It Wuz on the Interwebz!

Just like you, I’m sure, I’ve come across things posted on the internet that, with no actual proof at all, have miraculously become fact. The most mind boggling part, for me, is that the majority of folks don’t even bother to question the validity of these “facts.”

I shouldn’t be shocked, really, since so many Americans deal with news and politics in the same way. We heard it on the corporately owned news media outlet, it has to be true! Even more popular than the actual “news” is sharing articles and opinions on social networking sites. Here’s how that tends to work:

  1. See inflammatory headline either for or against your personal opinion.
  2. Read most of the first paragraph of the article because that’s all that you have the attention span for – after all, something new is being posted as you’re wasting time reading the text that will justify the headline and the point you want to make.
  3. Share the article with no comment or something like “Wow!” or “I can’t fucking believe this!” in the hopes of sparking some conversation.
  4. Giggle at the cute cat jumping 5 feet into the air after being frightened by a stuffed animal that’s just been posted by someone you don’t really know but are “friends” with online.

You can shake your head and say, “I’ve never done that” but I’m going to guess that you have. I know I have. Not proud of it but it’s still true.

One thing I do stay away from, and wish others would too, is jumping on the personal attack bandwagon. We see it in the comments sections of YouTube posts, news articles, and social media sites all the damn time. It’s so easy to accuse and harass and be cruel when you don’t have to look someone in the face or actually be accountable. It feels great to be the center of attention when you’re filled with righteous indignation and supposedly carrying the banner for those being wronged. Even if it’s all a bunch of bullshit. But, hey, by the time anyone actually uncovers the truth, the gawkers have moved on to something else to be outraged about.

The only thing I find more repugnant than an internet bully are those who blindly pile on – never questioning or working to solve a problem but happy to get in on the outrage and anger. Yay mob mentality and school yard politics! Ah, interwebz, how we love you for gifting us with the ability to display the very worst in ourselves while being able to hide behind a keyboard and monitor. Our families would be so proud of us if they only knew the hi-jinx we get up to while avoiding doing our jobs or taking care of household chores. Oh, yeah, actually, I’m guessing that if we were required to read most of our internet posts to our parents or grandparents – children or co-workers – we’d be ashamed.

I’m certainly not perfect but I do try to think about those who will be affected by what I post online. I truly don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings. I know there are people out there who think I’m a massive asshole but, truly, I’m not. I’ve even been able to tone down my road rage by imagining everyone who cuts me off or puts my kid in danger with their insane driving as a co-worker or my mother or my step-father who I will have to see shortly after flipping them off while blasting by in the next lane. It changes my behavior. It’s important, I think, that we stop acting as though the people – real human beings – that we bitch about or harass or accuse online are not affected by hurtful words and lies just as we are. And for the record, I nearly did flip my step-father off because I didn’t recognize the car and he was CRAWLING along in front of me and I couldn’t get around him. So, yeah, it can happen.

I’ve watched several people I know and have grown to like and respect fall victim to anonymous people online who not only attack their work but their lives and their families. All with having not a single bit of knowledge about them. It’s terrible and my heart hurt for those people. They didn’t do anything to provoke these attacks – it was just fun for the poster. I’ve had people post negative things about me on several message boards that contained comments like “well, I didn’t hear the podcast but if you all say they were mean and terrible, I’m not going to bother! How dare they!” And it didn’t matter that most of the posters who did the accusing hadn’t actually listened – someone that they knew did and that person was pissed off so, by God, they were pissed off, too! No need to fact check here, folks, just anger and defensiveness.

Holy shit, grow the fuck up people. Yeah, I know I’m going to catch hell for it but, please, grow up and think for yourselves. And then be nice to someone just for the hell of it. Because, you know what? It’ll make you feel a whole lot better than ripping someone to shreds. It’s the fucking holiday season! Be nice to each other for a fucking minute!

Ok, thanks for reading my ranting. I’m grabbing a beer, my wife, and going to bed.

8 thoughts on “It Wuz on the Interwebz!

  • December 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Cheri, this was a great post. I try very hard not to be rude to anyone online, because I have seen what sort of horrible comments people make. There is a guy who is on Youtube, he weighed almost 600 pounds when he started his channel a few years ago and he has lost about 200 at least, he still has a long way to go, but some of the comments are horrible. People have no idea what others are going through, and it is hard to see friends getting hurt.

    Have you also noticed that the news outlets are now doing videos of the same news articles word for word? I see it all the time now, so you don’t have to read it. You can watch a video of it instead. I think it is great to a point, but we are getting so bombarded that reading an article is becoming too much work.

    I am sorry that there are really seems to be a lot of unhappiness and people being flat out rude. This post was excellent. Thank you!

  • December 20, 2013 at 4:04 am

    Thanks for the reminder, and the challenge, to continually view and treat others with respect – something I would hope others would do for me. I’ve fallen into the same poor behavior of following the herd myself, and must constantly guard against mindlessly subjegating my mind and actions to social pressure. A great blog post, Cheri, thank you.

  • December 20, 2013 at 6:41 am

    Great article. I hate bandwagons. They’re usually crowded and noisy, and most of the people on them have no idea why they’re there or where they’re going.

    Liking an article after reading only the headline, which I know happens because of the speed at which some folks like what I post, is dangerous. You might like something you vehemently disagree with and that will give people the wrong impression about you.

  • December 20, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Well Said.

    Is it ok for me to want to laugh each time I read “It’s the fucking holiday season! Be nice to each other for a fucking minute!”

    also, knowing you for over 2 years I can’t imagine anyone who think you are a “massive asshole” not even a tiny one. I can’t even imagine why.



  • December 20, 2013 at 11:30 am

    It’s very ok, Lainie. Please feel free to use it whenever you feel the need.

  • December 21, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I think because we are socialized as women in a patriarchal society, it’s automatic for us to want to be “nice and supportive” to one another and in doing so we feel the need to affirm someone’s anger or pain without taking the time to investigate the actual situation independently. After a number of people pile-on, it becomes that much more difficult to raise a dissenting or questioning voice and you worry that your own reputation will be tarnished if you speak up. Basically it becomes an instance of groupthink, something very dangerous in all circumstances.

    I try in these cases to sit back and think about the accusations and only add to the affirmations if I really know the situation and if I’m feeling brave to contact the person privately to inquire more deeply into the situation. We really have to make ourselves do this more often, but it is not always easy.

    Just to be clear, I have no particular point of view about any specific incident that might have prompted this post. I’m just talking about the phenomenon in general.

    Thanks for raising the issue,

Comment if you want. You know, no pressure.

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