Politics & Psychiatry. When To Debate When To Get Therapy by Rick London

        If you have been in a political debate or have seen something political either on facebook (or in real life) of which you disagree, and you think less of that person for posting or saying it, I suggest long-term therapy (and this time I’m not being funny).

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       All of us are much more than our petty political viewpoints….that is just a very tiny part of us. Never ever just become your political point of view, because once you do, you’ve lost yourself in a horrid way. Human beings are of the greatest value. A sign of maturity is differing in POV, yet still thinking highly of the other person as one of God’s children. It doesn’t matter if you are Democrat or Republican. It’s the same disease when we close our minds to opposing points of view. We don’t have to like their point of view.  We don’t even have to come close to agreeing.
It is legal to entertain a new idea, without accepting it.

       Think about how you were from birth to age 5 or so. Politics was not even in the picture.  All the possibilities of this great big mysterious world were abound.  If you grew up, and you left all that to become “your political idealism”, think how very, very sad that is. I’m not saying it is not okay to have a political view; it is in fact healthy.  But just keep it in perspective.  Know that when you post it on facebook or twitter, it truly is for your own entertainment.

 

     It is not going to change anyone’s mind; in fact studies show, it usually has the opposite effect (but admittedly it can be fun, as long as one does not become obsessed with it).

      

Like religion and spirituality, it should be “walked and lived” but when it becomes preached or coerced, it tends to lose its value (or people tend to take us a bit less seriously).

         To occasionally watch network news stations with which you disagree shows true maturity and a need/want to open the mind and learn more. To not do so is to stagnate the mind in a most pitiful way. And I don’t say that out of spite or with glee. I learned that from interviews with nearly 50 nursing home residents in 1996-1997  with my question, “What would you have done differently in your life…if anything?” The answers were solid gold and most were happy to answer.

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         Their answers,were of such value I could never repay even if I tried three lifetimes.  Most would not have wasted time in silly petty political or social issue disagreement.  They simply

 

 

would have walked their own walk; leaving others alone to walk there’s; and not only tolerating an opposite walk, but applauding it.  Now that’s wisdom.

Several said they would have not been coerced or try to coerce others into believing or thinking as they did (in other words walk the walk of “living and let live”) and so much more; enough to loosen the cobwebs to launch LTCartoons.com on March 19, 1997. I can never repay the residents of Hattiesburg Nursing Home, most of them 70+ who taught me life, real life, before it was too late.

          Though my reason for visiting the nursing home, at first, was to visit my beloved grandmother Ruth “Dear” London.  Many of the residents were quite lucid and great conversationalists.  I thought I might volunteer and offer some of my time, and be a good listener.

        Just imagine my surprise when they ended up giving me more than I could have ever given them. 

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Rick London is a freelance writer, author, musician/songwriter, cartoonist, designer and founder of Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons & funny gifts Londons Times.  He is married to popular nature photographer Lee Hiller-London who owns the popular nature photography blog Hike Our Planet.  Together they live in and love the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and are active in animal, green, children, and ecology causes.

 

(Poem) I Had To Block You Today By Rick London

I had to block you today,

You said your politics was the only way.

We’d been friends in real life for countless years and days,

From silly games like hide and seek,

And playing war games in the creek.

Even on facebook, we’d kept our rebellious ways.

I thought about it long and hard,

Why today you looked at me in total disregard.

I always thought you to be a kind kindred soul,

But I was wrong….s’pose that’s part of growing old.

The reason for my actions may come across as silly,

It often does for this Arkansas hillbilly.

But it was very real, almost a texture of granite or stone,

My independence from bullies, now that I’m grown.

Pointed out to me by mentors, friends, and therapists I had known,

“Never Rick, never do you have to cower to them again”,

You’re not in the wrong, the bully is,

It’s such an ugly sin.  

He thinks he’s right he’ll fight and fight,

Everything must come to a head for him.

But that’s simply part of his disease,

To him the world’s quite grim.

November is coming and tempers begin to flair,

Politics no longer confined to the Beltway but traveling in the air.

I made a mention of whom I may favor in the ballot box,

But not to you, I was in a conversation with several delegates,

I did not share it for your approval or distaste,

I didn’t see you there.  But if I had and you’d done that, you’d wish I hadn’t cared.

I shared it because I’m an American, and part of the human race.

To tell me that I am wrong to think and vote as I do,

Is frightening to be honest and true.

Peer pressure is how parties controlled/behaved in Communist Russia…and Nazis to the Jews.

They used peer pressure/bullying tactics so you’d see it their way,

Goebbels hired his media pundits to create “the demon-du-jour” each day.  

Your action was a total disregard of my humanity, soul, and voice.

I know for whom you wish elected,

And if that person is selected,

I’d back him with all the force within my being.

On the other hand if my candidate of choice wins the race,

You said you’ll do what it takes to undermine his life until distress.  

So I bid you farewell old friend, based on your major arrogance that shows,

I love so much being American and the difference that it shows.

I salute you for voting for the man of your choice,

But demanding I vote for him too is to treat me as a little boy.

So misinformed, yet I research well. I don’t need a surrogate father,

But if I did, I’ll tell you this, you’d not be the one I’d care to bother.

I’m not a member of a political party, I vote as an independent every time,

I know by now parties are a sham, and it’s choices are a crime at best.

But do not fear, I am sincere, even if I’ve chosen the loser,

Because of the liberties we so enjoy,

I’ll support your winning candidate and lay politics to rest.

I have so many friends voting same as you,

But their humility and compassion doesn’t tell me what to do.

They take it to the voting booth as that’s where our power needs to be,

To spout it to me on facebook, truly makes you quite a freak.

 

I urge everyone to vote. I don’t care for whom you vote. Please take advantage of this beautiful American system. Look around the world and see how many countries are in the middle of chaos, death and confusion simply trying to set up a voting precinct.  Don’t let that happen in America.  Encourage everyone to vote and if they have problems or don’t understand how, help them learn how. If you have an elderly or disabled neighbor, help them get there or show them how to write in.  Don’t let ANYone intimidate you into thinking you cannot vote. You can and should.  To not vote brings us that much closer to countries like Iran, Syria, etc. Thank you.

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Rick London is a songwriter, author, cartoonist and designer.  He founded LTCartoons in 1997. Londons Times Cartons (LTCartoons.com) has been Google & Bing’s #1 Offbeat Cartoons & funny gifts since 2005.  He is married to nature photographer Lee Hiller-London who has the popular blog Hike Our Planet.

 

Unfriending, Social Media, POTUS & Happiness by Rick London

     One need not be Kreskin or Jean Dixon these days to figure out what is on someone’s mind.  (For those post boomers they were popular psychics in our younger days).

     All one need to do today is take a glance at their social media postings, read their emails, or hang up from talking to them (on one of those rare occasions we use our cell phones rather than email).  You see, (again this is for the youngn’s), we baby boomers have had our share of drama.

     Drama requires talking in person or on the phone so we much prefer email or social media.  Unfriending someone no longer requires drama, creating an army of like-minded friends (aka bullying) to defend one’s decision to terminate a friendship and if they try to rekindle it, the army of friends knocks them back down (double-bullying). I always wondered why folks can’t just unfriend quietly in social media and simply move on.  Nobody else really cares who we like or dislike. 

     Now, with the click of a mouse, we simply unfriend them or even more dramatically block them.  Yowsah. Click click click.  Feel the power, Luke.  (For those of you post-boomers who don’t know who Luke is, well……never mind.)

     So these days, especially this close to November, friends are often made or broken based on which glorified policy wonk aka POTUS aka President gets to live at 1600 Pa. Avenue for the next 4 years (and possibly longer).

     Many expect the rest of us to tow their party line.  Let me get this straight with everyone up front.  I do vote, but I register as an Independent. I choose the candidate, not the party.  Parties ALWAYS let you down, candidates do about 50% of the time.

      Politicians are so far from being my role-models they don’t even show up on the radar screen. And anyone who makes or breaks a relationship based on which politician I think is best for the job, may be a friend, but is a friend in deep need of psychiatric care (and I’m not making a joke here).

     My friends are based on character. They are not “armchair powermongers” who enjoy the “divide and conquer” that their favorite trained politician has shown them.  I like/and love people based on many other factors…..how they feel about themselves and others, their treatment of animals and the planet, their generosity (and this need not be financial but in sharing their personality/gifts etc., their sense of humor/or their appreciation of humor, and so many other factors).  Their political preference is so far down the stream, I don’t really even care.

      Even in today’s (somewhat dysfunctional)…ok very dysfunctional world, there are many reasons to be happy and/or grateful.  Some are so basic we almost miss them.  We awaken yet another day.  That means we still have a reason to be here on the planet.  It may not have been revealed (to us yet) but it is there, and usually others discover it before we do.

      Sometimes we have our health. I will admit, my health is not optimal but it is well above what it should be. In fact, given medical science, I should have died numerous times.  At first, that made me bitter.  Later I learned it was “what it took” for me to truly look within, and I became a vegan and started hiking the mountains with my beloved wife Lee Hiller-London.

     Not everyone has to become a vegan and hike mountains with the one they love to be happy.  The trick is simply to learn from one’s errors, and attempt to correct them. Do a little better than yesterday.            If you ate a Big Mac yesterday, don’t eat one today. If you didn’t exercise yesterday, walk a block today.  I changed my lifestyle very gradually…I didn’t stop eating milk, fish, meat, eggs, etc all in one day and begin leaping buildings like Superman.  It took almost two years, a lot of reading, a lot of patience from Lee who was already well on her way to a healthier lifestyle, and the willingness to give it a try. I didn’t know if it would work. I only knew that the way I had been living didn’t work. And a little over a year past those changes, I am just beginning to learn about life and treasure it as it should be treasured.  I am but a newbie and can tell I will be for a very long time.

    My happiness (or lack thereof) was the same under the administrations of JFK, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, both Bush’s, Clinton and Obama.  Presidents had absolutely nothing to do with my mood (though it was so convenient and easy to project any of my own problems using their own shortcomings; and each has had many, but each have done much good as well).  America, with all its issues has continued to exist and thrive throughout many diverse administrations.  I believe that has much more to do with the people of America, their faith in America, and their reverence to the U.S. Constitution; not any one person living at a nice address on Pa. Ave.

      So today, simply make the decision to be happy.  Do one little thing that is better for you than you did the day before.  Journal it.  The next day do another.  You may slide backward some days. I know I do.  But keep trying.  Don’t blame me. Don’t blame an enemy. Don’t blame the President or a candidate you don’t like.  All that will simply delay your road to happiness. Joy is within you. Not 2000+ miles away in Washington, D.C.  I believe I am on the right path to be happy. I can’t guarantee it, but it feels right to me.  One thing I know for sure, though (based on experience). 

      That is, spending one’s time on social media to teach them what to think, feel, believe, how to vote, etc etc etc. is a sure way to emptiness and unhappiness, and I’d bet the farm on that.

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and designer.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons aka LTCartoons.com which has been Google & Bing #1 ranked offbeat cartoons & funny gifts since 2005.  He is married to nature and wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London. They live in their beloved Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas where they spend a great deal of time outdoors and hiking. They are active in animal, children and green causes.

Deleting Haters From One’s Group Is Not Always Easy, But Always Necessary

     I live a simple life.  It is what I would call a good life.  I’m not extremely wealthy; nor do I live in a mansion, but I live in a beautiful part of the world, with the woman whom I love, Lee Hiller-London.     

      I have a few digital design, computer, and marketing skills, which makes it easy for me to choose a place I want to live.  Thanks to the Internet combined with those basic skills, I can fairly easily make a living from my living room as can Lee after developing her photos from her hike.  She knows the importance of me hiking several times a week with her as I bring along with my one of my professors told me to call “my genius pad”. Nature has a way of bringing out the genius in the most mundane of all of us.  I remember telling him, “But I’m not a genius. What is the use of carrying the pad? “He responded, “You will be when you jot down the fleeting idea on paper that 99.9% continue to let fleet until they forget it by the time they got home.

     This theory has proven itself over and over again; no I don’t consider myself a genius by any means but I clearly see why the brightest of the bright keep a pen and pad always within reach wherever they are.  

     This week was a very bad week.  No, it wasn’t because I forgot my “genius pad” or couldn’t think up anything funny that would make it as a cartoon, it was people. Personality conflict. 

     I will start with facebook “friend #1. Let’s just call him FBF#1 for now. I rarely talk to him, but I always got along with him growing up. He seemed friendly and occasionally visited one of my more popular facebook groups about growing up southern.   I occasionally like to kid around; just to see if people are awake and paying attention. I found an old movie marquee with Dorothy, Toto and one of the flying monkey-monsters and said, “You guys want believe this but I just discovered a new film on Netflix called “Wizard Of Oz”. It has cool special effects, flying monkeys, a wizard who speaks from behind a curtain, a tornado scene and all kinds of cool stuff. I think it’s going to be a hit.  Most of my friends had this or that funny sarcastic thing to say except for one. 

     FBF#1 was someone I’d known in real life, but not that well…fortunately.  He added, “Oh, and look at the monkey. It looks just like Obama and I didn’t know he was acting too”. 

     I didn’t take the post down immediately nor did I take his racial slur down. He is allegedly a respected man around my hometown, and I wanted people to see who he really was. 

     A few days later he sent me a private message telling me I was so wrong that…ready…..”Some of his best friends are black” (I kid you not); do people still fall for that old faux line?  Worse yet, do people still use it? I guess so. But it gets better.  When the event happened, his icon photo was that of a bright red Indianapolis 500 racecar.  When he wrote me the private message to basically “go straight to hell” (not his exact working but I got the picture”, he had taken off the Indie 500 racecar and found a picture of himself in an office with a black man’s arm around him.  Big buds.  So, within 48 hours, he was able to find that photo to prove his point (thinking I didn’t remember what he had up) and change it to prove me a liar. 

    Sadly, he is not savvy in the least about facebook and bullying. He is more so now.  I not only took a screenshot of what he actually said, and what I actually said, and kept one copy and sent one copy to facebook security.  They are now monitoring his every move. Last I saw he started a group exactly like mine (so he is as original as he is IQ-challenged). I hope he gets 5 times the membership I have. Then he’ll get to have to play arbitrator and see what it’s like when a conflict occurs. And there will be many in his group. He offers no rules or terms of service.  If he goes with what his philosophy is, racism is okay, as long as it is comparing a U.S. President he doesn’t like to a monkey.  He’s in for the time of his life.

     He told me in his private facebook mail to me that I called him a racist, bigot etc.  Problem is I have the actual screenshot which is considered CYBER-DNA proof; and he is lying; so he’s probably lying to others as well.  Good thing he is nobody of any significance. I get the feeling the people who run in his circle would be better off thinking I’m a liar and no good SOB.  All is better that way. They stay out of my way and I stay out of theirs.  But if it ever came to a head. Facebook security thanked me the screenshot; and if he ever causes trouble with it, he’s up against them, not me.  Good luck big bad guy.                            

    More irony is, I couldn’t care less if he doesn’t like Obama.  He can even say so I a tactful way but not attack the candidate as that is not allowed in our group. The same is true of Romney. No personal attacks against people period, politicians or not.  It has worked very well for me. With over 900 members, we’ve only had to ask 7 to leave in a year’s time.

    So I finally caught my breath and that was over.  We live in volatile sensitive times and I realize some people are ill (compulsion is an illness) and they cannot help themselves when posting such filth. I compare it to pornography and in many ways it is. The reaction of the creator of it is meant to do the same thing.  And I don’t allow pornographers in my tweet stream.

     As if that incident was not enough to raise my blood pressure (remember we are trying to keep it down); after 2 major heart attacks and my only arteries working on stents, that kind of behavior especially cannot be tolerated.  In fact, my cardiologist says block it immediately.  Do not get caught up in others neurosis, sociopathic, or psychotic behavior.

     Then two days later I was blind-sided by another one. This time it was a librarian friend from many years ago; about 20 years to be precise.  I welcomed her to facebook when I saw she’d just shown up and invited her to my Southern Group. I then left and went about my business of designing or promoting as I often do. 

      I usually check in every hour or so but something told me to do so earlier.  People were posting their favorite childhood shows as we often do, but there was one problem.  This university educated librarian who has worked with children for years, listed her very favorite as “Amos And Andy”.  Though I understood the post, I did not understand the “no follow up. Let me explain.

     Most of u were about three years old when that show was produced, and most of us found it funny. Of course we did not have a clue what “black face” meant; and that the show was specifically created to use white men and woman to depict African-American men and women to make them seem to have a lower IQ.  

    So she could have easily said, (and felt like I did); when I was 3 I loved Amos And Andy, but of course I was too young and immature to understand that the producers were utilizing the media to further their agenda of insidious (close to Machiavellian racism), and if I had known better at the time, chances are very slim I would have watched it.  I can surely understand why it was taken off the air and removed from syndication and most if not all the law suits against it were lost (by the producers of the show).

     The librarian didn’t understand I was trying to help her I did not say a word in public. I took it private; to her facebook message box.  So she would know I had no intention of embarrassing her but I had to let her know the rules (TOS) which she’d not read.  Of course she really wouldn’t have had to read the rules to know if that was right or wrong.  She’d been to college and worked with kids for several decades. 

     Her answer was, “Then Rick, you might as well fight to keep people from talking about the Bill Cosby Show, Fat Albert, Sanford & Son.  She really didn’t get it.  She thought I was giving her a hard time and that my beef was with childhood favorites that had black characters. 

     My problem was with white racists who produced the shows in a manner that made them funny, hard to hate (the characters were likeable); I l enjoyed the whole cast of Amos And Andy, but I was 3 years old for goodness sake. I am 57 now and the librarian is nearly that age.  Does she think the same now as she did when she was 3? I so, of course therapy is in order and soon.  

      I am not the man I was even ten years ago, and hope I never go back to who he was; he had a few good qualities but he did not live up to the ideals I had set for myself.  And I sure as hell hope that ten years from now, I am still the man I am today.  If I haven’t changed, someone just take me and stick needles in my eyes.  I like a lot of my qualities.  But I am not even close to the type of man I hope I am becoming. 

      But I must have learned and made some positive changes since I was three.  For instance, I know without a doubt, that Amos And Andy (and any black face show) was created for a dual purpose. One was to entertain (and it often did that quite well) and the other was to subtly keep us in a vicious cycle of hating a race of good people, without even knowing why; to think we were better than them, again,   for not even knowing why. 

      My hopes were to give the librarian another chance.  I knew her to be a better person than what she was presenting herself to be.  I’ve worked in major network TV. I know exactly how those slants and spins are done with “agenda shows” and though black face is no longer used, socio-political issues that were barely mentioned a decade ago; are so today. And sometimes that is a good thing. If it gets a message across such as explaining the U.S. Constitution in easy terms, I’m all for it.  Some have a very hard time with it and get it mixed up with their early Sunday School teachings.

     Sometimes the two parallel, and sometimes they are diametrically opposed. Our personal religions and faiths are for us, not for the world.  And the USA is loaded with persons of all kinds of faiths (and many with no faiths at all).  Everyone in this great country deserves equal rights, no matter what they believe, or not (believe).  That is the main item on the “menu” of the U.S. Constitution that makes it so much different than the Constitutions of so many other countries. There are websites now in which you can read the Constitutions of the world; in fact; type in “Constitutions of the world” into Google and it may surprise you to see how very much all our Constitutions are; except for a few little subtleties which make America great.  That one about equal rights for all is one of “the biggies” and unless it flies; we might as well be living in Syria or the former Iraq or Libya.  I wish I were kidding, but any scholarly sociologist or other expert can easily back me up on it.

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons in 1997 in an abandoned tin Ms. warehouse. It has been Google’s #1 offbeat Cartoon since 2005 and Bing’s #1 since 2008.  They both also have his funny gifts ranked at #1.  He is married to his love and best friend, nature photographer Lee Hiller London.  who runs the very popular blog HikeOurPlanet.com.  Both enjoy hiking and photographic their beloved Ouachita Mountains at Hot Springs National Park.

 

Abuse On facebook Happened To Me…And It Can Happen To You Too. Here’s Something That Works

       My wife Lee both have been on social media for about four years.  And though it seems (to many) we are “facebook addicts”, we utilize Twitter much more often. Facebook is often “more fun” because we get to find old friends and/or relatives of whom we may have never been in contact again.  Twitter is fun because we meet so many new people; and keep constant contact with new friends made for years.

      Between the two of us, we have close to 70,000 followers on Twitter and perhaps 3000+ on facebook (given our personal pages, fan pages and groups). Though I can honestly say more than 99% of our cyberfriends are very well behaved, or ambivalent as to our activities and rarely comment, the remaining 1% are the loudest, the crudest, and cruelest. They live to hurt.  Sometimes they succeed, and if we can help it, sometimes they don’t.   Early on we met some of the “usual suspects” that is the “Internet crazies” about which most of us have been warned. At first, we hadn’t a clue how to handle them (people with no healthy boundaries, bullies, crooks, life coaches (I know, I know crooks and life coaches is redundant),  plagiarists and others irritating characters.  We’ve read informative articles on how to avoid them, not get baited into their cyberfights (which is where they feel they get their “power” and delete them, and I’d taken classes when I went back to college a decade ago which gave some useful instruction.

    Finally, we got it right, or so we thought, by simply blocking rapidly. That often remedied much of it, but not all of it.  Bullies are rarely lone-wolf renegades.  They are, for the most part cowards, and “travel in packs”.  They may not even know each other or associate in real life, but they are there covering each others backs, in case people like us decide to fight back (they quickly become “the victims”).  It never fails.   When blocked, especially if it is someone you have once known (and liked) many years ago, feelings can be hurt. We feel  “lighter and more free”, however when we take action immediately.  Nobody has the right on your facebook page to dictate to you what you should write, what you should think, how you should act,  how to feel, how to vote, what to believe, etc. That’s not just bad manners. The person doing it has a serious compulsive illness and truly needs professional help.   For goodness sake, we are in our fifties.  Do we really need that from people who think “we haven’t seen and/or heard all that before”.  As Eric Clapton once sang, “Don’t Show Me Anything New, I’ve Seen It All Before”.  And though I agree with the spirit of that song; of course there are elements of life I don’t know, and I’m learning every day.

    But when anything is force fed to me in the way of “useful information” or someone is bullying me into “how to think”, they are a part of the history, a negative memory in my life; but  not totally negative, because even with the very worse, I’ve learned “But for the grace of God, there go I”.

     Several weeks ago I was bullied on my personal facebook page by (at first) one person I’d met on facebook who, it turned out had forged a friendship and suddenly was “a best friend” in a regional shared memory facebook group.   I didn’t notice the bullying at first. The victim of bullying usually does not notice at first, since it may be a rarity in his/her life or maybe one is bullied often and it becomes “the norm” hence unnoticable.     I have about 6 groups on facebook.  This particular group is a popular (and is modeled as a safe one given its strict TOS regarding fair behavior)  of which I founded and am administrator and personal attacks are not allowed.  Nor is using the group to “meet dates” and following them to their pages (unless that is clearly acknowledged by mutual consent)  etc.  In other words, “Insane Cruelness Is Not Allowed Within The Group Nor Any Other Form Of Trickery”.  Or the member is gone, deleted permanently.

    One month after founding it came the complaints, all from women, most of whom I knew and had known for a lifetime, and they came fast and furious at times. And I’ve known them to be honest and non-rumor spreaders. Their theory was he was using the group to meet women and hit on them; and “taking over their personal pages”. The actions of the main bully was not innocent or benign. There was a common thread in the complaints that he took over their pages and in some cases made sexual innuendos.  They were not aware of how to report it; a few were but didn’t think it would help; so they’ve all blocked him, but…they quit coming to my group because he (and his gang) were in it, and my hands were tied as to how to kick him out.  He was well behaved….there in my group. His sociopathic behavior was uncanny and consistent. Jeckyl in my group, Hyde on women’s personal pages (often ones he’d met in the group).

     After this well-behaved in the group lead bully did his dirty deed on my personal facebook page, trying to dictate to me what to post and what not to; I simply blocked him. But I knew I’d be unable to see what he was writing in the group.  Thank God for friends. At least 4 of them had copy and pasted his vitriol against me he’d posted in the group and sent it to me. It was full of vitriol and personal attacks and finally he’d melted down in the group (along with a few of his “male groupies” and I was able to delete him and his band of thugs from the group permanently.

    Within two weeks we had 100 new members; about 70% women. My only theory is that my group had developed such a bad reputation due to his (and his buddies behavior) they were frightened to join). Now they are in full force and posting nonstop.  It is more successful than ever with the troublemakers gone.  Funny how that works.

     The culprit had hit on the ones complaining to me, and they told me they didn’t know if I was endorsing his behavior or not; but seemed like I was because he seemed to be “my best online friend” in the group where he was a perfect gentleman; very crafty.  I couldn’t remove him because he was breaking no rules in the group; only using the group to meet the women and harass them on their own personal pages (as was his male groupie following).

     It confused my old female friends though, as that is not my modus operandi  to even come close to that kind of behavior.  First, I am happily married and don’t hit on women, married or single.  Second I don’t associate in real life with men (or women) who don’t respect the sanctity of marriage.   I am not a moralist and don’t in any way believe I am “better than them”. If they want to do that, that is their business.  But I simply don’t want nothing to do with it. Even a simple life can be complicated. Why add to it with people who don’t have your best interest in mind?  I don’t like to be a secret-keeper. I don’t like to hide other’s secrets. I don’t trust people who have those kinds of secrets.  And I’m usually correct.  

     One of the women revealed to me that a mutual friend had started another southern regional group on facebook over a year ago similar to mine, and allegedly, according to several members, the same culprit took it over and bullied and intimidated them so terribly, she shut it down.  My method (in my group) of now nearly 1000 happy people,  is block and block more if need be as his “gang buddies” kept showing up asking for a reprieve. My job as group administrator is to uphold the rules, not allow personal attacks or provocative political/or religious attacks and watch for the safety of the group. I demand that of myself (and so does facebook).

   Then as facebook requests, I report the abuse here and facebook does listen and monitors them carefully after that. And they highly suggest you do too when you see it. It doesn’t have to be in a group. It can be on your own page. And it doesn’t have to be sexual or even hate speech. It can be someone dictating to you what you should or should not be posting. Yes, that is real bullying, pure and simple.  And facebook does not like them hanging around, at all. This includes everything from harassment, bullying, hate speech, cyber-stalking (or taking over your group or personal facebook page) and a myriad of other no no’s of which facebook very much frowns upon.

     Then came the Trayvon Martin case.  Even though most of my personal page is generic and is more humorous than anything else, I tend to post important news events.  I felt that one was important because I discovered that, like in Iran, Syria, former Libya and Iraq, a minority had been killed, and the state “let it go”. Case closed.  Wasn’t that one of the main reasons we were sending all our young people to those countries to be in harm’s way to teach them that is not the way justice is done?

     I had no opinion over if George Zimmerman was and is guilty (even though my instincts tell me he is). That part was and is not important. What is important that we are better than the countries of which we are at war. And the way we prove that is with civil legal cases; especially in the realm of murder and other serious felonies. Not just a case closed on the state’s opinion.

    The man in my group came to my personal page where I was posting (I didn’t post it in my group as I would have been breaking my own rules; nothing of that nature is posted nor are personal attacks, etc).  He began telling me I was siding with the Black Panthers, Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson. 

     At first I felt sad, because I so hoped they wouldn’t jump in and exploit such a situation as they often do; just as I did  that an armed neo-nazi group had also convened upon Sanford, Fl.  “to protect the citizens and make sure justice was served”.  Regarding Jackson and Sharpton. It’s rare that I agree with them, but I have to admit that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

     All of those clowns understand that their very presence impedes justice because they just cost the city that much more in taxes and overtime to TRULY protect the people from the exploiters (and protect the exploiters from themselves). It gets very expensive when such groups enter town to further their agenda (and see their mugs on tv) and very much slows the wheels of justice. Good, they’ve left and justice is beginning to be served.

     Then came a “group of facebook thugs” that I discovered were part of “the main bully’s camp”. They are all gone from my page and blocked from the group as well.  The final straw is when one of them requested I post more humor; maybe something like “When Eric Clapton’s baby fell from the high-rise to his death”.  Of course he was blocked immediately but I decided to leave the post up on my personal page, since he apparently had a reputation as being an “upfront guy” in my region of the south; and I wanted them to see who he really was. I will leave it up forever.  Bullying I can handle.  Cruel “humor”  involving the loss of a grieving family member is mental cruelty.

    So, within a week or so of drama, it finally ended to my knowledge, though who knows.  Usually when people are that emotionally ill; they will hold onto a resentment for a lifetime.  So I did what I was told to do by former college professors. I cut and paste everything and sent it to facebook security who will now be watching these bullies at every move.  I wish them luck.

    I explained to a close relative who is also a friend on facebook what had happened who responded, “It is your Constitutional right to post what you wish, but I really wouldn’t do it on facebook”.  I looked at my relative’s  page and there was a “Sign A Petition For Trayvon” on it. I took a screenshot in case the relative had no awareness of the bullying; or that the said relative may be sucked into the group. After all, after I deleted one of the bullies from the group, I noticed he had friended my relative just 2 days later.

     He had known my relative all his life and known my relative was on facebook for years.  So I knew he did not “friend” my relative for a simple “hello”. He had more of a Machaevillian scheme in mind.   Someone else had tagged my relative and put the Trayvon petition there.  But he never removed it as he was not even aware it was there until I finally told him.  I didn’t know.  I thought by age 50 perhaps this relative had come to his senses, and in spite of the status quo of the geographic area, the relative had come to the conclusion that all races deserved equal rights.  In other words he finally felt mature enough to speak his heart, and not continue to appease his peers as if in grade school.  It was not to be. The relative deleted the post as soon as I pointed it out; never thanking me for pointing it out to him. I was still “the bad guy” for posting an injustice regarding a minority on my own facebook page (the same post he had on his, but claimed not to know about it).  Hmmm.   There is some interesting irony for being chastised in an email; only for the emailer to find they are heralding the same message on their page.  

      I understand why the relative suggested to me that even though I had the right to say what I wished on my page, I should not.  Where my relative lives, his livelihood depends on it, as everything must think a certain way. We live in different worlds. Where I live, diversity is not only tolerated but celebrated.  A person who lives in such a world, would never understand this kind of freedom; the kind of freedom our founding fathers fought so hard for all of us to appreciate and experience. Had he been a real leader, a real patriot, the correct answer would have been, “Rick, though I may not agree with you but I will always respect that you’ve spoken your mind on YOUR facebook page on an issue that is important to you. I wish I had those kinds of guts. I don’t.”

     This relative lives in a culture where thinking for oneself is more or less a crime.  The correct adult brave non-cowardly response to me would have been, “Though I don’t agree with you on what you have posted about the Trayvon case, I salute you for being brave enough to speak your mind.  This is a free country and it is what makes us different than say, the former Soviet Union or Iraq. Thank God you have the thinking ability to go against the grain if need be. To speak your mind when you feel something is right even if you know you know it could result in conflict. And though I disagree, I will agree with you regarding why this case *had* to make it to court.  Otherwise we really have no business fighting and educating other countries on the beauty of democracy.”  He didn’t quite say those words, just more like “Don’t let it happen again..it could affect me hence my business”.

     Instead, his response was predictable.  That of the coward who is stuck in a situation of thinking he’ll never get to live a real life. Never get to speak what’s in his heart.  That he will have to die bitter knowing he will have to tow the line of his peers or perish.  The great irony is none of that is true but the opposite. Yes it is scary  to walk away from the status quo for a few days. But once one has found one’s independence there is no turning back.  It’s why our founding fathers fought as hard as they did (they were fighting against bullies dictating to them how to think, believe, live and act by incorporating a very fundamental religion in to government (Church Of England).  Our founding fathers ran for their lives and they made it. 

    My group has Republicans, Tea Partiers, Democrats, Independents, gays, straights, Christians, Jews, Muslems, whites, African-Americans, Asians,  atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, several Wiccans and pagans, and just about every other person with philosophy and belief system imaginable.  We’ve only had to ask 5 people to leave the group in a year for breaking the rules.  We don’t ask people their beliefs, race, politics etc. when they enter. It’s not important.  We never ask anyone their philosophy, beliefs, religion, politics or any other personal part of their lives.  If they wish to share it, its up to them; and that’s the only way we know we have such a mix.  Otherwise we’d never know and that would be just find with me. As long as they follow the rules, their “accidents of birth” are a moot point. Nobody can help what they were born.  And this group is a very safe place for anyone

    The group is to post shared memories and/or photos of  birth hometown or other parts of the south and the group is a safe harbor where they know they are not going to get attacked, or if they are, the attacker will be gone within a day.  And it works. At least 10-20 people post daily and close to 50-100 drop by to see what is going on (even if they do not post). And they live everywhere from California to Norway and anywhere in between. They are not all southerners, but people interested in southern culture.  So in our group the get to see the best of the best;  the sharing of memories with no political or racial overtones; and occasionally the worse.  And they know when they see the worst, they will be deleted from the group as rapidly as possible.  And they write me emails and send private messages how much they appreciate that.

    I heard one friend tell me her facebook page is like her living room. She is happily married.  She said can post whatever she damned well pleases, and others may too as long as they are not hateful, racist, sexist, etc.  or they simply get blocked.  And she was one of the ones who was sexually harassed by the main bully in this story.  She (and several others) felt they were also definitely cyber-stalked by him.  Whatever page they were on, he showed up immediately after to make a comment under hers.  That is cyberstalking.  If that has happened to you, it needs to be reported.  No matter who the person doing it is, what their station in life is now or has been, it has to be reported.  facebook strongly suggests it because if you don’t, they will do it again and again. It is an illness, not just bad manners.

    Our founding fathers fought very very hard so that we the people could think for ourselves and write and express ourselves as we please as long as we do not harm others.  Our personal facebook pages are a perfect example of that freedom. If we only use them to post what we think others want to see posted so they will  “like us”, we’ve missed the mark.  We post whatever we please, and if someone does not like it, they do not have a right to dictate to us what is and isn’t right to post.  In fact our founding fathers would frown considerably at an action like that.

    Do we really want to let our Founding Fathers down?    No bully EVER is going to talk me into letting them down. There’s another term for it.  Don’t tread on me.  And if I may humbly speak for my group, “Don’t tread on us”. 

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 Rick London is a freelance writer and fascinated with social media.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons in a tin shed in rural Ms in 1997 which has become Google & Bing’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons & funny gifts.  He also founded numerous shops featuring his licensed images such as Planet Hoodie which features his funny hoodies.  He is married to nature photographer Lee Hiller-London who founded Hike Our Planet blog in 2009. They are both avid hikers and nature loves and hike the beautiful Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas regularly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

Quote Theft On Twitter & facebook by Rick London

There is a new kind of plagiarism that is sweeping the Internet by storm.  Quote theft.  Taking a famous, or not-so-famous quote about love, philosophy, inspiration, motivation etc. and leaving off the original author of the quote, or changing the wording just a bit, calling it ones own and posting it into social media or into one’s blog is intellectual property theft.

Before leaving old England, our founding fathers (and mothers) were sick and tired, not of just of losing rights to tangible property, but also to non-tangible property such as their writings, often including quotes they had written, and being credited to someone with more power.  They keenly understood that creating such quotes and writings is real work, no different than plumbing, medicine, law, or any other profession.  The word or art that was created was their property, no different than land that we purchase and have ownership rights. If someone came along and partitioned off a section of our property, we would not stand for it, most likely.  Hopefully if we see one of our creations, whether it be words or art, copied, but without our name, we would speak up.

When I first started in cartooning, this happened to the point to where I couldn’t handle it myself and had to call in an attorney to warn those posting my works without my credit. It was not that I was that great, and everyone had to have my work and take credit, it was that they were that bad, and couldn’t come up with something on their own.  I’m not feigning modesty…and its not that I’m that great now, I am, in my mind, presentable, and people enjoy my work. When I look back to much of the work that we created at the start fourteen years ago, I cringe at much of it.

I enjoy writing quotes. Mine are often humorous quotes (or at least that is my intention), and nothing like “the masters” such as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, etc.  A day doesn’t go by that I don’t see this type of theft conducted on both facebook and Twitter; often by otherwise “respectable” sometimes even household names.

The first time it happened to me by one of the big dogs; my wife Lee Hiller-London found it in a high profile well-respected online tech magazine.  They offer blogs to their “reporters”. One of their bloggers lifted one of our early cartoons, removed the text and credits, typed his own and posted. The only problem was he forgot to remove the tag; and we found it on Google under his name at his blog. That tech magazine is owned by one of the three major TV networks.  I immediately shot off an email to their legal department and even though they removed it the same day, it was not before it was picked up by hundreds of other blogs.  Normally I would not get so shaken, stirred but never shaken, but the author, who had to be “on something” not only removed all our credits, but added credits in his article adjacent to the tampered cartoon.  He used our good name to attack a major corporation with which he apparently had “a beef”.

Other than lack of creativity and/or motivation, there is another perfect reason not to conduct this type of activity.  There is a new breed of lawyer that “hangs out” at Twitter and facebook looking for this very thing.    Early on, I explained this to my facebook and Twitter friends and many of them took my advice.  Many others kept doing it, and yet others continued to take well-known quotes; change a few words, and take credit; just as repulsive.

After fighting with the large TV network and their tech magazine to get my altered cartoon removed, I decided not to spend a lot of time and energy on instructing other adults how to prevent making a big mess.   Lee advised me to “Not clean up other adult’s messes, even if they are friends”.  That is hard because I was taught “that’s what friends are for”, but she’s right; you can instruct a friend, and hope they heed the advice, but if they don’t it is only enabling if trying to go in to clean up the mess.  I rely on friends who know more than me to counsel me as well on all types of topics.  Most of it is common sense behavior, “Do unto others…” etc.  But some has shades of gray and I often need advice and ask for it from others who have trail blazed before me; and I’m grateful that often they do so.  When I mess up, and I do, it is not intentional (I’d be perfect if I thought that could ever be possible); but the best I can do is try to mess up less today than yesterday; and that is more than just a lofty goal for anyone I think.

Last night, I  was reading my stream on facebook.  Suddenly I had a very sick feeling in my stomach.  I saw a quote by the great philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (slightly altered) and posted by a relative of mine flow down the facebook stream. Kierkegaard’s name was not attached to the quote.

My initial feeling was to send a private message to my dear relative and explain the importance of “not shoplifting quotes”.  But I decided on Lee’s counsel who gave me the same common sense approach that applies to friends. “You can’t clean up other adult’s messes”. I rebelled a little with a response, “But this relative is young, in college, and may not know better. Maybe some of her professors are doing it, and do know better but don’t care”.  (I hope readers are getting my point here; it’s not just a mean thing to do, it is Unconstitutional and anti-everything for which our founding fathers (and mothers) stood.

So I turned off the computer, and faded into an uneasy sleep; knowing that, no matter how much I love a friend or relative,  it is my responsibility to understand the important boundary that they are adults too (even if some young adults). I can’t modify or change a behavior in anyone but myself (and as I mentioned, in case you didn’t notice, I am far from perfect).

The best I can do is write blogs like this and hope that the ones I love, and even the ones I may not love so much “get it”.

Addendum:  My wife Lee writes gorgeous quotes about life, wisdom, the universe, love and much more.  She has a wonderful coffee table photography book “The Nature Of Love” at Amazon, B & N, etc featuring many of her early “love quote” muses to me and nature photos.  We can’t even count the times people have lifted her quotes; changed a few words, and posted them on facebook or Twitter (or both) giving themselves credit.  The oddest thing of all is, this has happened more often with “so called” friends with whom we’ve both chatted, not complete strangers. We still are at a loss how to handle that one but if anyone has any ideas,  please advise.  It is a hideous thing to look up and see your own quote slightly altered, going down your social media stream.  For those who don’t understand, writing such quotes (along with her photography and product design) is her work.  People who do this are stealing her work even if only one word is altered and removing her name on the credits.

 

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Rick London is a freelance writer, designer and cartoonist.  He and his wife Lee Hiller-London are active in animal and environmental causes.  He founded Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons “Londons Times” and numerous stores featuring over a quarter of a million funny gifts bearing his cartoon images.