I often need a good smack across the head to remind me to restrict all public commentary on social media to my favorite topics: writing, wine, and wit. The slightest endeavor into random remarks about politics or religion can cause an exchange of retorts from strangers and casual acquaintances that ends with their inevitable written proclamation: “Your an idiot!” This illiterate insult is wrong in so many ways.
In this brave new world of political correctness, don’t be naïve in assuming you are entitled to your own feisty opinions. Not when there are Social Media Nazis, bored loners, and potential clients around every laptop. Here are five ways to avoid the temptation to type, text, or tweet spontaneous comments you could regret:
1. During political election season, wrap duct tape and electric barbed wire around your fingers so you won’t comment on the obscene orgy of political crap swirling around social media. Be prepared to take the ultimate extreme measure of unplugging your computer. Some hyperventilating and drooling may occur.
2. During religious holidays, be true to your own spiritual beliefs but don’t call others demented spawns of the devil if they prefer to worship the moon or the ocean or Krispy Kreme.
3. If an anonymous person criticizes you on the Internet, don’t spend a week tracing his or her entire online history to create a retaliatory manifesto. That only means the terrorists have won.
4. Go ahead and write a clever and caustic quip, save it to savor the next day, and then delete it.
5. Remember that everything you publish on the Internet will remain there for your great-grandchildren to find and then publish in a tell-all book that will be turned into a horror movie. Then people will pay money to visit and spit upon your grave. Don’t be that person.
This week I was sucked into two exchanges on Facebook that I should have avoided. I knew before I hit send that I shouldn’t respond but I couldn’t help myself. All I wanted in return was a simple, “Interesting point of view.” But, no. My comments made me a corrupt capitalist responsible for the damnation of society. And this was from people I’d never met.
To be fair (and balanced), I enjoy a good debate and am guilty of provoking a compelling argument. I regularly banter about politics on Facebook with a guy named Eric. I’ve never met him, but we’re not vicious. Sometimes I add a happy face emoticon just to say “It’s okay. Let’s not kill each other today.” And, he appears to have a commanding knowledge of basic grammar.
Anonymity on the Internet makes it easier to snarl in seclusion and condemn others with wild abandon. I’m waiting for global inspiration that will instill a passion for unity, issue a clarion call for respect and cooperation among all peoples, and demand an end to illiterate insults. Yes, I’m yearning for that glorious day when people come together to sing in the village square and know the difference between your and you’re. These expectations are perhaps too grandiose to accomplish, but, after all, we are entering the blessed season of miracles.
Today’s blog was fueled by a 2010 “O” Fidélitas red wine from Yakima Valley. This smooth, tasty wine is a delightful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. It’s about $35 a bottle and is guaranteed to promote feelings of cheer and good will toward all God’s creatures.