People can be downright nasty

Most of you know what I do for a living.

My boss often says: You don’t want Victoria writing about you. It means you – or your loved ones – are having a really bad day.

I cover crime, courts and breaking news for Gannett and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Monday was rough – two fatal crashes (on the same road, no less), a news conference on the state providing funding for bulletproof vests for police officers, and what appeared to be a drowning in the river.

Tuesday was even nuttier with more on the river search and the sentencing of a 22-year-old man who brutally beat his girlfriend to death with objects around her college dorm room, including a coffee mug and a clothing iron. He wept throughout the court appearance and ultimately was sentenced to the max – 25 years to life in prison.

You don’t want to hear the gritty details. Trust me.

While I love what I do, some days can be damn hard.

victoriaWorking the scene a few years back. Photo by Carlos Ortiz

Sometimes the news hits home. Sometimes it becomes personal. Sometimes you hug the source bawling on your shoulder. Sometimes you realize you are a person first and a reporter second.

I often see my work posted on websites and shared via social media. That I love. But what’s grown increasingly disheartening is how people commenting on the work can be downright nasty.

On a piece about the arrest of a single working mom who left her 4-year-old child in the car while she was working, I see people ridiculing her, calling her names and questioning her ability to care for herself, let alone her son.

Regarding an article about a fatal crash involving a wrong-way driver, people badmouth the motorist, the intersection then turn on one another.

And Tuesday’s sentencing? Let’s just say comments like “rot in jail,” “where’s the firing squad” and suggestions for someone to stab him with a sharpened toothbrush in prison are among the kinder ones.

While I love so much about social media, such as its ability to connect people of common interest, it seems to have also made it increasingly acceptable – not to mention easy – to publicize and amplify any gripe with a business. Many people post a vicious complaint, even berate a company online, to ensure a response rather than take the time to speak with an employee, go to a store or make a phone call.

I’m wondering – where’s our compassion? When did it become acceptable to ridicule others in a public forum? When did it become acceptable to throw a public tantrum to get our way? Is this degrading discourse a bigger sign of what’s to come? Is this the fault of online communities and social media?

I certainly hope not. Whenever I want to respond to nasty comments, to reply and ultimately feed into the negativity, I type my response and promptly delete it.

What do you think of people’s insta-reactions on news articles, some blogs and other newsworthy items online? Do you filter yourself when posting?

Side note: I have a work-related Facebook page. If you wish to see more of what I cover or join the conversation, I’m “Victoria Freile” on Facebook.

Running through my head

I don’t listen to music when I run, but rather, I let my mind wander.

And oh does it wander…. Today, I thought I’d offer a peek into my mind. Dangerous… I know. But here’s an example of my stream of consciousness while on a run long distance. (abbreviated of course, since you don’t want a 2+ hour ramble!)

Off I go. I always start out too fast. Slow down, woman. You’re going to need that little burst of energy later. Speaking of later, I need to clean the house for our dinner guests tomorrow. I guess I can always do that tomorrow though. I could vacuum today and oh man, I forgot about laundry. I don’t want drying laundry hanging on the rack or in the bathroom when our guests arrive. I mean, they don’t need to see all my clothes. Then again, will they really be looking at my running gear? On the second floor? (ahem, no where near the kitchen) Gosh, I hope not.

Nov13 to May14 1733Drying gear. Note the Oiselle obsession.

How does it go? Pain is temporary, pride and prejudice. No, that’s not right.  That’s definitely not right. But that’s a great book. Heck, I also love the movie. I need to get a new DVD player so I can watch it again. I can’t seem to remember much of anything these days. Good thing my job doesn’t rely on my memory. And thank goodness I have amazing friends and running partners to keep me sane. And yes, I know some of us can’t plan out the correct mileage to save our lives, (raising hand) and others seem to keep inserting hills in the middle of every single run. Eh, that’s OK, I am better for it and need more hill training to improve my base- and my time. I’m thirsty. Why did I drink all of my water already? Good thing I can swing past the library to refill, and refuel, and use the bathroom. But I do need a new water bottle, or I can keep hiding bottles mid-course to pick up later. 

Am I done yet? One foot in front of the other. Why have I not finished and why have the new neighbors added that hideous trellis around their lovely wooden deck? The old residents would cry. They were so proud of that deck. I wonder how they are doing out in Utah. Or did they move to Idaho? I know it started with a vowel. How old are their kids now? Gosh I bet they can drive. Oh and a random dog-walker is waving. Hello ma’am, puppy! Did I say that out loud? I think I did. Maybe I didn’t though since neither batted an eye. Ah well. I’m back in my yard and am beyond ready to guzzle some water. 15-miler done!

Moments like this one, and many more, will be starting back up in the next few months as I start to train for marathon number 6, the Philadelphia Marathon! Philly was my first marathon (in 2010 – and this year will be Meri’s FIRST MARATHON – so I’m looking forward to heading back to the City of Brotherly Love for another 26.2.

Today’s stream of consciousness run was brought to you by my tired brain. I really do need a new handheld water bottle or belt though. Can you give me suggestions? I’d love to hear all about what you use.