Tater Takes on the Internet

I spend a lot of tie on the internet. That’s probably one reason why the number of books I’ve read this year is lower than normal. Looking at Twitter, Facebook, Deadspin, etc. is mindless and easier than reading an actual book. I can do it while watching TV. I can’t read a book and watch TV at the same time. I also watch a lot of TV, so this works out well for me. As I spend time on he internet I sometimes run across things that I think I should write about, so here it is – my “what irritates me online” post.

First Name Basis: This one just came p again this morning. I am trying really hard not to read comments online, but I make an exception for some posts on TV Line. I like to see how others have reacted to a show or to casting news. I’ve noticed in the comments people have a tendency to call the actors by their first name like they know them personally. I don’t care how much time you have spent watching this person on TV. You are not on a first name basis with them. It’s just weird and you should stop.

Sharing Without Thinking: Fake news and conspiracy theories are big news right now, especially after a moron who believed a fake news story showed up at Comet Ping Pong with a gun. It would be nice to think that the people who believe these stories are a fringe element and not a large-scale problem, but I’ve seen otherwise. I have seen several instances of people who I know to be relatively smart, normal people share stories on Facebook and Twitter that come from suspect sources. They share them with confidence that they are true without ever doing due diligence to check the veracity of the story. Regular, non-crazy people sharing this crap gives it the look of legitimacy and helps it to spread further. Of course, it doesn’t help that we have a president-elect who is trying to erode trust in legitimate news sources while selecting advisers who believe and share the fake news. This means the rest if us need to be better about checking the facts and calling out those who are helping spread the lies.

Weather Hype: I follow a certain local weather guy on Facebook, as do a lot of my friends, who loves snow so much that he can’t be trusted once winter weather arrives. He looks at all of the models and chooses the one that calls for the most snow and runs with that forecast because he has “faith in the flakes”. TV weather people hype storms because they want ratings and weather will get people to tune in to watch the forecast. They care less about accuracy and more about clicks, sales of FITF merchandise and ratings. I prefer a simple, no hype approach to the weather that focuses on the science and not what’s in it for you.

Keyboard Warriors: Finally, the worst thing about the internet. People who have “keyboard courage” who feel the anonymity of the internet gives them the power to attack others online. The people out there posting racist, misogynist, anti-Semitic stuff at people who don’t agree with them because they feel there will be no repercussions. The online bullies who make others’ lives miserable, sometimes to the point that they take their own lives.   The worst of humanity made worse and given a platform to spread misery, anger and hate. People who delight in being trolls and probably feel like the suicides above are “mission accomplished” The internet can be a dark place.

Maybe I should go read a book.

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We Only Want the New

I am approaching the end of my original Verizon FIOS contract. I called today to see if I could lock in a new contract at a decent price so I won’t have to deal with a $40 a month increase in my bill. I was told the have nothing to offer me at this time. New customers, however, can lock in a two year contract for less than I am currently paying. I’m not asking for that deal, though it would be nice. I just don’t want to pay over $400 a year more for my service. Unfortunately, they don’t care enough about existing customers to do anything. I guess they think I will think it is worth the money to not switch services. I love Verizon FIOS until I have to call the customer service department about things like this.

They are not alone. I had Directv for years. I would consistently see new services being offered to new customers for free, but that I as an existing customer had to pay quite a bit to get. Finally, when my box died, I used that as an excuse to move in to Verizon only to discover the same apathy towards their existing customers. All they care about are the shiny new customers. Perhaps I should see what other companies are offering if I switch.

Lemming Nation

The current craze on Facebook is changing your profile picture to a cartoon character because somehow that will draw attention to the problem of child abuse.  Actually, the new trend might be people reposting a rumor that the cartoon picture thing is a scam by pedophiles to somehow lure kids in with pictures of cartoons.

This is nothing unusual. My feed is usually filled with reposts of status updates about sisters, brothers, moms, 3rd cousins twice removed or whatever random relative someone has decided to “honor” that week.  These are then reposted by half the people on their friends list.  Possibly more active are the status updates that basically tell you that you are not a true Christian if you don’t copy and repost a status update about your belief in God.

Away from Facebook, there are the fun emails forwarded from friends and family about scary, untrue news stories easily debunked by a trip to snopes.  Unfortunately, no one takes this time because they must follow the command to forward this to all of your friends.

I don’t get any of this.  Why copy and paste these status updates or forward the emails?  Why change your profile picture for some random internet meme?  Are we all just lemmings now who follow along because it’s easier than actually having a distinct personality or thinking for ourselves? Do we think people will think less of us if we don’t do it? Do people think I hate kids because my profile picture is not a cartoon character?  Do people question my faith because I don’t repost religious statuses? Do I care(I don’t)?

But seriously folks…

All day today I have read posts on friendfeed decrying April Fool’s Day and the fake stories posted on the internet. I guess we have all finally lost our sense of humor. We now take our internet so seriously that one day with a little fun is seen as an annoyance and not something to enjoy? I wish we had more days like this. People need to lighten up and have a little fun.

There are people in your internet

Passing along this post I found on FriendFeed.

http://blogs.squidoo.com/squidblog/?p=276#

One of the things I have always hated about the Internet is the way people use the anonymity to be meaner and more negative in their interactions with others. Social networking turns into anti-social networking quickly. Trolls abound on message boards and blogs. This election season has been particularly bad with everyone picking their “team” and treating everyone on the other side poorly. Everyone needs to do as the blog above says and remember that there are people on the other side of those words on the internet.