In case you haven’t heard, there’s an eclipse today. We’re in Ohio, so we’ll see parts. I chose not to get the glasses, that way good viewing is more likely.
I did get my handyman hat on and made a viewer out of an old rice box (it actually works well, the ‘sun’ image is about the size of a dime). We’ll do that, then just enjoy watching it get dark and imagining what it would have been like during an eclipse in the ancient days. Who knows, maybe we’ll read Beowulf in candlelight, just for the mood.
Anyway, last week I was driving back from a meeting. I usually don’t hear Rush Limbaugh, as his show and my availability don’t mesh. But he was on, and I always try to listen to different people express different views. Rush has had a few good points over the years, so you never know. As I listened, he was talking about a story where scientists were saying they might have been a bit off about the trajectory of the eclipse. It didn’t sound like a big deal. Another problem with punditry media is the tendency of making mountains out of molehills.
But the part that got me was that he seemed almost happy about the fact that people who made plans around this could end up disappointed. Maybe it’s me, but I don’t derive pleasure from seeing people disappointed. Even if I didn’t plan a grand block party with entertainment and kegs of beer, I don’t begrudge those who thought this was a big deal. And I don’t want to see them miss out.
As I thought about that, it dawned on me that this ‘Ha!, they’re screwed!’ is by no means uncommon in modern punditry, social media, late night comedy. We’re not laughing with people. We’re not even laughing at them. We’ve taken to laughing at their misery, their hurts, their disappointments. It’s not laughing because someone slipped on a banana peel. It’s laughing at them because they broke their hip doing so. Maybe I’m just odd, but of all the things that make me laugh, seeing someone disappointed in something they were looking forward to isn’t on the list.