Wednesday morning, like most mornings, I went on Facebook to see what was going on in my community and the world and to get a good idea of what people would be talking about that day. It’s a useful start of the day ritual for someone in media and something to do while the coffee brews.

The first thing that caught my eye was a story from Global News announcing that two journalists had been murdered live on air. I clicked and was greeted by a video player. In my not-yet-caffinated state, I clicked play.
I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe a news report on the incident. I missed the graphic content warning and saw the raw footage of a murder as it aired live on WDBJ Roanoke, Virginia.

Fortunately I didn’t see the carnage, but still a helluva way to start the day. At least I was only a witness after the fact. The day started off much, much worse for reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Brad Ward.

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Shooting victims Alison Parker and Brad Ward

As the coffee kicked in and my mind shifted to what I actually needed to do, I wondered why it was necessary for me and the thousands of others clicking on that post to see the actual crime. It wasn’t, and I could have done without. Just knowing that it happened would have been enough.

Later in the day, as more details started to emerge, a more graphic video shot by the killer started showing up and even did in my feed. By this point, I was awake enough to know not to watch it, but I seriously wondered why anyone would share it at all.

Sometimes We Need to Watch, But Not This Time

Now I will admit that sometimes it is important to share graphic videos. However unpleasant to watch, videos of police murdering and abusing unarmed citizens need to be shared. Videos and images of wartime atrocities committed by supposedly democratic governments are also important to circulate.

This is because public outcry over abuses of the state is essential for any changes to happen. Otherwise, crimes, even murder, can very easily be swept under the rug.

What happened Wednesday morning in Virginia was not one of those times. The killer freely admitted his crime and posted the proof himself. This is one of those rare cases where we should trust law enforcement to be the only ones to view the evidence and respond accordingly.

Murder For Shares

Whatever the killer’s stated motives were, fame was clearly what he was looking for above all. He made sure he killed live on air to get the story out there and filmed his own version and posted it himself, hoping for an exclusive.

He was denied that pretty quickly. Facebook, where he posted the video and Twitter which he used to link to it deleted his accounts almost immediately. LinkedIn also removed his profile, though that was kind of pointless. Murdering former colleagues effectively makes a business networking page useless.

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Unfortunately this didn’t stop other people who had captured the video from sharing it themselves. They can try and justify it all they want, but sharing in this case is helping the killer get what he wants at the expense of the victims and the peace of mind of anyone who had the misfortune of watching (I hear some of these vids were on autoplay).

Basic Decency Isn’t That Hard

While the gun the killer used to commit the murder is something that should be restricted, the tools he used to record and upload it aren’t. Before we start talking about a mandatory waiting period and background check for data roaming plans, we should realize that we can stop killers from posting murder online by denying them an audience for it.

It’s not that hard, really, we just need to apply a bit of basic decency. For example, Vince McMahon isn’t known for being decent, but yet, our modern-day PT Barnum decided against using the death of a wrestler during one of his company’s Pay-Per-View events as a moneymaker. The WWE cut to stock crowd footage right after it happened and destroyed all footage (except those they sent to authorities) and even removed the Pay-Per-View from its history (yes, he didn’t cancel the rest of the event when it was running, that would have cost millions, but he did do the right thing after the fact).

So what does it say when a man who never met something he couldn’t gleefully exploit decided to take the high road when someone actually died, but legit news outlets have no problem sharing the footage of a murder? Also, what about the New York Daily News and a slew of other papers who took a screengrab from the killer’s video of the shot being fired and splashed it across their front page?

Well, they’re just Murdoch tabaloids, I guess. That’s their excuse. But for the people sharing the video, what’s yours? Don’t you realize that by sharing the killer’s angle on the shooting you are helping him get the fame he so craved? Why would you do this?

Slamming mainstream media is easy, but they respond to a perceived demand. If there is no demand, they won’t show it. We’ve got to stop clicking on videos like this. We shouldn’t share videos like this.

This is probably the first time a murder was designed for social media. Together we can make it the last. If we don’t build it, they won’t come.

Hash tags, trending topics and random tweets, they all have one thing in common; they can all be found on Twitter, one of the biggest social media services out there. As an avid Twitter user myself, I can honestly say that I prefer expressing my opinion about a topic by tweeting, than writing about it on Facebook.

Apparently, I’m not the only one; stars tend to tweet on a regular basis too. Just this week, Twitter exploded with the #CelebrityFeuds, which was THE trending topic of the week!

Trending topics can vary from the latest news in politics to what color the Kardashian sisters dyed their hair this week (Oh! The suspense is killing me!). But the most talked about story that is still making headlines has got to be the Meek Mill/Drake fiasco.

So, rapper Meek Mill decides to go off on Twitter and diss Drake by saying he doesn’t write his own lyrics, that he has a ghostwriter. In response to that, Drake, like the classy man that he is, decides to drop a song, titled Charged Up. “All ya’ll stare in my face in hopes you could be the replacement,” Drake raps on the song, which has been on repeat ever since I heard it!

But the rants don’t end there; Mill’s girlfriend, Nicki Minaj, also decided to speak her mind over MTV snubbing her video Anaconda for this year’s Video Music Awards. The artist tweeted that if she were a different kind of artist and if her video included slim-looking model type girls, then her video would be nominated for Video of the Year.

She didn’t mention any names, but it seemed as if Taylor Swift was the target of that comment and her nominated video for Bad Blood, which does include women with a very slim figure. The two exchanged tweets but the feud ended quickly when Nicki appeared on Good Morning America and addressed the issue.

I don’t think celebrity feuds will ever end because let’s face it, who doesn’t like a little controversy. The more people talk, the more exposure they get. So do they really do this to get revenge or is it more of a publicity stunt?

Have “foodies” lost the plot? It would seem at face value the answer is yes.

That is, if we judge based on public response to an innocuous New York Times guacamole recipe posted earlier this week.

This reposted recipe (it was posted on the site in 2013), was not only utterly unshocking, it was merely one of over 17,000 such NYT recipes innocently living in their Cooking section.

Yet here’s what happened.

And this.

And, hilariously (personal favourite) this.

And frighteningly, even crap like this:

And then this.

Good lord, even this.

I’d stand to wager that there are probably more guacamole recipe variations than almost anything other on the Internet. No, I didn’t bother to check that claim, because, frankly, those would be precious moments of my life lost. And that’s kind of the point: the vicious backlash and endless media attention means that someone has clearly lost the plot.

The question (if you’ve actually read this far) is: who?

To me the biggest is question is why, with access to the finest food writers and chefs in the country (and arguably world), NYT would even bother to (re)-promote such a page. If humous is the go-to lazy person potluck snack, guacamole is easily the second most overmade, over-fusioned, generally, over-dinner-partied dish in the US & Canada.

Now, perhaps that‘s a statement about foodies (run out of ideas much?).

Though to me, the real fallout of #GuacGate is threefold. Each point is depressing enough to make me want to drown my sorrows in a gallon of habanero-laced peadip.

1. Social media is a scourge upon humanity. “Foodies” really never existed anyway.

While most news articles seemed to label this a “foodie” fight, closer analysis reveals that most commentators are the type who comment on everything. Quickly. Without looking. On Twitter.

Even closer analysis reveals that most who lept into the (nonexistant) fracas felt compelled to call themselves “foodies” in their Twitter bios. Yet closer closer analysis reveals that, wait, 99.9 % of people on Twitter are “foodies'” according to their Twitter bios. Odd exceptions include the bios of those who, you know, actually cook, serve, grow, or research food for a living.

So if social media has made us immune to the impact of profanity, foodie is officially the new f-word.

2. #GuacamoleGate is snapshot of our modern “news” landscape.

A quick perusal of the #GG headlines shows: a) it was a slow news day, b) lots of pun-obsessed editors still have (ostensibly) paying jobs, c) news outlets have become a caricature of ideologies. Witness:

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3. Two decades of creative brilliance is worth less than a sloppy repost

It’s struck me that the one person least discussed in all of this #GG madness is its very auteur, the one and only Jean-Georges Vongerichten. If and when he’s mentioned, it’s in the last graph of these stories, though often not at all. Tweets? Forget it! Which, you know, wouldn’t be a big deal if he wasn’t the single most significant, if not revolutionary, chef in the world’s restaurant capital for nearly two decades.

So, I suppose, we love to scream at each other more than even look at recipe, much less try it, much less learn about its very source. Via a quick media monitoring search, I discovered that two days of guacamole shattered decades worth of Vongerichten media mentions.

Personally, I’m happy for him: he’s long escaped overseas, where it must be said, most Twitterers and newspapers seemed to resist the hashtag allure of GuacGate. I’m just sad for the generation who will now forever grow up knowing this legendary human as Guy Who Tried To Make Pea Guacomole And Failed.

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At this point, I’m tempted to go revert back to my turn of the century ways, and an old proclivity to over-make an equally great party dip, then new to Westerners: hummous. Unlike guac, it’s always been open to change.

Earlier this month, social media exploded when pop singer Ariana Grande posted an empowering essay she wrote about male and female double standards, following her highly publicized breakup from rapper Big Sean. She took to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to talk about one of many examples of double standards, whether a woman is in a relationship or just dating someone. She says: “If a woman has sex, she’s a s**t. If a man has sex, he’s a stud, a boss, a king.”

In today’s world, it is unfortunate that society still looks down on women for a number of reasons. We are constantly being judged about our looks, being assertive, and the main one, having too many ‘sexual’ partners. If only I can count the number of times I’ve heard men referring to women as being loose because of how many guys they’ve been with or dated, but yet they want to marry a woman who has been untouched.

If we thought the same way that men think, we wouldn’t marry 90 percent of them in this world. If they’re allowed to have an active sex life, why aren’t we allowed to do the same?

Grande also mentions that she’s tired of living in a world where the girl is known as a guy’s property or possession. Why must we be seen as a prize or a trophy? So they can show us off and brag about us to their buddies?

Speaking from my own personal experience, that is just disrespectful. After her split from the famous rapper, the songstress was known to the media as Big Sean’s ex’ She responds to that by saying she does not belong to anyone but herself.

She’s focused on making good music and is having the best time of her life while being on tour. Did I happen to mention she’s only 21 years old?!

I’ve got to hand it to this girl! Being in the spotlight and having people watch your every move is tough as it is. Obviously fame comes with a price and public figures need to accept that, but not many have the courage to speak up.

Ariana did just that but in a more polite and mature way, and expressing her feelings through social media was a good way to go. She even got the support from fellow artists Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez who both tweeted about the topic.

If you ask me, I give this essay a well deserved A+.

Here’s her full essay:

The above image is from a tweet made by Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre this morning.

He removed it from his feed a few hours later. What did the mayor say that he was so afraid of that he had to remove it?

I tried running it through Google Translate to no avail. It must be some kind of code.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. This is just a comical mistake. A pocket tweet. He was biking in the Tour de L’ile and forgot to lock his phone.

At least that’s what the Mayor wants us to think. He said as much a few hours later through the same account:

I don’t buy it. I’ve pocket dialed people and composed texts and Facebook messages from my pocket, but they were never sent.

It takes a bit of pocket gymnastics to actually hit the send button. So I think this was intentional.

But what was he trying to say? Could it be something about all those P6 tickets that were thrown out? Maybe it’s something about the Expos. Maybe it’s about store hours in some areas extended to 24/7 for when you get that craving to buy a sofa at 4am.

I’m at a loss. Maybe you have an idea.If you can think of a translation for this tweet, you can leave it in the comments and we’ll tweet the best ones to the mayor. Or you can just tweet it to him directly @DenisCoderre and include the hashtag #PocketTranslation.

* Author’s note: Yes, this was probably just a mistake, but we can still have fun with it. Also, Congrats on the Mayor completing the Tour de l’Ile.

In case you missed it, there was a lot of chatter about restaurant no-shows this week.

Last year I championed a great Gazette article—the first to spark serious awareness of the issue. It featured plenty of restauranteurs who were all-too-familiar with no-show diners. But a veritable firestorm kicked off this week with the birth of Twitter account @NoShowsMontreal. Its purpose? To name and shame no shows.

The account came online only days after Villeray’s Tapeo saw 28 patrons skip out on their reservations in one single night.

@NoShowsMontreal launched with gusto, telling restos to: “…send us in a (direct message) the name and complete phone number of your no-shows, we’ll post them here.”

Then it seemed to disappear—casting doubt on the seriousness of its authors, or visions of a complaint and Twitter Terms of Service violation.

But—much to the joy of hungry journalists—it turns out the glitch was temporary. The account was back up as of Wednesday afternoon, garnering more than its fair share of media attention.

In the interim, it seems a few lawyers were consulted. The authors’ modified request was that perpetrators’ numbers be shared with partial anonymity, “e.g. (514) *23-*567”, all while noting it remained “entirely legal to publish the full name of ‘no-shows’, very useful for all restauranteurs.”

Obviously not everyone agreed with the aggressive tactics, prompting various different responses.

Meanwhile, many restos lauded the effort, while others remained ambivalent. And as for the man whose story seemed to kick off all the attention? Tapeo’s Victor Alfonso tweeted appreciately about all the awareness, yet stopped short of endorsing the tactic.

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Whatever your views on naming and shaming no-shows , the discussion has brought out several important points, not the least of which are Québec’s archaic laws when it comes to a resto rights. An establishment, for example, cannot legally charge a no-show credit card, nor can they accept prepaid sums for meals as collateral.

When you think about it, this is totally wacky—a holdover of rituals and traditions around public dining that really have no relation to modern business practices.

Booking tickets for concerts, galleries or other outings are par for the course—usually online with a credit card. Ditto for hotels, which always have clear terms as to when and how one might cancel a reservation (and the ensuing penalties).

Why, in an era of on-demand entertainment and ubiquitous online ordering, should restaurants be shackled by such bygone legislation?

As of now, @NoShowsMontreal has generated a lot of buzz but has only actually posted the names of six pesky patrons.

But they’ve been very successful at highlighting the faulty logic in our business laws, which are mostly hurting small establishments. It’s sad, because these scaled-down, agile kitchens are exactly the types of places we need to keep culinary innovation alive.