12-Step Program

I spend an immoderate amount of time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (none of whom publicly support my values and I boycott Starbucks). I’ve even dabbled in Pinterest and can get positively excited about YouTube videos. Initially, my interest stemmed from keeping up with the kids, who take to an electronic world like fish take to water. Otherwise, I tell myself, I’m only online to work and perhaps to stay informed of the national and world situation because, unfortunately, there is no newspaper — or at least none that I respect — in the Atlanta area.

Daily delivery of the alt-left Atlanta Journal-Constitution to my home would generate more than 1,000 pounds of fish-gut wrapping a year and cost nearly $400. Its Thanksgiving edition alone weighed more than 4 pounds and contained 85+ advertising inserts for toys and appliances and women’s clothing. If it isn’t Autrey’s Armory here in Fayetteville (soon to be BMC Tactical or Calibers in Albuquerque, New Mexico) or REI or Bass Pro Shops, please don’t bother me. I don’t subscribe or read it (except when the Gators play the Bulldogs), which is a shame, really, because I’ve been a journalist and eventually an editor and even a newspaper publisher. I well-remember the Florida Times-Union newspaper from Jacksonville spread out over dad’s end of the breakfast table in the ‘50s and the Newsleader, our home-town newspaper on Amelia Island, because it gave Little League baseball and, eventually, high school basketball game summaries. But times change.

The Internet now delivers news, sports, information and entertainment. On the left side of my Google home page screen I have CNN and NPR; on the right side of the screen are Fox News and the Drudge Report; in the center beneath the Accuweather Forecast is a Google news summary. I try to remain “fair and balanced,” all the while recognizing my beliefs and minor-league prejudices.

Where I go wrong several times a day is straying into Facebook and Twitter. Although I have simply “unfriended” left-wing friends, I nevertheless get caught up in arguments on those sites and waste hours posting commentary — sometimes well-reasoned, but frequently quarrelsome and occasionally taunting or sneering. And what’s the point, except that I get frustrated and angry? Madonna isn’t going to read my scathing commentary about her “blow up the White House” rant. Jennifer Lawrence isn’t going to grow a brain any faster because I suggested that she was poorly educated. B. Hussein Obama won’t go hide because I said he was no more useful than the south end of a north-bound jackass and a traitor to boot.

My thoughts and feelings, my ideas and opinions and emotions, are just electrons circulating in my brain. What I must remember each day is that these intangibles are not action. In a sense, they aren’t real. They do not produce results — certainly no positive social results — any more than the old-fashioned Letter to the Editor. If you’re old enough, you remember your town’s unemployed or retired curmudgeon who wrote grumpy letters to your home-town newspaper … people thought of him as a friendly crank, the guy who could always be counted on to show up at a protest: Save the Whales — Boycott Lettuce — Outlaw Assault Rifles. As an editor, I remember getting plenty of such letters — and once a couple of death threats about an editorial (at least people were reading them).

If you inventory the amount of time you spend on Facebook and Twitter and other useless social media, you might be shocked. They are addictive because they give you instant feedback and arouse your emotions. Spend a fraction of that time at the shooting range or cleaning your concealed carry options or taking a self-defense course and you will be far ahead of the curve, physically and emotionally.

While I’m careful about what I believe when reading Internet sites — and I am, frankly, increasingly skeptical — I realize that the internet, like my brain, is no more than electronic impulses. It has no substance in fact except for the exorbitant Comcast high-speed internet bill I pay each month. Arguing on Twitter, posting on Facebook, even uploading mildly hilarious and sometimes rude illustrations onto Instagram are no substitute for physical action. Scoring a point against some ultra-lib socialist on Facebook gives me a sense of satisfaction, but it is only a feeling, only an electron passing through a synapse and no substitute for going to the range or unloading and assembling my Walther in a dark room or taking a defensive shooting class. It is no substitute for memorizing the USCCA’s guidelines for an incident or even the NRA’s 4 rules of safe shooting.

Less time arguing and getting steamed-up uselessly on Facebook; more time taking demonstrative action. It’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions, but so far, like that fish out of water, I’m not doing so well. The instant feedback from friends and foes alike is addicting. Time to recognize it, accept it and take constructive action to correct it. Sort of a concealed carry 12-step program.