140 Characters Is Not Enough

I have decided that Twitter is the worst medium ever for trying to explain anything.  I’ve tried to like it, but as I’m cursed (blessed?) with Charles’ Dickens disease, one hundred forty characters will always remain pathetically inadequate for anything more than a link to something else.

I suppose I’m a little jaded, foolishly so since I knowingly stuck my head in the lion’s mouth and probably asked for it.  I involved myself in a discussion of global warming on Twitter with individuals unknown, replying to someone’s comment with a tongue-in-cheek response about how I like to walk in the woods and breathe fresh air, but that global warming wasn’t a big concern.  Suffice to say, the conversation went downhill from there.

After some internal raging that was really more like whining, I finally had to admit to myself that the fault is all mine, #1 because I poked my nose into someone else’s conversation thinking I was going to lighten the mood, and #2, for not backing out sooner.  I truly appreciate the person who was kind enough to ask, “But what if you are wrong?” because it made me think:  “Well, what if I am wrong?”

I have opinions, but if I get some education on a subject and it makes sense to me, I’m likely to change my mind.  For example, when I was a teenager, I thought that being gay was an aberration.  I was raised in a Catholic household and had never personally known a gay person (or so I thought).  I had a variety of experiences that changed my mind, from knowing gay man who was brutally beaten, to a close friend who revealed she was lesbian, and a nursing school pal who was transgendered.  Every gay or lesbian nurse I’ve had the privileged to know has made my life so much richer and fuller.  How could I have ever thought that they shouldn’t have the same right to love and to marry as everyone else?

So it took twenty years to change my mind.  So what?  At least it changed.  I got educated on the subject, asked myself tough rhetorical questions, and did some intensive soul-searching.

Twitter may not be a good place to get an education, but I realize that I’ve received one nonetheless.  My global warming stance to date has been based on my brief stint as a geology major.  I don’t think that humans should be allowed to run rampant and wipe out other species — such a thing would be unconscionable.  We are stewards of the planet and should care for it, not use and abuse it.  How much profit can be made off something should not be the deciding factor for whether or not that thing is valuable.  Fracking is just evil.

There is a great deal of ignorance on health and medical issues out there, and it occurs to me that it’s just as daunting to the average person as learning about global warming is to me.  There’s so much misleading, wrong, and hysterical information out there that it’s hard to sort it all out.  I trust nothing on TV.  I don’t trust politicians, because they’re trying to keep their money and power by staying in office.  What used to be the last bastion of sanity — the Weather Channel — is now disgusting because of all the reality TV crap they show.  And have you seen their website?  It has links and videos about things that Geraldo Rivera would have been delighted to put on his show.  What has that got to do with the weather?

Do you see why I’m so skeptical about global warming?  And trust me, it’s not just global warming — it’s EVERYTHING.  I’m skeptical of everything.  I call it “The Oat Bran Effect” and I apply it to all sorts of things.  Oat bran was the miracle cure for high cholesterol — but it isn’t.  Childhood immunizations cause autism — but they don’t.  There were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — there weren’t.  Benchmark testing will make sure our students are learning — it doesn’t.  I suppose I just jumped on too many bandwagons in my misspent youth to jump on any more.  I’ve been misled or overtly lied to, too many times.  I’m not going to get emotionally worked up anymore.  Instead, I logically look at my life as it is and see what I can do to change things in my little sphere of influence.

I drive a Hyundai that gets great gas mileage, because I couldn’t afford a Prius.  I don’t joyride and try to make all my trips count.  I exercise at home instead of the gym so I don’t waste time and gas.  We have an HE washer and dryer.  Almost every light fixture in the house has a compact fluorescent bulb.  In winter we turn the heat down and put on sweaters.  In summer we spend time in the basement where it’s cool.

We started a garden.  We’re terrible gardeners, but we keep plugging away at it.  Someday we’ll get good.  I have plans to grow jasmine in the yard, hoping it’ll spread all over so we don’t have to mow anymore.  We have a compost pile so that our organic trash can return to the earth as intended, rather than mouldering away in a landfill for a thousand years.  I either use my EnviroSax for grocery shopping, or I return the plastic bags to the store’s recycling container.  I buy mostly e-books now to save trees.

My house is far more cluttered than it should be with boxes and papers, but I let them stay because I can’t stand the thought of them going into a landfill.  We recycle what we can, which has been limited for the past few years, but yesterday I heard a commercial for a local recycling center that takes things like paper and cereal boxes.  That made me really excited — maybe now I can de-clutter with a clean conscience.

So, to the passionate folks with whom I’ve been conversing on Twitter, you have my sincerest apology for butting into your conversation and not giving it the respect it deserved.  You have taught me a valuable lesson, not about global warming in particular, but that I cannot rely on anybody else to spoon feed me information.  I have a responsibility to actually get some education about something before I make my mind up about it.  My time is limited, as I have a job and a vocation writing novels, as well as a family and home, so it will probably be a slow process.  If you’d like to give me a hand and help me along, I’d be grateful.  If, like me, you are busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest, I totally understand.  Either way, I’m a better person for having met you.  🙂

PS — I told you 140 characters are not enough.  😉


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