My View From the Soapbox

Day 284

Since I can now add BLOGGER to my bio during the Simple Year, I spend more time online. This seems a bit counterintuitive to a simple approach, but for now, let’s just go with it.

Anyway, I was reading a related article about a darling young family that has decided not to buy anything new for their child for a year (not even used stuff).   She is a “downsized” newspaper employee, so I suspect she has got mad writing skills, probably will have an interesting story to tell and the article was good, I thought.  Then I read through some of the comments…

I will just say this, under the cover of anonymity; we are becoming a society of asshats.  Didn’t Mr. Rogers say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?”  (Or was that Captain Crunch, I can’t remember) Well apparently folks don’t subscribe to that tenant anymore. The commenters were inventing all manner of things to be snarky about.  I mean really, I understand strong feelings about, say…a serial killer or a toxic waste dump, but a woman that is trying not to buy things?

Not only are we meanies, but we also seem to be passing along wild tales with no real basis in fact about all kinds of things.

I suppose this isn’t a new phenomenon.  In the late 60’s rumors circulated that Paul McCartney of the Beatles had died in a car accident.  A whole generation of stoners speculated.

Paul is Dead

DUDE, if you play the album backwards-at midnight-after a bong hit- on a full moon it clearly states, “sssssccccrrreeeeeccchhhh,  PPPaaaammmul ssssss ddddaaaaaadddddd sshhh.”

BAM, what other evidence do you need?

Poor Paul…well, I guess his doppelganger got a knighthood out of it at least.  But, then the rumors fizzled when he was interviewed in Life Magazine, a reputable media outlet, at a time when such venerable establishments were more prevelant.

What is the difference between now than then?

Social Media: Where everyone can be a yellow journalist

A friend of mine likened Facebook to a “Virtual Jerry Springer Show”, not a bad analogy. For the first time in our history, we are now able to spread urban legends at digital speeds.  No longer do we have to wait until Friday night drinks with coworkers to hear important news such as giant alligators in the sewers, gerbils in inappropriate places and babysitters that need to get out of the house, NOW.  These days we get a real-time feed of misinformation—sometimes with video.

Social Media is weird that way.

But here is the thing.  I can’t quit Facebook.  I have lived, worked and traveled all over the world and have gathered a wonderful and an almost unbelievably diverse assortment of Friends, it is possible some of them I will never see in person again, but I don’t care.  I truly love them all and enjoy the opportunity to see their kids growing, their triumphs, their tragedies, their hobbies and yes, even photos of their dinner.

Having said that, call me shallow, but I personally don’t wish to hear inflammatory rhetoric on gun control, the current state of politics or their religious or moral views. And, I often wonder about our group inability to take  15 seconds to fact check wild claims before they’re shared as truths. Woodward and Bernstein would be rolling over in their graves you know.  They ARE dead aren’t they?  Well, I’m too busy to look that up, so we’ll just call them dead for now.

I guess I view the downside of social media as a fair tradeoff to the ability to see all those newborns, vacation pictures and the opportunity to make day to day connections from far away, both in distance and time.

Have I become too cynical?

P.S.  Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, arguably the two most famous investigative journalists ever, really are still alive.  I was just kidding, don’t post that on Facebook.

P.P.S If you would like to read the English woman’s blog about buying nothing new for her toddler, you can find it here.

3 Responses to My View From the Soapbox

  1. from what I’ve seen, blog comments generally aren’t too bad, maybe they are better moderated or maybe people are a little nicer in how they phrase their comments. Newspaper article comments, however, are awful! I think it brings out the worst in people to feel protected by their alias. It’s hard to even read the comments anymore.

    • I think you are exactly right, I have noticed that as well. My guess is that the commenters associate blogs with actual PEOPLE and view news stories differently as if they are “fair game”.

  2. AssHats for sure! I keep telling my kiddos, if you wouldn’t say it to me, Grandma, or Old Grandma, DON’T TYPE IT! When you type it, it’s out there forever . . . the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve contemplated quitting Facebook, etc., but like you, I WANT to hear what’s going in my friends’ lives. We don’t always have the time, means, or inclination to make a phone call. It’s just part of the new game that we all get to play in the social media world.

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