On a pleasant April afternoon almost three decades ago, I sat in front of my bedroom television set watching my beloved New York Mets on WOR-TV, Channel 9. The Mets were playing their chief rival at the time, the Cardinals, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. And at some point during that spirited game of baseball, Mets’ catcher Barry Lyons found himself chasing a foul ball into the opposing team’s dugout. While in pursuit, the burly Lyons crashed like a ton of bricks into John Tudor, the ace of the Card’s staff, who was not—interestingly enough—pitching that day. When the Met’s second-string catcher unexpectedly slammed into him, Tudor was merely chilling out—resting between starts. He suffered a pretty serious injury that day—a broken leg, if memory serves. In the heat of the moment, my immediate reaction to this turn of events was less than sportsmanlike. I viewed the injury as a boon for my team—period and end of story. You know: All’s fair in love, war, and baseball.
However, after giving the matter some thought, I felt somewhat chagrined. I concluded then and there that deriving pleasure from another human being’s misfortune—generally speaking—fosters bad karma. Fast forward to the present and this thing called Facebook—Bad Karma City.
Seriously, what is life coming to? When I got wind of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia this past week, the first thing that popped into my head was the vitriol I would most assuredly encounter when I next logged on to Facebook—friends of friends of friends caught up in celebrating a man’s death and saying all kinds of nasty things. I don’t wish death upon men and women with whom I disagree politically. That’s a recipe for some serious bad karma in my book. Let the dead rest in peace—for at least a few days. But now there’s a never-ending story—every day and always—of unadulterated insanity that knows no boundaries. And the entire political spectrum of peeps is equally culpable. The rage against the machine, as well as the rage against those raging against the machine, is a 24/7/365 thing and, if you ask me, rather unbecoming—it’s even scary on occasion.
It’s quite a spectacle watching Facebook friends—who are sometimes actually friends in real life—brutally attacking one another over political personages and the issues of the day. Is it worth torpedoing friendships over such things? Real friends: definitely not; Facebook friends: perhaps. I fear it’s going to be a very, very long year; a very, very long year after that; and very, very long one after that one, too. And politicians will come and go—Supreme Court justices as well. But the fury, foolish memes, and recurring hysteria—it would appear—are eternal now, just like death and taxes.