In an era of today's great political divide, surprisingly, the most vicious debates that I've seen firsthand online have been over Air Fryers, Composting and the InstaPot.
I'm not kidding you.
My VERY strong political beliefs aside, these battles have been far more vicious than anything political.
To a point that it's hilarious.
I like to garden. A lot. In fact, I have been gardening since I was 7 or 8 years old. I grew up in a rural community and was in 4-H. I have friends who are farmers. I can tell the difference between the smell of cow manure and horse manure - as I like to joke, I know my shit.
When we moved into our new house about 3 years ago, I was putting in my new garden and I thought "Hey- I should use Facebook for something other than posting memes..." and I joined a local gardening group.
Now, if you're not a produce gardener, I should tell you that the it is NOT a homogeneous group. You might think we are a bunch of hippies getting back to our roots. This is not true. There are also a lot of "prepper" type people who are living off the grid or trying to do so. There are also a lot of immigrants who always gardened in their home countries and it's part of who they are. There are people with health issues. There are people like me who are hobbyists and simply like growing things.
I would argue that we all have a bit of the off gridder in us, if we were really honest, but that's a blog for another day.
You might also assume that people who grow things are patient. Because it takes patience to grow things.
This also would be a wrong assumption.
I assumed the forum would be a great place to exchange ideas and techniques. It was a nice reprieve from the online hatred the presidential election was spewing. And for the most part, it is an awesome group.
Expect for when the "experts" drop in.
In gardening, there are people called Master Gardeners who take extensive coursework in growing in their specific zone. These people actually ARE experts. We have quite a few in the group. Or we did... they may have run away, I'm not sure.
These are not the experts to whom I am referring.
I am referencing the people who think they are experts. They are not open to ANY other ideas except for their own. Which makes me wonder why they would join a group- oh wait- they join to share their brilliance with the rest of us.
In this group, we have gone fisticuff over things like USING REGULAR UNFILTERED WATER ON ONE'S GARDEN! Gasp! The horror. In order to grow anything, you MUST have a filtration system.
There are plenty of reasons to have a filtration system. It absolutely is better for microbes. No doubt. However, you can grown a healthy garden using regular old water. You need to amend the soil. You'll probably need to replace it at some point. But it is NOT a tragedy to not want to spend hundreds of dollars on a system so you can grow a few tomato plants.
Also, I use corrugated metal for my garden beds. Without getting too sciencey on you, it actually stays cool in the summer and helps my soil stay cool & moist- a big deal in the desert southwest. I bought them because they look really cool. I also have been having an enormous amount of success with them.
Yes. Really. I have. Honest.
But no- that's impossible because metal gets hot and I'm lying. Or so the experts say. So I post pictures of my garden. It's a fluke.
Hey, maybe. Or maybe it's science. Physics actually.
But the debate on the composting was the best.
I'm not even sure how it started, but it did. I started reading about 100 comments into the Great Compost Debate of 2016. It got mean. It got nasty.
And I'm just sitting there, reading, cracking up, laughing my ass off.
The temperature of the compost. The content. How much water to add. When to use a starter.
People were arguing over rotting garbage techniques.
Grown adults acting like 3 year olds towards people they've never met.
It was funny yet sad.
Around that same time, I joined an InstaPot group because- and don't hurt me- I had one and didn't like it. I have a Breville that is waaaaay better, but everyone raved about these things so they went on a super sale at Amazon and I thought I'd try it. My opinion was not swayed.
So I go to this group. The recipes people were posting left me baffled- I mean, I can roast a chicken in an hour and 15 minutes. It wasn't any faster. But I would read and keep my comments to myself.
And then one day, it happened.
A woman named Angela posted something like "I've had my InstaPot for a few months and I honestly don't like it. Am I missing something?"
Sweet. Baby. Jesus.
After someone posted "Why would you join this group if you don't like it?!?!"
To which she replied: "To see if I was missing something... "
And I added: "You're not alone. That's why I'm here. I still don't get it...I think it's great for maybe people who didn't normally cook. I'm not into slow cookers either."
Which was hatespeak. I had now insulted them.
Most of the people that I know that think the InstaPot is the be all, end all, really hated cooking and this seems to inspire them. Not all, but most. Also, I do not like pot roast. Ever. No matter how tender.
I then said I could grill chicken breasts, make rice and steam veggies in 30 minutes- so pressure cooking something in 90 minutes wasn't really "faster."
Well, call me a wizard but that was an impossible feat and poor Angela and I were burned at the stake.
Of course, I'm cracking up at the illiterate insults being thrown at me.
So I left that group.
A few days ago my amazing Breville Smart Oven died and I replaced it with the newer version that includes an air fryer. I went to a group to get some recipes. (I promise, I don't work for Breville- I just happen to LOVE their products.).
Within 2 days, the same thing happened. A woman asked a pretty innocent question and someone tossed back a snarky answer. And downward it spiraled.
Online bullying at its best.
Over a kitchen appliance.
It's utterly and completely ridiculous.
I can't imagine that any of these people would behave this way in the real world. I've met people in our gardening group over the past few years and they are always amazed that I'm the same person online (a bit less quick witted... I have more time to write funny things) as I am offline.
But seriously people- if you're fighting with people online over the benefits of an InstaPot and calling them names for not loving it- get a life. Truly. Log out. Talk to some real people. Breathe.
I don't anticipate staying in the Air Fryer group any longer either.
The gardening group has done a great job booting the nasty people out. Their purpose is to encourage others to garden- preferably organic, but it's okay if you don't have the time to do that. It's ALL better than commercial produce and it's fun.
So before you start typing a 15 minute response to someone you've never met because they don't like a design you do, a team you do or whatever you are disagreeing about- stop.
Does it really matter? What is your end game? To make some new mother who hasn't slept in a month feel like crap because her baby won't sleep through the night? To convince them that the Steelers are the greatest team ever? To make yourself feel better?
Type and then before you hit post- delete it.
Making fun of other people online, taunting, bullying, being an ass-- the world needs less of that.
If there's nothing positive to your comments, don't make them.
Don't be the jerk that always interrupted class in high school.
Be an adult. Walk away.
Because here's the thing- YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO SEE THIS PEOPLE.
I comment on Twitter to politicians quite a bit- and while it is snarky, I include data in my response. They are public figures. They put themselves out there for feedback. I'm never mean, vicious or personal.
But I don't attack people who comment. Because I don't know them and I'm pretty sure it doesn't change their minds or values.
So maybe if everyone could have a resolution this year, it would be to stop the online bullying crap. The snarkiness. Be a little nicer online.
The interwebz was once a giant library of shared ideas.
We should at least try.
You might even learn a thing or two.