DON’T BITE! – Rich Paschall

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 the other fish 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 it anyway because we can’t help it.

I am talking about social media and consequent conversation.  The rants and bitterness that follow. There’s always someone tossing bait in the water.

We have to keep swimming because no good comes from getting hooked.

It would appear that many throw out bait on Facebook or Twitter, though it could be any media and there are many more. They aren’t trying to have a conversation. They are trying to start a fight by luring in 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 and the Russians, Chinese and who knows who else — there are always enough snapping jaws waiting for someone to snap up the bait.

No matter what political arguments fill their entries, none are worthy of our time. Trolls do this for sport. They think it’s fun. Most of us don’t think it’s fun at all.

It is 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. Because that’s what lives there.

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 rabid supporters willing to dangle the bait– or take it themselves. The battle is on.

These battles of back and forth with fish can get rowdy and ugly.

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 but maybe 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 or 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’ve lost a few friends.  I can’t say it bothers me. If you are that bigoted, whether your opinion is based on some misinterpretation of history, the Bible, or some other religion, it’s best I swim on and miss the fight. I’m too old to have this level of stress.

Be careful. You never know when a big 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 it.

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 me.”

“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 inquire to try to steer the conversation back around, but it’s too late.  I am already hooked.

17 thoughts on “DON’T BITE! – Rich Paschall

  1. Many of my high school friends are a bit right of center, or left of far right.
    We have stopped conversing on FB and I’m okay with that. Sad as it is.
    They all seemed normal in school. What happened in their lives to make them so bitter and afraid?
    Just like 45, their point of view has more venom than solution.
    I stopped taking the bait on social media before the last election. No more surveys and no more knee-jerk responses to crazy posts. Don’t want to be part of that problem!

    Liked by 2 people

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