Saturday, January 31, 2009

Warm Thoughts and even Warmer Hearts

New Englanders are, as an outsider who has lived on the fringes of their kindness for seventeen years, a bit on the rough and tumble side even in the best of times. I have, in turns, been often chastened, frequently disquieted and on rare occasion, bewildered, at how flinty they can be. How one folk, so to speak, can embody the ruggedness of their habitat as unerringly as New England Yankees do (how delicious is the irony that the baseball Yankees are actually located in the Middle Atlantic States, I once observed to a life-long denizen of Norwich and a die hard Red Sox. "I wasn't thinking 'delicious'", was her rejoinder with a derisive snort.).

One of the two daily newspapers in New London County, The Day, has, like the rest of us gotten caught up in the financial turbulence that makes up our daily lives and has resorted to a not-unique attempt at a solution (though in the news business perhaps so, and (more ominously) possibly becoming more prevalent) of sending its entire work force on a one week furlough without pay to reduce the operating costs (I keep fantasizing about what happens if EVERYONE takes the same week?).

The story, as posted to The Day's website is here, but the outpouring of emotion by purported readers who possess a keyboard but also the poorest of literacy, logic, grammar and spelling skills at the bottom of the story just warms the cockles of my heart (and doncha just love warm cockles on a cold January Weekend in New England? Sorry, I couldn't resist). If you're looking for sympathy in those online comments, you'd be better off checking between the words "hits" (but put the 's' on the front of 'hit') and "syphilis" in the dictionary because you won't find it anywhere else.

I have worn out the spell checker on every computer I've ever worked, which is funny because when I was a kid, I fancied myself to be a good speller. It looks like a lot of us never grew up, and few have any interest (or feel any need) in using the spell check that comes bundled with the comment bloc. I am absolutely amazed at the presence of schadenfreude in so many of the on-line comments, and the absence of correct spelling and grammar. I'll leave unremarked upon the absence of thought so many comments reflect in their totality of hurtful heartlessness.

The variations on a single theme, "I Just Want You to Hurt Like I Do" are as numerous as they are relentlessly joyless. And I have to concede the lack of logic in so many of the constructs as posted nearly takes my breath away. Which based on the majority of the views expressed, would please most people immensely as I like the newspaper, know a small number of those who work there and find them to be decent, hard-working folks for the large part with spouses and families.

And these (I nearly typed 'perfect') strangers (HA!) sincerely and truly hate the reporters and photographers, the advertising layout people, the second shift inserters, the bundlers, the driver, the editors, every one whom I've forgotten and overlooked (don't worry, this crowd won't), every aspect of their employer and the product of all those efforts. The arrogance of ignorance and the ignorance of arrogance has really, I fear, become a national character trait (and flaw) of these United States, starting here in our oldest and first-settled area. We have gone from E Pluribus Unum to NOT ME SUCKA!. Sic transit gloria, Koo-koo-Kachoo.
-bill kenny

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