So I've been moderating this facebook page for people living in my town. Mostly it seems to be expats looking for hairdressers and doctors who speak English. It's also businesses offering services (an insufficiently corollary number of hairdressers and doctors, obviously), people who are lonely and want to meet up for a beer, periodic ranting about how when you move away from home the things you liked about home don't always happen to be in the place you left home to get to.
Sometimes the questions and the advice are smart and helpful and kind; sometimes they are ... not. I have been working on picturing people who are not particularly clever as being like baby kittens. Like, a baby kitten is so dumb it will fall over its own feet onto its puffy little head. And that is ADORABLE! It is sweet and endearing and not annoying at all. Awwww, look! It's trying to blink and eat and it has tipped over! Look at the basket of kittens who have managed to create facebook accounts so as to look for a barber on the internet and yet can't figure out how to use google! I mean can you blame them? No, they are small and silly kittens!
I have found this method moderately to highly effective depending on how well I slept the night before.
Today there was a bit of a dustup in the newsfeeds that I follow because the translation of a book by Alan Hollinghurst was discussed on a radio program and in the course of this some text was quoted that mentioned that boys have penises and somebody heard it and went on a tirade about how the author is a gay Islamicist or something, I don't know, I couldn't pay attention, I was visualizing kittens as hard as possible.
And the translator has come back with a perfectly reasoned and thorough response. I admit it makes me admire her, because her response was well written and thorough and you know how much I like that, when someone who is getting shit thrown in their direction just stays clear and focused and remembers who they are. Awesome. But I couldn't help on the other hand thinking that it was a lot like when I tried to teach my cat using flashcards.
I mean: I did that to be funny. I did not really think the cat would look at the flashcards and be like "Oh, you want me to communicate with you! Yes, I shall do these things!" You know? And I think that people who get all sputtery angry and WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN when they are talking about, say, the word penis being said on the radio and not, say, children in cages... I mean, they're not harmless like kittens. They're not cute like kittens. They're more like kittens who destroy the furniture with their claws that they're too dumb to retract and then pee on the rug or something. I mean you can't really ignore it, that kind of behavior. But I'm not sure you can reason with it, either.
Kittens kittens kittens. Batting about little bits of yarn. Pouncing on their own shadows. Working on their novels when you're not home.