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In Tom Stoppard’s play ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead’, the story of Hamlet’ is retold through the eyes of his college pals, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. In the Shakespeare play they are non-entities while in the Mr. Stoppard’s play they are more complex, more aware and thoughtful, two decent fellows really, trying to make sense what the hell is going on around them. It’s an absurdist play about what’s it like to be caught between two implacable and zany entities, Hamlet and Uncle Claudius, with a sense of being unable to understand and unable to escape to boot. I sometimes feel similar. Several podcasts this week are in an uproar about something called Instagram. Apparently Mr. Zuckerberg of The Book of Faces it trying to turn it into its rival TikTok; thems on Instagram aren’t having it. They are howling like an orchestra of scorched cats. Urs Truly is neither on Instagram nor on TikTok, so I can only sit back like R and G, eyebrows raised, trying to deduce what the fuss is all about until I turned off the podcast. Unlike the poor sods in the two plays I can sit back and avoid the mudslinging. I do have a dread it isn’t so simple. Whether it’s Instagram vs. TikTok or GOP vs. Democrats it feels these villains will bring down the house regardless of thems not involved. The trouble with warring sides is it is hard to be neutral and not take sides. Extremists want you to be one of the other.

When encountering a Hatfield/McCoy donnybrook I strive to be neutral and apart, and try my best not to get sucked up into the shenanigans. Spoilers ahead! In both plays Rosencrantz and Guildenstern don’t make it out alive. In “Hamlet” they are killed through Hamlet’s machinations; in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead’ they have a Kafka-like resolution they don’t understand why they have to die but they do and they walk off stage and we are told they are dead.

You can’t win, and you can’t get out of the game. Or can we? It is possible to avoid others’ paradigms and their rules to walk away unscathed? I strive to try. Meanwhile I don’t follow Instagram or Tiktok nor do I intend to. They can both die in Act IV and I can stay on stage, alive.

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