Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

THIS IS NO WAY TO MAKE A POINT!!!

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In Scottsdale, Ariz., there is a restaurant so far gone that even Gordon Ramsay's shouting cannot save it. In fact, the owners of Amy's Baking Company so terrified the man behind Kitchen Nightmares he decided to quit working with them rather than endure them any longer.

If you haven't visited the nooks of the Internet where discussion of this has been bouncing around, you are missing out. It's brilliant and unhinged in the way of all things that go viral. The owners were shown taking waiters' tips, berating customers, insisting they do not know what kind of food they want, firing staff, shouting at Ramsay and refusing to accept criticism.

Then, as if to counter viewers' suspicions that this insanity was staged, the Facebook page of Amy's Baking Company lit up with insults as, it appeared, co-owners Amy and Samy Bouzaglo inveighed against the websites where "online bullies" had given them negative reviews. Most posts are unprintable, but some highlights include: "I AM NOT STUPID ALL OF YOU ARE. YOU JUST DO NOT KNOW GOOD FOOD. IT IS NOT UNCOMMON TO RESELL THINGS WALMART DOES NOT MAKE THEIR ELECTRONICS OR TOYS SO LAY OFF!!!!"

As a general rule, if you are the one typing in all caps, insisting that everyone else is wrong, they are not wrong.

The page featured several such posts and then suddenly announced: "Obviously our Facebook, YELP, Twitter and Website have been hacked. We are working with the local authorities as well as the FBI computer crimes unit to ensure this does not happen again. We did not post those horrible things. Thank You Amy&Samy."

Hmm. This "hacker" has a lot of spare time and an ear for dialogue.

The Amy and Samy story is essentially a master class in How to Lose an Argument on the Internet. The basic steps, for anyone curious:

-- TYPE IN ALL CAPS.

-- Explain that God is on your side.

-- Call the other person a rude four-letter, three-letter, five-letter name.

-- Explain that you are right because the other person is an idiot, while misspelling something.

-- Use erratic punctuation or grammar while calling the other person stupid while typing in all caps.

-- Refuse to stop arguing.

-- When the backlash starts, insist that you were hacked.

Amy and Samy -- or someone posing as them -- managed to do all of these things, sometimes in a single post. They did everything short of comparing someone to Hitler. To call this kicking the hornet's nest would be an understatement. Folks, it's not the Internet. It's you.

From Alexandra Petri's blog at washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost

--The Washington Post

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 18, 2013 A17

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