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We all just suffered through an anniversary where our emotions ran the gamut of ups and downs. The 20th anniversary of September 11 was this past Saturday. I have memories of being on the air during and after that day, people calling the radio station seeking guidance, what to do, how they help their fellow man, how they could get to New York and help find survivors. In the few days after, I mobilized my co-workers and sat out in front of Brattleboro Savings and Loan for an entire week to raise money for those that were impacted directly by the events of that day. Within the following months, this nation did not and would not waver in doing whatever it could for its fellow citizens. We raised over $51,000 from this small community that week. People fed us, they made us banners, they signed over stimulus checks. Truly an outpouring of genuine human kindness. So, what happened?

Why is it we need something catastrophic to bring forth kindness? I get that the world isn’t easy, but it’s because we make it that way. We’d rather throw a tantrum, rage, scream or fight. Then a hundred-year flood shows up and we’re back to supporting one another. I was reading a thread on social media for an event I have something to do with, and there was someone popping off. I’m not sure why, but it’s incredibly easy for people to burn someone from their keyboard in a very open and public forum. But let’s consider, that very same keyboard could be used to reach out privately and let them know about their displeasure. Let’s face it, you can’t please everyone, but you also can’t hit what you can’t see. It’s way too easy to be a keyboard coward; just log in under a false profile and hammer away. I caught a local merchant doing that to other local merchants during the height of COVID. Truly upsetting and it makes no sense.

To all you "Keyboard Cowboys" that feel as though it is your God-given right to hop on Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Google Reviews, and tear someone down? Might I suggest speaking to the establishment directly. Sure, criticism isn’t easy to hear, but maybe it helps someone run their business better. I’m not saying that you can’t, if your reason is legitimate, leave a bad review. But have you ever read any of these things? People complaining that things were wet (and it had just rained). Why would you do that? What is it that you hope to achieve? Is your life so small that you must lower people to your level in order to feel good? I’ve always been the guy that lets businesses know that I’m not happy, should it arise. I want to give them every chance to set it right or explain what happened. Truthfully, there was only one time where I was shocked by the reaction. I’m not hard to please, so for me to point something out that made me unhappy doesn’t happen that often.

All of that said, on-line reviews are a real thing; I’ve used them before making a purchase or dining somewhere. So, they do have their place on the planet. But as we slowly emerge from this thing that we’ve been rolling around with for the past 18 months, let's use our keyboards wisely. You don’t need to weigh in on every tiny thing. Conversely, you should probably do the opposite; take time out of your life to let a business know that they did it right. The internet is a powerful thing. I hear over and over again that everyone uses their phone for everything; I guess that means it can be used for good things, too. My challenge to you, next time you go into a local merchant, is to find the things you like about them and post that! These people are trying to operate in difficult times; they can’t find people to work, and I’m sure that affects business. In life we can either become bitter or better, but trust me, only you can make that choice. Choose better; trust me when I tell you, better is better.

Peter "Fish" Case is a man with an opinion. He offers up a weekly podcast discussion that can be heard at www.theearspoon.com. Questions, compliments and complaints can be sent to him at fish@theearspoon.com. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of Vermont News & Media.


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