Opinion: From the sublime to the ridiculous

By Mike Williscraft

Trolls unite!

Funny how just last week I was noting in this space what a waste of time and energy social media can be. Then, along comes our DIA Festive Fridays main event and – Poof! We have our own digital drama play out.

Just like with the Jay Leno thing, it is amazing to me that people can comment and have absolutely no clue what they are talking about but be so sure of their beliefs.

If they researched, even a smidge, they would realize that 99 per cent of what they purport is hogwash.

All cards on the table, some may know I am president of the Grimsby DIA. It was also my idea to bring in the horse and wagon rides which proved the most popular aspect of Friday night’s festivities but still managed to draw ire from as far away as New Zealand.

If anyone has any concerns at all, feel free to email me at mike@wn3.ca or drop by my office at 1 Mountain St. I will say this next couple of weeks is bananas, so I may not have time to talk right off the bat, but will make time at some point for anyone who has questions.

The whole facebook “debate” – and I use that term very loosely broke out on the DIA’s Friendly By Nature page after a short video depicting an idyllic scene of a rider on the festively lit horse and wagon going down Main Street was posted.

There were a couple of positive comments, then one borderline negative comment which clearly connected the video to troll central and the game was afoot from there.

Some of the DIA members wanted the “debate” taken down saying it was not productive. I will follow up with the board as soon as I have time after my deadline.

I get the Friendly site is for communication of downtown business highlights and certainly NOT a forum for social justice banter, but it is also a needed example of how a handful of people attempt to hijack the digital landscape.

Some of the comments on there were stupendously ignorant of reality. Some were well reasoned.

As someone who has been closely involved with horses since I was 12 years old, I have extensive background in this area. I also know hundreds of horsemen and horsewomen across North America. I was also managing editor of The Standardbred Magazine, a publication dedicated to the harness racing and breeding industry.

There were dozens and dozens of comments over about a 24-hour period. Then people moved on. Typical.

Here are a few, NOT connected, just random excerpts:

• Tonya Foreman Whatever happened to the days when people didn’t get offended? You guys need to get over this or dont look out your window when the horses walk by. Too many people are sticking their almighty offended noses and opinions in. It’s ridiculous to complain about everything.

• Jim Ansell Continuing a tradition of oppression and exploitation is regressive and thoughtless. “We’ve always done it this way” is the weakest excuse ever. Cultures and traditions change. Animals are here with us, not for us and certainly not for pulling entitled people around town.

And my personal fave:

• Jason King Angie Giampapa of course nonhumans don’t care about what language humans use with regard to them. What does matter though is how the language we use with regards to them influences our actions and behaviours toward them. Nonhuman sentient animals are persons. You no longer have the exclusive entitlement to reserve personhood for only humans. Same as it used to exclude black humans and even female humans. The concept of who is a person has evolved to include nonhuman animals wether [sic] you like it or not.

• Angie Giampapa Nonhuman people! Wow! Pretty sure my animals aren’t people.

I have a great deal of time for opposing views. It was so hard to read some of that refuse rolling in and not be able to comment. I could not and would not comment there:

A) Because I simply won’t engage anyone hiding behind a shadow fb page. Come see me and we’ll talk, don’t issue threats from afar, and;

B) My views may not be the same as the DIA board and Friendly is the DIA’s page, not my own.
There was a ton I wanted to say on this but hard to top Mr. King’s comment comparing horses to “black humans and even female humans.”

For what it’s worth, the horses on hand were beautiful animals. Sound as a dollar, thick coats, shiny, friendly as heck and loved the attention.

It was part of a postcard night and I would bring them back in a heartbeat. In fact, I checked and they are available, so maybe they’ll return sooner than expected.

Thanks to all who took a ride and help raise nearly $400 for FORT!!

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