We have become a numb society.  There's just no way to argue the point.  Need proof? If you're old enough, think back to Columbine.  If you're not old enough, click here.   This was an Earth shaking event when it happened in 1999.  As a society, we were shocked.  Devastated.  Two kids had gone into a school and killed a bunch of other kids.  If you were a parent, this pierced your heart.

I challenge you now to guess how many school shootings there were in the United States in 2019.  Identify as many as you can.  i came up with four, and guessed ten.  The answer?  45.  The thing about school shootings... they've become commonplace.  And the number of mass shootings in general is far more staggering.

It isn't just shootings.  Things occur on a daily basis that just a decade ago would have been unfathomable.  My neighbor has a Trump campaign sign in his yard that says "No more Bullshit".  And why not?  Our President uses terms like that on a semi consistent basis, often televised.  We won't get into whether that's acceptable or not;  this isn't meant to be a political statement of any kind.  But can you imagine if Bush or Clinton or even Obama had said the actual word "Bullshit" on television?  They would have been dismantled by the media... right and left.

But this is the world we now live in.  We are inundated on a daily basis with a swarm of "News".  Impeachment, for example.  It doesn't matter which party you support.  If you're a Democrat, you'll no doubt hear Wolf Blitzer screaming "Breaking News" every time Trump breaks wind.  Rachael Maddow and Chris Cuomo will tell you all night how bad it smelled and how unethical it is.  Switch over to Fox News and the Conservative counterparts will be there to tell you that the smell is Hillary's fault, Obama's were worse.  Rudy Giuliani will run to Europe to investigate it.  Again... the world we now live in.

But for now, let's take political lean out of this.  There is one central fact that no one argues with.  In 2016, Russia interfered with our elections.  You may believe it was to help Trump.  You may believe it was to help Hillary.  You may believe, as is the current trend, that Ukraine also interfered.  You may even believe that it was Ukraine, not Russia.  But that one universal fact remains at the heart.  Our elections were tampered with. 

But do you know how?  Other than a few vague ideas that it happened on social media, most of us have no idea.  Which begs the question:  If we, as a whole, don't really know what happened, how in the world can it be stopped?

We stumbled, quite accidentally, onto the answer here.  An answer we feel like we need to share.  The we here is a crowd of two;  myself and my teenage son.  Two months ago he came home with an assignment from his coding class.  He was to create a blog and get 100 views on it.  It seemed like an interesting idea; his thought was that as we are both huge football fans, we could do a sports blog together.  We decided to make our first post together our own NFL Power Rankings.  He put together some really nice looking graphics.  And we waited.  After a week, we had 34 views.  And we were fairly impressed.  But the goal of 100 still seemed pretty far away.

We've both frequented message boards for our favorite teams, and came up with an idea.  What if we put links to our Power Rankings on our favorite boards?  Which is exactly what we did.  And from half a dozen boards, we wound up with over a thousand views.  It seemed like an enormous number to us.  Our little project, which we called "The Sportz Insider" (Lame, I know, but we thought it sounded cool).  Odds are if you're reading this, you've probably seen it, because the following week we posted our power rankings in every football message board we could find; there are hundreds.  By the end of that weekend, we had gone over 50,000 views.  In the overall world of the Internet, 50k views is nothing.  But we had felt like we owned the Internet at that point.  The next week we broke 100k.  As we were eating supper that Monday night, looking together through the many comments we had received.... most positive, a lot of sports type arguing, and a few jerks who felt the need to insult our existence and heritage in different ways, my kid looked at me and said "You know, this is how the Russians did it."

I was taken aback;  the kid isn't exactly a news hound, and as far as I knew was only marginally aware of the news in general.  Bear in mind, aside from googling things and watching Youtube, I knew virtually nothing about the Internet.  Hell, I need my kids half the time to operate my DVR.  And as I mentioned back in the beginning, I was one of the majority of Americans who couldn't have begun to explain exactly how they did what they did.  He took me on a bit of a tour of the web.  Showed me what exactly fake news is and how it works.  We've all been touched by it;  not the accusation of it that the networks sling at each other, but the actual fake news.  We looked through the comments, and realised two things... just how gullible our society as a whole is, and how seriously people take these stories.  Not just political subjects; Ever seen a post of some kind that tells you someone famous died when they didn't?  Just a few weeks ago articles circulated saying that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was dead.  And at that table, we decided to try an experiment.

It started with the kid asking what would happen if we made a similar post about a politician.  And so we wrote a piece saying that Ukrainian ambassador Melanie Honcharenko had died.  Again, if you're reading this, you probably saw it.   The thing is... she didn't die.  We would know.  We created her.  We literally googled Ukrainian names.  When we found one, we entered it into Google images and picked a face that looked, in our opinion, like a Ukrainian Diplomat.

We made the article as ridiculous as we could.  Inferred that our imaginary friend was a witness set to testify in the impeachment proceedings.  We went for straight drama.  The article was, to quote our president.... complete bullshit.  No sane person would read this and remotely believe it.  If you're curious, click the picture above to read it.  But in truth... there's no need.  As I said, it's dribble.  And yet... people did.  By the tens of thousands.  Between the 3 separate blogs we created, this silly piece of fiction amassed almost a quarter million views.  It started with dropping links in every message board we could find.  Then the Internet did what we've learned it does; it spread.  People shared the thing on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit,  as if it were fact.  Take a moment and search it on these sites. Literally hundreds of sites; left wing, right wing, religious, name it... ran with it.  What you'll see is disheartening.  And the leaps they took were stunning.  I could post links, but again, no need.  Google her name.   Search it on those sites.  People splashed it on other message boards.    And the comments.... Dear God.

I truly don't believe she will be the only one found dead before this Trump thing is over. You can not fight against a President with the personal $$$$$$ money that Trump has, and I believe that some of the others testifying against the president will all of a sudden catch amnesia from blunt force trauma to the head that will cause them to forget everything they know, and they should say I don't remember the answer to the question if they want to continue living. I'm not saying that Trump had anything to do with Melanie's death, but I do believe he has friends that wouldn't want to see him impeached from his office as president!!!

I truly feel bad for Melanie, and especially for her family of their loss!!!

Trump supporters blamed Hillary.  Liberals blamed Trump.  It was, in a word, insanity.  Could this many people truly be this stupid?  As we did this, we started to see how widespread it actually is.  The fact is that in this brave new world of information, the Internet has become gospel.  A massive percentage of our population can't be bothered with silly details like fact and truth.  Far too many of us worship at the temple of Fox News and CNN and MSNBC.  No one seems to realise that these are NOT "news" outlets.  These are television entertainment channels.  Their main focus, despite what their commercials may say, is to MAKE MONEY.  Sean Hannity is not a News Anchor.  Nor are Judge Jeanine, Chris Cuomo, or that damn Wolf Blitzer.  What you see between the commercials is a product designed to attract advertisers and create revenue.  No one bothers with silly little details like fact checking.  Just like poor Ms. Honcharenko, if they see it on the web, they assume it's true.

For the past month or so, we have continued to prove this point.  We let slip that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had passed away in prison.  And oh, how the liberal sheep loved that one.  Within hours, you'd have thought Trump walked into the prison and killed him himself.  We cured AIDS.  This weekend we've convinced more than a hundered thousand folks that Hillary is running again.  One stupidly impossible story after another.  And you, fair readers, ate it up.

So how, you may ask, does this pertain to Russia?  Because this is EXACTLY what the Russians did to us in 2016.  People read these stories, and they believe them.  The United States has become a land of sensationalism.  People digest news in 160 letter increments on Twitter.  They swallow wholesale whatever propaganda the talking heads at the aforementioned networks preach.  And they believe it all.  And it controls what the think.  how they feel.... and how they vote. No one thinks for themselves.  More than half a million views generated in a couple of months by a guy who knows next to nothing about the Internet and his kid.  Can you imagine what a fleet of Russian hackers did... and are still doing?

Make no mistake.  It's happening.  And it happened.  Again, politics aside... if you don't think that fleet of Russian hackers affected the outcome of the 2016 elections... you're a fool.  They played a part in 2018 as well.  It isn't about Trump specifically, although God knows he hasn't helped his cause on that.  This is about sowing discord.  I believe that the Russians had just as much to do with the "Blue Wave" in 2018 as they did with Trump's 2016 win.  Why?  Because Putin knew full well that if the Democrats would find a way to impeach Trump if they won a majority.  Although again.... he hasn't helped his own cause there either.  I think Trump sees Putin as an ally;  a tool that helped him get elected once and will attempt to again.  It would explain his unwillingness to take a negative stance with Russia and the fact that his agenda seems so often to coincide with theirs.  Because he understands the transactional nature of the world.  He knows just how much power Putin really has.... even if we all don't.  He does go too far at times; notice that a good number of his Tweets originate from accounts just like ours.  Brand new.  No history.  One or two previous tweets.  Often propaganda laced bullshit,,, just like ours.  Trump is not a Russian agent, as many far left zealots seem to believe.  Like the rest of us, he is an unwitting victim of perhaps the best hustler on earth; a KGB trained genius intent not only on our destruction, but on seeing that we inflict it ourselves.

So is there a solution?  There is.  There is a role for us all to play.  And it starts with all of you.... and with me.  All of us.  For starters.... stop clicking bullshit.  A good deal of what they do is exactly what I did.  Politically motivated posts on message boards.  Things like we posted.... ignore it.  Don't click it.  If Paul Manafort was dead, it would be on every web site and network in existence.  If you see a link that says he is... ignore it.  Post after it and let people know what it is.  Notify your board so they can take it down.  When my two oldest children were small.... my daughter used to antagonise my son.  She had a little annoying song she'd sing that drove him nuts.  And I'd always tell him the same thing... she only does it for the reaction.  This is no different.  They spam because people click.  If people stop clicking, it will no longer be worth them spamming.

It isn't just spam links, though.  They will have people join your rooms.  And after they share a few conversations, make some "friends".... they will start to plant propaganda seeds.  I have a unique perspective on this, as we've been surfing most of the major boards on the American side of the web for a couple of weeks.  You'd be amazed at how many threads on every kind of board you can imagine.... sports boards, Star Wars boards, Car Boards, Animal Boards, hell, quilting boards... yes, that's a thing... they're huge, believe it or not.... there's even a whole massive board dedicated to Nancy Drew.  I kid you not.

The Boards themselves have a role to play in this as well.  There are some simple steps that can be taken by them to greatly reduce this problem.

  • First, it's far too easy to sign up to these things.  You start an email.... free with yahoo or gmail.  Pick a username and a password.  Enter your throwaway email.  They send you a verification email, which you click.  Just like that, and you're in.  You can be dropping links in 2 to 3 minutes.  Often times when you drop your link, the message board will ban you.  At which point you take the 3 minutes to do it again.  Some message boards will ban your ip address.  At which point amateurs like us are done, but these people use things that rotate and change their ip... don't ask me to explain how that works, though,  As i said... amateur.  So what can the boards themselves do?  For starters, make it harder to join.  Instead of letting it be automatic when you click your email link, have a moderator review them first.  There are programs out there that let them trace the ip to see if it's a known spammer.   
  • Make it more difficult to put links in posts.  For example, there is a New England Patriots Board that will not let you post a link until you've posted in the forum at least 50 times.  That's a hell of a deterrent.  Small numbers don't help much;  10 posts can be made in 5 minutes.
  • Moderate your threads.  One thing I've seen a lot of is message boards making long standing members moderators. 
I realise that this may be more work.  It may affect the earnings of the boards.  The ads on the pages are often paid based on the amount of traffic.  The programs may cost money.  That can be offset though.  One fairly large board has a sticky atop all of their threads explaining that to put the time in to moderate and to purchase the anti spam software costs money and asked for donations.  These are communities, and sometimes that means working together... boards and members.... to find solutions.  The bigger boards; 24/7, Rivals, some of the hunting boards.... should do all of these things, if possible.  I'm not sure if they realise how big a target they are.  Rivals, for example.  You can sign up one time on Rivals and have access instantly to dozens of boards populated by thousands of members.  in an hour you can reach several thousand people.  And with the right click bait and just a few people Tweeting or sharing on Facebook, you can reach literally tens of thousands of people.  It's really that simple.

In the end, though, the answer here lies with each of us individually.  We have to fight fire with fire.  We, as a society, need to remember how to think for ourselves.  We have got to start educating ourselves.  We shouldn't be getting our news from message boards or exclusively from the major "news" networks.  If your political beliefs are important to you.... and they should be... get out there and find the truth.  Because it matters.  This isn't a partisan issue.  There are people out there invading us via the web for and against both parties.  

There is a concept that everyone, but maybe more than most Americans, need to find an old concept called Freethought.  Click the word if you'd like; the link will take you to Wikipedia's definition.  Here's a summary.

is an epistemological viewpoint which holds that positions regarding truth should be formed only on the basis of logicreason, and empiricism, rather than authoritytraditionrevelation, or dogma. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a freethinker is "a person who forms their own ideas and opinions rather than accepting those of other people."

In other words... don't believe everything that you read and see.  Search out the truth.  And spread it.  They attack us by spreading poison.  The antidote is to fight back by spreading truth.  There is a movement of Freethinking out there.  But we all need to turn off the TV.  Dig for truth, not sensationalism.  This isn't a reality show, it's our nation.  Our home.  Make no mistake, this is a war.  And it's a war we're losing.  We can all have our own opinion and beliefs.  Whether you're a Trump supporter, A Never Trumper, or a liberal, we are all Americans.  These people are pitting Americans against Americans.  Breeding hate.  This division has to end, or it will be the end of us.  My son has started this page. It's called Free Thinker Revolution.  He has no interest in Partisan issues, only in saving his world.  It's a simple Blogger page, with links to Facebook and Twitter.   I think the millennials may be the key to this.  I invite you on his behalf to join his page.  Build the message of freethinking.  Or go start your own page.  Find another page.  Share this article; you can re-tweet it or share it on Facebook below.  Or write one of your own.  Tweet #freethinkerrevolution.  Our two party system was built on one fundamental premise; two opposing sides working together with the understanding that the truth most often lies in the middle, through compromise.  The soul of our country is at stake.  United we stand, Divided we fall.   They aren't just words.  I'm just a guy.  And you're just someone as well.  But two people standing side by side is how revolutions are begun.  Because 2 becomes 3 becomes 10.  They just need something to believe in.  A United America seems worth fighting for, doesn't it?

To end.... let me apologise to those we may have upset or offended these last couple of months with our posts.  You won't be seeing any more from us.  But we wanted to do our part to try and fight.  And we will continue to do so.  I pray you all will as well.  God Bless.

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