Tag Archives: internet

Anybody can find fault

28 Aug

Anybody can find fault.  Fault doesn’t seem to get lost very often, and it usually doesn’t really hide that well either.  Sooner or later, fault always comes marching out, demanding to be recognized by someone, anyone, guilty or innocent.

But there sure are a lot of people who devote their lives to seeking out something that never was lost to begin with.  Why are so many people absolutely thrilled to find those faults and be the first (or even among the hundreds) to point out those faults so that everyone knows that they spotted them and recognized them.

Like get a life, dude.  (Or dudette!)

You don’t need a degree or any special training or even to be above average in intelligence (or anything else) to find those faults that weren’t really hiding.  These internet trolls that seem to delight in exposing each and every flaw and then dissecting it with minute attention to detail seriously have some issues.  Above all, they remind me of chickens.

I’m not being a smart alec about that.  Seriously, they do act like chickens.  I realize that most of America has never been intimately acquainted with chickens.  For many people, their closest exposure has been at a petting zoo or even just a news clip on television.  In reality, there’s nothing cute about a flock of chickens, especially if they have decided that they don’t like one of their flock mates.

It’s horrifying to see what they will do then.  They will literally, over a period of time, peck that chicken to death, while also driving it away from food and water and otherwise making their lives as miserable as possible.  It isn’t all of the chickens in the flock that do this, just a handful out of the group participating in this “troll” behavior is enough to result in the pecked chicken’s death.

Hence the expression of “henpecked” that we have often heard used to refer to a husband who is being micromanaged by his wife to an oppressive degree.

Sure, there are lots of theories about why these chickens will do this.  Usually, overcrowding and other stress factors will get the behavior started.  It can happen in free range chickens, but it’s far less common.  As a country person would say, “once in a blue moon.”  In confined and crowded conditions, even when the chickens have the recommended space and ability to go outdoors into the sunshine, it can really get started though.  The more stress and crowding, the more the behavior shows up.

Maybe mankind is just like a flock of chickens.  We’re getting more crowded and stressed, and we’re seeing more outbreaks of “troll” behavior.  On occasion, this behavior accelerates and becomes violent rather than just verbal (or written) attacks.  When this happens, the usual cry is to restrict access to potential weapons.

Gun control isn’t going to change the behavior, folks.  Chickens commit homicide regularly, and have never figured out how to use firearms.  I have a gun and have had guns most of my life, yet I have not committed murder, nor even shot at anyone.

I have worked armed positions in my lifetime.  I’ve also been threatened with a gun on more than one occasion, although not while working.  Usually, the threat was by a police officer of some kind.  Was the threat warranted? No, I wasn’t armed, wasn’t threatening the officer, was not committing a crime, and usually had no idea what was going on or why I had a gun in my face.  Each time, it turned out to be some kind of mistake, quickly resolved, and I was not handcuffed or arrested.

I must have some caveman DNA floating around and connected to my violent genes.  My weapon of choice has always been throwing rocks.  I’m pretty good at chucking them too or was before I got hurt.  Southern Mississippi, however, is starved for rocks.  Our rocks have to be imported from elsewhere.  I guess that’s why I haven’t done any rock chucking in a long time.

But I digress…

This troll behavior is an indicator of a deeper problem or fault in our society, one that we need to address.  It’s just as real as any tectonic plate’s fault on our planet’s crust, and indicative of an equally deep flaw in our society.  Fault in this sense is a very real concept regarding what is happening today.  This fault is an early sign of henpecking that can and eventually will turn homicidal in some individuals.  Granted, not all of these individuals will ever become physically violent in person.  Many of them may be too intimidated in person to even say “boo!” to a stranger, let alone become verbally confrontational.  Even so, they feel that they have the right to do so, often in very unpleasant ways, on the internet.

I’m not sure that the spirit of the right to free speech includes the right to say things just to hurt other people, whether it is merely an emotional hurt or any other kind of hurt, even if it is commentary based on truth.  I certainly do not think that condoning troll behavior and allowing them to surf the cyber world in search of fault which they can then use as their war cry as they begin yet another flaming attack on some unwitting soul.

Do I think I would turn homicidal? Not with the current level of stress and crowding, but I know that even I have certain points where I may well rationalize violent behavior if I am honest about myself.  Remember, the word stress is just another word for stimuli.  Breaking into my house when I am home is going to qualify as a stress.  So is attacking a family member.  Heck, even attacking my dogs is a stressor!  I also tend to get rather confrontational if I feel my home turf (aka house and yard) is being intruded upon, something I came to grips with last year when a neighbor’s dog tried to claim our backyard as his personal turf.

We have to find new ways of adapting to living in smaller spaces, to working closely with others, to living closely with them.  We have to identify individuals that have reached that magic red line that defines when they are going to become violent, and then come up with appropriate intervention.  All of that without causing new stress by stripping away personal freedoms and rights.

It’s a tall order, but the end result is worthwhile.  It means creating a society that encourages supportive and nurturing behavior rather than glorifying confrontational and violent behavior.  It means doing away, worldwide, with the concept of war too.  It means creating a worldwide society that encourages growth, on each and every level, as well as celebrating diversity and individualism.

Yeah, I know—it sounds like Utopia.

It really is Utopia, I suppose.  It’s not impossible  though.  Gene Roddenberry  dreamed of it with his Star Trek world.  I’m not the only dreamer.  The world just needs a lot more dreamers, a lot more people who are willing to ostracize and discourage those who want to be trolls, and willing to encourage people to be something they all possess the ability to be.

With a heart.

Maybe we need to remind everyone of our mothers’ old adage while we’re at it.

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

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Facebook and us

19 Nov

Almost everyone uses Facebook.  I use it too.  My mother uses it.  A lot of my other relatives use it.  A lot of other relatives have stopped using it, as a result of a hacking incident or because of someone else being hacked, as well as news reports about the lack of security.

It’s probably true, it’s not the most secure of sites on the world-wide web.  It’s also one of the biggest sites to ever be created, with more users every day.  Hacking, phishing, and other breaches of security are almost inevitable.  It’s a gold mine for the criminal set, offering access to credit cards, personal information and potential victims.

Yes, it is used by criminals and child molesters.  It’s also used by law enforcement, bill collectors, and private investigators.  It’s a window into people’s lives and illustrates what they are really doing in a way that most people don’t even realize.  It shows more than whether you are home or not, it shows your state of mind and what is important to you too.

Future and current employers are understandably concerned about what is posted on your Facebook wall.  It can reflect on them, good or bad.  It can illustrate whether you are a desirable employee too.  Often your inner feelings and real work ethics are also illustrated there, as well as that day you took off from work so you could stay home to play Farmville and Mafia Wars.

Many people have now set their computers with Facebook as their “home page.”  They only see/do/read things on the internet that is connected with Facebook for whatever reasons they do so.  I find that mystifying.

It’s not like Facebook guarantees content or safety of a website.  What good is a Facebook link to a web page?  Only as good as the link itself is, recently illustrated by last weekend’s heisting of people’s accounts to post gory or sexually explicit photos on their walls with an accompanying link. The photos were not appreciated by the long list of victims’ friends either, and days passed before Facebook was able to put an end to the problem.  It further illustrated the lack of security of the website.

In addition, there are privacy concerns.  It seems that Facebook thinks it has a right to track its users even when their users are no longer logged in.  That’s not exactly thrilling, and I’ve become more diligent about creating a wall between Facebook and my use of the computer for surfing and shopping–I actively work to clean out their cookies, which never expire, as well as barricade my Facebook page into a browser with nothing else happening.  I don’t like the invasion of my privacy, and because of this, I am one of the many users that is considering dropping my active use of Facebook.

What would that mean?

Dropping my active use of Facebook would mean no longer logging in daily, but rather logging in just a few times a week.  I’d no longer instantly post something interesting to my wall, nor respond to other people’s postings in anything resembling real time.  I’m probably a heavier-than-average user, and if I dropped my active use of the site, I’d be a more average to low usage user.  In time, it would probably go the way of MySpace for me–I have an account, and I probably remember the password, but typically I log in a few times a year.

I have no illusions that Facebook would notice my absence.  Facebook is not known for being very concerned about it’s users.  It’s just there, kind of like a street.  The street doesn’t care about us either, but we use it anyhow.  Facebook is more like an international highway, through which information can be spread in a viral form. That viral spreading of information is amazing and probably the most important facet of Facebook.

Facebook is also likely to be the place that heralds protest movements, not only in the USA, but world wide.  It coordinates, spreads information in real time, and detours around a less-than-responsive press and mass media.  It allows venues that once upon a time would have had to spread the word of their existence slowly through word of mouth to spread the news in minutes and hours rather than months and years.  That makes Facebook important, no matter how greedy the company itself is or isn’t.

I will admit, I’ve also bought products as a result of a Facebook ad too.  So it’s advertising, while sometimes annoying and poorly tailored to the user, (I am always getting ads for Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and Houston…and I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, closer to Mobile than New Orleans too) can be accurately targeted.  In my case, it was outdoors equipment.  (Rain garments, life jacket, and a waterproof camera bag)  Advertising is a big revenue product, and that’s part of how  Facebook makes the money it makes, resulting in a massive and yet free social networking website.

Facebook might be the monster we all love to hate, but it is becoming an increasingly relevant component to our modern lives.  We need it, or so we think, to connect with others for work, play and family ties.  It changes so fast that it’s hard to keep up with the changes, and any book that comes out that answers the questions for us is likely to be outdated and lose it’s abilities within a few short months at best.

Whether its a devil or a wonderful addition to our lives depends on a lot of variables.  We’re stuck with the changes in our lives, and I’m not sure anything is ever going to replace the whole Facebook thing, and it is quite an amazing phenomenon.  The speed and high percentage of adoption means even those who aren’t thrilled with it are somewhat stuck with dealing with it too.

Maybe it’s what we love to hate, can’t do without, and are truly addicted to.  But it does look like Facebook, just like Microsoft’s operating systems, is a standard.  We’re somewhat forced into a position of using it, no matter how devious its privacy policies are.  Sure we can boycott it, and cut our noses off to spite our faces too.  The sole option is to figure out how to contain the monster, keeping it useful without divulging excessive amounts of personal data.

That’s the user’s problem.

Just who do you think you are?

8 Apr

We all have a self image.  We all also have public images.  Those public images may not have a lot to do with who we really are, or so we think.  So just who do you really think you are?

Does it matter?  Do these public images matter?

Don’t you hate it when you get one of those “it depends” answers.  But, sometimes that is true.  It depends on a number of factors.  Obviously, if you are a public figure, your public image matters a lot.  But what is a public figure really?

That’s someone whose livelihood depends on public opinion.  Essentially, it could be any of us, because to a degree, all of us depend on the views of others.  You wonder how?  Jobs, customers, friends, family…all of them have an opinion, and we can deny it matters until we’re blue in the face…but it does matter.  We all have to sell ourselves at some point, unless we inherited vast sums of money that allow us to act like absolute asses all the time.  I don’t know anyone who has that luxury myself.

So who do you think you are?  Have you thought about it lately?  Did you think about it before you made that snide remark on Facebook?  How about that catty tweet that ventured out into the world via Twitter?  That nasty phone call  you made to your friend last week, with all of those accusations that you actually knew had no merit, that too…affected your public image.

We don’t need Big Brother watching us anymore.  We’ve grown up now, and we tell on ourselves when we act the fool, forever shaping the public image we project outward in hopes of people liking us.  We do it all of the time, completely unaware of the things we say and do affecting our lives forever, as those nasty comments come back to haunt us during a pre-job investigation or we need a reference from someone.

Do you think they forget?  Do you think the internet forgets?  Do you think it can’t be found?

Not only do people remember a long time, the internet seems to have an indefinite memory.  That photo, that comment, that review, that posting…will all stay there as if it was etched into stone…forever.