font-family: 'Arizonia', cursive; Michael Stichauf - "As I understand it now...'til it changes"

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Uncivil People on Social Networking Sites

            As everyone who follows my blog knows, I’ve had a terrible time with “Writers’ block”. Not only have I not been able to come up with a plausible idea to “blog” about, if I did have a thought, I didn’t have the “drive” to write about it. Boy, do I admire writers such as Mike Royko, John Kass, Mark Brown and Clarence Page. These writers had/have specific days and deadlines that they have to meet no matter what. “Writer’s block”, are you kidding me? These men didn’t have the luxury of telling their editors that they have writers’ block and wouldn’t be delivering a column that day. Nope, they delivered! Day in and day out you could count on opening up their paper and there was their column.

 "It’s usually the old standbys such as politics and religion, which cause people to revert to the “Mr. Hyde” portion of their personalities. With the huge explosion of social media, people have quite a few outlets to express themselves."
          
          Today, I want to talk about those “Uncivil people” who troll the Web looking for someone with whom to argue. I’m trying to be professional by referring to them as “uncivil people”, as opposed to a couple of other names I’d prefer to use. The longer I “blog” and travel the Web, the more I realize just how big of a problem this really is.
          The Web has become a terrific vehicle for individuals to post their outlook and views on everything from cooking, child rearing, home improvement and gardening. These subjects don’t normally bring out the “nastiness” in people. It’s usually the old standbys such as politics and religion, which cause people to revert to the “Mr. Hyde” portion of their personalities. With the huge explosion of social media, people have quite a few outlets to express themselves. Facebook isn’t really one of the sites that bring out the worst in people. It’s Google+ and blog hosting sites such as Blogger and Wordpress where people really feel the need to let loose with their “nastiness.


"I can’t tell you how many times, once I’ve posted my views about a certain political point, I receive “nasty”, ridiculous comments." 

A good many of my blog posts revolve around politics so I know what I’m talking about. No, I don’t mean that I know what I’m talking about in regards to politics; I’m referring to people getting “nasty”. I can’t tell you how many times, once I’ve posted my views about a certain political point, I receive “nasty”, ridiculous comments. It’s these comments, as well as original posts that spew hate and nastiness, that I want to talk about.
I, for one, believe that the social networking sites are terrific for our society. Yes, they have their drawbacks (the recent stories of online “bullying” being the first to come to mind) but, overall, they serve as places for people to express themselves. Obviously, something that society needed considering the explosion we’ve witnessed over the years. Although it took me longer than most, I’ve finally joined the online social networking community in the last year now. A few months ago, I finally decided that I’d actually participate instead of just looking. I joined Google + and started a blog, thinking I had something to say that someone might appreciate. Well, I don’t know if so many people appreciate what I’ve written but I certainly can tell you that there are quite a few people who DON’T APPRECIATE what I’ve written. They let you know in no uncertain terms.


"I’m learning that there is a whole world of “gray” out there and most opinions lie somewhere in that shade."

Being new to this whole “blogging” and “posting” thing, I realized early on that just because someone disagrees with me doesn’t mean they’re wrong. It doesn’t mean they’re right either. I’m learning that there is a whole world of “gray” out there and most opinions lie somewhere in that shade. I’m learning also that, if I’m smart, I can learn a WHOLE LOT from comments people make on my posts. This is why I titled my Blog, “As I understand it now... ‘til it changes” I certainly don’t have a lock on what’s right and wrong. If I keep an open mind, I can learn from everyone and my opinions may change because of it.
What I really have a problem with are those people who are “trolling” the internet LOOKING for a FIGHT! I’m sure we ALL know the kind of people I’m talking about. You can tell who these people are from the get-go. All you have to do, once you get one of their “nasty” comments, is click on their Google+ name and it brings you right to their G+ site. It only takes a minute to see that their G+ posts sound as “nasty” and negative as their comment on your G+ post or Blog site. These are the people who start their comments to you by saying, “You are a no-good asshole if you believe this.” Or, “You left-wing (or right-wing- I’ve been accused of being both) jag-off, it’s because of you that this country is going to hell in a handbasket". But the best ones are the ones that combine this kind of talk with ALL CAPITAL LETTERS! For example, “IT’S JERKS LIKE YOU WHO RUIN EVERYTHING FOR US FREEDOM LOVING AMERICANS”. LOL I’m sorry but sometimes these folks are as funny as they are rude. These ALL CAPS people are the people who, when in a verbal discussion, START TO SHOUT AND TALK OVER YOU BECAUSE THEY AREN’T GETTING THEIR WAY IN THE DISCUSSION. It’s kind of like a 5 year old when they aren’t getting what they want.


"...the word “freedom” is their way of telling everyone that the constitution allows them the “freedom” TO DO WHATEVER THE HELL THEY WANT TO DO, WITHOUT ANY REPERCUSSIONS!"

The ones that get me the most though, are the ones that want to let you know just how bad a person you are because you are depriving them of their freedom that the constitution guarantees for them. You can tell these people right away because they refer to the word “freedom” 2-3 times in the first sentence. They tend to be the ones that everyone would consider, “right-wing, survivalist, extremists”. I get very leery when I hear or read someone who uses “my freedom”, every other word. These are the kind of people who feel that the word “freedom” is their way of telling everyone that the constitution allows them the “freedom” TO DO WHATEVER THE HELL THEY WANT TO DO, WITHOUT ANY REPERCUSSIONS! You know, if they want to pull a gun on you, well,” the constitution guarantees my right to bear arms”. Forget about the part where you aren’t supposed to commit murder. These people don’t realize that we live in a different world and things change. But, I digress (I’ve been dying to use that phrase). What really gets me about these people isn’t actually their views, it’s the way they go about expressing them. You can bet that they were bullies growing up (that’s assuming that they actually are grown-up). According to them, if your views are different than theirs, then you are, “A NO GOOD ASSHOLE JERK” (an actual quote I received).
I’ve been able to get to the point where I don’t “bite” anymore on their bait. I’ll usually respond by trying to placate them or just telling them that it’s OK that we don’t agree and, by the way, “Thanks for your comment”. You really can’t argue with an irrational individual. I’m NOT saying that ALL right-wing extremists are irrational, just the ones who refuse to listen to logic. There are plenty of “Left-wing extremists”, also. What they simply don’t seem to understand is how much more people MIGHT be willing to listen, if they would just stop ATTACKING EVERYONE WHO DISAGREE with them. I have no problem with people who disagree with me. I love a rational, non-threatening discussion. NO ONE LISTENS WHEN THEY ARE YELLED AT OR ATTACKED! That’s a fact.
I understand that most people that this applies to will never change. That being said, hopefully, we can get to a point though, where we can discuss our differences without all the “mud-slinging” and name-calling. We have enough problems in this country to hash out and we might make a start by talking to each other and not yelling.
That’s, “As I understand it now ...’til it changes.” Thanks for listening. Let me know what you think.


Michael K. Stichauf