A couple months ago, my screewnwriter friend Valerie Alexander asked me about getting on the Huffington Post. She'd written a new book, Happiness...as a Second Language, and she was interested in writing a regular column on the subject. I explained what I'd done to get accepted and told her to be persistent and offered moral support. Because of her credentials and topic, Valerie was accepted. Swell, good for her. Her first piece even got featured on the homepage. All the better. Good for her again.
We got together for a late afternoon snack on Wednesday to catch up. Eventually I got around to asking how her blog was going. "Oh, didn't you know my last piece went viral?" she said.
Say what? What do you mean, it went viral?? Well, it turns out, you see, that people started posting it all over the Internet, and when it made it way through Facebook the article got...(are you ready?)...53,000 "Likes"!!!!!
I'm sorry, that should be, 53 freaking thousand "Likes."
I believe the proper response is "Yipes!."
This is Valerie speaking a whole mess of happiness. She deserves it. Good for her!
It's a wonderful article that she wrote, and actually sort of a rant, for someone talking about happiness. The title was "To Me, Mean Pictures aren't Funny (Even the Funny Ones)", and it's about people who take those candid photos of regular, everyday folks (sometimes even of friends) and then post the bad ones online so that others can make humiliating fun total strangers.
"That is a human being in that picture," she writes. "A person who got up that day, got dressed and left the house without ever thinking it would make her the subject of public ridicule, simply because her shorts are too tight. Maybe she's gained a lot of weight recently due to a medical condition and can't afford new clothes, or doesn't want to buy things in a size she intends to reduce."
It's a terrific, thoughtful diatribe, and one I personally agree with wholeheartedly. I do everything I can to avoid looking at such pictures, and have never found the hurt of others to be remotely amusing. I don't even slow down and gape at traffic accidents. It's not holier-than-thou, it's just that other people's troubles simply make me feel bad.
Not everyone reacted the same -- but then, that's the point: there are people who do love making mean, snarky, nasty slams...anonymously To be clear, by far most of the comments were deeply supportive (or at least "appeared to be" because, no, she didn't read them all...) However, Valerie was nonetheless disappointed that there were so many snipes. As I explained to her, though: Let's say you got 90% of the people agreeing with you -- wouldn't that be amazingly great? Yes, she said, it would. Well, that would mean that there were 5,300 people who hated it. She saw the point and laughed. And smiled. (As you can see above, Valerie smiles a lot.)
I particularly liked her conclusion:
"But to degrade, insult, mock, malign, humiliate and probably hurt someone because their appearance amuses you is not funny. It's cruel. You're better than that.
" Truly happy people treat everyone with respect."
To read the whole article, you can see it here.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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