I wrote about The Angry Woman From Ohio the other day and about how I try and deal with anger and hostility online, as there is a lot of it, and as I imagined, this made The Angry Woman From Ohio Angry and she started sending me angry messages again, and so I fed her to the Spam Filter and finally said goodbye, which of course I should have done ages ago, but I think I did not really want to say goodbye.There is always a part of me that wants to reach out and touch these people, talk to them, soothe them. A fantasy, I know, they do not want to talk to me.
It is a powerful image for me, The Angry Woman From Ohio sitting in her living room at her computer in the dark – a PC I should think, not an Apple, cable TV debates raging in the background – and sending messages out into the ether that nobody reads, or perhaps they do and send angry messages back. Unreachable, seething with indignation and outrage. But she will be fine, I know, there are so many angry people out there to find and exchange messages with. She will be busy in this world on her computer.
I find people like this haunting in many ways, because they are speaking to the angry and disconnected parts of me, and I have many. And because they have become the lost children of the Internet, faceless things behind screens, their anger burning like hot coals. I have never quite been able to figure out why people would send angry messages to other people when they could be having sex, reading a book, walking their dogs. Maybe anger is sex for them. I've been there, too.
I understand that I was intrigued by The Angry Woman not because I am different from her, but because in so many ways, I am not. I understand her, even as I have resolved not to be her, and thankfully, I have left so much of the anger in me behind, on the trail, for other people to walk on. But anger on feeds anger, nothing else, and angry people never grow, listen or change, and it is good, I have learned, to get away from them and talk to other people. People who love me. If I wonder why she is sending messages to me, then I wonder even more why I ever read a single one of them. I suppose because they stir up those ugly parts of me. I can't do a thing for her, other than say goodbye, but the work I have left to do is with me.
And I believe, I know, that when the anger is gone from me, they will feed somewhere else. In truth, and happily, such messages are very rare for me these days. The angry people used to swirl around me, and most of them are long gone.
When I said goodbye to The Angry Woman From Ohio, I felt somewhat sad, for her and for me. It was like saying goodbye to a part of me. We all have broken parts of us, and some get to fix them and some don't want to. I think of the Beatles singing for Eleanor Rigby, and Dylan dreaming of St. Augustine, and most especially Van Morrison writing about Madame George in "Astral Weeks," one of my favorite songs and albums.
"And the rain, hail, sleet and snow,
Say Goodbye to madame george
Dry your eye for madame george
Wonder why for madame george,
And as you leave, the room is filled with music, laughing,
Gotta go, say goodbye, goodbye, goodbye,
Say goodbye to madame george.."
Goodbye, Angry Woman From Ohio, I do hope the day comes when you can come out of the rain and hail and sleet and snow and do not need to send angry messages across time and space to people you can never know.