I contribute a weekly column to the Platte County Landmark under the “Rambling Moron” name. It’s a great Northland Newspaper and well worth a subscription. The following is an copy of my article which appeared in the 6/8/12 edition – printed with permission.

Posted 6/8/12

It’s hard to imagine, but it is estimated that over 2.1 billion people are “online” in some capacity. The internet tracking website “The Royal Pingdom” estimates that the United States has 13% of that. Over half of Internet users are under the age of 25.

This means that thousands of new users are appearing on the Internet daily and it is firmly establishing itself as the coffee shop of the world to hash out issues, trade gossip and keep up to date with current events.

The major plus side to this is that everyone on the Internet has a voice. Over 3 billion e-mail addresses are registered in the world, and there are 555 million websites registered. Anyone can put up a blog or get a Twitter account. It has never been easier to self-publish your views on the world, or who you voted for on American Idol.

The major downside to this is that everyone on the Internet has a voice.

The famous quote from Abraham Lincoln (the President, not the vampire hunter) goes, “’Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” So it is with the Internet. Just because a Twitter account is free, doesn’t mean that you should just spout out anything that comes into your mind.

This is especially true with the practice of “trolling.” Trolling is when a person on the internet deliberately says something designed to get someone’s goat and stir the pot. I follow a lot of sports accounts on Twitter and the Internet, and many of them have taken trolling to world record levels.

This past week, however, Danny Duffy, pitcher for the Kansas City Royals found himself trolling many of his users during the Lakers vs. Thunder NBA playoff games. Duffy began insulting fans of the Thunder after stirring them up. Well, many of them also happened to be Royals fans, and they quickly became upset Royals fans. Duffy ended up closing his Twitter account by the end of the night, causing his followers a lot of confusion and losing many fans in the process.

It’s so easy to say the first thing that pops in your head on the Internet. My 9-year old son is going through this phase we like to call “diarrhea of the mouth” where he just constantly talks just to hear himself talk. The Internet is a lot like a 9-year old.

You should use the same conventions of normal conversation when talking. Assume you’re in a really big coffee shop. Some tips:

1) Wait your turn – Don’t just inject your opinions and commentary in the middle of a discussion

2) Have a salient point – There are some folks you will just spout stupid things to be part of the dialogue. If you can’t advance the discussion, leave it out.

3) Be nice

With some of these tips and tricks, you might cut down on the white noise of the Internet and help make the Internet a nicer place to spend time with your 2 billion closest friends.

(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He also hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510 AM Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)

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