Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Feelings, nothing more than Feelings....

I opened myself up to criticism when I started this blog.  I didn't realize so many people whom I respect and admire would have opinions about my writing.  I'm starting to wonder if that is somehow a mask for what really irks them: open sharing of feelings. Not ideas but feelings.  Hey, don't get me wrong. I have a long way to go stylistically. I know that.! do they ever seem to make people nervous.  Ideas seem to just make people mad, especially lately.  But feelings really get folks a squirmin' somethin' fierce.

They're so untidy.

So inconvenient.

So important.

With the advent of the internet (facebook especially), we have enjoyed greater connectivity for sure. But we've also become horribly disconnected.  We can all share our ideas and spark the ire of several hundred of our closest friends all from the relative comfort of our computer chairs.  We can swing our keyboard maces with abandon.  We can do this without ever having to deal with (the tedium of) the expressions on their faces as the words wash over them.  Here's that dirty little word again: feelings.  The feelings that our words elicit get lost in the morass of insults, barbs, jabs, put-downs. In fact, how could feelings ever be conveyed properly when following or followed by a hash-tag?  Feelings need faces to carry the depth of their meaning. They need faces and voices.   Disembodied sharing of "ideas" sans feelings has gotten this country into a lot of trouble.  Worse has been the intentional hurtful commentary specifically tailored to maim and destroy. 

Feelings need faces.

Feelings aren't facts, yeah, I get that.  But as I have said before feelings are indeed feelings. No less important because the display of them teaches detente.

Have you ever dashed a lover's hopes and blamed it on the truth?
Have you ever thought you learned a lesson while spitting out a tooth?
Have you ever poured your heart into a mediocre end?
Have you ever punched a friend?

This is from the song "Punched a friend" written by my brother Michael.  The interactions in the song, while impassioned, have a singular thread: connection.  Direct connection.  There is no digital interface while learning detente.  This is why so many people cyber bully. They cannot see the faces of those whose teeth they have just metaphorically punched out.

Emboldened by disconnection and bolstered by a decline in the reverence for civility and decorum (or what we used to call "manners"), people are becoming more and more boorish and less and less human. 

So I'm writing (again) today because a friend of mine told me I didn't know how to.  Kind of to spite him, I won't deny it.  But also to honor his forthrightness and honesty and trust in me, frankly.  He said "you're learning, but you don't know how to write yet."  Hey, at least he had the decency to say it to my face.  Anyway, I'm writing a blog.  Not a syndicated column.  I'm okay with not being great at it.  I think I've earned the right to tell my story however ham-fisted, canned, trite or cliche it may come off.  You don't have to read it.  But I love him for telling me right to my face and for enduring the stunned silence that followed. 
I've distilled my thoughts today into a few questions:  Do you care if you hurt somebody's feelings with your spoken or written words, deeds, actions or even inaction?  Can you justify your behavior with your righteousness?  Do you blame it on them for being "sensitive"?

If so, what has it cost you?