Essa’s Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

So apparently Governor Scott decided to declare a state of emergency over “Hurricane” Erika.  Now, I could be a skeptic and claim that this cry for help, (over a relatively moderate tropical storm) is nothing more than misdirection designed to keep people from noticing that he just openly admitted that he lacked training regarding how to manage civil rights in open forums and town hall meetings. I could point out that he forced someone to step down without due process or proper, constitutionally granted, civil procedure, by using inappropriate backroom dealings and questionable ethics.

Gerald Bailey…cough… Gerald Bailey.


But I’m not. Instead, I’m going to pretend this ‘hurricane’ is the real deal and not a form of misdirection designed to get the population to look in another direction while he commits a relatively minor crime. In short, I am going to do just what his PR people want me to do and pretend I’m fucking dumb.

So here’s my hurricane preparedness checklist.

#1. Bleach

Look, no one in Florida knows why people recommend it. We don’t know why we buy it during a hurricane. We just do. Maybe we want our whites to be whiter than white when people identify our bodies. Either way, you need it. I don’t know why. You just do.

#2. A smashing hammer.

I know number two should be water, but like any intelligent person capable of rational thought, I know that I don’t need to buy water by the gallon. Simply stopping up my sinks and tubs, well after the electricity is dead, will allow me to drain a minimum of 32 gallons out of the tap.

The smashing hammer? Well that’s for smashing my way into my neighbor’s apartment, in order to drain their water from their taps as well.

#3. A stabbing knife.

So me and my kid tried to do the responsible thing. We set up a bag in the event that we were told to evacuate. Then, my mother showed up and she said “Evacuate? Fuck that! I want a new TV. We’re going looting.”

Have I mentioned recently how much ass my mother kicks?

So the Alrocs will not evacuate.  We will not back down to this ‘hurricane’. Instead, we will do like our Irish ancestors and use it as an opportunity to make money and get drunk.

And any good looter knows you need a stabbing knife. Guns just don’t work as well in a highly windy, salt water environment. Only a knife is a guarantee when you’re trying to steal a 32” plasma from your neighbor’s apartment.

#4. A highly cynical attitude

Look, governor Scott, your state of emergency means shit to me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s political miss-direction. You know when I start worrying about a hurricane? When the Keys people evacuate.

If you live in Florida, you understand. See, the Keys people are a special kind of people. They have this magical laid back gene that makes it nearly impossible for them to become upset about anything. They sit around, smoking weed, listening to Jimmy Buffet, and being chill under just about any circumstance. Much like the Zen Buddhists, they have reached a higher state of being. They have lived out hurricane, after hurricane, simply with the saying ‘just be cool, man. Be cool.”

I know a Keys guy who lived out Wilma by living off the water he collected outside and cooking hotdogs over a candle. When I asked why he didn’t just evacuate he said to me…

“But where would I bring my bong?”

Only when Keys people panic will I panic…and Keys people never panic, not even when our governor is trying to draw attention away from his inappropriate behavior by pulling the hurricane card. I’d listen to a middle-aged Key West, high as shit, openly gay, chicken hawk before I’d ever listen to a dude who spends like two months a year in his home state…at best.

#5. A Life lesson

Recently, my mother’s car battery died while we were at a gas station. A few months before, she’d had her rear tire replaced and while there, the people tried to upsell her on about 2k worth of car parts. Some of the parts were bullshit. Some of the parts were real.

One of the real parts was her battery.

Here’s the deal. She’d become so used to mechanics lying to her, that she took any suggestion with a grain of salt. When they told her the battery was broken, she didn’t listen. The mechanic became the boy who cried wolf.

Then her battery died.

That wasn’t her fault. She’d been lied to so much, over so many silly things, it became impossible for her to tell the real from the fake. Through no fault of her own, she suffered.

“Hurricane” Erika is the same damn thing, and it bothers me. It bothers me because so many politicians have used natural disasters as a form of misdirection that it’s impossible to take those warnings seriously anymore. We see a politician who doesn’t spend most of his time here spouting off nonsense about national emergencies and we don’t listen, because those politicians like to talk about national emergencies when their ratings are down.

Just look at what Sandy did for Obama.

Then shit like Katrina happens and we don’t take the order to evacuate seriously…because we’ve seen it before, and before it was nothing.

Natural disasters are not a political platform and they are not misdirection. They are serious and lots of people die. I expect my politicians to take them seriously too. It’s fucking disgusting to me that they would be willing to leverage human lives as an opportunity to pull ahead three percentage points.

But that’s the way things are. So I adapt. I don’t listen when Florida politicians tell me to evacuate. They don’t know me and they don’t know my Florida.

I listen when Florida lifers tell me to evacuate because those are the people that have the same intimate and unconditional love for Florida that I do. I respect them in a way I will never respect a politician, because they actually know Florida and they know when she’s about to turn on us, much like a drunk high-maintenance chick at 3 am. They know her and they know when to run. I’ll run when they do.

So God bless you my Keys and Panhandle people. Thanks for keeping it real.

The Pumpkin Agenda


What’s with all the pumpkin flavored crap coming out in August? Usually, I only have like two months of pumpkin to deal with.  But now, pumpkin is slipping its way into my coffee and my beer earlier and earlier.

Look, pumpkins are useless. They’re only relevant for about two weeks a year, and usually used as decorations. I mean, when was the last time you sat down to a hearty plate of raw pumpkin?  When have you ever seen anyone bite into a pumpkin like they would an apple? Never? There’s a reason for that.

Pumpkins are disgusting.

And don’t bring up pumpkin pie either, because you can accomplish the same results with sweet potatoes, and not have to spend four hours dismantling a 25 pound gourd, peeling it, cleaning it, cutting it, etc. Also, you can eat sweet potato pie any time of year and have the added benefit of not looking like a crazy person.

You see someone order pumpkin pie in July, it’s safe to assume they have some deep rooted childhood issues.

Even the ‘pumpkin spice’ you get doesn’t really taste like pumpkin. It tastes like the stuff people add to pumpkin so it won’t taste like wet cardboard. Pumpkin would not be remotely appealing if not for sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon.

I have a conspiracy theory about pumpkins. I think the whole ‘pumpkin flavor’ craze got started after some politician’s idiot child bought a pumpkin farm, thinking they’d only have to work like two weeks a year.

Then, they realized that the average household’s pumpkin needs came to less than one pumpkin per year. So the idiot kid went to daddy for help, and their dad snuck an addendum onto a bill he knew would pass. That sneaky addendum read;

“All popular franchises must find a way to incorporate pumpkin into their product for a period of no less than 8 calendar weeks per year.  Businesses that exceed the requirement will receive a 1 million dollar government grant for researching the use of pumpkin as a mind-altering substance.”

No joke, if pumpkin got you high, I’d eat like forty a month. But they don’t. They don’t get you high and they have no redeeming value. They don’t taste good. They’re expensive, cumbersome to carry, rot in like 15 minutes and carving one always makes it look like someone vomited marmalade all over your house.

I’m old school. I like my coffee to taste like coffee, and my beer to taste like beer. I don’t need the flavor of pumpkin to make me feel like it’s fall. I live in Florida. I know it’s fall the first time I’m forced to give directions to Disneyland to a European tourist that speaks broken English.

So to the people pushing the pumpkin agenda, I have three suggestions for increasing pumpkin sales.

  1. Make it the next trendy superfood, and market it to idiots with the promise that it will make you better looking, more energetic, or give you a nine inch penis. It worked for acai berries, coconut oil and kale. Why not let it work for pumpkin?
  2. Find a way to get high on pumpkin. There’s got to be a way to turn it into a smokable hallucinogen.
  3. Throw away all the pumpkins and plant a food people want to eat…like twinkes or skittles.

Look, I clearly know very little about farming. My closest experience to farming came when I tried to dig a hole to China in my back yard. I was so stupid in my late twenties.

But I do know what I like, and I don’t like pumpkin. So please stop trying to slip it into my food. I will not be swayed by your pumpkin agenda.

No… We’re Not Going to Argue Anymore

I recently took down my “responses to hate mail” page. When I first started blogging, I wasn’t familiar with online politics and I thought the whole ‘responses to hate mail page’ was funny. I was so proud of my ability to hurt a person’s feelings that I felt the need to show everyone how great I was at being a bitch and how easily I could make these people who emailed me look like morons. In short, I was an arrogant asshole who thought she knew everything. And like any know-it-all, I am making this video my change of perspective announcement.

Let me explain the reason I had to to respond in the first place. I have a hair trigger temper and I’m intensely paranoid. I think a few of the readers of this very page have been victims of that. While I might not show it, I am the kind of person who can become extremely angry even over the slightest slight and hold onto that for years.

So when someone emails me, harshly criticizing my writing (often times without reading the article) I get blindly furious. I have been in my share of online fights, that extended all the way from angry emails, to digging up personal info and posting it online, to website hacking.

It’s also part of my industry. While I don’t read my reviews, I know many other writers who do, and even get into arguments with people who don’t agree with them. Lots of reviewers don’t behave any better, using their online clout to attack authors that they think have crossed the line. While I never actually got involved in any of these fights, I’ve watched them from the sidelines, eating my virtual popcorn and saying “wow, these people are all idiots. I’m so much better and more professional than them. Don’t they understand that they’re arguing in circles?”

Somehow, I thought that by only attacking people who attacked my blog, and not my books, I was being a better, more professional writer.

Then I met Russ.

Well, I’m calling him Russ to protect his privacy. We’ve known each other since I released an article called “No, You Don’t Have PTSD. You’re Just Being a Pussy.”

Russ was one of those people who did that thing that irritates me. He read the title of the page without reading the article. Then, he posted about 400 comments on my page and sent me an angry email. I did nothing to diffuse him. I did the opposite. I got angry at him. I deleted his posts, responded to his email by signing off “I hope you get cancer” and wrote an angry blog post correcting his entire hate mail message.

Russ later apologized, agreed to disagree, and then moved on…for about 3 months. Then, I said something that set off his own hair-trigger temper again. He sent another angry email. I again got furious when I read it. He flooded my page with angry comments, using a bot system in order to change his IP repeatedly so he could continue posting without going to spam.

So I found his phone number and posted it on the NSA section of Craigslist with a request for cock pics. Again our fight ended with him apologizing. We both moved on…until a few months later, when something I said angered him again.

I have been playing out this cycle for three years now, with the most recent cycle being him gaining access to my Facebook account and posting a fuckton of messages spamming products like Viagra and adult diapers. Russ has followed me for years.  I should be angry and afraid of this man. He’s threatened me repeatedly, as well as threatened my family. He’s sent me emails in  graphic detail of what he’d do to me if we ever met.

I should be afraid of him, but I’m not. I’m not because I have to admit that as fixated on me as he is, I’ve become fixated on him.

There’s something about the thrill of knowing you’re about to get into a fight. There’s something about wanting to top the person you’re arguing with and make them look stupid, that’s kind of addictive. It becomes easy to make it into the focal point of your life. It becomes easy to make it into the sole reason that you write. You get positive reinforcement for it. Whenever I argue with an idiot online, whenever I post about hate mail, my page views and likes go through the roof. People love a train wreck. They love watching it, breaking out their virtual popcorn and saying “wow, these people are idiots. I’m so much better and more professional than them.”

Because the people watching, they didn’t care about who was wrong or who was right. By the time they reached me, that was impossible to tell. Nothing was in shades of gray. My reactions to Russ’s emails turned me from being the bullied, into the bully. But in my riotous indignation, I just felt superior.


The fact is, no one cares about the argument. The only one who really cares are you and the person you’re arguing with. In the end, everyone else is in it for the enjoyment of watching a train wreck. It’s why people loved “Jersey Shore” and every other copycat show that’s been created since. It’s human nature.


The last time Russ hacked my page, I posted his name, address and social security number on Facebook. Per usual, Russ sent me another apology email. But this time, I decided I was done with this love/hate stuff. No joke, the dude has been threatening me and following me for three years. This needed to end. If he needed an argument, I was more than willing to be his Huckleberry.

I'm your huckeberry

So I told him I was done with his bullshit apologies and asked one question I never asked before.

“Why do you keep bothering me?” I asked, expecting some kind of explanation of how I reminded him of his absentee mother or overbearing aunt.

“Because you keep responding.” His answer was simple. Stupidly simple. Turns out Russ is reasonably smart, but socially awkward. He felt invisible. Getting my responses kept him from feeling invisible. How I gave him attention didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if it was good or bad. He barely even read or acknowledged my responses. It was the fact that I responded at all that made him keep coming back.

I was arguing in circles, getting into a fight with a person I knew would never agree with me, because actually agreeing with me would defeat the purpose of the contact in the first place. By arguing with him, I created a connection that neither of us was willing to let go of.

I wasn’t willing to let it go because something inside of me needed to make this stranger, this person who I had never met, agree with me. Make him admit he was wrong, and I was right. Make him admit he was the bad person and I was the victim. But I certainly never behaved like a victim. There were many things I did to him that were far worse than what he did to me, simply because I’m more tech savvy. I knew I had the advantage and I used it. At the time, it made me feel strong.

But after talking to the dude, it makes me feel like the kind of asshole that would beat up a person in a wheelchair. I’m not stupid. I knew I was dealing with a person who was not at the same level of computer knowledge as me and I used it against him.

Why did I do it? Did his opinion really mean that much to me? Or was I so desperate for attention, even bad attention, that I was willing to engage in an online war that I knew would end badly?

I knew I wasn’t doing it to make peace. I knew we wouldn’t agree on anything. But there was something so enticing about the argument that I kept fighting anyway.

But through writing, through interacting with people, I’ve finally grown. I’ve realized that when you respond to a troll argument, you never win. You are never going to make these people agree with you, because they know from the second they send a message that they are never going to agree with you. This is not what they care about., They only care about the response. They only care about you emailing them to prove they are not invisible. It’s a game and they want you to play with them.

I’m not playing anymore. I don’t want the cheap publicity an online fight will bring. I’m not going to be desperate for you to agree with me. There is a very good chance that we will never agree. There is a very good chance that our opinions on everything differ even at the most basic level. This is not something I can change.

I’m not responding anymore. It’s not because I think I’m wrong, but because I need to believe that things are going to get better. I need to believe that people are interested in more than petty arguments and stupid squabbling. I need to believe I’m a little bit more than a bad car crash on the side of the road that you pull over to look at.

I can’t stop you from saying horrible things about me. I can’t control the way you react. But I can control the way I react to those reactions.

Words are words and the words you use have no power over me. Use them whenever you feel like. I have a delete button on my computer and my phone for a reason. There is nothing in the world forcing me to interact with you. Unless you physically threaten me in person, we have nothing left to talk about. We don’t agree and I can be cool with that. It’s the whole “if a tree falls in the woods”, thing.


If an asshole says something about you that you never read…did he really say it?

I’m going with no. Unless you’re actually, physically in my life, you don’t exist to me. I am not going to argue in circles. I am not going to give you the attention you seek. We can disagree and I can be cool with that.

So the responses to hate mail page is gone. The responses to anything are gone. I refuse to be the online equivalent of the Jersey Shore. I’m better than that and I’m smarter than that. I’m not a fad or a car crash. I’m just Essa and I’m cool with that.

Nothing about me needs to change. It’s only the way I’ve responded to dissenting opinions that does. Trust this; I now, and always will, think I’m right about everything. Essa on Everything remains an aristocracy, with me earning the title of “Dictator for Life.” Your comments will be approved should they pass my stringent quality control test of not pissing me off.

Email comments will go into my spam email address to be reviewed every six months or so, much like the system I already have in place for reviews…where I delete them without reading them because in  my opinion, life’s too damn short to spend it arguing over ‘the principle’.

Because my principle is this, taken from one of those 1980’s movies I love so deeply.

You want to hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better. I’m an easy target. Yeah, you’re right, I talk too much. I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you… but I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings. Well, you think what you want about me; I’m not changing. I like… I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. Cause I’m the real article. What you see is what you get.

That’s all there is to it people. I’m Essa and what you see is what you get. That is the very last response to hatemail I’m ever going to make and the only one that matters.

Because I like me, and I don’t give a flying flippedy fuck about your opinion on the subject.

. .

In Defense of the Drunk-and-Dial


If you’re a drinker like me chances are, every once in a while you wake up and say “what the hell did I do last night?”

For me, most of that involves sending drunken messages, i.e. the infamous drunk and dial. I might have a few too many and email someone before having a long, drawn out, occasionally blurry conversation.

Then, the next morning, I don’t remember the conversation, but I do manage to regret it. I think “damn my drinking. I would have never said something so stupid if I’d been sober.”

I have the feeling a lot. See by nature, I am non-confrontational. I tend to avoid it when I can and pretend I’m not pissed when I am. Then, half a box of wine (I’m so classy) in, suddenly, I’m having all these epiphanies. I’m thinking “why have I never said this to them before? I’ve been stewing about it for years. Might as well say it now…”

So I do. I feel great about it. Until I sober up. Then I think “what the fuck did I say? Oh shit, I bet they’re pissed. I’m just going to avoid Facebook for say the next…thirty years and things will be cool”

But I don’t actually avoid it. While I’m mostly non-confrontational, I’m also not a coward. So once I recover from my hangover, I go back in and reread the things I said.

And you know what I think as I reread those messages?

“I’m actually pretty god damn glad I said that because it needed to be said.”

Here’s the deal. I’m actually a very nice person. While I come across harsh here, this page is kind of all about rants, so of course you’re going to hear about the things that piss me off. You’re seeing one side of me.

But there’s a lot you don’t see. You don’t see the emails I exchange with countless strangers giving them tips on how to improve their website rankings and sell their books. You don’t see the large circle of friends I have and the fact that I’m generally the first person they’d call if they needed to be bailed out of jail…which as far as I’m concerned is the litmus test for being a good friend. I respond to every piece of fan mail or question I get, no matter how stupid they might be. I listen to my friends bitch endlessly about their lives and never ask a thing in return. If you’ve ever had anyone attack you in the comments of my page, you know I’m the first person to respond and come to your defense.

I can say this with 100% certainty. I am not the kind of person who asks for help. I’m the kind of person who gives it. Unfortunately, that tends to breed an environment where people think they can take my kindness for my weakness.   But for the fact that I have a hair trigger temper and a fondness for Reisling, that might be the case. But much like Popeye with his can of spinach, that glass of wine makes me suddenly strong.


So if I’m sending a pissed off message, you know what? It needed to be said and the person on the receiving end had it coming. As I pull up the drunken messages I sent after several months’ worth of benders I have to say that actually wasn’t that bad. It could have been much worse….though it likely could have been spelled better.

But I’m glad I said it.

Because when you don’t say what you need to say, your last day of your life becomes you waking up from a bender. You think “shit, what did I do? What did I say? What should I have said that I didn’t?”  By the time you think that, it’s too damn late. You can’t go back in time and fix it. You can only move on.

So occasionally I imbibe a bit too much and say more than I should have. When I’m sober, I say far less than I should. In my mind, that makes me even Stephen. More importantly, it ensures that I don’t wake up on the last day of my life and view my entire life as a bender where I regret everything I should have done….with significantly more spelling errors.

So people, if you’ve gotten a drunken email from me in the past, I’m not flowing in a downward spiral. I’m climbing my way up a story pyramid. That story pyramid might include a bit more profanity than most, but it always ensures that I am exactly where I need to be.

And where I am is on top, regretting nothing…and probably loaded.

Or You Could Try Not Being a Dick

Check out the below eye roll inducing video.

For those who don’t want to watch, some Texas idiot decided based on his extensive legal expertise of…well, not being a lawyer, that’s for damn sure, he was going to a disobey a lawful order and got his window smashed in for the trouble. It amazes me how many people I see trying to get out of a speeding ticket or other minor charge by offering some kind of ‘loophole’ legal argument. Here are some of the most idiotic ones I’ve heard.

  • If I ask an undercover cop if he’s a cop, he has to say yes
  • I’m never required to give ID
  • I don’t have to talk to the cops at all, because of the 5th amendment
  • If they don’t read you your Miranda Rights at the time of the arrest, it’s a get out of jail free card

I don’t know how these fallacies get spread. Maybe it’s movies, maybe it’s the magic of the internet, but in reality, if there is a loophole to be found in your case, don’t play street side lawyer. Let your real lawyer handle it.

Otherwise, like the above guy, you’re probably going to fuck it up royally.

You really want to walk away from a potential arrest, here’s an idea and you won’t have to pull legal research on off of some shitty internet forum.

Try not being a dick. That’s it. Just not being a complete dick works about 99% of the time. Let me give you an example.

Officer: So the reason I pulled you over is because you were going 95 in a 60 while snorting coke off an underage hooker’s ass, and also, a bunch of AK-47s fell out of your trunk. May I have your license and registration?

Wrong Response

I don’t have to say anything or give you anything, because of the 5th amendment and this isn’t Nazi Germany, and you’re worse than Hitler. I saw on Law & Order that before you pulled me over you were required identify yourself as a police officer, and you were waiting on the side of the road and that’s entrapment and… is that a Taser? Wait! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTT…AHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Right Response

Here you go (smart person hands cop their identifying credentials and then SHUTS THE FUCK UP. Cop returns with paperwork and decides to let driver off with a warning)

Hey, I’m in Florida. If everyone in this state who drives around with illegal firearms, with underage hookers, while high on drugs was arrested, there’d be no room in the prisons.

Not being a dick is an arrest defense that has worked time and time again. It works whether you’re a man or a woman, whether you’re black or white. It works because it keeps a bad situation from escalating.

Sure, you might still get arrested, or a ticket, but if you pull the “I’m a street side lawyer and I’m going to be a condescending dick” routine, you’ve just given the cop more reason to want to see you in prison. However, not being a dick gives you the possibility of getting let off with a warning.

The time to use loopholes is not at the time of your arrest. It’s when your case goes to court. Lawyers are experts at loopholes because they get their info from places other than the internet and crime shows. Help them help you by not being a dick.

Presenting National Day Drunk Day!!!

So today is “National Donut Day.” I’ve been hearing about it all day, watching Dunking Donuts and Starbucks use it as a marketing scheme, and I have to admit, I’m annoyed. I’m annoyed because while overeaters get the opportunity to embrace their vices, alcoholic recreational drug users like myself don’t.

What about the rest of us? Where is our opportunity to embrace our vices, not just acceptably, but in an avenue of encouragement?

Until today, we were underserved. We were ignored because we didn’t have an acceptable vice that corporations that could make money from.

So, because I’m the kind of person who likes to embrace all personal choices (and get drunk before noon) I’m announcing the first National Day Drunk Day, which will occur on June 20, 2015.

Look, everyone else gets a holiday. Political people, nostalgic people, fat people, athletic people, religious people…but what about we people who enjoy abusing mind altering substances?

That’s what National Day Drunk Day is for. On June 20, 2015, feel free to get as drunk as you want while you do whatever you want. Drunk and dial that ex. Sleep with someone ugly. Send a long, offensive email to your father, filled with profanities, complaining about how little he does for you…Father’s day is the next day, after all.

Above all, know this. For 24 hours, nothing you do counts. It’s like Vegas, only what happens on National Day Drunk Day, stays on National Day Drunk Day.

Whether you’re a happy drunk, an angry drunk, or a slutty drunk, all are welcome (especially slutty drunks). It’s about time that we all had a holiday that we’re intentionally supposed to not remember.

This isn’t New Year’s, where you pretend that the new year is your reason for getting drunk. This isn’t Christmas, where you pretend loneliness or dealing with annoying family relations is your excuse for getting drunk. It’s National Day Drunk Day and you don’t need an excuse. It’s not just accepted, but expected, that you be full on raging day drunk before noon.

So spread the message and let’s make this happen. The hashtag is #daydrunk and the time is June 20. I hope to see you all there.

TLC, Like It Or Not, You Had A Responsibility

There’s a well-known phenomenon out there. It’s called “social proof.” It’s been used in psychology, marketing, and as a defense in criminal trials.

Simply stated, it means that people tend to assume that the people around them are more knowledgeable than they are. These people need not have any credibility at all. They can be complete failures at life, but because they speak in an authoritative tone, in a public arena, others will assume they are subject matter experts.

Let me tell you a first-hand story about social proof and how it works.

Awhile back, I was at a party with a guy who clearly had a drinking problem. Well before the party, he’d gotten into a drunken fight with his girlfriend, stole her car, plowed it into an underpass and then spent the next two days holed up in a bar.

It was practically the real life story that inspired the Bartender song.

Anyone would reconsider their drinking after that. Any normal person would look at an incident like that and say “hey, you know what? It’s time to cut out the drinking. It’s clearly ruining my life.”

For a while, this guy (we’ll call him Steve) did. Then, one night, we all went to a housewarming party at my friend Carlie’s house. Steve wasn’t drinking. Then, Carlie got involved.

“Why aren’t you drinking, Steve?”

Steve sheepishly looked down. “I stopped. Turns out, I’m a complete asshole when I’m drinking.”

“Come on!” Carlie did not like to drink alone. “You’ll be fine. Just have one.”

Steve might have said no, but social proof took over. “Ok. I guess one wouldn’t hurt.”

Four hours later, as I was trying to peel a half-naked, sobbing Steve off of me, it occurred to me that Carlie was hardly an expert. She wasn’t a rehab counselor or doctor. She wasn’t a social worker and she sure as shit wasn’t a psychic, otherwise she would have predicted Steve’s impending alcohol poisoning…and the fact that he would need a new pair of pants.

She had no authority whatsoever to tell Steve drinking ‘just one’ would be fine. We both simply fell for social proof. For some reason, when Carlie said “it’s ok” I assumed it would be and so did Steve.

She was wrong.

I bring this up because of the Duggar scandal. For anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock, Josh Duggar is one of those weird, uber religious people from 19 Kids and Counting and it was recently revealed that Josh had molested several young girls as a teenager.

Look, I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and call Josh a pedophile. I don’t know what happened and the court records don’t to exist to prove it. He could have been a teenager who made a mistake. He could be a sexual predator. The world may never know.

What I know is this. Josh has been held up as an authority, especially an authority on the well-being of children. He chose to put himself in that position, knowing that in the past, he had not acted in the best interest of children. He chose to hide his past, with a simple ‘god forgave me and I got counseling’ without making impressionable viewers aware that he might not be as squeaky clean as he previously indicated. He might not be an authority on his chosen platform.

For me, that’s where the problems come in. Even smart people get sucked in by social proof. If you’re in a public position, making statements to the masses, people are going to believe you.

They’re going to use your mistakes as an excuse to justify their own.

I’m glad 19 Kids and Counting got cancelled. Not just because I hate the way they treat women like breed stock and instill mass panic about homosexuality. No, I’m glad they got cancelled because of social proof.

How many pedophiles are out there right now, using Josh Duggar’s excuses as their own? How many feel, maybe not justified, but ok with what they’ve done because someone in a position of authority did it too? How many will feel ok about it, because if a massive corporate enterprise can know something like this, and still get behind someone who perpetrated it, it must be ok? It must be normal.

It’s where social proof becomes incredibly dangerous.

TLC should have known about this and they should have done something about it well before it became public knowledge. It was incredibly irresponsible to give any family with a skeleton in their past like this a platform on national television.

Even if you’re peddling reality trash (and you know you are, TLC) you have a responsibility to the people that watch your shows. And no, not all of them are idiots. You don’t have to be an idiot to be taken in by social proof.

I’m a smart girl, but that night with Steve, even I somehow attributed authority to Carlie that she hadn’t earned. For some reason, because she said it would be ok, I believed her. I justified my decision to be ok with Steve drinking because of her telling me it would be ok.

Carlie was on some kind of strange pedestal that I created for her. Without realizing it, when we allow people to become reality television stars, we put them on a pedestal too. The Jersey Shore people made it ok to be drunk all the time. The Bachelor made it ok to date 20 chicks at once. Honey BooBoo and Duck Dynasty made it ok to be redneck idiots.

And now 19 Kids and Counting makes it ok to fondle underage girls…as long as you claim Jesus forgives you. Well done, TLC.

I don’t expect my reality stars to be above reproach, but I do expect my TV channels to be responsible. I’m trusting you. I’m expecting you to be better than me because I think you’re in a position of authority. If other people trust you, I should trust you too. You’re on a pedestal.

And when you fall off that pedestal, it’s not how the landing affects you that matters. It’s how many dominoes are going down with you along the way.