social media

SMOKE AND FIRE, SMOKE AND MIRRORS

“A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on.”
Terry Pratchett, The Truth

“When you are rich and powerful, no one will challenge you to your face or give you a chance to explain yourself. All the whispers are behind your back. You are left with no means of clearing your own name. And after a while you realize there is no point in even attempting to do so. No one wants the truth. All anyone wants is the chance to add more fuel to the fires of gossip. The whispers become so loud that sometimes you think you will drown in them.”
Amanda Quick, Ravished

“Don’t forget this, too: Rumors aren’t interested in the unsensational story; rumors don’t care what’s true.”
John Irving, In One Person

“Always remember… Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots.”
Ziad K. Abdelnour, Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics


Among the many inane things we say when we don’t have something witty of our own to offer (hey, don’t knock it … someone else’s bon mot beats out “duh” every time), there are a few genuinely despicable ones.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

It has become everyone’s justification for deciding guilt based on rumor, hearsay, or malice. I’ve heard people say this so many times, in a wide variety of situations, but it always means the same thing.

“I haven’t a shred of evidence, but I’ve heard stuff about you-know-who. He/she/they must be guilty of something, right? Because where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

No one with good intentions would say this. It’s mean-spirited. Small-minded. How can you justify this when you live in a nation supposedly founded on the principle of not convicting anyone without due process? Without a trial? Without evidence?

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Being unpopular — or accused of wrongdoing — is not proof . Neither is attending a different church, or no church. Or dressing funny, having a bad attitude, failing to mow the lawn, keeping to ones self, being anti-social, holding unpopular opinions, or having bad manners. It is legal to be different.

And hey, how about gossip, eh? People say all kinds of shit. It can ruin reputations and careers. Destroy families. All because a guy said something to another guy about someone. Then a couple of other guys in a bar repeated what they thought they’d heard, plus a few embellishments. Their girlfriends passed it to their BFFs who published it on Facebook. Rumor becomes fact because where there’s smoke, there’s gotta be fire. Everyone knows that.

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So now, you’ve got everything you need for a quick conviction without benefit of judge, jury, or trial. The next thing you know, a lynch mob is forming.

If ever you hear yourself saying “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” or words to that effect, stop. Ask yourself what gives you the right to judge. Because you too can be judged and I bet you won’t much like it.

Assuming the pingbacks are working, these days a big assumption, this is part of SWEET LITTLE LIES -

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/sweet-little-lies/

for the Daily Prompt.

GUILTY AS CHARGED

Convicted in the Court of Public Innuendo, comment by Rich Paschall

It doesn’t take much for radio shock jocks and tabloid publications to go on the attack. If the story seems scandalous enough, or perhaps even just a little, the social media junkies have a field day as well. Re-postings of blogs of no particular merit start to appear. Links can be found on Tumblr, facebook, and Twitter as well as a whole host of new sites I have not had time to explore. Graphics show up on people’s news feeds, often with unrelated pictures with words scrawled across them. If the graphic is well made, it seems to add to the believability. The great ancient mythologies were believable to the people of those time periods. We are perhaps just as gullible.

When something of questionable authenticity appears I like to check it out on Snopes.com or other sites dedicated to debunking bad stories. A quick internet search is usually enough to check out the claims people make. Although it is often in vain, I like to add a link to the truth among the comments under some of these spurious stories. Sometimes it has zero effect as people continue commenting on the false posting itself. For some folks, proof is not enough.

There are even more insidious postings and rumor mongering going on in the area of innuendo. You imply bad things about someone and watch the story grow and take on a life of its own. There are enough false President Obama stories floating these past six years. Many imply that he has secret ties to Muslim terrorists or other anti-American groups. The whole “birther” charge regarding Obama’s citizenship keeps going around and that is followed by any number of conspiracy theories. These worthless speculations are damaging to the public welfare, especially when implied issues, although false, are nevertheless believed.

When my mother was no longer able to get out on her own, a friend would drop off multiple supermarket tabloids from time to time so they could see the latest celebrity “news.” Sometimes the talk and the tabloid headlines were so intriguing I would pick up the paper at my mother’s apartment only to find a story of little or no substance. A picture with a clever caption or suggestive headline would seem to point to a vicious scandal, and a league of tabloid grabbers would believe something they did not actually read.

Recently, an old charge of forced sex by comedian Bill Cosby resurfaced. The result has been an internet and social media firestorm. An ill-timed invitation by the Cosby Twitter account to “meme” a picture of Bill, that is to take the picture and add a graphic, ended up producing a whole host of uncomplimentary claims. Those graphics, of course, made the rounds. Cosby’s lawyer responded to all the new charges by saying, “We’ve reached a point of absurdity. The stories are getting more ridiculous.”

The man once known as “America’s Dad” for his portrayal of a wise father on The Cosby Show has now been convicted of a variety of sins by way of inflamed public opinion. It is likely to grow in intensity as long as Cosby remains in the public eye. At a recent appearance on his comedy tour, a Florida radio “shock jock” offered anyone a thousand dollars if they would go to the Cosby performance and call him out on these charges. One patron admitted she went just to see if someone would do it. No one did. A result of all the gossip and innuendo is irreparable damage to the Cosby image and career. Is one of America’s best known comics guilty of the things charged and implied? It is unlikely anyone can prove any of the years old charges, but he has already been convicted in the court of public opinion.

It was claimed that singer Megan Washington often appeared drunk on stage. While she sang well, she appeared to have trouble speaking. Reports of her performances might also include her struggle talking to the audience. Finally she decided to “come clean about it.” The issue was not that she was drunk all the time, it is that she has a speech impediment. She stutters. She explains it in a TED speech, “Why I live in mortal dread of public speaking.” It’s too bad some had already leapt to a different conclusion.

Many celebrities and politicians have been the victims of all sorts of inaccurate accusations. Some accept it and deal effectively with it by ignoring the comment. For others, the storm becomes so great they must respond. We see this in political commercials when attack ads link an opponent unfavorably with others. Here in Illinois the Republican attack ads put the current governor in pictures with the president to imply he believes what the president does. He also mentioned that the governor served in office with former Governor Blagojevich who is now in prison. You can guess the implication.

Of course, I could give many more examples of famous people who had been rumored to have done something bad through implication and innuendo. Many of these claims I could also point out were never verified. Nevertheless, they are out in the public domain and people believe them. Hence the popularity of supermarket tabloids and shows like TMZ. When the story is salacious enough, facts to the contrary don’t seem to matter much.

TMI

Overload Alert - “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” — Gertrude Stein


There is a lot of noise out there in the world. Television, radio, social media, newspapers.

Thing is, you don’t have to pay it any mind. I don’t. Much — most — of what passes for “information” barely fits the criteria for gossip, much less news. It’s ranting. Bullshit.

Facebook especially is full of unfounded opinions, innuendos, stuff that has been passed around so much everyone assumes it must be true, but hardly anyone bothers to check if it is fact or nonsense.

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When I’ve taken the time to track down these Internet “stories,” I’ve found them to be without basis in fact. If there are facts in the mix, they are out of context and liberally mixed with someone’s opinion. The most lethal kind of misinformation is a mix of fact and fiction which sounds authoritative, but is all smoke and mirrors.

I don’t watch the news. Really, I don’t. Unless there’s something specific going on that I need to know about. It has to be important: a hurricane coming our way, a natural disaster, a major political or international event, a war. I don’t need to know about the “crime du jour” or the latest celebrity scandal. I read book reviews. Movie reviews. When there’s a big election, I like to know the positions of the candidates. We watch at least one presidential debate every four years. And we vote.

Otherwise, if someone wants to tell me what’s going on in their life or wants to know about mine? They can call me, email me. Read my blog.

I am retired. Truly retired. I don’t want to know about, worry about, deal with all the crap in the world. If I don’t turn on the TV or follow it in social media, I don’t need to know. The crisis can proceed without me.

Life is far more relaxing without the constant hysteria of media.

Try it. It’s amazing how peaceful life can be if you don’t pay attention to the nonsense spouted and touted on the airwaves and Internet.

OSCAR ISN’T SACRED BUT WE WATCH ANYHOW

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Daily Prompt: Time After Time

We don’t have a lot of traditions. We have a lot of intentions, but they don’t always pan out. But we have one that’s sacred. Okay, not exactly sacred, but we do it every year.

Garry and I watch the Oscars.

We watch them when they are boring. We watch them when we are tired and would like to go to bed. We watched them one year in the pilot’s lounge at the top of a cruise ship on the biggest screen television I’ve ever seen.

Last year, we watched them in Connecticut with friends. For my money, Seth McFarland was the absolutely funniest-ever host.

Ellen DeGeneres was good this year. Pleasant. A kinder, gentler host. But McFarland made me laugh more and laughter always wins the day with me. Her selfie with the stars crashed Twitter and broke all retweet records with more than 2 million retweets.

Garry and I have been together 25 years — officially. Longer unofficially. Much longer entirely off the books. And we always watch the Oscars.

I suppose I should say something about why. I mean, mostly, the show is pretty dull. Insipid speeches thanking everyone the awardee has ever known since birth or even before birth in a previous life. Ho hum productions of the songs of the year. They used to have really bad dance numbers, but eliminated them this year. Drat. That was always good for a groan.

Ellen at oscars

Lacking the bad production numbers, we could gawk at the hideous examples of “one plastic surgery over the line.” Kim Novak was terrible to see. A lovely woman who fixed what didn’t need fixing. We barely recognized her. Then there were all the rest of them, so full of Botox that their faces were all zombified. Rigid. Men and women alike, terrified to be seen getting old.

Garry and I looked at each other and whatever problems we have, we look a lot better than they do. Without plastic surgery, thank you.

And one more thing. How come, since they have the financial wherewithal to buy whatever they want, are so many of them so badly dressed? Can’t buy good taste, eh?

So that’s why we watch the show. To see the new stars, the old stars, the gorgeous dresses from fabulous designers worn by aging stars who should know better. The awful dresses worn by beautiful young starlets who should look in the mirror rather than take the advice of designers.

Ugly tuxedos, terrible hair, bad makeup and some stomach-wrenching plastic surgery. And at least one or two wins for the actors, directors and others who’ve done an amazing job and deserve a victory lap.

The good, the bad and the ugly — it’s all part of the magic of the Oscar night.

Lupita-Nyongo-Oscars-2014

It gives us a chance to yell “Ew!!” yet we are ever-ready to praise those who come through the Oscar experience nicely dressed, not surgically remodeled, with some grace and dignity remaining.

We can hardly wait until next year.

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GRANDMA’S BEST ADVICE

The other day, I had one of the increasingly rare moments alone with my granddaughter. She has been going through a prolonged siege of the teenage girl crazies, a ghastly combination of hormones, boys, high school and high drama.

Clearly, she was in need of the best advice I had to offer, so I gave it to her.

“If you are going to be crazy, be crazy,” I said. “I was a basket case at your age too. Many of us were. It’s a girl thing. But trust me. You really can trust me on this. Everything gets better. Not very long from now, you’ll look back on this time and be embarrassed by some of the stuff you are doing.”

High tension wire, golden maple leaves framed by an azure sky.

And then I gave her the best advice I had: “Be crazy if you must. Just — for God’s sake, don’t put it online. Your great-grandchildren will be finding your Facebook posts and laughing their asses off. Worse, your future possible employers will be finding them too, not to mention your potential life-partners, business associates, friends and co-workers. Be nuts if you must, but shut up about it. Don’t publish it.”

I know it’s the current thing to spill ones guts on the internet. I share too, but only if I can make it reasonably elegant and I don’t mind who knows. Moreover, I’m retired. I will never again have to hunt for a job. I have the only husband I will ever need or want. My friends already know I’m a whack job and they love me anyhow.

But my granddaughter is 17. She’s got a whole life to live, worlds to conquer and all that drama published on the internet can turn into the stuff of nightmares.

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Nothing ever vanishes once it’s “out there” in cyberspace. Everything you ever wrote, ever commented is going to show up on someone’s Google search. It gives friends something to laugh about and you something to blush over … but it’s also something for those who don’t like you to use against you. It provides easy ways for people to hurt you. If you are, as I am, past the age where you give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks or says about you, behave accordingly.

However, if you are still in the job market, still hoping for a career, especially if you are a teacher or any kind of public servant. Or looking for work in finance or something which requires a security clearance … Think carefully before you publish.

Nothing you put on the internet is private, no matter what anyone tells you. I can find posts I wrote that were supposedly private twenty years ago and newspaper articles in which I am mentioned that were published in The Jerusalem Post 30 years ago.

If it goes up on any form of social media or blog? It’s a land mine on which you will eventually step.

So be crazy. Be as crazy as you want. Just don’t publish it. If it’s unpublished, it’s a rumor. Plausible deniability applies. But if it’s published? You’re busted.

LABEL ME YESTERDAY 2013

International Label Day is a holiday created by WordPress based on a Daily Post prompt in 2012. Technically, the Day was yesterday, but I have no problem being a dollar short and a day late. Time is an illusion and any case, we live in a parallel reality. Trust me (heh heh). So this is officially an Annual […]

THE INTERCONNECTNESS OF ALL THINGS

sunset with hawk

The late great Douglas Adams (who shared my birthday, March 11th — I’m sure that means something, but I have no idea what) created a character that I dearly love. Dirk Gently (also known by a number of other names, including Svlad Cjelli), was the owner/operator of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. It operated based on the “fundamental interconnectedness of all things.” I believe in Douglas Adams and Dirk Gently. We all operate, knowingly or not, on the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.

More than half the posts I write — including this one — are born while commenting on someone else’s post.

We are intricately and intimately linked. I wonder if we take for granted how bound to others we are in this strange cyber world we have created. I have read and heard much talk about the isolation of each person, alone and lonely with their computer. It has been put out there as a metaphor for the estrangement of people from each other, the symbolic isolation of individuals in the technological world.

I don’t think it’s true. For me, for many of my friends, for my husband, isolation would be life without the Internet. Without computers. For anyone who suffers a chronic illness, for those of us getting on in years who can’t get out as much as we want and whose friends have died or moved far away. For young people whose studies, work, happenstance or life choices have settled them long distances — continents and oceans — distant from old friends and family, electronic communications are a godsend. Skype — and programs like it — make it possible to see the faces we love.

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If we cannot share a hug, we can share face time. Electronic communications are fast or instant. Texting, IM, TwitterFacebook, even YouTube let us share in ways that were science fiction just a few years ago.

Without my computers, I would be truly isolated. The fibromyalgia, arthritis and heart condition make getting around difficult. Without electronic connections, I would be a squirrel up a tree without fellow squirrels to hang with.

This post was inspired by Dawn Hoskings on whose post I was commenting when I realized — again — how lucky I am to be living in a world that lets me enjoy virtual travel and participate in a larger world. I’m glad — proud — to be part of a community of bloggers, a community of friends around the world. And deeply grateful. How about you? I’d like to hear your stories.

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