DON’T TAKE THE BAIT – RICH PASCHALL

KEEP RIGHT ON GOING, By Rich Paschall
Sunday Night Blog


If you are a fisherman, and perhaps even if you are not, you can understand the frustration that comes with the sport. That is, you go out knowing fish are swimming all around you. Maybe a lot of them and you are ready to reel them in.  You bait the hook and drop it in amongst all those lovely fish and you wait … and wait. Nothing happens.  It is as if Charlie Tuna or some holy mackerel was there, warning off all the others to avoid your bait.

“This is good bait,” you may think.  “It is big and tempting and the sea creatures should flock to it,” but they just smirk and swim off to visit other old timers to see if their little fishes are off in schools somewhere else.

Avoid the bait

This is how we should be too.  We should stop taking the bait, but sometimes we do anyway. The consternation begins.  I am talking about social media and social conversation.  There is always someone lobbing bait in the water. It’s up to us to keep swimming.  No good comes from getting hooked.

It would appear that many throw out bait on Facebook or Twitter — or whatever platform they prefer — knowing they will start an argument amongst friends and acquaintances.

In this politically charged “us versus them” environment fostered and encouraged by 45 and his ilk — not to mention the social media companies themselves and the Russians, Chinese and who knows who else — there are always those waiting for someone to take the bait. Their posts can be filled with political arguments.

None are worthy of the time, but some play it like a sport.  It is almost like taking your boat out on Lake Michigan hoping to land a big one.  You are likely to end up with carp or alewives, of course.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Whether you are posting something in favor of POTUS or against, there is someone ready to take the bait and tug on the line.  While an astounding number of people are not in favor of the current pretender to the throne, he still has some rabid supporters who are willing to dangle the bait or take it themselves and the battle is on.  These battles of back and forth with the fish can get rather rowdy and sometimes Facebook or whoever has to step in and stop the battle from going on.

Soon after the terrible display of hate in Charlottesville, I posted a brief piece I saw about how the USA helped defeat the Nazis in World War 2.  I thought it was important to remember (or to learn) what that was all about.  I know exactly what my parents would have thought of recent events.  My father fought in World War II.  It is terrible, in my opinion, that people would carry the Nazi flags on our streets after the 1940’s but perhaps some forgot.  I had no idea I was dangling bait for the alt-right.

What followed my post was a long series of comments by a few people who conducted a mean-spirited, name-calling “debate.”  I could not keep up with it or monitor the frequent comments, which apparently turned threatening.  After someone complained, Facebook stepped in and removed the most egregious comments.  At my first opportunity, I removed the post completely.  History really is not debatable nor is it worth threatening someone, but that’s the road we’ve gone down.

Due to my stance on some topics, or my willingness to take the bait on a few occasions, I guess I have lost a few friends.  I can’t say it really bothers me.  If you are that bigoted, whether your opinion is based on some misinterpretation of history or the Bible or some other religion, I guess it’s best I swim on by. I’m too old to have this stress in my life.  Be careful. You never know when some fish might pull you into the water.

Until recently, I used to get together a few times a month with someone I have known since childhood. He’s a bit right of center politically, but we had mostly avoided political arguments. That changed in the current social climate.

He has taken the dangling bait.  I was playing along for a while, but I now see the futility of this endeavor.

It will start with my friend saying something about 45 or other right-wing topics.  I might respond, “As a former military man, how do you feel about 45 making comments about North Korea which also seem to give up military secrets?”  It is a reasonable question, I think … but it only proves I’ve taken the bait.

“What about Obama?” he might reply.  “You never said anything about Obama when he was in office.”

“Yes, I did,” I usually point out.

“I never heard it.”

“You never listen to my side.”

“And what about Rahm (Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago)? What about that?” He will say in a voice somewhat louder.

“What does this have to do with 45 and North Korea?” I may inquire to try to steer the conversation back around, but it’s too late.  I am already on the line.

Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional

11 thoughts on “DON’T TAKE THE BAIT – RICH PASCHALL”

  1. Exactly stated. This morning I opened ny phone for the weather report and up pops T blaming some thing new on Obama. I thought, I just can’t take this! And shut it off. I don’t want to ruin my day by reading anything he says. I know we must stay informed but it seems to me everyday he brings a new challenge to upset or change what is right about America

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m guilty of taking the bait, hope they like the ‘alewife’ they’ve reeled in…those hook within the tempting baiters! (what is an alewife? I live in land-locked Utah and well fish (aside from trout or catfish) aren’t plentiful. …. Just today I rose to a bait (although whether it was ‘bait’ or not..since it was a point for my ‘side’ is debatable or not..) Argh. My solution to that stuff? Turn off the social media. I go to FB about twice a week now…it’s just too political for a social media site. And what happened to people not agreeing, but still able to be polite to each other? I’m sorry about your acquaintance of long standing…think if that was a relative of yours (or three or four) like happened with me!

    Like

    1. Technically an alewive is a species of herring. To us they are garbage fish. When they first arrived in the Great Lakes, bypassing Niagara Falls via canal, they died off in large numbers, washing up on our shores. Pacific salmon were introduced to control them.

      Like

  3. I avoid this kind of bait by not being on fb and hardly ever on twitter. I only have that account for maybe 4-6x/mo following comments …
    But at least you KNOW already when you’re dangling at somone’s hook! I too have lost one friend I fought to keep for some 10 years before being able (recognising a lost ‘battle’) to let her go, and not being resentful…. I’m sad for your loss of a former friend, but we really have to have enough self-esteem to draw a line when said people won’t do you any good.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Social media is full of this stuff and if you let yourself get dragged into this sort of argument it usually ends in tears. I won’t say I never comment on political stuff on Facebook because I do but I will walk away rather than get drawn into a debate. It is a shame that we can’t disagree and still be able to communicate but it all gets personal very quickly now.

    Liked by 1 person

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