Editor’s Column: Troll fatigue

Meet Nellie. She’s a very friendly eight-week-old Golden Retriever/Irish Setter mix and our new HT mascot.
PAT TURNER

I’m tired.

I’m tired because we just got a puppy and she’s on a baby’s sleep/wake schedule, but that’s a good kind of tired. Her name is Nellie (after Nellie Bly the famous journalist, not Nellie Olson from Little House on the Prairie). You’ll be hearing more about her in the days to come.

But I was tired before Nellie came home with us this week. Not just physically tired, but the bone-deep, soul-crushing kind of tired that makes me want to pull a Luke Skywalker-hiding-out-on-an-island-until-the-storyline-improves kind of stunt.

Grief, you ask? Probably part of it. Mostly I think I have a bad case of troll fatigue from spending too much time on the internet distracting myself from my grief.

Rumplestiltskin-esque “trolls” abound in every comment forum, whether it’s on social media or the comments on a news story (although Rumplestiltskin was technically a manikin—a person of restricted growth—which is perhaps even more appropriate).

I’m tired of half-baked one-sided online arguments that devolve into foolishness, with supposedly respectable senior citizens attacking people they disagree with via the safe harbor of Facebook comments. For the record, it is possible to just keep scrolling when you see posts you disagree with.

Let’s face it, none of us know it all (and anyone who thinks they do is automatically wrong). What we don’t know far outweighs what we think we know, about almost everything. If we’re really open-minded critical thinkers (which the trolls always claim to be), we ought to be able to consider more than one opinion without getting our tighty-whities in a wad and lashing out in fear, anger and self-righteousness.

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To the subscriber who sent the nice note about the paper and suggested we print “the other side” of climate change theory, we’d be happy to do so whenever a scientist with trustworthy credentials and integrity sends us something. To date, we’ve received nothing from anyone—credible or not—in opposition.

Meanwhile, if someone can figure out how to make it stop snowing in mid- to late-May every year, I’d be really happy. Rain? Fine. Snow? I’m over it.

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Despite this week’s dismal weather forecast, we have entered lawn care season. As I mowed weeds two weeks ago I started wondering when and why we became obsessed with the acquisition of a pristine grass lawn free from crabgrass, alfalfa, clover, and heaven-forbid, the dreaded dandelion.

Some of our most despised weeds are actually extremely nutritious food sources. Every part of the dandelion is edible and/or considered medicinal in holistic medicine circles. Burdock and nettle can be found on the shelves of health food stores. In fact, many of the plants we class as “weeds” and attempt to eradicate are edible, nutritious and at least as valuable as that $4 bag of spinach leaves turning into slimy goo in your produce drawer.

So when did it become popular to have a “perfect” lawn? History indicates that a swatch of trimmed grass between manor house and carriage lane was useful to aristocratic Europeans as a defensive mechanism. Visitors—welcome or unwelcome—couldn’t hide behind the shrubberies and sneak up on you. But it wasn’t until the 1940s that a perfectly manicured postage stamp of grass became a status symbol in the United States, thanks to the birth of the utopian suburbia.

Today, lawn care is a $40 billion a year industry in the U.S. that sucks up (literally) 1/3 to 3/4 of public water (depending on the region). Interesting… considering dandelions, and all the rest of the weeds, grow all by themselves without any assistance. Who got scammed on that deal, anyway? Maybe we all did, as we sweat over our lawnmowers and weedeaters on our days off instead of sitting on the porch with an iced tea in hand, watching the weeds grow.

By Niki Turner | niki@theheraldtimes.com

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