a conservative heretic commenting on hypocrisy and stupidity in a world with too much of both
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Social Media – Socializing Our Understanding Of The World

imagesBarack Obama is the Anti-Christ. I know this because I read it online this past week.

Actually, I’m a bit confused because originally, it was only that the actor in the Tv series The Bible who plays Satan, sort of look likes President Obama. But since that first got posted, it has been updated and verified by a significant number of people online that they are one in the same and Barack Obama not only plays the devil in the Tv series, he is the Anti-Christ.

Apparently, the Anti-Christ dabbles in politics and acting when he isn’t laying souls to waste.

I learn a great deal online which I never learned in school or all the books I’ve read.  I’ve learned that Jesus was white and looked like one of the Bee Gees, polar bears will turn brown if the polar ice caps melt (which is a major improvement over earlier assertions that they would die off) and how to use pee in our garden. This last one was particularly encouraging because I am seriously into recycling. Continue reading

Bullying and the Lord Of The Flies

 

The death of Amanda Todd has touched many. It has also put the issue of bullying on the agenda once again and there is a considerable amount of talk about bullying and its causes. Experts are appearing on newscasts, committees are being formed, meetings called and even a Member of Canada’s Parliament has called on the formation of a group to study the issue of bullying.

They could save a lot of time and money if they stopped meeting and consulting and simply spent an hour on Twitter. Nowhere is the descent from civilized behaviour into intolerance and bullying better exemplified than in that world of 140 character messages.

In his novel Lord of the Flies, William Golding told the story of a group of English schoolboys stranded on a deserted tropical island. It is an allegory for what happens to a society without rules or respect for the rights and lives of others within their society. Continue reading

Wounded. Frustrated. But Not Defeated!

It’s been just over a week since I started the move from my old sub-domain site on Blogger to abearsrant .com. I thought assembling a new barbeque was hard but it’s a walk in the park compared to this.

It started with acquiring the domain address. The domain was available so I decided to buy and register it. I chose an all-in-one domain and host service that was recommended by Blogger. Because A Bear’s Rant is based in Canada and payment was with a Canadian credit card, the provider used a Canadian e-processing company which, of course, couldn’t process my Canadian credit card.

Let me repeat that, my friends. The provider used a ‘Canadian’ processor to process my ‘Canadian’ credit card to avoid happening what actually did happen. Continue reading

Trolls!

When we were kids, we didn’t have computers and the Internet, Xbox and Game Boy. We had hockey sticks, balls, trucks and books of fairy tales by people like Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. Those books were full of mystical stories about wonderous creatures that included sorcerers, fairies, elves, unicorns, giants and…….trolls.

Trolls were ugly little creatures that, for the most part, lived under bridges and in caves. They were dangerous and at six years old, we were rightly frightened of them.

Later, I would learn that the mythology of trolls originated in the Scandanavian countries, primarily Denmark where originally they were considered to be the spirits that lived inside rocks and other inanimate objects. Later, they would evolve to take on a human-like form. Usually they were ugly creatures although in some tales, they were not.

I still remember those old stories somewhat wistfully because we lose that sense of wonder and the ability to believe in things that are magically, even if they are a little scary. All too soon, I became aware that fairies and elves, unicorns and sorcerers don’t exist but trolls do.

Trolls are real. They walk among us and can be found all over the Internet.

Internet trolls are the ones who post highly inflammatory (and usually incorrect) messages across social media and in chat rooms. They surf the web looking for memorial sites where they can leave hateful, spiteful messages that denigrate the deceased and which are designed to hurt those who mourn.

Internet trolls frequently jump into conversations which are none of their business, hurl insults at one or another in the conversation until it becomes impossible for the original participants to continue. They act alone and they act in groups. They are cowards, bullies and lack any standard of recognizable values.

Some think these trolls exist primarily because the anonymity the Internet provides allows trolls to bring out the worst in themselves. But I think it is something else that causes people to become trolls.

I believe trolls are insecure people with small, petty lives in the real world. They are lonely nobodies crying out for attention in any way they can get it. They are ill-informed on most issues, have little interest in becoming informed and their self-esteem is so low that they are threatened by anyone who challenges their shallow beliefs and opinions.

I get accosted by one or more trolls every day. I don’t take it all that seriously because I see them for what they are; sad, pathetic people with pathetic lives but others, most of whom are more sensitive than I am, often take these troll attacks to heart and are either intimidated or hurt by them.

I have had friends on Twitter who have been bullied to the point of closing their account and for no other reason than because trolls decided to make them a target.

I’ve seen trolls attack families grieving for the loss of a child, gather together to encourage someone to commit suicide online for their entertainment and other trolls flock to web sites that pay homage to serial killers, racists and homophobes.

They offer nothing of value and their ideas and as much as they are hurtful, their words are silly and the comments absurd.

Trolls are everywhere and at some point virtually everyone who uses social media on the Internet, on a regular basis, will encounter one or more of them. When that happens remember this. Trolls can only hurt you if you allow them to hurt you. Block them, report them or ignore them. They crave attention. It is how they validate their pathetic little lives. Don’t give it to them. Instead, see them for what they are and simply move on. Their words can’t hurt you and they have nothing but hurtful words to throw at you.

Trolls are people who have accomplished nothing and so look for ways to undermine the accomplishments of others. They have no values so they look for ways to undermine the values of others. Don’t allow it. They are lower than spammers and scammers, they are the Internet’s bottom feeders sharing more in common with pedophiles and racists than any other group who uses social media.

Soon enough, just as it was when we grew up and fairy tales lost their magic, the Internet too will mature and grow up and trolls will fade away into the sewers from which they came. It can’t come soon enough for most of us but regardless of how long it takes, it is coming.
Until then, just remember that trolls are sleazy little imaginary creatures not worth concerning yourself over.

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© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

Follow The Bear on Twitter: @maggsbear or connect with a friend request on Facebook: Maggie’s Bear

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The New Jerusalem – An Intolerant World Where Opinion Rules Fact

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a
chance to get its pants on.”– Winston Churchill
I’ve received lots of tweets, emails and blog comments in support of the things I write but I’ve also received some that take exception to it. I don’t have a problem with that. As I have written before, I welcome debate and differing opinions but while the odd differing opinion has been reasoned and thought through, most of it is simply to call me an idiot, or words to that effect.
Today I was called a capitalist ‘lickspittle’ and even if I wasn’t 100% sure I knew what a capitalist lickspittle was, I was pretty sure it was much more than simply being an idiot.
I have noticed, over the past while, that people who feel their opinions are threatened increasingly turn to name calling rather than debate on the issues or the facts, as the best they can do in response to something with which they don’t agree.
It isn’t unique to any one group and is as prevalent in the 1% ad it is in the 99%; on the left and as it is on the right.  I consider it less an insult and more an indication of how poorly thought through on the issues most name-callers are and how insecure they are about their position. Either that or it is simply a belief bordering on fanaticism that makes them so intolerant and strident.
Everything is personal now and few can look at any issue objectively or debate it civilly on the facts and there is an ever decreasing respect for the opinions of others and for their right to hold them and voice them.
If you challenge an environmentalist on the science of climate change or present an alternative point of view, many blow a gasket and rather than discuss the science, accuse you of ruining the planet or being an apologist for the energy corporations.
If you dare to question President Obama’s four year record, you are accused of smearing the precious movement or you get a barrage of messages accusing you of being a liar, a racist, a corporate running dog or…a capitalist lick spittle.
Liberals attack conservatives calling them Nazis and fascists and conservatives return the favour calling liberals…well…Nazis and fascists or sometimes communists and socialists which usually means the same thing to whoever is doing the name calling. Accuracy of language is irrelevant. It’s all about the level of insult and I’ve seen posts from both sides of the political divide that accuse each other of basically the same thing.
Anti-Islamic rhetoric is spreading like a prairie brush fire and radical Muslim rhetoric borders on psychopathic. Meanwhile, some atheists attack all religions and people of faith with the same fanaticism as any religious extremist attacks non-believers.
The simple fact is that there have always been extreme viewpoints and those who were only too willing to share them but we used to see that and dismiss it for what it was. Most of us were able to carry on reasonably civil debates and discussions about issues but that is fading.

The Internet has opened up an entirely new venue for communicating. Everyone feels empowered now. Everyone is a publisher and everyone has an opinion. The odd thing to me is that while the Internet has provided a place that offers easy access to all of the world’s collective knowledge, too many simply use it as a means to find only that which supports their pre-existing opinions.

If you believe that vaccinations cause autism, you’ll find lots to support that on the Internet even though the science behind that opinion has been proven to be a fraud. And that’s the other problem with the Internet, not only is it possible to find whatever we need to support our opinions, it’s equally easy to avoid any information which might contradict them.
Psychologists call it confirmation bias which is the process whereby we only seek out and accept that information that confirms what we already believe to be true.

Whether it is out of fear of the truth or because too much of our personal self-concept is tied up in the opinions we have, we are increasingly unwilling to examine all sides of an issue and are only willing to accept what supports what we already believe. It’s almost as though we are threatened by contradictory opinion and unwilling to change ours in the face of new facts. We don’t want to be wrong or even to learn. 
We are also far less willing to continue to examine facts as they evolve, especially if they threaten our existing opinions. We resist change to what we believe and reject any fact or opinion that might criticize or undermine it.
As a result, we are divided, not by fact or even by beliefs, but by uninformed opinion. We are divided by anger and insecurity but mostly we are divided because we don’t listen to each other, we talk over each other and ignore those we can’t shout down or convert.
The Internet opened up a world of instant connection to anyone world-wide and a source of information never before experienced but we are squandering its power, Like our democracies, we have trivialized the opportunity to debate by degenerating down to yelling, to vulgarity and to name calling. Our ability to communicate with more people than ever before, and our access to all of the world’s knowledge, hasn’t opened us up to a broader understanding; it has made us more closed minded.

On the Internet, we enjoy a certain level of anonymity that empowers us even further. It helps to hide us from accountability for our comments and our actions and so we become enabled to shout out opinions without the messy responsibility of informing ourselves first. Typically there will always be a few who will share our opinion or who are easily influenced to believe what we do which only enables our uninformed beliefs even more. It’s odd though that we never stop to consider that we don’t really know those people, they’re just avatars in a profile and words on a screen. Nonetheless, if they support our opinion, they become our friend and anyone who doesn’t support our opinion becomes the enemy.

It is the New Jerusalem but not the restored and beautiful city prophesied in Ezekiel. This is an ugly New Jerusalem where opinion is more important than fact, a world where knowledge is less relevant than what we want to believe. We are losing the understanding that honest debate is one of the most effective ways to learn. Our values are being eroded into selfish, self-righteous opinion what is making us increasingly intolerant of the opinions of those with whom we disagree and even permits us to lash out and do harmful and hurtful things to them as if, somehow their lack of agreement with us makes them less human or deprives them of the same rights we demand for ourselves.

It seems a damn shame to me but then, I’m a capitalist lickspittle. What would I know about it? 

© 2011 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others