At the core of every myth is a truth. Something happened, and someone tried to explain it. Stories often get confused, blown out of proportion, or are distorted in translation. But whether because of Zeus, Indra, Taranis, or Thor, somewhere lightning struck.
Beneath the donnybrook of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Myspace, LinkedIn, Pinterest, LiveJournal, an inkling of truth should wallow within the verbiage, even if unseen by all but the most diligent interpreter. Most often I do not find even a hint of truth.
Every maroon like me with a social media account thinks he or she is a journalist, or if not presumes he or she is the mercurial messenger of the world’s news. I find more absurdity in the items most people consider newsworthy, and am immediately skeptical of anything tagged “news” or “update.”
The recent bombing in Boston sadly displayed the current state of U.S. “news reporting.” Every original report misidentified the suspects. A friend—and editor of a California newspaper—emailed an essay he found shortly after one of the bombers was killed and the other taken into custody. The essay discussed how the event was reported and handled via social media and the internet. Photographs popped up on all bandwidths of cyberspace, and all the photographs were of people unassociated with the bombing. Someone even posted a photograph of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a teenager under the heading of “Boston Bomber in Custody.” Most distressing, an unusual number of “legitimate” newspapers posted the same erroneous photos and names on their web sites.
When law enforcement finally released photos of Tamerian and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, every web site in the world changed its photos and revised its story. The media concealed its slipshod handiwork, but the damage was done. Two innocent people, misidentified by Twitter, Facebook posts, and sloppy mainstream media sites dove into hiding in fear of public retribution.
Just several months before, on two separate occasions, I caught glimpses of the television at the gym where I workout. Both times, the talking heads of the media were retracting stories they reported the night before—seems they pulled videos from Youtube, and only after airing the footage discovered the movies were faked.
Recently, two popular political pundits were accused of errors and unethical business dealings, and both are now unemployed.
Everyone wants to be first with the details of disaster. Some want to present the most spectacular spectacle ever seen on Earth. Is it because by being ahead of everyone else, the bozo with the fastest thumbs will have saved the planet? Because they have identified doom and mayhem first are they better than the next moron who got his facts wrong?
I’m not as worried about whodunit; that’s the job of law enforcement. I’m more interested in the why and how to stop bad things from happening, which requires research, which requires effort.
Effort... is that a bad word in society today... or just a cardinal sin?
I know that when one admits to being an activist and starts picking on government figures, big corporations, and government laws, he or she better dot their i’s and cross their t’s, or they’ll find themselves hanging by their ears from a clothesline.