“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch. You really are a heel. You’re as cuddly as a cactus, you’re as charming as an eel, Mr. Grinch. You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel. You’re a monster, Mr. Grinch. Your heart’s an empty hole. Your brain is full of spiders, you have garlic in your soul, Mr. Grinch, I wouldn’t touch you with a 39 and a half foot pole!”
-- You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
My wish for 2015 is more civility in society. I see and hear and read too many comments that do nothing to provide solutions for our many issues. I do see and hear and read a lot of hot air. Thing is, many of those doing the spouting have no skin in the game, but they think it their duty to opine anyway. Nothing is too insignificant for their wrath and most times they are totally ignorant of any back story.
Last week we had a photo contest and the boo bears chimed in when the winner was announced. They didn’t know what the picture with a young lady holding a child with a pink decorated Christmas tree in the background represented, so they went on to call it “Ghetto Fabulous,” among other derogatory things, unaware the pink tree was in memory of a grandmother who died from cancer.
One of our Reindeer Gang features forced a woman to call and leave a message that said we should get the mother a medical procedure rather than toys for her many children. I’ll leave what she suggested up to your imaginations.
One Georgia Tech fan lambasted us for shortchanging the Yellow Jackets for some reason or another. This foul-mouthed booster, obviously not a graduate, dropped F-bombs all over the editor’s voicemail.
Some of the letters to the editors I receive are down right vile. Oh, here’s another wish. When complaining about someone -- from the president to Joe Blow down the street -- spell their names right. Any argument loses credibility when the object of one’s ire’s name is misspelled.
And then there are the blogs where people choose to cut others off at the knees in a forum only they and their ilk read, watch or listen to. That’s called affirmation journalism. Most of it serves no real purpose but to throw stones from a soapbox of their own making. I’ve been the target more than a few times, but I’ve got the good sense not to be drawn into a digital battle that will never see a conclusion. People will believe what they want to believe about you. In the words of the Doobie Brothers from 1978, “What a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.”
We have an entire community that sits around adding comments to our stories (I’m sure this column will get a few) but many times, the comments have nothing to do with the article itself, it just gives them a platform to argue at each other about topics far afield. That’s OK if it floats their boats.
I know Christmas is over, but I wish our Christmas spirits would remain a tad longer. As we go outside and remove the lights from our homes and take the ornaments off the trees before they head to the shredder, let’s not box up our humanity and throw it on the shelf until Christmas 2015. We need our better selves to stick around throughout the year.
I know that will be difficult to do. We have become accustomed to shrill voices shouting from the fringes. There’s too much drama and an honest exchange of ideas is rarely found. We have forgotten what our mothers used to tell us, “If you don’t have anything good to say, keep your trap shut.” No, not us, we feel we can say anything about anybody, anywhere. We Facebook fights, we tweet insults on Twitter and I can’t count the times, just this year, when a comment -- thought casual -- has cost someone a job and/or reputation.
We have turned adding insult to injury into an art form and we cannot separate fact from fiction as we go down a path of believing everything we read without using the filters God gave us to see through the mist of misinformation.
Let’s hope we get better in 2015, but I have my doubts.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraph’s editorial page editor. He can be reached at 478-744-4342 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet @crichard1020.