This post is dedicated in memory Gordon Hamilton, a climatologist of quality, who died in Antarctica. He was my neighbor. He told me when my son was 6 months old that in 5 years we would see changes in our climate. My guess is ten. Gordon was correct. Facts matter.
My Facebook feed is full of some pretty liberal memes. Bernie's face figures prominently. Coulda, shoulda. Jill Stein's face pops up between stories of No DAPL. Just can't vote green this time. Hillary's rainbow of pantsuits follow afterwards. I guess, I am with her. And then there are all those Trump pictures. Boy, that guy has a wide array of unpleasant pictures of himself on the internet. If my feed were more supportive of his platform would there be more flattering photos of him? Or would the pictures show him more angry than buffoonish?
It doesn't take much to play with Facebook's algorithm and, blamo, all of a sudden I can get some really good reverb on that echo chamber. "He hates, He hates, he hates." " Her emails, her emails, her emails." " Corrupted votes. Corrupted votes, corrupted votes."
This modern media world is no longer governed by Walter Cronkite. I wonder what he would make of this world we live in? There used to be a time when we trusted the purveyors of our evening news. When an earth-shattering event occurred we trusted that the voice cracking emotional response of the man who read the news was an honest response. Have you ever heard the reportage of the Hindenburg? " Oh the Humanity?" Now we just get images of little boys face down in the shore. Now we look at it as a cynical reaction meant to promote likes and shares; as if the audience were four-year-olds in pre-k. There was a trust we had in the fourth estate, the independence of the news media, which has been seriously eroded. I would not just put the blame for this on those men and women who deliver our news every evening. Sure there are the Hannitys and Maddows who give editorial response beyond the facts or sometimes just invent the facts. I would put it also on the regulators who have allowed the mergers and concentration of our media to happen in the first place. When there are only few sources providing the same facts sifted through different filters; it doesn't all come out in the wash, it ends up stained with bias.
But who am I really to judge or have any say in the matter? I am just a simple bookseller living at the end of a two mile dirt road in rural Maine. I don't even have highs speed internet where I live but have to instead rely on a limited data plan which I know is more expensive than DSL. Should I be looking for a conspiracy here? Let's check Breitbart to find out. It can all feel overwhelming. How are we to know which facts are real and which are not? We could always trust those that gave us the news until we couldn't. A Rather's bias against Bush, a lie called out on the eveing news, a candidate molding of facts like playdough, a rash of he said, she said and we are to staunchly glom onto one or the other's truth instead of using a simple skill we, of a certain age at least, should have learned in school... critical thinking.
So I stand here on my little soap box, it is placed under a star lit sky, clean of light pollution and affirming that really we are all just specks of matter in the glory of the universe, and I proclaim we all have the power to change our worlds. You can do this by typing in simple words on your facebook and twitter feed. Words like LOVE, JUSTICE, EQUALITY, and CLIMATE CHANGE (because that is real and true). Punk those algorithims. I dare you.