I'm feeling a little down today. Its not the upcoming holidays bringing me the blues. Not the post-Halloween, I shouldn't have eaten so much candy depression. Nor the shorter days and the colder weather.
I made the mistake of letting myself read comments on an Internet article. Which article? It doesn't matter. Which news outlet? That doesn't matter either. If you have ever read any comments on any article in the last few years, you know what I'm talking about.
Comments are nearly always dominated with vitriol, hate, and sheer giddiness at the discomfort/pain/suffering of others. I'm not the only one who has noticed. Two months ago, Popular Science took the unprecedented step of shutting off its comments, noting that "[u]ncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant's interpretation of the news story itself." (Read the article here. It's quite fascinating and more than a little disturbing).
As I sit here, down in the dumps, I'm not sure if turning off comments is the right way to handle this. And I wonder, do these comments represent a prevailing view or an angry and loud fringe? Why do so few compassionate voices rise up to counter this negativity? Are we too few? Too busy? Too quiet?
I have no answers but simply a plea for compassion this holiday season.
A plea to remember that the person who cut us off on the freeway may be rushing to an emergency. That the gentleman who gestured rudely to us at the stop sign may be in the midst of a divorce. The disorganized shopper in front of us at line may have a mental challenge that makes it hard to focus. The overly loud diner next to us may be trying to drown out loneliness. The squirrel who dug into our front planter is just preparing for winter.
A plea for compassion for all of this planet's inhabitants - humans and non-humans. Please can we move past the hate, the anger, the happiness over someone else's misfortune and realize that we are all on this planet together. We all have something in common. We all have been "there". We all can understand and maybe, just maybe, be a little more patient, a little more accepting and a little more compassionate as we embrace the true meaning of the holidays.