Time and again we see hints that many people have lost…or perhaps never developed….critical thinking skills. We can blame schools or families, but once a person reaches adulthood, the choice is theirs.

If you don’t know how to cook, watch some cooking videos or read a cookbook. If you don’t know how to put together that IKEA desk, go to YouTube. If you don’t know how to research something, there are plenty of instructions available.

Yes, it is easier to learn something when you are young. But if you want to improve the way you present yourself to the world, you can learn new tricks. Unless you prefer to be stuck in place.

Example: one of my friends on Facebook has a family member who often joins in the conversation. I have been warned time and again not to bother interacting with him; that he is a troll. However, I come from a long line of do-gooders and I am pretty stubborn. I think almost anyone is redeemable….if they show willingness to learn.

The thread got into Trump’s promise to bring back coal. No one contributing to the conversation had lived in West Virginia but since I had, and because I had had a meaningful conversation about coal with a mining engineer at one of my son’s cross country meets, I shared that exchange.

The information I shared is easily verified by countless articles posted to the Internet. However, the troll chose to tell me what I said was hearsay and he would just wait and see what Trump does to help the coal miners.

The legal definition of hearsay fits, but the common definition does not.

Since we were not in court, why the hesitation to accept what I offered? It took me less than three minutes to find and read an article from a reliable source about the causes of the decline in the coal industry in West Virginia.

He either had no interest in agreeing with anything anyone says or he has no desire to do research.

Either he enjoys his role of being a dissenter in the context of the Facebook discussion or he is unable to learn anything new.

He is only one of many many people who exhibit similar behavior. Think of your own habits. Do you agree or disagree with something based on the information presented or do you bother to take a few minutes to research independently?

I consider my time on Facebook to be “free time.” In other words, I CAN step away from the conversation to actually verify facts. This is NOT work! This is not something that is particularly time sensitive.

But what you say and do is your face to the world. Why be a troll?

From Wikipedia: In internet slang, a troll (/’trool/,/’troll/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement. If a person chooses this behavior willingly, he or she certainly is not worth my effort to “teach.”

[Beth Rankin is an amazing person, a personal friend, a dedicated wife and mother, and a gifted entrepreneur, writer and researcher.  Beth lives with her husband in McMinnville, Oregon.  She is the developer and founder of Can-Do Foods and was a major force in the very early development of The Wild Ramp in Huntington, WV. Readers are encouraged to check out Beth’s blog at https://goingplaceslivinglife.wordpress.com.  Many thanks to Beth for the privilege of sharing her writing with our readers, too.]