Tag Archives: Facebook

Be careful of the ‘magic word’ in social media spats

It’s an acknowledged truism in baseball that when you get into an argument with an umpire, uttering the “magic word” will get you ejected from the playing field in a New York nano-second.

What, pretell, is that magic word? It is “you.”

That’s right. Shout the word “you” at the ump and he’ll toss you. As in “f*** you!” or “you son of a b****!” or “you blind b******!”

The profanities? No sweat. Just don’t attach “you” to the vilest epithet you can utter.

That rule of thumb ought to apply to social media spats. I quite frequently witness these arguments erupt along my social media networks, namely my Facebook news feed. They usually originate with an item from High Plains Blogger that I distribute to my Facebook “friends” and my actual friends, who also happen to read these musings on Facebook.

Two or more readers of the blog then will get involved in arguing back and forth about a point I seek to make in the blog. I usually stay out of it. I prefer to let them go at it, tooth and nail, hammer and tong.

I’ve been fortunate in this regard: Whenever I do exchange thoughts with critics of my blog, the folks on the other other end usually are civil enough to respond like ladies and gentlemen. I don’t have to invoke the Baseball Rhubarb Rule that gets activated whenever someone blurts out the magic word “you.”

I don’t like name-calling when dealing with just plain folks like myself. Yes, I’ve been known to attach a pejorative description or two to people in high places. The president of the United States, for example, has received his fair share of name-calling from me. But, hey, if he can dish it out … right?

I’ll continue to seek to stay above the nastiness that erupts occasionally along this particular social media network, but I won’t stand for anyone dropping the magic word on me as their way of impugning me.

Hey, everyone has their limit.

Social media: sometimes a poisonous purveyor

I am likely never to fall totally in love with social media. I have accepted its presence our lives. However, there are times when I detest it with — as my mother used to say — “with a purple passion.”

Amarillo City Councilman Howard Smith has posted this item on Facebook, which I’ll share here:

It has come to my attention that a Facebook page has been created called: Howard Smith for Mayor 2019.

I want this to be crystal clear. I did not start this page, nor do I support it.

I am excited to continue my work on the Amarillo City Council. I have absolutely NO intention of running for Mayor.

I think Mayor Nelson is doing a tremendous job, and I am honored to work alongside her and my fellow Council Members to help move Amarillo forward.

Additionally, a GoFundMe account has been created to pay legal fees to oppose the building of the MPEV.

I, Howard Smith, did not contribute to this fund. I support the MPEV.

During this digital age when misinformation is so easily distributed, I encourage you to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

I respectfully ask that anyone pretending to be me or anyone utilizing my name please stop immediately.

What, do you suppose, caused this little item to show up? My hunch is that it has something to do with that recent dust up regarding Ginger Nelson’s decision to crack down on applause during City Council meetings.

As for the MPEV construction, if Councilman Smith says he supports it, I’ll take him at his word.

Social media can be pervasive. They can spread rumors faster than a Texas Panhandle wildfire. It become incumbent on those who become subject of social media discussion to use the media to counteract it or to endorse it, whichever is the case.

Howard Smith has counteracted what he suggests are unfounded rumors.

It’s good to stay alert.

Happy to report this friendship shows durability

A recent trip to the Golden Triangle produced a wonderful — but not surprising — acknowledgement from a friend whom I have known for more than three decades.

His name is Fred. He and my wife and I managed to catch up during our visit to the Beaumont area.

Fred reads this blog frequently. He is critical of my political point of view. He sees the blog mostly through Facebook, which is one of the social media platforms I use to distribute my musings about this and/or that political happenstance.

My old pal noted that his wife once questioned why he reads this blog, reminding him that he disagrees with my leanings so vehemently. “Hey, no problem,” he said to me. “It’s only politics. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.”

There, dear reader, are the magic words.

I was heartened in the extreme to hear my friend say that to me. I wrote a blog post more than five years ago about that very thing and how this blog has cost me a friend or two along the way.

True friendships outlast politics

It just goes to show you that real friends don’t let politics get in the way of solid relationships … such as the one Fred and I have forged.

Thank you, my friend.

Trump vs. Bezos, er … Amazon

Gosh, do you suppose just possibly the president of the United States is angry with Amazon.com because its owner, a guy named Jeff Bezos, happens to also own one of the nation’s leading newspapers — which has written deemed to be critical articles of the same president?

Let’s try to assess the real reason for Donald J. Trump’s anger.

He contends that Amazon is undercutting the U.S. Postal Service. He’s been tweeting his brains out over Amazon. It’s been Amazon this and Amazon that. He’s been browbeating and berating the company via Twitter.

I have to wonder out loud: Why hasn’t he gone after Facebook with equal ferocity, given that medium’s relationship with a company, Cambridge Analytica, that used Facebook customers’ individual data for political purposes — which allegedly sought to benefit the Trump presidential campaign?

Not a peep from POTUS on that one.

Amazon? That’s a different story.

Bezos’s newspaper, The Washigton Post, has been dogged in its reporting of matters affecting, let’s see, “the Russia thing,” Trump finances, the Cabinet shuffle, the chaos and confusion within the West Wing, Jared Kushner’s role as a Middle East peace broker … that kind of thing.

Trump keeps yapping that The Post is reporting “fake news,” which in itself is the height of irony, given that the president is the “purveyor in chief” of fake news. But … I digress.

Trump’s so-called anger with Amazon looks to be nothing more than a case of cyberbullying by the leader of the free world against an Internet mogul who moonlights as the owner of a first-class newspaper that doesn’t slobber all over the president to his liking.

So many ways to get sucked into social media war

I am going to declare this for all the world to hear.

Never will I allow myself to get into a Twitter War with anyone! Never! It won’t happen.

Yes, I am involved with social media. I have a Facebook account with more than 725 “friends” and acquaintances on the social medium. I have gotten into a snit or two with some of my “friends” who have unfriended me along the way. I got into another argument with someone with whom I got disconnected; I am unsure how that happened. Whatever.

I keep reading about individuals waging a “Twitter War” with someone. Or with some group.

I am moved to ask: Who declares victory? Is it the party who calls it quits first? How long does one wage such a “war”?

You know perhaps that I don’t like engaging in Facebook Wars, either. I see too many of these exchanges go on seemingly until the proverbial cows come home. They do get personal and nasty.

I feel quite badly that some of these exchanges over Facebook occur as a result of High Plains Blogger posts I share via that medium. Some of my actual friends will read something, they’ll comment on it and then they launch a fusillade of responses. Some of them are favorable to the person who posts the original response; others of them are, well, unfavorable.

The war commences.

I won’t go there. I don’t have the stomach of any kind of social media warfare. Hey, I’ve seen the real thing, I mean, actual warfare where people shoot guns and drop bombs on each other.

When people go to “war” via social media, well, they can count me out. Either they have too much time on their hands, or I am too preoccupied with writing this blog.

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.


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.