It is embarrassing to claim….

….that this blog is a form of media. You know, social media?

It is, of course, but the implication of such a claim suggests that people read it and the blog has some kind of ‘influence’. Wrong. People do not read it very much (trust me. I see the stats) and, regarding those that do read it, I do not think for a minute that what they read is influential to them…..at least not politically, culturally, spiritually or intellectually. The blog is, basically, entertainment and is, perhaps, a bit revealing now and then of a personal slice of a micro-culture (life OTG).

Very small frog, very small pond, making no real noise about nothing much at all. I get that. It’s OK.

But, in a way, it is important to realize that even a small distraction like my blog eats up a piece of the reader’s attention….even if the content is so light that it is forgotten immediately. ‘Ya can’t read Dave’s blog and do brain surgery at the same time.‘ The ten seconds it took to read this far is ten seconds you will never have again!

I am part of the problem.

“What problem?”

The problem is the resurrection of the BIG LIE.

But I have to back up a bit……..back in the last years of the 20th century I was on email a lot. Part of my work. And, because of that, I would be sent all the crap that was being widely distributed as well including cat videos, conspiracy theories, allegations, gossip and all sorts of misinformation and drivel. If I got 100 emails in a day, at least five were pure nonsense. I confess, I often read (watched) the email and attachment because well, out of curiosity and naivety, I guess. I saw some cats. I admit it.

But there was an emerging trend even back then. There were messages of discord and hate, lots of nasty memes about Muslims and institutions, Catholics and black people. There was a strong element of ugly being sent around as ‘truth’ and ‘fact’ and ‘news’.

They were, of course, lies. But, until that time, lies were generally hidden, subtle, or disguised in polite society. They were there in the public square but they were kinda whispered and selectively shared with perceived or potential sympathizers. BIG LIES did not have a lot of purchase back then. There was a campaign of disinformation then that was noticed but not really reacted to.

If you got some email promoting bigotry or hate and you just deleted it. No biggy.

I worked with a guy who had a friend and he had shared with her my email address. She was a bigoted, ignorant, fearful, old woman who passed on every lie making the rounds. I would sometimes Snope the content of her poison and (because she included her whole mailing list) would send out a semi-verified disclaimer to her crap. I only did it because ‘For evil to be done, good men only need do nothing’. A quick rebuttal to her audience and I was back focusing where I should. Ugly Betty was good for at least one bitter, hate-meme a week, sometimes two. Took five minutes to research and debunk and I was free until the next time.

My rebuttal had no effect on her, naturally, but maybe it influenced some on her email list. I do not know. That is not the point. The point is that her kind of dis/misinformation is what has emerged as a major force in our culture today. She was a harbinger. Today’s public square is filled with large, loud lies and misinformation and the increasing growth of general evil is the result.

Mayhem? Chaos? Armed insurrections? Hmmmm….even the spread of a disease?

Q-Anon, OAN, FOX News, Glen Beck, ex-Rush Limbaugh and the list goes on and on and on. The Liars Club. And it is growing. Nowadays we do not have lies being secreted and whispered in the dark corners of the public square but being broadcast and given some weird kind of credence. The gullible and ignorant cult believes it all! Trump says a blatant, bald-faced lie in front of millions and, it has been revealed, most of the time his followers KNOW that he is speaking at least a debated point but many know much of what he says is just total fabrication. Pure lies. But the guy still gets air-time! He gets followers. He is an influencer. He is the Prince of Lies.

Within one generation (20 years) the LIE has emerged as a powerful force in our society. Lies now seem to have credence, power and influence. How did that happen?

Partly it was because of the information explosion as a result of computers, Google and the like. So much was coming at the viewer/reader/consumer, they simply did not have the time nor the inclination to fact check everything. To be fair to them, they never previously had doubts about the veracity of the ‘message’ they were getting from their news sources either. Their lie detector was not in good tune due to lack of use. They believed the local paper, the CBC, NPR or other MSM mostly because the sources were limited and large and had history. We all relied on the news industry for the TRUTH.

But ever since Marshall McLuhan, those sources became a smidge suspect, too.

Then along came SOCIAL MEDIA and the so-called news was more quickly and easily dispersed by way of Facebook, Twitter and the ‘unverified’ content providers on every topic under the sun. Anyone could claim a piece of the stage! And they did!

It is NOT a coincidence that Fox News launched just over 20 years ago (1996). By the year 2000 it was force to be reckoned with. Fox was launched at the beginning of the age of the LIE. Fox is a parent of the BIG LIE. It is no coincidence that Donald Trump launched himself as a potential candidate for president at the same time (official date: 2000).

I noticed the lies back then. But not their power. Not their influence. I dismissed the phenomena as merely a small number of crazies like Ugly Betty. Rupert Murdoch (Fox) and Donald Trump knew in their black souls that a new highway to the hearts and minds of America had just been opened. They saw the opportunity and they went for it. We are now living in the Information and Disinformation Age and, it seems, we are bereft of the wisdom to know the difference.

Presciently timed (1998) was a book written by Scott Peck titled: People of the Lie. “People who are evil attack others instead of facing their own failures.” That book changed my life, too. It gave a glimpse into what constituted evil and how it happens. Hint: unconsciousness and ignorance are major ingredients. I highly recommend it (it is a bit odd, though–Peck is deeply religious) especially in this time of increasing lies.

22 thoughts on “It is embarrassing to claim….

  1. I assume that the Trump impeachment trial in the Senate, in its defence of Trump, claimed that the Constitution of the United States gave Trump the right to express his opinions of a stolen presidential election as his Constitutional Right. Trump repeatedly continues to say, “Stop the Steal.” And his defenders continue to cry, “Stop the Steal!” Repeating “Stop the Steal” does not lift it from the realm of opinion to the foundation of a fact. In the world of verity discerning ‘fact from opinion’ is key. But truth telling seems to have been cast on to the heap of ‘old school’ ideals by some people in some walks of life. The convenient lie, dissembling, equivocation, propagandizing, all tend to corrupt reliable effective communication in society and society is weaken by a loss of trust. Building social cohesion and trust in society’s institutions is vital. Attacks upon democracy and moves toward increased nihilism are wrongheaded. And are a possible path leading to future totalitarian leaders.

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    • That claim Bubbas make of the first amendment is wrong. All the First Amendment says is that the US government can NOT prohibit freedom of speech/news and such. That amendment is all about what the government can and cannot do. A person who lies can still be prosecuted/sued under libel laws, still charged with a crime (perjury) if the lies were made in court. A liar is still reviled…or was….Trump lying should be reviled. He isn’t. Trump should be allowed to lie (altho, as a sitting president, his lies violated the oath he took at his inauguration and that should be a form of treason), he can ‘hang’ with his buddies who are renowned liars from Stone to Cruz, from Hawley to Greene. Trump can lie all he wants….but he should be reviled by the populace for doing that and he isn’t, he is WORSHIPPED for it, instead.
      I remember when Lenny Bruce was charged and convicted on misdemeanor obscenity charges for using words kids and nuns and pretty women use every day now. It reminds me of that because some of our ‘sins’ used to be closeted but now they are all-too-common. Trump has taken lying to a performance art, it seems. There are no real repercussions (unless, of course, he lied about his taxes!). There is an ascending trend to vulgarity in society that has made a leap to disgusting and it has all happened together over the last few decades. Yippee. We are now free to lie and be disgusting, abhorrent and deplorable….start with wearing your hat backwards…..

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      • Protected speech under the USA Constitution continues to be offered as a defence for misogyny and character assignation in social discourse. Trump’s assumes the right of hegemony in his public utterances of incivility. Trump presumably draws upon his experiences in the school yard as a bully. He attacks his opponents with coercive slander, humiliation and lies. Currently Trump and his supporters perpetuate “The Big Lie.”

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      • I never gave Trump credit for any brains – neither does his niece or any of his former aids or appointments (like Kelly, McMaster and Bolton) – but like an old business crook I had to deal with in the past, he has instincts and gut feel that pushes him to do both good and bad things without any predictability or reason (except selfishness). My foil was a pig but he was an instinctive pig and he made money, destroyed small people and was reviled by all except a loyal few. My guy died young (50’s) and is not missed by anyone. He was a destructive force and and a bully. The parallels are quite close.

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  2. I don’t agree on the first part of your blog, but I totally agree on the second part! Yes, it’s a small pond creating small ripples. But you are influencing your readers. Reading your blog takes normally about 60 seconds (I am a fast reader), but I find myself reading it at least 3 or 4 times in a row. AND it makes me think about the things you are writing about. I know, you will call me biassed, because I consume every word you write, but still….
    And off course reading the comments of your regular readers also helps! They all have their opinions, way of expression, and this gives extra colour to your blog.
    So don’t underestimate your influence!
    Second part of your blog I totaly agree….And it IS social media that brought us this far. The amount of (mis)information is so huge, that there is just not enough time to fact check everything. I used to rely on the news on TV (public broadcasting service, paid by the government) and my newspaper. I always figured (at least 20 years ago), that before they printed or broadcasted a story, a lot of fact checking was done by the reporters before they made the broadcast or printed the paper. The editor prabably was very strict to his reporter to do some serious fact checking before printing. That at least provided some reassurance that what we were fed, at least was checked. With the social media these days, a lot of things are posted without ANY fact check, it is left up the the reader/follower to check if what is said is true. And that has become impossible. But not much we can do about it, with all the algorithms behind, we are even fed what they want us to see. Better we pull the plug on all this and go back to writing letters to each other

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    • Good God man, if I am influencing you at all, let me urge you to find a better influencer! For every reasonable thing I might write, I think up twenty stupid things. Plus I drink. Sill, as flattering as you are, your being influenced makes you still just a party of one. Ribbit, ribbit.
      I think there IS something that we can do, tho, about all the lying…..I am committed to confronting all lies (like the ones I am describing in the Trump world) at least once. I kinda think one has to. I am very comfortable now saying, “Well, I disagree. I think otherwise….”……………and then go on to make my point ….in decades of that practice I have managed to disagree, insult no one, engage in polite debate and leave unbloodied most of the time
      But I agree 100% that the comments section MAKES the blog. My job is to inspire the commenting. .

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      • Dave.
        Hate to break it to you.
        You and Sal are “influencers” as opposed to Influenza spreaders……

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  3. I read your blog more frequently than I post a comment. I haven’t been writing since we are not up the lake creating content right now. I do miss it. I think I blog more for myself than my readers. – Margy

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  4. I thought I did, too. UNTIL the readership dropped off (and stayed off). Then I seemed just like a lone voice howlin’ in the wind. I now realize I need some readers and worse, I need their comments!

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  5. I’ve been in the habit of commenting quite frequently. I have not be best pleased with aspects of the ad hominem form of disagreement claiming hegemony of ideas through insults. Case in point Trump’s ad hominem attack on Biden, was to call him “Sleepy Joe.” Dave as you pointed the truth of many assertions can be verified or debunked by referring to “Snopes” a fact checking source.

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    • I, too, deplore nasty but I must accept that a comment section has a bit of license that, perhaps, civil discourse does not. We are all a bit more polite when within arm’s reach. Not that nasty is ever truly acceptable, of course, but we (the majority of us on this blog) think Kev’s embrace of conspiracy theories and Trump is wrong-headed and we say so. To me, that is not nasty, that is disagreement. Even if someone calls you a bone-head or a doofus, I think we have to roll with those punches – just as we would if we were having a disagreement over the Canucks at a pub. A bit of verbal pugnacity is OK with me. Hell, even a little pugnacity is OK with me.
      You can call me dumb, you can call me stupid and you can even call me ugly (all three have been verified as true too many times to count). I can handle that. And I expect to. It is what friends do. Don’t believe me? Work on a construction site and listen to the banter. Insults can be a form of acceptance….jus’ sayin’….

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  6. Okay I’m clear about what your views might be. The decline in civility might or might not lead to a decline in the volume and content of the present comments. I assume that this type of verbal hegemony is okay on your blog.

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  7. I think everyone needs to be heard and needs to be listened to. Although some people should be stripped of their “voice”. And arguments are fine, as long as they stay somewhat polite. It is OK for me to be thrown some punches at, I can take it. But in an argument you should always play the “ball”, not the person. But, I confirm that I am sometimes a tiny bit influenced by what you or your followers say or state. And I have always enjoyed a good a discussion. One shouldn’t be surrounded only be equally thinking people

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    • Being a bit influenced is almost the definition of learning.. Some learn the easy way, some the hard.. Play the ball, not the man is right but, as in hockey, a fair body check is part of the game. I’ve played every sport except polo and sky diving and a bit of a nudge is part of the game. More than a bump or a nudge is a penalty but still the game goes on.. Hmm m……ok, contact golf is very uncommon…..

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      • Not sure that the sports analogy applies to your social media blog but if you insist that withering personal attacks are appropriate and justified when logic fails then that is bewildering. There may be some links regarding readership verbal pummelings or perhaps not.

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      • Blistering and withering personal attacks is NOT OK! That would be a ‘penalty’ (five minute major). But no one on this blog has had worse than a challenge to their credentials or a hip check, if you will. If you write under anonymity and do so in cryptic sentences, it does not surprise me that your encounters lack warmth. There is no warmth generated in ‘cold’ speak. Ya gotta reveal a bit of self with your comments…….

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      • Dave you tend to learn the hard way. Dug in and incapable of seeing other points of view. Your attacks on the medical system…too sad.

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      • True. I am hard on the Medical system. And it is also true that I am kinda dug in about it. Hmmm…could I be wrong? That WOULD be sad. Or, am I right? If I was right, then it would also be sad, wouldn’t it? You keep the faith. I’ll keep the opposite. I hope you are right.

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  8. Re-read the comments written by a number of your contributors. A metaphorical Todd Bertuzzi six foot three and 250 lbs. out for a skate and not using his real name …!!! One must be most circumspect perhaps to the point of extreme caution… ! Several of your readers seem to be easily put off and reactive.

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