My computer has been engaged in a prolonged snit: re-start tantrums, spontaneous self-cleansing, voracious file consumption and an odd, slightly operatic, noise. Due to this, I’ve been without access to email, Facebook, blogs, news stories and the other dubious offerings of the Internet for several hours. (One wouldn’t imagine that that would have any discernible affect but I must confess that if I am to be “unplugged”, I prefer it to be an act of my own choosing and thus I felt a bit dislocated – to say nothing of worrying about looming deadlines for articles).

Once my computer (hereby know as Hermes – god of trickery, travel, communication and the conductor of souls to the underworld) exhausted itself and decided to play nice, I checked my email.

Four hours without my attention and there are 36 emails in my groaning inbox. The last time the postman delivered that number of missives to me in one day was in 1983 when I failed to apply sufficient postage to my wedding invitations. Once upon a time we took pen to paper and considered our purpose and words: now we are a species prone to the immediate and onanistic “gratification” of spilling our every thought and whim through cyberspace.

While I do “Facebook” (another noun falls victim to “verbification” – an appalling but apparently necessary neologism), I actually know my “friends”, many of whom live in other countries. I do not Tweet for I have no desire to read the inane minutiae of others’ lives or share mine).

Back to the 36 emails:

Notifications of meetings, invitations to social events and the welcomed words from a life-long friend. So far, so good. That accounts for six of them.

Another five are questions about the upcoming Electronics Recycling Event and these are, in turn, encouraging, amusing and downright bewildering. “Can I bring my old couch?” “Will you take my Christmas tree?” “What about clothes that I want to get rid of?” etc.

To the first and last I could only say, “Are your furniture/clothes somehow electronically wired?” I replied to the gentleman who asked about his tree with “No, I’m sorry but we only accept electronic material” to which he rapidly responded: “How’s about if I leave the lights on ‘er?” Sigh…

Onward I go, plowing through. At this point sheer morbid curiosity impels me to find out what could have been so pressing in such a short period of time.

Hmmm…two Limbaugh jokes, three amusing and/or “inspirational” videos, one request to act as guest-speaker at an organization’s dinner (subject: The Great Pacific Trash Vortex), one New Year’s E-Card and several communications from clients who are “angsting” (and down goes another perfectly good noun in the flames of verbification) about their articles/projects.

It’s the remainder of them that piques my curiosity. We’re experiencing a cold snap in southern Georgia and so one man wrote “So much for that global warming!” That was the totality of the message. In that I’m the co-founder and long-acting chair of a local environmental organization (and he’s obviously cold and disgruntled) I suppose that he may as well take his umbrage out on me.

Another is a scathing condemnation of President Obama – complete with hysterical warnings about creeping socialism and the need to arm oneself. Does this person truly think that I would read this, scream “Gadzooks, honey, grab the ammo!” and vote “accordingly”?

Here’s one from the other side: someone who vilifies all Republicans and is likewise shrieking about social Armageddon should the likes of La Newt attain office. To both senders I would say “Tone down the flaming rhetoric, send me facts and figures and calm yourself, please”…but I simply delete for I know that there’s no point in engaging.

Perhaps that’s the saddest thing of all: so many have built, and cower behind, their mind-bunkers that discussion becomes futile. And without discourse there can be no détente or unified efforts to improve our lot as a nation.

I open the last email to find that someone sent me this article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/03/rick-santorum-birth-control-sodomy_n_1181291.html?ref=politics

And with that staggering example of idiocy and intolerance I leave Hermes to his own nefarious devices for I simply have no words … right now.



Photo licensed by LikeTheDew.com from iStock.com © Sharon Dominick

Alex Kearns

Alex Kearns

Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town's first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unravelling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.