2014-03-21 / Columnists

Boyleing Points

Whine Country
By Kevin Boyle

Bad moods are contagious online. A recent study – probably paid for by CDBG funds or FEMA – shows that emotions can go viral. If somebody posts something sad or negative it triggers a negative response from others. Grumpy begets grumpy. And because it’s the worldwide web, the mood ring can wrap around the whole planet.

If you gripe about a cold, snow day in New York, your friends in Los Angeles might complain about the traffic and their traffic post will have others posting about the day their dog died. That will cause somebody to post something about their divorce. And down the sad, ugly hole we go. And it’s all because someone complained about the weather or, ahem, the boardwalk.

Lord knows, local Facebook groups can implode at any moment. Many start out with good intentions but bomb throwers are always lurking. Somebody will announce: Hey a new store’s opening. Somebody else will comment: I heard the owner’ s a jerk. And then another: We don’t need that, we need this.

And off we go. If negativity is contagious some pandemics have started here in Rockaway.

But, the study showed that happy news is contagious too. Dennis O’Connor posted a rave review of the new YMCA pool and got an immediate compliment from Glenn DiResto. From that, I bet, hundreds of happy puppy pictures went viral.

The online study got me thinking about The Wave and its 120 year history, for that matter. I’m guessing the online contagion is just an updated version of what newspapers have been doing forever.

Say, The Wave and Boyleing Points bums you out. You throw the paper in the trash, where it belongs, you say.

Later, you pass somebody in the street and you give them the finger. (I’ve seen my mother do it). You don’t know why, but something’s bugging the hell out of you. You don’t tip the waitress and you trip a little kid.

And that used to be it. Now you go home, fire up the computer, and post something negative. And around the world it goes. All because The Wave and Boyleing Points stunk and made you feel grouchy.

Several friends disguised as armchair psychologists have told me they can read my mood not just through the column but through headlines and the Beachcomber. If I’m grouchy it comes out in the paper. It’s not always obvious, they say, but my dark side bleeds through.

You’re not yourself, they say. What’s the matter?

Sheesh. They’re calling me a Debbie Downer which actually does get me down. I growl, you deal with a mix of arctic weather, FEMA, Build It Back, the Parks Department, and watch consultant firms grow rich. Whoa, take it easy, they reply. See? You are grouchy.

Rather than snap their heads off, I channel my inner Ralph Kramden: Pins and needles, needles and pins, it’s a happy man that grins.

Of course, I can’t completely dismiss the mood detectives. And now I’m wondering if my crankiness is making its way around the world. And worse, I’m thinking about The Wave and its long history.

Maybe The Wave is Typhoid Rockaway. Maybe it’s The Wave that has made negativity spreaders out of so many people.

And maybe it started in 1893 with the first headline: Wave Of Fire Strikes Rockaway. Talk about negative. People have been complaining around here ever since.

Well, enough of this crap. It’s spring. Happy days are here. Spread the news! It’s contagious.

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