Yesterday a Facebook group to which I belong posted an article claiming that Republican senators were moving to pass a bill outlawing tampons, because hindering the menstrual flow is against God’s plan for women. I saw the article, immediately went, “Um, what?” and clicked through to the website, Free Post Press. I had never heard of this before and had no clue that it was ultimately a satirical site like The Onion.
To my credit, I was quite suspicious of it because the article contained no sources and there was no “About Us” section on the site to give me a clue as to what these people were about.
Less to my credit, I went onto Facebook to chastise liberals for writing up “news” stories and then having no evidence to back it up. As I said, we need all the help we can get and putting up terrible stories without sources makes us look bad and encourages the spreading of misinformation.
Yes, yes. I know you’re laughing at me. Go ahead and get it out of your system.
Jeez, I didn’t think it was that stupid.
OK. CAN I TALK NOW?
Well, looking back at it now, it was pretty obvious that the site was humorous. But at first glance, it came across to me like a Liberal Ranting and Raving site with a humorous edge. Don’t worry…I admitted my idiocy as soon as someone pointed it out. Even though I did that, several people immediately shared the article from my link as truth. I did what damage control I could. Ooooooops!
However, my gullibility in this regard ultimately amused me for two big reasons. (A) The insanity described in the article seemed perfectly plausible to me. (B) The fact that a brightly colored Liberal website would jump at the chance to spread unsubstantiated claims seemed equally plausible.
Ginny pointed out that having not been raised as a hard core conservative or fundamentalist Christian, my filter for true Batshit Conservative Ideology® vs. false batshit conservative ideology (accept NO IMITATIONS!) is not refined. From the outside, it all sounds the same. She was raised in that type of environment and called bullshit immediately.
When I was a kid, I really trusted adults and responded well to authority. I didn’t particularly like anyone in my own age group. My contemporaries made me uncomfortable and I generally thought they were all full of crap…which was likely quite accurate as we were kids. I believed what the adults around me told me. I was young and impressionable. Most of the adults that I encountered were unconventional people with unconventional ideas. They always believed that there was more going on than what was being presented and taught me to question everything…everything mainstream anyway. I suppose I was raised in a somewhat hard core liberal environment. I took from it a few good things I think. I learned to question everything on television, for instance.
But I also initially was raised to believe that liberals thought something shady was going on, it was and it was just as bad as you think…if not worse.
As I got older, my scientific mind began to develop. While learning about how to do research in school, the idea of needing evidence to back up claims was hammered into my head. And it wasn’t just “find one source somewhere that supports your claim,” but actually, “find several sources that concur”. At the same time, I started to realize that much like my contemporaries; a lot of the adults in my life were also full of crap. I found myself listening to them and thinking, “Where on Earth are you getting this from?” I began questioning everything, even if someone I thought was “cool and interesting” said it.
I was a kid in the 80’s and early 90’s. This was, of course, prior to the internet being as ubiquitous as it is now. When I was doing research assignments, I had to rely on Encyclopedia Brittanica and hard copy books at the library. With the advent of the internet, suddenly all information was available and pretty accessible. This, as we all know, means that really reputable sources can be easily accessed…and that whack jobs have equal access to the etherwaves to spew their theories. For every intelligent, well researched article discussing important issues of our day, there are 10 (probably more) articles written by some idiot who has completely missed the point.
We are living in bizarre times. Conservatives are currently very easy to hate, mock and be terrified of. When you read about the laws they are really trying to pass and the opinions that people really have, anything absurd and Orwellian sounds possible. There is just so much bad legislation being brought out and not dismissed by nearly a large enough margin, that the momentum of this makes it seem like we’re seconds away from living in a place we don’t recognize anymore.
But then you take a deep breath and realize that the type of government that we have does offer some hope. There really are still a bunch of checks and balances and we are lucky enough to be able to fight for our rights and that it would be relatively difficult for us to wake up in the morning to a Fascist dictatorship…right? Something something George Washington something something Dress Up Like Indians and Dump Tea in the River blah blah blah.
So yes, we liberally minded people have reason to be a little uneasy about the current state of affairs and I fear that the coming election is going to be ugly. Not in the “Obama will lose” kind of way, but just in a “this is what the face and heart of our country looks like” kind of way.
But on the flipside, I see a lot of crap get posted on my Facebook page and I see a lot of people get absolutely up in arms about things that haven’t been proven. I see countless articles that are written to terrify you, as a liberal. The chemical, pharmaceutical, oil, what have you industry is in cahoots with the government to kill you.
And, you know, I don’t trust any of them either because there’s evidence that some of these claims are true. I know this because I read a lot of blogs that will terrify you and every time something is claimed, there is a source with a direct quote to prove it. There is a link to the actual wording of a bill going up for vote. But a lot of the articles just make outrageous scary statements and then have no source to back it up. So if you’re going to say something that is going to scare the shit out of people, BACK IT THE FUCK UP. The purpose of writing about these things is to educate the public, right? RIGHT?!? So if you really want to give us a reason to reject a product, give us a bunch of evidence to convince us. Don’t be paranoid. Don’t fear simply for fear’s sake. KEEP THINKING. Fear is the mind killer, after all.
So yeah, I got totally duped by a satirical article. You can fool some of the people some of the time and all that rot. But I think people’s reactions to it showed how crazed some of us are becoming as November 2012 approaches. The mere suggestion that Republicans might be trying to do something truly insane sends up into a tizzy. Sure, my tizzy was about the lack of source citations, but I believed that this could be true.
If you pay attention and keep thinking critically about the things that are unfolding before us, worry not, for there is plenty to be angry about. It’s not like if you read an article and take a deep breath and verify its contents that you will suddenly be serene. But it is important to keep our wits about us because I think that’s the closest thing to kryptonite we have against all of it. If we waste our energy freaking out about every What If and Possibly True, we’ll have nothing left to fight against the stuff that really is happening.