Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Peak Of Misunderstanding

To my son Tommy,

I truly believe that our society has reached a new height in misinformation. At no point in human history have people so readily dismissed the truth but at the same time accepted the most absurd ideas as fact. We live in an age where people believe honey and cinnamon can cure everything (or so sayeth the digital article) and news of a person's death can go viral thrice over, years after the event. No longer do we understand the difference between causation and correlation and coincidence. We live on headlines and click bait and can somehow discern the entire story without reading another word. Oh Paul Harvey where are you now? We are in desperate need of the rest of the story.

Yet the same tool (I mean the Internet and not Al Gore) that seemingly created this mess may be the same apparatus to get us out. For a tool is not inherently good nor evil. Only in the reflection of how it is used does a device, method, or means take on such characteristics. The Internet easily reflects back our abundant human flaws because we allow it, but this does not have to be.

We have to change our hearts and minds and in extension how we use the tools in our lives. We must use our voices, be it through the Internet or print or in person, to spread truth. We must approach each story presented to us with a critical mind and a healthy dose of skepticism. We must delve in deep to the entire story and not allow a snippet of information, purposely written to trick us into a click, to have such a great influence on what we think. We must demand truth and accuracy from all sources of information, be it politician or press or the person down the street. We must avoid all media that continue to feed off half truths and fears and opinion masquerading as news, in hopes that their profit disappear and with it their unscrupulous ways.

We must challenge those of our friends and family that share the unfounded and absurd as if it was fact. We must be cautious in what we pass along and be careful in our own certainty. We must once again recognize the harm in each untruth spoken or shared and no longer forgive ourselves by dismissing the action as harmless or justifying it as well intended. Even your own father's words, it pains me to say, must not be blindly accepted. As Walt Whitman wrote in Song of Myself , "You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books, You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self." Seek truth my son and speak truth my son.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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