By NANCY PATRICK
I try to incorporate new terminology into my vocabulary whenever I hear someone use a term unfamiliar to me. It happens frequently in today’s world as technology moves so quickly one has to make the effort to keep up.
I first noticed the use of the word “trending” on my Netflix account. In addition to labels such as “My List,” “Horror,” “Suspense,” and “Action,” streaming services have the label “Trending.” As one might guess, this list contains popular titles that receive many hits. The term “trending” implies that watching these movies will place the viewer into the mainstream of contemporary movie watching.
If being in the mainstream were important to me, I would add all these titles to “My List.” I have not done that, though, because I always read the information blurb to discover the movie’s topic, actors’ names, and rating for violence, sexual content, and language.
Although not a prude, I do have a limit to the amount of vile material I can tolerate during a two-hour movie. Some images are difficult to erase from the mind, so I prefer to skip that process when I can.
Trending applies to just about all aspects of our lives: fashion, language, politics, social media, religion, and health regimens. As a young person, I cared about trending more than I do now. At some point in my life, I decided my values and comfort felt better than compliments on my trendy choices.
We could remedy some extremely dangerous trending behavior today if we worked to establish new trends. My husband and I watch a segment of CBS News entitled “On the Road” with Steve Hartmann. Steve finds examples of good behavior all over this country and brings the stories to his broadcast. The popularity of his program has expanded it to a segment called “Kindness 101” that includes his children.
I would love for everyone to become acquainted with “On the Road.” A special half-hour program features stories about the power of forgiveness. You can see this program at this website: steve hartman program on power of forgiveness – Search (bing.com). YouTube also carries many of the stories which are about 5 minutes each: steve hartman on the road youtube – Search (bing.com).
I have written so much about this program in the introduction of this article to lay the foundation for what I pray to witness in our society. Could we begin a new “trend” of modern behavior? Think of some of our current negative trends that pollute our culture: bullying, unbridled ambition, lying, deception, violence, anger, revenge, hatred, meanness, and bigotry.
Social media has created a seemingly artificial shield around many people. They feel that the anonymity of the internet offers them the freedom to say whatever they feel about anything at any time to anyone. This openness has led to much heartache and tragedy.
Teenagers have committed suicide because commentators on their web pages have bullied them into deep depression. Celebrities have reacted to vicious negativity by suffering from psychological damage that has affected their careers.
Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open tennis tournament in 2021 illustrates the damage intrusive behavior can inflict on people. Osaka had acknowledged the pressure she felt from media and fans’ expectations. Many people reacted as though she had no right to set boundaries for her own mental health.
Some people seem to think of celebrities as public property without human feelings. These famous people are hurt by mean personal insults related to their physical characteristics or their personal family issues.
Some people bash others for their religious beliefs, their cultural traditions, their race, their intelligence, their political preferences, or anything else someone has mentioned online.
Meanness is trending these days. What a terrible trend to participate in! I would love to see a new trend replace this one. Steve Hartman’s “On the Road” offers a good platform from which to learn this new trend. And it is a learning process for some people whose meanness and negativity have defined them. Some have even expressed pride at what they call their sassy or witty personalities. Nothing could be further from the truth.
St. Francis of Assisi wrote many beautiful prayers, one of which is the prayer for peace. His prayer is my prayer that our world will reject trending that glorifies bullying, selfishness, greed, hubris, and spiritual meanness.
Peace by Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Nancy Patrick is a retired teacher who lives in Abilene and enjoys writing