Brought to you by the heartland of the Internet: Facebook
So much of Facebook is made up of irresponsible bullshit written or “sponsored” by people who figure they have the right to shoot off their mouths, write drivel on public forums, and yet bear no responsibility for the results of their actions. These are the same people who would probably think that shouting “fire” in a theater was funny. If people were panicked, injured or killed? It’s not their fault.
So whose fault is it?
Here’s what I think. You are responsible for what you say and for making sure you are understood. You are responsible for what you write and how you write it.
You are morally required to make a good faith effort to speak and write the truth in such a way that others can understand it. You need to be sure what you say makes sense. If you aren’t responsible, who is? If you write a pack of lies, or half-truths, or rumors — exactly who is responsible but you for whatever misunderstanding will inevitably result?
Everyone is responsible. You may not be able to 100% control how others understand, but you can make your best effort, to be honest, to double-check facts, and explain what you mean as clearly as possible.
The casual, widespread attitude that it’s okay to say or do anything and if other people don’t like it or “get it,” too bad for them. This is the definition of how we got where we are. It didn’t happen from nothing and nowhere. We did not act irresponsibly. We refused to admit mistakes. We blamed everyone else for the problems we caused, then wondered why we can’t trust anyone.
If all of us refuse to accept responsibility for our own actions and statements, why should anyone be more trustworthy than we are? If “it’s not my fault” — or worse yet, “it’s your fault” — is going to be our national motto, when you hear a loud flapping noise, it’s your chickens coming home to roost. The result will be that we will live in a world where nothing anyone says or does can be trusted because honesty has been replaced by bullshit.
It really is the writer or speaker’s responsibility to communicate. It is not the responsibility of your listener to decipher your poorly written and badly expressed language.
It’s not a heartwarming thought.