Showing posts with label social media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social media. Show all posts


Complainers be complaining.

Wondered what community based news looks like?

Is it a glorious level of truly local reporting in which concerned citizens report on the most important events and stories of their time?

Not really.

As it turns out, it is mostly a bunch of people complaining, with frequent bouts of serious logical failures.

I'm in a few Facebook groups which purport to be places where local residents can report news. Ideally they'd post about phone scams, suspicious activity in their neighborhood, lost/found pets and other items, and share news stories that impact the community.

Some folks actually do this, to whom I say thank you.

Those types of posts work well for the most long as you don't spend too much time in the comments section.

There has to be some kind of mathematical formula for calculating how far a comments section has veered off topic and into baseless insult based on the number of comments, the time the comments were left in comparison to when the post happened, how long the comment section stays active, and how many sub-comments/replies are present. If someone could create an algorithm to alert the innocent about infectious comments sections, they would do the world a great service.

So what kinds of news ends up being the mainstay of citizen journalists?

1. Griping Parents

I'd say about 60 percent of the posts in these community news groups are parents griping about something involving their perfect angel spawn.

I look at other people's kids kind of like I look at friends who have big dogs that, when entering your friend's home upon invitation, shove their nose in your crotch (or jump up on you) and you're supposed to smile and act as if it isn't super awkward while the owner sort of feebly yells "down!" but actually is so proud of their dog that they secretly think you love their dog as much as they do when what you'd really like to do is shove your knee into it.

So, when I see these angry parents posting in yet another outrage, I want to tell the parents that their child is a precious life, created by God. But beyond that, kids are basically, as preacher Voddie Baucham once said, a "viper in a diaper." A child is like a walking id, with zero self-control and full-blown narcissism. They absolutely need to hear "no!" and get some discipline. If you won't do it, others will have to.

That means--when I see people post as if it were real news--about the "horrendous" thing that happened to their little angel at the school/shop/event/restaurant/store by a teacher/authority figure/staff/clerk, I call bull. If I got in trouble at school, dad and mom were all over me, not the teacher.

"They made my little Johnny go outside for recess in this cold!" and then 40 people chime in and can't believe the horror.

"My little Betty's teacher didn't stop the kids from bullying and I'm so furious I'm going to start a petition!" and then 50 people chime in and agree that the school system is just the worst and that schools should be perfect when it comes to mentoring, teaching, behavior modification, nutrition, safety, and all of the stuff parents don't do at home, as if the behavioral and serious problems happening at school weren't a direct result of what's happening in the home lives of these kids.

(Side note: my ENTIRE SCHOOL CAREER was one of being picked on and rejected, and without hesitation, I'll tell you it was extremely painful and that, to this day, I consider it the best thing that could have ever happened to me. That's its own blog post for later.)

With these kinds of "community news" posts, you basically end up with a parent just wanting a bunch of people to validate anger, and maybe gloat over getting a teacher or waiter to commit seppuku.

It's probably little Johnny, whose mom thinks he's too precious to get chilly and maybe didn't send him to school with warm enough clothes, who's bullying Betty, as they stay inside during recess and play video games. Just hazarding a guess.

Parents who bully teachers and bully people online raise those kinds of kids. The main reason I didn't stay in teaching, even when asked to, was the parents. You can't teach a kid to close the classroom door without a parent complaining and demanding an apology. God forbid you flunk a star basketball player and he's ineligible, even though he's as lazy as they come and didn't do his work. Back then, at least, there wasn't social media for parents to publicly gripe about teachers. I can't imagine what it's like to be a teacher now.

This is never-ending, parents griping about how their expectations of how others ought to treat their kids is not being met. This is directly (and bizarrely) connected to how their kids run around restaurants screaming and the parents are oblivious or smile as if all patrons are so moved by their ability to have procreated three years ago that they surely don't mind the racket during their meal. Those kids are like the dog with its nose in your crotch.

Summation on this point: The parents doing the posting are the problem. They are so busy policing the behavior of others that they forget to do it with their own kids.

2. Schadenfreude Regarding Businesses

The second kind of useless community group discussion has to do with what I think is related to tall poppy syndrome, and the desire to see people who worked hard to create a business fail.

Periodically, there will be community posts about new business or old businesses that are closing, which is apparently an invitation to lose logic. It's worthwhile to let people know of businesses coming to and leaving the community; it's a matter of how people respond to it that is a problem.

Just a few days ago, in a post about the likely closing of Herbergers in the Kirkwood mall, I saw people both griping that there would be no place left to shop, that the mall sucked anyway, and now, to get back at the mall for not being better, they were going to shop online.

With logic like that, I open my arms and await SMOD (sweet meteor of death).

They complain that the mall sucks. They complain that the stores are all too expensive and they want stores like Jaba Lots. They complain that the mall is getting too ghetto and there was a fight last winter that proves that. They complain that there are no good stores. They complain that there's no food court or good places to sit, but then list every restaurant in the mall and explain why it's all too expensive. They gloat about how they'll just shop online even more since everything sucks.

Anyone else see some logical problems here?

You want cheap stores, you get a "ghetto" (to borrow their adjective for it) mall. You want a mall that's kept up, you need one that charges rent that covers the upkeep, and you need stores that make a decent profit to meet those rents.

In other words, you get what you pay for.

I don't want the mall to turn into a giant dollar store with a bunch of fast food joints. The minute dollar stores, secondhand stores, and clinics start anchoring your mall, then you need to worry. Look at the Gateway mall to the north, which is basically a clinic (and will probably be a full-on Sanford hospital in ten years), some random interior stores, and a bunch of stores that you can't access from inside the mall but only through exterior entrances. It is a frustration to go to because half of the vendors aren't reliably open during mall hours, making it a giant indoor walking track for the elderly and people who want a free place to let their kids run around (which, let's be honest, is what some of these complainers are actually after). Kirkwood mall enforces the rule that all businesses in the mall are open during mall hours. You can go there knowing that if the mall is open, so are its stores.

The Kirkwood mall is actually looking pretty good these days, with lots of remodeling happening, redoing the floor, bringing in new shops (including a clever rotating pop-up shop space), a smoothie bar at the north entrance, more seating, and restaurants spread throughout the place instead of one echoing massive food court where -- you guessed it -- parents let their kids wreak havoc, and people take condiments from vendors they didn't get their food from, and food is smeared all over the floor and Target and Scheels carts are everywhere because parents and shoppers think they are a personal convenience device for use in the whole mall, and the air smells like a fetid burgertacothaipeanutsaucefart. I like that the Kirkwood mall has a designated kids area, and that it's bright and sunny. I like that there's no massive food court, but that the mall is getting you to walk around and find the restaurants interspersed with shops, avoiding the concentration of food court smells and noises. In fact, the only thing missing from Kirkwood is a movie theater.

For those folks who were so disparaging towards the mall and laughing at it losing an anchor store, I'd ask: if you're not regularly there, why should the mall cater to your particular whim? And why do you seem to take such glee in businesses failing in your community? Having come from a small town in which, one by one, business closed up, I know it's not much fun when you have NO SERVICES near you. Buying ice cream in the summer was an impossibility since grocery stores were 30+ miles away. So be thankful for what you have and support it!

Summation on this point: People won't be satisfied until a business gives everything away for free, charges nothing to come in, has perfectly cheery workers (despite no income to pay them), and cleans up after them and their kids to provide an inviting space that will meet their every need. Hint: this is not capitalism.

So anyway, as it turns out, when the community reports the news, it's mostly complaining. We have the tools to make everyone a reporter, and people choose to gripe instead.

The natural state of human communication seems to be complaining. Nonstop. Case in point: here is a blog post of me complaining about people complaining.


Too many gateways to guard.

My best advice for businesses and organizations is to leave social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. Those platforms amount to little more than another gateway for customers to gripe and threaten you. You think you're announcing specials and creating pretty images and building a brand and engaging, and people are just using it as a way to anonymously be an ass.

Every gateway of communication that you open up, you have to man. Someone has to be watching it to respond immediately, or not only will the original gripe still be a problem, but people turn into ridiculous narcissistic selfish toads if you don't respond ASAP; they start adding your lack of immediate reply to their already delusional "important" fuss. They even start posting to their followers about how upset they are about your treatment of them, to get them to pile on you.

All those social media gateways basically mean endless mea culpas.

This has become NORMALIZED BEHAVIOR for people now, to respond to businesses like this on social media. They seem to think it is acceptable, forgetting that people at the other end have to deal with it. I blame the technology we have as well as the startup world's insistence on being ridiculously accommodating to every request. As someone who worked the support desk for a startup for a while, I have notes, screenshots, and stories about the incredible jerks that exist seemingly for one reason: complaining and demanding. (Ladies, I'm looking at you. Female customers drove me nuts. Male customers might explode into F-bombs and go away, but women...never-ending wheedling.)

In this day and age of instant everything, understand this: to the customer, everything is an emergency. Give them a chance to make it your emergency after hours, and they will. Allow them to demand immediacy, and you've trained them to expect it.

The customer isn't always right. Sometimes they're wrong. You say they're right even when they're wrong when they are a valuable customer you know and have been doing business with and don't want to lose that business. Sometimes you genuinely feel for the person and you just want to help. Customers who aren't valuable customers are definitely not always right.

You know who isn't a valuable customer?

Twits using Twitter to blackmail companies into various action by threat of a boycott or hashtags (hashtags, people -- seriously?!). There's no real proof these people ever did significant business with the company before, but because companies lack cojones, they race to see who can cower and put their tail between their legs first.

Or, people who turn to Facebook at 11 pm, drunk, and start bombarding your page with messages, getting irate when you don't respond because--oh, I don't know--you WERE ASLEEP IN BED.

Your regular customers know you, and you them. Forget the shallow "engagement" phrasing that marketers use --  just because you've "engaged" with someone (what a vacant word -- I can engage with someone through a handshake or a punch to the face; engage isn't always positive) doesn't mean they're a real customer. You've formed real relationships with real customers, as businesses used to before all of this social media garbage.

So here are some suggestions:

  1. Get rid of as many social media accounts as you can. 
  2. Make your business website your only contact portal if possible. Save your email interactions and categorize them.
  3. If you must have a Facebook page because you think the ads are so important to your business, set up an autoresponder that makes it clear you only respond to messages from people during business hours. Then stick to it. 
  4. Take social apps off of your phone, even if you're still using them (like Facebook). Why we basically set ourselves up to be available 24/7 is beyond me, but that's what you're doing if you have the apps buzzing and dinging notifications on your phone.

The owner of a coffee shop doesn't need to be on call 24/7. Unless you provide emergency services, most businesses don't need to be available outside of hours. Just because customers think they own your time or they'll retract their almighty dollar doesn't actually mean they own your time.

Provide a good product or service and a good price. Let the whiners go elsewhere. If you don't, you will never own your personal time again.

There will never be a shortage of complaining, demanding people with problems they expect someone to solve. Don't provide them gateways to you.


5 Ways To Be A Safe Driver In Hampden

Internet marketing is awful.

I worked in that world for several years; I know the tricks. Just thinking about how much I could tell you about what really goes on behind all of the Shiny Happy Marketing People is absolutely wearying. It's enough for a book.

One technique to garner traffic is to create some generic piece of content, and then email all over tarnation to see if someone will use it on their website. There are a variety of ways marketers find and choose their email targets, some more thoughtful than others. Regardless, this is one of many reasons why you see what seems to be the same content everywhere on the internet.

I actually save those emails that I receive (and I get a fair number, since my name is on a lot of marketing blog posts from back in the day and people think I am interested) labeled as "great email examples", because some are so badly done I can't keep myself from going back and cherishing them. Clearly, the word "great" in the label is facetious. This arrived in my email today:

I had a good chuckle off of this.

I'll admit I'm interested in an infographic on all of the ways internet marketing has ruined the internet. Shop that to me, and I might bite.


Strike two, and you're out. At least on social media.

My blog readers from years past know of my foray into the world of TheoBlogging. It got pretty ugly. Knowing how awful it got only makes how bad it is now all that much more impressive (in a negative way).

I'd started this blog post a while back, and had tossed a link in it to a Facebook post. I can't see that post now, so I don't know if it exists and I'm blocked, or what. I don't remember what it was about, or why I saw fit to start a bare draft and include that. Clearly, something explosive was said. The original title of this post was "A faith blogger goes ballistic on social media" and that sure sounds click-worthy.

A couple of random statements, then.

First, there have been few things as disappointing as reading the social media accounts of the Christian authors (and even bloggers). There are books I own that were a real blessing, only to discover the author is a bit of an ass on Twitter. Super disappointing.

Let's be honest. I was an ass on Twitter, too, which is why I walked away from it.

Perhaps more Christians should take a similar walk, unless you're really gifted at ignoring the arguments and seriously able to live by Titus 3:9-11.

"But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."

I mean, look at that passage. Twice. That's the cutoff point for engaging with pointless and divisive arguments. Twitter don't do twice, folks. Wow, did I despise who I was on Twitter. Facebook too, for that matter.

I'm not sure where the line is on how to use a gift of words and writing (and access to a blog) in a way that God wants, but I'm pretty sure, for me, it isn't on Twitter. Each Christian has to be really sensitive to the Holy Spirit in what we are and are not to read; it won't be the same for each person. But at least there are some good guidelines on how to respond on social media: two strikes. In a culture of perpetual "engage with me, are you chicken, now you blocked me, must mean your scared of my great intellect", that can be hard to do. But it's pretty good guidance.


The standard "I quit social media for like five minutes blah blah blah" post.

Every five minutes someone writes a 4,000 word article about how they gave up social media for a minute, a month, a year -- whatever time frame it may be -- and then lists how they were more mindful, connected, and could just about levitate since they evolved so much without being on social media.

Fair enough.

A few years ago I took summer off from Twitter, removed the thing from my phone. Happily, that was during Obergefell vs. Hodges.

Well, I'm not quitting social media. My Twitter feed is a finally honed mixture of "Never Trump", Deplorables, center-left, cat videos, satire, and stupid human tricks. And Instagram. Heck. I could take stupid photos all day and leave witless commentary about them.

So Facebook.

That's a unique sewer of a place.

I stay on the thing for two reasons: you can't manage other people's pages if you don't have a profile, and it's the only way I see photos of my extended family and find out what my family is doing.

This past year, I changed a few of my Facebook rules, which were fairly strict as to who could have access to my posts and my information. I did this because of the Dakota Access pipeline protest which was here where I live, and I wanted to connect with community members to both deal with some of the things that were happening in the community as well as share and see information others were gathering.

So now here we are, in May.

I made all of my posts private, which means people who are following me or are maybe even friends but aren't on my "close friends and family lists" can't see anything but one post, the one where I kinda say I'm reducing my usage.

Now the obvious reason would be the things that come when you live in a place that the antifa and activist keyboard warriors are targeting (the NoDAPL protest) and you get tired of the gross messages and general harassment. That didn't bother me as much as you might think. I've been writing on the internet since 2000. I've seen a few jerks. And that nonsense behavior actually provided me with some great screenshots that I will use when I write about the protest from a community experience.

The reason I'm taking the app off of my phone and avoiding it is because I'm seeing too many divisive things that reduce my ability to think broadly (and is seriously harming the breadth of my vocabulary). Not just politics (though certainly that's part of it), but different forms of fear, paranoia, and apocalyptic visions of modern life in regards to health, food, and fitness. It's as if we're all in a competition to see who can be the most organic, the most natural, the most mindful, the most (ugh) woke. Even worse, as Facebook tracks our interest, it serves up even more of the same and hides information that might be contrary to what we want to be true.

I will most certainly bore you to death about this later, but this is the gist of it, particularly for Christians who latch onto articles that warn and create fear about foods and modern life and politics: we have traded a life of faith in for one of false gods. We get distracted by so many things that we miss The Most Important Thing.

So Facebook made it difficult for me to enjoy life by making me feel guilty that I didn't care about "clean eating". And it also made me tempted to think that if I just ate the right mix of the right foods and did the right exercises and avoided the bad modern medicines, I would live forever sort of.

Well, we're all going to die, but in the meantime, I don't need Facebook telling me all of the different ways that might happen.

This is a judgment on my use of Facebook, and my thoughts. It is not a judgment of you.


Fading into the background, with peanut butter.

Fading into the background is sorely underrated.

There's a great deal of freedom in between the vertical seams of the wallpaper. I've written about this concept in great masses of words elsewhere, never one to say a few words when I can write many.

The oil pipeline protest in North Dakota, which has lasted nearly a year, has made me sit in some kind of awe as I watch people from all angles jockeying for position as personal celebrities. Live feeds on Facebook, inflammatory posts of dubious truth, and other species of drama all served to gather a back-slapping chorus of fans who chime in with comments of true love and devotion no matter what the person is saying.

We're apparently a world desperate to be worshiped, or to worship. Social media abounds in golden calves as people are frantically searching for lives that seem significant and others are trying to latch onto their contrails to maybe get a whiff of relevance.

The protest, as ugly and tiring as it has been to have the world's hashtag ankle-biters targeting my state, brought about a unique friendship with an older part Scots-Irish, part Native American gentleman who took the time to share a lot of fascinating history and cultural insight about Native Americans, genealogy, and about 100 other random things that I discovered weren't so random after all.

As he shared story after story, revealing one of the most unique lives I've had the good blessing to intersect with, he made a casual comment.

"I used to have a significant life. Now I have a different one, but it's still significant."

Later in the conversation, he told of subsiding on peanut butter until his Social Security check arrived and I marveled at how much knowledge and experience and life there was in him to be digging peanut butter out of a jar for a meal.

You never know how significant your life is. Significance is generally reflected off the people whose lives you change, not how you look in the mirror or on your social media live feed. You can't really measure it, especially since some people never get around to letting you know that your life meant something to them.

Back somewhere along the walls, while the rest of the people are partying and vying for attention and making all kinds of clamor, are the nearly invisible. They're having great conversation, eating peanut butter, and are absolutely free from needing to be noticed.

At the very least, they are absorbing some of the senseless fast-forgotten racket from those at the party.