“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”
~James Matthew Barrie
That was one of my Pop Joe’s favorite phrases: it’s nicer to be nice. He used to say it all the time, a smile in both his eyes and his voice. It’s been over ten years since he passed away, but still, I can hear him as though he’s right next to me. It’s a piece of grandfatherly wisdom I carry with me always. It’s also one that I feel like shouting from the rooftops sometimes.
If you live anywhere from Virginia to Massachusetts, you were probably expecting a snowstorm. Many got a winter wonderland. Others did not, swapping out the swirling flakes for heavy rain and strong winds. And, evidently, it made some people angry. I’m the first to admit that the forecast and the actual blast from Mother Nature didn’t line up. Philadelphia and the surrounding towns saw nothing more than an isolated flurry. Was that a surprise, given the predictions? Maybe. Did it warrant the backlash received by the poor meteorologists who, to be fair, said from the get-go that this storm would be tricky? Not in my opinion. Now, granted, I may be biased, seeing as how I worked at our ABC affiliate several years ago and had the chance to see firsthand how kind-hearted the weather team is, how truly passionate about their careers. But still … I was shocked at some of the comments they (and meteorologists from other media outlets) received last night. I’m not talking about the Facebook and Twitter posts that joked about the lack of snow or even teasingly gave the forecasters a hard time. It’s the hateful ones that were so horrible, these words filled with vitriol for professionals who were only doing their jobs to the best of their ability. Computer models are wonderful, but weather is capricious. It’s unreliable. Sometimes tracks change at the last minute. To verbally attack the meteorologists over it? No matter what you believe about hype, or sensationalism in the media, or news coverage … why is it ever okay to be so mean?
I don’t know, perhaps I’m just too nice for my own good. It’s certainly gotten me burned before. With the prevalence of social media today, though, it just seems like there are more and more examples of people speaking (erm … typing) before they think. And it makes me sad. No matter what sort of anonymity the online world brings about, there are still real people reading those words. Can we not have a conversation instead of spewing negativity? Can we not agree to disagree instead of putting others down? I know this is an idealistic view. I know there will always be divisiveness and I know that, though diversity is wonderful, there will always be different ways of expressing it.
It’s always been like this, I suppose, but one thing that stuck out as I was researching the 1950s for my current WIP is how much kinder people (as a whole) seemed then. I hope we can follow that example. I hope we can remember that it’s always nicer to be nice. I hope we can offer a smile instead of an accusation. I hope we can debate respectfully and build each other up instead of tearing each other down. I hope all the generous, genuine people who populate the online sphere can spread their presence even further.
(And, now that this snowstorm fizzled out, I hope we can leap forward into spring. Pretty sure that’s a forecast everyone will love.)