Even though I usually have a post on this blog every Monday, it turns out to be six years since I wrote anything related to Memorial Day, and even that post I had go live on a Sunday; that’s a shame!
Mom & Dad
For those who aren’t familiar with this particular American holiday, it’s always the last Monday of May and it’s a day dedicated to the memory of those who’ve given their lives in service to this country. It actually started out as a way to honor Union troops after the Civil War, then the Confederates got into it, and finally it became an overall holiday for all American troops in 1971.
The amazing thing about the Mitchell side of the family is that, though a lot of my relatives went into the service, not a single one ever lost his life though, to be fair, only 2 of my relatives were ever in war. That would be a cousin of mine who was in Vietnam and of course my dad, who was in both Korea and Vietnam.
You know, I’m one of those people who tends to believe that there are some things where everyone “has to” agree on the premise of something and the reason to honor someone. Memorial Day is one of those days because, in my opinion, without those people giving up their lives we wouldn’t have the life we have today. Sure, everything’s not perfect, but I can honestly say that I can’t think of another place I’d want to live in this world and I’m proud to be an American… and I’d hope others would be proud of living where they live.
Yet, because this country perceives itself to be free and diverse, we have people who go out of their way to go against the grain and either make trouble or say things that, in my opinion, are disrespectful. This past weekend’s new about memorial crosses damaged in 3 states is a perfect example of people going above and beyond protocol to be disruptive and show a major lack of class.
Not only that, but I’ve read commentary in some places where some people are saying that anyone who gives their life for this country got what they deserved… are you kidding me? To be against war is one thing; to say that people deserved what they got for protecting their country, especially these days with terrorism… unconscionable!
Luckily for me, it seems that 97% of the populace seems to be ready to honor our soldiers the way they deserve, and I can live with that. One of those things I try to tell people about social media is that it draws all types, but we need to figure out how to only absorb the good and try to get away from the bad as quickly as possible. It’s one reason I’ve sculpted my Facebook page to the degree I have and why I’ve been working on doing the same with LinkedIn lately.
I’m of two opinions when it comes to social media and free speech.
The first is that you can have free speech if you’re willing to deal with the consequences.
The second is that just because someone has the right to free speech doesn’t mean I have to listen to it, let alone have them in my life.
We all get to make choices in our life that will either positively impact us or negatively impact others. In the United States, we got those choices because a great many of soldiers, some willingly, others unwillingly, gave their lives on the battlefield so we can enjoy a lot of the liberties we probably take for granted.
If you know me or have read this blog or my business blog you know that I fully feel that this country isn’t always fair and equal, especially when it comes to minorities. But everyone’s equal in a military cemetery; it’s not something I’ve ever looked forward to but it explains why I feel those men and women deserve being honored no matter what.
This is my tribute to those brave soldiers of all wars the United States has participated in. Thank you for your service.
Something that many businesses seem to struggle with is whether or not to moderate comments on their websites, blogs or social media pages and spaces. There are some people who believe that no matter what a person says, businesses should leave the comment there because it’s honest, whether or not the company agrees with it. On the other side, there are companies who believe they deserve the right to control the message, even if that means killing what someone else says so that only positive things show up on their site.
My take is that there’s no one specific answer to this, but there are circumstances that drive everything. With certain policies in place, whether everyone else knows it or not, companies and individuals can navigate the minefield that someone is going to call censorship.
First, always remember that if you’re paying for it that you get to decide the decorum in your space. If you want to allow bad language, it’s your prerogative. If you want to allow insults and spam messages and sales messages and the like, go for it.
However, most people don’t want that stuff in their space because, if it’s for business, you want to be represented in a positive light, and unless you’re selling bikes to drill sergeants, you might want to keep conversations civil and clean because you never really know who’s reading and how they’ll react. Anything that can drive business away like that is a bad thing.
Second, if you put a product out or provide services or you’re giving an opinion about something, you need to remember that everyone isn’t going to agree with you and that you can’t please everyone, no matter what you do. As long as the conversation is civil, if people disagree with you or don’t like your product for some reason, you should allow those things to stay in your space. These are opportunities in more ways than one.
It gives you a chance to hear what your potential customers want and what they might not like. It also gives you the opportunity to address your potential customer where others can see the type of person or business you are.
If you get your message correct, no matter what the issue is, other potential customers could be impressed enough to either try the product or service themselves or at least give you a chance because they see that your company takes the issues of its customers seriously.
Figuring out the difference between common courtesy and honest critiques can be challenging at times, and you might have a tendency to overreact; after all, no one likes criticism against what they do. If what you do is for the betterment of the community, do it. I think it’s always best to post your commenting policies so that if you do end up having to delete something, that person and everyone else can’t gripe because you followed a policy they didn’t. And if they do complain, it’s on them; the customer may always be the customer, but the customer isn’t always right, despite what some might say.
This post isn’t really about Empire Avenue, but it plays prominently in this tale, a cautionary tale for all of you who want the cake of freedom of speech and the ability to eat your rights to privacy at the same time. How ugly will this tale end? Stick around…
Empire Avenue has a number of communities where people can get together to discuss all kinds of stuff. I joined a few early on in the game, never liked them much because it didn’t seem anyone had anything to say, and never joined one again.
However, a friend of mine sent me a link to one of the general communities of people who are considered leaders on the site because she wanted me to check something out. Seems there was some general fighting going on about some of the processes in the background of the game that she wanted me to see.
In the middle of it all was this guy, whose name (fake or real) I’m not going to mention, nor his blog, links, Twitter page, etc, because I don’t want to get in the middle of it all; you’ll see why as I get through this story.
Anyway, this guy seemed to be completely out of control. He came into this particular discussion with a chip on his shoulder for some reason and began personally attacking people. He actually came to the defense of someone I’m not even sure he really knows because of something that was said in a Facebook group, and on that one and only point I agreed with him on.
However, he went too far and started calling out anyone he could think of who’s a major player in the game (which is why I’m never mentioned lol) in this forum. And if it had stayed there things might have died down.
But you know that’s not how this story goes. Turned out the guy has a blog on WordPress.com and he started ranting and writing these tomes about the evils of Empire Avenue and naming names and quoting people and pasting images of conversations from the community forum that, in essence, was a major violation of people’s privacy, especially since many of those people had nothing to do with the initial conversation and, in his “wisdom”, he decided to call out those who attempted to call for peace; sigh…
One of the reasons this guy thought he could get away with all this abhorrent behavior is because he went behind a fake name; actually, two fake names, one of those being a deceased actor/comedian. So he went nuts, saying all this stuff about everyone he could think of, posting their images and the like, and boosting it all via his Twitter account as well. He became the Empire Avenue troll; there’s a nice business gift.
And he proclaimed his right to free speech when some of those people complained about his putting their names on his blog and posting them on Twitter, and said that anything on Empire Avenue was his to use as he wished.
However, he started to dislike some of the backlash he started getting on Twitter, and at this point he put out a cease and desist… on Twitter? On Twitter, if you don’t want to see something you just block people, but that wasn’t enough for him. He didn’t want them writing anything about him at all, so he put out a cease and desist against everyone who was against him, and he wrote about it on his blog.
And he started sending letters to Empire Avenue, state and federal agencies in the United States and Canada (where EA resides), and in one instance even called the employer of one of the people he had a beef with to say this guy was harassing him online; wow!
But he made some mistakes. See, what most people don’t realize is that if they’ve been on social media for any amount of time they’ve built up a trail that someone with motivation can follow and find out a lot about that person. Who would have more motivation than a guy who had his job threatened by a lunatic? For that matter who would have more motivation because they’d been called out on a lunatic’s blog?
You guessed it; they found out who he was. They got his name, where he went to school, pictures of what he really looked like, his age, pictures of his children (yup, this guy has kids, adult kids, but the folks had some morals and didn’t post pictures of his kids online). And after people talked with each other to confirm that they all had the same information…
They posted it all on Google Plus. Then they put the link out on Facebook and Twitter so anyone who was connected to some of these folks (or in the Facebook group for EA, which I’m a member of) could see it.
Of course I went to read it all. Fascinating stuff, especially the part about being 43 years old and living in the basement of his mother’s house because he has no real job right now. Seems that’s why he has so much time to troll all these EA members.
You know what happened next… part of it anyway. He went off, saying he was going to file a lawsuit against EA for giving out his personal information, and then lawsuits against all these people for violating his privacy. But he also smartened up… slightly. He went back to all those images he’d posted and started blacking out names that weren’t blacked out previously. He also started going back to remove some names from posts he’d written; y’all know it’s too late for that because everyone he named has copies of it all.
This post needed some cute
At this point he hasn’t backed off, and in an amazing move is actually showing EA shutting him down for his bad behavior, which he can’t see, while still complaining about everyone else violating his privacy, and admitting openly that not only is his name fake (folks can use fake names) but that his “business” information is also fake (folks aren’t allowed to do that part, but since he owned up to it he violated the terms of service), and is thus banned for good.
What’s this story about? Consequences. Many times I’ve written on this blog about consequences for actions and how people need to protect themselves online.
There was a recent news story about a guy who visited some Instagram pages of people who lived in his area that he’d never met, and then he went out and found these people in places they said they congregated, talked to them as if he knew them and told them all kinds of stuff that they thought was private, and only after shocking them with what he knew finally telling them how he’d found it all out (it was all recorded on video). They were all both amazed and shocked because it never occurred to them just how much of themselves they were giving out; lesson learned.
I’ve talked about the topic of controversy and, if you decide to go this route, how it can backfire on you if you’re not prepared for it, and how you want to choose your language carefully if you do decide to take on a subject you know some folks aren’t going to react well to.
I’ve also talked often about privacy, the lack thereof, and how if you’re not going to protect your own privacy all that well that you owe something greater, a major responsibility to your family and friends because most of them probably didn’t ask to be brought into the sphere of social media. That these folks found out about this guy’s kids, with pictures and everything, and his mother, his mother’s house, et al… for a guy talking so much about protecting his privacy he didn’t do a good job of it.
Social media isn’t something anyone should be scared of. But everyone needs to know the inherent dangers of what can happen. On my business blog I’ve talked about the dangers of thinking everyone you work with is your friend and how those folks more often than not will throw you under the bus to save their own skin. It’s like that.
Just two weeks ago two high school girls did two videos on YouTube that were racist against people in their school and community. Now they’ve had to leave school and will be home schooled, even after apologizing, because their safely can’t be guaranteed and the school was suspending them anyway.
Let me spell these lessons out:
* Don’t be stupid online
* Don’t think you can have total privacy online
* Don’t call anyone out unless you’re ready to deal with it
* Don’t think your freedom of speech trumps anyone else’s freedom of speech
* Don’t start none, won’t be none
Anyone disagree with anything I’ve said here? By the way, notice I didn’t mention any names, didn’t link to anything, so only a few people on EA, none of whom read this blog, could ever even figure out who I was talking about. So, if this person finds out about this post & has anything to say… it wasn’t me who violated anyone’s privacy… right? 😉
Those of you who have read this blog for a long time know that I often talk about bad behavior, proper decorum while being online, and how there’s really no such thing as freedom of speech. So many disagree and try to get away with things and I guess that’s the human way, always trying to set your own rules. Hey, that’s life; doesn’t mean that the rest of us will always agree with it or tolerate it.
Dad; always about decorum
Two weeks ago I wrote a post called The Scam That Is Smartphones. I added a video to that post, which obviously sits on YouTube as well. And I got a couple of comments on it; that’s never a bad thing. Until this time.
Some guy, who obviously didn’t have a great grasp of the English language, decided he either didn’t like the video, the topic, or me. He started out by calling me an idiot for doing the video. He then proceeded to try to state his case, although his case was flimsy. Then he decided he hadn’t said enough and left a second comment which had profanity in it.
What did I do? Well, often I’m a knee jerk kind of person I have to admit. I think I’m losing my sense of balance in some ways as I get older, possibly because I’m not around people as often anymore since I work from home, or possibly because in person I have almost never had anyone say things to me like that; pays to be bigger than a lot of people. lol
In this case I gave it a bit of thought and did what I thought was the smart thing in this case; I deleted the comments and moved on. I didn’t sweat one bit about doing it either; I have a sense of decorum I expect on this blog, I don’t use bad language, don’t think I’ve ever outright called someone an idiot (I don’t think anyway; I’ve had this blog a long time lol), and I’ve always said that if someone wants to disagree that’s fine, but it would have to be done constructively.
Sure, YouTube isn’t my site but that’s my video page, and you never know who might stop by. My thoughts were one, I don’t want people seeing that kind of thing on a page associated with my name, two, I don’t want others seeing that and thinking it’s okay for them to do the same thing, and three, this guy was a flyby, never coming back, so why give him any power whatsoever by acknowledging what he left.
It’s all about protecting your own integrity. It’s the reason I have kind of a stringent comment policy, which so many people ignore even though it’s right above the comment box. I don’t want to be the suppository of flyby comments from people who could care less about what I’ve written, want to drop a link to a dodgy site, then go about their business. Then I’m going to respond to a comment that they’re never going to see because they’re writing for someone else, dropping an “info” email address that no one is ever going to open.
Our buddy Adrienne Smith recently wrote a post titled Why You Should Spring Clean Your Blog, and one of the reasons she gives for doing it is because all of us at some point have allowed things we probably shouldn’t have because we didn’t know better, and it probably penalizes us in some way. I’ve been working through a very long process of cleaning up old comments for a month now, and it’s a slow process because there’s over 25,000 comments on this blog, and I want to slap myself because it’s something I wouldn’t have had to do if I’d known better.
That’s what life is all about, though. We learn things that hopefully give us a chance to make things better. Then a few of us write about it to hopefully spark something in another person’s mind that says “hey, I didn’t think of that”, or at least gets them thinking about it, whether they have to change things or not.
Of course, if you talk the talk then you have to walk the walk. Even when I disagree I’m courteous on other people’s spaces. I need to be, otherwise Sheryl Loch will be after me for tracking people down and confronting them. 🙂
There are three things I feel compelled to talk about, none of which has anything to do with internet marketing, but one does have something to do with social media, so I’ll start with that one.
A few days ago, a federal judge decided that high school students should have the right to blast their teachers on Facebook or anywhere else because of the 1st amendment right to free speech. I was astonished when I read this, and it seems there’s a lot of folks, including the American Civil Liberties Union, who believe this is proper.
Sorry folks, but I’m not one of them. We had a local incident just like this, and the student who created the page was suspended and every student who signed up for it got detention. I agreed with suspending the student, but not for punishing everyone else who signed up, especially since some kids never said a word.
Here’s the thing. What this moron basically did was give license to anyone to find someone they don’t like, create a Facebook group in their name calling them whatever they want to do, then invite other people to come in and join the ugliness. And that person has no recourse whatsoever because of this bad interpretation of the 1st amendment. By the way, the first amendment doesn’t say everyone gets to say whatever they want whenever they want, which is why we can’t go around screaming “fire” in a crowded theater and many other things.
I wonder who he and the ACLU are going to feel when the first person either gets killed or commits suicide because of this ruling. And allowing kids to do that against their teachers is absurd; imagine the repercussions of this type of thing later on. If I’m the teacher, I’m failing this kid. And what happens when one kid starts doing this to another kid?
I can tell you this; if I knew someone was doing something like this to me, I’m going after them in more ways than you can imagine, and the last way will definitely be physical. No one has the right to slam an individual without expecting consequences, and whatever they are, outside of taking out anyone else who’s around, isn’t off limits. If you’re in the public eye, or a company, that’s different. Allowing students to publicly slam teachers… I see trouble brewing.
The next thing on my mind is news this week that the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY, this week produced a substance that was 250,000 times hotter than the sun. This is another group that’s trying to create things that should remain in space and far away from Earth, in this case mini-stars instead of a black hole. Now, maybe I’m just an alarmist, but I’m thinking having substances on the Earth, even if they don’t last long, that are hotter than the sun is a bad thing. I don’t care how far underground it is, that can’t be a good thing. For my own comfort, Long Island isn’t far enough away from me for them to be doing that kind of testing anyway. Does anyone else think this is a bad idea?
Finally, there’s a guy named George Church who is the top guy when it comes to mapping out genomes. He has actually gotten to the point where he believes we can and should create a neanderthal so that we can see if it might offer resistances to diseases and the like to humans of today. By the way, that link downloads an MP3 file of his interview talking about it. He also believes we should recreate things like dinosaurs and mammoths and the like so we can study them better.
Once again, I’m reminded of the Jeff Goldblum line in Jurassic Park: “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” When this movie came out I thought about how cool it might be to recreate dinosaurs, but it’s now 17 years later, I’m no longer an idyllic 33 year old, and I’m thinking this is a bad idea as well. We have no idea what kinds of diseases these things had or just how lethal or smart they actually might have been, and reintroducing these things into our lives now is a horrible idea. The idea that we can create life that doesn’t exist anymore is scary to me; I can see how this one could get out of hand.
Oddly enough, I’m not against cloning, which one might think is the same thing. The thing about cloning is that it’s not like what people think it is. A clone of any animal is still a distinct and individual life form that will live a totally different existence and life than its predecessor, and we already know what the predecessor was and how we interacted with it.
Anyway, those are thoughts I’ve had today that I just finally had to write about. I know, my mind is in a weird place sometimes. Comments?