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The Fisher of Stories



I haven’t written anything in a very long time.

One of my Facebook friends, fellow educator, and fellow Duke fan, Deana, issued a challenge of sorts on her Facebook.

The challenge: thirty days of writing with a different prompt each day.

Let’s be real honest. It’s 8 p.m. and I haven’t blogged since the beginning of September. This one is going to suck. But you’ve read this far, might as well push through. I did.

The first prompt is five problems I have with social media. I can’t think of any particular order to rank these in, so I’ll just be spitting them out with a number next to them.

1. Different expectations for different networks — I once heard someone say, “Facebook is church on Sunday morning, and Twitter is the strip club you were in on Saturday night.” I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anything more accurate. There was a time—before students found me on the Twitter—where I used a foul word every once in a while or I’d retweet a crude picture. I will say this, that has changed since I’ve started teaching and helping out with the youth group at my church. I want to set a good example for the next group of world leaders, so I’ve tried to tone things down across all the platforms I’m currently on (Facebook, Twitter, IG, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc.). But to this day, if I need to rant, I choose Twitter for the diatribe, mostly because my mom hasn’t found Twitter, and neither have most of the school board.

2. Beefs — I don’t get Twitter and Facebook beefs. I mean, I understand keyboard warriors and the need to troll, I do that all the time. But to actually get into a real fight with someone over social media? Come on. GUYS YOU AREN’T DOING ANYTHING WHEN YOU DO THAT. All you’ve managed to do is prove you’re an idiot on a network where idiots tend to go viral. I have gotten into a Twitter beef with Tom Arnold once, which devolved into one of his followers insulting my “sodium-induced bloated face,” which I’m not gonna lie, cut real deep. Where’s the beef? Not where I can see it, folks. Chill out.

3. Creepers — Look. I’ve dated a few women, I’ve made some mistakes, I’ve adopted three kids, and I teach young people. I know y’all are creeping on me. In fact, someone reading this right now is doing nothing but trying to catch me throwing shade so they can try to ruin my life.

I would also like to add that my wife is the creeper champ, but it’s out of necessity is what she tells me, so I let it slide. Don’t creep, y’all. Especially if you’re a teenager reading this, or if you have the maturity level of a teenager, don’t creep. Don’t do it. You’ll make your enemies a whole lot more mad if you aren’t typing their name into a search bar somewhere. Of course I could just defer to Wilde here:
4. That I can’t WUPHF people yet —

Seriously scientists, I’m looking at you. Make this happen.
5. Twitter won’t verify me — As you can tell, I’m really reaching deep into the bag here. But in all honesty, here’s my argument. I’m a teacher, right? I have students who follow me on Twitter, right? HOW DO THEY KNOW IT’S THE REAL TRAVIS SLOAT? It’s a security issue is what it is, we can’t have kids following fake educator accounts and being seduced with things like people sliding into their DMs, or offering them money for more followers. Twitter needs to verify me so my students know that I’m the real Mr. Sloat. I’ve tried tweeting that to them, but to no avail. Maybe you all could help me out?
There you have it, it’s now 8:40 p.m. and I’ve written my first blog for the writing challenge. If you catch me slipping, I’d appreciate some accountability on your end by WUPHFing me and keeping me on my toes. And if you don’t want to read thirty days of this (it will get better I swear), then you should probably just delete me off whatever social media site you pulled this from. I promise I won’t mind.
Follow me on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram @tstyles77
Facebook is here
Go find the LinkedIn yourself, I’m hardly ever on it. Love you.
**UPDATE** It has come to my attention that some people out there actually don’t like the sesame sticks, and/or have a more coveted piece than the rye chip. I’ve included a poll for discussion purposes at the bottom of this post.

I’m not a complainer.

I’ll let you recover from that.

I enjoy the simpler things in life. Things like fishing, basketball, and popping open a bag of my favorite crispy, salted snacks, such as Nacho Cheese Doritos or Gardetto’s Original Recipe Snack Mix.

Yes, I’m aware they make a four-cheese version, but I’m not a weirdo, so I don’t eat them, the same way I’m not a weirdo by eating Cool Ranch Doritos. Seriously, if you like Cool Ranch Doritos, you probably should just unfriend me on Facebook.

However, Gardetto’s, in the surprise Douche Move of 2013, has committed what I consider to be some sort of felony.

Just lies on top of gross pretzels and amazing rye chips.

They took out the sesame sticks.

I will admit that the way I eat Gardetto’s is a little weird. Like maybe I have a legit disorder or something, so don’t make fun of me about it cause it’s the equivalent of laughing a kid with cancer. It’s untouchable.

I eat them in a specific order.

1. Pretzels – Pretzels are disgusting, so I have to eat them first. Not even the glorious miracle working fairies at the Gardetto’s plant with their blend of special secret spices can get me to enjoy a pretzel. Pretzels are like the Monday-Thursday of Gardetto’s. You’re just getting through them to get to the weekend.

2. Breadsticks – If pretzels are the Monday-Thursday, then the breadsticks are like Friday at 4 p.m. You know you’re only a short time away from unbridled joy and never having to work again.

3. Sesame Sticks – THEY TOOK OUT THE SESAME STICKS THOSE SICK, DISGUSTING, AND HORRIBLE PEOPLE I HOPE THEY ALL GET POISON IVY ON THEIR PRIVATES. Now they have some sort of little Chex Mix knockoff swirly wavy bullcrap breadstick in there now. It’s terrible. Probably the worst thing to happen to me since I tried to run a 5K.

4. Rye Chips – Do I even have to put this here? Surely everyone on the planet saves these for last, unless you’re the type of person who likes to live hard and fast and has probably been in prison for making meth. Those types probably eat them first. Hands down best thing on the planet when you’re craving them. The rye chips are the Memorial Day Weekend of the bag, just hot chicks in bikinis on the lake for three days.

So there’s my lineup.

But imagine my surprise the other day when I cracked open a bag and said to myself, “Boy these look funny.” But I started in on the pretzels anyway, cause you have to start grindin’ if you want the reward right?

I got through the pretzels, and much to my surprise, THERE WERE NO SESAME STICKS.

Probably top ten most disappointed moments in my life.

So I start looking through the bag and I see these little wavy Chex Mix things. So I did what I always do when faced with unheard of controversy at work, I announced it to the room.


As usual, my coworkers were not the least bit concerned with my plight.

So I Googled it.

Turns out, I’m not the first to break this wide open. Their Facebook page has been blown up* with folks up in arms about this situation. It’s pretty tense over there.

A little bit of salty language here. Can’t say that I blame them.

There was thread after thread of people who weren’t taking it lying down. They were on Facebook, dangit, and they were handling business, because everyone knows Facebook gets the best results when you complain on it.

I like Brent. “But they were the best part.” Like that statement and not guerrilla warfare will get them back. So naive.

It’s because of that fact I’ve created a Facebook page for the cause.
Bring Back Gardetto’s Sesame Sticks
Like it. Love it. Further the cause.

*Shout out to my TSA folks here because I said “blown up.” Stay a while. I’m hilarious.

As I’ve mentioned previously, one day our children will find this blog. Someone will tell them about it, they’ll meander their way around the Internet, and voila, they’ll have more information about their dad than they’ll ever want.

Another aspect of that would be the fact that one day our children will have a Facebook account. And when they do, they’ll want to look back at the story of their lives I’ve told with pictures and with status updates. Kids being kids, I’m sure they’ll want to count how many times each have been mentioned or shown, and that’s when our son will realize something…

Akeeli is a Facebook “Like” machine.

I’ve often joked that if I want to improve my Klout score, all I have to do is post something to do with our darling daughter, and the response is overwhelming…not to mention the impact on the above mentioned Klout score.

And so this blog goes out to you, son. One day you’ll see it, and hopefully this will make up for all the Internet attention your sister got.

This is the adoption finalization. Crying, crying, smiling, and then Aven, the double thumbs up.

This all started on Saturday.
I’ve been really busy with work and school, and what little time I’ve been able to spend with y’all has not been as precious to me as it should be. You changed that this weekend.
I woke up early and headed out to cover a story for the paper. I didn’t have time for breakfast, and rushed through the interviews and the article because I had an appointment at the Apple store for my computer battery.
I didn’t have time for lunch before we went, so as we walked into the store, I started feeling the first effects of having taken diabetes medication without food. I got a little cranky. You rushed up to me and asked if you could go play on the iPads in the kid’s section. I said okay, and your sister went too.
After a couple of minutes, I noticed a little girl standing beside your sister watching. I asked her to get up and share with you so the kid could have a turn. When she sat down next to you, she immediately started trying to touch the screen of “your” iPad, and you shoved her arm away a little too roughly. I told you that you were done, and you had to come over to the wall and put your nose in a corner.
I know you don’t remember this specific incident, but I’m sure you’ll remember the discipline you’ve gone through growing up, and I’m sure, depending on how old you are, you think it’s so terrible. You want to know a secret? I think it’s terrible too. You and I share many qualities, remarkably so, given your lack of my genes, but the one thing we don’t share is an ornery childhood. I was mostly calm and introverted, and you are the complete opposite. I grew out of my esoteric behavior. I truly hope you never grow out of your outgoing and carefree nature.
We headed to CiCi’s Pizza, and as we were getting out of the car you did something that upset me. Right now, less than 48 hours later, I can’t even recall what it was. This tells me that it wasn’t really “me” that was upset, it was “Hungry Dad,” who is a monster. I’m still learning how to be a dad, son. I don’t know it all, and I’m sorry for that.
So I snapped at you.
You replied with a “Yes sir,” and we started walking to the restaurant.
Without even thinking, you reached up and grabbed my hand. I know you had no idea what that could do to me, and I don’t know that I can explain it.
You weren’t even mad that I had just gotten on to you. You knew that I wasn’t going to let anything happen to you crossing the parking lot, and you just trusted me – and loved me – enough to get you into the restaurant.
We ate, and I felt better. In fact, I felt so much better that I gave you and your sister each a dollar to go play games with. You went straight to a claw machine that promised you could “play till you won.” You played twice, looked up at me, and said, “Dad, can you win me something?”
Then you ran off.
Son it took me 15 more tries to win you that candy. Your mom laughed at me. But I wouldn’t quit.
When we left the restaurant, we had to take your mom to Hobby Lobby. We were walking in, and you did something I thought was hilarious. You parked yourself under a tree that was half as tall as me, and sat there in the “shade.”

There’s no shade except me.

As we resumed our trip inside, you looked up at me and said, “Dad, your favorite superhero is Superman, right?”

I said, “Yes.”
You just nodded your head like you knew all along, and then we went on in. While we were in the store, you pointed at something and said, “Dad, it’s your favorite color flower!”
I looked where you were pointing, and I saw a gigantic orange flower on display.
I’ve been saying for a year now that you don’t listen. Apparently I have been terribly, terribly wrong.
I smiled and said, “Yes it is,” and we went out to “cool off the car” while your mom and sister checked out.
Later that evening you wanted to go with me to a basketball game. You have no idea how badly I wanted to take you, but since I was the referee, I couldn’t keep an eye on you…and since you wouldn’t sit still for longer than 30 seconds, that’s kind of important. So, you didn’t get to go.
When I got home later that night, I was standing in the kitchen and you walked in.
“Dad, I got your favorite color juice tonight!” you exclaimed as you held up a bottle that once held an orange sugary beverage that was not at all similar to juice.
You know my favorite superhero is Superman.
You know my favorite color.
You even know my favorite basketball team.

You made this for me at school.

I think you like Spiderman a little better than Superman, and I think you’re partial to pink instead of orange.

And let me tell you a little secret.
I LOVED the color pink until about the sixth grade.
God, in His infinite wisdom and screwy sense of humor, put you and I together for a reason. Then, knowing we’d need women in our lives to keep us from killing each other, He went ahead and gave us your mom and sister too.
One day I’m going to figure this “dad” thing out.
I’ve got you eating like me already…

Your first corn eating contest. I’m absolutely certain you won, but they gave first to some little girl.

It’s not always sunshine and pleasant thoughts. You are stubborn, prone to violent outbursts towards your schoolmates, a bit of a liar (albeit a terrible one), and did I mention that you’re stubborn?

However, every phone call we get, every bad report from a Sunday School teacher, and every talk from anyone telling us you’re in trouble all ends the same way.
“He has a heart of gold. He is so thoughtful and sweet…when he wants to be.”
We still have work to do. About a year ago, after one of your fits, your mother and I looked at each other and cried, each wondering if we could ever straighten you out. I looked at her and said, “If God didn’t want this to happen, it wouldn’t have happened. It’s going to be okay.”
Guess what. It’s all okay. In fact, after this weekend, it’s better than okay. It’s amazing.
In honor of this post, I changed my Facebook profile picture to the one below. This is one of the happiest moments of our time together for me. We told everyone that you caught this fish. In reality, your mom set the hook and reeled it in while you ran to tell me about the fish you were “catching.”
She gave you all the credit. That’s how your mom is. That’s why we love her.
You were ecstatic. You ran. You yelled. I barely got you to stand still for the picture.
That’s how you are.
That’s why we love you.

Your biggest fish to date.

P.S. If you count the “likes” you got for this picture the first time I posted it, AND the “likes” it’s gotten since I made it my profile picture, the total comes in at a whopping 90. That’s not bad…
…but it’s not even half the “likes” your sister got on the picture of me baptizing her. 
But don’t worry. It’s not like it’s a contest. 
P.P.S. If your sister is still getting “Internet attention” when you read this, let me know. I’ll shut whatever she has down and give you $100. That’s a promise. 

I have a lot of faith in humanity.

I’m pretty sure I’ve told you all this before, but I’d like to reiterate that I believe in the basic good in every person. I also believe that if you put your faith in that basic good into action, then you will be rewarded more than you will be disappointed.

As a believer in that basic good, I try to contribute to it whenever I can. I like to say nice things about people when I can (notwithstanding a few errant diatribes, i.e. some of these blogs), I hold doors for people, and I just generally try to be what I expect people to be to me.

This past week, I’ve had a couple of experiences with people being exceptionally polite or nice to me. I am certain that no one will ever recognize them for it, so I’m choosing to do it now, as well as tell a story linked to a Facebook status I posted earlier this week.

I went to a grocery store in Warner, Oklahoma a couple of nights ago, and as I was leaving with my items, a mom and her little boy walked in the door I was preparing to exit. My hands were full, and the mom looked at me and walked by, not taking a second glance. The little boy was about ten, and he quickly followed his mother, then looked up and saw me. He immediately turned around, went back to the door, and opened it for me. I was blown away. I looked at him, bent down a little bit to get on his level, and said, “Thank you very much sir, that was very kind.”

I have hope for future generations because of that kid.

Yesterday, I took The Missus out for our weekly lunch date. I’m either at school or working pretty much the whole week through now, so we don’t see each other very often. We went to Miss Addie’s Pub in Muskogee, sat down, and had a very nice meal. We talked and laughed, and I made a huge effort to ignore my phone for the hour we had together. I also had a gin and tonic. Don’t judge me.

I paid the bill, then we left. I dropped her off at work, and then went to get my truck washed. As I pulled up to the machine that takes the money, I looked at my wallet and realized I’d left my debit card at the Pub. I called them, and they told me that yes, I’d left it, and yes they had it sitting in the cash register, ready for me to pick up any time I wanted to. To some people, that might seem like a normal expectation, and maybe it should be. But I feel like they should be recognized for it, simply because it was an act of honesty and integrity that would otherwise pass unnoticed, and therefore unappreciated, by all.

My thanks to you, employees of Miss Addie’s.

And now, the greatest thing to happen to me this week.

I walked into a convenience store on Monday morning to get some refreshments before class. I grabbed a bottle of water and got in line to check out. As I was waiting, I got a little rumbly in the ol’ tumbly. You know what I’m talking about. Not the “sweet Moses I have to find a bathroom now or it’s gonna get real” kind of rumble, but the “Hey, you know what sounds good? Chips and beef jerky,” kind of rumble. Being somewhat on a diet (read: taking a prescription diet pill) I decided against chips and beef jerky and stepped out of line to grab a Special K bar.

Assuming I had given up my place in line, I went to get behind the young lady who was standing behind me just moments before. As I did, she looked at me and motioned me back in front of her, saying, “Go ahead.” I said, “You sure?” and she nodded yes. I thanked her, and turned to complete my transaction. Before I did, I looked at the items she held in her hand and did a quick tabulation of about how much they cost. Since I am terrible at math, I calculated what I think was a can of pop and candy bar to come out to around five dollars. Don’t judge me.

As I got my change back, I got an idea. I handed the cashier a five dollar bill and said, “Go ahead and use that to pay for her stuff.” The cashier just looked at me and started blinking repeatedly, like maybe she needed to blink in order to process information correctly. Eventually she arrived at understanding, then smiled. I walked towards the door, and as I opened it, the young lady behind me said, “Thank you, you didn’t have to do that.”

I’d like to set aside this paragraph for explaining that sometimes I can get a bit full of myself. I don’t mean to, but if I do something nice, I like to think I’m the greatest philanthropist of all time, and I know that’s wrong. Don’t judge me.

Full of my philanthropic benevolence, I turned smartly on my heel and pointed at her to deliver my final line, sort of a “say it and ride into the night and never look back” kind of line, one that was full of meaning, and designed to instantly let this young lady and the cashier know that I was not only a good person, but well-spoken as well. I wanted it to look as though my words were divinely inspired on High by the Lord Himself, and carried from lips by flaming angels.

“No ma’am, thank YOU. It’s nice to know there aren’t douchebags in the world.”

Me, delivering the line, anointed with the fire of the Lord, and the cashier behind the counter.
The benefactor of my generosity was not pictured because the expression of gratitude on her face cannot be captured in any medium.

Full of pride and impressed at my rich vocabulary and use of syntax, I executed a perfect about face and promptly fell over a pyramid shaped cigarette ashtray.

I call this “Fallen Messenger.”

As I struggled valiantly to pick up both the ashtray and my pride, I comforted myself with the knowledge that I would never have to see either of them again. I left the store, and continued on my way to biology, full of life lessons and with a funny Facebook status to share with you all.

But what I didn’t tell you…

…is that she walked into Biology class right behind me.


It always seems to start the same way. I get a Facebook update saying that Muskogee Mugs has been updated, and I click the link, and my hungry eyes start to devour information, greedily processing names, photographs, and charges, all in the hope that I’ll see someone I know, so that I can snap a picture, embed it in a text, and send it on, saying something like, “Can you believe they did this?”

And sometimes it goes the other way. Sometimes I see a face of someone I know that works at a store I frequent, and I can see the charges, and I know I need to watch my children a little bit better when I’m at that place of business. Folks I’ve talked to say the same thing, one person said they like to know who is coming into their store, and know if they’ve been arrested for robbery or something similar.

And then sometimes it’s funny, like in the last minute, where my best friend sent me a picture of a mugshot, who has the same name as a mutual acquaintance, obviously NOT the same person, with the caption, “She used to be a lot cuter.”

But it all boils down to the same site (I am aware that there is more than one, but since most of my audience is Muskogee bases, Muskogee Mugs is being discussed here today), with the same pictures. Sometimes the people are smiling, as if the photographer said something humorous right before they snapped the picture. Sometimes the person being photographed is obviously still under the influence of whatever it was they were arrested for. And sometimes the person is crying, or stoic, visibly ashamed of what they’ve done.

Truthfully, there is something entertaining about seeing the worst of people, neatly organized in alphabetical order by name, so easily found on the Internet. I wanted to dive deeper into that feeling, to ask around and see what others thought, and then organize that information so that you could easily form your opinion on whether Muskogee Mugs is a good or a bad thing.

The Pros:

“I would say that in the beginning, the interest is generally puerile and voyeuristic; but that’s the case with anything of this nature. Over time, however, the interest matures and the site becomes a necessary and valuable information source.” – Owner of Muskogee Mugs website

This ties in with the general feedback I got from Facebook on the matter. One person mentioned that it helps her recognize people who she might want to be a little more guarded against. So the site can be used for research purposes, and might in fact keep viewers from becoming victims by educating them about who has been arrested for what.

“I do think Muskogee Mugs is used mostly for entertainment, which is fine with me; however now I think I’m more worried about being on the site, than I would be going to court or paying a fine. Muskogee Mugs is enough to keep me from committing a crime. – Blake Russell

“We’ve heard dozens of stories about people who were drinking and who called a cab instead of driving home for fear of being on our site. In cases such as that, there is the chance that our site could have saved a life or two.” – Owner of Muskogee Mugs

In this instance, we see that the fear of being put on the site has become somewhat of a crime deterrent in itself. But why are people afraid of being seen on Muskogee Mugs? Is it the shame, humiliation, and embarrassment that being pictured brings? I for one am supportive of the fact that we have another reason for keeping people away from breaking the law, but what does that cost us as a society?

The third pro focuses more on checks and balances in the law enforcement sector. Again, we turn to the owner of the Muskogee Mugs website.

“It [Muskogee Mugs] lets people know exactly what the police are up to, and where their tax dollars are going for things such as the jail and the police force. It also helps keep the police in line. In Muskogee, this isn’t such a big deal, but in Tulsa, they arrest people for ridiculous charges such as no headlight on a bicycle or having a cat without a leash. Our sites publishing that information serves to let people know what’s going on, and that’s an important function of media.” 

So here we have the ability of a site like Muskogee Mugs to show the public the charges a person was arrested for, which in turn lets them know what the police force is doing. In once instance, someone was charged for “Resisting Arrest,” with no other charges filed. How can you have a resisting arrest charge without a charge that led towards the arrest you were resisting?

In the Pros section, we have the site shown to be an effective research engine, a crime deterrent, and a checks system for the local police force. But what are the cons?

The Cons:

“I would love to be able to update the mugs with the disposition of the charges, but at this time it’s impossible to do that because of the way the system works.” – Owner of Muskogee Mugs

“The public doesn’t care about innocence or a fair shake. Once their pic is posted, the individual is guilty according to public opinion. There is never a follow-up to the outcome of innocence or guilt post publication or trial.” – Jeremy Mustain

This is a big flaw that I see in sites like Muskogee Mugs. You never get a real update on what happened in a particular case unless it’s broadly announced by news media, or you follow the case closely yourself. The person could be innocent, and you’d never know it unless you do the research yourself. All you see is the initial bad. If an employer was looking for your online presence and stumbled across your mugshot online, they might not even bother asking you how the charges panned out, and instead remove you from consideration of employment.

“I have mixed feelings. Some people deserve it, but their innocent children do not. I know of cases where the children were made fun of because Daddy got arrested.” – Belinda Clark

Here we will discuss two things. Both the effect that a public social stigma can have on the family, and the comments section below each picture listed on the Muskogee Mugs site.

First off, children being bullied is not something that is every going to be completely stopped. In recent years, it has been addressed time and time again, and enormous headway has been made. However, with a site like Muskogee Mugs, which is easily accessible by anyone with an Internet connection, it is very likely that kids will see, or be told by their parents, about other kids’ parents who have been arrested. This is going to lead to bullying. Does that mean the website should take responsibility for this? Absolutely not.

The other negative in this section is the fact that comments are allowed on each “mug” via a social plugin for Facebook. This means that anyone with a Facebook account can comment whatever they want on a “mug,” and this usually isn’t very nice. In fact, in most cases it is downright mean and slanderous. Should the people that have been arrested feel ashamed if they are guilty? Absolutely. But should they have insults heaped upon them like they’re on a Comedy Central roast? I don’t believe so.

The last con is more a matter of personal opinion than anything else. And since this is my personal blog, you get stuck with it. And since that comment box down there can be turned into your personal opinion, you have an opportunity to speak out and tell me how wrong or right I am.

I feel like it speaks to us deteriorating as a society. We are so eager to see other’s misfortune, so hell-bent on seeing someone “get theirs,” and so happy to see that Karma has come full circle, that we are starting to ignore what might be opportunities to minister to those who need it most. Instead, we focus on degrading them as much as possible, and maybe even silently thanking God that we’re not there, refusing to admit that almost all of us have at one point and time done something that could have landed us there had we just. been. caught.

So where do you stand? This entire blog is aimed at the entire community of Muskogee and the surrounding areas, but don’t let that stop you from putting in your two cents worth. Are you pro-mugs? Anti-mugs? Why? I will be loosely moderating comments, but for the most part, you can say what you need to say as long as you aren’t being derogatory. I look forward to hearing from you all.

“I got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re gonna hear about it!”
photo credit

We’ve all seen it. It’s plastered on Facebook and Twitter daily, hourly, secondly
The airing of grievances.
“Well, my baby daddy told me he was comin’ to get dis child, and he neva showed up, he a loser, I don’t know why I screw wit dudes like him, he worthless, said he was in a car wreck, that looser* betta hope he wrecked, cuz imma send my new boyfriend afta his sorry butt.” 
“If you got something to say to me, why don’t you say it to my face? I’m not going to mention your name here because that would be too obvious, instead I want to keep this anonymous so that maybe you feel like it’s your fault even though it’s not your fault.” 
When did social media become a sounding board for every disconsolate single mom, frustrated spouse, discontent family member, and opinionated TapOut wearing muscle head?
Before we continue, I understand that there are ways to ignore these people, and not see any of the content they post. I know that. But that’s not addressing the problem.
Also, I really don’t mind the political bashing, or bashing of Christians or atheists or pro-lifer or pro-choicers. As Christians, I don’t think we need to let folks know that they’re all going to hell, but in the same token, if you aren’t singling someone out, let your opinions fly. Free speech and all that. I’m really focused more on specific individual bashing, friends, family, or otherwise.
A few nights ago, I got into a fight with one of my brothers. Imagine that. Fighting with a brother. About midway through the argument, I picked up my phone and another brother looked at me and said, “Are you about to Facebook this right now?”
I just stared at him.
“Absolutely not. Why would I do that?”
Up until mentioning it here, no one knew that I had a fight with my brother except the other brothers and my wife. That’s how I choose to run my life. I don’t feel the need to express to the masses that I’m upset with someone, or that people in my family sometimes annoy the bejesus out of me. I think that’s a given. If you’ve known me for more than ten minutes, you’ve probably seen me argue with one of my brothers.
On the other hand, I want to share the good times with you. I want you to know that my daughter got saved, or that I’m happy to be celebrating nine years with The Missus, or that our son caught an enormous fish.
So why the good and not the bad?
I like to think you have enough of your own problems without seeing mine too. And while I love attention MORE than the next guy, I don’t want that attention to be focused on the negative aspects of my life. And believe it or not, this costs me.
I got a message a few weeks ago from someone telling me that they had honestly never liked me because I seemed stuck up and “better than everyone else.” Then, upon reading “The Road,” they realized that I had problems like everyone else, and their opinion of me turned around.
I could not have been happier. I apologized to the person for my aloof attitude, and assured them that I had my fair share of issues. If you’re reading this and you’d like to know a few of them, here you go.
The Missus and I fight about money. I like to spend it, and she has to be the bad guy and tell me not to. I struggle with the fact that our kids don’t like me very much because I come off as a stern disciplinarian and don’t spend as much time with them as I think I need to. I’ve struggled with internet pornography for years, and just in the last few years have I gotten it semi-controlled. I’m narcissistic and cynical, but I believe in the basic good of people. I love Jesus, but sometimes I cuss a little. I’m currently paying someone to take a college class for me. I can’t stand eating dinner at the table with my family, I like to watch TV when I eat. I’m selfish. I’m a very jealous person. I can be just a touch misogynistic in my words and actions. I struggle with my tolerance for certain things that I was raised to not tolerate. I struggle with control issues. I used to be mean to animals. And I can’t stand your driving. 
There. If you thought for one second I don’t have problems, there.
“After all, we all live in Hyde Park. We all have our dragons.”**
But Travis, isn’t airing them here the same as telling Facebook and Twitter about them?
Well, let me ask you this. Do you enjoy engaging with me on the social platform? If so, ask yourself why. Is it because 99% of my statuses are lighthearted and joking? I’m going to step out on a limb and say that hopefully you answered yes to those questions.
On the blog however, you have to digest the good with bad, and it’s not a three second glance over 140 characters and a quick dismissal or press of the “Like” button. You’ve committed to reading all of this, or most of it, and so it’s less of a constant barrage of negative streaming onto your cell phone or computer screen. Also, I’ll usually warn you that a blog is a “thinker,” and not a normal, funny, make you laugh so hard you spit coffee on your keyboard and then pee your pants blog.
Another reason is, when I’m on social media like Facebook or Twitter, I genuinely want to make you smile or laugh all the time. Sometimes I want you to think, and sometimes even cry, but I never want you to say, “Wow, I wish Travis would shut up with all that negative talk about his wife.” I want something that makes you feel.
Some will accuse me of pandering to people’s sentimental and emotional side. I’d ask those people to read my blog. I keep it real here.
So why do people feel the need to bash their exes, their family, and anything else incessantly on social media? Is it because they aren’t getting the attention they feel they need from people in real life? Is it because they get a thrill out of exposing someone for who they really are over the Internet? I really wish I had the answers for that. In fact, at the risk of becoming somewhat Maury-like, if you’re a constant basher of people on social media, why don’t you anonymously weigh in with a comment here. Tell us what makes you tick.
As for me, and thankfully for The Missus and my family, we will continue in the tradition of leaving each other alone on Facebook and Twitter. I am proud of that fact, and I hope you’ll consider joining me in making your social media feed a bit more positive. Focus on the good people have done for you. If no one has ever done anything good for you, why don’t you start by doing something good for someone else? The feeling you’ll get might be status worthy.
In the words of mothers for generations:
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

*I absolutely misspelled that on purpose. Don’t think for one second I don’t know the difference between loose and lose.
** “The Oath” – Frank Peretti

Sent Clothing was started in 2009 by Wes Hammons. Wes remembers being at Falls Creek and hearing the message being preached from John 17:18, and realizing that he had a calling to spread the Word of God.

He struggled for a while on how best to do this, and one day, while doodling on a piece of paper, Wes decided he would like to make his own t-shirt and maybe turn it into a clothing line. From that day forward, Sent Clothing had a place to live.

Wes creates t-shirts that use simplicity and modern design to spread the message of Christ and His love for us. The concept is simple; create a product that drives conversation, which in turn opens doors to minister to others.


Wes works hard to keep his prices low, and all of his shirts stay at a very affordable twenty dollars ($20). This ensures that his customers won’t have to break the bank when they want to stylishly proclaim the Good News.


For his latest shirt line, Wes has created a series called “Sent Cities.” This will be a four part shirt release, started with “Oklahoma City,” and going from there.


Wes has decided that in order to broadcast his ministry further, he’d like to have a giveaway on my blog with one of his shirts as a prize! And entering will never be any easier.

All you have to do is “Like” Sent Clothing’s page on Facebook

For an extra entry, you can comment on this post (one time only), and “Like” this blog’s page on Facebook as well

The extra entries are not valid if you don’t “Like” Sent Clothing’s page as well. While you’re at it, check out Sent Clothing’s website, and start choosing the design you’d like when you win, and the design you’ll buy if you don’t!

The winner of the contest will be drawn and announced on Friday, June 22, 2012.

So follow the links and get busy entering!

by Travis Sloat
Senior Staff Writer, Blogger Gazette
It was a terrible scene in downtown Internet tonight as the Myspace/Facebook war came to a head in a brutal fashion. “It was awful,” one eyewitness reports. “One of the apps actually flew right by my face, I think it was Farkle.”
Super Farkle, who survived because of it’s superness, was quoted as saying, “I loved my little brother. He was great to kill time with, and now he’s been killed by those bastards. I have to go tell Momma Farkle that her baby’s been shot.”
Super Awesomest Most Awesome Crazy Awesome Bubble Awesome Blaster also survived, but not without a serious injury to its awesomeness. “I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself,” it blooped sadly.
There were heavy casualties on both sides, but it appears Facebook has emerged the winner, due to it’s all around not being as lame-ness. “It really came down to the Mafia Wars app,” said Facebook. “Ours just had more experience. We think a lot of that has to do with the fact that our Mafia Wars players, while still being retarded, are a lot older than the 10 year olds that use Mafia Wars on Myspace. This gave us a tactical edge, because we weren’t getting grounded from it, and we were able to continue attacking after bedtime.”
Bystanders say that the Farmville app did absolutely nothing for Facebook, and it just seemed to “lie there.” A lot of “creepers” from both sides were able to use the corn field as a place to hide while they commented on pictures. One person said, “There was always a sneaking suspicion that Farmville was the most useless app in Facebook, and tonight proved it. Multiple crops were destroyed, and the app is in ruins.” Users of the app say that they’ll be back up and annoying you with “black mystery eggs” in no time at all.
“The I-Heart app kept going around keeping everyone pumped up,” said a lucky survivor. “I really owe my life to it. When it gave me that Stone Heart that meant I had been hurt before but I was going to get through this, it really encouraged me, so I hit the like button.”
The Bumper Sticker apps for both sites went straight for each other, sending out shots like, “I fell in love with our friendship,” “Ninjas are better than pirates,” and “FAIL.” Several people said that this was a clash of the titans, with no clear winner. “It kind of hit a stonewall when they got to the last 5 pages,” said a witness. “They just kept talking about how much they loved Twilight. It seems that Facebook is more Team Edward, I can say that.”
Being able to add music to your profile turned out to be a disaster for Myspace, as it was constantly bickering within itself for a soundtrack to fight to. Justin Beiber turned out to be on a lot of playlists, but there were votes for “Birthday Sex” and several Taylor Swift songs as well. In the end, every Linkin Park song was played, and since they all sound exactly alike, there wasn’t much confusion, but it wasn’t very inspirational.
Facebook took a hit when the Cafe World app served a lot of the Mafia War people some bad Italian food.
Both side’s Astrology apps were asked if this was predicted, and after glancing surreptitiously at the Texas Hold ‘Em apps, they both said, “It just wasn’t in the cards.”
Twitter was called to comment on the war, and said this. “I really think that it was a terrible thing that happened. I know both of them pretty well, and I think that it could have reached a more po…” When asked to clarify, it said simply, “I have a 140 character limit. I really can’t give details.”
In the end, Myspace limped off defeated, and Facebook held the high ground. It was certainly not a celebrated victory. Countless apps laid dead in the street. There were thousands of status updates being posted about needing a neon clown fish or needing crops watered. There were calendar apps marking the day of the war as well as your birthday. “I’m A Sexy HAWT Gurl69**” was right back to making mass friend requests in Myspace, and was successful in convincing several single guys that she actually wanted them.
“It’s a sad day for social networking,” said our resident expert. “Right now, both are spending some time on their Island Paradise apps and doing a little reflecting with the Quote of the Day apps.”
In other news, tension is mounting in the Blogger/Wordpress camps. Both parties have remained peaceful up to this point, but a spokesperson for Blogger as told us that “Shit is getting real.” We’ll have more updates for you as that story develops.