Internet of Stings

I’ll be 100% honest that sometimes I really contemplate whether or not I should write a blog or talk about a certain issue because of the blow back I’ll get. I consider myself a pretty outspoken person or at least I once was, meaning I would just say what came to mind and not really give a damn what people thought. It’s still true today I supposed, but to a lesser extent.

By no means am I a professional blogger. I do this as a sort of hobby and I’ll be lucky if seven people actually read this blog entry. Maybe I’ve mellowed out a bit. Maybe I don’t have time. Or maybe I’ve learned that people can just be really fucking vicious to others for no particularly good reason, and I’m not particularly fond of being on the receiving end of the viciousness.

It’s almost as if certain people get off on making it known that “I think you’re a total idiot and let me tell you why!” Their lives revolve around shooting other people down when they get that cloud 9 going. Take the scenic route of any article on any media outlet website and direct yourself to the comments section. Find some political post your friend posted on Facebook and look at the comments. You want to see hate? The shit people say to each other in the comments section of the internet is pure horror. It doesn’t seem to matter the subject either. Politics and religion are bound to brew up some good old fashioned shit storms. Sports too. But it seems as if everything is such a controversy. Go to a hiking website, a medical website, a work out website, a diet forum, pick a card any card.

The internet isn’t some abstract thing. It’s literally just a bunch of computers tied together and the shit people say online is just the same crazy shit they think to themselves. It just makes it easier for them to spread their thoughts to more people, over a wider area than they could do by say… posting fliers at the local bus stop.

There is something very peculiar about the internet and the way people behave on it though. I feel like in real life (ie, when not staring at a screen) almost any two people can get along. I feel like online, any two people can become the worst versions of themselves and verbally rip each other to pieces. Interestingly it’s not the viewpoints that surprise me (though, admittedly some people do think and say some crazzzzzzzy stuff), but rather how quickly a civil conversation and devolve into a verbal pissing match.

Headline reads “Man Loses Hand in Garbage Disposal” and just give it a few minutes for someone to say “what an idiot, he must have voted for ______” even though it’s not remotely political. And they’re off! Before you know it, people are being the worst of themselves, spending hours and hours of their finite lives trying to verbally skewer their online (and often unknown) opponent.

I’m not saying the internet invented stupidity or rudeness, or that it even amplifies it. The internet just exposed the stupidity, incivility, and vanity that already exists in all of us. This isn’t even so much a blog about the internet, as much as it is how my blogging and internet surfing experiences have led me to see just how much hostility people harbor towards others in general.

Everything is quick to become an us-v-them situation. Whites vs blacks. Democrats vs Republicans. Football vs soccer. Rich vs poor. My team vs your team. My preference vs your preference. God forbid you enjoy different food than I do, fucker. I really do love people. I pity them. And to an extent I fear them. But I love them. And again, I feel like any two people, two individuals, can get along. But man, when we’re in groups, we can be monsters. There’s some kind of inverse correlation between the combined IQ of the members of a group, and their exhibited intelligence.

We’re so quick to hate each other. To insult each other. To name call, belittle, and argue with each other. We just have to get our jabs in. Leave no disagreeable opinion unopposed. We’ll tear into a complete stranger. Worse… we’ll tear into someone we know and care about. This isn’t directed at any one specifically. Observe and report, and this was just the inevitable reporting byproduct of years of observing. All the calamity in the news and on social media lately prompted this. The hostility at one point veering me away from having an online presence as I know it has for others. I was very surprised that following some of my recent posts, a good number of friends privately messaged me with their thoughts and input (all civil, thank you!) perhaps because they didn’t want to get tangled up in the online brawl that happens all too often.

I don’t have a proposal. I don’t have a point I’m slowly working towards. No moral to the story. I don’t have a goal for writing this other than to vent my frustrations. A long winded sigh of relief, in a sense.

I know I don’t write as frequently as I should, and my writing aint exactly Oscar Wilde, so give yourself a nice pat on the back if you’ve read this far. Thank you for hearing me out and thank you for continuing to read my blog. And for the occasional verbal spar.

Instant Karma and Workplace Ethics

This isn’t my usual post where I write about some landmark event like a holiday, a political rally, a horrendous tragedy, momentous occurrence, or an amazing movie. This is purely reactionary to something that happened in the past week or so at work, and got wrapped up today.

I am an independent insurance agent and have been for a number of years now. Love my job, all that good stuff. All (literally, all) of my business is referral based and I pride myself on having close relationships with each of my clients. Despite having over a thousand clients, I know most of them by name, and I feel like they are in a sense, extended family of me and the agency.

In the industry, it is possible for policyholders (clients) to change their agent without changing their policy or company if they are satisfied with their insurance, but not satisfied with their agent.

About a week ago I got a notice from one of my companies that one such client has requested to change from me to another agent. I was of course a little upset, but I was more surprised than anything else because I know this client pretty well and we hit it off when I started his insurance. To the best of my knowledge this client hadn’t had any bad experiences, claims, or anything else that would explain migrating the policy away from my agency. I was stumped.

Not one to over react, I really calmly phoned my client to inquire if I had done something wrong, or just generally ask why the policy was being moved. Since these types of changes can only be done with the clients signature on a very specific form, I assumed it had to be a deliberate action.

I’m glad I called my client. Turns out, the client didn’t know that he done anything to move the policy away from our agency, and he seemed as surprised as I was to find out that had happened. He then recalled having spoken to his other agent who insures some of his other properties, and that he has been given a bunch of forms to sign. Not knowing any better, and trusting his agent as one should, he signed the forms not thinking anything of it. Turns out, his agent had slipped this form in to have my policy moved to him – without telling the client.

Long story short, after a few pleasant phone calls with my client, not only is he going to keep the original policy with me, but he was very displeased with the lack of professionalism of the other agent, and has insisted that he move all of his other policies to me. Oh, and apparently he owns a boat he wants insurance for too. Woohoo!

This was a huge relief for me for a couple reasons and even though I didn’t do anything wrong, was also a very good learning experience for me as well.

First and most importantly, the experience reinforced my rule of not jumping to conclusions. At first glance I thought that despite spending quality time getting my client’s insurance in place he had decided to abandon ship on me. I am glad that I didn’t act on this suspicion and first let the client explain his side. Some times, the obvious explanation is wrong.

The instant karma of the other agent was a little bit of a consolation prize. The benefit to me wasn’t so much that I got more policies out of the ordeal, because had everyone acted appropriately I would have only had – and been content with – the one policy. In a world where it seems that being lazy and unethical often gets rewarded and rarely punished, it’s nice to get cosmic reassurance that the reverse is true, and that being honest and hardworking does have it’s benefits.

For those of you reading this who know in your heart of hearts you are a good person. An honest person. A person of integrity. A hardworking person. Keep it up! Your efforts are not in vain. Your good deeds and your solid work ethic is contagious and an inspiration to the people around to you. Your friends, your spouse, your coworkers, your kids, random onlookers will take note of your actions, and emulate them.