Friday, August 26, 2016

Of Trolls, Bores and Other Internet Nuisances

If you're reading this blog, more likely than not, you're also active on social media. If you are, nothing I'm going to write about here will surprise you at all. If you're not, you'll be grateful you're not.

Most of you also follow my partner in crime, William Kendall--and know that he's been suspended from Facebook, well, a few times. Somewhere along the line in the almost seven years we've known each other, we went through a personality reversal of sorts. I used to be the one with the temper, who would attack if someone looked at me the wrong way. These days, he's always getting in trouble for sounding off and I've never been suspended. I'd like to think that in my case, it's a matter of wisdom coming with age, but if I'm to be honest here, I'm just too old and tired to waste precious time on idiots.


 
I have two personal rules for social media: if I disagree with someone, I don't get offensive or insulting. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether they agree with me or not. And I never debate anyone on their personal pages. That would be like insulting someone in their own home. Disagreements are for groups or product pages. I refuse to lower myself to troll level.

I have two Facebook pages--my author page, open to everyone. What good is an author page if no one can see it? The other is my personal page, only open to friends. Some of those friends are local friends, others people I've known in my twenty-plus years as a published author. Some of them I've only known online, but are as close to me as the friends I've known most of my life. It didn't start that way. When I first set up my personal page, I was, like just about everyone else, eager to accumulate as many "friends" as possible.

Big mistake.

I'm open to friends interacting on my pages, but at times, responses have gone from silly to insulting. Example of silly: Collin and I are big fans of the Minions. We're always sharing Minion images and links with each other on Facebook. My Facebook page header is a Minion banner Collin created for me. One friend made a point of letting me know she doesn't like the Minions. I've never been quite sure why she felt she had to tell me. I wasn't offended. It doesn't bother me if she doesn't like them; that's her choice. 

Go figure.

As for the other end of the social media extreme, I used to frequent the IMDb message boards. That's where William and I met--in a group dedicated to the movie Angels & Demons. I remember once, encountering a particularly nasty troll in a discussion of a young actress who'd recently passed away. The troll had gone to the trouble to check me out--Facebook, Twitter, the whole bag--and made some very insulting remarks, ending with the statement that I probably didn't care what he/she thought. My response was something like this:

"You're right about one thing--I really don't care what you think. But since we're sizing each other up here, this is my take on you: no friends, no job or a crappy job, living in parents' basement or garage, no prospects for the future. At least I have a life. What have you got?"

I only checked that thread once or twice after that. I'm not sure if the troll ever responded.



Getting back to the present. This election has brought out the worst in people, even some otherwise very nice people. Last Saturday, coming home from the monthly writers group meeting at the church, I told a friend about a story I'd seen on Facebook about Donald Trump delivering Play-Doh to the flood victims in Louisiana. When I got home, I shared the story on her Facebook page so she could see it for herself. There was soon a response from a mutual friend, who is clearly not a Trump supporter. It was the commenter who followed him that made me think an online brawl was a distinct possibility. Also a mutual friend, he had posted on his page early on that he refused to get mixed up in political issues at all, so I was surprised that he was not only commenting on this, but came off a little angry, accusing us of having an agenda. Words were exchanged between the two men, neither of whom I'd ever seen even raise their voices in person.

And then there's the incident on my own page that same weekend. Also political in subject matter. Collin and I are fond of taking some of the quizzes offered on Facebook. We took one that was supposed to tell us which candidate we're most like on viewpoints. We both got Hillary Clinton, though we'd been Bernie Sanders supporters. I commented, then a friend from the aforementioned writers group commented with a suggestion that it wasn't Hillary's positions that were the problem with her. I responded with the admission that I do agree with most of her positions on issues. That was followed by an insulting remark posted by one of my so-called Facebook "friends," a guy I've never actually met who was only on my friend list because he's a writer.

He'd been getting on my nerves for a while, always posting links in the comments section to stories I shared instead of just commenting. I never clicked on any of the links, choosing to ignore them. I haven't the time or interest in getting into lengthy debates, friendly or otherwise. I share stories, some I haven't actually read, simply because I see something that's funny or absurd or interesting. I'm not doing it to start an argument. I let it all pass until he insulted me. I'd had enough. I didn't respond to his comment. I just promptly unfriended him.

Got any social media horror stories to share?


18 comments:

  1. Well, aside from Facebook treating me like I'm toxic waste...

    Of course, whenever I do get this suspension lifted, it's just a matter of time before it happens again.

    I think it comes down to this for me: I spent too many years being civil to assholes, and all for naught, so I don't see the point in doing that. Hence my getting snarky. That said, I've never once crossed their "community standards."

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    1. I've been there. Speaking as a former mousy kid who was bullied through most of my school years, I came out of it with a very short temper. But as you get older, you'll find the world's BS no longer matters so much.

      Delete
  2. I agree with so much you have said. I am tired of being the nice polite one when I see so many assholes who could care less about me or what I think. The president and congress being the main ones.
    For me billary big money Benghazi, is one of them.
    I am tired of being bullied by the PC crowd.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

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    1. Political correctness is way overrated. I don't deliberately offend anyone (unless they're being an ass), but this has crossed the line into the land of censorship.

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    2. Oh, great, Angryparsnip's on the Hillary kill list now. We'll miss you!

      But I'm with you completely: I'm sick and tired of the PC Nazis. Can I say Nazis?

      Delete
  3. I don't do the FB thing but I do watch YouTube videos and even there, so many trolls. It blows my mind but, then the trolls will do response videos to other trolls.

    Ack!

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    1. I've seen some of that stuff on You Tube.

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    2. Blows my mind how some attack each other in videos to each other. ACK!

      No thanks.

      Delete
  4. I visit a couple of forums to talk about politics and current events. Well, I talk. Most of the time those who don't agree with me, call me names. Every now and then though, there's someone who is willing to have a polite discussion. So I keep going back for more.

    There's probably a deeply meaningful lesson there- or not. LOL

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    Replies
    1. That's what gets William into trouble, I think--the name calling.

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  5. I try to stay away from politics and religion even on my blog. I don't think it would do any good letting people know where I stand on those issues.
    And FB has become a pain in the ars these days. I don't know what a poke is but I wish people would quit it. I might get there once a week. I've had it with the crap that goes on. I'll check certain sites, and maybe do a little thing at sites, but other than that, I am trying to avoid it these days.

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    1. Pokes are cool, if they're from people you're close to. From anyone else, they're just creepy.

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  6. Age does mellow one's temper. Trust me, I am a perfect example of that. As for this election, I absolutely refuse to become involved online. It seems a person cannot post any sort of observation without another party insulting the intelligence or calling them names. This is from people who should know better. I'll go to the polls and vote. I don't care who you are for. Just go vote.

    Oh, yes, one thing will get me riled. Do not attack anyone in my family.

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    1. We all have a breaking point, Mari. I just can't believe how crazy people get over politics.

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  7. That Play-Doh story is a great example of why to avoid arguing on social media. If you see just the one photo that was posted, it made Trump look ridiculous; if you take the time to actually find out the whole story, he comes out looking pretty good. (I'm no fan of his, but I remember thinking at the time, "There's got to be something more to it than that.") Why get into arguments about stuff that might have nothing to do with what really happened?

    I used to try to discuss things with people on social media, and it always devolved into arguments. Finally I realized: They don't want to discuss--they just want to argue. I've saved a lot of time since then.

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    1. I know--I posted the link because it just sounded so stupid, even for Trump. The arguments that followed were even more so.

      The real issue, though, was that the governor asked all of them, including the President, to wait a few days to visit, and Obama and Hillary complied, while Trump barged right in anyway. It's always about the photo op.

      Years ago, when I sold my first book, I flew to New York for meetings with my agent and publisher. My agent, her assistant and I went to the Plaza for after-dinner drinks. Wherever you went in the hotel were glass cases showcasing his book, The Art of the Deal. We had a good laugh about it. It was on that trip that I heard the rumor that he'd bought millions of copies himself to get on the NY Times bestseller list and had them stored in a warehouse. True? I don't know--but I did hear it from people in publishing.

      Delete
  8. Loved this post Norma, it's easy to see you are a writer! I guess I've been lucky so far but I know that if I did end up with a troll or nasty pasty I'd just ignore them, absolutely!

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  9. Loved this post Norma, it's easy to see you are a writer! I guess I've been lucky so far but I know that if I did end up with a troll or nasty pasty I'd just ignore them, absolutely!

    ReplyDelete

Disagreements are welcome; trolls and spammers are not. Any and all comments by either of the latter two will be immediately deleted.