Breathing Through Irma 2

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Today is another beautiful pre-Irma day. The only indication that a devastating storm is on the way is the thick blanket of humidity that tries to suffocate you the minute you walk out the door. I went out to take pictures of my car and decided to take a walk around the block. I might as well get some fresh air and exercise while I can. I also needed to step away from the social media that was starting to enrage me.

As I was watching live meteorological reports on Facebook, I happened to notice the live stream of comments. People were fighting over whether or not prayer was helpful, if Irma was the wrath of God, and individuals well beyond the reach of Irma where condemning the “denial” of those still in Florida. To be honest, I wanted to poke a few people right in the eye.

I admit, my first response was to write a scathing response to these comments. I have faced a lot of stress over the past three days as I have prepared for the Cat 5 force winds of a storm three times the size of Andrew, but nothing has come close to the stress inflicted by my fellow humans. In the era of narcissism, has empathy become such a rare commodity? Or do we only feel it for those we know?

I let my self-righteous rage flow from my finger tips as I hammered away at the keyboard. My rage sprawled across the page as I responded to a few ignorant comments. Then I walked away and let the toxic words sit there on my screen for a while. Gradually, the anger subsided.

I read the words again. They felt as true after my temper had cooled as they did in the heat of my anger, but now my rational brain was kicking in. Would posting my scathing response help the situation in anyway? Not really. Would my intended audience suddenly see the error of their ways? I doubt it.

I am fortunate, that many people who I know have expressed their concern and sympathy and extended offers of assistance pre- and post-Irma. Those are the people I will focus on. So, I revised this post.

President Truman once popularized the phrase “The Buck Stops Here” to indicate the acceptance of responsibility. It is the acceptance of responsibility for problems that may never have been ours to begin with. When it comes to social media, sometimes you have to decide “The Toxicity Stops Here.” I cannot advise others to model the values they espouse, without doing it myself.

My anxiety levels are still a little high because of the storm, but at least I am not letting other people control my emotions.

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