A Dip Into the Pettiness Pool

I’ve fallen into a pool of pettiness and I can’t get out. As The Kingston Trio said in their 1960's hit, "What nature doesn't do to us will be done by our fellow man”.

From My Side of the Desk

A dip into the Pettiness Pool

I’ve fallen into a pool of pettiness and I can’t get out.  I don’t mean the petty pool’s shallow end with its trivial items about Kim’s baby or Justin’s altercations with women and traffic cops. The deep end stories that offer the flip side of pettiness, that show politicians’ self-centered motives, Mariah’s and Nicki’s tasteless bickering in front of the cameras, or Lance’s remorseless admissions are threatening to drown me. Those stories focus on conflicts that are based on spite, resentment and maliciousness. Most people just dip a toe into this nastiness and then say, “Enough is enough,” and backstroke away, but some can’t ever seem to get their fill of the dark depths of the deep end.

Media outlets that span the Information Highway are well aware of this and serve up daily feasts of who is doing what to whom and why. Petty isn’t pretty, but boy does it sell. Here are just a few ways the pettiness rocks tossed by the media are weighing down my psyche and threatening to pull me under:

  • Articles on the Fiscal Cliff. Even though we managed to screech to a halt on the precipice, we readers and web surfers are still being inundated with stories about this self-indulgent situation that held us, the constituents, hostage. Apparently entitlements, taxes, etc. weren’t the sticking points.  The Democrats and Republicans were both upset over past snubs and embarrassments and wanted to exact revenge on one another.
  • Articles reporting the nasty comments spewed by stars of the Silver Screen. Why is every word, especially those reeking with nastiness, deemed newsworthy?
  • Articles whose sole purpose seems to be spreading rumors about college and pro sports figures. Don’t offer rumor-filled and innuendo-laden stories until you have the FACTS, please, Mr./Ms. Reporter.

Pools of petty fill the berm of the Information Highway, sucking in people from all walks of life. From politics to playgrounds, from corporate boardrooms to classrooms, from school superintendents to teachers, from parent to parent and sibling to sibling, humans have been drawn to the pettiness pools. Even the profession that held my heart for 30+ years and still kindles my passion isn’t immune. Listening to friends and colleagues from around the country discuss the episodes of mean-spiritedness in their school systems has shown me that many adults have not outgrown this characteristic usually attributed to children.

  • A candidate for principal is by-passed because he/she disagreed, politely but publically, about letting teachers concentrate on how best to motivate children and what they want/need to teach instead of expending their energies on data collecting.
  • Students who signed up for a popular elective class are reassigned to other courses because the teacher of the elective wouldn’t accept a department chair position.
  • An effective teacher loses an elective class because the administrator didn’t like him/her for a personal, not a classroom-related reason.
  • Favorite teachers are given the prime subject and grade-level courses, not necessarily those who would be the most effective with the students.

What else fills the deep end of the pettiness pool? We can’t forget the bickering and back-stabbing that is oh so prevalent on the Pick Your Reality programs, daily and late night talk shows and sports wrap-ups. Big screen and television dramas and comedies thrive on the, “Hit me with your best jibe” philosophy. Even my latest obsession, Downton Abbey, is filled with deep-end familial maliciousness and sly servant shenanigans. Still, my toes splash happily in the shallow end every time I giggle at one of Lady Violet’s zingers.

Petty might be only skin deep, but its cheap shot presence has wormed its way into the core of my being. A continual musical loop of the Kingston Trio singing their ‘60’s hit, The Merry Minuet, is menacing my brain with vapor lock with its 2013 relevance.

“They're rioting in Africa. They're starving in Spain. There's hurricanes in Florida and Texas needs rain.

The whole world is festering with unhappy souls. The French hate the Germans. The Germans hate the Poles.

Italians hate Yugoslavs. South Africans hate the Dutch, and I don't like anybody very much! But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud for man's been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud.

And we know for certain that some lovely day, someone will set the spark off, and we will all be blown away.

They're rioting in Africa. There's strife in Iran. What nature doesn't do to us will be done by our fellow man”

(The Kingston Trio "The Merry Minuet" {Sheldon Harnick}).

What lures so many of us to the edges of these pools of pettiness? And why do some of us choose to jump in, laughing all the way? In my case, sometimes the “world is too much with me,” to paraphrase a few of William Wordsworth’s words, in all of its dreadful seriousness. At times I just need to be splashed with a little inconsequence, a bit of “sound and fury signifying nothing,” as Shakespeare had Macbeth lament. But here I mean the trifling, irrelevant, shallow end of the petty pool.

Other days, though, I am so tired of those who are motivated by greed, and the love of power and control that I edge toward the deep end. I want to see these scoundrels of society get their comeuppance, through the words that I might want to but could never say, and through the actions that I could never employ.

Petty of me? Yes, but sometimes a game of Marco Polo is refreshing in its insignificance. Hopefully I will continue to tread the waters of the shallow end where it is played and not drift to the deep end’s dark side. What about you?

Until next week,


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Barbara Mason January 19, 2013 at 04:33 PM
It's nice to read my thoughts from someone else. I, too, feel like I am drowning in a sea of worthless junk while I watch the country go down in flames!
Connie Casserly January 20, 2013 at 03:44 PM
I appreciate hearing your thoughts. Thank you for the comment. Connie


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