Honestly Speaking:* Internet Facts

OneOldCop has written on this topic before. However, the plan here is for this to be the beginning of a series, not simply a stand-alone essay. From a writer’s standpoint, it will be interesting to see how this works out.

The genesis for this series was a discussion during brunch after church. We had just attended Christmas Cantata service, and one of our party asked if anyone knew why people stand for “Hallelujah Chorus.” As one might imagine, several theories were advanced.

The suggestions were apparently not satisfactory. Accordingly, our inquisitive brunch companion consulted the final authority on all things historical, political, spiritual or important, the all-powerful internet. The top answer to her inquiry stated, “Legend has it that King George II was so moved by the music that he stood to his feet when he heard it, requiring that his subjects followed suit.”

Given the group at the table the information started another small debate. This one focused on the “legend.” As one might expect from someone such as this writer, the so-called legend prompted a suggestion that was a bit sarcastic, though not wholly irreverent.

The thought expressed was, “And, the king dictating how one should respond to a song of worship helped fuel the continued colonization of the New World by those seeking religious freedom!” While the response from those present was more of a chuckle than a guffaw, it did spur one sardonic comment, “I bet if you posted that ‘fact’ on the internet, people would buy into it!”

In times past, the old adage, “don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see” was quite popular. A generation later other bits of folk wisdom became popular. “Don’t trust anyone over thirty,” and “question authority” are two that come to mind.

Things are a bit different today. Certainly, there are those who still believe some of the thoughts mentioned above. However, it seems the vast majority of people have decided they cannot trust their eyes, their ears, the government, the cops, Fox News or anyone who doesn’t think the same way they think. The exception is what they read, hear or see on the internet!

Sadly, I am not joking. Pastors, teachers, politicians, graduate students, social activists and the rest of humanity seem to feel the internet is a reliable source of information for everything from child rearing to nuclear physics. After all, no one would intentionally post incorrect, misleading or totally false information using the name of a famous person, respected spiritual leader or a deity to mislead or misinform others through the internet.

Not only that, no self-respecting person would forward or post such information without checking it’s veracity. So, if it shows up on your Facebook page, Twitter feed, or anywhere else online, it must be true. If not true, it must at least be worth repeating or sharing.

The truth is nothing on the internet should be taken at face value. Even when the famous person, respected spiritual leader, deity spokesperson, renowned scientist or respected journalist posts something online it should be considered suspect. It should be considered suspect because of another old saying of which this writer is fond. “Don’t put your mouth in gear before you engage your mind!”

Modern communication methods seem to beg people to post replies, rants and updates to situations before they think about the wording or veracity of the information. When they do, someone else will invariably share the information without checking it, and a paper cut turns into a Ninja sword attack.

Is it any wonder those of us trying to make sense out of political battles, tragic incidents or total depravity feel like punching bags? In many cases, we are left battered, confused and wondering which one of several apocalyptic futures we face. Which brings this piece back to the point.

On Christian Principles” discussed this writer’s thoughts on claims being made in the name of a former president. “Did I Really Post That” was a piece discussing the tendency some have to post things in the heat of the moment. “Stuck in Middle” dealt with the problems one faces if he or she wishes to be objective in the highly polarized world in which we currently live. In the future, the plan is to publish such pieces under the “Honestly Speaking” heading.

The hope is those who take the time to read this piece, and those to follow, find them useful in their attempts to be measured and objective in responding to the chaos around us. If nothing else, the hope is a few people will take the time to check the veracity of information before they quote it, share it or bet their reputation on it.


*This post was originally entitled Absolute Truth? Internet Facts. However, as sometimes happens, the light dawned this morning that the term absolute truth might be misleading or be taken for something not intended by this writer. While into my third mile on the treadmill, the title honestly speaking came to mind. Hopefully this will work as intended. Thanks for your interest.

© OneOldCop 2015

About S. Eric Jackson

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