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Can We Cool It With the “Hot Takes”?

We live in amazing times from a technological standpoint. A little over 20 years ago, people were just starting to navigate the Internet like a nervous driver’s ed student. Now, our phones have more computing power than the PCs we had back in the 90s. But no matter what era of technology we are in, there are two constants. One is porn. The other is people being stupid on the platform, which sometimes goes hand in hand with the first.

Today’s technology in the area of social media has given rise to on-the-spot reactions to events both important and mundane. But it has also given rise to users thinking their words are somehow vital to the culture and must be heard. That leads to what is mockingly called “hot takes,” which are comments and ideas that are so unnecessary and/or stupid (again, hand in hand) that you have to wonder if the people making them have any self-awareness whatsoever.

Within the past couple of days, we have seen takes so hot you need get firefighting gear just to experience them live. The death of Senator John McCain, the shooting at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, the Brett Cavanaugh nomination for the US Supreme Court, and untold other stories bring out the worst of those who could have left well enough unheard.

Of course, there will be some who say it’s their freedom of speech and they have a right to say what they want. For the most part, they’re right. But the freedom of speech comes with a responsibility to use it wisely. Yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater isn’t protected because there is actual physical harm that can come from it. Granted, calling the late Senator McCain a douchebag won’t usually cause physical damage (unless you say it to the face of a McCain supporter who is a former Marine and is now an MMA fighter), but it isn’t advisable unless you want to be seen as the douchebag you called the late Senator.

Of course, there are people out there who love to stir up drama because it gets them noticed. Which is what they want. Even negative attention is attention to them, which feeds their egos and sustains them like a parasite. These people can be hard to ignore because they play on your emotions to garner a passionate/vitriolic response. This cycle continues until one party of this parasitic relationship gives up. These folks are annoying, but ultimately harmless.

The real scary ones are those who aren’t posting to rile someone up, but actually think their poorly-thought-out ideas are intellectual gold. Everyone from New York Times reporters to the teenage girl down the street have had moments where they posted something and then wondered why people didn’t like them. These are the types of social media users who have made me think humanity is doomed.

And there are many more of them than there are of the posters looking to get a rise out of people. Here’s how bad it’s gotten. People literally have to take time out of their days to try to figure out if someone’s being serious. When you can’t tell the difference between a joke and reality, it’s time to admit we have an issue. And the issue is we have people with egos hopped up on steroids and the self-awareness of damp wash cloth.

This is going to come as a shock, but I believe not everything I think needs to have a platform because I have had some really dumb ideas. Wanting to date a semi-attractive drug addict? That was me. Thinking a woman with severe mental issues might be a good fit for me? Yep, that was me. Thinking the whole Mighty Morphin Power Rangers thing was just a fad? You got it!

As a result, I’ve learned when to express myself and when to just think what I want to say. It’s kept me safe and employed for a number of years, so I say it’s working out pretty well. We need to take the same approach to social media and communications technology because there is always an audience somewhere who might stumble upon our musings and take offense. (Granted, that happens these days with the frequency of a Starbucks customer getting overcharged, but the point stands.) Behind every Twitter handle, Facebook status, or Instagram account there is a human being with feelings, ideas, and desires that may differ from yours, so it’s important to weigh your words carefully before sending them out to the world. Once you hit Send, it’s eternal.

In the world of social media, it’s better to be smart than quick.

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Time to Put on Some Pants

Winston Churchill is alleged to have said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” And in the case of Bill Clinton, the lie may get further.

Why do I bring this up other than to take yet another shot at the Commander in Briefs? Well, it’s because of an app that has become the bane of my existence, even though I don’t use it: Twitter. The reason I haven’t joined the Twitterverse is simple. I don’t have the time or energy to engage in trying to stop people from spreading misinformation, and I’m just not that into selfies or taking pictures of my meals.

Back in my day, it took a lot longer for a lie to be picked up and turned into fact. Remember the urban myth the ships on Snapple Tea labels were slave ships? Although it’s still believed in some pockets of society today, the fact it took so long for it to even take root was a testament to not only the simpler time of the early 90s, but the fact-checking people did back then. Thanks to Twitter, both of these fail safes are more obsolete than Compuserve.

Take the outrage over President Donald Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. If you read Twitter (and I wouldn’t recommend it without some adult beverages), you would think President Trump is sitting on his hands (which would make it really hard to Tweet) and not helping Puerto Rico for every reason from racism to not knowing Puerto Rico is one of our territories. In reality, though, federal assistance has been on site since before Maria hit. We can argue about whether it’s sufficient, but to say the Trump Administration and Trump specifically has done nothing is blatantly incorrect.

Yet, the Twitterverse will repeat the lie while the truth is putting on its pants.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve lost count of the number of media outlets who have tweeted juicy stories about President Trump, only to have to tweet a retraction within hours or days. While it’s nice to see these media outlets posting retractions, there are a few problems I have with it. First, rarely do these media outlets delete the initial erroneous Tweets. That in and of itself may seem like a minor quibble, but when you consider the number of people who will believe the original Tweet and won’t dig further into it, the fact the Tweet is allowed to exist after it’s been discredited gives it credibility. It’s like Bernie Sanders’ “democratic socialism” idea, but with 140 characters.

Second, rarely, if ever, are these corrections retweeted. The same people who are eager to pounce on any negative opinion of the Trump Administration (confirmation bias, anyone?) aren’t so quick to retweet a correction. Those who do are at least trying to be transparent with their rhetoric or are already quick to defend the Trump Administration. Those who don’t have more axes to grind than Paul Bunyon. They would prefer to believe the comfortable lie than the uncomfortable truth.

Third, and finally, Twitter isn’t known for its fairness. For those of you with lives, Twitter gives out blue checkmarks for people whose accounts can be verified as actually being owned by the people who claim they have them. What goes into this verification process is a mystery, but what is obvious is the blue checkmarks are handed out like drug samples at a dealer convention if the owner is a Leftist, but you’re out of luck if you’re a conservative. I’m beginning to think the Catholic Church’s qualifications for sainthood are easier to achieve than a conservative getting a verified Twitter account. With this checkmark comes credibility, earned or…well, let’s face it, it’s never earned. It’s an electronic Cracker Jack box where the right ideology gets you a free prize inside.

But we all know Leftists would never lie or distort the truth for political gain, right?

Put simply, Twitter is a quick way to widely push a narrative, spin a story, or blatantly lie without a way to be just as quick and widespread with the truth. But, it’s important we continue to tell the truth whenever we can. Facts matter.

Now, go put on some pants.

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A Constitutional Crisis That Isn’t

The latest in the Donald Trump Constitutional Crisis Sweepstakes comes courtesy of our good friends at Twitter. Recently, the Knight First Amendment Institute posted a demand on Twitter that President Trump unblock his critics on Twitter, citing…wait for it…the First Amendment.

That’s right, kids. An institute committed to the First Amendment has asserted trolling a sitting President is a free speech issue. And people wonder why I think we’re doomed…

If it were just the Knight First Amendment Institute going out on this limb by themselves, it would be easy to dismiss it, but there are others, including attorney Lawrence Tribe, who take it seriously and are arguing the President should not have the ability to block people because it stifles their free speech. Now, I’m not a lawyer like Mr. Tribe, but I have a little experience with the First Amendment, given that I’m using it right now.

How can I put this so Mr. Tribe, the Knight First Amendment Institute, and others like them can understand? Oh yeah. This isn’t a free speech issue!

Twitter is a private company and, as such, they have rules that each user has to follow. (Whether those rules are enforced evenly or at all is another matter for another blog entry.) Twitter also allows users the ability to block or hide some people’s posts at the discretion of the user. In fact, previous Presidents have blocked Twitter users before Trump, so it would lead me to believe it’s not really a free speech issue so much as it is a don’t-be-an-assbag issue.

The sticking point the Left has with this position is the fact President Trump has a Twitter an official White House Twitter account as well as a private one. Their argument is the fact Trump is President means his private Twitter account is a public forum because he is a government official. Yeah, that’s not how the First Amendment works. The first five words of the First Amendment read, “Congress shall make no law,” which means…well, that Congress can’t act. Since the President is not a member of Congress or the legislative branch, the First Amendment prohibitions would not apply to him, even if he is President.

The most confounding part of the Left’s line of thinking for me is how they can say their free speech rights are being violated by not being able to respond to whatever the President tweets. Hmmm…if only there were a way for these people to respond using the same technology the President uses. Oh, wait, there is. It’s called Twitter! The very forum they use to see what the President says is the same one they can use to issue a response. Trump isn’t stopping them from tweeting; he’s only ignoring what these folks tweet for various reasons. As hate speech critics are so quick to point out, the freedom to speak does not guarantee an audience. And, oddly enough, some of the same people who say hate speech isn’t protected are the same ones who think their tweets are free speech. Things that make you go “what color is the sky in your world?”

In the end, the Left’s treatment of President Trump’s Twitter as a free speech issue is shakier than Michael Moore in a vat of Jello on the San Andreas Fault during a 7.2 on the Richter Scale. No matter how many times they try to make it so, it just doesn’t work. Although I have to admit it’s funny to see people who get offended at insignificant things working so tirelessly to defend the right to troll.

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A Little Birdie Told Me

The Liberal media and the rest of the Liberal sheep masses are horrified that President Trump continues to tweet out information and updates.

With Twitter the President is communicating directly with the people. I am on Twitter and follow the tweets of @realDonaldTrump among others.

Why the Liberals hate it is simple. They can’t take what the President tells them and spin it into something it’s not. With the tweets, we the people, get the direct message. No spin, no editorial, no bias. Just 140 characters of plain facts.

And with the direct communication in the 21st century the media becomes obsolete. Keep on tweeting Mr President. The people are listening.

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Site Updates

Hello good readers. We have created an official Twitter account for the blog to separate it out from the owner or authors personal Twitter accounts.

You can now follow the blog via Twitter @Blog_SAB. We encourage everyone to follow us to keep updated on new posts, comments, and the latest happenings with the blog.

We are also working on building a Facebook page as well. This will just be informational, you will not be able to post comments to the Facebook page. All comments should be posted directly to the blog itself.

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This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Earlier this week, Twitter permanently banned Milo Yiannopoulos due to alleged Terms of Service violations. For those of you who haven’t been following along because you have a life, Milo has run afoul of Twitter before, but somehow this was the last straw.

And what was his crime? To hear Twitter describe it, it was harassing Leslie Jones, a star of the recent “Ghostbusters” reboot. In reviewing the Tweet logs, however, Milo didn’t really break the Terms of Service, but many of his supporters did by posting pictures of apes to Jones. There was also a possibly Photoshopped Tweet of something Jones allegedly posted, but didn’t.

Granted, I’m not on Twitter. (Too many twits on there, you know.) But what I do understand is Twitter is a private company, so the calls that Twitter are denying Milo his First Amendment right of freedom of speech to prevail in this case are not really applicable. Twitter, like any other online service, can make up their own rules and apply them as they see fit. Of course, that begs the question of how they apply their own rules.

Not very well.

The fact ISIS/ISIL and Black Lives Matter both retain their Twitter statuses for doing and saying far worse than Milo has is telling. Maybe if he starts beheading people or calling for the death of police officers Twitter will let him back on…

Seriously, what Twitter has done is egregious, but well within their rights to do. The Twitterverse has already established a couple of hashtags to protest Twitter’s decision, one of the hashtags being #FreeMilo. Twitter, being the social media geniuses they are, shut down the #FreeMilo hashtag. I guess the time they removed Milo’s verified status on Twitter didn’t teach them anything after many of his followers changed their profile pictures to ones of Milo himself.

But the icing on this crap cake comes in the form of Leftist Tweeters applauding Twitter’s decision, citing “hate speech” as their justification. Well, that’s a problem because when you start banning hate speech, it always goes underground until such time as it becomes acceptable again. By leaving it in the open, you can see the true hatred and act accordingly. For example, I tend to avoid Leftists altogether in online forums because inevitably their high-minded rhetoric will turn into the very hate they claim resides only on the Right. Need proof? Talk to Alan Keyes, Herman Caine, and other black Republicans/conservatives about how they’re treated by the “tolerant” Left.

Twitter’s double standards about their standards isn’t a good look for them, and it’s going to hurt them more than they think. That’s, of course, assuming they do think, which given their recent track record with Milo alone is suspect. Personally, I think Milo is better off without Twitter, but Twitter needs people like him to justify their draconian double standard.

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Social Media

There are a ton of social media sites out on the internet now days. We have Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Flickr, DeviantArt, Foursquare, Google+, Identi.ca, Instagram, and MySpace, just to name a few. There are many more than these.

Some are designed and targeted to specific interest groups while others are more generalized. Some have apps and file sharing while others are just text based. And everything in between.

I have accounts on several of the sites I listed above. Some are very inactive accounts as I haven’t looked at them or updated anything on them in years. And some social media sites I just visit without being a member and browse the postings without leaving any of my own.

The goal of social media is to have virtual interactions like we would have in real life. One-on-one or in groups settings. Be it games, general chit-chat, or business collaboration. Even blogs like this one are a form of social media as they encourage interaction between users and visitors.

The most common complaints against today’s social media sites are on the topics of privacy/security, censorship, and content ownership. And sometimes they are just a time suck. Facebook is hit quite often with these types of complaints.

But there are alternatives to these social media sites where the issues of privacy/security, censorship, and content ownership are greatly reduced. And these alternatives have been around far longer than the term “social media”. In fact social media has really been around since the infancy of the internet. And many of these ancient alternative social media forms are still in use today. Even by you right now.

E-mail (electronic mail) is the oldest form of social media. One-on-one and group conversations are all possible. Files can be shared, edited, and re-shared again. And it is generally very private. You don’t have to worry about another friend who wasn’t included accidentally seeing your e-mail post.

IRC (internet relay chat) is also an early form of social media. And like e-mail it’s still very much around. Even if you currently participate in some fancy web-based text chatroom it might be IRC driving it behind the scenes. With IRC you have a lot of control on who you let into your chat and who you do not.

Both IRC and e-mail predate webpages. There was no world wide web on the internet when people started with e-mail and they were chatting on IRC. The last early form of social media had it’s birth after the web came into being. It was the start of the internet as we know it today. These are online forums. With forums groups could interact with one another and individuals could also have private conversations as well. Pictures, documents, and other files could also be shared and downloaded just as they are today. And forum administrators could setup private boards that only it’s users could see.

So social media has been around for a long time. From the very birth of the internet. It’s outward forms have changed over the years but many of the oldest are still around. I am a member of a couple of online forums that date back more than 10 years. And they are still going on today. If you don’t care for the current incarnations of social media try the grandparents that started it all.

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