I looked under chairs
I looked under tables
I’m trying to find the key
To fifty million fables
~~ The Who, “The Seeker”
I don’t pretend to be a journalist (and I don’t play one on TV). I’m just a person who likes to write a bit here and there and throw some thoughts and ideas out. Blogging and social media have been great for that, but a recent trend really bothers me.
There are a lot of satire sites and fake news sites out there now. I often see people sharing these stories as if they are real. This bothers me. A lot. First of all, it puts me in a position of having to defend people I really can’t stand, like Palin (multiple Palins, actually), Bachmann, and others of that ilk. There have been many times that I’ve written something to the effect of “I can’t stand her either, but she didn’t really say that.”
A response I often get is “But it sounds like something she would say.”
Maybe. But she (or he) didn’t say it. That is important to me.
Second, I might be weird for not wanting to put words in people’s mouths, no matter what their political or religious affiliation happens to be, but I do feel that way. Probably because I hate—HATE, I tell you!—when people put words in my mouth. So I suppose I’m overly sensitive to see that happen and I have a pretty good bullshit detector.
I’m sure we all have that friend or relative who loves to circulate those bogus email stories. Obama refused to put his hand over his heart for the pledge of allegiance, Michelle racked up a $30K bill in a hotel, blah di fucking blah. You’ve probably seen a lot of those. It’s all bullshit, but there are people out there who still circulate that stuff. It pisses me off to see it coming from the righties, but it pisses me off just as much to see it coming from the lefties. Because it’s wrong. It’s not the truth, and it’s wrong to perpetuate these lies, no matter who they are about.
We should do better. We need to do better. Passing around false information is not helping us in trying to find common ground on which we can legislate and move our country forward. It is only inflaming and deepening what is already a huge (YUUUGE!) divide. Sharing stories without reading the full story is also a problem. There was a recent instance of someone sharing a completely false story on the basis of the headline, which was absolutely provocative. But when you click through and read the story, it said that it was an experiment to see how many people would share it without reading it and that the headline was an absolute lie. I’m sure the author was trying to prove a point, and the point was duly noted. In the meantime, people are sharing this story—without reading it!—which didn’t really solve the problem. It just added another false story to the other false stories that are making the rounds.
C’mon, folks. We can do better than this. The Internet and social media is a great tool, but as Uncle Ben Parker said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Read a story before you post it. If something seems like an outlandish or outrageous quote, check other sources to see if they are reporting it, too. Learn to recognize false news sites and satire sites. Finally, Snopes is your friend. Don’t blindly share articles because they fit your narrative. Take the time to read a little more and do more research.
Please stop making me defend people who I don’t agree with. It takes another little piece of my heart everytime it happens.