. Good reasons not to watch sensationalists on TV, mute the sound on every party political ad and switch off polemics. Those who seek power are often those least fitted to hold and exercise it. It makes me glad I have no children to leave this mess to.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I understand all those sentiments. However I don’t think facebook and twitter are actually the source of the problem, but make it easier to feed. One thing I would say is, my children are all loving, responsible, respectful people. If anything, they help make the world a better place. But of course I get your point.

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  7. Lisa Yarost

    My heart aches for all of the tragic events of the past week. Now I’m reading about politicians using this to place blame on their person or organization of choice. I haven’t been on Facebook for a while, and I don’t know when I will be able to stomach returning. So much fear. So much hate. I just want to set my heart on the table for a time while I go about the business of processing and healing.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Your image of healing resonates with me. I also feel like I have little to say on facebook, even to those I love and respect there. I’m not sure that will change.

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  8. Mrs. P

    Your sentiments resonate with me, Melanie. So many things are different from when we were young.

    Though I enjoy the tools of technology, I fear that it has stolen so much of the things that our current society lacks. We have generations which have never experienced life without technology, they know no other world and sadly many mimic the bad over the good. Though there are many who do promote the good, I feel the people who follow these types of communications are the ones who already treat people kindly.

    The only thing I know to do is to keep setting the example, sharing good news and positivist. Love is the only solution. Even when it seems at times all is lost…love anyway. At least your integrity will be in on yourself. I wish the media would stop giving so much press to the negativity in our world. But that will never happen.

    I honestly believe that if we only acknowledged good deeds, right action and positive news more people would attempt to be good beings. It’s a technique that was very successful to me as a teacher. Validate the actions you want to see more of, ignore the rest…it works like magic.

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  9. Neame

    Melanie, I agree. Courtesy is gone. I struggle to maintain a positive frame of mind. But the results for me are better if I do, so that is a motivator. Better for me, that is. Even if not reciprocated, I feel better.
    Thanks for the thoughtful post. Love all the quilty stuff. You do good quilty stuff, so I’m a fan.
    Neame

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Right. That’s what I’ve found, that *I* feel better when I make the effort to stay positive, even when I don’t get it from someone else. And knowing that helps me practice that. Thanks so much.

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  10. Thread crazy

    Great post Melanie, I couldn’t agree with you more. I think our FB, twitter, etc., has gotten way out of control. I try to limit my time on FB to only keep up with distant family. Why can’t people see that their negativism is actually like a poison that they keep spreading out to others…you are right, we as a nation are doing ourselves in; God help us is all I pray. As far as cell phones, they are a good creation but there’s a place for them. When I pass a slow driver on interstate, I can usually bet they’re on their phone! All we can do is stay positive and do our best to be kind to one another.

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