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Opinion Editorials

The Death of Civility. Was It Ever Alive in the First Place?



Family Arguning Over Real EstateMaybe it’s the circles I run in.

Can You Scream A Little Louder?

Lately, I’ve been reading blogs in the both here on Agent Genius and elsewhere where both blog posts and comments seem to be getting shriller and shriller.  A post may start out innocently enough.  The subject might be Raising the Bar, Duel Agency or maybe even a bone to pick.  Sometimes the author is reasoned and even insightful. A lot of times, not so much.

Then, put on the Kevlar®.  The comments start coming in and, one wonders, if the commenters even re-read their stuff before hitting the Submit button. All kinds of accusations and assertions are made.  Not the “Kind Sir, I believe you may be mistaken about your point of view.” type.  Nah. We start calling each other unethical, uneducated, uncaring, criminal conspirators or — my favorite — morons.

Conversation at a New Level

All of this takes the conversation to a new level.  Unfortunately, it’s not a higher level. It reminds me of the word games some teenagers play about your Mama (“You’re Mama is so ugly the mirror cracks when she puts on her makeup.”). Sometimes these start out in the spirit of fun but, many times, they rapidly disintegrate into arguments and bad will where none existed before.

It also reminds me of many real life transactions where one Realtor starts screaming at the other when one aspect of a transaction doesn’t go exactly according to plan.  Sadly, this seems all too frequent.

I know I’m engaging in a lot of wishful thinking.  It’s a fantasy of mine that the level of discussion in the real estate blogosphere can be both interesting and civil.  Who knows?  Maybe some day.

In the meantime, I’ll share I line I heard on Prairie Home Companion last night (we liberals love our NPR):

“You must’ve been conceived at home.  That’s where most accidents happen.”

Take that!

“Loves sunrise walks on the beach, quaint B & Bs, former Barbie® boyfriend..." Ken is a sole practitioner and Realtor Extraordinaire in the beautiful MD Suburbs of DC. When he's not spouting off on Agent Genius he holds court from his home office in Glenn Dale, MD or the office for RE/MAX Advantage Realty in Fulton, MD...and always on the MD Suburbs of DC Blog

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  1. Joe Sheehan

    February 21, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Thanks, Ken.

    You stated it perfectly. I have a very difficult time agreeing with someone’s opinion when I am so offended by the way it’s presented. Thanks for taking the time to say this.

  2. BawldGuy

    February 21, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Hey Ken — You’ve recognized a decades long trend which has sadly become the norm for much of the country. I’ve always thought the origin of this trend was the first time Cassius Clay, later Muhammad Ali, began openly and loudly disparaging his latest upcoming opponent. This was then taken another step downward as he’d then transition into a loud and shameful monologue about how good he was, how superior he was, and the like.

    What changed was when the principle we were all taught as kids, bragging is rude, shameful, and unbecoming, was then modified. Free license was granted by changing it to- If you can do it, it ain’t braggin’. Of course, that’s the most insidious form of lie. If a dominating athlete says he can do something at will against another athlete, it’s bragging period — especially if he can do it. If he can’t do it, he’s simply a loud-mouthed fool.

    Once Ali’s behavior was deemed acceptable by a large segment of the population, it spread like a virus. The result is what you observed in your post.

    I prefer class, dignity, and acting as if you’ve been there before. I’ve been personally attacked online many times, as most of us have. I prefer one of two responses. I either point to the ‘scoreboard’ if appropriate, or ignore them altogether. My preference has been the latter. Arguing with haughty arrogance fueled by ignorance and inexperience is akin to debating whether it’s gonna rain a week from next Tuesday. It also tends to make one appear as foolish as the arrogantly ignorant fop who’s running their mouth, insulting anyone who dares disagree.

    Speaking for myself, I much prefer the class and dignity of a Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, or Larry Bird to the ‘look at me’ generation of clowns we now have to endure. Though I’ve used sports figures as examples here, I think you’ve amply shown this virus has reached and infected most segments of our culture.


    • Lani Rosales

      February 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm

      Ken, Jeff and I know each other personally and chat on the phone frequently and I think we agree because we are cut from similar cloth (which is probably why Benn and I are friends with him in the first place).

      My dad said when we were children, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. And if you do, you might get smacked in the back of the head.” Of course he meant by him or an opponent.

      I had an email conversation just yesterday with a friend on AG and he noted that it’s interesting that some commenters use the very tactics to attack the writer that they are condemning the writer for. My response was that it’s not the real estate blogging space, it’s everywhere- people are stretched thin and times are hard and desperation is seeping through peoples’ writing voices in comments across the board.

      This tone will change as the economy recovers.

  3. MIssy Caulk

    February 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Ken, I have that little fantasy too. But like Lani it is not just online.

  4. Gwen Banta

    February 21, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Ken, if people took just 10 seconds to remember that every word they say or write is a reflection of the person whom they truly are, they might care more about the monikers they attach to people. In my opinion, the road to civility has been closed for repairs for a very long time…

  5. Janie Coffey

    February 23, 2010 at 1:17 am

    there is certainly a certain contingent who feel empowered, superior, emboldened to opine loudly and negatively about any and all topics. I often wonder if they realize their current and potential clients can read those comments as well, but I guess when they put them out there, they either feel they are fully justified or simply don’t care. Sad but true but glad I am not the only one saddened by it.

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Opinion Editorials

Facebook fights falsehoods (it’s a false flag)

(EDITORIAL) Facebook has chosen Reuters to monitor its site for false information, but what can one company really do, and why would Facebook only pick one?



Reuters checks facebook

So Facebook has finally taken a step to making sure fake news doesn’t get spread on it’s platform. Like many a decision from them though, they haven’t been thorough with their venture.

I am a scientifically driven person, I want facts, figures, and evidence to determine what is reality. Technology is a double edged sword in this arena; sure having a camera on every device any person can hold makes it easy to film events, but deepfakes have made even video more questionable.

Many social media platforms have tried to ban deepfakes but others have actually encouraged it. “I’ll believe it when I see it” was the rally cry for the skeptical, but now it doesn’t mean anything. Altering video in realistic ways has destroyed the credibility of the medium, we have to question even what we see with our eyes.

The expansion of the internet has created a tighter communication net for all of humanity to share, but when specific groups want to sway everyone else there isn’t a lot stopping them if they shout louder than the rest.

With the use of bots, and knowing the specifics of a group you want to sway, it’s easy to spread a lie as truth. Considering how much information is known about almost any user on any social media platform, it’s easy to pick targets that don’t question what they see online.

Facebook has been the worst offender in knowing consumer data and what they do with that data. Even if you never post anything political, they know what your affiliation is. If you want to delete that information, it’s hidden in advertising customization.

Part of me is thrilled that Facebook has decided to try and stand against this spread of misinformation, but how they pursued this goal is anything but complete and foolproof.

Reuters is the news organization that Facebook has chosen to fact check the massive amount of posts, photos, and videos that show up on their platform everyday. It makes sense to grab a news organization to verify facts compared to “alternative facts”.

A big problem I have with this is that Reuters is a company, companies exist to make money. Lies sell better than truths. Ask 2007 banks how well lies sell, ask Enron how that business plan worked out, ask the actors from Game of Thrones about that last season.

Since Reuters is a company, some other bigger company could come along, buy them, and change everything, or put in people who let things slide. Even Captain America recognizes this process. “It’s run by people with agendas, and agendas change.” This could either begin pushing falsehoods into Facebook, or destroy Reuters credibility, and bite Facebook in the ass.

If some large group wants to spread misinformation, but can’t do it themselves, why wouldn’t they go after the number one place that people share information?

I really question if Reuters can handle the amount of information flowing through Facebook, remember almost a 3rd of the whole world uses Facebook. 2.45 Billion people will be checked by 25,800 employees at Reuters? I can appreciate their effort, but they will fail.

Why did Facebook only tag one company to handle this monumental task? If you know that many people are using your platform, and such a limited number of people work for the company you tasked with guarding the users, why wouldn’t you tag a dozen companies to tackle that nigh insurmountable number of users?

I think it’s because Facebook just needs that first headline “Facebook fights falsehoods”. That one line gets spread around but the rest of the story is ignored, or not thought about at all. If there is anything Facebook has learned about the spread of fake information on their platform, it’s how to spread it better.

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Opinion Editorials

Will shopping for that luxury item actually lower your quality of life?

(EDITORIAL) Want to buy yourself a pick-me-up? Have you thought of all the ramifications of that purchase? Try to avoid splurging on it.



shopping bags

In an era of “treat-yo-self,” the urge to splurge is real. It doesn’t help that shopping – or what ends up being closer to impulse shopping – provides us with a hit of dopamine and a fleeting sense of control. Whether your life feels like it’s going downhill or you’ve just had a bad day, buying something you want (or think you want) can seem like an easy fix.

Unfortunately, it might not be so great when it comes to long-term happiness.

As you might have already guessed, purchasing new goods doesn’t fall in line with the minimalism trend that’s been sweeping the globe. Being saddled with a bunch of stuff you don’t need (and don’t even like!) is sure to make your mood dip, especially if the clutter makes it harder to concentrate. Plus, if you’ve got a real spending problem, the ache in your wallet is sure to manifest.

If that seems depressing, I’ve got even more bad news. Researchers at Harvard and Boston College have found yet another way spending can make us more unhappy in the long run: imposter syndrome. It’s that feeling you get when it seems like you’re not as good as your peers and they just haven’t caught on yet. This insecurity often arises in competitive careers, academics and, apparently, shopping.

Now, there’s one big caveat to this idea that purchasing goods will make you feel inferior: it really only applies to luxury goods. I’m talking about things like a Louis Vuitton purse, a top of the line Mercedes Benz, a cast iron skillet from Williams Sonoma (or is that one just me?). The point is, the study found that about 67% of people – regardless of their income – believed their purchase was inauthentic to their “true self.”

And this imposter syndrome even existed when the luxury items were bought on sale.

Does this mean you should avoid making a nice purchase you’ve been saving up for? Not necessarily. One researcher at Cambridge found that people were more likely to report happiness for purchases that fit their personalities. Basically, a die-hard golfer is going to enjoy a new club more than someone who bought the same golf club to try to keep up with their co-workers.

Moral of the story: maybe don’t impulse buy a fancy new Apple watch. Waiting to see if it’s something you really want can save your budget…and your overall happiness.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer got you down? Does it make your job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment without budget worries.



better equipment, better work

Aside from bringing the boss coffee and donuts for a month before asking, what is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes. In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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