Does It Take a Village?

What would you do if someone left a disturbing comment on your blog?

Let me clarify: I don’t mean a troll. I don’t mean someone who attacks you, or your post. When I say disturbing I mean more like, they write about how sad they are, or depressed, or how life is just horrible…

So, you write a post, and this person makes a sad comment about their personal life…

Do you write them back?

Do you send them the link to suicide prevention hotline?

Do you go to their blog to see what they write about on their time?

Do you do nothing?

I know I’ve written about this before…the not knowing what one should do…and then I forget about the topic until someone leaves a comment that disturbs me…

And then I sit at my desk, frozen, because I don’t know what my responsibility as a human is to another human…

I got a comment and it seemed as if the writer was so sad…

and I read it over a bunch of times…

It was from someone who had never commented on one of my blogs before…

So I had no connection to the type of person this was…

I looked up their page: they tended to write a bunch of depressing, wistful things…

Was this a person reaching out for help?

I don’t know how to help someone who feels like this…I can get them a phone number, but I am not equipped to guide someone to a better place.

I responded to the comment, some sort of banal response as to looking for the bright side, or talking to someone if they need to, but it was all rather generic information. I didn’t ignore them, nor did I help them. I was suspended in some weird limbo of not knowing how much to step in to help a stranger.

That’s the thing about someone showing you emotion or feelings- it’s not always easy to ascertain what to do. If you see someone in physical distress, it’s easy to call 911- actions are easier to deal with. But how do we deal with words? How do we deal with words when the connection is tenuos…screen names and no real way of knowing how the person really is…

Are we our brother’s keeper?

Does it take a village?

In a world that has gone from real life to virtual, in a world where we speak more to people via chat and messenger, text and email, in a world where we might not ever meet our best friends in person…how do we navigate how people are feeling?

With all the people we come in virtual contact with on the day to day, how do we ascertain when someone really needs our help, and when we should be minding our own business?

Do we help a stranger based solely on his said comments on one blog post?

If someone writes a distressing comment on your blog, or writes a very sad post, what do you do?

Going Down the Rabbit Hole

My friend M routinely stalks her ex husband. They do not share children together, so really, is there any reason to wonder what he is doing now, almost 30 years past their short lived post college marriage?

I’ve been apart from me ex husband 20+ years. Never once did I look him up online….you know, until I did…

A few months ago I wrote to you about getting rid of some big, glossy coffee table art books. I explained to you that thought they should have brought me joy, yet all they brought me was sadness, anger and regret.

I was thrilled to finally rid myself of the burden of these books.

Then I decided to Google my ex.

I found out he died three years ago.

Talk about dredging up sadness, anger and regret…

It’s odd to think about the death of someone who once meant a great deal to you. At one point in my life I thought I loved this person. I thought that I could care for this person and make their problems go away. I thought that this was the person I deserved to be with because of all sorts of issues with myself.

When you think about why you did something that turned out to be very bad for you, you end up feeling a little bit bad about yourself. You ask yourself how you could have been so stupid, blind….you ask yourself how you could have been so wrong…




This is why the internet stinks. At your fingertips, in mere seconds, you can really find out anything and make yourself feel bad…search engines are a tool and a weapon. And it has to be treated as such. The internet can and does hurt you. It hurts your friends. It hurts your family. Handled incorrectly it hurts everyone.

Am I glad that I know that he’s dead?

Am I glad that he’s dead?

I don’t know. Three months later and I’m still processing my feelings. I’m journaling and thinking and making notes. Maybe this will too become a memoir…a rite of passage…a closing out of the books. I thought that this divorce, these feelings of sadness, anger and regret were long past me. I thought I was over all of this…but I can only wonder if these feelings ever actually go away. I wonder if they are always inside of us and somehow become part of our DNA, if every decision we make comes with the disclaimer that we have once been hurt very badly and we will forever remember that as we take tiny steps forward…

Do we compartmentalize our sadness, anger and regret so that we can live and find other emotions to balance those out? Or do we always fall back on our negatives?

Do we ever really forget? Or do we just learn to move on?

Do we ever get past the emotional damage in our lives, or do we just learn to live with it, like a scar that will not go away not matter what we put on it. It might fade, but there will always be traces.

I guess we can’t erase our past.

We just have to learn from it.

Accentuate the Positive

A few weeks ago I wrote about how it’s very easy for me to complain about bad customer service, but I never take the time to talk about good service.  That day I sent a note to Staples commending two of their employees.  It felt good, and hopefully those two employees got a nice little note in their employee files. The incident made me think of a larger issue: why are we so quick to accentuate the negative instead of the positive?

I try to do a gratitude exercise every day, but I admit, when I sit down at night and brain dump, the negative things about my day usually pop into my head first.  I think about the irritating employee at the bakery, the guy who bumped into me spilling coffee on my favorite black converse, the fact that someone had already grabbed the “good” elliptical at the gym.  When I think back on my day bad overshadows good by a wide margin.  It often takes me awhile to think of a good moment, and I lead a relatively charmed life.  My days are normally filled with way more ups than downs.  Why don’t I remember the good as well as I remember the bad?

Am I hardwired to think that if something isn’t “perfect” then it is bad?  Do societal pressures make me feel that every moment of my life should be fairytale like, so that when something disrupts the fairytale I remember it?

Have I overthought this topic?

Well, yes and no.

I think in order to live a fulfilling life, one must find the good that is out there, find the positive that exists.  I don’t think a fulfilled life is one that is filled with riches or fame or any of those other grandiose things.  I think true fulfillment lies on the back of the small moments, and accepting that these small moments of joy carry a great deal of impact.  Finding joy in your morning cup of coffee, or a pleasant exchange with a stranger can bring you happiness every day.  We need to recognize this and nourish it.

Psychologically I don’t know why we harp on negative and eschew positive, but I know we do.  But, I think it’s possible to change out mindset.  It just requires work.  I think the effort will be rewarded.

I know some people are scared of happy.  I know some people don’t trust those that exude positivity and happiness.  Isn’t that sad?  When did happy become a thing to be mocked?  When did contentment become a joke?

I’m giving you homework tonight.  At the end of the evening, go back and reflect on your day.  Write the highs and the lows.  But the number of highs must equal the number of lows, or exceed them.  Some people might find it easy to do this: others will not.  But I think it’s worth a try.  Don’t you?