The woman was quite angry with me. She told me I had no idea what was going on in Texas, since I live in Montgomery County Maryland, and therefore Donald Trump’s idea of a “wall” across the southern border is both sound and logical.
When I informed her that she was factually inaccurate, she called me several names that I can’t reprint in a family newspaper but a lot of them rhymed with snitch, bass, luck-wad and piece-of-mitt.
Finally I was told – point blank – that my “liberal facts” will never convince her of the real truth.
Sigh. There are no “liberal facts,” just “The facts ma’am.” And there is no liberal and conservative truth. There is merely reality and the reality of the situation is the Internet is seriously skewing reality.
Ignorance may indeed be bliss, according to some who adhere to their bias no matter what facts exist. But for those who still have hopes of digging up facts and basing their opinion on those facts rather than searching for, or inventing, facts to justify your opinion – there is hope.
Those of us who’ve spent our adult lives doggedly pursuing facts do have one advantage – our daily acquaintance with public relations managers and politicians have given us a slight edge in determining dogma from facts.
So . . .
I hold this to be true for me and no one else. I hope you understand. I find the current state of rational discussion in this world to be rare if not completely extinct. I find myself as much at fault as I find others in this failure to communicate clearly. I vow to make these changes and hold no one else responsible to these precepts. Please, if you offer judgment on me in the future, then if nothing else hold me to these precepts. This is how I will act on the Internet and how I will attempt to act in person.
1. I vow to respect others no matter what their silly opinion may be.
2. I vow never to represent as a fact that which I haven’t thoroughly vetted myself by credible sources. I will never use Wikipedia or a “Meme” as a primary or even secondary source.
3. I will never knowingly publish anything without attributing a source to that which I represent as facts.
Part of the problem in having a decent discussion about anything on the Internet – particularly on questions of science, faith or politics are the number of false facts parading as intelligence and the great deal of vitriol and ad hominem attacks resulting from this parade of false knowledge. Social Networking is the new spot news. Information of natural disasters and manmade mayhem are often first seen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others. We discuss matters of great importance and matters of the upmost triviality in the same forum. There are bound to be issues as we grapple with each issue individually. Rancor should not overcome reason. So I will also:
4. Refrain from posting non-essential trivia or vitriolic statements in any public environment. I don’t ask for anyone else to be censored, I am merely saying I may choose not to respond to or acknowledge such posts. I’m an adult. I don’t have to read everything posted.
5. I promise never to publish pictures placing friends or relatives in an embarrassing light. If there’s a picture of you floating around the Internet asleep on the couch with strange writings in lipstick and indelible marker adorning your flatulent, flaccid form it didn’t come from me.
I must also address the use of humor on the Internet and how I will deal with it. As a standup comedian I’ve come to appreciate humor in all its arcane forms as I’ve learned from being a musician to appreciate most forms of musical expression – okay the key word there is “music”. So I will also:
6. Label all forms of humor I publish on the Internet as such beforehand or quickly after the joke is made so someone doesn’t misunderstand me.
7. I will seek clarity if I do not understand you and seek your forgiveness if I’ve offended you. I will hold it to be true that merely expressing an opinion different from others does not or should not cause offense if offered in a rational, clear manner. If it does, then forgive me for we shall have very brief discussions.
8. I will never knowingly be rude. I’m working on not being smug too, but really if you belong to the Flat Earth Society I’m probably not going to pass that test.
9. I will show respect to others.
10. I will try to understand others.
Okay, that’s it. I could probably go on forever, but brevity is the soul of a column writer and I believe my mid-year resolution is done.