Don’t Hate The Donald, Hate the Lame

 

So I get that you are VERY against trump… Are you as vehement when on Facebook and see anti trump stuff?.…. Just wondering…

One of the guys I know who has been a lifesaver when it comes to helping me keep Betsy tuned up posted this on my Facebook feed this week. It came after about the third time I posted a “Snopes” link on his, debunking some meme his cousin Cletus or somebody sent him about something. This time, it was the Trump retweet of the “black on black” crime graphic, which had some journalists trying to verify the numbers and others tracking it back to some neo-Nazi website across The Pond.

After he got sick of me posting “Snopes” stuff, it became a game of “Well, that’s just one site’s opinion” crap, which of course led me to find nine other sites from various spots, including the exchange Trump had with conservative hero Bill O’Reilly about the bullshit in that graphic.

Thus, the question above.

The answer I gave was mostly honest: I’m not “anti-Trump.” Granted, I hate that the guy essentially killed the USFL, he’s spouting racist shit (and sexist shit and xenophobic shit and…) and that he’s the kind of guy who acts like he hit a triple but was actually born on third base. (Hell, he was probably born at home plate, but regressed, and yet I digress…) None of those things endear me to him.

However, this isn’t about Trump. Or Cruz. Or Jeb! Or Hillary. Or Bernie. Or whoever that other guy is who keeps showing up at the Democratic debates, like that random guy who shows up in your wedding photos, but no one ever remembered inviting.

This is about all the stupid that circulates out there and how easy it is to feel superior to others without doing any of the work that you used to have to do in order to actually back it up.

One of the hardest things I have to teach student journalists is that they need to verify the hell out of everything they want to publish. The line, “If your mother says she loves you, go check it out” has become our mantra.

In one class, I give students ten sports “facts” that people SWEAR they know to be true (example: When the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team beat the Soviet Union, the U.S. won the gold medal. False: USA had to beat Finland two days later to clinch the gold.). In almost EVERY case, the students who are supposed to look this stuff up will say, “Oh, yeah I know that” and then go find a citation to slap on the paper without reading it. Even more, in most of those cases, the citation is either wrong because it’s a shitty source (e.g. jimmysdickfaceblog.blogspot.com) or the citation is right, but the kid never read it.

I don’t know why this is, but other than worrying about their grades, students seem to lack a sense of paranoia, something that would be great for journalists to have. However, when the good ones do get it, they become almost as outraged as I am about the world at large and its complete disinterest in checking things out.

“Where the hell did they get this shit from?” is a common refrain I get from students in the newsroom who are reading their Facebook feeds. It’s usually some racist meme from Uncle Charlie who is saying something about how all crimes in the state of Alabama have been committed by “Negroes with unlicensed weapons” or something. The kid then does a simple Internet search and can debunk the bullshit in 10 seconds or less and posts about a dozen “this is crap” links out there for Uncle Charlie to read.

Here’s the problem: Even if Uncle Charlie or Cousin Cletus or that Guy You Know From Work does take the damned thing down or stops forwarding the email chain about Trayvon Martin beating the shit out of a bus driver, it’s not enough. For starters, they perpetuated a continuing strand of bullshit that pollutes the important discussions of the day.

Second and more importantly, this is like putting a pot underneath a leaky spot in your ceiling: Sure, you managed the problem, but the root cause isn’t getting fixed.

If we value intelligence and we value knowledge, we tend to want to be able to prove our point through information, logic and reasoning.

If we only value proving our point, even though that point may lack information, logic and rational thought, we end up with people who continue to forward and repost ignorant and inaccurate information, with all the grace of a monkey shit-fight at the zoo.

It seems today that people just want to be right about everything they think or feel and yet lack the desire to work to make sure they ARE right. It’s so much easier for them to blame contradicting information on “the liberal media” or “some hack” out there than it is to take the time and really learn something before speaking about it. I’m not sure how many people are beyond salvation when it comes to this. If you read the comments on any political stories, I think you’d agree with me we’re all on the way to hell in a speedboat.

However, to be fair to the guy who posted this and found himself being “snoped” to death, he took down the meme and left me with this:

 

Cool. I’ll prolly repost incorrect things again in the future. I’ll count on u to keep me informed as that is your profession. Lol, I’ll also count on you to not be judgemental of me.

 

I had to give the guy credit, because if there are people who actually will consider that maybe, just maybe, it’s important to take correction on stuff like this, maybe we won’t end up with President Trump trying to nuke Nova Scotia for because someone fucked up his breakfast cereal.

I’ll take the small victories on stuff like this.

Grammar and spelling can always come later.

One thought on “Don’t Hate The Donald, Hate the Lame

  1. gratuitous says:

    Correcting stuff is a tricky business. At least on Facebook, where I personally know just about all the people on my Friends list, I go at it with the preconceived notion that the erroneous stuff they posted was not done out of malice (even if it’s accompanied by malicious taunts). My standard comment is to say “Snopes is your friend,” along with the link to the Snopes article. It’s meant as a corrective, not a contest. And Facebook is not exactly the New York Times.

    I’ve read a few books about the New Yorker magazine when Harold Ross was running the place. One book mentioned the patient folks at the information desk at the Empire State Building who fielded regular calls from the New Yorker that yes, the building was still standing, fact verified. There is, of course, taking fact checking too far, such as a casual where the writer talked of being approached by someone at a cocktail party whom he “didn’t know from Adam.” Ross circled “Adam” and wrote in the margin “Who he?”

    Recognize that each of us is wrong from time to time, and when you spot someone else making an error, handle them with the same friendliness you’d like when you’ve made a mistake (non-professional situations, of course; actual paid journalism is another story). If the discussion degenerates because the other person can’t handle being wrong, let any acrimony be on them.

    Like

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