Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Feel the Words

We are at a crossroads. Not only here in Sturbridge, but worldwide as well. About 18 years ago, when the World Wide Web came into it's own, people found the internet, and helped to form its current state. The information highway was becoming a reality, but what to do while we waited for it to fully evolve? Well, we learned to send email to one another. Spur of the moment words sent at a moments notice to friends, loved ones, corporations, lovers, and anyone else that you wanted to connect with. It was great. But, as we became more adapt, more reliant on the email we also got ourselves into hot water as well. We didn't learn to put that strongly worded critical email in our draft box for a day before sending it. We sent it as soon as we put in the last period as if we were pulling a trigger. That caused a lot of hardship, heartache, and scrutiny for many. We also had this feeling that our emails were private. We were naive.

We felt that as soon as it left our desktop it would arrive on another desktop free from prying eyes. We sure were surprised when we found out differently. The teenager whose parents searched their "Sent" mailbox and found strange writings to equally strange people they did not know led to parental controls, and limiting access to the Web for their kids. Doesn't really work that well. Kids are kids and they find the work-arounds.

Adults started to spend lots of time in online forums. Forums for everything, from Ford trucks, to mail order brides. Corporations soon began to show a presence on the Web. Pornography had always been there in some form, but was becoming more obtainable. Online gambling became prevalent.

The Web's evolution taught us some valuable lessons. Anything you put in writing on your computer can, and will come back to haunt you. It is forever. That email to your mistress? Fat chance it's deleted, it's still on your hard drive, and if the little lady suspects your cheating butt, she will find it. Send a nasty letter to the editor in the heat of the moment, and it will come back to bite your butt. Computers and the web have served a great service, but they have decreased our ability to think things through.

I think the biggest change since 1995 has been how we have learned to express ourselves. Fantastically designed web sites, lots of pictures, uploading our own videos, instant letters to the editor have all helped us become spontaneous in our expression. More so than ever before. Spontaneous expression is nice at times. "Ooooh, the flowers are lovely!" That's a spontaneous expression, and a nice one. Online it takes a different turn. "Mayor Smumkin is a liar, and wears a bad hair piece." That would be a spontaneous letter to the editor, and not a good one. If we had written that on paper, and waited to mail it the next day with a stamp, we may have decided for a rewrite.

After several years of people hanging out in forums expressing their feeling about things, the web log came into existence. The Blog started out as more or less a journal for people writing about themselves. Soon, it became a place for opinion, news, scandal, and opinion. Bloggers became accepted journalists at the presidential conventions, news agencies would stop by Drudge for the latest gossip, and information leaks. Blogging was gaining respect.

Most folks that blog do so for all the right reasons. There are wonderful blogs dedicated to photography, politics, self help, politics, babies, and on and on. Then, there are the other ones. The topic may be fine, but the head behind the keyboard may be a bit out of kilter. I know, that is a subjective feeling, but my feeling that Jeffery Dalmer was not a vegetarian is not solely a subjective feeling. His actions spoke for him, as do some places online.

So, I would like to give some unwanted advice. I can do that, it's my blog. Read it, and if you feel that it's useless to you, ignore it, but if you feel that I may have something, then think about it.

First of all, read. Read everything you can, as often as you can on anything that interests you. Cereal boxes are good. Newspapers are better. Books have a great rep, too. But keep in mind that if it's in print, doesn't make it so, or right, or the law. Look at the author, and ask yourself, "What is is motive?" Then after you experience a few chapters, columns, or blog postings by the same person, ask yourself if the person is being objective, or subjective. Is what you are reading an objective report of an event, a person, or an issue without any emotional ties from the author? If so, you can be fairly sure the information is not biased. The information may still not be correct, and this why if a subject attracts you, read as much as you can about it.

Just be aware that there are Blogs that share information, spin information, and give disinformation. You have to decide which one you want to rely on.

Be wary of writings that make a lot of statements like, "Phebis Glip is a liar". Obviously, subjective here. Why would the author write this? Why would he risk libel? Another example is, "The Business Society are in cahoots with the councilmen." Again, an opinion, and subjective. Any evidence? And I mean evidence that is straight forward, unmistakably clear in its meaning, not what the author interprets it to mean.

Also, be aware of style. Sounds a bit pretentious, but the style of writing and the format it is presented mean a lot to the overall message. Does the author use a lot of BOLD emphasis in his writing? Is the writer unable to say it in words, and needs to use another vehicle to make their point? Does the writer use quotation marks to mark words or phrases that are not quotes? If so, why? Is there a point? Is their venue, book, column, or blog a mishmash of thoughts? Are they addressing the war in the Congo in their posting, but have a slide show of grandma's new kitten in the corner? Just a matter of style, but can say volumes about just where their head is at, and how seriously you can take them.

Finally, when reading, look for the unwritten word. The words that are there, but not written. They are words that skew the text. In other words, the attitude, and tone of the writer. Mine is simple. I'm serious about what I write a lot of the time, but a totally not most of the time.

The "totally not" part you can be sure of. I'm easy to read in more ways than one.

Is the writer accusatory, obsessive on one topic long since solved, or dead? Does the tone of the writing have an undercurrent of , "it's all about me"? That's fine, but obviously a less reliable source of good information.

Bottom line, just be aware. Just because it's written, doesn't mean it is so. Cripes, the stuff I've written here could be totally off base. Is the blog a true blog, or something else like a newsletter for the party?

Free speech is free speech. Freedom of the press is exactly that as well. Everyone is entitled to vent like I am doing today.

Anyway, there you have it. Words that are unseen, but felt while reading. Who'd thunk it? Maybe that's why we become frightened when reading Stephen King,...

... and others.


  1. A glimpse at the Telegram Comment pages can be frightening. Adults hurling insulting, offensive, rude accusations and comments, like they’re in a pillow fight. If I witnessed my teenage children involved in such derogatory verbal volleyball I’d take away the computer and start a dialog that they probably wouldn’t enjoy. While some of the comments might seem justified because they are triggered by, and are a reaction to, an individual that most everyone thinks is out of line, they incite malicious comments from people who enjoy the fight. One simple comment provokes a Jump, Set, Spike trio of venomous comments. We see the worst of human nature on the Telegram Comment pages.

    Your subject today is one that I hope will generate thought. Enough thought that may help people to remember a much earlier subject you posted: “ignore the bully”. To respond to a bully’s wrong, with comments over the internet is unconstructive. These responses are everything the bully wants, but everything our society doesn’t need.

    A rule of thumb worth adopting, if you’d be embarrassed by your words, or the dialog you’re engaging in, being read by your Grandmother, Grandchild, Child, Favorite Teacher, Mother or Co-Worker, etc don’t push send.

  2. I just read your article, "Feel the Words" as well as the comment left by “enjoying my morning coffee” and felt compelled to offer my thoughts. I enjoyed reading your article and the subsequent response and appreciate you people taking the time to express your viewpoints. First off, and maybe I misunderstood you and the commenter and jumped to a conclusion, but it seems you are angered by everyone who left posts on the T&G articles regarding the BOS and the Tree #25 issue. Let me say, the posts that I left were nothing short of respectful, based on fact and reflected my opinions based on information that I read in the newspaper, books or experienced first hand. Further more, I sign my full name after my posts. Secondly, in reading your article, it is my opinion that you are referring to Mr. Creamer's blog site as being offensive, accusatory ect. You are certainly entitled to your opinion and maybe I am jumping to a conclusion again. If I am correct in my assumption that you are referring to Mr. Creamer’s Blog, then I tend to disagree. I have never met Mr. Creamer but I enjoy reading his blog. Currently there are actual BOS videos on his site that show the selectmen in action that speak volumes. My last comment is that I do agree with you about the respect issue. There are several people who use multiple aliases to attack specific individuals, we all know who they are. I don't have a problem with people posting a comment expressing dissatisfaction with someone but it is my opinion that if you are going to post something, sign your full name to it. In closing, there has been a lot of press on Mr. Hal White's behavior toward his constituency this past week. Let me quote “enjoying my morning coffee”, “A rule of thumb worth adopting, if you’d be embarrassed by your words, or the dialog you’re engaging in, being read by your Grandmother, Grandchild, Child, Favorite Teacher, Mother or Co-Worker” (Then don’t say it). I would then ask the good residents of Sturbridge, if they think that Mr. White should be embarrassed by some of his outbursts towards the audience at the BOS meetings over the past year. To the blog administrator, this is the first time I have posted on your site and I really hope that you post this. I have kept this respectful and have insulted no one and will end as always by signing my true name.

    Respectfully Submitted,

    David M. Mattioli

  3. David,

    No, I am not angry about T&G comments. I don't read them. I do read the articles, though.

    The posting on March 5 was written about how technology has changed the way we communicate, and what to be aware of.

    I let the readers interpret, and apply what I've written to current events. The less spoken, the more said.

    Thanks for writing.

  4. Mr. Mattioli:

    Please clarify something with regard to the T&G website postings: "there are several people who use multiple aliases to attack specific individuals and we all know who they are".

    May I ask how you know this? Those "accused" of this at the T&G website have disputed that claim; there is as much reason to believe their claim, as your claim.

    I have visited Mr. Creamers blog on several occasions. I noted that when there is nothing more to attack on a political level, it turns to personal attacks.

    He attacks the way a person speaks, how they look, where they live, he attacks what they as individuals stand up for and speak out about, and he ridicules to the point of saturation, all under the guise of free speech. And you enjoy reading that?

    In one of your T&G postings, you state you are a police officer. With your statement...."we all know who they are", you would expect me to sign my real name?

    When one has power as you do, you can sign your name all over the place. Mr. Creamer has similar powers, because if you disagree with anything he says, you will become fodder for his blog until silenced.

    All one need do is visit Mr. Creamers blog to see there are no rules, respectability, or boundaries. He has stated on his blog there is nothing that will embarrass him, and it is apparent that he has no regard or care for how his own family members may feel about his posts or his blog within the community. There is no civility, and he has lost credibility due to his official actions on the Planning Board.

    As for the Selectmen's meetings, you would do well to watch the complete meetings posted at the towns website, instead of relying on edited bits and pieces at Mr. Creamers blog. Then you will see for yourself what is actually stated in full context, and how the meetings proceed.

    Otherwise, you are being misled.

    Using your skills and training, sir, you may want to investigate more thoroughly before aligning yourself with certain people, and before making your points publicly, as you are.

  5. To Daily Reader: Be ready for the Jump, Set, Spike. He'll be typing away with various screen names before you sign off for the day.

    Mr. Mattioli, tread carefully, the man you are defending once used the very same complimentary descriptions, he uses towards you and your family, towards those he now trashes on his blog.
    When you consider the source, the compliments can be almost as annoying as the insults.

  6. Daily Reader,

    Thank you for your input, I appreciate your feedback. First off, I know people use multiple aliases because in one of the T&G articles, I don't remember which one, someone was clever enough to catch this person trip over them self in a post which ultimately led to the person finally admitting who they were. It just so happened that the person was who everyone was accusing them to be. Secondly, if you read all the posts you can tell who is writing them by their writing style, grammar, use of punctuation ect. It is very easy to compare posts people have written under different names and see that they are the same person.

    I never stated I was a Police Officer in any of my article's, so for you to know that fact you must know me personally. I sign my name because what I say is the truth, I disrespect no one and have no fear of retaliation, not because of what I do for a living but for who and what I am as a person. You have just as much power as me.

    I do watch the unedited version of the selectman's meeting and I now attend them in person. As a matter of fact I attended last Monday's meeting when Mr. White was completely out of line and disrespected Mrs. Courtney. I will be in attendance tonight.

    You suggest to me that I should do more research before I align myself politically with anyone or make public comments. First off, the only person I aligned myself with was Stacy Courtney because I agree with her and she is my sister. Nothing dishonorable there. Secondly, I am not a political person, never have been and never will. My public statements were to protect my sister when she had received a threat about her petition and to voice my dissatisfaction with the way Mr. White treated her on December 3rd. I did this because I have a right to, not because I have a political agenda.

    In closing, I do visit Mr. Creamer's website. I enjoy it and learn a lot from it. I also read the Hartford Courant, the Worcester T&G and the Boston Globe. This is my right, doesn't mean I have a political agenda.

    Thanks again for your feed back.

    David Mattioli

  7. Mr. Mattioli:

    I don't know you personally or professionally so your assumption is incorrect. I'm almost certain it was yourself who stated you are a police officer in one of the T&G posts. But it's possible it was written about you in one or more newspapers, whether by you in one of your letters, or by a news reporter when interviewed. But it's definitely out there in one of the media outlets. It's a fact that I read it somewhere.

    In your most recent response you state ONE person was tripped up on the T&G website. That's very different than what you said previously, which was: "there are several people who use multiple aliases to attack specific individuals and we all know who they are." Very different indeed.

    There is no way to tell who is writing what, except perhaps by their style of writing. There is no "verification" source either, Mr. Mattioli. I would agree that I have read letters in newspapers, and posts at T&G, that sound like someone I may know, or it sounds like another writer who may be using a different name, but can I say for sure?

    No, I cannot. Nor can anyone else.

    Someone asked me recently, who knows that I'm "Daily Reader" on this blog, if I was also "enjoying my morning coffee". I am not. But I would agree it sounds like my style of writing, doesn't it?

    Good for you, that you are comfortable in using your name.
    Unfortunately, not everyone has that comfort level. If there was, there wouldn't be a "Sound Off" section in the Southbridge News, and there probably wouldn't be anonymity to speak on Creamer's blog, or Around Sturbridge's blog.

    I'm not sure that signing your real name matters, except to the writer.

    About Mr. White's treatment of your sister, I watched that meeting too: I'm guessing this is your first excursion into public meetings at the municipal level. I would agree that Mr. White was abrupt that evening. In addition, I would say that a Chairmans role is to stay on topic, on time, and adhere to or be guided by Roberts Rules.

    I have watched the Zoning Chairman treat the public in an abrupt manner; I have witnessed the former Planning Board Chairwoman speak abruptly to residents and proponents. I have seen the Chairman of the Conservation Commission also be abrupt. Everybody complains; it's nothing new. The Planning Board Chairman surpasses "abrupt" in his role - did you watch the Planning Board meeting of 2/26/08 Mr. Mattioli?

    I would ask that you do, then compare levels of professionalism.

    You have stated, re-stated and restated again your case with your sister in many media outlets, and while it's great to see siblings so close to and defend each other, perhaps the meeting and Mr. White's comments were not so unusual after all when you put them in perspective with other Chairman on town boards. Even the Town Moderator at Town Meeting can be abrupt.

    It is your right to voice your dissatisfaction, your point of view, and to expect to be treated with dignity and respect - I believe we as human beings, all desire the same, especially when we use our real names.

  8. Again thank you all for the feedback. I have read them all and respect everyone’s opinion. I was a little taken back when “wait and see” said...To Daily Reader: Be ready for the Jump, Set, Spike. He'll be typing away with various screen names before you sign off for the day. I don’t use various screen names, not sure why that was said.

    Anyway, I do not want to go back and forth with people and have everything I say put under a microscope and analyzed simply because I have a different opinion than others or because I read Mr. Creamer’s Blog. We could analyze everything I said in my initial post and go back and forth for days. I respect everyone’s opinion and I certainly didn’t come to this site to scrutinize and/or disrespect anyone.

    This will be my last post under the "Feel the Words" article and just wanted to close by clarifying one of my previous points. If one posts a comment about another person and is not willing to stand behind it because they are embarrassed about what other people might think than they should not post it. I guarantee that most people who post under multiple aliases or anonymously about someone else would not say those same things to that person face to face.

    David M. Mattioli

  9. Dave,
    Folks post under different names for different reasons. I think most want anonymity, and others fear reprisal. It is a logical fear. Don't get down on them too much. It is nice that you sign your name, others have as well. This new technology allows for screen names, and it's the ideas, concerns, and words that a screen name writes that is important, not who is saying it. I agree, someone may not be able to say things in public. This is like hi-tech graffiti, and we're 'taggin" the internet with our mark, our words. Probally the reason internet dating is successful, no names until you are ready, just a nickname. Makes the words flow easier when there is no name, or eye contact, or body language to get in the way.

    Remember, it is waht is said, not who is saying it, good or bad.

  10. Mr. Mattioli:

    Your commentary is absolute, with statements such as "I guarantee that most people who post...".

    I suggest that until you are put in that position, you may want to hold your guarantees, because it's an incorrect assumption.

    The T&G Comments go off topic constantly, because one person points out that "cowards" are posting anonymously. You, being the upstanding citizen you are, agree and sign your name. But that one person who points out the anonymous posts, succeeds in redirecting and bypassing the topic. TRC posts anonymously, which is apparent in his style of writing. He has posted anonymously on this blog also.

    The municipal environment seems new to you, and you came to it to defend your sister which is noble. If you looked at the larger picture, you would see that for approximately 1.5 years, Mr. Creamer has systematically used intimidation, public humiliation and verbal attacks against certain individuals who have opinions different than his own. You are entitled to yours, everyone is entitled whether they put a name on it, or not. But you and your sister are just one convenient tab in TRC's book of Smear.

    You also seem to be someone who has never been attacked in the media or other public forum, with your good name libeled and slandered for everyone to read. It doesn't feel good. It's embarrassing. Your family feels your pain and embarrassment, and it's carried with them to their daily lives.

    Nothing personal Mr. Mattioli, but you are new to what's been going on in Sturbridge politically, and it has more to do with your sister, the tree, and the selectmen. Your situation is just another reason for Creamer to discredit certain people in Sturbridge.

  11. Dear David,

    The Jump, Set, Spike comment was not directed at you. The names TC, Ernest T., and Sybil which have been referred to along the comment paths, are ones that come to mind.

    I'm glad you raised the question so you would gain an answer and understand the reference was not directed towards you.


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