Discerning fact from fiction

The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

It’s unbelievable how the pandemic numbers continue to climb. We were told they would ‘flatten’ and we looked forward to the day when we could get back to normal—whatever that means. But just when we thought it was safe to go back into the water, we learn that even people who have already had the virus can get it a second time. And now, there’s a “mystery illness” in India that is sending people to the hospital!

Sometimes I feel as though I am a survivor on a lifeboat in one of those old classic movies. When I think about what I would do if rescued, being with family and friends tops my list. I miss not being able to travel to see them (or to the places I dreamed I’d visit when I retired). Not seeing people smile through my fogged up glasses when I wear a mask, or even breathe properly while wearing it, compels me to stay at home and have my groceries delivered.

I crave the kind of deep, thoughtful conversations I used to have–especially with my mother who is now gone, but which I often had with friends, classmates and co-workers. The discussions were sometimes a little heated, but always respectful before everyone felt they needed to ‘take a side.’ Now, everything from politics to eating habits is like a sporting event or competition that must be won at all costs.

When I was in high school, I wanted to go into journalism. With role models like Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, Katharine Graham, Edward R. Murrow and so many others, it seemed an honorable pursuit, but, as someone remarked the other day, that was “before journalists became propagandists.”

People have sent me links to articles and offers that seem either too good to be true or too outlandish to believe. On further examination, it has been something over-inflated, twisted or designed to inflame the reader. When I’ve pointed it out, I’ve been verbally attacked or ‘unfriended.’ I will admit, some jokes were funny-from both sides of the aisle, but I still found it uncomfortable to see a president–any president–made the object of mean-spirited ridicule.

I wish we could go back in time and fix the damage that has been done to relationships and to our society by being intolerant of differing opinions. I’m sad because I believe that friendships should not be contingent upon who I vote for! Anonymous sources, corporate funding and lay people posing as experts have diluted the ethics and reliability of the profession so much so that it is hard to discern what the Truth is from any source.

I willingly cut the cord on my FIOS-TV subscription and migrated to a Roku-enabled set so I wouldn’t have to listen to the inane chatter every night. I still get the news, but I seek out a number of outlets to try to obliterate any bias. I thought that with the election more or less over, the chatter would die down, but it seems to be escalating.

State voting officials continue to be victims of threats and violence in reaction to declarations of fraud and conspiracy. There seems to be no end to the hostility which threatens to unravel the heart of our democracy and our society. People are acting like beasts. I think back to that horrid dystopian book we were required to read in high school, “Lord of the Flies.” But is it true? Is the beast inside us all? I sincerely hope not.

I may be a bit too serious, but I know that I’m not alone in my thinking. I took a break from Facebook and social media because I was sick of the bickering. I received many phone calls and emails from people who wished they could do the same, but wanted to stay in touch with family. I guess FB is the only way to do that nowadays.

We Boomers have always felt that we were destined to make the world a better place, and there’s lots of real estate still to fix. Frankly, we’ve made quite a mess. The concerns I have at this stage of life differ from those I had in my youth. But at the very heart, we need to find common ground so we can heal our relationships, our country and our world before it’s too late.

So, I’m putting my toe back in the water. I want to learn more about issues that matter to me, and help to find solutions without labeling them socialist or fascist, left or right or center or Republican or Democratic. I want to take the high road and check and double check the facts. I don’t want to know how you voted. There’s just too much at stake.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could trust our media and other sources without having to apply the C.R.A.A.P. test to evaluate everything we see and hear? Yes, that’s the actual name.

And that’s the truth.

The CRAAP test is a test to check the objective reliability of sources across academic disciplines.

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