To Like Or Not To Like

Instead of posting an image today – I have nothing worthy or appropriate given the calamities of the past week – I am writing about images from others and my feelings towards them.

My family and our region were lucky this year. We were relatively unscathed by Sandy. Upstate New York suffered enough last year with Irene – we didn’t need anymore. But then, nobody needed what Sandy had to give. Seeing the borough where I grew up (Brooklyn), the rest of  New York City, New Jersey and all along the northeastern coast get battered the way it did was horrific. I expected our electricity (upstate) to go at any time during the storm, but luckily, it never did (it did for others in our area). As a result, I was able to follow via facebook, Twitter, Instagram and The Weather Channel, all the terrible events going on to the south as they were unfolding. I was mesmerized that night and throughout the week and have been left with a profound sadness. My friend, Joel Baumwoll, expressed it on facebook, writing, “This storm is giving me a post 9/11 feeling.” Though, the feelings were not quite the same, it is a similar sort of sadness, a feeling that times have irrevocably changed – and not for the better. I know many who were seriously hurt by the storm, as I knew victims of 9/11. It feels personal.

Social media has been and continues to be an important funnel of information and images as first the actual disaster and then its aftermath have played out. The vocabulary of that media, however, becomes quite awkward in situations like this, though. I was heartbroken by, but very much appreciated reports and photos by those in the midst of the disaster as it was happening – people like Kathryn Yu (@Kathrynyu on Instagram), Maricel Presilla, Nicholas Wilkins, Peter Francis Battaglia, Floyd Cardoz, Anthony Scillia, Michael Talalaev, Tejal Rao and many others. An option for both facebook and Instagram is to “like” something to indicate an appreciation of a post. Unless, it was an image showing resilience in the face of disaster or a step in a more positive direction, I found it difficult to “like” the images and posts that so mesmerized and horrified me. Despite that, I do appreciate the work these people did to make the world aware. Thank you to all those who helped the world to know, even if I didn’t always “like” it.

I would like to finish these thoughts with some wise words of advice from my friend and occasional Docsconz: Musings on Food and Life contributor, Michael Talalaev, who posted this on facebook,

As someone who grew up with constant food and energy shortages, which is as depressing and frustrating as it is exhausting (regretfully, a lot of people in NY/NJ are feeling just like that right now) I have a few very simple suggestions that are proven to help:

– it is not personal; it may seem like it is, but it is not. Most people feel just like you do, and some are even worse off – keep that in mind;

– nobody is entitled to special treatment and everyone is trying to survive. It does not matter what comfort and privileges you are used to; the situation has changed and you have to change accordingly;
– you want to feel better? The only way to do it is to give whatever little you can share to those who need it even more than you do: elderly, hungry, cold, expectant mothers. I promise it will instantly make you feel a lot better;- finally, and this is the good news: this is only a temporary and minor inconvenience, it is nothing more than that. In the long run we will only remember this week as a bad dream, if that.


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