Disinformation

While I spend several posts going over the stupid things people say on facebook, I thought it would be worthwhile to highlight one intelligent comment R made today, which is especially pertinent for many of my friends who love to share articles that advocate for certain lifestyles or modes of governance.

In an age of social media disinformation can we please point out inaccuracies where we see them and not just blithely share articles? Gives them the imprimatur of legitimacy especially when someone who should be in the know about these things doesn’t say anything.

It takes a lot more effort to filter the things you share comprehensively, and most of my smarter (and more diligent) friends tend to not share anything altogether because they want to share responsibly and only give the full picture instead of propagating any particular bias. The article in question was a Fox News article on ditching Obamacare.

Recently I called out my own MIL (privately, of course), for sharing this other article on being early for things. She adores punctuality in general and very much prefers it when people are early. Z has this aunt XX however who is always late for things (she’s my favourite aunt haha). I am somewhat ambivalent but I do hate it when people are unapologetically and dramatically late (like say 30 mins – 2 hrs) because they subconsciously send the message that their time is more important than yours. So one day while we were driving someplace Z’s mum actually remarked “XX is always late. I don’t understand how she still has so many friends.” and I was utterly shocked at that ridiculous statement. Hands up all of you who make friends with other people because of punctuality. Wow. Just trying to give context as to how obsessive she is with this, to the extent that she even posts articles like the one above encouraging people to be early to things.

I don’t normally read stuff she shares (or any sort of moralizing type article) on fb because they are 1. uneducational, 2. have low entertainment value but I was checking her feed because she complained that they made the font bigger for one of her status updates (and she dislikes attention being directed to her in any overt way).

I disliked the article she shared because the writer was so obviously self-righteous about being early to things (“To my knowledge, none of my blood relations has ever missed a plane.” lol. Z says she must be indirectly sniping her husband/wife) and also seems to utilize her punctuality as a way to assert dominance – “Being early makes you feel in control — or makes others think you are in control, which is the next best thing.” It would be one thing if she wrote that it makes herself feel as if she is in control, which is fine and good, but when you advocate being early for things so that you can play mind games with people? That would be okay for perhaps many other people but certainly NOT a pastor’s wife.

Other choice gobbets:

But my favourite lesson from Lunch with the FT cuttings comes from Stephen Green, then head of HSBC. He turned up three minutes early for the meeting and apologised for being late. This is a stroke of genius. It forces the other person, who had been occupying the moral high ground by dint of getting there even earlier, to pull out his watch and protest that, on the contrary, the new arrival is early too.

The writer is batshit crazy! She’s got some serious neuroses going on! I mean, can’t you at least read through the entire article before sharing it? It actually says

(Being early) gives you the moral high ground. If you arrive first at a meeting, not only do you choose where to sit, you are also in a position to lord it over those arriving later.

So my question to her was – do you actually lord it over other people just because you are early to something? Are you advocating that people who are early get to lord it over other people? Simisai moral highground. What a crock.

So that was one example of an article being blithely shared, without the sharer reading through it herself or fully understanding all its implications. I expect any educated person who shares articles to at least read through them and make sure it makes sense. Most people, I wouldn’t bother calling out but my MIL has got a perfectly fine education and is not stupid. I told her she should write her own opinions clearly instead of just hiding behind some article that only roughly (and very tangentially) shares the same opinions as her. The only reason she expresses herself badly is because she doesn’t express herself enough to have had any practice at all.

Just to be clear, I have nothing against fluffy silly articles being shared, I glory in Buzzfeed listicles and all the Shanghaiist and George Takei fluff :P But those aren’t (overtly) trying to change people for the better or anything. If you are trying to get me (or anyone else) to change their lifestyle or decision-making algorithms then you’d better have some strong arguments going for you instead of anecdotal bs like

Earliness is the defining characteristic of my entire family. Both my parents were wildly early for everything. All three of their children and all 10 grandchildren — even when in the throes of assorted teenage phases — could always be relied upon to pitch up with bags of time to spare for any given occasion.

Cut it out with the self-righteousness already. So you were early to your appointment today?

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