Well, it’s official—I’m losin’ it. After six weeks in quarantine, I’ve apparently misplaced my ability to communicate clearly with the outside world. I’ve annoyed …
Well, it’s official—I’m losin’ it. After six weeks in quarantine, I’ve apparently misplaced my ability to communicate clearly with the outside world. I’ve annoyed a lot of people recently, and they, in turn, have annoyed the living daylights out of me. I’ve never thought of myself as being obtuse, but recent developments would argue that point.
It all started weeks ago when I was chastised online for posting something on The River Reporter’s Facebook page. It was an image of one of our 2019 “BEST” readers’ choice award-winning business that was somehow misinterpreted as me suggesting that people should gather en masse at that location, right now, in the middle of a global pandemic.
“Renting [the space] for AN EVENT???” was the angry (three question marks) comment from (who I’m dubbing) Madame X. “Seriously? In this moment of being quarantined and locked down?” she wrote. “This is tone-deaf,” the furious admonishment declared. “Please change this visual right now!”
Again, the “visual” in question clearly (IMHO) indicated that it was an award for business conducted in 2019, and not during a world-wide health crisis, but still… I acquiesced to the complaint and put the remaining award-related “visuals” on hold until the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, lest another misunderstood message be lost in translation.
“Maybe it’s me,” I said to the dog, who wagged in agreement. “It’s always you,” her look seemed to say. “You can be a real jerk.” Ignoring my judgmental sidekick, I pondered the situation. “If I’m on edge, feeling isolated, angry and weird,” I thought, “it makes sense that others might be too. Perhaps I should be more sensitive about what I post online.”
Deciding to switch gears, I took my cue from the scads of local artists, musicians and creative types out there, all of whom are singing, painting, sculpting and spreading positive vibes without the assistance of a translator.
“I can be artsy-fartsy, too,” I thought, and posted an innocuous photo of a bumblebee on a flower taken last summer. “Nothin’ to do with COVID Pic of the Day,” I wrote as a description and dated it March 31. It didn’t occur to me that anyone would think that it was a photo I had taken that day, and no one did. One thing led to another and I began posting warm and fuzzy photos of horses, barns, people swimming and kids on skateboards—each picture accompanied by the “Nothin’ to do with COVID” tag line and the current date.
On April 18, the Upper Delaware River region awoke to more than a little snow. Counties on both sides of the Delaware were blanketed in four-to-six inches of white stuff, so I posted a photo of an adorable little girl wearing a sundress, bathed in light. She was giving the peace sign; surrounded by others clad in shorts and tank tops. I attached the usual, along with the current date (as I had for three weeks running) and the words “shot at the Kauneonga Block Party in beautiful Bethel, NY.”
“I look forward to your ‘Nothin’ to do with COVID’ pics every day,” a friend commented. “They really lift my spirits.” Others chimed in with “beautiful,” “sweet,” “thanks for sharing” and “can she be any cuter?”
And then it happened.
“Are you kidding me?” asked an angry commentator. “WHY would there be a block party?” They wrote, using all-caps to more effectively express their anger. “That’s EXACTLY what no one should be doing right now!” I stared at the words, and the author’s name, slack-jawed. That’s right: Madame X had struck again.
“Oh, for cryin’ out loud,” I typed back in frustration. “It clearly wasn’t photographed today. We had six inches of snow on the ground last night. And I’ve been doing this for weeks,” I added, gritting my teeth and pounding the keyboard like it owed me money.
“It’s an old photo,” someone wrote, noting that it had been shot during the summer of 2018. “Seriously? Don’t you live here?” one of my online pals snidely wrote, referring to the snow on the ground and purposely (I’m guessing) adding fuel to the fire. “Read the whole post before freaking out,” wrote another.
Madame X countered, angrily lashing out at everyone in response. I won’t go into detail but suffice it to say that it wasn’t pretty, and I gave serious thought to deleting her from my list of friends altogether, online and in real life. Days passed; I gave up on my “Pic of the Day” campaign, angrily pointing the finger at Madame X, claiming that she had spoiled it for us all. And then it happened.
“I’m sorry if I overreacted,” began the private message from you-know-who. “I was already upset [about something unrelated] when I went online and encountered your picture of people smiling and close together. I reacted harshly,” she continued. “I’m sorry that it happened and sorry that it upset you.”
I stared at the words, dumbfounded once again. “Can you call me?” I wrote back. “I’m writing a column about it at this very moment!” She called, and we talked at length, acknowledging that we’re all “a little bit on edge” during this difficult time and how even the simplest thing can easily be misunderstood.
I told her how much her kind words meant, and that I, too, am “on edge,” sequestered in my home “with a dog who hates me.” We had a good laugh over that and agreed that we’re all doing the best we can. I told Madame X how much her friendship means to me and she concurred. “We’re in unchartered waters all over the world,” I said. “Hopefully, when this is all over, our humanity won’t have become lost in translation.”