It’s a new year, and people like to make resolutions, so I’ll tell you about one of mine that totally worked. I’d been riding my bike to work sporadically for years but it was pretty easy to talk myself out of it on any given morning. Especially because my mornings started hours before dawn and a whole lot of the time it was as rainy as it was dark, and none of that mattered as long as I was still under the covers, so I’d stay there a little longer.
One new year, I rode my bike to work and decided I would draw a little automobile on my calendar every day I drove my car, just to see how lazy I really was. The first one was just a little tiny automobile picture, but I colored it red because that’s the color cars should be, and you could see it from across the room. And that tiny little red car drawing began to rumble with implied oiled ducks, and ruined reefs, and the last breaths of slimed otters sinking beneath the sea, and tearful indigenous peoples in the tar sands sacrifice zone, and drowning island nations, and hurricanes and bear carcasses and parched soil and superbugs and methane-belching tundra and war and fire and famine and only the memory of pikas. It was horrible. The next morning, and just about every one after that, I put on my biking duds no matter what the weather because I could not bear to draw the little automobile. At the end of the year I had only four cars on my calendar.
|save the pikas|
So I thought that kind of thing could work for anybody. Let’s take an example. A lot of us are in the bad habit of saying mean things about people on the internet. We make snarky remarks about our family or we go into great detail calling out complete strangers who we believe have wronged us in some way. Somebody gave us a look, or took a tone, and they need correction in the form of public shaming. That is naughty of us! How about if every time we thought about writing something mean about someone, we had to actually write down the mean thing where anybody could see it?
Oh wait. I see. That wouldn’t work, because that’s the whole problem. Evidently we do not feel bad about writing bad things. Especially where everyone can see it. Actually, we’re pretty pumped about doing that very thing.
I always figure the people writing mean things are overly concerned about what other people think of them, unusually likely to assign bad motives to other people’s behavior, and really on guard against someone thinking something about them that they basically think about themselves. And the fiercer they are about it, the more likely it is that they do feel bad about themselves. If you’re reasonably comfortable with yourself, you’re not as likely to think other people are thinking bad things about you, and you’re not as likely to lash out. This is not a groundbreaking observation. In fact, it’s so reliable that if you think I’m talking about you–I probably am.
|please save the pikas|
So here’s my New Year’s suggestion. Every time you write something mean on the internet, draw a little red car on your calendar. Believe me, you don’t want to see that.
So here's my New Year's suggestion. Every time you write something mean on the internet, draw a little red car on your calendar.
I've got a better idea. Every time I drive my car to work, I'll write something mean on the internet.
I already just know this is going to work really well.
You always have been a bit of a contrarian when I mention exercise. I think you've got your resolution nailed. Congratulations!
It is said that what we do when no one is watching is who we really are. I think that this could be extrapolated to how one behaves on the internet, given the anonymity people feel that it provides. People who are mean online are just plain mean. They may be able to hide it when they are dealing face-to-face with people, because there are repercussions then. Online, they are safe from being punched in the nose or having their houses toilet-papered. More often than not, we all use a "nom de computer" to protect that anonymity. So we feel safe behaving as if we were alone. If everyone would just read over what they just wrote before they hit "publish" and reflect on what it says about them, and if that is the image they would want to project, there might be a lot less drama going on online.
Do you think we could rig up some kind of deal where miscreants can have their screens digitally TP'd?
I do not write that people are troglodytes on the Internet, I do not write that someone is a nincompoop. They know it, I know it, why belabor the point?
Well, the POINT would be to work "troglodyte" and "nincompoop" into your daily conversations, and that is never a bad thing.
You are more generous than I; I believe that people who write mean things on the internet don't CARE that they are mean. I could be wrong and maybe if they had to use their real names, they wouldn't write what they do. But unfortunately, I think they are proud of their meanness.
Happy New Year anyway!
Have you ever noticed that no one is ever mean on this site? I have. I love you all.
Great idea; and I am going to start as soon as I figure out the connect between the car and writing mean things. Oh, I get it. Both destructive of the environment.
You have addressed a serious problem.
Don't overthink that. I just noticed that the little red car works, so I figger it'll work for everything. It's one scary-ass little red car. I mean, look at it!
Does this mean I shouldn't make fun of politicians anymore? I mean, don't they become politicians because they like public ridicule? I had better do some soul-searching. If I have to. I guess.
Some people have to search their souls, and some people have to search FOR their souls. A certain former vice president comes to mind.
I have found that rewards work better than punishment for long term behavior modification, so how about putting a gold star (or equivalent) on the calender every time you say (or do) something kind (on line or off)? Then your calender would soon fill with gold stars, and you would endeavor to avoid blank spaces on it, and soon there would be your habit.
You are kind, generous, talented, good looking, adorable, clever, articulate, funny, and have the BEST readers out there.
Off to put on my gold star!
[she said good looking–snrk!]
Loved this idea but don't think the car thing will work for me. Not enough imagination and still can't ride my bike. Then there is the problem of competing with people who think bikers should die if they attempt to share roads with a car. And no bike lanes/trails. 🙁 And I love sculptor's comment. I think we should have to do 2 or more good deeds for every bad one. Do enough good stuff and there is no time for the bad. And eventually doing good, makes us better.
Such a lovely idea. Did you notice though that mean people know they are entitled. Could you imagine that former vice president drawing a red car on his calendar.
A hand-drawn Hummer wouldn't shame him.
Four cars for the whole year? That is some pretty amazing motivation you had going on there. But then, those pikas ARE adorable. Seriously, you were one highly motivated biker.
When I first found the world of commenting, I tried to call out the bullies, but quickly realized it was a thankless, endless, heartbreaking job (and this was on a supposedly monitored website for a common household magazine). I feel lucky to have found so many good people's blogs since then.
I actually amazed myself. The four driving days were caused by three bike flat tires and a medical appointment. The thing that you can't believe until you've done it is that those miserable-looking bikers in the rain and the cold are not at all miserable. You get the right gear and you're happy as a clam at high tide. An interesting side benefit is a reduction of stress. If you're in a car and trying to get home and you run into traffic, you're all pissed off. Whereas, on a bike, if you don't have a flat, it takes exactly the same amount of time to get home every single day. It's remarkably relaxing.
I just re-read that. By "get in the right gear" I meant clothing. You can change your bike gears all the time.
It is a lovely idea. From a truly talented human who is NOT an oxygen thief. I can't draw, but will think red car when my innate crabbiness comes bubbling to the surface.
Did you invent "oxygen thief?" First I've heard it, but I suspect not the last time I'll appropriate it.
I'm gonna draw pikas. And it's fun to say…pikapikapikapikapika
Will you SHOW US when you do? Ladies and gents, Leslie Hawes is a gifted artist.
Mean is not in me (REALLY!! Ask Roxie or Pat L. as they know me well!) so maybe I could a car for every day I sing. Wait,…that would be every day!
I don't have to ask Pat or Roxie! You are anything but mean. Thanks for the warning on the singing, though.
I like to think I'm a nice person who doesn't write mean things about anybody else and I'm pretty sure I haven't, but I'm not scrolling back through 1500+ posts just to check.
I have seen some mean things on some websites and I just click away instead of getting involved, because whatever is going on there probably isn't any of my business anyway.
It's so hard for people to resist trying to correct everyone else. I'm not talking about you.
Grocery shopping without a car. How?
Today Dave and I walked a little over two miles to a grocery store and returned with bags slung over our shoulders. Having the time helps. Even better is using the store that's only six blocks away. It's hard to stock up on cases of stuff, but people use those wheeled hand carts for that. My mom used to take one down to the corner store…these days too many people live too far away from everything and have to drive to big-box stores to get anything. Portland, at least in the inner parts, isn't set up that way.
Baskets. Don't be afraid to look like a real nerd- I have the two that hang on either side of my back tire and lift off to go into the store with me. The problem I'm having is that I think that is a cute little red car and I'm wondering if it has the new backup-beep-beep technology that tells you when you are about to smack into the pole you can't see because of your cataract you can't get fixed until next October when you turn 65. And I kinda want that car. Cuz I live on the side of a mountain, with a 28% grade at that top and I have to drive to the grocery store. Sigh. But yes, it's a good idea to not be mean to people, even via the internet.
(Happy New Year, Murr!)
My own mostly-parked little red car not only does not have all that, but I even have to roll my windows down with a crank and adjust the side mirrors by hand. I was going for cheap, and red.
If I ride my bike more it will help save the pikas. They need oxygen too.
It totally will help, Geo. Although what they need most, and what is fast disappearing, is coldth.
That little red car that is not used for groceries is used for taking people like me to doctor's appointments and I'm glad I don't have to walk or bike the 9 1/2 miles. Thanks Murr.
You would look adorable on a bike with wicker baskets. And a flowered hat, no helmet. Hmm.
I ride my bike every chance i get; i love the sound of that rumbling exhaust.
Get it, but you reminded me of the T-shirt I want to design for bicyclists: "Zero Carbon Emissions (Well Maybe A Little Methane)"
Love it, but you left out the CO2 you exhale. Maybe if you carried enough living green plants with you, they would balance it out.
I'm an Oregonian. I've got moss on my helmet.