Snowpocalyptic musings

As it seems to be the case every three to five years in Atlanta, snow has befallen our fine city.  As it seems to be the case every time it happens, the entire city is in utter chaos; as the city and the state are ill-equipped when it comes to snow removal equipment, the roads often go unsalted and unplowed, and as the temperatures dip, everything freezes solid, and it’s safe to say that for the next day or three, it will be a very, very bad idea to get in a car and attempt to drive anywhere.  The irony in this statement is the fact that it’s literally two inches of snow that’s causing all this mayhem, because the city and state are completely incapable of clearing it from the roads.

The last time Snowpocalypse hit Atlanta, I ended up missing an entire week of work, which at the time was most definitely not a good thing, because I was still doing freelance work, therefore not being at work meant that I was not getting paid.  However, this time around, the circumstances are different, and I’m not terribly penalized by Mother Nature’s horseman.

Snowpocalypse has already been pretty brutal as is, and I’m very likely not going to be physically capable of going into work tomorrow, perhaps the day after, because like the last time, the hill that is the street directly outside of my house will undoubtedly be a sheet of ice, and it will be unable to be overcome by vehicles.  Coming home from work is generally a 29 mile commute that even on a bad day is roughly 50 minutes, took nearly three hours and several additional miles, due to road closures due to ice or accidents on account of ice.  I drove  no faster than 32 mph at any point of the trip, and I was often times in the 2 gear of an automatic vehicle, and the number of vehicles I saw that were wrecked, abandoned, in a ditched or spun out, I lost count at some point.

Before I continue on, I’d like to say that I’m sincerely glad that people I know in Atlanta are all seemingly well and safe, and that they’ve either made it safely home, or to at least the care of people who can provide them warmth and shelter.  There are many confirmed reports of those not nearly as lucky, and are at the mercy of makeshift shelters in unfamiliar stores, offices, and in some cases, the homes of good Samaritans willing to house complete strangers.

Needless to say, this has been the worst Snowpocalypse that I’ve seen since I’ve lived here, since none of the other snow storms in the past have had this many casualties that I can recollect.  But at the same time, I’m given the impression that this is the worst Snowpocalypse ever not just by what I’ve seen with my own two eyes, but also by the influence of social media, since prior to late-2012, I wasn’t on Facebook.

Being on Facebook was something I long resisted, but eventually relented, because in spite of my resistance, I was becoming somewhat of an island of a person, and I was losing touch with numerous people, so I eventually relented.  I’ll admit it’s not the end of the world like I made it out to be; I still don’t like the niggling idea that it’s one gigantic massive voluntary database of humanity in a sense, but at the same time, it’s nice to be able to see what’s going on in the lives of people I know, and to have somewhat of a convenient means of communication if I felt the need to correspond with people directly.  It’s also nice to be in the loop with social events that I felt that I was losing touch with by being unconnected.

The last year and change of being on Facebook haven’t been terrible for such reasons, but at the same time, my own participation is limited to sparse attempts at trying to be witty with observational humor, and giving snarky rebuttals to the status updates of others.  Otherwise, I typically tend to maintain a safe distance from the machine as a whole and try not to get into any in-depth discussions, because the message board mentality third parties adopt I find somewhat unappealing.

But the topic of Snowpocalypse brought forth a short-lived discussion that embodied everything I typically dislike about social media, and leaves me with feelings of discontent, uncertainty and a general below-average state of being.

I’m not necessarily concerned about the obviousness of what I’m about to write, seeing as how I’m fairly certain not a lot of people read my brog anyway, much less the people being referenced, so I have little concern that it would have any sort of backlash or consequence, and even if it did, I’d welcome a private discussion about it, because that’s what rational people of common intelligence do when there’s conflict.

But basically, what it all boils down to is that whenever Snowpocalypses hit Atlanta, Atlanta tends to be the butt of jokes from those who don’t live in Atlanta, and most typically those people who live in regions or parts of the world where snowfall is vastly more regular and common.  Jokes about how pathetic Atlanta collapses under 1-2 inches of snow, and how Atlantans all flip out and overreact, go to the store and buy everything they can to hoard for a lengthy hibernation, and how they can’t handle driving in the snow.

Shreds of truth exist in lots of humor, and typically this isn’t at all completely false.  People in Atlanta are unused to the snow, so their first inclination is often times to be overprepared, even if it means looking a little maniacal in the process.  This kind of behavior really isn’t that different to any place that gets snowfall, except perhaps in degree of urgency.

The truth of the matter is things I’ve already touched on; Georgia isn’t equipped to actually remove snow.  So it freezes and turns to ice, and makes the roads completely unsafe and practically undriveable.  Lots of people, including myself, like to brag about having experience in driving in the snow, but in so many cases, including me, that means having driven in places where snow fell, snow was plowed, and the roads are still somewhat resembling asphalt.  This does not apply to Georgia, where the snow falls, some of it pushed aside by heavy vehicles, but the majority of it packs and stays in place, and eventually freezes.

I’d confidently bet that a person from Alaska could be put into an automobile and have apprehension about driving around on Atlanta roads after a Snowpocalypse, because they’re essentially gigantic sheets of jagged, uneven ice.

Regardless of the misconceptions and stereotypes, the jokes exist.  Personally, I don’t find them the least bit offensive or nerve grating and often times find humor in them.  I found humor when a tremor shook Washington D.C., did virtually no damage, and it became a meme.  I made the picture above of Snowpocalypse reigning fear over Atlanta, and for the most part it was well received by many of my friends and acquaintances, whether they live here or not.

However, not everyone finds them funny, and that’s fine.  I get that Snowpocalypse hits home harder for some people than it does others, and to some, the repercussions of Snowpocalypse are capable of being personal, when the lives of cared ones are affected by it.  I can understand when the effects of Snowpocalypse cause concern for the well-being of others, despite being a single male without children, but at the same time in this particular case, there’s an extra layer of irony behind the whole winter maelstrom, because everyone knew it was coming, and it still ended up being the clusterfuck it was.

Regardless, to cut to the chase, I commented to a friend who exclaimed their displeasure with the jokes, that I’ll make the jokes too, as a resident suffering through the same Snowpocalypse, because sometimes all you can do is laugh about things.  And in my case, I laugh at the fact that we as a city knew it was coming, yet we still went to work, and in many cases, parents still sent their kids to school, knowing that snow was going to wreak havoc on the roads and that their kids would be riding buses with drivers as experienced at driving in the snow as most Georgia drivers are.  I laugh because when the day is over, it was still 2-3 inches of snow, which growing up in Virginia, the Fairfax County Supervisor would scoff and turn his head and still send us to school, but is capable of crippling an entire metropolitan area, because we’re not expected to get this kind of weather except in aberrations.  But that it’s okay if my opinion is not agreed upon, because we all have our own!

So what happens next?  I’m called a dick by someone I don’t even know.  Not directly, of course, because even with the convenience of being behind a screen (I almost said anonymity, but Facebook conveniently eliminates that in some cases), lots of people don’t have the spine to be that crass while other people can see.  But regardless, I am insinuated to being a dick by virtue of an extreme strawman analogy.

Now I’m a big boy, and I’ve got what I like to think is a fairly tough skin (for god’s sake, I used to debate about baseball on the fucking internet, which is about as bad as it gets), so being called insinuated a dick doesn’t bother me, but there’s little chance that I was going to sit there and let it go unnoticed, so I made a rebuttal, and basically called this person out, acknowledging that they’re insinuating that I’m a dick, but here is my elaboration.  Admittedly I did feel a little bad by straying from the initial discussion, but frankly I’m going to defend myself if someone calls insinuates that I’m a dick, especially when I don’t know them at all.

Naturally the ensuing rebuttal to mine is one that tries to dismiss the claim, with some reference to “the royal dick,” which I’m clearly not cool and/or internet savvy enough to understand what the fuck it even means.  Regardless, it’s almost as if they weren’t expecting me to retort to being called insinuated a dick, and took the easy way out, trying to disarm it with candor or a reference I don’t understand.

Considering the extremity in which their initial accusations were contextually directed at my original comment, this person would have to think I was mentally handicapped to not expect me to think they were calling me a dick in front of various people, some mutually known, some completely unknown.

The funny thing is that the topic momentarily shifts to me being a dick, and the dick caller states that they don’t know me well enough to be able to make that call, but the thing is that I don’t know who this person is at all, and have zero recollection ever meeting them before.  As I said, thanks to the convenience of Facebook, I can see that we have numerous mutual friends, so I can imagine it’s easy to believe we’ve met before, but I like to pride myself in being fairly decent at remembering names and faces, but yeah no, this person doesn’t ring a bell, so yeah yes, I will contest being called insinuated a dick by someone I don’t know.

Not lost on me is Facebook’s seemingly erudite Like function, because when I see a little number next to the thumbs up, I’m curious to see who is voluntarily agreeing with a slight on me, and lo and behold are familiar names.  I’d be lying if I didn’t weigh likes as a mildly convenient barometer to mentally shuffle people between friends, acquaintances, not-really-friends-but-we-know-mutual-people, and why-are-we-friends.

When the day is over, I’d rather not be seen as a dick by anyone.  Hard as it may seem to believe, I honestly don’t live my life thinking that it’s okay for me to be perceived as a dick by anyone, save for the mocking jokes shared between close company.  But that’s just that, there’s a worldly difference in being called a dick by a close friend that doesn’t mean it, and being called insinuated a dick by a complete stranger, regardless of a low-degree of separation.

This is the kind of shit that I hate about Facebook and social media, and makes me feel more and more urges to keep my thoughts and opinions to myself and not so readily shared over the internet.

Now I get the irony in previously stating that I have a tough skin, but then throwing up a thousand words about an isolated incident where a stranger called me a dick.  My feelings aren’t hurt over being called insinuated a dick, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t eat at my feelings a little bit on other parts of the conversation that publicly put my character in question in front of others, simply for having a difference in opinion.

It’s also something to write about, seeing as how I have plenty of time to do that, thanks to Snowpocalypse.

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