I wish I'd have had this Candorville yesterday to run along with the topic of media literacy, but here it is today and so let's keep the dialogue going a little longer.
Again, if your newsfeed is full of stupidity, it isn't because the world is full of stupidity.
Though it is, but it's full of all sorts of things you are not required to roll in.
What appears in your feed is, at least to a great extent, under your control. Or your own damn fault. Either is correct.
There is a quote variously attributed to Augustine and Martin Luther, that says "I cannot stop the birds from flying over my head, but I can keep them from building their nests in my hair."
There is also a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that says, "If you see no God, perhaps it is because you harbor none."
And there is this Doc and Raider strip suggesting that you can, perhaps, elevate your world view simply by lifting your focus a bit.
Your choice, of course. In fact, while Candorville suggests that people unconsciously choose the world they see, Doc and Raider more cynically suggests that the choice isn't all that unconscious.
There is something of the Cave in this, in that, as Plato posited, people would vigorously protest being dragged away from their shadow perspective out into the real world of real things, a concept echoed 2,000 years later in Fahrenheit 451, where the fireman's wife would far rather watch moronic, interactive television than boggle her mind with books.
I would add, by the way, that being confined in a hospital for a week and a half with only broadcast basic cable will persuade you that Montag's wife is no exaggeration: Daytime TV is grotesquely idiotic if you take out all the sports and movie channels, and it doesn't get a whole lot more intellectual when the sun goes down.
Which wouldn't matter if we were back in a time when the peasants were only there to harvest the wheat, build a cathedral in the town square and march obediently off to liberate the Holy Lands.
But, as Edison Lee notes this morning, we have somehow decided to let them help choose our leaders and if Honey Boo Boo were 35 years old, I'm sure she'd be right in the thick of the race, because she, too, tells it like it is, even though she's not the specific reality star who promises to fix everything without exactly explaining how.
Then again, if you've followed the various third-party candidates, you'll find that the ones who do explain how they're going to fix everything aren't substantially more credible. But you've gotta believe!
Lemont is right (particularly since he's echoing what I've been saying) that the things on your newsfeed are a reflection of your own interests and mix of friends.
But Elliott is also right that you don't have to fixate on the more ridiculous, negative things that come before you.
It's not all Facebook's fault, either: One of the reasons I dropped out of college in 1970 was that I found myself surrounded by people whose focus on life, though quite hip, was a drag in the very real sense of dragging me down.
I had done a lot of shifting of where I hung out and with whom, but, at last, I gave up the micro-corrections and put a thousand miles between me and them. It turned out to be one of the more positive moves I've ever made.
I have done a lot of curating of my Facebook surroundings in recent months and it often seems a similar matter of straining at gnats when the real solution is to spit out all the camels.
Hiding or, in some cases, unfriending bigots and people who repeatedly post hostile, counterfactual garbage without fact-checking it has certainly brightened the tone of the place.
But, while it has brought forward the postings of some very nice people who weren't so prolific and loud, it has also left me with an imbalance of Social Justice Warriors who seek -- loudly, repeatedly, self-righteously -- to ingratiate themselves with the world in the same way they always have, going back to the days of Phil Ochs:
The fire breathing Rebels arrive at the party early,
Their khaki coats are hung in the closet near the fur.
Asking handouts from the ladies, while they criticize the lords.
Boasting of the murder of the very hands that pour.
And the victims learn to giggle, for at least they are not bored.
I gave them a bit of slack earlier last week, while the dust was yet to settle and the facts were yet to emerge, but they haven't yet stopped trying to equate the momentary, stupid criticism of Gabby Douglas with the response to LochteGate (AfterDeHorseIsStolen).
As I've said before, I would not downplay the unfairness of Douglas being forced to go through the gauntlet, particularly with its racist overtones. Shame on anyone associated with it.
But I simply don't know what to do with people who think that the total destruction of a career, with the loss of millions of dollars in sponsorship, constitutes "getting off scot-free" because of being white.
Rather than fixating on a non-existent "rule" about how to stand during the national anthem, it fixated on proper display of the flag and, as I recall, ended up being more about camera angles than the actual way the flag was hung from the rafters during the medal ceremony at Albertville.
And this is what I said about it in the pages of the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh, NY, on February 22, 1992.
(My capacity for dudgeon, you will note, was high, even without prodding from Facebook)
Now here's Phil: