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The Angry Old Man and the Sea
The fury and the power of the ocean serves as a metaphor for our online squabbles.
Ships Running Aground During a Storm by Ludolf Bakhuizen, 1690s (Wikipedia, public domain)
I'm a Seinfeld junkie. Yes, it's a throwback to my Bright College Days, but it hit at just the right moment, and many of the phrases and scenes have stuck with me over the years.
One in particular is when George pretends to be a marine biologist and tells his friends about his adventure with the whale. He sets the tone by describing the scene:
"The sea was angry that day, my friends!"
(This is where those of you in the know finish the phrase with "Like an old man trying to send back soup at a deli.")
Being on the shore recently and having time to watch the waves, it reminded me of the sheer power of the sea.
"The ocean is an object of no small terror. Indeed, terror is in all cases whatsoever, either more openly or latently, the ruling principle of the sublime."
If you've ever been out on the open sea, or perhaps even stepped off of a ledge as you waded your way from shore, there's a certain level of terror and respect that the ocean commands.
And if you've watched waves continually pummel the cliffs or overpower lighthouses or ships, you understand the destructive power. We try to harness it, to bend it to our will; but the ocean will do what it wants to. Anyone caught in a riptide or adrift in a small dinghy can testify to that.
And so it goes with anger and fear in our lives. Once that duo has taken hold, whether in a work or personal situation, it's difficult to draw back.
Seeing so much anger and hate online—not only in the last 72 hours, but in the past few years—it's a cause for concern.
Yes, 8chan was taken offline following a mass shooting, but my instinct tells me it's temporary. Like water, the hate will find a way through. Which can be a bit depressing.
Take heart: there are things you can effect. Things that are in your power. That's where you should spend your time and attention.
Find joy in everything you can.
Lift up other people and surround yourself with uplifting people.
While the sea of anger that swirls around you may not be in your control, your reaction to it can.
Otherwise, you're stuck with that soup.