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Life Lessons Learned From Being Around Insensible People by Jim Shock

Wisdom From The Woods – Life Lessons Learned From Being Around Insensible People

I love debunking myths about West Virginia. My favorite is we’re illiterate. I know for sure, we can read. I don’t mean words, necessarily. We “read” each other constantly. We read every nuance of our neighbors with our senses. We read with our ears. We interpret love in the lofty lilt of a word or meekness in muddled mumbles overheard. The truest words we read are usually unwritten or unspoken. We recognize expressions of commitment, compassion, and contempt immediately at a glance. Our touches are telling too. We express stories as gripping as any yarn with a caress…or sadly a smack. Taste, well, nothing gives you a good read on somebody in West Virginia better than a meal. Communication through food is a tradition here. The problem is, it’s really difficult to read between the lines, when we don’t use our mind to connect the gaps between our senses. Like any good book, reading simply with physical senses, without intellect, leaves room for interpretation. The yardstick we use to “read” each other is imprecise, at best. For presumably “ignorant” folks, we have a pretty good read on current events in the area. Or so we think. I’ve never lived anywhere where people are so absolutely certain about what they don’t actually know. Every single sense we use to read others with is subjective. We misread so many situations, based on susceptive assumptions. It’s said, when you lose a sense, other senses are enhanced. The sense that seems to compensate most for our lack of vision is our sense of smell. The more something reeks, the more we want to read it. Maybe that’s where the term trashy novel originated. If we read books with the same feverish fervor as we do “Topix” or the gossipy sections of papers, it would burst in flames from the friction of fast turning pages. So what’s the moral of this story? We delight in the plight of others. Like any popular summer read, gossip gets passed through communities faster than the bubonic plague spread through Europe. It’s literally a sickening stench. We unwittingly carry the plague with us from house to house, school to school, bar to bar, and church to church. I personally find it disgusting that disgrace and despair are featured fodder on the front pages of our newspapers. When obituaries get buried next to courthouse news, it’s an insult to the departed. In fact, I’ve been a “story” in a few special editions, alongside deceased Aunt so-and-so. Most recently, I was featured for being fined for not wearing a lifejacket while floating on an inner tube in the Greenbrier River. Who knew? Potentially, there’s a goldmine of fines floating down the New River during the Boy Scout Jamboree. There certainly was money to be made during Fourth of July weekend. Maybe we’ll read about it in next week’s papers. Yellow journalism isn’t new. It’s as old as the printing press. Recently, I declined assignments from a local publication to promote the state fair. I didn’t want my talent associated with something sugarcoated as journalism, so I declined. It’s superficial, self-serving and slightly sinister, to make misery a weekly must-read in a “cool” small-town newspaper. As a published author and award-winning copywriter, I stand by my words. I’d rather write secretly in a journal than ever profit as a contributor to backbiting, two-bit, small-town tabloids. It just doesn’t make good sense to me.

– Jim Shock, LBSPY 37 (July 15-29)

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Publisher/Editor in Chief at HashtagWV | + posts

HASHTAGWV ART & ENTERTAINMENT Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Christina Entenmann-Edwards has been a WV resident since September 2008. She was born and raised in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and is no stranger to hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit. In 2006, she graduated from Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Connecticut), Cum Laude, with a B.A. in History. In 2010, she graduated with an M.B.A. from Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia). In February 2012, Christina launched HashtagWV as the area’s first full-color, free arts and entertainment tabloid + online platform. Christina completed the Leadership West Virginia class of 2021, which is an innovative program that grows, engages, and mobilizes leaders to ignite a life passion to move West Virginia forward.