Shut Up

Do you know what this is? No? Then shut up.

According to my children, “shut up” ranks up there with the worst of the “bad” words a primary school child is forbidden to say. Not too long ago, I used that phrase and here again today, “shut up” is the only rebuttal appropriate for a comment I was reading on a major media site.

This post has nothing to do with the actual article, though. In fact, my viewpoint on the situation is irrelevant. The reason I am saying “shut up” is that in a lot of comment and “letters to the editor” pages, the compulsion for someone to take away any doubt that they were an idiot outweighs any prudence or embarrassment that they are, in fact, an idiot.

What gate opened up to motivate these morons to chime in with their obvious, ill-timed, or just plain stupid observation? And to make things even more traumatic, in a lot of the news, the victim’s privacy and anger over the event, the hurt and embarrassment visited on the perpetrator’s family, the shame felt by coworkers, colleagues, etc. far outweighs the absolute insanity of “anonnumus” posting that “maybe it was the victim’s fault”, or “Obama’s birth certificate” was involved, or our mystery writer expounds on their experience being similar to when their front porch fell and killed all their dogs.

Apparently, none of this outweighs the need to be a public dunce. Perhaps part of the problem in anonymity is that people feel compelled to say what they think, which in this and more than a few other cases, isn’t much.

Back to us, though. I did see a similar reaction to several April Fool’s posts on FireRescue1.com. In pulling the page back up tonight to link at it, I’m amazed that seven days later there are still people who don’t stop, read the whole article, then read to see what others have said, before posting their own completely moronic response. “Shut up”, remember?

While the headline drew me in that day and my initial reaction was “WTF?” I was happy that I take a lot of what anyone says at face value anyway. Of course, I then took the time to read the entire article and got all the details prior to opening my mouth, or in this case, tapping out a comment that would expose my ignorance. You would think that the Mayor’s name in the one article might tip you off. Instead, a few of our own read what, two sentences, and type.

I can appreciate the pent up rage and frustration felt by those of us trying to maintain a positive image of our business. And I too see red at some of the statements made by politicians, the media, and others. But before posting your manifesto, do us all a favor and save us the embarrassment of having to explain the joke to you.

I guess the same could be said about my blog, but if you will take careful notice, I rarely write a rant. Want to know why? Because first, unless I am there, I don’t have all the facts. So I prefer to read things and believe there is probably more to the story. Secondly, even if what is said or done is really inflammatory, I give credit to the writer for putting their own personal spin on it, regardless of whether the bias is intentional or unintentional. So sometimes the headline is being written to draw us in and sometimes, it’s to pick a fight. And certainly not least, I believe that there are plenty of places on the internet you can go to if you want controversy, or negativity, or anger. I’m trying to provide a forum. I ask for people to embrace ideas they don’t necessarily agree with. You don’t have to own it; I just want you to look at it.

Before going off on someone, perhaps these people should write what they think, then save it. Walk away and if you still feel compelled to share it, then do so. But think about what you say, especially when all you plan to say is stupid anyway. Your fifteen minutes of fame may be your only fifteen minutes. Make it count.

  • http://www.firehousezen.com truck6alpha

    Okay, I walked away from the computer and checked some mail, then came back to see this: http://www.firerescue1.com/fire-products/apparel/articles/1004130-American-flag-removed-from-firefighter-uniforms-in-Calif/

    Of course, you must then go down and read the comments. At no point in the article does it say the American Flag is being banned, nor does it have anything to do with Hispanics, and there’s nothing unpatriotic about the decision they made. They are removing the Flag PATCH from their uniforms and being given the opportunity to wear the US Flag on their nameplate.

    They have reasons. They are logical reasons. They are not renouncing their citizenship or putting on a Libyan flag or burning bibles. They are trying to get their uniforms to look uniform. But of course, we have the clueless, inspiring other clueless individuals, teaming up for a whole line of cluelessness. What’s the emoticon for shaking your head sadly?

  • tom meditz

    A great blog as always. I have noted that the number of people that write comments on news stories is often fairly low and very rarely more that a couple of hundred. While I find many of the comments raise my systolic pressure, I also realize that out of our entire country only 200 or so are brain dead and that is a good thing. Now if they could only spell.

  • http://www.firehousezen.com truck6alpha

    What really scares me (more than their having access to things like guns, liquor, vehicles, computers) is that these people are also reproducing.

  • http://www.backstepfirefighter.com Bill Carey

    Facebook and forums. The greatest evidence of a serious lack of reading comprehension in the American fire service.

    Bill Carey

  • http://firedaily.com John Mitchell

    When I was much younger, I had a particular disdain for those who had NO opinion/thought/clue about, well, anything.

    With all the constant blathering nowadays, I look back with fond memories of those blissfully ignorant, yet quiet and happy souls.

  • http://www.firehousezen.com truck6alpha

    The sad part is that while I realize that these comments come from a small number of people in relation to those reading, they “give permission” to others to hate, belittle, or foment wild conspiracy theories. Once these ideas become “sticky” they don’t go away easily.

    I think the internet is a valuable place to exchange ideas and develop new ones using the experiences of others. I love that I can speak and befriend people in faraway lands at the tap of the enter key. But this also gives way to the crazies and idiots who now have an instant forum.

    I guess the same could be said about me, so I’ll just have to take it all for what it is worth. Thanks to all of you for your observations and for sharing them with us.

    Mick

  • http://www.iaff3499.com Nate Quartier

    Funny to me that you mention the ratio of comment posters to readership. Our local newspaper recently removed the ability to comment on articles from their website, which I feel was a good move. It seemed that regardless of what topic the article was about, there were always the same handful of people posting negative, uneducated comments.

    Interesting how technology today, while in many ways great, allows us to instantly express our knee-jerk reaction to anything, from just about anywhere.

    I used to let the trolls’ comments bother me, and would try to reply to them with something informative, but it quickly became tiresome. Now, if I decide I’m going to browse through the comments, I usually skip over anything that contains catch phrases like “…because of the Hispanics” or a failure to grasp the “difernce” between “are” and “our”.

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Michael "Mick" Mayers

Deputy Fire Chief - Operations Division for Hilton Head Island (SC) Fire Rescue and an Emergency Response Coordinator with the United States Department of Health and Human Services  National Disaster Medical System Incident Response Coordination Team.

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Recent Posts
Career Change December 13, 2014
Think Fast November 29, 2014
Comments
Mick Mayers
Someone I Would Have Liked To Have Known
Ruth, Thanks for the comment, although like Tom said, you missed my point. What I was saying is that I am honored and impressed that someone who not so long ago would not have been given a chance - for reasons of race and gender- was given those accolades. She is someone I would have…
2014-12-12 11:24:00
Tom Bouthillet
Someone I Would Have Liked To Have Known
There are plenty of white males who don't deserve to be firefighters. The most qualified individual should get the job regardless of race or gender. That doesn't always happen for a variety of reasons that don't need to be hashed out here. But way to miss Chief Mayers' point entirely.
2014-12-11 12:08:00
Ruth Phillips
Someone I Would Have Liked To Have Known
I've heard of all of these "substandard candidates brought in to fill a role" taking the jobs from those who truly "desire the job and are willing to embrace the lifestyle of a firefighter." Do you mean people of color and women taking the jobs from the more deserving, uh, white male? I'm baffled as…
2014-12-11 04:21:00
drydiggins
Think Fast
My best friend once described flying in 'hard' IFR like being inside a giant ping-pong ball... everywhere you look, featureless white. I've appropriated that to describe people who seem to go through life in their own personal ping-pong balls. Apropos of the bumper sticker "I can't see you so don't pretend to be there."
2014-12-09 04:21:00
Mick Mayers
Leadership That Matters, Part 7
George, Thanks for reading! Yes, I'll actually do that this week. And I actually downloaded that same meme myself a few days ago- I like it.
2014-12-06 15:25:00

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Although I am affiliated or employed by certain entities, I in no way speak in this forum or others on behalf of those entities unless I have specifically stated such. Any implication otherwise is doing so contrary to my agreements with those entities. The result is that the observations and opinions by myself or on behalf of Firehouse Zen are not sanctioned by any other entity other than Graffiti Train Sherpa Publications and are protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America.

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