Love Thee, Notre Dame

What is it about the University of Notre Dame that evokes such passion?

People who love Our Lady’s University and those who abhor it can rest assured they share one thing — they aren’t sitting on the fence.

I graduated from a state school (Ole Miss — Hotty Toddy!!), so I know about rivals. We had our share of them, and we knew they “hated” us as much as we “hated” them.

But our SEC Conference was the uniting force.

If one of our rivals was playing a football bowl game against a team outside the SEC, why, we’d up and root for our rivals. We wouldn’t necessarily like it, but we’d do it.

Probably because Home and Family are strong concepts in the South.

Kind of like your momma telling you not to make fun of crazy Aunt Lulu behind her back because she’s family and Family Sticks Together.

Notre Dame has long prided itself on its independence. The drawback, of course, is independence equates separateness.

And for many who hate ND, separateness equates aloofness. Haughtiness. Exclusivity.

Anyway, I was poking around Twitter the other evening, the same day as ND former linebacker Manti Te’o held a news conference in Indianapolis. To further explain how he was a victim of “catfishing.”

And the media had a heyday with it. So did Twitter users.

Frankly, I was embarrassed by many of the comments.

What is it about a football player, a 21-year-old kid, that draws such rage? Such hatred?

I guess none of the tweeters had ever made a mistake. Done something that in retrospect they’d have done differently. ‘Fessed up earlier and taken their licks then.

Perhaps it’s the anonymity of the Internet that lures folks to strike out against others, to leave biting, cruel remarks without regard to the consequences.

Don’t they know the Internet is forever? That all their comments can be rounded up and will paint a picture of just who they really are? That someone they’re trying to impress — a potential employer or that cute girl in their Botany class — might just cast them aside when their true colors are revealed?

So while I understand rivalries on the athletic field, I guess I’ll never understand meanness. Hatred. Pettiness.

Or how trying to bring someone else low somehow elevates you.

It doesn’t. Never has, never will.

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24 thoughts on “Love Thee, Notre Dame

  1. I am by nature someone who avoids conflict and I am in fact hyper-sensitive to it. As a tool for self-preservation, I have managed to find ways to de-escalate just about any situation and to move on from situations that are too rife with rage and other destructive emotions. Lately, that has made me a lonely person. It’s everywhere.

    The Internet provides some false sense of anonymity that facilitates mob mentality. It’s not only sad, it’s frightening.

    • I totally agree. I’ve noticed that if even one person blatantly says something cruel, others are quick to chime in, too. Kind of kicking a dead horse, in my opinion. Thanks for sharing yours!

  2. Fools names and thoughts can be seen and heard in so many places. Twitter offers more anonymity than Facebook and I have noticed seems to draw out more rage and harsh comments. I blame in large part the media for turning a boy like Manti Te’o into a media event–when in fact it was nothing more than gossip, and family business…nothing criminal happened. Yes, he was a collage football player, but does that make him a public figure or even a celebrity in the bigger picture. College kids deserve a little more slack, and protection. They are still kids and finding there way in the world.
    My opinion is ND used Manti Te mistakes to distract us from larger issues..things that need to be talked about and investigated. Manti Te is a scapegoat, in my opinion.
    You’re right social media is showing a different side of humankind and it isn’t pretty.

    • You are so right on this one, Kb (but then, you ARE one wise woman indeed!). I think you’re onto something with your second paragraph, too. Sadly, there are other issues that cry out to be addressed, rather than focusing on an honest mistake. Thanks for your thoughts!

      • You’re completely right about the almost mindless cruelty in comment sections on almost any website.

        I wonder what was meant by ND potentially using Manti Teo to distract us from other issues. The athletic director seemed sincerely distressed about what Manti was going through, and I was glad that ND allowed Manti to tell his own story in his own time. If there are larger issues, I’ve been missing them!

        The media was so determined to make Manti look bad — guess it makes for a better story. They must have been so disappointed that there was nothing salacious to be found in the months of tweets between Manti and the “girl.”

        • Hi Meg, and Welcome! You bring up some good points. I’m sure the media at large WAS looking for something to hang on poor Manti’s neck and finding nothing, they decided to poke fun of his naivety. I don’t know when we as a people decided that a 21-year-old college football player’s personal life had become fodder for prying eyes. It’s not like he was running for public office, handling public money, or anything like that. To crucify someone in the court of public opinion is uncalled for and heartless. I find it sad that adults have nothing better to do than hang onto a story like this when there are so many real concerns in our world today! Thanks for voicing your opinion!

    • Thanks, Suzi. I’m so tired of the meanness today — and it seems to be everywhere I look. That’s not a political observation either! I guess people are entitled to their own opinions, but I was raised that, if you didn’t have anything nice to say, you didn’t say anything. Restrictive? Perhaps, but it was easier to be nice when others were as well!

  3. I so agree! The way we treat others, whether online or in real life, shows the world exactly who we are. Every time we say something unkind, people learn a little more about who we are when no one is looking.

    • Beautifully said! I just know, deep down inside, that I’d hate to be the cause of someone feeling less of a person because of something I said. Or did. It all goes back, for me, to the Golden Rule of treating others as I want to be treated.

    • Wasn’t she the poor girl who slipped and fell? Here, I’m feeling sorry for her — empathizing with her embarrassment and pain — while others are poking fun of her. It just doesn’t make sense. How does her slip-up make them feel superior, and how does repeated mention of it add to anything? I guess I’ll just never understand. Thanks for pointing this one out!

      • No, you’re thinking of Jennifer Lawrence. I don’t think they were making fun of her.

        Kristen Stewart (Twilight fame) came out to present an award with Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter fame), and her hair was all messed up, she was limping, her arm bruised and she appeared high. Typically, when a star presents an award, they look polished. Stewart looked more of a wreck. She may not have been feeling well, in which case the show organizers should have gotten someone to fill in, rather than put her through the torture of going on stage. Speculation on why she was in that condition ran rampant, and was often cruel.

        • Well, as you can see, I didn’t watch the Academy Awards! And I really don’t keep up with stars and entertainers. Their lives and lifestyles are completely foreign to me! I hadn’t heard about this poor girl — don’t they have makeup artists and hairstylists to touch them up before they make public appearances??

  4. I don’t know that it’s even just the internet. Many people these days have such a disregard for others. People seem to have lost the ability to consider others feelings. There always seems to be an assumption that when others screw up, they’ve acted out of stupidity or selfishness. There’s just such a lack of compassion anymore.

    • We could use a lot more “kinder and gentler” these days, huh, Terri?! I mean, if you wouldn’t say something ugly to someone’s face, why would you think of writing it for all the world to see? Sure beats me, but I’m glad you agree!

  5. I think the internet makes it too easy to pick on people from the safety of home and sometimes anonymity. We have to teach kids today that it’s as important to be careful online as it is face to face. Manners are still manners.

    • I’ve been wondering if people get lulled into this when they choose gravatar pictures that are cartoonish or just a scrambled image. Not that everyone who uses something like that is mean, of course, but it can contribute to more anonymity. I’ve noticed that those who use real photos tend to be more cautious in what they say. That’s probably a generalization, but it’s what I’ve seen. You’re absolutely right — manners are still manners!

  6. Your last two lines are so true. I have also seen hateful comments online and it makes me sad. I’d like to think people had more kindness, but if it’s there, it’s hidden under a thick layer of mean. Personally, I don’t pay attention to headlines. I don’t care about other people’s personal business (it’s none of mine) and really, it’s not healthy for anyone involved to have their problems put on public display. Why people choose professions that put them in the limelight is beyond me. For me, no amount of money is worth the scrutiny….it’s akin to selling my soul to the devil (for me – I realize others may not be as private as I am :))

    • I totally sympathize, Janna. It’s a dilemma an introverted writer must address when he/she seeks publication (though perhaps not to the extent that wannabe public officials face!). Really, all that meanness is just a form of bullying. We don’t tolerate it in our schools or the real world; why do we tolerate (and some even ADD to) it online? Thanks for your comments!

  7. Debbie, awesomely expressed post!

    And it’s so ironic because last month I posted something similar on my blog about how nasty, cruel and biting the comments are on You Tube. Honestly, sometimes I read the comments over there and they bring tears to my eyes because it’s so difficult for me to believe that some people can be so hateful with their words.

    “Perhaps it’s the anonymity of the Internet that lures folks to strike out against others, to leave biting, cruel remarks without regard to the consequences.

    Don’t they know the Internet is forever?”

    Exactly! And I often wonder if these people would ever have the courage to say these things if they were face to face with someone.

    Thank you for sharing this post…X

    • Thanks for visiting, Ron, AND for your comments. It seems like Twitter is especially cruel (maybe for small-minded people it’s easier to be mean in 140 characters??) But why would anyone take a chance on positioning themselves to the entire world as cruel?! I just don’t get it!

  8. I’ve really nothing to add to all the truth expressed above, except to say this: I remember the days when teachers, parents, pastors, government officials, Congressmen and yes, even Presidents, made an effort to at least pretend such nastiness wasn’t a good thing.

    The tone coming out of Washington seems to validate this kind of behavior. Contempt, ridicule and outright lying from public officials inevitably is going to affect all public discourse – even on Twitter and Facebook.

    • You might have hit the nail on the head with your comments here, Linda! I think “tone” starts with the top, whether it be the boss of a company, the parents in a family, or government officials. If the “underlings” see meanness modeled at every step, they’re bound to learn that it’s acceptable. Couple that with anonymity and we have a general unpleasantness that pervades our culture.

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