All the King’s horses

January 18, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Once the egg is broken, you might as well decide how you are going to use it, because you can’t put it back in the shell. It easier with eggs than anything else that can be broken – you eat an egg and in a great many ways. Nourishing, delicious: breakfast, lunch or dinner: hors d’oeuvres, in the soup, entree or dessert, the good fresh egg is one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen.

My mother was fond of reminding  us all that “you can’t unsay anything.” Her point was to advise holding one’s tongue, especially in moments of anger, before blurting out the unreasonable, irrational, cruel words because no degree of regret can swallow those words up. They can stay in the air forever and come back to haunt from time to time.

That was in the good old days when we mostly talked to each other. Nowadays, of course, we email lots, text and we twitter. All of these amount to the written word and provide an everlasting record of mistakes, of things said in haste, or reactions that are unreasonable, irrational and cruel. They can break relationships; break spirits; break faith.

I love the idea of a new year – January 1 or a birthday, an anniversary. I believe in the fresh beginning – the resolutions – at least, make them; it is the acknowledgement of desired change, that change is a good idea – that making something in one’s life better is a good idea.

So far, this century has been one of breaking things: equally relationships, faith, lives as we live steeped in folly, distraction and impulsiveness. Lots of people died on the streets of Toronto already this year and the cops are wailing and gnashing their teeth with the frustration of people crossing the streets while texting or updating their damned Facebook – whatever – pedestrians and drivers alike, faces to their phones.

It is not simply a matter of the preoccupation but the intensity of it, leading to ignoring one’s surroundings in a way that is no longer merely anti-social (on the social media, yet) but positively life-risking.

New resolution: “I will put my device in my pocket whilst crossing the road, especially once the daylight begins to dim, as a matter of self-preservation, just in case some moron driving in my direction fails to look up from his/her device to see he/she is about to run me down. This resolution will please my mother/sibling/sweetheart/best friend very much, ’specially if I actually stick to it.”

My daughter thinks I should get on Twitter and learn to mould my proclivity for wordiness to the restrictions of the 140 characters (including spaces!) that Twitter allows for a given thought – or a declaration, if you’re running a government. I don’t know. I find I am so easily misunderstood with lots of space, how would I ever manage with a few monosyllabic words?

All the best people are out there, she insists.

Still, from whom could one learn Twitter etiquette? How not to hurt feelings and give the wrong impression?  How to say what one means, engaging diplomacy and finesse? Can this be done on Twitter? Are there courses one can take…..

Wait a minute: the Twitter tool has been used recently as a space to threaten the world with nuclear war: that’s not nice. It has been the vehicle for trying to end global programs dealing with the world’s environmental crises: that’s not helpful. It has been the medium for declaring a war on trade deals on which so much of global economies depend. That’s not wise.

It has been used to make a whole nation look ridiculous.

Next resolution: leaders of countries, once voted in, will have their Twitter accounts closed. This will minimize surprise pronouncements – to the whole world – coming at 3:00 o’clock in the morning and help reduce the looniness with which the world is currently being run.

To be honest, I look on the whole huge Internet as a vortex that plans to consume everything kind of communication. However, like any such phenomenon, it will, one day, end, whirling itself into oblivion, taking everything down with it. The only people who will be all right with that will be those living in remote places, not depending on it, not on airplanes, etc., things that will crash with the fall.

People living simply, not only on mountain ranges but anywhere, where they are making their clothing, growing their food, brewing their own beer, entertaining themselves with social intercourse face to face – they will not mind the end of it all; it might even take them a while to learn about it.

Resolution: to adjust our priorities back a pace or two and remember.

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