Baseball Star Turned Internet Vigilante. Social Media Trolls Beware

Something interesting happened the other day that well and truly blurred the lines between real life and the one that lives in the digital world called social media. They are fast becoming one and the same if they haven’t already. There is no better example of a blurred line than when people behave very badly in the digital world and don’t expect consequences or retribution. In other words, you can’t go round dissing people and not expect it to come back to bite you. What goes around comes around and in this case boy did it come around. It all centres on someone unlikely. Someone, you wouldn’t expect to be a digital crusader. His name is Curt Schilling. If you follow baseball in the United States then you’ll know he’s a bit of a legend of the game. But it’s not his baseball exploits that we are talking about.

Curt Schilling turned himself into a troll hunter and a pretty effective one at that after his daughter became the target of what can only be described as vicious online social media abuse and bullying. I think it would be fair to say that her father’s sporting notoriety might have been a motivating factor for the abuse. But it was uncalled for and thoroughly unpleasant. People who do this kind of thing are cowards. They hide behind the anonymity that social media generously gives them except they did not count on Schilling.

The former Red Sox pitcher acted swiftly, publicly humiliating his targets and getting some of them fired from their jobs and suspended from university. It was internet vigilantism at its finest. It all began when Schilling had the temerity to tweet his congratulations to his 17-year-old daughter, Gabriella, on gaining a softball scholarship. I mean the arrogance of the man. What was he thinking? Apparently major league baseball stars aren’t allowed to express parental pride in the achievements of their offspring. Or so some people seem to think. Schilling was just like any other Dad who sees his kid stand up on their own two feet and achieve something in life. Good on him I say for being a father taking an interest in his child.

Schilling says as a world famous sports star and avid social media user, he was expecting the inevitable “smart ass college kid” replies, which included “I’ll take care of her” and “Can’t wait to party with her.” But he was horrified at the torrent of graphic and violent comments that followed. “I want to come and play but Gabby wants me to *** and stay,” said one. “Teach me your knuckleball technique so I can shove my **** in your daughter,” read another.

In what is now the hallmark of the troll, the tweets mentioned rape, as well as bloody underwear, “and pretty much every other vulgar and defiling word you could likely fathom,” Schilling said.

So Curt Schilling drew a line in the sand and said enough. But that’s not all. No sir. If you are going to play with fire, best not invite Curt Schilling to the party because you are going to get badly burned. Schilling used his position in the public eye to out the internet trolls. He identified two of them in particular, who had made little or no attempt to conceal their true identity. One was Adam Nagel, a sophomore at Brookdale Community College, who called himself The Sports Guru. The other, with the username Hollywood, was vice president of the Theta Xi fraternity at Montclair State University. “I was a jock my whole life,” Schilling said. “I played sports my whole life. Baseball since I was 5, until I retired at 41. I know clubhouses. I lived in a dorm. I get it. Guys will be guys. Guys will say dumb crap, often. But I can’t ever remember, drunk, in a clubhouse, with best friends, with anyone, ever speaking like this to someone …”

After he outed them, Schilling wished them luck if they were googled. He said he kept every one of their offensive tweets. “No less than 7 of the clowns who sent vile or worse tweets are athletes playing college sports,” he said. “I knew every name and school, sport and position, of every one of them in less than an hour.” Like I said. Do not mess with Mr Schilling.

The 48-year-old father of four got in touch with the coaches and parents, of the people who wrote the offensive tweets. Many were made to write letters of apology. He also published two more tweets by users Justin Time and Jacob Robbins, “to let you internet sleuths have a go” meaning Schilling’s blog followers.

Commenters on his blog and Twitter users began circulating the names of Nagel and the Montclair student, Sean Macdonald, along with their mobile phone numbers, email addresses and social media account details. MacDonald, who worked part time selling tickets for the Yankees, was fired, and Nagel was suspended from university. All their social media accounts have been deleted.

Justin Time was identified as Liam Cronin, a camp counsellor from Huntington, New York. Jacob Robbins was identified variously as a student at St Ambrose University in Iowa, as a San Jose State student and as someone called Ben Cohen. Two days later, he released another name, which received the same treatment. Schilling’s campaign made headlines nationwide in the United States. Some applauded him for speaking out against verbal abuse on social media. Others expressed concern over what they perceived as witch-hunts, and Schilling’s “doxxing” of the trolls, which means revealing personal information online, and is illegal.

Cronin went so far as to reveal himself on Schilling’s blog, explaining that his comments about Gabby being “passed around” only referred to “sluttiness”, not rape. Sorry but that doesn’t cut it as any kind of apology or act of contrition. “I simply was trying to piss off curt schilling because I think he’s a moron,” Cronin wrote, adding that Schilling’s fans had called his college demanding he be kicked out, his past employers to make sure he is blacklisted for life and his parents, to tell them what a terrible job they did.

So how does Curt Schilling feel about all the trouble he’s caused? You may not be surprised to know that he is utterly unrepentant. He told the New York Post newspaper, there’s no longer any distinction between online and offline lives. “People are saying, ‘Hey, Curt Schilling called out people on Twitter, and they got in trouble in real life.’ Twitter now IS real life — Facebook, Instagram, all of it,” Schilling said. He is right. Schilling says he is now done with naming names, at his daughter’s request, although she told People magazine she didn’t feel sorry for the trolls.

“It’s really sad that one thing they said could cost them their entire career on a sports team or their job, but I think it’s even sadder that they don’t think that should have happened,” Gabriella Schilling said.

Curt Schilling’s act is the latest in a series of online social media shaming, which saw a PR executive, Justine Sacco, publicly vilified for an offensive and racist tweet she made about AIDS. Lindsay Stone went into hiding after a tasteless joke she made at an American military cemetery which she later shared on social media and Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice lost endorsements after using a gay slur. A Brisbane tech blogger, Alanah Pearce turned the tables on her trolls by contacting their parents. The internet is a bit like being careful what you wish for. It offers opportunities for verbal abuse and for retaliation. For every action there is a reaction. The father turned social media vigilante summed up his position on his blog: “Gabby I know you’re likely embarrassed ( for what I did) and for that I apologise. But as we have talked about, there is no situation ever in your life, where it’s OK for any ‘man’ to talk about you, or any other woman this way.

“This is so far off the radar it’s pathetic. The ignorance and pathetic lack of morals or of any integrity is astounding. These aren’t thugs, tough guys or bad asses, these aren’t kids who’ve had it rough, they aren’t homeless or orphans, these are pretty much ALL white, affluent, college attending children, and I mean children.

“It truly is time this stopped. I don’t know where it started because it sure as hell didn’t happen much when we were growing up.”

He’s so right about that. Should we feel sorry for the trolls who lost their jobs or got kicked out of University for what they did? Do they deserve our collective sympathy? Did Curt Schilling over react in what he did, defending his daughter? Let me take a second to think about that. Ok. I did. No.

Karma For Humiliated Pizza Guy- Ends Up With Lots of Cash

The other day I wrote about how  extraordinarily serendipitous Karma can be. I made the point that it doesn’t happen as often as it should but when it does the results can be exquisite.

Social media had a big role to play in the Karma that was ultimately delivered on behalf, of all people. a pizza delivery man.

Here’s the background to the story. A group of car dealership workers at F & R auto sales, in Westport, in the American State of Massachusetts, decided to order pizza. The delivery guy brought them their order.  Most people, in the United States, understand the concept of paying a tip for good service because is also a fact of life that people in service industries, like waiting tables and delivering pizza ,don’t get paid a hell of a lot for the job they do. So a few bucks, here and there goes a long way in making ends meet. But someone forget to relay that important information to the employees at F & R auto sales.

Ok. The trouble began when F&R paid for a $42 pizza order with two $20 bills and two $5 bills. The denomination of the bills is important, and you’ll understand why very shortly. The delivery guy thought the payment was out of character enough to go to the trouble of actually asking if the change was intended to be change and not a tip. I mean why else would you pay $50, if no tip was intended? All they needed to do was give the delivery guy $45 and the intention would be crystal clear. But, after the delivery guy made his delivery, and was on his way back to the pizza shop, F&R called his manager to complain that he’d “stolen” their change. Nice people. The pizza shop of course then told the delivery guy to turn around, drive back, and return their change, which is what he did and that is when the ‘fun’ started.

F & R decided to video the conversation when the Pizza delivery guy returned. They were going to have some fun at his expense and post the video results on social media. I am sure, in their delusional and misguided state of mind, they thought everyone else would see the ‘joke.’ This, was a big, big mistake. In fact, describing it as a big mistake really doesn’t do it justice. In the true spirit of Karma it came back to bite them on the bum, a mouthful the size of a small country.

It’s important to note that, as the driver says on the video, there was no logical reason to give him that extra $5 bill unless it was intended to be a tip; they owed him $42, gave him $45 in bills to reach that amount, then left an extra $5. But if you are dealing with people whose sole motivation is to bully and humiliate, it makes perfect sense. The extra $5 was a type of honey trap which they could then use as a justification for saying it was never intended to be a gratuity and quite frankly how could  the pizza delivery guy have the temerity to think otherwise?

On the video we see the delivery driver make this point to which one of the F & R employees replies in a typically passive aggressive threat so common among bullies :”So listen: The manager apologised once for you. Do you want him to apologise again for you?”

Finally, the Pizza delivery guy who remains incredibly polite throughout this ordeal says, “It’s OK, you got your $7, so the world is right now,” and heads out the door. But of course, in the world of vindictive, small mindedness, it is never right. You can never have enough ritual humiliation. The F & R employees were not done. One of them, a female says : “Out the door before I put my foot in your ass.” Charming and so respectful. Then, another F&R employee proclaims, “Get the f….ing owner and the manager on the phone, I want that motherf…er’s job. I want him fired. To make matters worse, the F&R employee then proceeds to make good on his suggestion, calling the Pizza shop and complaining about the delivery driver. Fortunately, this is where the story starts to take a U turn in a positive way. The Pizza shop manager asked the delivery guy what had happened and ultimately took his side. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time the Pizza shop had issues with F&R auto sales. Why am I not surprised?

Then, F & R did  a thing that was incredibly stupid  and, I am sure they would admit, they now bitterly regret. Karma, karma, karma. They posted the video online for the world to see. Instead of getting the reaction they were expecting, it morphed into something else entirely. The social media posts, a trickle at first, turned into a tidal wave, with sentiments along these lines: “The employees at F&R Auto Sales in Westport all deserve to get fired. Such scum I can’t even believe it.”

“How could you treat a Pizza guy like that? Congrats on ruining your business.”

And this: “ You think you have PR problems? Check out F and R Auto in Westport MA.”

The review pages for F & R auto sales on Yelp and Google were flooded with negative ratings. In fact such was the tirade of abuse, that F&R ultimately stopped answering their phones or responding to any contact requests on social media. Revenge truly is a dish best eaten cold. The owner of F&R (it’s unclear whether he was in the video, although I’m going to guess not) went to the Pizza shop and personally apologised. Like he had a choice. It was either that or kiss goodbye to his business.

But the good news gets even better. Karma was not done. Not by a long shot. It turns out that a GoFundme, crowd funding account, was set up to benefit the  humiliated pizza delivery guy in Westport. The total amount raised has reached….wait for it…….$US30,000. In fact such has been the effect of this incident, that there’s been an outpouring  of community generosity towards all pizza delivery people. For example, a real estate agency in Ann Arbor, gave a pizza delivery guy a $2000 tip and a letter of encouragement.

Absolutely the best news I’ve heard all day. Yippee ki-yay.

Controversial Michael Moore At It Again. Taking Aim At Clint Eastwood’s New Movie

I confess to having a soft spot for controversial, American filmmaker, Michael Moore. I am saying this upfront because I am painfully aware of the polarising effect he has on most people.  You either love Michael Moore, or you hate him. I neither love nor loathe him. I have a grudging admiration for him, even though he I believe he has a propensity for bending the truth to suit his agenda. But let’s face it, plenty of people have been known to do that, such as 99.9 percent of our political leaders. Moore is a bright guy. A self made man who dropped out of University but relied on his writing and documentary film making talent to take him ultimately to Hollywood and Academy Award success. You have to admire the fact that he takes on causes that most shy away from. Moore grew up in Flint, Michigan and saw first hand how the General Motors plant closures ravaged his local community. GM was closing its factories and opening new ones in Mexico where workers were paid less. Moore decided to make a film about it called Roger and Me. It documented his personal journey and glorious failure to confront Roger B. Smith the former CEO and President of General Motors. To be fair, Moore has his critics and his flaws. For example, Harlan Jacobsen, editor of Film Comment magazine, rightly accused Moore of deliberately mixing up the chronology of events relating to the General Motors plant closures to suit his political narrative. In the film, Roger and Me, Moore makes the events that took place well before the GM  redundancies, look like they were a direct consequence of laying off workers, which is not accurate. Film critic Roger Ebert later defended Moore’s reinvention of the GM timeline, as an artistic and stylistic choice, that had less to do with his credibility as a filmmaker, and more to do with the flexibility of film as a medium, that allows the truth to be bent for the noble cause of satire. I personally tend to side with Jacobsen rather than Ebert, on this issue, because to me credibility is everything.

Moore was the producer and director of Fahrenheit 9/11, which took a critical look at the Presidency of George W. Bush and the American War on Terror. It became the highest grossing documentary of all time and won a Palm D’Or award for Moore. He also won an Academy Award for the best documentary, Bowling for Columbine, which examined the causes of the Columbine High School massacre. Moore is a strident critic of America’s liberal gun laws. He once controversially said America’s national symbol should be the gun and not the bald eagle. It was said deliberately to create shock and outrage. And it did. Similarly in responding to the American gun lobby’s claim that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, Moore said: “they’ve got it half right. Except I would amend it to this, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Enjoy the rest of your day and rest assured this will all happen again very soon.”

Moore has a happy knack for getting himself into trouble or maybe trouble has an even happier knack of finding him. His latest foray into controversy is over the release of the Clint Eastwood movie, American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper. The film has so far been a huge box office hit, grossing $US 90 million at its opening. I haven’t seen the movie and even if I had I would not want to be the spoiler who gives away the plot. So I am not going to talk about what happens in the movie. But, American Sniper is based on an autobiography written by real life, American Sniper and Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle, who was credited with saving hundreds of American lives by making 160 confirmed kills, which is the most in American military history. He claimed to have shot 255 people. Kyle’s autobiography not only reveals how he became so good at his job, but also how the trauma of fighting in Iraq never left him.

Raised in rural Texas, Kyle started out as a cowboy and his initial application to join the Navy SEALs was turned down because a rodeo accident left him with metal pins in his arms. However, in the late nineties, the SEALS relaxed their entrance policy and Kyle was put through the tough selection and training regime, and he was good enough to become a Navy SEAL. In 2003, Kyle was deployed to Iraq, where he made his first, long distance sniper kill, even though he had not been trained as a sniper. Showing obvious talent, he was sent to the SEAL sniper school, where he was taught warfare’s loneliest and most controversial job. In 2004, Kyle was posted to Fallujah, west of Baghdad and a major battleground of Iraqi insurgency. It was during the battle for that city that he made his reputation. However, it was in 2006 in Ramadi, a city in central Iraq, that Kyle earned his nickname, ‘The Legend,’ from his fellow SEALs. One day, while positioned on a roof-top, Kyle watched a moped being ridden by two men heading down a street. One of the men dropped a backpack into a pothole. Realising it contained an improvised explosive device, Kyle fired a single shot at the speeding moped from a range of 150 yards, killing both riders at the same time. In 2009, after four tours of Iraq, Kyle retired. Not only had he shot more enemy than any other American sniper in history, he had also been awarded a chest full of medals, including three Silver Stars for gallantry. Ironically, Kyle found peacetime back in the United States far more dangerous than his tours of duty in Iraq. In February 2013 he was shot dead by a fellow American soldier, he was trying to help, who was suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder.

American Sniper is the hot tip to win Oscar glory, nominated for six awards including Best Actor and Best Picture. It has also been tipped for the best adapted screenplay, sound mixing, film editing and sound editing. But the release of the movie and the publicity surrounding it, was a temptation Michael Moore found too hard to resist. Moore, who famously criticized the Iraq War in his 2003 Oscar acceptance speech, fired off a tweet calling snipers ‘cowards.’

This is the actual transcript of his tweet:

“My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot uin the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse” — Michael Moore (@MMFlint)

As he should have expected, or might have even known it was coming, Moore was roundly criticised for his Twitter remarks. Both controversial American politician Newt Gingrich and actor Rob Lowe waded in to attack Moore:

“Michael Moore should spend a few weeks with ISIS and Boko Haram. Then he might appreciate@AmericanSniper. I am proud of our defenders.” — Newt Gingrich(@newtgingrich) ”

“Michael Moore Blasts #AmericanSniper Hero: Gunmen Are “Cowards”He’s kidding, right? — Rob Lowe (@RobLowe)

“Who’s taking more shit today, Michael Moore or the Packers coach? — Rob Lowe (@RobLowe)

Plenty of other Twitter and social media users were equally outspoken or more strident. That prompted Moore to adopt a more conciliatory posture claiming that he had never referred to the movie or Chris Kyle. Moore then tweeted a link to a lengthy Facebook page entry where he explained why he was tweeting about snipers in the first place, accusing the American press of drawing a mythical connection between his remarks and the Clint Eastwood film.

Moore later tweeted:

“Hmm. I never tweeted 1word bout AmericanSniper/ChrisKyle. I said my uncle killed by sniper in WWII; only cowards would do that 2 him, others “ — Michael Moore(@MMFlint)

That tweet was followed by this:

“So ppl want me 2tweet something bout American Sniper? Great acting! Powerful message. There “— Michael Moore(@MMFlint)

“Oh, and Iraqis are called “savages” throughout the film.” — Michael Moore (@MMFlint)

Moore wasn’t going to let the argument rest without having yet  another swipe at America’s involvement in the Iraq War.

“Sorry to have to state the obvious again: Invading a country that hasn’t attacked you is illegal & immoral. History will judge us harshly.” — Michael Moore (@MMFlint)

It was classic Moorespeak. Creating controversy and then bending the narrative to suit his political agenda and draw attention to his anti war message. He may not have expressly referred to the Clint Eastwood’s movie but make no mistake that was his implicit rather than explicit intention. He doth protest too much and the ends justify the means is pretty much the way I would sum up Michael Moore here. Yet again he polarises people but then again it would be a surprise if he didn’t.

And while we are on the topic of the latest Clint Eastwood epic, American Sniper has attracted criticism on a couple of fronts quite separate of anything to do with Michael Moore. Apparently author Chris Kyle made a number of claims in his book that were patently false. Rather than deal with them, Eastwood chose to pretend they never existed which prompted this outburst from film critic Amy Nicholson: “ The falsehoods in American Sniper are so dangerous because a lot of the audience (will) leave the theatre thinking that Chris Kyle was a role model.”

But the bit I find the most fascinating is the fact that the film has come under fire over what has been described as the ‘stilted’ and ‘awkward’ scene in which actor Bradley Cooper, playing Kyle, holds a fake baby with his wife portrayed by Sienna Miller. Yep. No fooling. A fake baby. The Twittersphere has been full of it:

“Can everyone stop arguing about the politics/religion in #AmericanSniper, and focus on why warner bros can’t afford a less creepy fake baby? “ — Jillian Acreman (@jillianamelie)

“ That $90 million opening for American Sniper is 100% due to audience curiosity about the hilariously fake rubber baby in the second act “ — Zac Bertschy (@ANNZac)

Longtime film critic Anne Thompson wrote: “ Basically film professionals know that Eastwood likes to move fast on movie sets and recognise that he took the easy and less expensive route of using a fake baby – not even animatronic – that Cooper had to move himself to make it look lifelike.”

So if you ever needed a reason to go and see this movie, ironically Michael Moore has given you plenty, even if he might not think so. Forget about the Moore controversy I want to see this movie just for the scene with the fake baby. It sounds like a laugh riot.

Karma Chameleon With A Happy Ending

I firmly believe there is such a thing as Karma. Maybe it doesn’t happen as often as it should or, as often as I would like, but it happens often enough. And when it does the results can be exquisite.

Social media had a big role to play in the Karma that I am talking about. I personally feel the jury is decidedly out on whether social media is a good thing, and a step in the right direction, from the point of view of the world we live in.. But in fairness, it can be a powerful force for doing good, when, and if, it makes that choice.

In the case I am going to tell you about, it chose to do good and for that social media deserves a five star rating.

By any kind of measurement In the cumuppence stakes, this will take some beating.

A group of car dealership workers at F & R auto sales, in the American State of Massachusetts, decided to order pizza. The delivery guy brought them their pizza. Let’s just pause the narrative for a bit of clarification. Most people, in the United States, understand the concept of paying a gratuity for good service. It is also a fact of life that people in service industries, like waiting tables and delivering pizza ,don’t get paid a lot for the job they do. So a few bucks, here and there by way of a tip, is going to help a lot in making ends meet. But someone forget to relay that important information to the employees at F & R auto sales in Westport.

Ok. The trouble began when F&R paid for a $42 pizza order with two $20 bills and two $5 bills. The denomination of the bills is important, and you’ll understand why very shortly. The delivery guy thought the payment was out of character enough to go to the trouble of actually asking if the change was intended to be change and not a tip. I mean why else would you pay $50, if no tip was intended? All they needed to do was give the delivery guy $45 and the intention would be crystal clear. I should point out, that his aspect of the story about the intended tip, is not confirmed by F&R, but the driver said it and F&R did not contradict him, so I think it’s safe to assume the Pizza delivery guy is telling the truth. In any case, after the delivery guy made his delivery, and after he was well on his way back to the pizza shop, F&R called his manager to complain that he’d “stolen” their change. Nice people. The pizza shop of course then told the delivery guy to turn around, drive back, and return their change, which is what he did and that is when the ‘fun’ started.

F & R decided to video the conversation when the Pizza delivery guy returned. They were going to have some fun at his expense and post the video results on social media. I am sure, in their delusional and misguided state of mind, they thought everyone else would see the ‘joke.’ This, was a big, big mistake. In fact, describing it as a big mistake really doesn’t do it justice. In the true spirit of Karma it came back to bite them on the bum, a mouthful the size of a small country.

Just to make it perfectly clear, the contents of the video conversation, posted online,  was confirmed as being accurate by all parties. No one is disputing that this is what happened. But before we go into the detail of what was said and done, there are two possibilities here: Firstly, F&R Auto Sales has a serious vendetta against the Pizza shop, or secondly, they constitute a very large collection of pointy headed individuals, or a combination of both.

It’s important to note that, as the driver says on the video, there was no logical reason to give him that extra $5 bill unless it was intended to be a tip; they owed him $42, gave him $45 in bills to reach that amount, then left an extra $5. But if you are dealing with people whose sole motivation is to bully and humiliate, it makes perfect sense. The extra $5 was a type of honey trap which they could then use as a justification for saying it was never intended to be a gratuity and quite frankly how could  the pizza delivery guy have the temerity to think otherwise?

On the video we see the delivery driver make this point to which one of the F & R employees replies in a typically passive aggressive threat so common among bullies :”So listen: The manager apologised once for you. Do you want him to apologize again for you?”

There’s a little bit more argument, none of it particularly heated, before the Pizza delivery guy finally says, “It’s OK, you got your $7, so the world is right now,” and heads out the door. But of course, in the world of vindictive, small mindedness, it is never right. You can never have enough ritual humiliation.

The F & R employees were not done. One of them, a female says : “Out the door before I put my foot in your ass.” Charming and so respectful. Then, another F&R employee proclaims, “Get the f….ing owner and the manager on the phone, I want that motherf…er’s job. I want him fired.”

To make matters worse, the F&R employee then proceeds to make good on his suggestion, calling the Pizza shop and complaining about the delivery driver. Fortunately, this is where the story starts to take a U turn in a positive way. The Pizza shop manager asked the delivery guy what had happened and ultimately took his side. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time the Pizza shop had issues with F&R auto sales. Why am I not surprised?

Then, F & R did something very, very stupid they have lived to regret. They posted the video online for the world to see. It would be fair to say they did not get the reaction they were expecting. The posts started coming: “The employees at F&R Auto Sales in Westport all deserve to get fired. Such scum I can’t even believe it.”

“How could you treat a Pizza guy like that? Congrats on ruining your business.”

And this: “ You think you have PR problems? Check out F and R Auto in Westport MA.”

The review pages for F & R auto sales on Yelp and Google were flooded with negative ratings. In fact such was the tirade of abuse, that F&R ultimately stopped answering their phones or responding to any contact requests on social media. Revenge truly is a dish best eaten cold. The owner of F&R (it’s unclear whether he was in the video, although I’m going to guess not) went to the Pizza shop and personally apologised. Like he had a choice. It was either that or kiss goodbye to his business.

It’s not immediately clear what happened to the F & R employees who orchestrated the incident. But if the owners of the used car yard were smart they would have fired the lot of them. It would be a step in the right direction. They might also want to consider making a huge donation to a worthy charity like pet rescue. ( My idea as an animal lover)

See? Thanks to the power of the internet and social media, sometimes these stories do have happy endings. More importantly, it confirms there is a thing called Karma. It may not always happen, but when it does, and you are on the receiving end, it ain’t pretty.

Are Smart Phones Turning Us Into Dummies?

Sometimes I like to observe human behavior. I find it kind of fun watching what other people do and how they behave. But I am also a bit weird.

One thing I’ve noticed quite recently is that it doesn’t seem to matter what people are doing, travelling on public transport, going to the pub, sitting having a meal or enjoying time with friends, everybody is totally preoccupied with their smartphones.

They’re looking at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, video games, emails, listening to music or just surfing the net. Clearly all of these smartphones, provide endless distraction and entertainment.

But what are these devices doing for human interaction? Because it means people are not talking to each other.

They are not verbally sharing opinions, discussing ideas or having a debate.

They have stopped communicating with human beings and replaced them with a machine.

Here is a question that is too obvious, but I’ll ask it anyway. Is this a good thing? Could it be affecting how we think?

A British neuroscientist called Baroness Susan Greenfield doesn’t think this is a good thing at all. She also says it’s affecting our brains.

Now I am going to add a disclaimer.

I am not endorsing Susan Greenfield or her neuroscience. In fact a number of her peers think she espouses a load of old rubbish. The London Guardian newspaper described a book she wrote as a “poorly researched diatribe.”

But what I do think is that what she is saying is worth a discussion. So let’s have one.

Susan Greenfield says modern technology is changing the wiring in our brains. For example she says a lot of people equate Facebook friends in the same way that they might regard a close friend they have known all of their life.

She says social media gives us opportunities to share, connect and present points of view. But it takes away real human empathy. In fact she says the 21st Century human mindset seems to be characterised by short attention span, sensationalism, and making the mistake of equating information given to us by search engines with real knowledge and wisdom.

Greenfield says the human brain is perfectly designed to adapt to its environment. And because technology creates a vastly changed social environment, it must follow that our brains may also be changing in an unprecedented way.

Here is something that she says that is definitely out there but interesting.

Greenfield argues that young people are developing in a world where relationships are being made and lost online. That means they never get the chance to rehearse important social skills. For example, when people normally meet someone they have in interest in getting to know, they want to talk about themselves, and nature has given us body language cues so that our interactions keep us reasonably safe and secure and we don’t make fools of ourselves, generally speaking.

But words, the primary source of communication in social media networks comprise only ten percent of the impact we have on people when we meet them. As a result, young people are more likely to behave inappropriately and insult each other on line because they don’t have those visual clues as a point of reference. If they tell someone they hate them to their face they are unlikely to repeat it because they can see the offence and the hurt it can cause. But people interacting on social media don’t have that handbrake. I am not saying I agree with this but it’s interesting.

Before we had the internet, a young person who might have been bullied at school had an escape when they went home. But with social media and smartphones the bullying follows you everywhere and can be unrelenting 24/7.

Greenfield claims there is scientific data to show that when young people were deprived of access to smartphones even for just five days their interpersonal skills improved.

Our connectedness to social media means we spend less time thinking and reflecting and more time reacting. She says if young people switched off their devices they would have a stronger sense of personal identity instead of one that is constantly defined by the approval of others.

It doesn’t mean being anti-technology but it does mean acknowledging there is more to life than looking at a smartphone, a tablet or a computer screen.

On that point I agree with her.