A Sissy Society of Social Sneerers

Recently, a friend who owns a business hereabouts reported the following to me. After responding to an anonymous internet inquiry describing an automotive problem accompanied by a request on the scope and cost of the repair, my friend and the now identified owner reached an agreement that the vehicle would be brought to the shop and duly examined with a repair estimate to follow. Lo and behold, the vehicle was found to be in a state of long neglect and in need of serious work to make it safe to operate. But before turning a screw or loosening a bolt, my friend then called the owner and conveyed the bad news that the cost would be in the multiple dollar signs (ouch!) and asked the owner their pleasure. After the standard hemming and hawing that any of us would engage in, the owner apparently decided that their forthcoming stimulus check would come close to covering the work and reluctantly gave the green light for the repairs to go forward.

We all hate those unexpected repair bills and even if we possess the foresight to set aside a budget for such things, who wants to break it out for car repairs? It’s like having to cough up four large on a root canal and crown after biting into that delicious, gooey, chocolate caramel turtle with cashews. Wouldn’t we rather lavish the money on ourselves with purchases of other foolish stuff that will eventually break and need costly repairs as well? Admit it, you know you would. But some days you’re the windshield wiper and other days you’re the bug, so shell it out we must.

All well and good so far. The vehicle was under repair and would be back on the road soon. However, my friend, who spends way too much time on the internet than is advised, noticed the appearance of a mewling, indignant, self-righteous screed on the not-so-social media denouncing the rip-off grade cost of local car repair shops (none named of course) and pleading for support in this injustice from the cyber-mob. Of course the cyber-mob responded immediately with an angry array of similar gripes, grumbles and denouncements which apparently made the poster feel validated and supported in a safe environment. It will not surprise that the poster was none other than the owner of the vehicle currently on my friends hydraulic lift. After reading this post, my friend, who has undergone years of anger-management training, took a deep breath, completed the repairs as requested and then called the owner. The ensuing conversation was a contemporary example of meaningful dialogue between two stakeholders resulting in understanding, consensus and commitment to a path forward. Actually, the owner / poster was awash in guilt-ridden anxiety when confronted by their perfidy and unable to muster much of a defense for the whinny whimpering that was posted. My friend, being an honest and righteous business owner, did not tell the vehicle owner where they could insert the post or the vehicle for that matter, but simply sighed and released the vehicle after accepting payment in Bitcoin. End of story, sort of.

Have you noticed that social media has reduced human interaction to a level resembling (I will date myself now) to that once found in Junior High School? We all recall the passing of nasty notes about that certain someone, spitting out cutting remarks behind their backs, seeking support and solace from other ill-intended gossips, rallying the mob, and the lapping up of passive-aggressive pettiness like mothers milk – sorry mom. The back door back-stab is generally employed by those hoping to avoid a retaliatory punch to the jaw, and flipping the cyber bird is merely the latest version of this old saw on steroids. Humans being human, it should not surprise that what was initially purported to be a new way of building social good and universal understanding has precipitously devolved into viper pit of vicious, vituperative hog wash, my friends experience just being one of millions. This bold new leap into the future has set humanity back decades, and I’m not so sure we will make a timely return.

All right, I’m done here. I’ve had my say and you must get on with your day. In closing, please note that any pronouns in this screed were scrupulously scrubbed by your scribe to protect the identities of the righteously innocent and the villainously guilty. It is my hope that I got rid of them all and that my friend will knock a few bucks off of my next oil change in appreciation. In addition, your affiant recognizes the sublime irony and his own hypocrisy (and hopes you did not) in writing a post condemning social media by the means of social media. Doublespeak is all the rage today, and I just couldn’t resist.

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