Edgy Mama: Biscuitgate offers buttery hot lessons for teaching kids how to communicate online


By Anne Fitten Glenn

Biscuitgate reminded me, once again, of a couple of things: all publicity is good publicity, and, nice people can be real assholes online. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go read this thread and marvel at the palpable anger and rampant meanness. It’s also funny as hell in places.

When I read the Biscuitgate thread, it occurred to me that I could use it to serve up some buttery hot lessons to my kids, who now spend lots of time communicating in the on-line world.

First lesson: every person who works in marketing and public relations (including me) would pull out a toenail with a pair of pliers to ignite this level of passionate debate about a product. That said, we know better (or we should know better) than to be flamers ourselves, especially in the well-policed online communities such as /reddit, where overt marketing will get your butt banned and your product publicly shamed. That’s important to remember, kids. In these days of selfies and sneaky product promotion, think about what you’re reading and what may have motivated it being put on the Internets.

It also occurs to me that if people were as passionate about their significant others and families as they are about margarine blends, the world would be a different place. We’d all lose some productivity to sexy time, but the trade-off would be a happier, more relaxed populace. So lesson number two – be passionate, but pick your battles. Focus on loving your people, not on whether or not there’s a margarine blend in your damn biscuit. I think there’s a dirty metaphor in there somewhere, but you get the point.

Lesson the third is that, while I don’t know most of the people interacting rudely with each other on this thread, I recognize a trend I see again and again—people being super assholes to each other online. We all know that being in proximity, being face-to-face, with actual human humans, changes how we act and react to them. It’s a brave new world in that, less than a decade ago, most of us were not talking to others via screens (and certainly not via screens that we carried in our pockets ALL the effing time). I’m not sure we’ve figured out how to do it well yet. Or how to teach our children to do so.

I’ve told my kids to remember one simple thing—think before you type.

That goes a long way toward less online assholery and miscommunication. It’s easy to be an asshole, to yell in all caps, to react without thinking, to name call, to condescend, to bully. It can be difficult to be restrained.

I know. I’ve had all of the above done to me over the years in reaction to my columns, and I’ve reacted when I shouldn’t have. I now have the hide of a gator, but I certainly did not before I chose to put my thoughts out there as a writer, and I definitely did not when I was 13 years old. And, of course, even gator skins can be pierced at the right angle. I’ve told my kids that there will always be unjust slander, and in most cases, responding with anger, no matter how righteous, just escalates an already bad situation. Plus, I’m not sure anyone ever really listens to anything they don’t want to hear. Sadly.

So thank you, Biscuitgaters, for the online lessons of the week. May all your biscuits be buttered with flowers and fairy dust.

AFG has written about parenting for many years, during which time, she has, yes, been an asshole online now and again. But she’s matured over time, as the new silver streaks in her hair prove. She now strives to bring peace to her interactions in both the off and online worlds. You can support her cause by buying and reading her book, “Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Asheville Brewing” and drinking Oskar Blues Brewery beer (which she markets unflamingly).


D.Dial January 15, 2014 - 12:54 pm

Biscuitgate…..just another example of how wen have all the makings of a satirical sitcom similar to “Portlandia” …our very own Ashelandia.

Katherine January 15, 2014 - 9:07 am

*stands up and claps* Thank you Edgy Mama for writing what I am thinking most of the time. BTW, “And, of course, even gator skins can be pierced at the right angle” – best line of the article. It truly encapsulates the pain that people feel when attacked online.

Keep up the good work!

Ben Wiggins January 14, 2014 - 9:37 pm

I think that there were some people on their that certainly got things out of control and downright threatened each other. I was very active in the conversation but was not threatening. Not to mention my name and my photo were up there, there was no anonymity. I think however that behind the scenes people would have been surprised to know two things. 1. Most of those people knew each other, the ones that didn’t were the ones getting extremely out of hand and 2. most of the people that were posting regularly, regardless of views, are now friends. It was more of a venting/bitching session than it was a direct attack with a few bad apples thrown in there.

Justin Kincaid January 14, 2014 - 7:34 pm

I was involved in the biscuit fiasco and was probably the one who served up the first volleys of “are you kidding me”. I just relocated to Asheville to handle some other business, take a break from the road and write a sitcom that I am in a network development deal. I understand this town has some strong beliefs about social issues but this? This was just astounding and there was no way that I could not use it for if nothing else my own amusement. It did not disappoint. Two straight days of whack jobs vehemently arguing their case and me just being an ass. It was one of the greatest times I have ever had on the internet! I was bombarded with messages from people who laughed their asses off to people who wanted to meet me at a bar at 1:30 in the morning to beat their biscuit point of view into my head. Stay crazy Asheville, I need more material! I love this town, it is phenomenal in so many ways…. @jtkincaidcomedy on Twitter and FB https://www.facebook.com/ComedianJustinKincaid

LEW January 13, 2014 - 12:15 pm

I so agree! I really wish all threads required your actual name and a photo (I know, I know, I am doing neither here.) The amount of rudeness seems to rise with the amount of anonymity. How much more productive and ‘human’ conversations online would be without it.

Sean January 13, 2014 - 10:37 am

Excellent analysis. I got online in the 80s and was a real dick at times. Not sure if it was my age or newness to the medium, but thankfully that time has past. I’ve learned to try to keep a level head, hopefully the same will happen for others.


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