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Eric Douglas: Goats, trolls and pigs -- the online world

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A couple weeks ago, I wrote about listening to people that you disagree with.

I got some feedback on that one, and, surprisingly, it was all positive. I was sure I would get called a “commie” or a “complete moron” or something like that with declarations that “you can’t even pretend to listen to people who think XXXX.” The XXXX representing whatever side of any argument you disagree with.

Talking to a friend of mine a few days ago, he mentioned the column to say he agreed with me. He went on to say the thing that bothered him the most – or maybe I should say put him off – was the way conversations turn to ridicule and name calling so quickly.

It’s now an automatic that instead of presenting a counter-argument, people will immediately start attacking the people they disagree with. Let’s be straight – if your only response to an argument is to call the other person a name, you don’t have an argument and you aren’t nearly as smart as you think you are.

Which brings me to the concept of internet trolls. These are people who do nothing but spread venom online everywhere they go.

The idea of being a troll never used to be a good thing. They were terrible monsters who hid under bridges and attacked unsuspecting goats. Now, there is an entire group of people who think being a troll is cool.

Did you know there are men who have re-edited movies like “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” to remove any instance of people of color being in command or of women giving orders? That includes Princess Leia.

Let’s be honest — how sad does your life have to be to even think about something like that?

It would be easy, and oversimplified, to try to point a finger at one reason or another that people feel so free to belittle and berate each other online about even the most mundane topics.

Scroll through YouTube to look at music videos. Someone will comment how much they love some song. Inevitably, there will be a response that talks about how much of an idiot that person is and that the song is garbage.

Whatever happened to “If you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything at all”?

Quite likely the same thing that happened to “Do unto others …”

My first rule for any online interactions is “Don’t read the comments.” On anything. It’s never pretty, or enlightening. Except maybe about how many people need to turn off their computers, get outside and get some fresh air.

A great quote by George Bernard Shaw sums it up: “Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

Eric Douglas, of Pinch, is the author of “Return to Cayman,” “Heart of the Maya,” “Cayman Cowboys,” “River Town” and other novels. He is also a columnist for Scuba Diving Magazine and a former Charleston Newspapers Metro staff writer. For more information, visit or contact him at

Funerals for Saturday, August 24, 2019

Barron, Dennis - 11 a.m., Airborne Church, Martinsburg.
Baylor, Elizabeth - 1 p.m., Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.
Bonds Jr., Patrick - 1 p.m., King of Glory International Ministries, Charleston.
Burgess, Corey - 5 p.m., Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
Burns, Helen - 11 a.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation, Inc., Grantsville.
Caldwell, Gary - 6 p.m., Long & Fisher Funeral Home, Sissonville.
Casto, Carroll - 1 p.m., Raynes Funeral Home, Eleanor.
Casto, Roger - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.
Duty, Fred - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.
Fisher, Bernard - 2 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.
Gwinn, Lloyd - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Habjan, Nathan - 1 p.m., Wilson-Smith Funeral Home, Clay. 
Hall, Daniel - Noon, Witcher Baptist Church.
Hinkle, Ethel - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Hoffman, Bruce - 2 p.m., Foglesong - Casto Funeral Home, Mason.  
Kinder, Siegel - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.
Kyler, Virgil - 11 a.m., Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Reedy.
Palmer, William - 1 p.m., Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston. 
Raynes Sr., Steven - 1 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.
Truman, James - 2 p.m., Newton Baptist Church, Newton.
Turner, Keith - Noon, Full Gospel Assembly,  Huntington. 
Webb, Antoinette - 11 a.m., SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Oak Hill.
Wilson, Greg - Noon, Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.
Withrow, James - 1 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home Chapel, Cedar Grove.