Can you believe the rumors sent a silver ball circling around inside my head and it settled upon an old memory from junior high.
I am about 13 or so and my little sister is in the cast of the school play, Bye Bye Birdie.
The star is in 9th or maybe it is 10th grade but he looks older to me because he has a goatee.
I know he is a nice guy because I have spoken with him more than once and he is a lot nicer than some of the rumors make him out to be.
It is May 2013 and I am sitting on the floor in my apartment in Fort Worth thinking about whether I should replace my dying laptop with another PC or a Mac.
There is a rumor going around the office saying we are going to be provided with our own Macbook so I am torn.
I know a lot of people who are part of the Cult of Mac and I am well acquainted with their praise for the silver beasts they surf the net upon.
Torn because I can buy three PCs for the same price as that Mac and I have responsibilities and needs to focus upon outside my computer.
If I listen to the rumors I can buy a couch for my apartment and get a PC.
Fast forward to the present, I bought a PC and a couch.
The couch is falling apart and the PC is dying.
I am not surprised about the PC and mildly disappointed about the couch. I had hoped to get another couple of years out of it.
In a couple of weeks it will be donated or end up on the street. It is just a thing and any memories associated with it are secured inside the vault between my ears.
Present day I am sitting at my computer flipping through files, working on a mix of things that are truly important and stuff that is…less so.
Take a few moments to read through tweets, updates, posts and commentary and shake my head.
It is the usual mix of rumor and mishegoss integrated with a dash of fact and three shakes of fiction.
Smile because I know the moment I try to engage with some of the louder voices dissent will be met with derision.
They can’t stomach opposing thought which is why they won’t venture outside of the echo chambers they inhabit.
I read comments from one man who describes the US as being horrific and and an example of all that is wrong with the world
Someone challenges him and he points his fingers at the Dallas and Orlando shootings, talks about how many other shootings there are.
“The US is gun crazed and racist.”
I consider asking him if he believes every rumor he reads or hears but don’t say anything. I am still reading and thinking.
Another poster says they wish the US had better media because they consider US media biased and assume their own to be balanced.
Again I think about engaging, pointing out some of the very public issues they have within their countries and tell them I think anyone who blindly believes everything they read is naive.
But I don’t engage because someone else already has and they are immediately labeled as being a blind and deaf supporter of US hegemony.
That makes me smile because the desire to label people as other is a universal trait.
Don’t have to be American, European or African to label someone who thinks differently as other, you just have to be human.
Part of me wonders if I made a mistake by not questioning the man who described the US as being horrific.
Not because I am trying to be a flag waver but the writer and storyteller wants to know if that is really the word he wanted to use.
The writer wants to know more about what he was trying to say and what his focus was because it feels off.
Off because the father and person I am understands how some things that have happened can be described as being horrific but it is never the adjective I would use to describe where my children live.
In spite of the rumors that suggest otherwise gun violence hasn’t become so prevalent that am afraid to send them to school or to let them hang out with their friends.
I don’t believe society is so divided or fragmented they cannot grow up to live very productive and fruitful lives.
Sometimes Less Is More
That silver ball did more than free up fragments of junior high memories.
It got me thinking about conversations and criticism from old editors.
“Sometimes less is more. Tighten your paragraphs up and focus upon one idea per article.”
I can see one guy wagging his finger in my face and hear myself asking if we were going to treat people like idiots.
“People can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can throw a couple of different ideas or thoughts at them and be confident they can follow.”
Later on he’ll scream at me and ask me why I refuse to listen and I’ll tell him there is a difference between hearing and agreeing with what was said.
“Wilner, there is no one who is better at pissing me off than you are.”
I’ll smile and ask him not to use the lines his wife uses on him upon me.
“You need to walk away now and think about this.”
“I’ll walk away but I won’t agree with you just to make you feel good. I heard what you said but I disagree. There is nothing wrong with having a different opinion.”
Long after this moment he’ll approach me and say he respects my willingness to stand my ground and then ask me if I understand why sometimes when you are right you are wrong.
“Can you really believe the rumors?”