Something to think about: Sour grapes

By From page A4 | March 21, 2014

I’ve noticed that some people appear to focus their energy in plucking sour grapes from every bunch that presents itself, no matter how sweet. It’s a common phenomenon, but it’s particularly evident in comments people make online. Two recent examples from our newspaper follow, but there are millions more all over the Internet commenting about everything and anything on the planet.

Painting Main Street is a good idea, and the town qualified to get some free help to do it. Pretty much that’s all there is to it and yet online comments hint at dark doings afoot and the fact that the paint company supplying the paint is going to get an awful lot of publicity. A commenter said shop owners in Hilo are reportedly unhappy with the paint job they received. It mentioned outraged surprise when only the first floor of each building was painted.

It wasn’t a surprise — it’s the way the project is being done in every city, including ours and building owners know about this from the first meetings with Benjamin Moore. Additionally, if they don’t want to have only the first floor painted or can’t afford to paint additional floors themselves, they can opt out of being painted at all. If the company supplying the paint uses the project for positive publicity — well, duh. Still, the commenter wanted everyone to know that this project isn’t as good as everyone might think.

We published an article about Main Street and many other streets in Placerville needing repair. Two weeks later, City Manager Cleve Morris announced that money kept back for Western Placerville Interchanges Project was no longer needed for that project and the money would be used to repair and repave Main Street.

Good news, right? Not for some. They want to know what this really means; they hint at a possible conspiracy; dark deeds done undercover. What’s wrong with this picture — something must be.

Seriously? If no street repairs are made because there is not enough money to do so, people suffer with the potholes and complain about all the cracks. If repairs are made with money the city has reserved, then someone will post an Internet link about the dangers of repaving equipment or the inconvenience to businesses or the cancer causing effects of hot asphalt.

Is there no joyful acceptance in the lives of these people? Is everything a conspiracy, a possible reduction of their rights, a reaction of fear and loathing? Are people too afraid or too wary to say “hooray” for fear of looking like a fool if things don’t turn out perfect?

Media alert — Main Street is not going to look perfect when the painters and road workers have left, but it’s going to look better and be safer and that is something to celebrate.

I’m all for vigilance — community watch dogs who stay alert for possible trespass on the rights and quality of life of the community, but there is a difference between vigilance and vigilantism. There is a fine line between being watchful and being paranoid.

Thank you, watchdogs, for your attention to local government doings and for attending City Council, Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission meetings. Thank you for your thoughtful questions, but, please realize that not everything is gloom, doom and the End of Life as We Know It and not every public figure is a double-dealing weasel.

Is it possible that the people who regularly bash every interesting idea, new project or public figure take great delight in looking for what might go wrong, instead of enjoying the fun of what is already happening? You may know people like this; you may even be one of them. To be sure, there are plenty of problems in the world to be addressed, but poisoning the pool to make everyone realize that it might be deep isn’t very effective and it takes a lot of fun out of swimming. Lighten up, find some joy and write about that. I’d sure appreciate it.

Wendy Schultz is a biweekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat.

Wendy Schultz

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