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Commentary: The keyboard warrior in me

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Jean Simmons, columnist

Jean Simmons is a Franklin resident, nurse and published author who won a Janice Keck Literary Award from the Williamson County Public Library in 2014. She can be contacted at jean_simmons@hotmail.com

It is funny how new words sneak into our vernacular. Words you have never heard of, like humblebrag, zoomer and D-lister, are suddenly common phrases thrown around on the internet. I looked them up so I could use them correctly in the future to show how dope I am, as well as the added bonus of embarrassing my teenager.  

One phrase that is mentioned quite often on social media is “keyboard warrior.” It is defined as “a person who makes abusive or aggressive posts on the internet,” per the Oxford English dictionary. In other words, someone who would never say a particular comment to another in person is emboldened to express their outrage over a particular subject on social media.  

We had one main Facebook page for my neighborhood when I first moved there, but things got so heated, they had to make a spinoff “uncensored” page. I try to look at the nice group’s page but cannot help going to the not-so-nice, uncensored one to read the latest on who is doing what to whom and how this behavior should be corrected as well as how to think politically and socially. It’s a lot more fun to discuss at neighborhood gatherings.  

My neighborhood’s uncensored Facebook page is a hotbed of social keyboard warriors on subjects ranging from topical items like masks to really contentious things like who left dog poop in the front yard and did not clean up. Don’t get me wrong, I am not above such frays, including an incident of thoughtless dog walkers leaving their dog’s excrement on my yard when I had just installed sod. I was livid, and I had no problem calling out the offender on our Facebook group. The keys flew on my computer that day. It felt good getting it off my chest, and no more dog crap in my yard, so far.  

Of course, I have my Ring camera focused on my front yard now and frequently check for possible dog poop offenders. When people walk by with their dogs, I cast a wary eye out my window just in case they linger too long on my tiny stretch of grass. Not that I would go out and confront them personally, but online is a different matter, of course.  

Most commenters on the site were supportive of my ordeal and agreed that these offenders should be rounded up and forced to clean up their mess. I had managed to calm down after my post until one person dared to make fun of my predicament as being trivial. I believe he used the term “first-world problems,” another of those pithy new vernacular terms. My keyboard warrior flew into action that day as I answered quite curtly that he was free to scroll past my comments if he thought they were so frivolous, as well as move to another hood. I hope I don’t meet him at a community function anytime soon.  

I have waded into the more serious discussions about politics and government overreach, etc., usually to be cheered by some and slammed by others with countless graphs, charts, quotes and studies until my head hurts and I have to stop.  

Someone once posted a funny cartoon of a person in the past being told that an invention called the internet would come that would allow people to look up all the knowledge in the world and it would be used to argue with people and look at cute cat videos. Speaking of which, did anyone see the video of the cat chasing the laser pointer off the couch? Now that’s good stuff.  

Maybe it is possible to use social media to come together rather than sow division. It’s a pretty profound idea. I will have to post that on my neighborhood’s Facebook page. Right after I call out my neighbors for not leashing their cats and tell the teenagers to get out of my yard.  

Jean Simmons is a Nashville native, Franklin resident, former nurse and columnist for the Herald. She can be reached at jean_simmons @hotmail.com.

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