The voice came out of nowhere. It was just words on my Facebook wall, but I heard it all the same.

“Lewiston may be the s**thole of Maine,” it said, all desperate and frustrated, “but there is many other cities in this country that are far more worse than Lewiston, Maine. All this negativity and putting people down makes everyone depressed so please move on and write something else that’s worth listening to.”

I spun around in my chair. I looked behind me and in all directions.

Was this person talking to me? Was this perfect stranger suggesting that I’ve become a steaming mound of spite? That I never have anything to say that’s not snide, sarcastic and scurrilous?

The horror dawned. This fellow, a fairly recent graduate of Lewiston High School, WAS talking to me, after all. And the realization came with a sense of shame and embarrassment usually reserved for those moments when you realize you’ve been out in public with your fly down or while wearing your wife’s shoes (it happens).

I don’t want to be that guy. I hate that guy. For a year or so, I’ve been opining to anyone who will listen: The latest generation of pundits is a flippant bunch. They idolize a few things, hate everything else.

These are bloggers and full-time commentators. The by-God Peanut Gallery has transformed from a murmuring few to an outright force. It has the entire Web on which to express its contempt. They do so sneeringly and in their own language. It’s all “I’m just sayin'” this and “FAIL” that until they all sound the same.

They hang around news websites like crows – smug, unhappy crows with a consuming drive to spread scorn like a disease. Baseball, politics, potluck suppers, they will unload on any of it. Unable to muster any original, creative thoughts of their own, they swarm together to attack the ideas of others. It’s what they do. It’s what they are.

So, you can see I was not happy to be accused of such spite and sanctimony. You can see why it caused me some distress to be called out as THAT guy. I hate that guy!

So I dedicated myself to serious introspection. My eyes went vacant, my mouth fell open and I walked into things. That’s how I do it, brothers.

I thought about the things I had written about the city of Lewiston, a place that has treated me much, much nicer than any other. I’ve called it a ghetto full of fiends and dive bars. I’ve suggested that to be honest, the city motto should contain the words “misery and infected.” I may have even referred to Lewiston as “Auburn’s outhouse” a time or two.

In my defense, I meant it all with affection.

Which is sort of true, since it was the shabby charms and quirky nature of the city that drew and kept me in the first place. But in many ways, the Facebook dude is absolutely right: I have indulged, from time to time, in a gloom campaign simply because I was too lazy to look beyond the obvious – the dumb crooks, the substance abuse, the welfare cheats, the gangbangers and crimes involving lunch meats – and for that I apologize to him, to you and to the city of Lewiston.

Although, you should bet your underpants that the next time a naked crackhead does something ridiculous on a tree street, I’m going to call him on it. Because while rose-colored glasses may be spiffy and all, someone has to scream out at some point that the crackhead has no clothes.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. You can circle him like hungry crows at [email protected]


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