Someone recently texted me, asking if I were free to talk. Without awaiting my response, that individual rang my phone and wouldn’t accept an excuse that I was too busy. Among the problems in the modern age, we can’t pretend we’re not home or otherwise involved when there’s a strong probability that we actually have a phone in our hands. Worse, someone sees you post a longer than usual response under someone’s social media comment when you’ve led the world to believe that you were otherwise engaged in nobler pursuits. Seconds later you’ve been cornered!
It’s the 21st Century version of that nosy neighbor I used to have who would phone me up on Saturday mornings from her breakfast nook and say, “I can see your car in the drive and I just saw you open your curtains. Pick up your phone!”
Nowadays, the flutter of curtains is seeing me online and sensing an opportunity to talk. I can’t pretend that I’ve left my phone lying somewhere because the person next to me is also texting the same person and writes, “Yeah! He’s right here!”
I had no choice, but to take the call, which began with the accusation: “You’re very negative lately, and this has to stop!”
Good lord! That’s not beyond the realm of possibility, but could I have a specific example? “In your writing! You are so negative!”
Specifically, to what are you referring? I have been involved with my forthcoming book Pennington’s Hoax, and because of that I’ve neglected this blog One More Thing to Read. I’ve also not texted this person or exchanged e-mail since last fall, which could have been seen as neglect rather than negativity, so what, pray tell, have I written recently and so often that you find so undesirable?
Could I have been insensitive online? I like to think that I’m restrained with my social media comments. They’re certainly milder than I might offer in the privacy of my own home. I also limit my expletives to private use unless I attribute them to one of my characters. I don’t want to give the impression that the air is blue around me, but I’ve lived long enough to become familiar with profanity. After all, a good number of my friends are gold medal contenders at cursing.
As the caller was berating me, I was trying to recall all the things I’d said and written in the past few months that would have been offensive. Some days I write thousands of words, and would never begin to recall a fraction of them. Perhaps the person standing next to me exchanging texts and giving away my location had related something that I thought was funny. My comment perhaps got lost in translation because this mad texter had misquoted me or hadn’t typed my words with the correct inflection, but please tell me what it is that has you so upset.
No specific examples were provided, but I kept hearing “Lately, you have been…” “In everything you write…” and “It comes across to me very clearly that…”
I should have hung up, but that would’ve certainly been considered negative. I also wanted to know the answers, but kept feeling like the parent of a teenager who keeps hearing, “Everybody’s doing it,” “You’re so mean!” and “You’re not listening to me!”
By this time I really wanted to get negative, but I let the whole conversation play out. I still have no idea to this day what set off the caller. I’ve not been called back to receive more feedback, which has been a relief. The situation is likely that I expressed an opinion the caller didn’t expect, and my tumbling from some pedestal had resulted in this big to-do.
I recall the days leading up to Moral Ambiguity’s release. It was the first time that a large collection of my words was going to be read by people beyond my world. Once the genie is out of the bottle, as they say, but I eventually got used to the idea that someone might read what I’ve written. I still haven’t gotten comfortable with the idea that someone might become outraged, but I can’t control that. Just don’t call me up on the phone and get onto me about it. It’s best to leave a comment in the space provided.
© 2018 by Patrick Brown
To learn more about my books, visit my author page at: http://www.amazon.com/Patrick-Brown/e/B005F0CYH2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1419885131&sr=8-1