Growing up, I had a neighbor named Ms. Burrell. She was single, and her grown son Glen lived with her.
Glen was nice to us kids, my sister and me. When he wasn’t drunk or high, Glen would say hello to us. So would Glen’s friends, who came by and occasionally advised us to stay in school. We were not even ten years old yet.
My mother didn’t care much for Glen. I later realized why.
Glen was a small-time drug dealer.
I learned the drug dealing part later, when Glen was arrested for drugs. I figured the small-time part because:
1) Glen was a grown man, living with his mother.
2) Glen constantly violated the most basic rule of drug dealing, or any kind of crime: keep it away from where you live.
“Don’t shit where you eat,” is the saying.
All Glen’s associates were drug dealers and drug users. I knew this, because they would come knock on the Burrell’s door, asking for Glen.
One day my sister and I were playing in front of the house when two guys came to visit Glen.
Glen, obviously nervous, talked to the guys through a screen door that he refused to open. One of the two guys had a gun, openly brandished, and was calmly but assertively asking Glen for his money.
My mom saw this and immediately ordered us into the house.
Crack was Glen’s product of choice. I know this, because one night the police kicked in Ms. Burrell’s front door and arrested Glen. The whole ordeal caused a lot of noise. Many of the kids on the block were talking about it the next day.
Neither Glen nor Ms. Burrell ever had a car. But there was a bright blue car parked in the driveway behind the Burrell house the morning after the drug bust.
The car had a bunch of empty crack vials in the back and front seats, and hundreds of empty vials were strewn on the ground around the car. The police must have searched it, but the car never got removed. It sat there for months.
I think it was my parents who got the city to finally tow it away.
A few weeks after the late-night drug bust, some men came and knocked on the Burrell’s door. Ms. Burrell called out to them from her upstairs bedroom. The guys asked for Glen.
“Glen’s in jail.”
The guys left.
I never saw Glen again.
Before the bust happened, Glen and his oft-visiting associates would toss their paper bags — holding empty malt liquor cans and 40oz beer bottles — onto the front lawn of ours that produced not-quite-enough grass to truly be called a “lawn.”
Every morning when Mom would walk us to elementary school, she’d stop and pick up the trash from our lawn and dutifully toss it in the trash.
Every day she did this, every time tossing a rueful side eye towards the Burrell house as she picked up the litter.
One time, and one time only, I remember Mom picking up one of those empty paper bags with an empty malt liquor can, and tossing onto Ms. Burrell’s lawn.
That’s what I would have been doing every time.
Now that you know about my drug-dealer neighbor Glen, you’ll better understand why I’m so quick to block mofos online.
Maybe you didn’t know that. Well, now you know: I have a quick trigger when it comes to blocking people.
The most necessary blocking occurs on YouTube, a place whose comments section I have consistently called “a cesspool of humanity.”
It’s not that everyone in the comment sections is dumb or stupid or shallow. It’s that, if you were looking for people who are dumb, stupid and shallow, the YouTube comment section would be a good place to start. The fishing is good there.
The strength of the internet is also one of its greatest weaknesses: the anonymity and/or distance awarded to users gives people the moxie to say any ridiculous thing they can think of.
We refer to this as “trolling,” though the judgement of trolling is subjective: while I may feel you’re saying something incendiary for shock value or just to evoke a reaction, you may feel you’re merely expressing your true feelings, which some just happen to disagree with.
Either way, all online trolls are like my old neighbor Glen and his drug buddies: throwing their trash on your lawn.
And they’re watching to see how you respond to it.Either way, all online trolls are like my old neighbor Glen and his drug buddies: throwing their trash on your lawn. And they’re watching to see how you respond to it. Click To Tweet
You see, if my mother didn’t pick up those 40oz bottles and liquor cans, Glen’s buddies would have taken things further: maybe they’d start pissing on the lawn.
Then, maybe they’d think it OK to sit on the steps and hang out.
Perhaps they had more trash to dump, and seeing that no one objected to it (the act of cleaning up trash is an objection to the presence of trash), they’d deposit that trash on our lawn, too.
But none of these “escalators” occurred — because Mom never let the trash sit there.
It’s the same idea I apply to my comment sections.
When someone comes into your space (for anything you publish online, the comments to that content is your space) and dumps trash, they’re watching to see how you reply to it.
And you know who else is watching? Other people who have trash to dump.
They’re waiting to see what happens to trash that gets thrown on your lawn.
Do you leave it there to pile up? If so, the other “dumpers” will happily provide more trash, as they know it’s accepted.
When you immediately clean up trash, though, something else happens: the trash dumpers eventually, sometimes unconsciously, realize that trash isn’t tolerated here.
They find a new place to dump, since there are so many lawns more than willing to accommodate garbage.When you immediately clean up trash, though, something else happens: the trash dumpers eventually, sometimes unconsciously, realize that trash isn’t tolerated here. They find a new place to dump, since there are so many lawns more than… Click To Tweet
I don’t argue with people online.
I block trolls without a second thought. And once you’re blocked, there is no unblocking. You’re done.
I allow respectful opinions and even disagreements, as long as it’s done tastefully.
I don’t do back-and-forth debates with commentators, regardless of how great they feel their point. My belief is that if someone truly believes their comment, they can create their own content, and debate with their own commentators.
As soon as I see trash on my lawn, I get rid of it.
Now, if we were in “real life” and you threw trash on my lawn, I’d probably throw that shit in your face.
But since we’re online, I save time and energy by being diplomatic.
Two clicks on a trackpad.
By the way, I’ve gone deep on these topics of dealing with people who may not be on the same wavelength in these (amongst many others):
#1297: How To Master Your “Anti-People” Skills
#1282: The “51/49 Rule:” Helping People Who Help Themselves
#1182: Stop Trying To Change People
#1058: Limiting Your Associations: 3 Levels Of People
#977: The 8 Types Of People You Need Around You, Pt. 2
#976: The 8 Types Of People You Need Around You, Pt. 1
#975: The 4 Types Of People To Avoid
#894: How To Be Less Of A People-Pleaser
#870: Characteristics Of “Level 10” People
… I didn’t even browse past #870 for the sake of brevity. I have A LOT of these.
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