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Alice Hore

Don’t be a dick!

Words to live by – and if you think I’m talking about you, I probably am.

In my house there are three rules that have evolved over the past nine years of home ownership and having flatmates: don’t be a dick, don’t be a maggot and don’t eat the last banana (unless you paid for it, of course).

I feel like these house rules also cross over to real life.

Media also has rules and, while I don’t know or understand them in depth, one would hope that these rules of engagement also cross over to social media, or at the very least people can have manners and social etiquette.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case. So who is holding the keyboard warriors to account? I figure if you can’t say it out loud and sign your name to it, perhaps don’t say it at all.

Over the weekend I had an anonymous note in my mailbox regarding my young collie – a deaf foster dog who needs patience and time to help him fit into society.

The frustration of an anonymous note is the inability to have a conversation about the issue and come up with a solution.

My plan for Merle, the dog in question, is to write a letter and pop it in nearby mailboxes for him to introduce himself – something like: “Hi, my name is Merle Haggard. I’m cute, but I’m deaf so sometimes I don’t know I’m being a bit of a dick, but my boss is trying really hard to make me fit in”.

The note will also include my personal details so people can meet me and discuss how Merle and I can not annoy them. If the letter writer in question is reading this and Merle hasn’t learned to type yet, please come and say “hi” and I’ll make you a cup of tea.

A deaf foster dog, of the working dog variety, is not an easy pooch to find a home for, so for now he will be training to be a trail dog and Hank Williams’ wingman on the front of my mountain bike.

Tired dogs are good dogs, after all.

But seriously, if your neighbour’s pets are causing some sort of frustration in your life, go and have a polite chat about it – chances are your neighbour will appreciate the face-to-face interaction and you might even make a new friend of the canine or human variety.

While we’re on the topic of annoying noises, over the weekend on social media there was a reference made to my singing voice after my image was used to accompany another anonymous “from a reader” post on a local Facebook page.

“The ones [myself and my fellow band member] in the picture were so-called singing one night in town pub and a heard of cows at Papakio escaped [sic]”, one commenter wrote. Please note those are not my spelling mistakes – I have an editor to fix those.

Perhaps they heard Merle Haggard throwing a backyard tantrum and thought it was me. Although, if you do need a herd of cows moved, give me a shout, I’m as good as any huntaway!

To be honest, I don’t actually follow any of the so-called Oamaru community Facebook pages, but if someone sends me a screenshot I’ll have a wee nosey. Like when someone steals a photo and sticks it alongside an inflammatory post and can’t even get the band name right, the urge to comment overwhelms me.

Trolls and hecklers don’t bother me. In fact, I relish the opportunity to throw a quick-witted one-liner back at them.

What does bother me is the unsolicited association with a toxic brand online.

My advice for social media engagement for you all: don’t follow toxic pages and don’t engage with toxic pages. As for trolls commenting on them, don’t engage – no-one cares what they think and they probably aren’t even a real person!

As a wise person recently said to me, what other people think of me is none of my business.