Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving Time
Is it me, or does it seem that the internet and social media is slowly turning everything that’s good and decent in the world, and turning them into non-stop bitch and gripe sessions? Yeah, I think this is definitely a thing that’s happening.
Take the holidays. This is the week of Thanksgiving, a special day set aside long ago for us to simply gather with loved ones and be….thankful. And that’s it. It’s the most zen holiday ever. But, like almost everything, we’re doing our best to ruin it. My Facebook feed is full of one article after another about Thanksgiving and it’s evil twin brother, Black Friday. And very little, if any, of it is positive.
My Facebook wall, my twitter feed, maybe even my Google + page (I don’t know because I haven’t visited it in about a year) are all stuffed (turkey pun intended) with articles on ‘How to Get the Best Deals on Black Friday’ and ‘Avoid Black Friday at All Costs’ and ‘Weather Threatens Thanksgiving Travel Plans’ and ‘How to Deal with Family at the Thanksgiving Table….’ It goes on and on.
In a way, Thanksgiving week is maybe the perfect week for us early 21st-century Americans; it’s all about the things we love to do the most in our modern world; shopping and complaining. And I’m getting tired of both.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m a world-class complainer. I can complain about anything, at anytime, anywhere. And I often do. Just ask my wife. But it gets tiring to me to open my computer or phone and see one negative post, article, or comment after another. Take an issue, any issue, big or small, and on social media you’ll find one side shooting hyperbolic negativity towards the other side, and vice versa. It gets tiring, and it makes me worry a great deal about the future of our ‘civil’ society. So while I complain, I’m trying my best to cut down on my public complaining. When it happens, I like to make sure it’s done with respect for other viewpoints and with a touch of humor. Everybody takes everything (everything) sooooo seriously, and is soooo quick to jump down the throats of those who have differing opinions.
Let’s face it: There are plenty of problems out there. Problems in other countries, and problems here at home. Terrible things happen. Bad people do really really bad things. These are constants in the course of human history. Bad things, and bad people, have always been around, and they’re probably not going anywhere anytime soon. The difference is that we all have access to it on our screens that follow us everywhere. We are exposed to the opinions of literally everybody in the world, and we seem to be acting like everybody’s opinion holds the same weight, with the exception of our own personal opinions, which obviously are more important that everybody else’s because, duh, they’re ours. And none of it is making anything better. None of it is making any of us happier. Read the comments of any article online; go ahead, do it. How many comments in to it does it take for things to devolve into name calling? Not many, is it?
And that’s my point. While the media force feeds us with negativity (the old adage “If it bleeds, it leads” has never EVER been more true than it is today) to keep us angry and afraid of everything and everybody who’s the least bit different than us (fear is the number one way the media, and governments, have to keep us in line, keep us watching, and keep us buying the advertised products that pay the bills), we take all this negativity and bad news in, process it, and unleash our own fears and angers in the form of anonymous vitriol on the internet. It’s gotta stop.
So…it’s Thanksgiving week. Friday is Black Friday. Having worked in retail for over 15 years, forced to endure the soul-sucking madness of many Black Fridays, I have my own opinions on whether or not we need to spend our hard-earned holidays fighting the crowds to go shopping. (Spoiler Alert: They’re not positive. But I’m not complaining. Really!) But if you really do somehow enjoy mingling with millions in an orgy of capitalistic fervor to find the greatest Black Friday deals that aren’t really deals, then by all means, have fun. Better you than me.
As for the Thanksgiving holiday itself, my hope for everybody is that everyone gets to spend the day doing whatever it is that they enjoy doing. Hopefully, most of you don’t work for a retailer that forces its employees to work that day; that’s one thing I definitely can get behind (and the trend towards being open on Thanksgiving fortunately seems to be waning a bit.) If you’re able to spend the day with family or friends (or both!) then I wish you the happiest of days. If you are without family, or too far away, I hope you find a way to recharge and relax however you wish, whether it’s watching movies or spending time in nature, or *gasp* going shopping. Unlike many of my online peers, I don’t feel that I’m in a place to judge others regarding anything. Turkey, no turkey, football, no football…whether you have Thanksgiving traditions that go back decades or are ready to start brand new ones, it doesn’t matter. Enjoy your day, and I’ll enjoy mine. By any means necessary.
We all have opinions, that’s for sure. But my Thanksgiving wish is for us to all take things down a notch or two, to not feel so high and mighty with our own opinions, and respect the opinions of others a bit more. Maybe do a little more talking with each other, trying to figure out why we have the opinions we have, and trying to understand a bit where we’re all coming from. There’s a lot more common ground out there than the media, and we ourselves, think there is. Let’s meet there.
It’s time to put the Thanks back in Thanksgiving. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m thankful. For a countless number of things. And I know you are, too. Whether you think you are or not, you have a million things to be thankful for. For despite all the gloom and doom on the news, despite all the rancor and negativity on the internet, despite all the terrible things that happen every day, we all have so much for which to say ‘Thanks.’ We live in the most advanced, amazing times in the history of the human race. We have so much to be thankful for. Close your phone or computer, and take a look around. It’s a pretty great place and time to be you and me. Don’t let shopping take over your holiday; be thankful for what you’ve got. The shopping can wait a few days (and everything will still be on sale. I guarantee it.)
And if that doesn’t work, there’s always Adele. Or booze.
p.s. There’s a brand new Star Wars moving coming out in less than a month! If that’s not something to be thankful for, I don’t know what is.
p.s.s. If you’re reading this on Nov. 24, 2015, please know that ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ is on ABC tonight at 8 p.m. A cherished Thanksgiving tradition around our house.
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