Trolls and the right of reply

The last of my April entry puts closure on the recent topic of vengeance, rudeness and my fave (or pet peeve) of them all – the troll.

Thanks to Danny Wallace, I have my stories to share about trying to understand a new culture of rudeness.

Received wisdom tells us that the greatest ally of trolling on the internet is anonymity. The person whom you’re saying is a travesty of a human being does not know who you are, and therein lies both your power and your clever escape.

Notice the posts of these trolls. No pictures of their own faces. All pseudonyms. Fake addresses. Fake jobs. Everything about them is unreal. If you scroll down their page, ALL posts are inconsequential and have no bearing on their existence in the real world. They are a cowardly angry bunch of lowlife reprobates who have no meaningful contribution to the world.

We often write off the people who post abusive messages online.

This is especially true when you try to provide a personal opinion with what is an accurate constructive analysis of the posted point of view…and then a troll comes along and puts senseless rude remarks. Most trolls are probably stinking reprobates who are possibly uneducated and have nothing better to do in life except stalk the internet, having a bad day because they’re probably waiting to get a “drug” high but can’t access any so they’re taking it out on just anyone in their line of firing sight.

Bullying is an overused word these days…but it’s what the internet nevertheless allows to have a fresh new-world attempt at.

But not all the trolls are lackeys in life. Some happen to be highly educated, are highly professional people, but “troll” for either a political conviction or personal crusade. They have a real profile and a fake one. The latter is one where they hide behind in a mask of anonimity so they can dish out their rudeness because they’re pure cowards. They are simply afraid of accountability, responsibility and the consequences of being rude.

The new generation of keyboard warriors who troll, has placed both politics and media at the lowest totem pole of truth and accountability at the highest risk of disruption, transparency and fake news because because of the phenomenon called trolls.

The right to reply, while within the right of every human being, is something that we need to understand and comprehend before we hit the send key. After all, when everything is said and done, the repercussions may outweigh the act. And that’s when shit hits the roof.

Revenge, just because…

It’s interesting that many of today’s online sites provide a “feedback mechanism”. A prominent example is TripAdvisor. It has both the mobile App and desktop version. Anyone (literally anyone) can be a member for free, and be a keyboard warrior. Imagine, an ordinary citizen given the power to “review” his/her most recent visit to a destination!

Imagine, a site that provides you the power to “rank and recommend” these places you’ve been to (from airlines to restaurants to hotels to tourist destinations), provide feedback to other visitors and earn imaginary “badges” and “ranks” as reviewers! Excellent idea and review reference when this site began, and while it still is a good reference, let me tell you why it may have been more biased in spite of the fact that they have a review process before your review is “published”.

The avengers (no pun intended here) appeared. Yes. You read it right.

How many times have we felt the urge and motivated to write a review NOT to help people but instead write about how terrible our experiences were just because…

We wanted revenge.

Vengeance is an interesting side of rudeness. Danny Wallace (in his book “F you very much…”), points out bluntly that

Ordinarily, what civilised human beings desire is justice. If someone kills your dog, we want justice. We don’t want to kill that person’s dog…But if someone is rude to us, it’s not justice we immediately think of. We want to shove their rudeness straight back in their stupid rude face. We want to show strength. Fight. We want them to feel the way they made us feel.

I mean, yeah, I get it! If you scroll down among, say, the top hotels and read the reviews, many are authentic to a large degree. Then there are the outliers. Those who’ve posted “warning” signs and disappointing reviews just because…

It was their anniversary and they didn’t get upgraded…(duh?!? Since when was announcing your anniversary a right for a room upgrade?)

The room was tiny and they were 3 people who occupied the room…(uhmmm yeah, didn’t you read the room size specs when you were booking? It said 12sqm!)

There was a lot of noise because of the repairs in the hotel…(well oftentimes if you go through the hotel website, you’d see an announcement on repairs being made at the date of your stay, but NO…you needed to go through some cheap site to cut back on costs and didn’t do a thorough research by cross referencing the actual website of your hotel!)

And I can go on and on…with these “just because” scenarios. What I’m trying to get at is that revenge is only a keyboard away. With downloadable free mobile Apps, it’s something you can manage at your finger tips even while you’re sipping your margarita on a beach where the lifeguard looks awfully fat and the kebab is awfully bland!

Social media is today’s snake pit. A world where good and evil co-exist. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are receiving the top rants and vengeance posts.

Revenge is everywhere. And it is natural. As Wallace points out,

…to not want it is weird and it has ever been thus…but this is a deep pot of unattractive emotion we’re stirring. Most of these acts of rudeness-revenge are done from the shadows, the results of which aren’t seen or witnessed, but just imagined and enjoyed. Within each of them is a deep, sad feeling of powerlessness.

If you’re rude to two people, chances are one of them is now plotting to get you.

The scary thing is that we really do believe that revenge is a dish best served cold. We wait. We plan. We relish. And afterward, we are secretly proud. We also have the ultimate excuse: they were rude to me.

And I get it when my friends and colleagues want to “plot” back against those that have caused hurt. It is never easy to walk away from a place of pain. The more painful the event, the more difficult to forgive and forget. The degree of revenge is proportional to the pain, if even in our imagination. That’s why the hurt is not only physically but mentally and emotionally draining.

Yet revenge is never the answer. Karma will take its course.

…and it will be sweeter watching from the sidelines how the enemy has crumbled.

The power of YET

Yes. You read it right. Three letters, one word. And yet it changes a whole paradigm.

“I don’t get it”

“I can’t do this”

“This doesn’t work”

I’m sure we’re all familiar with those moments of uncertainty and feel that life’s such an epic failure. If you’ve ever been there or are in this situation now, take a deep breath. Take your headset, go someplace where you can find tranquility or even just go for a walk…think about the three statements above but add YET at the end of each sentence.

It may not be easy, but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to be able to beat the challenge.

Two of my fave people (who sadly have passed away), to me are the best examples of resilience and strength.

Steve Jobs founder of Apple, tells us why we should never cut down trees in the winter time when he says

Never make negative decisions in the low time.

Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.

And Stephen Hawking, former professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time paints resilience through,

One, remember to look at the stars and not down at your feet.

Two, never give up work. Work gives you purpose and life is empty without it.

Three, if you’re ever lucky to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.

And when we’re at the lowest point in our lives, don’t forget the three letter word that can change everything and the power of YET.

The onlookers and the thing called rude

There’s a Filipino habit that’s really both irritating and entertaining at the same time. We call these people “miron” (onlookers).

They’re people who like minding other people’s business. (I guess it’s a cultural thing). They have so much time in their lives minding how others live even if they’re epic failures at their own.

A typical example is when a minor accident on the already heavily crowded roads of Metro Manila occurs. As the drivers approach the scene of the accident, they slow down (I mean really slooooooowww down). And of course, add to the already building traffic. The people on the sidewalk are not much help. They’re just there. Looking. Staring. (No one will bother to call the police or assist). They’re like statues stationed at the site, listening to the exchange in arguments, and in a few minutes, the gathering swells large enough to obstruct the road.

A more recent example is the latest spat between erstwhile local media “queen” Kris A., her ex husband James Y., and TV host Korina S. R.

It has the netizens eyes glued on Bimby, the love child of Kris and James, being the center of the “fight”. While the pathetic online drama is being paraded by media as a “national issue”, the entertainment piece has incorporated a mix of political under toning by the tactless sister of ex-president PNoy. Washing dirty laundry is, after all, her forte. And what juicier news than being an “onlooker” at what’s happening to lives of the rich and famous.

Nothing wrong in “appreciating” some salacious facts there. If this happened two decades back, it wouldn’t be given much attention except in some sleazy tabloid where it would be categorized as a WTF news. We’d have our own opinions and we’d probably gossip about it for gossip sake, but whatever opinion the public has over the matter is kept unrecorded. And the number of people “viewing” this, wouldn’t matter.

In the digital age, the internet has played a role at fomenting rudeness online. Danny Wallace, in his book “F you very much: understanding the culture or rudeness – and what we can do about it” points out that “the rage the internet stirs up and allows us to vent threatens to derail the thing that once made it beautiful. Newspapers, once so proud to welcome in the community and get a discussion going, are now wary of their own below-the-line commenters. Those who stick their necks out sigh as they press “PUBLISH,” knowing that whatever they say and no matter how clearly they say it will be accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, stupidity, thoughtlessness. And as you already know, they have their favorite targets.”

And he’s right. Whatever you “post”, people will either love you or hate you. A closed loop of friends may be the best alternative but that’s not going to happen for media.

Social media has practically made us all “onlookers”. We scroll through posts and look at those that are interesting enough to “share”, “like”, or feel over. Then of course, we can take it a notch higher by commenting as well.

But it’s easy to tweak a mob and they’re always just there waiting for it. A hungry, angry mob that can get angry about anything!

The challenge is in dealing with the “onlookers” who, in so few words – need to get a life! Healthy scholarly discussions have become a thing of the past. Even among the supposedly more educated tribe, some of the commentary exchanges have become pathetically trivial, rude, and sadly, stupid.

It’s like arguing with someone who has an IQ of 30 for a topic that requires at least a minimum IQ of 100.

And then there are the fake onlookers. They’re not real people. Fake accounts. Trolls. It’s bad enough we have to deal with “real stupid” people. But dealing with trolls that are employed or just innately rude, is so not worth testing your patience with.

Remember: no one wins an argument with stupid.

Kick ass 2

It’s the first time I’m giving a second “kick” at random thoughts on this topic as I attempt to wind up my posts of Relative Joys on resilience and strength.

1. See failure as a beginning, not an end.

Some things are just not meant to be. Deal with it. No use crying over spilled milk. If at first it does not succeed then try, try again. We’ve heard these lines before and they remain relevant till today.

2. If you don’t go after it, you won’t have it.

Chase your dreams, no matter how tough it is. Having a goal (but let’s stick to being realistic) is better than none. You don’t want to be called a deadbeat or a leech, so stop acting like one.

3. Always do more than what is expected of you.

Sometimes we just give what we want. Well, hell yeah – that’s all we get paid for! We’ve always hated the class “show-off” or the kid that raised his hand after each teacher’s question or the guy at the office that the boss could rely on during crunch time. Guess what? That’s your fault. Stepping up to the plate means doing much more than what’s in your job description. The boss always prefers a team player.

4. Assume nothing and question everything.

Never believe in everything you hear. Yep! People always promise everything. They’d even tell you that they’re Moses and you’re off to the Promise Land. They just say that to F with your head. And I’ve been redundant saying “no greater fool than the fool that was fooled by a fool”.

5. Make peace with the past or you’ll pay for it.

It’s never good to cling on to what was and can never be again. Let it go for God’s sake. Dwelling on the past is detrimental to both physical and mental health. Forgiving and forgetting is not as easy as it seems but letting go of what was is forgiving yourself.

6. Stop thinking so much and start acting.

I know people who just keep thinking about the WHYs in life. Questioning on why their plans have been stone walled, why things aren’t working their way, why life is not fair. They’re called signs. There are signs that are written all over the wall! If you can’t see it, you’re still in a stage of denial. Slap yourself and move on. You cannot do if you do not move.

7. Never compare yourself to others

Envy is the harbinger of greed, graft, corruption and evil. You know why people get involved in shenanigans? It stems from envy. These low life appreciate only how green the grass on the other side is. The Americans call it “keeping up with the Joneses” syndrome. I call it pure envy. Appreciating what you have and living with what you have, is called contentment. Doing good should make us sleep better at night.

8. Teach others what you know

The greatest leader will always be the one that creates a greater leader. Teaching has always been my cup of tea. Sharing your time and knowledge is irreplaceable and unmatched. As they say, you reap what you sow.

Kicking ass

Mark Twain, one of my favorite authors, places it positively when he says “let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

Sarcastic, witty, and point-blank right, here are some of his quotes on, yes, having an attitude of “kicking ass”!

1. Approve of yourself

A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.

2. Let go of anger

Anger is an acid that can do more harm than to the vessel in which it is stored than anything in which it is poured.

3. Release yourself from entitlement

Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

4. Never procrastinate the inevitable

Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.

5. Learn to appreciate life

The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.

6. Stand your ground with the right attitude

Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

7. Always remember to appreciate what you have

Comparison is the death of joy.

8. Lighten up and have some fun

Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.

9. Don’t let politics get into your life

Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.

10. Don’t put down others by forcing them to be who and what they’re not.

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will believe its whole life believing that it is stupid.

Life truths

Lifehack has a short list on hard truths which we wish we knew early on in life.

When we were young, we all wished we were adults sooner than we thought. Responsibilities. Freedom. Making money. Financially stable. Professionally made.

As adults, at times we wish we were kids again. Carefree. Dependent. Cared for. Few life stressors.

I’m sharing with you Lifehack’s 8 hard truths about life (and my personal take on these) which we wish we knew earlier:

1. Everyone you love is going to die

Sadly, no one lives forever. And while death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. So here’s to living and loving one day at a time.

2. We give our lives meaning. If you feel that your life is meaningless, that’s your fault.

Only we have the power to chart our directions in life. Only we can allow people to hurt us or violate our rights. If you allow this, you deserve what you dish out. Stop blaming others.

3. The perfect partner doesn’t exist.

We’re all idealistic. Who doesn’t want a whirlwind romantic relationship? But searching in the wrong ocean may be what you’re doing. Ideal relations are wonderful goals. Be realistic. Building a fantastic relationship takes two to tango.

4. Life is a game. Find the games you want to play, learn the rules, and find a way to be successful at the game you selected.

Or tap out if you can’t hack it.

Sorry kids. The truth is out. Life is a game. A game of chance. Sadly, the fact is, some of us don’t realise that we either sink or swim in the game called life. Like any game, there will always be cheaters. And the latter may win a game. It’s up to you if you allow it, the next round.

5. Everything ends. Youth, love, life. All will end. That’s what makes them valuable.

Cherish them while you can. Make the most out of them while you still can. Look for happiness. Martyrdom is a thing of the past. Live to love and love to be happy. We only live once. And die once as well.

6. Be romantic about the little things.

It’s more memorable that way. Attachment may be something we try to shun away from so that we don’t hurt when it’s time to say goodbyes. But memories of good times put a smile on our faces. It’s not about the hurt that we need to focus on. It’s about why fairytale “aha” moments that are remembered most.

7. Be a realist about the big things. Life isn’t a movie. You need to have a plan. Have an artist’s ambition but an engineer’s mindset.

Have you ever tried to walk away from what doesn’t fit you or doesn’t feel right and feel good after walking away? Sure you’ll be poor for awhile but hey, that’s reality. Life will never give you rainbows everyday. There will be rollercoaster rides. That’s why you need to have a plan. And if you keep getting stuck at Plan A, well tough luck. That’s probably where you’ll still be 10 years from today. Reality bites. But it is what it is.

8. Figure out a way or don’t complain

Starting all over again is not bad. It’s actually what successful people do. “Your last mistake will be your best teacher.” And that’s a fact. Life will always offer you a million chances to make you happier and a better person. Don’t regret the opportunities for change. Walk away if you must but don’t complain at where you get stuck.

Sad lunches

If there is one pet peeve I have at work, it’s having lunch at your work desk. It’s called sad lunches.

One study showed that almost 70% have lunches at their work table. It’s called the #saddest lunch bunch. If you’re reading this and feel being alluded to, then let me elaborate more.

Lunch breaks are the longest breaks we get at work. That break should be enjoyed away from work. Studies show that non-lunch desk people are less stressed and more productive. The practice of NO LUNCH breaks in government offices, while appealing to the public, is actually “insulting” to the working class.

The argument that in the Philippines, government employees are paid by taxpayers money, hence should have lunches at their desks, is a discrimination to the lower working class. Their bosses after all are paid by taxpayers money as well. So why are the latter having better lunches than the rest?

Also, it’s not just about saving money, that’s why we prefer to eat at our desks, bringing either left over food or cold packed lunches. Meal time should be an enjoyable one. Not something we just want to get over with to address the hunger pangs and go back to work immediately. After all, we work to create a life, not just to pay bills and buy stuff, rather, to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

I guarantee you, that when we learn to have less sad lunches, we will have better dispositions in our lives.

Pistantrophobia and trust issues

Don’t trust everything you see or hear, remember, even salt looks like sugar.

Trust is the most fragile feeling that makes or breaks a relationship. Whether it’s work-related or has something to do with love, trust is the intricate bond that keeps relationships together.

I’m not the kind of person that trusts easily. I usually have trust issues. It’s usually a need and want thing. You know my drift – when people want something from you, that’s the time they see a need for you. That’s right. It’s called the want and need theory. Look at the politicians. Every election time, they promise heaven and hell. Damn, some even promise to lead you to the promise land. But after you’ve voted them into office, they’re such a f*cking mess! Especially if they’re unable to deliver what they promised at the time of the campaign. (2019 is around the corner so this issue is ripe for the picking.)

When people constantly lie, we eventually develop pistantrophobia – the fear of trusting someone. It’s a knee jerk reaction to being hurt over and over.

So when I give you my unconditional trust, it means a lot. It takes a lot of truth to gain trust, but just one lie to lose it. And things don’t end up the same. Ever. You don’t look at people the same way again.

People say that lying is part of life. Part of survival mode in a dog-eat-dog world. I tell these people that this kind of thinking is hogwash. It’s a pathetic excuse by people who survive only through lies and fantasies.

“One of the worst feelings in the world is having to doubt something you thought was unquestionable.”

No need to apologise

We don’t need to apologize for everything that happens. Oftentimes we end up being too apologetic for moments that we shouldn’t even be sorry for.

Saying no, for example, may be taken offensive by someone who demands a “yes” as a reply. Because we’re afraid to offend a friend or an employee, we give in to a “request” even if we mean saying NO rather bending rules and policies and principles in order to “please” people.

Here are some moments where apologies are not needed:

1. Loving someone

2. Saying no

3. Following your dream

4. Taking time out for yourself and your family

5. Prioritising

6. Ending a toxic relationship

7. Your imperfections

8. Standing your ground

9. Telling the truth

10. Exercising appropriate etiquette at all times

I like number 9 most of all. As Plato puts it, “no one is more hated than he who speaks the truth.”