I was going to cite an example of a post about how we are all lied to virtually all the time, but given the last week’s news cycle, it clearly is not necessary.
I am frankly amazed at the quotes that get passed around on social media, especially on Facebook, by full-grown adults. Many of those quotes are such obvious invention that I am aghast that anyone passes them on. Here’s an easy shortcut: if you see a quote from some famous person posted on social media, there is about 2% chance that that person ever uttered that sentence, that any well- known person ever uttered that sentence, or that anyone other than some unknown and friendless meme-inventor created that quote himself. A handy tip- off: Mother Theresa was Polish and shouldn’t sound like a contemporary Philadelphian, Abe Lincoln had good grammar, and Einstein wasn’t petulant about 21st century politics.
Another quick shortcut: if any news item or quote gives you a burst of happy endorphins, suspect its truth immediately. You are likely being played. You are being used by people who do not care about you.
Some posts which get passed around are just too perfectly perfect to be believed, and we need to be smart enough to disbelieve a report that declares that Politician X secretly eats live kittens for breakfast every morning, especially because we really want to believe that PX is so evil that he would gleefully eat kittens for breakfast. Especially suspect are those excited news flashes about what Politician Z secretly really secretly thinks/wants when there are mountains of acts and statements which demonstrate what he really thinks/wants available for all to see. Look for evidence.
So when will purveyors of lies be held accountable for their intentional disinformation? And how will they be held accountable? It seems like there ought to be some legal safeguard. But let’s be careful. Do we want any government arm arbitrating what’s real and what isn’t? No, because all gov’t arms have their own agendas and they are as corruptible as any other body. Imagine a Department of Reality.
The only real solution puts you and me in the driver’s seat. We have to be responsible to fix this. We have to let go of our rages and our preferences and be reasonable. We must let go of our excessive need for the world to be exactly as we want it to be, and we need to be suspect when we need the world to be so negative. We must detox from outrage.
We are going to have to deal with human beings no matter what solution we choose. Let’s choose one in which we have the freedom to do good even though it means we must put up with those who misuse that freedom to do evil. The remedy is for every one of us to want the good for everyone, then to dust off those flabby organs in our heads and give them a workout. Every day, every hour, every minute.
We must choose to want to know the truth. We must work hard to discover the truth. We must dismiss news that smells bad even though it has a pretty pink bow on it, and throw it in the trash can. Then we must discount every source that handed us that smelly item. Those sources mean us no good and tried to use us for their own power plays.
Facebook posts with the words “ripping,””children,” “mothers,” “arms,” and “Trump” are an EQ test and you failed.
We must seek out truth even when, especially when, it isn’t the truth we prefer. We must be the gatekeepers, the bar holders. Don’t lie to me. I will discard you if you do. You can’t use me anymore. We must be smart and we must value our truths and our minds more than the stroking of our feelings.