There is nothing more fruitless and futile, than an argument with someone on Social Media. A person can easily find themselves embroiled in a 3 day hash slinging competition – and who has the time for that?...Well, I do!
The world of a budding comic/columnist relies on a few things. Topical material and the day’s social issues being the most important. Being trapped in a tractor for 12 hours a day is not conducive to either of these needs but that is where the old Internet comes in to good use. Friendly jabbing and bantering with people is a good way to sharpen mental acuity. Mix in the opportunity to trade barbs with the angry dolts found on the Internet – and you have a virtual Hecklers 101 Class. It’s nowhere near as daunting as dealing with one of these clowns from the stage, but it opens up a whole new set of obstacles because people summon the courage to say things on the Internet that they would never consider saying face to face. Logging on to the Internet appears to have the affect of 5 tequila shots for many and their excessive incoherent babbling often resembles that of an angry drunk.
Nothing, if ever, is settled in these battles and on most occasions, the end results steer far from the opening salvo. Like most arguments, the combatants begin to run on emotion or even worse – their agenda. People are rarely able to continue open dialogue on subject matter, especially when their position on an issue is already predetermined. The digression into name calling is often swift and relentless and on many occasions, is coming from a fictitious person.
A fictitious person you say?!
Yes folks, believe it or not, some people take the time to create fake Internet identities. This enables them to argue a point under a veil of anonymity – a very pathetic and transparent veil at that. It also enables them to have two other things in my opinion: Zero guts or credibility.
*Start Time Travel Music to last Saturday*
I started monitoring an exchange occurring on the Manteca Bulletin Facebook page. The column regarding the current MUSD School Board situation was creating quite a stir. People of all kinds were chiming in with their opinions.
At its best, places like Facebook or Twitter are a wonderful spot for people to share ideals, thoughts, and solutions. At its worst, Kangaroo Court is held – complete with elephant jurors and hyena prosecutors..
If I’m being honest, my knowledge of the whole MUSD issue is fairly limited – and I have no dog in the fight though I do enjoy watching a heated argument unfold from the safety of a tractor seat. The Alpha Dog of the comment thread we’ll call “America the Beautiful”. America the Beautiful was firing away. She had some great insight into the goings on, and came off as an intelligent person but something rubbed me wrong: She is a fake Facebook page – speaking about real people. Pointing out the actions of individuals, (ones that you perceive as improprieties), but doing it from behind a curtain – reeks of an agenda. If America the Beautiful and others with fake Internet profiles want to use social media as their pulpit and portray themselves as public entities – then step out into the light. Use your own name. Who are you? What is your background? The people that you choose to vilify, don’t have the luxury of hiding behind anonymity. I made the mistake of pointing this out to her/him/it and the agenda hyenas came scavenging.
(I would like to acknowledge that America the Beautiful, at some point did give her actual name...Kudos)
It was pointed out that I “work” for the Bulletin, and that I had obviously taken up their position. I’ve been very clear to the fact that I neither work for the paper, nor receive any directive from them as to my column. I rarely dive into anything beyond attempted satire or embellished tales of Manteca past. The day this column turns into a “job” for me, is the day I walk away from writing it. But I have grown to accept the responsibilities that come with having it – responsibilities that I hadn’t expected and let’s reiterate: My issue is with fake Internet profiles – not the MUSD issue.
Having your name in the public eye is an open invitation for scrutiny and ridicule – one that I accept. Though I find it strange that many people that use fake Internet identities, cite instances where they’ve used their real names in the past – but became fearful when attacked online. Then why do they feel free to do the same to others? Hypocrisy at its best. They fear accountability yet they continue to press forward with an agenda.
And this is when my new favorite fake Internet troll made her/his self known. Let’s call her “Bon Bons”, as I’m certain there was a container within reach. This was not her actual fake name, but does it really matter?! She was quick to point out my Bulletin affiliation, and that I share a last name with an involved party. I tried to explain to someone that a last name like mine, in a town like Manteca, is basically like a “Smith” or “Jones” — there are many of us and have no doubt, we are related, but waving the family crest was hardly my intent and once again, my issue was with fake Internet identities dear “Bon Bons”.
Bon Bons is like the rest of the Internet hyenas. A hyena is a scavenger, they usually hunt in packs – and look to find a weakness – since they are incapable of meeting their prey head on. I exposed my weakness when I made this declaration, “Don’t you have clothes to fold?” I’ve never hidden my male chauvinistic ways, and try to pass them off as overtly comedic in nature – but the shoe does fit. Bon Bons pounced, “I can’t believe the Bulletin employs a sexist!” A sexist?! Hey, men also have to fold clothes – maybe you’re the sexist. And it was once again made clear that I don’t work for The Bulletin, I continued with the playful sexist banter – hoping that Bon Bons would notice my comments were attempts at humor in hopes diffusing the situation but hyenas rarely notice satire.
She took the time to study my personal Facebook page, one that is open to the public — “You’re stuck in a tractor all day, because Misogynistic entitled a**holes like you, are incapable of getting a real job” Misogynistic? No. Entitled? Maybe? .A**hole? Sure. But “real job”? This piqued my interest”: “Do you have something against farming?” I asked.
“The ‘white farmers and all the entitled racist bigots of Manteca, think they can get away with anything they like” Oh Bon Bons, by all means, tell me what you really think.
Never mind how bigoted that statement is in itself. Never mind that nobody has any idea who you are but how did we jump from fake names to this? And believe me, Bon Bons continued to dig deep and get ugly. Insulting farmers, my family, the town even the fact that I’m 42 and single. (I secretly believe she may have developed a small crush at one point).
But this is the prime directive of social media trolls like Bon Bons. They attempt to goad people into an emotional reaction. A reaction they hope to use against you or against a paper that prints your column .or against a cousin in town. So I took the advice of a fellow writer who reached out – and had first-hand experience with these types of battles. “If you enjoy writing that column as much as I — and a lot of other people – enjoy reading I — you need to tread lightlybecause I’ve been canned for this very thing” . I realized this may not be my “job”, but I definitely feel a responsibility towards writing a column that people enjoy – so I erased all my comments. Thanks D.C.
That’s social media folks. Love it or leave it.
It’s funny – I’ve spent the last few mornings pulling weeds at the Manteca Golf Course – paying penance for a traffic infraction a few months ago. So much for “entitlement” right? And even ran into my high school football coach Jack Miller on the course, “So you weren’t lying about having to work at the golf course. We all enjoy the honesty of your column.”Nothing like a little humility for breakfast. Thanks Coach.
Strange how my week has so paralleled the whole MUSD predicament: I learned a lesson in accountability, responsibility, and if you break the law – you must pay the price — maybe others need to learn these lessons as well.
Quote of the Week: “The eagle does not hunt the fly” — Lloyd Barbasol
“It’s not Where ya do, It’s What ya do”