Humor / Poetry / The English Teacher / The Social Network

Firestorms

Have you noticed that the broad spectrum banally labeled ‘social media’ grows rife with boldly claimed opinions masquerading as “urgent news”??

Don’t misunderstand, please. I tweet. I’m on Facebook. I get most of my new recipes from Pinterest. I use the interwebs, even though I barely grasp the complexities of the technological wonder. But I still prefer reading books that have real (as opposed to virtual) pages. I still prefer conversations face-to-face to stirring the pot while facing a screen.

I’ve discovered recently that when I make ‘social media’ a project that I must master, or when I start to believe that sharing my opinions with the faceless minions who follow after this or that celebrity, politician, blogger, or even little ol’ me actually matters, then it’s time stop sharing cultural opinions, and start sharing more recipes. My thoughts on any particular matter matter to me. But how crucial are my strongly held opinions to anyone else? And when was the last time anyone had a mind change after reading something a measly 140 characters in length? (Charles Dickens would have died an unknown if he’d tried to write his gloriously rich and complex sentences these days, I am convinced.)

Before I climb upon my high horse, ready to take on the world’s social ills and attempt their cure via social media, I sit down, take a deep breath, and think, for cryin’ out loud. Decide to read, just a bit more. Ponder the details. Ask some questions. And wouldn’t you know it? Right on cue, I find a poet who would likely concur:

Next Time Ask More Questions

Naomi Shihab Nye

Before jumping, remember
the span of time is long and gracious.

No one perches dangerously on any cliff
till you reply. Is there a pouch of rain

desperately thirsty people wait to drink from
when you say yes or no? I don’t think so.

Hold that thought. Hold everything.
When they say “crucial”—well, maybe for them?

Hold your horses and your minutes and
your Hong Kong dollar coins in your pocket,

you are not a corner or a critical turning page.
Wait. I’ll think about it.

This pressure you share is a misplaced hinge, a fantasy.
I am exactly where I wanted to be.

“Hold that thought.” Good advice, these days.

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