Think Before You Post, Because The Internet Will Expose You For The Idiot You Are

These days, I interact with a lot of people on the Internet. I am active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and I occasionally respond to articles posted on newspaper websites, or to people who have responded to articles on newspaper websites.  In the years that I have been active on social media, and have been opining about news articles, the political environment in the United States has become increasingly polarized.  Many, many people are content to spew hate and misinformation from the relative safety and comfort of their homes.  I’m not talking about websites that overtly promote hate and/or bullshit.  I’m talking about the average Joe, you know, the guy who reads a newspaper article, decides that his “readers” await, that people deserve to hear his version of the truth, and puts fingers to keyboard, typing his response to the article, or to the person whose response to the article he takes exception to.  Average Joe can engage in intelligent dialogue, at least for a while.  Then, at some point during the dialogue, something in average Joe snaps, and he responds, I assume, without engaging his brain, because what he writes is usually just plain ignorant or uninformed, and, less often blatantly homophobic or racist.  At this point, average Joe becomes your run-of-the-mill Internet troll, which is, according to the Urban Dictionary, “one who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.”

I am an ardent supporter of the First Amendment.  However, there are times when average Joe is factually so far off base that I feel compelled to add my two cents.  These are the times when average Joe’s lack of intellect truly shines through.  Recently, I dared to disagree with average Joe about a highly controversial issue, providing a fact-based rebuttal to his heavily-biased bullshit.  Instead of offering anything of substance to support his view, he gained troll status, saying I was wrong, and wondered if I “had folks over to the double wide for a game of Jarts.”  Come on dude, do some research.  Don’t you know that Jarts were banned in the 1980s?  I responded to this by asking him if that was the best he could do, and again asked him for a reliable source to support his biased contention.  I gave him a chance at redemption, a chance to hit the reset button on his newly acquired troll status.  He offered no response. 

On issues of morality and opinion, I’ll happily debate someone as long as the conversation remains civil, but often, average Joe goes from zero to troll in less than one sentence.  I once questioned one of these average Joes, this one a self-proclaimed “Christian,” about his hate-filled, homophobic, gay-bashing posts, which were about as far from Christian as you can get.  Aren’t Christians supposed to love their neighbors as they love themselves?  His response?  He said that he had looked at my Facebook page, and that it was obvious I was living the gay lifestyle.  Oh, you mean my private Facebook page, the one that can only be viewed by my friends?  The one filled with pictures of me, my wife, my children, and my grandchild?  Troll.

To combat trolling, many news websites now require users to link to the “Comments” sections of articles via their Facebook pages.  True Internet trolls, gutless wankers that they are, responded by creating fake Facebook pages, using fake names, often with muscular superhero profile pictures.  Maybe they’re trying to compensate for something?

I combat Internet trolls by taking them to task.  Initially, I ask them to provide concrete proof of the “facts” they are asserting.  It is usually at this point when the personal insults begin.  When they move into the area of personal insults, I usually don’t respond.  The baseless, classless insults usually serve to let others know that there is a troll among us, and to ignore  them accordingly.  Others take a different tact, relentlessly hammering trolls with fact and figures.  I find this is typically a waste of time.  Trolls aren’t there to engage in intelligent dialogue.  Instead, they are there to harangue and harass.  It’s best just to ignore them.  Eventually they’ll go away.

We can use social media, in all its forms, to promote ourselves, our products and services, and our businesses.  Social media also allows us to instantly connect with people from around the world to share ideas and dialogue about salient issues.  Unfortunately, people can post whatever they want on the Internet, and though some comments are eventually removed because someone complained or was offended, often the damage has already been done.  Something goes viral and the offending person is subjected to an avalanche of negative press.  Just ask the Florida PR professional who filmed her own profane, racist rant at a Dunkin Donuts, all because she didn’t receive a receipt for an earlier purchase.  Whoever said there is no such thing as bad publicity never viewed this disturbing video.  This woman is still getting hammered on the Internet.

Always think before you share your opinion on a website.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the emotions of a moment in time, or in the mass hysteria surrounding an event.  Once you post something, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pull it back before someone sees it, so make sure what you are posting is a reflection of who you are rather than a fleeting emotion you may be feeling.  I look at some of the poor choices people make with regard to things they post on the Internet, and it brings to mind words of wisdom that were spoken by Ron White, one of the great thinkers of our time: You can’t fix stupid.

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Book Review: ANTics by Dakota Douglas

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ANTics is the story of three young ants, one of whom is shy, reserved, and lacks confidence in himself.  Throughout this exciting children’s story, the three friends are pursued by Puggy, a stinky spider who wants nothing more than to make a snack out of them.  Relying on each other’s strengths, the three friends are finally able to outwit the spider.

There are some important lessons that are taught in this story, such as teamwork, the value of true friendship, the importance of community cohesion, and courage.  The story also teaches that the best way to help someone gain confidence is to give them the opportunity to be successful.

There are a couple of interactive activities at the end of the book, encouraging kids to be creative thinkers and writers.  I enjoyed this book a lot, and will share it with my granddaughter when she is a little older.

*****

Book Review: For Nothing by Nicholas Denmon

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For Nothing opens with a very graphic description of cop named Jack getting shot.  My first thought was, ‘If the rest of the book is as good as this opening scene, I’m in for one hell of a ride.’  The book proceeds from there, told through the eyes of two characters.  Alex Vaughn is an undercover cop hell-bent on avenging the death of his friend and partner Jack.  Jack’s killer, Rafael Rontego, is a hired assassin for the Buffalo mafia.

The author does a nice job of bringing to life the politics and inner workings that play out within an organized crime family.  However, the plot is one that is all-too-common almost to the point of being hackneyed: a cop seeking revenge for the death of his partner.  Also, the book would have benefitted from some additional editing.  There were numerous grammatical and punctuation errors, which detracted from the story.  Finally, that protagonist and antagonist were poorly developed characters.  Alex Vaughn was stereotypical cop whose relationship with his wife is broken because he simply cares too much about his job.  Rafael Rontego was a little more interesting.  He came off as the assassin who is capable of love, but is reluctant to entertain the idea of a relationship because of the nature of work, and because he was hurt by a woman he loved in the past.

Bottom line: I enjoyed a lot of this book, and the pacing was great, but the cardboard characters and poor editing really detracted from the overall quality of the book.

*****

Book Review: Darkscope by J. Carson Black

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I picked up Darkscope from Amazon.  From the first page, it had me wanting more.  I found myself going back whenever I could, sometimes for a small sip, sometimes for a long swallow.

Chelsea McCord decides to hit the life reset button, moving to Bisbee, Arizona to escape a failed marriage to an abusive, drug-addicted, gold-digging man.  What she finds in Bisbee is a family history filled with tragedy and dark secrets.

Darkscope is a mix of compelling characters, mystery and paranormal, with a dash of romance.  All in all, it’s a very enjoyable read.  My one complaint is that there was one character that could have remained part of the backstory.  I won’t tell you who; I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Bottom line: A good story that will keep you coming back for more.

*****