Sunday, March 20, 2011

Avoiding Scams, Haters and Bullies on Facebook

A recent "war" on a common Facebook group prompted me to write my own PSA (public service announcement) based on my findings and experience. About five years ago, I was approached by a scam artist who claimed to be a powerful lobbyist and the father of an Autistic child. My contact happened due to a Yahoo group. That was just the beginning of much more to come.

Once Facebook came to be the popular media it is now, this scammer appeared under so many different fake profiles, I lost count. Today, he still continues this crime while preying on desperate families and their wallets.

There are at least a couple of "real" parents of Autistic children who on their real profiles, advocate. Yet, they too, have fake profiles where they stalk, bully and badmouth others. Why? I can only speculate - mental health issues themselves, anger at life in general? Who knows.

There's another trend on Facebook. People with odd fetishes can be found faking their identity in order to find individuals who will play into their hands (aka fetish fantasies). Often these folks disguise themselves as being disabled or a big fan of something in order to infiltrate a group. They attempt to engage others in odd fantasy. Often, these folks appear to have personality disorders and like to stir up controversy. They choose very hardened sides and claim to be victims of the other side. This method works wonders at getting people to interact with them (I'm so sorry so-and-so is treating you this way. I'll be your friend!). The victim thinks this person is really hurt and tries to help. What the victim doesn't know is that he/she is playing right into the hands of a scam or fantasy seeking individual.

Then of course there are the real people, with real anger who thrive on controversy. These people spew hate speech and blame others for their own plight. They often libelously label real people. They slant truths and propagate lies. These are severely unhappy people.

Others are what I refer to as "the collective." They are desperate to find answers, seek understanding and are easily sold snake oil. They throw away their past values and thinking and exchange it for the ideals of the group. The more the group discusses issues, a phenomenon called Groupthink happens. Groupthink is defined as a mode of thinking that occurs when the desire for harmony overrides a realistic appraisal of the situation. This phenomenon is fed by overconfidence of group members, conformity, self-justification and polarization. When a member of the group questions the ideals of the group, they are usually ostracized from the group or punished in some social manner. To explain the toxic behavior of the previous innocent member, psychology also notes "the foot in the door phenomenon." This is the tendency for people who have first agreed to small requests (i.e. do not associate with group x any longer) soon will comply with larger requests (i.e. badmouth group x members publicly). This phenomenon explains how seemingly typical parents can often become venomous when the ideals of their group (collective) are challenged.

What can you do to protect yourself from the above?

Fake Profiles

Be wary that fakes are out there. Do not blindly accept friend requests on Facebook. Do a little research first. You can often see the Facebook Walls of scammers - they rarely lock down their fake profiles. What's on their wall? Most real persons will have conversations about more topics than just one. We often comment on the weather, the week we had, something exciting in our lives. We often have friends and family commenting on mutual subjects. What we do not have is narrowly focused posts on one topic.

Fakes often have a lot of friends making them seem legitimate. Even some mutual friends. Do not be fooled. These people put a lot of time into creating fake families with real photos. They often accumulate friends by playing Facebook games and of course, asking for friendships to anyone and everyone with a common interest (Autism, for example). When in doubt, do not "friend" someone. Better safe than sorry.

Once you find a fake - block them! Do not engage them. They are for sure, looking for any interaction, positive or negative. Remember, any public feedback whether negative or positive makes them appear so much more real.


Click - Account - Privacy Settings - Edit Block List. Add them. Enough said. You will not, cannot and certainly should not try to convert these people.

The Borg (aka Collective)

Just steer clear. There is little you can do here as well. They have found an "accepting" group who has promised to love them as long as they fulfill the group's mission. If they become toxic, do not respond. Block them if necessary. Do not friend them or remove them if they are already on your friends list.


There are multitudes of scams, fakes and haters on Facebook. Responding to any of them, in any manner only helps their agenda. We can effectively stop Facebook bullying by ignoring it. Though they may be spewing misinformation, engaging them will only help them further their mission. Fight misinformation with real information. But do so in a way that does not engage the person who misinformed.

My mother always said "kill them with kindness." I say, "kill them with apathy."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Save the Inhabitants of Planet Earth

The year 2012 has all sorts of mystery surrounding it. Though it has apparently become "much ado about nothing" as far as scholars are concerned, the public has held fast to theories from Biblical end of days to a visitation by our alien ancestors. And really, who could blame us for anticipating a change of such grandeur? The world is a mess. So here is my proposal to change the outcome of 2012. Let's quickly fix the mess we're in and stop the end of the world or an alien revolution. We obviously can't fix everything alone. But if each one of us takes on once small piece of responsibility, things will change.

This is my list of things (in no particular order) that I feel must change in order for us to coexist on this planet for longer than the impending nine months.

Treat People Like You Want to Be Treated
Sound familiar? It should. And no, the left-wing liberals did not create this saying. Though it is usually associated with he Christian Bible's Book of Matthew, it has been around much longer. The history on this way of thinking goes back to ancient Babylon. Here's the Wiki on it for you diehard historians. Bottom line is, if we all stopped to think for just one moment about treating each other decently, 99% of our world problems would cease to exist. Stop comparing your life and choices to others'. Everyone's situation is different. Period. Stop looking at others as lazy or defunct just because they are different. Just stop. Focus on your own problems and deal with them.

Reality Television
These televisions shows glorify stupidity, human suffering, exploit children and cause our brains to shrink. These shows desensitize us to human suffering and make exploitation exciting. Some exploit the mentally ill. Others value people as no more than a casual prize. Criminally negligent parents parade their three years old's in makeup and bathing suits to win pageants. "Can you say pedophile, Virginia?" And by all means, stop following Charlie Sheen! The man needs mental health help. It's sad, I know. I'm not talking about documentaries, talent competitions and adventure or educational shows. I'm talking about the shows that exploit people. The ones who follow housewives, bachelors and tiara wearing toddlers. These shows vote people out in some sort of sick human competition or worse, simply follow dysfunction around to entertain us. Stop watching these shows. They are hard to resist. For some reason, watching others suffer in unrealistic existences can often help us forget our own problems. But there are other ways to find entertainment. Ah, but you say "that's all that is on TV now!" There's a catch. If we stop watching, the networks will stop airing. There's no rocket science involved. Read a book, rent a movie, or a board game with the family. Not so hard.

The News Media
Everything we see is tainted. It tainted with opinion, speculation and formatted by whomever pays the media the most. Stop believing everything you hear. Think rationally. Think for yourself. Instead, read the newspapers and journals. Compare slants on stories and formulate your OWN opinion instead of taking on someone's perspective. Yeah, it takes more time. But if you are living in a virtual reality, what's the point of living?

Stop Worshiping Money
There's just not a whole lot more I can say about this. Money is a necessity in life to a point. But we've lost sight of the real meaning of life. We don't "need" HD televisions, digital TV, smart-phones, movie rental subscriptions, or luxury cars. We do need food, water, shelter, oxygen and sunlight. Choose your needs over your wants.

To sum it all up, I'm hoping humankind can redeem itself. I'm hoping that by 2012, we'll have seen the light somehow. If not, then bring on the aliens. I'm ready for some earthly enlightenment.