Itching For a Fight

I started a new card in my Trello notebook with the title, but before I could jot my thoughts into a comment box, I started wondering where that expression came from. Of course, I googled. I didn’t find an entry for the etymology of the phrase – that is to say it wasn’t in the first ten results, which means it doesn’t exist…right? – but I found lots of entries for “itch.”Of course, as is often the case with Internet dictionaries, the definition had to be looked up, because the definition included the word “hankering,” and I was curious as to where that word came from. According to one dictionary: “Probably from Flemish hankeren, related to Dutch hunkeren ‘to hanker, to long for’.”

I digress.

The point of this post is to explain why I don’t comment or like some of the things I see in social media, including some posts on WordPress. It’s because, as the title suggests, I think the world is itching for a fight, or if you prefer, hankering for an argument. I don’t necessarily think that the people I follow are of that mindset, but these posts frequently attract people who seem more interested in arguing than listening. Honestly, it hurts my head.

Ironically, it was a real-world encounter that caused me to think about this. Someone commented recently that we were having “yet another” day of crummy weather in Connecticut. I agreed, adding that I hadn’t paid attention when the forecast changed from partly cloudy to mostly rain, and I wondered out loud if we would be plagued with another wet weekend.

The person said: “I don’t know, I think our weather has actually been pretty good this year.”

I was startled. Not only was that statement 180° from the thought they put forth two minutes earlier, it was flat out wrong – we’ve had horrible weather this summer.

I sipped my coffee and moved on.

That’s what I do in social media. I sip my coffee/water/beer and move on. The benefit of social media over real life is that I can think twice, and backspace over my initial reaction. I think that’s when being a poor speller helps me. I tend to reread what I have written, looking for the little red squiggles indicating some spelling or grammar faux pas. Sometimes, I just don’t feel comfortable with what I have written. Sometimes, I just avoid social media posts, because I see some of the usual suspects in the thread, and I know that nothing good will come from my participation.

The world seems to be filled with people who make brash, polarizing and proactive statements simply to illicit an emotionally charged reply. I qualify the kind of reply, because I don’t think they are hoping for a logical, rational reply – they don’t seem to want to discuss – they seem to want to argue.

One of the things I enjoy about talking with my best friend John, is the degree to which we discuss things. After I hang up, my wife will often ask “did you two solve all the problems?” Sometimes we do. Sometimes, we set the problems, and our differing opinions, on the side of the road and move on, but we acknowledge the other’s opinion. We don’t acknowledge it out of friendship, we do so because it’s an informed opinion. It’s based in fact, and if the facts are in error, the errors are acknowledged and things like “I didn’t know that” or “that does make a difference,” or “you raise a good point” are said.

I never see those words on Facebook.


Today’s pictures are from the weekend when Maddie was hankering for a walk and then to sit on her cot. It’s cooler here, and we have added cushions to the bench and Maddie’s cot. Soon, the bench will be wrapped in burlap and stored off to the side. After that, we sit in folding chairs. Several people have made comments about Maddie’s likely sadness once it gets too cold to sit. Trust me, those days are few and far between. Last year, we bought Maddie a vest, so she can sit without freezing.

86 thoughts on “Itching For a Fight

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  1. Yes, I too avoid certain conversations and posts. Tossing in my opinion or observation is not going to make any difference and will only drag me into a “discussion” I don’t want to have. In the end, I’ve simply had to stop following some people on FB because of their negativity and lack of basic tolerance.

    Your photos gave me a smile on this rainy Monday morning. The shadow in the first photo looks like Maddie’s a horse and the squirrel absconding with a bag of nuts is hilarious.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Joanne. I’m sure many of us feel this way. With all the recent polarizing news in the US, I just thought I’d mention that these aren’t the subjects that bring me to social media. I follow people to see things, to learn things and to observe good writing and photography. I do enjoy reading some well-reasoned views on a wide variety of topics, but I’ve gotten dragged into some comment threads that I wish I hadn’t been a part of, so I tend to avoid the topics.

      I love the long shadows, especially when Maddie looks like she’s smiling. That squirrel was a riot. I had taken a bag of peanuts out with me, because they do come begging. It was sitting on the large pile of vinyl siding boxes.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They get a few peanuts, and they pick at the bird seed we toss out, and, believe it or not, they forage like squirrels. They are acting like they think we’re in for a long cold winter. I hope they’re wrong. They do seem to be building a layer of blubber ;-)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had to walk away from Facebook. Even having my account as private as it was, people would post things that really caused me to want to reply and often made me shake my head in wonder that I never really knew my friends at all.
    Hmmm….I wonder how that nice little bag of peanuts got out of the garage and i to that little guys hands. Sooooo cute. Have a good week, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He ran away when I first saw him dragging that bag off. Then he came back as if “Hey, look what I found!” What’s amazing, is that we can toss a peanut to them, and if it lands 2 feet away, they act like they can’t find it. Yet, this bag was 4 feet off the ground, on a pile of siding boxes, inside my garage!

      There are so many times that I want to jump into what looks like a discussion on FB. Then, I poke around the comments, and I realize it’s two groups, on opposite sides and stuff is only being said – nothing is being heard.

      Like

  3. You wrote this with me in mind, I know you did. Thank you. ❤️ I’ve had to stop following friends because their main topic has evolved into politics drenched in hatred hence arguments. I miss them, but I’m not arguing. A blog I followed for years was having a sensible discussion so I commented. It flared up into a house on fire and let’s just say the blogger tried to hold me and my comment hostage if I didn’t continue the conversation. Stopped following that blog. I belong to a group of New England gardeners, and last week a new person asked whether to deadhead perennials in the fall or spring. Two people said spring, so I chimed in and said it was up to you – your choice. I got this nasty gram back telling me I didn’t know what I was talking about because I had to leave those plants there for visiting birds. Really, you want to argue over deadheading plants. :-( I’m with you – sip and move on. But, it always makes me think about why. Why is everyone itching for a fight? My first response is because it is not a human interaction – no facial expressions, no change in voice pattern. It is just black words on white paper as fast as we can type. Keep talking to John and walking Maddie. That makes more sense to me. Perfect post for Monday, the first day of October. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. Yours is an even better example than the weather conversation i had. Who cares? There can be more than one right answer to something like growing plants. I worked for a guy for a while that would ask how my wife had made something that she baked and I brought in to work to share. Then he would tell me to tell her what she had done wrong – it’s a cookie! If you don’t like it, don’t eat it.

      It seems that if you aren’t anchored over one of the poles, no one really wants to talk to you. So many people don’t want a conversation, they want an echo.

      I think you raise a good point about the lack of physical presence. I know I often wonder if what I wrote will be taken as I meant it. That’s another reason I stay out of some threads.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Solving the world’s problems in a respectful, thoughtful discussion is far better than getting in the middle of the itchy ones. I have FB friends who have very different political and religious views from me, but I let them have their say without tossing out my opinion. That’s the time for sipping and passing on by. I’d much rather laugh at a cute dog/cat meme than get into an argument over something stupid.

    Give all the furry girls a scratch/pet from me and throw the squirrel another peanut. Happy Monday, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary. MuMu has been scratched, Maddie has been petted (and went back to sleep – it’s Monday) and MiMi has been apologized to (I turned on the light).

      I’m with you, if I’m going to Facebook, it better be cute, or funny, or personal. Nothing Stupid!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Those are some good pictures Dan. And some good advice. As for the origin of ‘itching for a fight’ I think it was a scene cut from Rocky. Rocky wants to use the ‘itching for a fight’ as part of his training routine and Burgess Meredith says no. Burgess tells Rocky he has rocks in his head. And they went with Rocky running up the steps. I don’t go to FB anymore. If I want to get drama I go to the theater and choose a play I enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This post, and the comments, made for an interesting read this morning, Dan. I enjoyed your furry friends photos. He went searching for peanuts in your garage?! That is so funny….oh, and you left a hole in the bag for easy access to the nuts! You are a peach! Maddie, MiMi and MuMu are always adorable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lois. I put a bag of peanuts in the garage, in case someone came by looking famished (Rusty – this guy has a red belly – does not look famished). Apparently he found the bag and thought stealing is preferable to begging.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t do FB or Twitter, etc. I follow some blogs. I follow you, Judy and Pam, for instance, because you guys make me laugh, make me think. Because you’re all so interesting. Because you tell great stories, share terrific history lessons, share wonderful photos, take me on tours to places I would otherwise never see.

    I don’t like arguing. I believe we can have differences of opinion without fighting about it, but so many people believe otherwise. I’ve unsubscribed to posts that seem only to want to incite. Nope. Not for me.Hell, if I want an argument, all I have to do is make a comment to the hubby about his family and we could go at it ’til the cows come home!!

    Love Maddie’s cushion, and apparently she does too. In the upside down shot of the phone pole, I like the way some of the wires look like they aren’t attached to anything at the other end. And Snoopy’s back keeping house!

    The squirrel and the bag of peanuts made me laugh out loud, mostly because it was your building he got into, not mine!! I hope that doesn’t turn from being cute to destructive.

    MiMi and MuMu…….picture perfect!

    Please keep your wonderful blogs coming Dan, I truly look forward to them.
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ginger. I have to say, “…all I have to do is make a comment to the hubby about his family…” made me laugh at my desk and almost choke on my leftover pizza.

      The bag of peanuts was out there so I’d have some handy if he (Rusty, red belly) came begging. I have to find a better hiding place. The garage is detached, so I don’t think there’s too much danger.

      In avoiding these conversations, I find myself spending a lot less time on Facebook. I love the community I follow on WordPress – I can count on them to deliver stuff worth reading. I am honored to have you as a reader (I’m in fine company).

      My wife used the cushion on the bench one time. Now, when we go onto the porch. Maddie points her nose at that cushion as a way of telling us what she wants to do.

      Like

  8. An open mind thinks it’s closed, a closed mind thinks it’s open. An open minded person wonders if their perspective is correct, and will look at other opinions. A closed minded person nquestionably knows they see the situation accurately, and must explain it to others.

    The shadow on the first pic of you walking the dog looks like you’re riding a horse. That’s just the way it is, and there’s no other way to look at it!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I started on Facebook just so I could get pictures of the grand kids growing up. Its so busy with junk. Now that they all do Instagram, its better. Just pictures and no useless words. Although ‘hankering’ is a perfectly good word.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You have pointed out a pet peeve of mine. People who argue for the sake of arguing. I don’t comment on obvious baited traps anymore. The photos were terrific. I got a kick out of the peanut grab out of the garage. Maddie is too cute.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. I’m not sure what joy people get from making other people angry, but it seems to be a national pastime. The bag of peanuts was there so I could feed the squirrels – I guess he couldn’t wait for me to return. He ran away at first, but then came back. The temptation was too great.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. No joke, I actually mute/block more things (words/hashtags/accounts) on Twitter (my social media of choice) than I follow or look at. It’s very difficult to read any news article, or even be online in general when something “newsworthy” is happening and EVERYONE wants to talk about it, without getting upset. And frankly, I think we all have enough trials in our actual day to day lives — we don’t need to constantly be getting involved with everyone else’s “problems” too.

    So whenever people tell me they’re getting sick of social media, I reply that they’re just looking at the wrong things. Yeah, it takes effort and diligence to block and mute everything that either rubs you the wrong way or that raises your blood pressure, but you can do it. There are plenty of people out there writing/talking about GOOD things. We CAN cultivate a much more pleasant social media atmosphere for ourselves, and I highly recommend doing so!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good point, Wendy. To be honest, I knew you could block people on Twitter, but I didn’t know you could block hashtags – thanks! I tend to look for the good in people, but sometimes, you have to overlook too much.

      Like

      1. Oh, yes! Tbh, I couldn’t survive on Twitter without being able to mute hashtags. If you’re looking for it, it’s under Settings, “Muted Words”. You just click “Add” and then put in words or hashtags (one at a time though or it won’t work), and click Add again. Unfortunately it won’t stop them from showing in Trends on the sidebar if it’s currently trending, but it WILL keep them completely out of your timeline or any search results.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Dan – I hear you … that’s partly why I remain on the sidelines and most things whistle by … I pick up a few nuggets – but so many opinions are just that – not based on anything. I have always tried to stay positive and not be negative … have a good week despite the rain … it’s bucketing down here! Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The world seems to be filled with people who make brash, polarizing and proactive statements simply to illicit an emotionally charged reply.

    I am offended, disgusted, shocked and outraged that you would suggest such a thing. You are wrong, probably a terrible person and don’t know what you are talking about.

    (How am I doing here? Did I miss anything?) :) :)

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Oh, FB. I can’t tell you how many of my opinions of long time friends have radically changed in the past 2-3 years. Friends and family members I love have become vitriol spewing strangers posting inflammatory crap meant to shock and anger. It’s quite bizarre.
    While I have friends from all walks of life, with divergent interests and persuasions…. I’ve always been able to have amicable discussions and basically agree to disagree without coming to blows. Now? It’s a whole new world. And one I don’t care to be part of.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. There have always been people who are constantly spoiling for a fight. They just seem more prevalent now because they can so easily express their opinions through media with a wide audience. In the old days, it was possible to just ignore such people, but now they’re everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I love “hankering.” I’m hankering for another vacation and I just got back from the last one. :-)

    Social media = (often) unsocial media. Being anonymous more or less seems to give many encouragement to be disgusting and hateful. I’m not on FB much, although I’m part of a private group there that I cherish and also appreciate the ability to chat with friends in real time so easily, even those in other countries. I’m saddened to find that other media, such as newspapers (you remember those, right?), online news sources, TV, etc. can all be rather intolerant as well. We seem to be getting more and more polarized, which is frightening, because if you can’t talk, reason, discuss, and even agree to disagree (or to see a valid point on the other side even if you still disagree), we’re in a dangerous place.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet – I’m thinking that ‘hankering’ needs to be used more often.

      The comments on newspaper websites are totally nuts. I can’t even read them. People just inject their topic of choice into the discussion on any story – related or not – and derail any meaningful conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I deleted FB a long while ago now I don’t miss what you described at all.

    OMG! That squirrel with the bag of peanuts gives a whole new vibe to the song I found a peanut! 😊 He hit pay dirt!!

    Maddie’s cushion; she sure does look comfy and cozy curled up there.

    I loved the image of your shadows, and the one at the park with the sun beams.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. I’m down to mainly using FB to stay in tough with two groups of people. One is a private group, the other, an odd collection.

      Rusty (squirrel has red belly) struck it rich for sure. Maddie has marked the change to autumn with the cushion. Winter will bring out the vest.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Those nut lovers got their own packets full of nuts. How lucky they are to have you as a neighbor!
    The shadow of you and Maddie looks as if you are riding a large animal, a horse or something. That puddle with the transformer upside down is so clear!
    And MiMi is neither happy nor sad. She is always neither happy nor sad. I like all the photos.
    Anyway, social media is a cruel, bitter world. It is an apocalyptic world. It affords anonymity, thereby taking away the shame and guilt that would otherwise be felt in the ordinary world. Very discouraging.
    Thanks for the shares. I had to laugh at the part about the person commenting on the weather. To say something now and completely oppose yourself the next minute . . . I found that kind of hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Peter. The bag of peanuts should have lasted all day and fed a bunch of squirrels. I didn’t notice his that shadow looked until someone pointed it out. I was focused on Maddie’s smile.

      MiMi and MuMu are sisters, but so very different. MuMu screams to be brushed.

      Social media is somewhat isolated but people should realize that we can connect them to what they say.

      I always think of you when I see the power lines reflecting in the puddle.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I understand what you feel. I have a razor sharp tongue and since I have been into many college debates I have a superior debating skills and being a content writer I can play with words. All this combine together makes it hard for my opponent to counter me. On social media I have had my share of abuses simply because the other person has nothing more to say. After my marriage I have gone silent on social media because you know what I believe the other person is not ready to listen and be open. They have preconceive notions, false religious ideologies and pseudo nationalistic thoughts that I can’t fight. No use punching the wall. Also, spending time thinking and reading those social media posts is a waste of time and it affects my productivity and mood. So, I better read something good, positive, knowledgeable and informative that makes me a better person than I was yesterday. Zoroastrianism is based on three principles: Humata, Hukhta and Hvarshta which translates Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds. It is the simplest way to keep the evil in check.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those three principles are very important. More people should adopt them.

      We had a funny expression when I was growing up that fits your debating skills “I/he was in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, all credit for that goes to my Literature professor, she really boosted my debate skills. Can’t find good quality teachers these days that have so much passion. I’ll remember her till the end of my time.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Speaking of phrase etymology, my favorite from year ago is “Waiting w/ bated breath.” Turns out it comes from “abated”…which translates to “waiting with held breath”. One I just learned while listing to a British audio novel was what I think is the root of what, in America, we say as “Don’t give it a second thought.” That makes sense. But in the version I heard last week, and apostrophe “s” was added, giving it a bit of a different meaning…”Don’t give it a second’s thought.” Subtle, but worthy of contemplation! Miss you, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I miss you, too, Paul. Thanks for adding those. I never understood what “bated breath” meant. The second/second’s is contemplation worth but might require an adult beverage.

      Like

  21. Same with me, Dan! Some posts I delete that “itch for a fight” or “hanker for an argument.” A few times I’ve reacted with an opinion comment, had a rethink & deleted. 😣 Ahh…pics of Maddie, MiMi, Sammy, and Snoopy! Smiling & no rethink before posting! Enjoy fall coming to CT. I just got home from there, back to CA hot days! Have a happy week! 📚🎶 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Wow, Dan. Timely! I opened up Instagram today and what do you know, Elizabeth Gilbert had put out a Monday Morning Integrity Check that knocked me on my butt. Her comment started with “Dear Ones: It’s Monday morning and the godawful news cycle is about to begin again. Before I start getting high off the crack pipe of outrage, I decided to do an integrity check on myself. It’s not fun or pretty, but here goes.” She nailed it.

    This confirmation process has thrown me into a swizzle. Her post made me stop and take stock of my own positions in what can only be called a more well rounded light. Her user is elizabeth_gilbert_writer if you’re so inclined — it’s worth the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Laura. I’m not on Instagram, but I keep thinking I should at least get there to check out some of the good stuff you guys put out there. I had to stay away from FB this weekend – it truly was making my head hurt.

      Like

  23. I spend less and less time on Facebook as life continues and I find that I am happier with this solution than I would have expected. Sadly, I don’t play Scrabble with wonderful people like my mother and Manja as often, but I’m happier anyway. When I do get on, I try to stalk the people I’m most fond of and play my game and be done.
    I truly have a ‘friend’ who is contrary like that, quite often. As soon as we offer support of a statement she’s made, she argues with us/herself. Not important things, necessarily. Just anything. I gave up on commenting years ago. I just like or love or lol on her pics. I am not itching for a fight.
    I like to think of two guys on the phone, solving the world’s problems, even theoretically. I hope that spreads.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do not always get to tread comments on posts but glad I caught this one – because Joey – I have a few blog pals that I have to do the same:
      gave up on commenting years ago

      they are awesome but get so bitey

      Liked by 2 people

  24. Sipping my coffee/water/beer (or, in my case wine… but let’s not fight) and moving on is my favorite approach. I won’t change their mind, and they probably won’t change mine. I do enjoy a face-to-face discussion/debate as long as both parties are respectful and factual, but that doesn’t seem possible on social media. I’m amazed at how quickly people get ramped up on our little neighborhood Facebook-like site. Why does everything need to be argued?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do enjoy face to face, but with open minds. I don’t know why it’s all-or-nothing these days. Sip that wine, move on, nothing to see here. Even the comments in our local rag paper are off the charts.

      Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. I’ve learned rather more than I wanted to about some of my friends and acquaintances on social media. I’m much less inclined to get involved in an argument than I used to be. The discussions were mostly polite, but some people don’t seem to know the difference between opinion and fact, which means that no one is going to benefit.

    I’m also fascinated by etymology. Words are meat and drink to me and I like to look at their history.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks April. The etymology of phrases has always interested me. My wife bought me a couple of books covering some of the strange and funny saying we have.

      As for the difference between opinion and fact, i think recognizing that might be a lost art.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Well said, Dan. You hit the nail on the head. I see this a lot on FB, and I do that social media thing to see photos of friends and relatives. Funny thing, someone asked me about being on social media, WordPress. Wow! To me, that is my world of discussion and writing and learning, much like you and your best friend John. No fights, just good friends and conversation. Give Maddie a pat for me, okay?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. “I sipped my coffee and moved on.”

    was there any other better quote to get from you?

    well maybe – but dan – this is awesome

    and I love when people who love words (like you do) share with their exploration and rabbit trails of looking them up – it inspires.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Yvette. It’s funny when you chase an expression and realize that, somewhere along the line, the meaning was mistakenly changed.

      I’ve learned that I have to move on, even though I want to say something – nothing good will come from it.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. You’re right about Facebook, Dan. I need to Google “Trello”. Love MiMi’s raspberry! And of course lovely MuMu looking so besotted with her dad. Not to mention that squirrel who must think he’s in heaven with a bag full of nuts. Have a wonder-filled Wednesday. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I grew up in a family where Sunday dinners were the time for discussion of any topic my siblings and I wanted to discuss (within reason…my folks tried to keep it clean when the four of us were in our teens)…key word discussion…viewpoints shared and dialogue was based on thoughts, facts, questions, curiosity and non-emotional. Today I have had to drop FB with one of my siblings….so emotional, negative and contra to how we were raised. Sad, but unfortunately not an unusual experience in todays environment. What happened to actual discussion and sharing of ideas without all of the negativity around different views??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t have that answer, Kirt. I wish I did. I wish we could go back to a time where people – including the ones sitting in Washington – discussed concepts, ideas, points of view and reached an agreement. It’s sad to have to choose to lose contact. I’ve had to do that with some friends. Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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