My local newspaper has been running a series of stories about people in the area who are living “paycheck to paycheck”. People who are having a hard time in this economy. It has been a very good series, and I think these stories need to be out there, because the reality is even though the area is “booming” and housing prices are skyrocketing, not everyone is doing so well.
I typically read the newspaper at nights, right before I go to bed. Reading a physical copy of the newspaper is a solitary experience:you read an article, form your opinion on the article, and then move on to the next. With all this writing I have been doing, I have been instead reading these articles online. With the online version, you get to read other people’s comments, which whether you like it or not, can shape the experience of reading the article. I’m not so sure this is a good thing for me.
I have been reading all these touching stories about people who are just making ends meet, young people raising a young baby, both attending college while they fight to keep their heads above water. Words describing people who are struggling with gas costs, health care costs, loss of job, or whatever, but they keep fighting the good fight every day. These stories make me feel sad for the people in the article, but happy they keep trying.
Then I read what some of my neighbors have to say. Not much of it is pretty. You see your holier than though comments, your “my taxes shouldn’t be used to help people” comments, and your those people just want a handout comments. The anonymity of the internet can make people feel very brave I found, and they have not problem being outright rude, not caring how their words can hurt other people. The sad part is that on at least one occasion the people in the story read the comments and had to defend themselves there. It sure makes you feel crappy about your community, I’ll tell you that.
I know what I should do. I should just stick to the printed version of the paper and avoid all of these comments. That is probably what I will do. However, I just wish people would take a moment and put themselves in other people’s shoes. They might not like what they see, but maybe they would understand.