It’s on the web, it must be true. Aren’t you?

socialPotentially disgruntled journalist. Liberal activist. Occasional snarkmaster. Fierce grandmother and don’t even think of messing with her kids.

Active on social media, posts pictures on foodie pages and contributes to the discussion of local politics with guarded insights from her reporter past.

Casually but frequently promotes caffeine use, positive body image, pit bulls and the correct use of their, they’re and there. Grammatically correct. Politically flexible, but rumored to be a left-leaning conservative. Laughs a lot.

Hates lima beans and intolerance (irony noted).

Frequents live theater, cover band concerts and is a vocal advocate for arts in the schools and community. Writes like a fiend because the voices in her head all clamor to be heard. Looking for the positive is her strongest survival skill. Ambiguously ethnic look.

Guilty?

160612111152-14-orlando-shooting-0612-large-169What would your profile say if you were the suspect in a horrific crime like the slaughter of 50 (and possibly more) patrons of a gay nightclub in Orlando?

Would they look at your name and make assumptions? What can you tell from something as innocuous as Rock? Maiden name? Unpronounceable in some circles, but no clear indicator as to politics or motive. Presumably not Muslim. Definitely Czechoslovakian with a large dose of Irish.

Would we be judged by what we do? Who we friend? Words we post? What we ate for dinner? What events we attend? Our pets? Politics? Passions?

We share our secrets with the world liberally on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other networks; we worry about privacy and identity theft, but don’t consider the overwhelming ability of reporters, politicians and the general public to cull our online pedigrees for accusatory ammunition.

160612054737-orlando-nightclub-shooting-pulse-large-169With breakneck speed, the Speculation Avengers assemble and create a creature that provides “answers” to questions that inquiring minds insist upon, accuracy be damned. In their attempts to scratch and claw their way to be first or on top without allowing time for fact-checking, media outlets post assumptions, generalizations and wild-ass guesses as to the suspect’s background and motivation.

Sadly, with a certainty that drills to our very core, people online eat it up, chew on it for awhile and take their own spins, some with extra vitriol, taking the violence from the blood-stained nightclub floor and spreading it out with their own broad brushes across America.

How the hell did we get here?

What’s even worse, if there is a hint of controversy, the trolls and master spinners work double time, creating poisonous posts and justifying them with their own anger. We know volumes about the American-born-and-raised Muslim shooter in Orlando, but what do we know about the non-Muslim plain white guy who was arrested in Santa Monica early this morning with a carload of weapons on his way to the Los Angeles Gay Pride parade? He came from Indiana, something easy to surmise from the license plates on his car. It’s been hours since he was arrested, and we know nothing about how he got his weapons, potential explosives, who his alleged “friend” that he was meeting might be or gotten a statement from his parents. Biased much?

os-orlando-shooting-pulse-nightclubI have spent far too much time on the train wreck we call social media today, unable to look away (if I did, I would only see the TV playing an endless loop of tragedy). I read far too many vicious comments about discrimination, suggesting that we ban all Muslims or rush to gun stores to arm ourselves so we can shoot back if attacked. There is no good that will come of either of those proposals.

And I’m not going to touch the political commentary; racists taking credit for the terrorism call or homophobic elected officials expressing their sympathy because it’s the right thing to do.

The only redeeming quality of today’s posts were expressions of sympathy and frustration and horror at the events in Orlando. They significantly outnumbered the nastiness, bolstering my faith in the greater good. They all cried for a solution to the violence, to build up love to overwhelm the hate.

In a perfect world, politicians would listen to the people and better the situation. Solutions are hard and require working together toward a better day.

Would that it was that easy. But it’s worth giving it a shot.

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I welcome your feedback and thoughts. Solving these problems call for a lot of good communication – why not start here? Thanks for reading. Please share!

Carol Rock is a writer based in the Los Angeles area. She is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years experience covering all areas of news and features. She works as a freelance public relations and media consultant, with writing remaining her strong suit. Her tattoo, if it were real, would read “Don’t Die Wondering.”

 

McD’s Monster Mistake: Who Doesn’t Want to be Batman?

I can’t f-ing believe it.

It is 2015, right?

As I drove through McDonalds to get a Happy Meal – not for a child, but for myself, because it’s a healthier choice, sizewise – I was asked “for a girl or a boy?”

I was momentarily stunned.

“What?” I asked.

“Is this for a boy or a girl?” the voice answered.

“Does it matter?” I responded.

“Yes.”

Silence, tempered with consternation, on my end. The feminist in me was ready to reach through the box and strangle something, but I cooled. Surely this was just a nightmare.

Eventually I said “It doesn’t matter,” as I pulled my car around the corner.

Had I not been in a drive-thru with a car in front of me, I would have just left. But I was stuck. And my curiosity was getting the better of me. What would they choose?

At the window, they handed me my Happy Meal. Just enough cheeseburger, a tiny order of fries (about 10 – perfect), apple slices and milk.

And a pink and black box.

What the hell was Ronald McDonald up to now?

Inside the box was a Monster High Dress Designer Toy, comprised of a plastic standup doll and different pieces of fabric that could be snapped into place over a Monster girl form.UnhappyToy

Essential life skills, McD’s is teaching these young ones. Plaid or metallic?

Other “girl toys” in this line, which was created by McDonalds THIS YEAR, includes a head with hair that can be combed and stickers placed to create the face; a mirror with changing Monster girl figures; a fashion notebook and a bracelet. These toys are part of the “McPlay POWER” campaign, which features “heroic thrills” for boys and “creeperific fun” for girls.

On the “boys toys” side, there is Batman. Boys get two versions of the Batmobile (one pulls back and races, the other fires a weapon), the Joker with a hammer making banging noises, the Joker riding a motorcycle or action figures, including Batman himself.

Somebody in ClownWorld said “Well, there are no girls in Batman comics.”

Really? Please, then, explain Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Batwoman, Black Canary, Huntress, Stephanie Brown, Barbara Gordon, Cassandra Cain, Lady Blackhawk, Dawn Grainger, Renee Montoya and Hawkfire No girls, indeed.

Fools.

Here’s what the McComeback will be: “If you wanted a Batman toy, you can always ask for a boy’s toy.

Not that easy, clown.

With the Batman lineup, behavior like fighting, speeding, launching weapons and saving the world (using their skills of imagination and competition) is reinforced, while the Monster High cadre hones their skills in fashion, beauty, accessories and twisted self-imagery.

Wrong. Just so wrong on so many levels.

I didn’t pick glass shards out of my fists to deal with this idiocy.

McDonalds uses a big ad agency to come up with these campaigns. I guess with the popularity of the show “Mad Men” and its back-to-the-Stone Age-sexism, they thought it would be a great idea to segregate toys. Because an agency that big with a client so huge couldn’t possibly provide children with just toys – something to play with – instead of pigeonholing them like society has done for far too many years.

As a former newspaper columnist, I remember writing about this several years ago – during the last century – and this déjà vu is a sucker punch to the gut.

Quick! Pick out the girl toys and the boy toys!
Quick! Pick out the girl toys and the boy toys!

Target and Walmart, both worthy competitors in mega-consumerism, have eliminated the divisions between girl and boy toys, with no dip in their sales. Recent pressure from the medical community, with concerns for nutritional values, brought about a positive change in the Happy Meal, which used to include a fried sandwich, more fries and a soda. Now, things like yogurt and fruit are available, and even adult meals that come with fries include a choice of salad instead. McDonalds seems willing to step up and make a food change, but continues to practice inexcusable sexism, a fail on the grandest scale.

And for those idiots at the agency who think girls don’t like Batman and Joker, here’s a news flash: girls like comics and superheroes, fighting crime and playing with things that go “POW!” “BAM!” and “BOOM!” – their numbers are growing and you’ve missed a huge national trend.

Are you really getting your money’s worth, Ronnie?

But the saddest thing was when I was handed the Happy Meal by the fast food worker – a teenage girl – I realized that she was being taught that this segregation that is so wrong is what she has to do to keep her job.

All I know is that my granddaughter will never taste a Happy Meal until there’s equality in Gotham City.batwoman