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I'm sitting down to write this article on January 9, 2019, at 2:46 EST. I wasn’t planning on writing it, it just sort of popped into my head.
You can disagree, without being disagreeable
Like most of you, I made a New Years resolution. I've made a lot of these, yet never followed through. This year I resolved to get healthy and in shape. There are some reasons why I may stick to it this year. I turn 50 in May, I have two children, age 16 and 12, and a beautiful and loving wife. I’m a fortunate man.
I got a treadmill for Christmas, and I’ve been walking three miles a day, which is a big deal for me. Mike Loveday the Founder/President of LaxRecords, Inc. (NFP) runs marathons for fun, so my three miles is nothing to him. While doing my walk today, my mind wandered back over my life. The kind of reminiscing when you completely lose track of time.
I thought a lot about my father. I just went back to Chicago with my family to celebrate the life of my father on the 5th anniversary of his death from Cancer. He was very influential in my life. I worked at his restaurant when I was 16 and a bit of a delinquent. When I went to work at the Chicago Board of Trade, I traded in the same pit as him, he was the Best Man at my wedding. He sat calmly while I would lose my temper over this or that, which actually made me angrier. Then he would say one of the things he always told me, “Is it an arm? Is it a leg? Why are you so upset?”.
I would stop and think and realize I was being ridiculous. Other times I’d argue about something with someone, it happened a lot, and he’d chime in with another beauty. “You can disagree, without being disagreeable.”
That usually made me shut up. This was popping through my head today as I was walking on the treadmill.
Cesspool of Negativity
I swore off social media years ago. I started with Facebook to reconnect with old friends and classmates as most do. Then I ran for the City Council of Chicago and upped my social media game to Twitter and whatever else was in at the time. Well, as is now the norm today, it was a cesspool of negativity, threats, lies, etc.
I would respond to people telling them to meet me here or there, to “talk” about it in person. It made me crazy, I hated some coward who would talk bad about my family or me, but wouldn’t have the guts to say it to my face. It wasn’t until a couple months in I realized what a fake and meaningless thing social media had become.
There was a very complimentary article about me, it was like I wrote it myself. I loved it, this person got me. The comment section was even better, saying I was a great candidate, the other people running were garbage, etc ... I was so proud that I called my staff in to show them. One of them chimed in “yeah, I wrote that, and all of the comments too, that's how we change opinions, everyone does it. Half the negative stuff about you was probably written by the other candidates.”
I would say I wasn’t shocked, but felt foolish, threatening these trolls as they are known today thinking it was someone real, with a real opinion. This was in 2010, now it’s everywhere for any reason.
Great Response ...
The last few months I’ve been writing columns and doing podcasts for LaxRecords.com. I love it and am having a great time. My area of focus, if you are new to my column, is the Midwest lacrosse scene, specifically high school.
In my work for LaxRecords.com I use Twitter, a lot, it’s been great. Great to meet new, like-minded people who have a passion for lacrosse. I can reach out to people I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. I've had private messages with pro lacrosse players, high school players, college coaches, high school coaches. I've made friends on Twitter friends if you will.
I'm very suspicious of lacrosse Twitter handles that just have a title with no real name or person behind it. It could be a 10-year old just out trolling or someone who wants to challenge anything you say.
I also see the absolute vitriol people repost about politics or opinions on things. It happens, I know, and it goes with the territory. I'm a big boy I can handle it.
The response has been great, most people may be shocked at who is on my specific state groups. One of the things I wanted to do was have a weekly state ranking and a full Midwest ranking, based on the input from the people who are working with me. I even came out with a Top 5 list made up of teams that I thought had the most significant impact in the Midwest. I also invited comments.
Some were fine giving their opinions, some just seemed like they wanted to argue about all of it, ok, also excellent. It was the private messages that I got that were ridiculous.
Some stated I didn’t know what I was talking about, another said I was a biased ‘mf’er.’ Others took it so personally that they were badmouthing the teams I was talking about.
These weren’t kids, these were parents, getting upset about a Top 5 list of Midwest lacrosse teams based on last years games tweeted out in December. Here’s a tip, kids in high school, players in high school could have a rivalry with another school, that's fun, that's what high school is all about. If you’re a parent, losing your mind about another high school, then you may want to examine some things. As my Dad said, “is it an arm? Is it a leg?” No, it's high school lacrosse in the Midwest.
Today I turned on the television, and they were announcing new NFL coaches. It wasn’t five minutes until various talking heads, and Twitter geniuses were picking apart each coach like they knew everything about them. These are the same experts who said Alabama was unbeatable. I haven't seen the final AP poll came out, but my Twitter feed is filled with Midwest football fans awash in hatred. Fans replying to each other with malice over sports.
Cody Parkey missed the game-winning field goal for the Bears, and he got death threats. There are videos of people going crazy over it. I'm a huge Bears fan. I went to the last Super Bowl, I have blue lights on in my basement while watching the game, my trading jackets were covered with Bears logos, but not once did I wish death on Parkey. I was upset, I sat by myself for 10 minutes, but that was it. It’s a game.
Celebrate the Achievement
I know this is how the world is right now, but I don’t have to contribute to it. I will not be doing any rankings of teams as I was planning on. I will not feed into this free-for-all of snarkiness and anger.
I will still use the people who offered to help keep me appraised of the teams and players throughout the Midwest. I will celebrate the achievement, and sportsmanship and great play and hope everyone else will as well. I will go to certain games and report on them.
I expect players, coaches and parents to let me know of their accomplishments. That's what I want to promote.
I don’t want to encourage more of the same we see every day. I'm just one person making this choice, imagine everybody made this their choice.
Don’t buy into the feeding frenzy of negativity. We are better than that.
It’s ok to disagree you just don’t have to be disagreeable.
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