September 21, 2018 by phicks2012
Social Media and “Lies”
I have this tiny quibble with social media.
A person — just about any random-ass person with no credentials, or standing, or proof — can go onto social media and create a fake post, and slap a label onto another person, and hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe even millions of people who do not personally know either one of them, will choose to believe it and will immediately start flinging accusations, calling names, and (with great and ignorant zeal) assisting the original poster in destroying the life and reputation of someone who might well be totally innocent.
Why is this? Why do so many make the choice — and it is a CHOICE — to believe the worst about other people?
Some labels are extremely powerful in that respect. They evoke a strong emotional response — usually either of anger, or of indignation, or of repugnance — and too many people hearing or reading those magic words immediately suspend disbelief — and all common sense. They don’t ask whether or not the words are really coming from any sort of remotely reputable or credible source. They don’t fact-check. They don’t question. They simply react and spread the venom and the infection far and wide.
So, if I go on social media and see or hear someone accused of some heinous act, and the accusation does not come originally from at least one reputable, verified news source (hopefully two or more), or from at least one or two trustworthy people (known by me to be unbiased and reliable) who have first-hand personal knowledge of the act, I do not automatically believe it.
I doubt. I question. I do my best to check the facts, and while I might discuss the matter with a few trusted friends I do not rush to post vitriolic comments on public forums. In fact, I might NEVER post a related comment on a public forum.
Character assassination is an ugly, UGLY thing, and once the accusations are put out there they cannot be taken back. I never, NEVER want to be guilty of the sort of knee-jerk defamation I so often see on social media, or of helping to spread second-hand, third-hand, or twenty-seventh-hand fabrications that might destroy the life of another human being.
So if I don’t jump eagerly and with wild abandon onto a bandwagon you happen to be riding on, please do not think I am dismissing your concerns or your feelings. We well may live by the same moral code, but I simply live by a different social media code which tends to translate, when it comes to rumors and accusations, to “Until I know this to be true I will not rush blindly to pass it on”.
The verse below was first published in our monthly SCA Newsletter, The Equinox, and was included in a previous BLOG, but somehow I feel it bears repeating.
Spread thickly like honey, but tasting of bile,
And scented with malice are words falsely spread.
They ooze downward, swelling to rivers of guile,
And pool up in darkness by calumny fed.
From lips hard and spiteful aspersions may spill
In torrents malignant, uncluttered by truth,
To poison the waters of unsullied rills;
Malevolence dripped from a venomous tooth.
So, guard well your footsteps, tread not in the mire,
Where lies thickly gather in toxicant pools
Unwholesome and putrid, conceived by the liar
To snare the unwary, and make of them fools.
[12 February, 2018]