Someone who doesn’t know me posted on Facebook Saturday that I must be jealous of someone else because I had some fun online with that person about his political observations.
As noted, the one who claims I was jealous doesn’t know me.
I find it disturbing that our culture today is too often based on snap judgments reached through shallow observations on social media. Face-to-face encounters are replaced by texting and electronic interaction.
A story circulated online a few months ago about a couple who met on Facebook, got to “know” each other through posts there and texts, and she accepted a proposal via text from the guy in a relationship where neither even talked on the phone, much less met in person.
I don’t know if the story was true. I tried to find it on Nexis earlier today and it wasn’t there. Nothing about it either on Snopes.Com, a web site that tracks down Internet hoaxes.
However, given an online culture where social media replaces personal relationships, it conceivably could happen.
A woman I know in Roanoke cancelled her Facebook account, disconnected from Twitter and changed her cellphone number after a guy she met online turned out to be a stalker. She now has a restraining order on him and she bought a handgun and is applying for a concealed carry permit.
“Online is a morass and a jungle,” she says. “I’m done with social media.”
Can’t blame her. Facebook is more and more of a haven for those with political biases, religious obsessions or a need to pass on anger and hate. I’m considering pulling back from there..
As a journalist who has written a personal opinion column in print and online for most of his career, I am used to judgments from those who have no idea who I am or my beliefs.
I am called a left wing looney by conservatives, a right wing nut by liberals and an atheist by religious fanatics.
The only person who really knows me — my wife of 35 years — says I’m none of the above.
“You’re an individual who seeks company with other individuals,” Amy says. “You don’t follow anyone one or any particular belief and you don’t fit into any stereotype.”
Hopefully, she’s right.
Have I made mistakes? Hell, yes. A ton of them. My list of misdeeds would shock many and make more than a few blush. I was a drunk for too many years, have been sober and a coin-carrying member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 20 years, six months and 22 days.
I was a “dry drunk” for about half of that time without drinking. I used people and mistreated too many for too long.
Much of my life is public. Some of what one can find on the Internet is false, including a report that I killed Amy in Illinois and went to prison for the crime. Amy finds that one interesting.
Some claim I did things I never did.
But other information is true and not always pretty. I hurt far too many people over the years. I do not deny that and I still work to correct past misdeeds, whenever possible.
Amy and I came here 10 years ago this month to get away from the madness in Washington and a life that, while satisfying financially and filled with accomplishments, had worn both of us out. My mother’s health was declining and she needed help and support.
Wanda Combs of The Floyd Press graciously offered me a contract job shooting photos, primarily of high school sports, and covering county government and courts. It was a return to the paper I worked for in high school. The paper, on average, publishes more than 100 of my photos every month.
I still have that gig, along with expanded work for other media outlets. The Floyd Press is now owned by BH Media, which also owns The Roanoke Times, where I worked for five years in the 60s.
Photography now takes second place to video. I contribute news footage for TV stations and have provided material to CNN, MSNBC and others. With Amy, we have produced documentaries on The Friday Night Jamboree, the Hillsville Flea Market and Gun Show and other events. We have more in the works.
After two-years of physical rehab from a serious motorcycle accident in November 2012, I face 2015 with hope for the future. Amy and I have good friends we have met since coming to Floyd in 2004 and she met many new ones who came forward to help after my motorcycle accident in 2012.
We face 2015 with hope and optimism for the future. At 67, with a loving wife who is also my partner and best friend, I’m at peace with myself. I don’t hate, I don’t pity and I am not jealous or envious of anyone.
I express myself through words, photographs and video and I have a lot of fun doing so.