The past two and a half months have been incredibly stressful and exhausting for so many of us. After all, we just survived, at least many of us did, a Category 4 hurricane. That’s a significant event by anyone’s standards.
Most days it feels like hurricane clean up, completing Federal Emergency Management Agency paperwork, conducting negotiations with your insurance company and many other tasks are seemingly endless. And if you have the added benefit of having to conduct both business and personal dealings related to Sept. 10’s Hurricane Irma, you can just about double your exasperation level.
But what’s most troubling is how folks are dealing with that frustration. For sure, humans respond to stress in a variety of ways. For some, responding in a physical way — hopefully not on another person — is the answer. Some opt to disconnect and withdraw. Or even in some cases, walk away.
But in many instances, frustration is manifested verbally. Yell at the dog, be sarcastic to your spouse or say something snide to the cashier who’s taking a little too long for your liking to check you out.
Social media has given a voice to some who never had one before and to others who simply don’t deserve it. We’ve all seen nasty posts and comments on Facebook and are probably disgusted by them. You may find them amusing or just dismiss them, but in a close community, where we are so interconnected, it’s probably wise to think before you post.
The community page on Facebook, “What’s Happening in Marathon,” appears to have been launched a little over a year ago and is curated by a local who says, “Pretty much everything goes here, except ‘for sale’ stuff. Just be respectful and no name calling. Let’s not fight here. No politics. Don’t be rude to others, including visitors.”
During the weeks immediately following Irma, this page and others like it were and continue to be valuable resources for both residents and visitors who needed important information or just wanted to understand the vibe of how our community fared. Some wanted to know if certain businesses had reopened or when the next debris pickup would occur. Generally, it serves a purpose and can be a valuable forum for information.
Clearly, though, some missed the being respectful part.
It’s harmful to a small community trying to pick itself up, re-employ people and return to the vacation destination we depend on when people like Robert G. are asking “Are tourists just in the way still?”
Jackie KM says of visitors, “I have trouble dealing with the whiners, complainers and perpetual pity pot sitters.” Carol LR, said “Tourists are welcome as long as they are nice.”
Do we really need a snarky answer to a visitor who asked, “Can anyone recommend a snorkeling spot???” with the sarcastic response, “In the water.” Really? If it’s humor you were driving for, you missed the mark.
Cortney D. proclaimed that “Publix is a joke. I’m going to drive to Winn-Dixie in big pine !!!! price gouging Publix should be ashamed” without a shred of evidence to that claim. That’s irresponsible and more, importantly, untrue.
C’mon people, you may think social media outlets give you a license to say whatever enters that head of yours, but think of the image this portrays to the industry most important to our future — tourism. If I’m considering visiting Marathon for a potential vacation while pumping money into our local coffers and I see these types of comments, I’ll continue driving right past Marathon on the way to Key West.
If you choose to be part of this social media “community,” be an ambassador for that very community. Welcome the tourists. Invite them here. Sure, their presence clogs up our main road and sometimes they themselves aren’t as friendly as we, the residents, mostly are. But their dollars put people to work and fuel our future. Without them, businesses close, people leave and we’re left with the very rubble we’ve spent months cleaning up.
Let’s instead develop a positive mindset, like Deb N. did, when she posted on that site, “I walk my dog at least twice daily on the same route by the Capital Bank at 114th Street which has been closed since Irma. I have been doing this for about five years and have never noticed sunflowers in the grassy area there. Suddenly about a week ago, I noticed a single sunflower growing there. Did I just really begin to appreciate the small things since the hurricane? I guess — because now every time I see that sunflower, I smile!”