Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook becomes den of negativity

I am going to come clean on something that doesn’t fill me with much pride.

Facebook has become a negative place. I must admit to contributing to that negativity. I regret that, but I won’t apologize for it.

I use that social medium to distribute posts on High Plains Blogger, along with Twitter, LinkedIn and Google. I seek maximum exposure for these musings/spewage. It’s improving. Indeed, I just passed the total number of page views and unique visitors year to date that I garnered in all of 2016, and we still have nearly three months to go in the current year.

I’m proud of that growth in readership.

However, I am not proud of the negativity that erupts on Facebook occasionally as a result.

Here’s what I witness with distressing regularity: I’ll post something on the blog; it goes to Facebook; my network of friends and acquaintances read this stuff; some of them comment. Then the back-and-forth commences.

I have an out-of-body experience of sorts reading these jabs and snipes and insults tossed among people who, for the most part, are total strangers. I have friends in the Hill Country who take umbrage at a comment from someone in the Panhandle. Some of my West Coast friends get riled up at something said by someone on the East Coast. One of my Gulf Coast peeps fires off a critique of a comment from someone in, oh, the Pacific Northwest. One friend who lives in Germany got involved in a mini-snit recently with one of my fellow Americans over gun violence.

The more they exchange barbs, the more heated it gets. It devolves into actual name-calling.

And what is the cause of all this nastiness? Something that came from little ol’ me. I choose to stay out of these disputes, unless someone misinterprets something I posted in the blog that precipitates the fight. Short of that, I feel like an intruder.

Arguably the most fascinating aspect of this involves individuals with whom I am not connected via Facebook or any other social media. They, too, get involved in some of this name-calling. It’s all quite strange, man.

A part of me wishes I could curtail this negativity. Another part of me welcomes the give and take, although I’d prefer to see a bit more “give” than “take” in some of these exchanges.

Now that I’ve come clean on my contribution to the Facebook negativity, I want to declare my intention to keep doing what I’m doing. The blog posts will continue to go out along my Facebook network.

If those who take serious offense at something that someone else says about whatever, well, that’s on you.

Enjoy.

Hating the feeling of utter helplessness

You know the feeling, I’m sure.

Mother Nature levels her immense power onto a region of this great country and you are left only to wish the very best for those who are being affected.

I won’t suggest that “All I can do is pray.” A clergy friend of mine has reminded us many times over the years that “Prayer isn’t the least we can do; it’s the most we can do.”

So we are left to pray and hope for the very best for those being devastated by Hurricane Harvey’s unthinkable rage.

Social media have offered a pretty good device for those in harm’s way to tell the rest of us that they’re safe and sound. My Facebook news feed is full of such assurances and for that I am grateful on behalf of our many friends throughout the Houston and Golden Triangle areas of Southeast Texas.

Here we sit, though, a good distance away from the havoc. We’re perched way up yonder on the Caprock, high and dry and enjoying the sunshine at nearly 3,700 feet above sea level. The Texas Department of Transportation is advising motorists to avoid travel to the Gulf Coast. If only we could transport ourselves into the storm to lend a hand to the friends we have retained many years after leaving Beaumont for a new life in Amarillo.

And, no, I don’t intend to ignore the misery that has befallen all the good folks who are coping with the storm’s wrath.

So … what is there to do? Except pray.

I can do that. However, it does nothing to assuage my feeling of helplessness.

Lawmaker needs to be taught a lesson

There’s a truth to be told about social media, which is that no matter how quickly you take back something you say, it remains on the record.

Listen up, Missouri state Sen. Maria Chappell-Nadal. I’m talking about you.

The Democratic lawmaker posted a tasteless remark on Facebook in which she said she hopes Donald Trump gets assassinated. It came down quickly. But, d’oh! A lot of folks saw it.

She might face removal from the Missouri Senate, according to that state’s Republican governor, Eric Greitens, and GOP lieutenant governor, Mark Parson. Both men said the Senate has the authority to do so. I want to join them in saying Chappell-Nadal’s colleagues should remove her as soon as possible.

I get that emotions are running high these days as they concern the president. Indeed, the president does little to calm them himself, as he fires out barrages routinely via Twitter attacking his critics. And, yes, he has a big mouth that he engages in public venues without giving much thought to the consequences of his words and the messages he sends.

None of that, however, should empower anyone to suggest that the president of the United States face the kind of threat Chappell-Nadal suggested in that heinous social media posting.

We cannot control what human beings think. We certain can deter them from saying certain things out loud, or posting them on social media.

As Lt. Gov. Parson said of Chappell-Nadal: “She is no longer fit to serve our state.”

Trump might have a form of ‘keyboard-itis’

A couple of TV talking heads have tossed out a theory in the past few days about Donald John Trump’s tweet tantrums that seems to make sense to me.

It goes something like this: The president of the United States assumes a different personality when he wakes up in the wee hours and fires out those angry, personal and vulgar Twitter messages. He’s not the same guy … they said.

Hmmm. I have given that some thought. It finally dawned on me: Yeah! He’s just like some of my own social media “friends.” I know the type. I am related — truth be told — to one of those individuals.

The word on Trump is that in person he can be kind, generous, affable; I’ve heard it said he’s a wonderful dinner companion. Then he picks up his telecommunications device, or sits behind a computer keyboard and becomes a raging animal. A monster. A sort of Mr. Hyde!

I get some pretty harsh responses to blog posts from some of my own acquaintances. They’re snarky, smart-alecky, borderline disrespectful.

One fellow I’ve known for a number of years actually “unfriended” me from Facebook after we got into a snit over something he had written to a member of my family. He was a constant — and annoying — critic of this blog. I guess you might consider him to be a “troll.” He seemed to pounce like a cat on a rat whenever I wrote something positive about, oh, President Barack H. Obama.

Then we would share a meal somewhere. We got along famously when we sat at the same lunch table. We would talk about this and that, laugh at our disagreements. Then we’d go our separate ways and end our visit with a handshake and a man-hug.

This is my way of saying that I can understand fully that Donald Trump might assume a different persona when he fires off those tweets. It doesn’t excuse his uncivil behavior or his disgraceful demeaning of the exalted office he occupies.

His defenders say he is acting like any human being would act. That’s fine. Except for this little caveat: He isn’t any human being. He’s the president of the United States of America, for crying out loud! He has been elected to the nation’s highest office. He has an obligation, therefore, to conduct himself in a manner befitting his standing as the world’s most powerful man.

Even when he sits down in front of a computer keyboard.

I hope there can be a cure for keyboard-itis.

Why let ’em squawk? Here’s why

I received this inquiry today from a longtime friend and former colleague; I figure I’ve known this fellow for just shy of 30 years. He asks:

Why do you let these crazed Trump troglodytes comment on your blog? You know you can set up your blog to screen that stuff. This … dingbat and her dingbat Trumpster pals are mucking up what is otherwise a thoughtful message. They hate the free press. Let ’em go somewhere else and make their ridiculous, baseless comments. Let ’em tell it to Hannity. He loves that sort of crap. (She)  is obviously an elitist ne’er-do-well snob who, for lack of real work, spends her waking hours trolling progressive sites like yours, looking to pick fights with folks like me, thinking her silly and childish retorts will somehow make her seem like a real force to be reckoned with, when, in fact, she comes off merely reaffirming to the world that she really is the jerk she appears to be. Why, John, why?

He asks “why?” The answer is pretty straightforward.

I consider this blog to be a forum for the free expression of ideas. I distribute it along a number of social media platforms; Facebook gives High Plains Blogger its greatest exposure. I long have followed the policy of declining to block anyone simply because I disagree with their view. I’ll admit, though, to some trouble with Facebook becoming so political. I like it as a sort of social media gathering place where people at varying levels of “friendship” can talk among themselves about their lives, or about life in general.

Politics at times poisons that interaction. Indeed, my blog has cost me some friendships over the years. We’ve gotten entangled in some angry discussions about this and/or that. One fellow “unfriended” me from Facebook over a snit, which tells me he didn’t regard our friendship as greatly as I did. I regret it, but as they saying goes: It is what it is.

Thus, I don’t intend to block individuals from expression themselves. After all, I use social media to distribute my own world view to the world. Doesn’t it seem more than a little presumptuous to block someone simply on the basis of a political disagreement?

It’s a big ol’ world out there. Let ’em squawk.

Arguments produce ‘out-of-body experience’

I am going to admit to having something akin to an out-of-body experience, thanks to this blog.

High Plains Blogger posts get distributed along several social media platforms. Twitter and Facebook are the most reliable of them.
I write these posts, then they are shared automatically through these and other social media.

What happens next produces the out-of-body feeling.

I have quite a few Facebook “friends.” Many of them are actual friends or, to be more precise, personal acquaintances with whom I have good relations. Some of them are close friends, some are members of my family. My longest-tenured friend goes back with me to the seventh grade in junior high school. Still others are just folks who are hooked up on Facebook with people I might know.

It’s a big networking deal, you know?

Quite often I will post something on Facebook that draws a sharp response. Someone then will read that response and then fire back at the individual who wrote the initial reaction. Person No. 1 fires back at No. 2. Then the back-and-forth commences.

I stay away from the fray most of the time. I will decline to say I stay “above” it all, because that sounds too self-serving.

I do enjoy the repartee, although I regret that at times the jousting gets too personal. Some folks hurl insults at each other. Even a few of them resort to profanity, which I personally dislike intensely. I don’t like cursing in public, although I’ll drop an occasional “hell” or “damn” in my blog.

The jousting is quite fun to watch. My own philosophy is that I like putting the thoughts out there … and then watching the fur and the fecal matter fly. I don’t have the stomach, the perseverance — or the time — to participate in long-running contests to see who gets the last word.

I leave all of that to others … most of the time.

Have at it, dear reader.

This crime utterly defies every sense in our body

Violence is one thing. The cold-blooded, often-sociopathic nature of it is quite another.

So it was when Steve Stephens reportedly lost a relationship with a woman, then sought out a victim at random. He found a 74-year-old retired foundry worker, Robert Godwin Sr., who he shot to death on a Cleveland, Ohio street.

There’s more. Stephens decided to record this senseless act and he posted it on Facebook.

He then fled to Erie, Pa., where he sought to order a fast-food hamburger. An alert McDonald’s employee recognized the customer as the killer and called 9-1-1. A police chase ensued. Stephens then killed himself with a gunshot to the head.

One question that has come up is whether Facebook bears any “responsibility” for this dastardly deed. The way I see it, the answer is “no.”

For the life of me I don’t know how Facebook could be expected to prevent the posting of something as hideous as what Stephens did.

The case, though, ended the moment Stephens put a bullet in his skull. No loss there.

For the family of Mr. Godwin, their misery is just beginning. Our hearts break for this innocent victim and his loved ones.

Then we are left to wonder about how human beings can do such things.

Not feeling good about potential for Trump trouble

My proverbial trick knee has been quiet of late. I haven’t felt it throbbing in some time.

It’s beginning to send me some signals. I don’t like the message the throbs are sending.

They’re telling me that Donald J. Trump’s troubles are just beginning, that all this Russia chatter has the potential of blowing up badly. There well might be a good bit of collateral damage if it does.

Dan Rather, the former CBS News correspondent/news anchor, thinks the “fuse has been lit” and it’s likely to explode.

Yes, I know that CBS essentially fired Rather after that bogus report he delivered about former President George W. Bush’s National Guard service. But Rather has covered more than his share of political scandals in his lengthy career as a broadcast journalist and he doesn’t like what he’s seeing develop with regard to the president and his possible relationship with Russian government officials.

There have been meetings with Russian envoys, allegedly during the 2016 election. The Russians reportedly tried to influence the election outcome. The Obama administration leveled sanctions against the Russians. The meetings involving Trump campaign officials well might have related to those sanctions.

The national security adviser has been fired. The attorney general has just recused himself from any investigations involving the president and Russia. There are questions swirling all over the nation’s capital about who knew about the Russian contacts and when they knew it.

There seems to be no end — none! — to the inquiries that might swallow up the new president’s administration.

That ol’ trick knee of mine is throbbing. I hate it when it throbs like that. It’s beginning to give me the heebie-jeebies about what might lie ahead for our brand new government.

As Rather wrote on his Facebook page: “We are well past the time for any political niceties or benefits of the doubt. We need an independent and thorough investigation of Russia’s meddling in our democracy and its ties to the president and his allies. We don’t know what we don’t know.”

Feeling a bit self-conscious

I am feeling a little self-conscious about one aspect of this blog I write.

It involves the way I distribute it. I use several social media to disseminate my musings about this and/or that. One of them is Facebook.

This week a young man with whom I am acquainted complained about the politicization of Facebook. He told he has grown weary of all the back and forth, give and take, the jousting over political matters on a social medium that — as he understood it — isn’t intended for such discussion.

“It’s supposed to be a place where people ‘congregate,'” he told me.

True enough.

I mentioned to him that I distribute my blog through Facebook and other social media; I don’t think he reads the blog, so perhaps he learned something about what I do in my “spare time.” The blog does produce its share — or more than its share, perhaps — of comments from those who spend a lot of time reading other people’s posts. They engage each other. They take me to task for my posts; others of them endorse whatever I am saying. They argue with each other, they get under each other’s skin.

I choose essentially to stay out of that kind of repartee. I prefer to post the item on my blog and then fire it off on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,Google and Tumblr.

I don’t intend to politicize Facebook with these posts. I merely intend to get as much exposure as I can for my blog, which I enjoy writing immensely.

This exercise, which I pursue multiple times a day, is a form of therapy for me. It keeps me engaged in public affairs and the news of the day.

Sure, my blog content is mostly about politics and public policy; it’s also about slices of life and life experience — including retirement and grandparenthood. And, yes, I enjoy writing about our adorable puppy, Toby.

Perhaps my sharing this fit of self-consciousness will help clear my head — and my conscience.

Actually, I feel a bit less self-conscious at this moment than I was when I began writing this post.

See? The “therapy” works!

Feeling better about City Hall now

Check this out. It’s a news brief item from the Amarillo Globe-News about some serious tumult downstate, in Corpus Christi.

Suddenly and quite unexpectedly, I don’t feel quite so badly about the state of play at Amarillo City Hall.

Corpus Christi Mayor Dan McQueen quit his post after 37 days on the job. He announced it on Facebook and then used the social medium to criticize staffers and fellow council members.

Ouch, dude!

I’m not privy to the details of what drove the mayor to bail on his constituents. I’ll have to look it up.

I can grasp this, though: Whatever issues are bedeviling the Amarillo City Council and whatever might drive the debate surrounding the upcoming city election seem downright tame and civil compared to what’s happening in the Coastal Bend city down yonder.