I’ve been dwelling on a particular disk in the Twilight Zone DVD set for the past few weeks. It’s not like I watch it every day, but each time I go to eject it, I decide to watch a couple of episodes one more time. It’s from season two, and it features the last five episodes. Some of my favorites are: “The Silence” – “Shadow Play” – “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up” – “The Obsolete Man” – the latter being among my top-5 favorite episodes.
I’m not going to talk about these episodes. If you’re interested in some insight into this wonderful show, you should spend some time at Paul’s blog. Besides being some of my favorites, these episodes have me thinking about, of all things, social media.
I hear you mumble under your breath.
Consider a few themes that are present in one or more of these episodes:
- Controlling people with illusions
- Attacking the value of men, and mocking the values they hold dear
- Clinging to a point of view, while facts mound up against it
- Manipulating people by playing to their base fears
- Ignoring what might be true, because “it doesn’t fit our formulae”
Social media is rife with these themes today. In fact, I’ve resorted to posting pictures of my pets.
That’s because the simplest brush with a newsworthy item can bring fierce combat from multiple fronts. I’ve seen the comment sections of posts by people I follow, turn into a battleground of vicious
discussion opinion. I crossed that out, because I see very little discussion. It’s one person’s opinion stacked up against another person’s opinion. Each are often bolstered by links to dubious sources, or claims to “have heard,” “have seen” and the ever popular “everybody knows.”
On the other hand, a friend of mine and I have been having actual discussions for many years. Often, when I hang up the phone, my wife will ask: “did you solve the world’s problems?” Even when we don’t agree, our conversations are littered with phrases like: “that’s a good point” – “I hadn’t considered that” – “I didn’t know that” – “I need to get more information about that” and, believe it or not: “you know, you’re right.”
Thank goodness for those conversations and for Thanksgiving with its pictures of turkey and pie. So much pie. Pie has become my refuge on Facebook. I seek out posts about pie. Pie, kittens, other small animals and wonderful scenery from warmer climates.
I plan to continue skipping the opinion posts, including the ones that start with “you have to read this!” because I don’t want to be drawn into the anger and the hatred. Because even if I only press “Like,” Facebook will alert me to each new comment. It’s easier to avoid the chaos on LinkedIn and Twitter, but not because they aren’t both minefields of misinformation.
Despite Mark Zuckerberg’s (and others) promise to root out lies, false news, hate-speak and bullying, I think they’ll tolerate anything that makes money.
It’s not that I’m not moved by or interested in current events, I am. I’m just finding it harder and harder to find information sources that I trust.
I’m not alone.
While we weren’t paying attention, “Fact-based News” became a thing. You can google that. I’m not including a link, because the only ones I can find are to purported fact-based news sites, and I don’t trust them. My question is: “when did being based in facts, differentiate one news source from another?”
Based on my reading, some will say it was when cable networks turned news into 24-hour entertainment. Some blame the Internet. Some say that: “it hasn’t been the same since Walter Cronkite anchored the CBS Evening News.” I miss Walter. Still, there are people who claim that he was somehow involved in NASA’s efforts to fake the moon landings. So I guess there’s nothing new in the land of make-believe.
Until things settle down, you can expect more pictures of my pets.
Speaking of which, this post was conjured up during a walk in the fog with Maddie. Fog makes us work harder to discern the truth about our surroundings. Maddie didn’t seem to have a problem with it. The gallery includes some photos from that walk, and our walk the following day, under sunny skies.