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Op-eds

People getting nasty in November

  • Howard Feldman 2018
Maybe it’s just me, but I am finding people more angry than usual at the moment. I am not sure if it’s the insane and unpleasant heatwave that has hit Johannesburg that is causing this rattiness. Perhaps it’s because it’s November. The year is almost done, schools are winding-down, December holidays are in sight, and people are tired. Really tired and really depleted.
by HOWARD FELDMAN | Nov 22, 2018

Or, perhaps it’s that we are emotionally spent.

I have been at this media thing for a while now, and I am not sure that I recall a period where people have been so testy, short, and downright irritable.

I communicate in many ways, and they let me know what people think of, well, anything. And I love it. I really do. Mostly. But over the past week, I have seen a level of volatility creep into some of the dialogue.

The SMS line on the morning show is one of my favourite modes of communication. Listeners moan and complain, and tell me everything I do wrong. And, I encourage it. Whether it’s my music choice, my opinion, or anything else, I want my listeners to engage. But last week was a free for all. The SMS line was filled with angry, nasty messages.

“Howard, the most surprising part of that running story is that you said you have run a 10km race. I’ve seen you and I’m struggling to believe it sorry love Brian.”

“Love Brian?” Really? My immediate thought was that “Brian” must be a friend (soon to be ex- friend) wanting to have some fun with me. So, I put his number into my phone, but my Samsung S9 Galaxy (+) failed to recognise it. Brian, it would seem, was just someone wanting to note that he had noted that I had indulged in a few empty carbs too many of late.

Which is perfectly true. But unnecessarily unnecessary, I thought.

The kneeling-boys-of-Herzlia (as they have now come to be known) is another such example. If ever there was a story without substance or allure or anything remotely interesting, this was one. And yet, in less time than it took to bend over, or down, the story had made headlines all around the country, and then all around the world. Reaction to it was extreme, with those condemning them calling for the re-instatement of the death penalty, whilst those on the other team insisting that everyone, including the swimming coach at the school be fired. There was no balance, and there was no understanding. There was just anger.

My Twitter feed was no less gentle. I was even tweeted at by Steve Hofmeyr, who was insistent on something that I didn’t really understand. And this was still better than the person who said that my article regarding the kneeling-boys-of-Herzlia was vacuous, and that I should sit down and shut the hell up.

It’s lucky that I am not sensitive.

Economically, it has been a hard year for South Africans. As Jews, we have felt targeted and under-valued, and as supporters of Israel, we have been frustrated and misunderstood. The weather is not helping either.

What is clear to me is that we all need a holiday. It’s clear that November is an angry month, and that we are now running on emergency tank. We don’t have the capacity to detour, and we certainly don’t have the patience for anything. Least of all each other.

But we need to try. We need to implement a perspective rule, where we take a step back from a situation before responding. That we don’t tweet angry, and that we don’t take everything personally. At least let’s try.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Jp 22 Nov
    Dear Howard

    I found your article on the Gaza Rockets and to me it's a superb piece - I dare say your best writing yet (not that I have read everything of yours).
    May you continue to grow in your abilitities & use them for a good cause.

    Sincerely 
    Jp

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