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:
- See inflammatory headline either for or against your personal opinion.
- 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.
- Share the article with no comment or something like “Wow!” or “I can’t fucking believe this!” in the hopes of sparking some conversation.
- 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.