12/31/12, No. 57
I reject the social networking trend of re-tweeting scraps of trivial sarcasm. Currently trending is #fiscalcliff. This subject is one deserving the utmost seriousness. The tweets about it should not be frivolous! They should be meaningful! They should be momentous! They should have historical heft! Not like this string of tweets:
However, as a well-trained skeptic, I know this term fiscal cliff means little to Jacksonvillians. Fiscal cliff is as inconceivable as it would be to them if Tim Tebow were to drop the F-bomb. The fiscal cliff is unimaginable because they are topographically challenged. They do not know what a cliff is. They have never seen one. They wouldn’t know one if it came charging at them.
Jacksonville after all is part of Florida. The whole state is little more than a sand bar extending into the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The the highest point in the state is Walton County’s Britton Hill, elevation 345 feet. For Floridians, Britton Hill is the quintessence of sublime grandeur:
Like Florida, much of Jacksonville is barely above sea level. And it is flat.
Sections shaded green generally are 2′ higher than those shaded pink, which themselves are barely above sea level.
A city suffering Short Man’s Syndrome, Jacksonville attaches words like Mount, Bluff, Hills, and Highlands to the names of its neighborhoods and streets to make them seem higher in altitude:
- Atlantic Highlands
- Murray Hill
- Arlington Hills
- Mount Herman
- Cedar Hills
- St. Johns Bluff
- Mount Pleasant
- Beacon Hills
- The Hills
It’s a matter of building self esteem.
However, parts of Jacksonville reject such pretentions. Take Hidden Hills, for instance, where the hills truly are hidden. Or San Marco, which every few months imitates its Venetian namesake, the Piazza San Marco:
However, the time has come for me to lift the veil of ignorance. For those who have always lived in Jacksonville and so remain unaware that land surfaces can vary dramatically, I will demonstrate the concept of cliff. Grasping this concept should raise awareness about the weighty issues currently debated in the nation’s capital..
First, let’s look at the definitions of cliff, specifically, how the word has been used historically. The Oxford English Dictionary is an etymological dictionary–it gives the history and evolution of a word’s usage through time. The second of the two meanings for cliff is the most relevant: “A perpendicular face of rock on the seashore.” The first time the term was employed in this sense appeared in an Old English translation of Andreas, a tenth-century poem featuring talking statues: “Hu gewearð þe þæs, wine leofesta, ðæt ðu sæbeorgas secan woldes, merestreama gemet, maðmum bedæled, ofer cald cleofu ceoles neosan?”
This latter example may be portentous. Let’s keep it in mind! Past is prologue: the past both helps explain the present and gives a glimpse of things to come.
Now, a pictorial demonstration. Here’s what a cliff looks like..
My niece grew up in Jacksonville. She was five when she saw her first cliff. Learning that the ground was not always level, she burst into tears.
In the same way that Jacksonvillians post signs warning inland visitors about the ocean being dangerous, people living in places where there are cliffs put up signs warning Jacksonvillians. Jacksonvillians who’ve never before seen a cliff need such warnings..
However, as a general rule, one—especially if one is from Jacksonville—should approach cliffs with great caution:
One should not be reckless.
Lemmings know no fear when it comes to cliffs. Perhaps they know something we don’t?
Now that I have explained cliff, you should be aware that our nation is about to go over a fiscal one. Avoiding going over it has come down to just one individual. The fate of the nation hangs in the balance:
Representing our side in the fiscal cliff negotiations: John Boehner—tanned, rested, and ready
So, my topographically challenged Jacksonvilian friends, that’s what a cliff is. Now you know. Now you should be able to better picture a fiscal cliff. So now, start tweeting.
What should a conservative tweet? What could be more appropriate for describing the U.S. Congress in late December, 2012, than a line from an ancient poem featuring talking statues? And what could be more conservative than to tweet in Old English?
Hu gewearð þe þæs, wine leofesta, ðæt ðu sæbeorgas secan woldes, merestreama gemet, maðmum bedæled, ofer cald cleofu ceoles neosan?
Now, there’s a tweet with meaning! There’s a tweet that’s momentous! There’s a tweet with historical heft! There’s a tweet that’s a game changer!
So, TWEET! Tweet it until it goes viral.
But there’s only 112 characters. You’ve got 28 left. Personalize it. But keep it snark-free. As I have. And always do.