I’m near Chicago and Hurricane Sandy brought us one one much-windier-than-the-usual-windiness kind of day, while some of my friends and family on the East Coast are still without power — and it’s Friday! Some have suffered damage to their homes, and all have sustained a blow to their spirits.
In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, many have revised their definition of fear. I know I have. Frankly, once everyone has power, internet, and a few hot meals and showers behind them, I’m afraid how the nincompoops are going to fare. You know — the ones who are bragging on Facebook about gym workouts when their neighbors are still without power. I’m worried about the people who tah-dahed when the lights came back on in their house, without offering help to others in need of a charge, or a hot cup of coffee. I’m really afraid for the folks who chimed in with “hang in there” or “keep your chin up” to someone who has had to entertain toddlers, or who had not showered, since Monday.
You keep your chin up, bucko, after sixty-seven games of Hi-Ho Cherry-O, then you text me with seven thousand exclamation marks. I dare you.
I think that when bad things happen to someone else, it’s time to take stock and to wear their fears as our own, especially in the social media realm. I know that most of the country was untouched by the storm. I had to turn on the weather channel to see what was happening in the New Jersey shore towns where I spent my childhood, and to see photos of places where I grew up and still hold dear. I had to wait for friends to get cell service so they could post photos of their lanterns and candles and their uprooted trees. And I hope that I tred lightly enough to not offend anyone when I shared some good news. It was a precarious week to be happy.
It’s true, though. Life — and lights — go on all around us, no matter what. But remembering to be thoughtful, to use our words wisely, is a good thing. And I know that it’s valued by the people who are still assessing the cost of repairs, and still juggling their children toward a weekend that won’t feel like one.
So if you head to the gym during a hurricane, just keep it to yourself. At least on Facebook. Or comments you get? Those might really be the storm you didn’t see coming.