Truth, Lies & Social Media




We live in a wonderful world. We are connected more than ever. Through Facebook, I’ve connected with friends and family that I couldn’t even FIND before 2005 without hiring a P.I. Through this blog, I am able to help authors all over the world and that is wonderful. I’m able to keep up with all kinds of news and world events and be a better citizen.

But all this technology has a steep price and we are wise to remain vigilant. Lately some things have me really overwhelmed (verklempt) so let’s chat.

Tawk amongst yuhselves. Just do what Barbara does….


Social media sites like Facebook now keep us abreast of all the horrible happenings in the world. In a way this is good. In the “old days” news and opinions were filtered through media gatekeepers. And sure, news is supposed to be unbiased, but so long as humans are relaying the news, that ain’t ever going to happen.

Thus, social media does bring attention to problems that might have been missed by the mainstream media. I support freedom of speech (even for those I don’t agree with), but I would like to talk about what information we are sharing. And, yeah, yeah, I am opening a can of worms, but someone has to do it…

The “Truth” About Statistics

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I have a degree in Political Science. Few things will ruin you more than taking a class on Political Statistics. Just let me tell you Mark Twain was right when he said, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” Put this way, I can make a poll or study say anything I want. All I have to do is:

Change the wording of questions, the number of questions, the order of questions. Adjust the time the poll or surveys is taken or the place. Adjust the number of people surveyed. Adjust the pool of people surveyed. Adjust the definitions.

For instance, (and forgive me for relying on memory here so this is just an anecdotal example) when I was taking a Women in Politics class, there was a survey at a California university that came to the conclusion that over 90% of women had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by the time they reached 25. Of course, when one peeled back the survey, those conducting this research defined sexual assault very broadly to “any unwanted advance” which included any unwanted hug, shoulder/arm touch, compliment or comment.

Under that definition? How 10% of women escaped “being repeatedly sexually assaulted” is nothing short of miraculous.

Of course, one can get an idea of how “accurate” the poll is by looking at the fine print as to how the “study” was conducted, but how many people actually do that? How many people know to do that?

Thus, when stuff gets passed around on social media claiming that” 75% of all people who licked frogs later used heroin and thus frogs are clearly a gateway drug that should be stopped”…I stop to think it through before sharing.


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Keep in mind that there will always be a study to counter another study. The same American Heart Association that told us I Can’t Believe It Ever Came From Nature was the cure for heart disease now has studies that led to removing those exact same trans-fats from the shelves.

So take “studies” and “polls” with a grain of salt (or salt-substitute).

Lack of Info in Info-Graphics

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Info-graphics make me twitch, namely because most of the time they are grossly misleading, have an agenda and are often inaccurate. More often than not, the only purpose they serve is to tick people off and make them emotional.

For instance, there was some info-graphic comparing the number of people killed by police in the U.K. versus the U.S. All right. Problem was, it used a whole number and not a per capita percentage. Thus, when people get a look, they go, “OMG! American police are so AWFUL! Why can’t they be like the U.K.?” How many take time to go?

“Um, wait a minute. We aren’t comparing equal things.”

This info-graphic was like comparing the number of car accident fatalities in Montana to Los Angeles.

OMG! Los Angeles is murdering people with CARS!


They have a lot more people driving a lot more cars. Los Angeles has a far higher population density. This is akin to comparing the number of deaths by bear attacks in Canada with those in Mexico.

Mexico clearly handles bear attacks way better than those “polite” Canadians because there are NO bear attacks in Mexico. What is Canada HIDING? 

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Thus, anything that uses a whole number to compare X to Y? Be wary.

Yellow Journalism

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As a blogger, I love that I don’t have to query gatekeepers to express an opinion. Problem is, I don’t have to query gatekeepers to express an opinion. This means I can say whatever I want and pretty much be immune from the rigorous fact-checking standards traditional journalists are held to.

What bugs me is there are all kinds of sites that use “journalistic titles” to seem like they are legit, when all they are doing is spreading propaganda bunk. Our job is to use those critical thinking skills to call foul. Often these sites will post “articles” on emotional events (namely because they get paid for advertising and every click-through is a ka-ching!).

I don’t care for these sites at all, even those who might be people I agree with ideologically. The reason is that when we read a blogger, we know we are getting an op ed piece. When a site puts “news” or “journal” or something similar in the title, this is misrepresentation.

This is a long way to say, “Consider the source” 😉 . Remember, we are the new Gatekeepers.

False Logic

One tool I see passed around social media is the False Logic to rile people up. I’ve grown up in the Bible Belt and wasn’t allowed to play with other kids because we watched Scooby Doo and wore pants and that was proof we were bound for hell.

Yeah, whatever. Different strokes for different folks.

One of the reasons I didn’t go to Baylor University even though they had a premium debate team (and debate was my thing) was because it is a Baptist university. Being a Baptist University (and a PRIVATE university) they didn’t allow dancing and required females wear skirts, which they have a right to do.

Guess what? I like to dance. I also hate skirts…namely because my thighs rub together. In that case, I didn’t have to GO there. I went to…*GASP* another college.

Last week, I saw all these stories passed around because a school sent a 5 year-old home for wearing a dress that showed her shoulders. At first glance? OMG! Religious HATERS. Slut-shaming a CHILD!

Here’s the thing, the parents were likely given a dress code at the beginning of the year. FOLLOW THE DRESS CODE. It is simple. If you don’t like it? Challenge it, change schools or homeschool. And I don’t care that your kid “wore it to church and the church had no problem with her showing her shoulders” because that church likely…had a different dress code.

I also don’t care that there were no “male-specific” rules that were similar. When it becomes chic for boys to wear tube tops, I’m sure that will be addressed in the code and you completely missed the point. Follow the RULES.

Also, the school might not be shaming your girls, they might just be concerned that if she plays on the monkey bars, a dress like that might just come OFF and, while she might nail that dismount from the monkey bars, she might also be missing her dress and standing there in nothing but sneakers and Wonder Woman panties.

…which happened to me in third grade and I still carry the hurt.

I’m really not that motivated to rally behind people who can’t follow basic instructions.

Sometimes stories really aren’t political. Really.

Ad Hominem Attacks

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I don’t like any kind of blanket personal attack. That is my personal purview. I think that when we resort to name-calling and personal attacks, what we are essentially saying is that we are insecure with our belief/position and that we need to resort to bullying to make a point.

Memes love to lump all kinds of groups together to promote an agenda and use false syllogisms to make a point.

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Fact: There were (are) Christian members of the KKK.

Fact: The KKK is a race hate group who used/uses domestic terrorism for their agenda.

Meme: Christians are KKK members who are domestic terrorists and racists.

*brakes screech*


Though I am wholly against censorship of any kind, we do need to be vigilant about idiocy because it can spread. We had a saying in sales: Say it once, say it twice, say it three times, say it four times and they will believe.

Maybe we don’t want to call out idiocy logical fallacies when we see them, but we can at least think before spreading them.

This said, I am a writer. I believe there are no sacred cows.

Freedom to Joke/Criticize

Jester Baby from Scarborough Faire

Jester Baby from Scarborough Faire

I blogged about this a while back The Disease of Self-Importance, but here is a refresher to the point.

In the days when monarchies were all the rage, there was one very powerful position some might not be aware of…the court jester. Every ruler had at least one jester and the jester was allowed to mock, poke fun and joke about those in power without repercussions.

The role of the jester was to offer honesty and perspective. Monarchs knew that being surrounded by too many Yes Men who feared reprisal was unwise and dangerous. The jester’s job was to ground rulers and keep them from getting too full of themselves.

I’ve been blessed to do a lot of traveling and not all my destinations were nice places. I can honestly say, show me a country that cannot joke or criticize and I will show you a police state. Trust me. In Syria? You don’t joke. It’s a good way to disappear and have your family disappear as well.

When any leader, idea, religion, government is above being lampooned? That’s dangerous ground. I am not particularly fond of all the flamboyant ways the writers of Southpark kill off Jesus, but no faith is a sacred cow. Not even mine. Granted, I have the right to be upset, to blog, to express an opinion, to vote, to use my purchasing power to influence, but stringing people up for blasphemy is a treacherous slippery slope.

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We should not shelter one belief over another. At least in my country, I think you have the right to believe in whatever you want and will defend your right to do so. Want to dress in track suits and worship a comet that’s “really a spaceship”? Go ahead. But I also have the right to question, disagree with or even make fun of that 😉 .

With Great Power…

…comes great responsibility. Social media is a wonderful tool, but like all tools, it is a tool. The tool alone is inert. How we wield it is all up to us. I know all of you guys are passionate and have beliefs and I support that. But I will say it is also easy to get depressed and overwhelmed on social media. A good dose of critical thinking, however, can counter some of the effects.

And, sometimes? We just need to scroll on by. We cannot be passionate about everything equally. Remember, we are not the Jackass Whisperer. Jerks and bullies really have no intention of engaging in a thoughtful debate or even changing their positions…so just move on.

You will thank me later.

Social Media is SOCIAL


At the end of the day, social media is social. If we wouldn’t rant about politics, sex and religion at the workplace or a cocktail party? Why on Facebook? If we’d check out facts in life before spreading something, why not on-line? If we wouldn’t call people names in person, why on social media?

In life, there are consequences for being a jerk. Same on social media. Be passionate, care, change the world! I hope you do. But in the meantime? I hope to carry the torch of critical thinking, common sense and basic kindness. Someone has to set the example, might as well be the writers.

What are your thoughts? And feel free to disagree, I only ask that we be civil/respectful. Do the info-graphics make you cray-cray? Do you often avoid social media or unfollow people because it gives you a stress headache? What litmus test do you apply to information before “ingesting”?

Do you think the world is really that more of a crappy place than it was 20 years ago or is it because every time a dictator farts, we hear about it on Facebook? Do you get overwhelmed by all the things you should CARE about? Do you find yourself becoming more desensitized?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of MAY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

April’s WINNER! Stan R. Mitchell. Please send your 5000 word Word document in an attachment to kristen at wana intl dot com. Congratulations!

Will announce the Dojo Diva winner on next post.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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  1. Kristen, Far from becoming desensitized from all the ‘crap’ on Social Media, I find myself VERY sensitized, overwhelmed and depressed. As John Steinbeck would say, I have a bad case of Welsh Rats. (Weltschmerz:) Maybe the world isn’t any worse than it was 20 years ago, but on Social Media folks don’t worry about showing just how low and vile they can be.
    Your state has been making the news (I lived in Texas for 30 years) and the comments I’ve read are scary. Talk about cray-cray! The issue of the governor sending out the state guard to watch the US Military do its training to alleviate the fears of the paranoid was mild in my opinion compared to the Draw Mohammed contest started by Pam Gellar (?). I’m still not sure how I feel about the latter because I do believe in freedom of religion and freedom of speech. I supported Charlie Hebo because it is a satirical paper that lampoons all religions, but to specifically host a Mohammed drawing contest in the name of free speech? It seems antagonistic, hateful. Dare I say “asking for it”? I’d love to hear your take on it. In the meantime, I’m avoiding FAcebook like the plaque. It’s not mentally healthy for me:)

    1. I’m against targeting any faith simply to be mean. If I want my stuff held sacred, then I need to respect others. That said, when I am offended that an artist dunks a cross in a jar of urine, I’m told to get over it. Same rules need to apply to everyone.

    2. “to specifically host a Mohammed drawing contest in the name of free speech? It seems antagonistic, hateful. Dare I say “asking for it”?”

      Yours is a truly despicable comment, as if to imply the only free speech you actually want protected is the kind that agrees with you.

      I know, I should have scrolled past.

      1. She is making a point we need to discuss, though. Americans do tend to be a very nice culture. But when is it time to be NOT nice? And what I find appalling is more people were upset about the cartoon contest than the fact that two men traveled cross-country to execute people over CARTOONS. Speech everyone agrees with is not what is in need of protection.

        1. Whether we agree with what another person has to say or not has no bearing on whether that person has the right to say it. If a person does not like it, they don’t have to listen, or they can attempt to change the other person’s opinion (which can open it’s own can of worms, depending on who you are talking to). It is tragic any time people are harmed over a difference of opinion, and what happened at Charlie Hebdo is a perfect example. There was no actual harm done to anyone by the newspaper, and yet two men who were offended by the publication decided the appropriate response was to kill and harm as many people as possible at the paper. This would be similar to someone offended by the act of dunking a cross into a jar urine murdering the “artist”. The punishment inflicted was worse than the perceived crime committed in either case.

          Ridicule is a perfectly acceptable response to an idea or opinion that you find, well, ridiculous. If a person doesn’t like that, appropriate responses are to walk away, argue, or ridicule back, but not to incite violence – that is the act of schoolyard bullies who never learned how to defend themselves intellectually.

          As far as when is it time to be nice or not nice? I don’t think that matters anywhere near as much as what you said last, that speech everyone agrees with is not what is need of protection. People’s rights are in need of protection, and more than that, in circumstances like the Charlie Hebdo case, their lives.

    3. Is violence the appropriate response to satire? If more cartoonists draw pictures of Mohammed in order to exercise their right to free speech, or make disparaging comments about any religion, political view, lifestyle, etc., does that mean it is those people’s fault if they are killed over it?

      No. The fault lies with those who think that their rights include violence and murder. When people believe something is so sacred that it is above ridicule by anyone else, and that the appropriate response to anyone who breaks this taboo is violence, those people are wrong, regardless of how offensive the material may have been.

      If you saw someone beating another person with a stick, and you stopped them and asked them why, would you think they were within their rights if they responded by saying the person lying bloodied at their feet made a joke about their religion? What if they said that person had been continuously making jokes about their religion for years, would it then be appropriate? There are other, much more appropriate avenues to take in order to make a point that you disagree with someone rather than resorting to violence.

  2. I seldom, if ever post memes for that reason but also because I just don’t like not knowing if it’s an official source. We live in a day and age of whistleblowers, plagiarism and falsified information. Entitled people think they can get away with falsifying testing. Whistleblowers are lambasted for taking down companies with accurate test. No one gives credit to their sources. It’s getting to the point, as a parent especially, when I don’t know who to trust because someone somewhere says I shouldn’t trust that source. I’m tired of it.

    • Michael Keller on May 4, 2015 at 1:37 pm
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    I could say that the 10% who reported no unwelcome advances were utterly lacking in anything resembling physical appeal but that would be insensitive and misogynist. Oh Hell,I am an old man so I am by definition insensitive and misogynist.

    • Melissa Lewicki on May 4, 2015 at 1:40 pm
    • Reply

    You said: “And, sometimes? We just need to scroll on by. We cannot be passionate about everything equally. Remember, we are not the Jackass Whisperer. Jerks and bullies really have no intention of engaging in a thoughtful debate or even changing their positions…so just move on.”
    And, I agree, but…. When I come across some horrible, racist awfulness, I feel I have to comment. I want that person and the others reading it to know that not everyone agrees with the writer. I have received ugly, ugly return comments. But, I have also received thanks from other commenters for speaking up.

    1. I have spoken up at times and that is important. But it is also wise to choose our battles lest we have no hair left.

      • Stephanie Scott on May 4, 2015 at 2:53 pm
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      The choose your battles is tough. I can let a random twitter person go by because I don’t know them. When I see racist or hurtful memes or comments on Facebook by people I care about, that’s when I’ve engaged in conversation.

      Someone in my extended family suffers from ALS. When the water dump thing went viral last year, someone whined on my Mother in Law’s Facebook post about how it wasted water and was all a gimmick. She was so hurt by that because she has personally supported someone with ALS. That to me stands to be addressed so people know their snarky comments can hurt real people’s feelings.

  3. I live in the commuter end of New Hampshire, where a lot of folks take the long trip on I93 in the morning south to Boston, and then home again at night. A study was recently done which showed that 53% of the commuters in the morning were women, but only 49% in the evening were women; forcing us to further investigate why 4% of are women never return from Boston.

  4. I rarely repost stuff on FB or my personal blog. Really, it doesn’t take much critical thinking to realize that a lot of what comes by is just plain wrong. Not too long ago a blogger posted this thing about an attack on a power substation in my town. It’s been referred to as an example of “domestic terrorism.” No, if you’ve been to the area like I have you’ll realize that it was likely just a drunk hunter shooting at a transformer for fun. This substation has also be the target of attacks by metal thieves. Turns out the power company doesn’t have a security guard at the site and until the rifle attack, not even a video camera.

    Which leads me to my basic principle: Never blame evil forces for what can be explained by simple incompetence.

  5. I did a quick poll. 75% of me agrees with this post. 25% of me does not disagree with this post. I’m still verifying the results.

    1. Have you tried rephrasing the questions? LOL

      1. I did, but the atmosphere was too emotionally charged.

  6. Reblogged this on A Garden of Delights and commented:
    Yes! Oh, so very much…. YES!

    1. Kristen, I felt like I was home with my parents (who frequently annoyed me with being so wise when I felt they needed to take a stand against this and that and…). It was wonderful reading this post. Thank you.

  7. “At the end of the day, social media is social. If we wouldn’t rant about politics, sex and religion at the workplace or a cocktail party? Why on Facebook? If we’d check out facts in life before spreading something, why not on-line? If we wouldn’t call people names in person, why on social media?”
    Because online they can hide behind a computer screen without ever having to face those people they are defaming and disparaging. It’s easy (and cowardly) to set up a fake profile, and then drop verbal bombs just to sit back and watch people’s reactions. Or, even if they use their real names, how many of them are ever going to be face to face with the people they’re belittling?
    The internet has the paradoxical distinction of being both the greatest and worst invention of mankind (IMHO). Never before have so many people had access to so much information and so many different viewpoints, and, on the flip side, never before have so many people had the tool to spew lies, hatred, and vitriol in perfect safety and anonymity.
    The saddest thing of all is that the MSM posts stories also that slant facts to support their own bias, whether left or right, so you can’t even rely on the “news” to get the true story half the time. (Stopping now. Already did this rant on my FB page, lol.)
    Can’t we all just get along? 😉

    1. I agree. One reason I don’t like blogging for Huffington is that people make MEAN an Olympic sport. CRAZY stuff in the comments and I blog about WRITING. I have gotten to where I ignore most of it. Even the “legitimate” new sources rely way too much on sensationalism. They all border treacherously on yellow journalism.

      1. Border on …. you are far too generous. You can blog something with good intentions and end up covered with more manure that the Sealtest Dairy produces. Wrote a post called :”Where is publishing … Beam me up Scotty” You wouldn’t believe. At least I’ll never have to buy another bag of fertilizer.

        1. I actually don’t mind people disagreeing with me, but I DO expect what I would give others. RESPECT and KINDNESS. It’s why I will delete rants. They are disrespectful to me and also create an atmosphere where others are afraid to share their opinions lest they be targets.

          1. Disagreeing is the only way we progress. No intelligent person should be offended by disagreement; No intelligent person should be unkind or derogatory in their assessments of ideas or PEOPLE. I agree entirely.

          2. If I say something that is incorrect, and someone calls me out on it and shows me, in a respectful manner, that I’m wrong, I appreciate it. That allows me to readjust my thinking and opinions. I sometimes think the biggest casualty of the 21st century is courtesy. It seems like no one knows how to disagree in a civil manner, or even how to hold a civil discussion with someone who holds different viewpoint.
            But, I may just be old fashioned.

          3. Actually we live in a Culture of Bullying, but that is a WHOLE NOTHA’ POST.

    • Carrie Kwiatkowski on May 4, 2015 at 2:28 pm
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    Couldn’t have said it better myself. If people would just stop and think we wouldn’t have so many people running through the streets yelling, “What do we do with witches? We burn the witches!” 😉

    • Melissa Keaster on May 4, 2015 at 2:30 pm
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    I. am. dying. of laughter and empathy at the monkey bar story. At least you were wearing rad panties. When I was a young teen, I lost my pants in a bungee run. Thank GOD I had shorts underneath. My panties weren’t as cool as yours. And I was 15 or something.

    ANYWAY… your thoughts. I’m into natural health, but the poorly researched articles on vaccination, cancer cures, and antibiotics that get passed around embarrass me. One look at these sources, and any discerning individual can tell the info’s no good. Sigh.

    And FB rants are the main reason I dread the end of my 3+ month social media detox….coming soon. I’ve missed some pretty good stuff, I hear, but there’s always something hacking people off and calling all the soap boxes. Which is why I like to keep it light with posts about klutzy moments and hilarious things the kids say.

    1. It just hacks me off how people get offended and look for some nefarious social plan when the answer is probably boring. The school might not actually be sitting up all night trying to be sexist. MAYBE, just MAYBE there are no rules for skirt length regarding boys because they DON’T WEAR KILTS. AAAAGHHHH!

      And guess what? Princess one day will be an ADULT and likely have a JOB in a workplace with a DRESS CODE. Sometimes they don’t have to give a reason. Just DO IT or don’t let the door hit you in the butt.

  8. Fantastic post. How long did that take you to write???..

    20 years ago, I don’t think anyone cared what was happening in other parts of the world. They were too busy getting on with life. Those who did care popped down the local shop to pickup a copy of the Telegraph. 20 years ago, you chose what you wanted to see, hear about and learn about.

    IMO – the internet, smartphones and social media (in no important order) as a combination has bullied us in to thinking that we must stay on top of current affairs otherwise we will be left behind / or not in touch. Hell, in my damn office, most of our conversations throughout the day come from Facebook and Google +. And if your not up to date – well, you’re gonna have a very lonely day!

    20 years ago, people were REAL. What I mean is, a real human being. Nowadays, kids are raising little kittens on their Nintendo’s screens, mums and dads communicate more via text or Whatsapp, and random people leaving long comments on peoples blogs!.. (I have gone off on one – haven’t I??

    Commerce no longer supports humanity – humanity is serving commerce. We have all bought in to clever marketing campaigns and spend billions a year on mobile devices.

    The world is the same as it was 20 years ago – its just that its smaller through technology and no one believes in “ignorance is bliss” anymore.

    Thanks for putting together a really great article.

  9. Somebody with sense, hurray!!! loved reading this. I really get fed-up reading nonsense. I like linking people on social media and following new ideas. Love blogging but do try to keep it in perspective and when I feel overwhelmed I just go away from the machine, remember where I came from and what my values are. I try my hardest to accept people for who they are and if it is a bit over the top I try to understand what, in the background, may be causing the issue. Not being arrogant or anything like that but human beings are amazing and I like to think good and bad in everyone of us. I hope I try to see the good side.

    • Stephanie Scott on May 4, 2015 at 2:49 pm
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    Our new age of internet “journalism” really bugs me. There are so many information sources now, it’s becoming harder to distinguish researched journalism from opinion piece blogs. I am all for both coexisting. I love that voices once not heard have a platform. But an opinion blog is opinion. If information is going to be presented as fact, it needs to be researched and backed by sources.

    I wrote in to a major news publication about that very thing when I noticed a trend in their panel of guest bloggers who seemed confused by the idea of a blog. I’ve revisited the site and in recent years they seem to “get” it more. A blog opinion is fine, but if you write a blog like it’s a news article, you can’t make sweeping statements with no fact and expect it to hold up.

  10. I agree with you completely. As someone who already struggles with depression I made the decision last winter to cease scrolling the homefeed on FB. Seeing (not reading) one inappropriate rant after another wore me down. There are even days I refuse to face logging on. Though I don’t share politically charged posts on my page, I’m sure my attitudes are discernible. Maintaining an atmosphere of respect is important to me and suffering name-calling tirades containing little or no facts is toxic. Sadly, this includes people across the political spectrum and many I once respected.

  11. You summed it up perfectly.

  12. as always BRAVO!

  13. Some smart person said: “We are entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts.” Words to live by.

  14. While the modern age makes it much easier to disseminate lies and hatred, it also does the same for spreading truth and finding loving communities. I discovered this last week when I read a post that left me reeling from the “ugly” (which I only read because a misguided friend sent it to me), and responded by writing a post that called those who participated in that ugliness to a higher standard. That post is the closest I’ve had to something going “viral”, and it taught me that not everyone wants to spread dissension and discord. Reading through your post, it made me think of my recent experiences and wonder if we were both responding to the same event? Hmm…

    Anyway, the pen really is mightier than the sword. We have to develop our own reflexes that protect ourselves from the “ugly” on the internet. (Maybe I shouldn’t have read the article after all, since the title alone had me seeing red.) But every time someone uses this tool to spread lies and hate and dissension, it leaves a vacuum that love needs to fill. I hope the community here takes advantage of the vacuum to do so, rather than being the ones that create it. (I know you guys rock, so I’m not worried!)

    Thanks for the insightful post, Kristen!

    1. The title I chose was meant to be factual not inflammatory. I think we can choose love and we can do that by eyeing information with a critical eye and thinking before sharing. I am actually really blessed. I have a lovely community of commenters and you guys always express such beautiful and thoughtful opinions, even those that might disagree. I never mind being challenged. I have even changed my POV due to a thoughtful comment. It is a shame we have lost thoughtful discussion to the emotional.

      1. I didn’t take your title as inflammatory. I hope I wasn’t unclear, either–the post I took aversion to was NOT on this blog! I think you do a great job of keeping your head on your shoulders and being a “voice of reason” in the hurricane.

        And I think that the internet would be a wonderful place to discuss things, if we could ALL keep our tones respectful (and check our facts first). I hope your post helps spread awareness of that fact! 🙂

        1. LOL. Got it. I was all, ERRR? Yeah, I just avoid clicking those things too. They usually just make my blood boil. I need a nap 😛

            • Talena on May 4, 2015 at 4:28 pm

            Lol. Me, too. Hope you get one! 🙂

  15. Oh, and, May the Fourth be with you. (Glad you snuck in a little homage here somewhere!) 😀

  16. What a great blog post. I learned a lot from it. And it even made me chuckle once in a while. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this.

  17. Wow. I actually read this entire post and all the comments… when i should have been getting ready for work. LOL. Well, as someone here said, at least Social media is a conversation starter ? Good post ?

  18. This is the best post I’ve ever read, bar none. If I wasn’t married and was into being creepy, I would propose. Since that isn’t the case, I just want to tell you I am now your fan-for-life/online minion.

    1. YAY! 😀

    2. Hear, hear! Raising my virtual glass in a toast to an awesome post and funny reply!

  19. Thank you for this. Well said. I used to actually fact check the sources for some articles and memes some of my friends posted on Facebook, but that got to be a big job! Now I just ignore most of the political and religious stuff that is posted. I don’t have the time to fact check or try to find original sources. I had to realize that some of my friends will share anything that supports their views and it doesn’t matter if what they shared is true or not. Scroll down quickly through the newsfeed! That’s my solution.

    1. I am with you. After I accidentally reported that Betty White was dead? I gave up fact-checking everything. Now? Kittens and Star Wars.

  20. Oof. This is pretty much why I’ve recently decided to jump off the social media crazy train. I’m not blaming anyone or any group per se…more that I finally accepted and understood that I would react emotionally to memes and pedantry and whatnot, and that, at the end of the day, did I really make myself a better person by arguing with someone? I realized that 90% of the time I could answer that with an emphatic “no”…more to the point, I could answer it with a “no” and “plus, you successfully raised your blood pressure in the process” and “you could have better spent your time working on your current novel project.”

    This isn’t to say that debate isn’t a bad thing…I just got exhausted from having to filter it first, and I had other things that I wanted to do. I only engage in a debate now if it’s something that I have a true, non-clickbaited interest in (currently it was a conversation about Jay Z’s ‘Tidal’ music service and whether or not it would actually help the music industry financially). In other words, I’m choosing my battles. Not necessarily for winning, but to have a regular, non-hyperbolic, non-pedantic debate.

    If anyone asks me why I don’t talk about politics or whatever anymore, I just respond with “there’s a lot of hot air out there, and I was just adding to it.” 😉


  21. I agree whole-heartedly. I think the millennial generation is especially guilty of this. I witnessed several high school girls who claimed themselves as “feminists” retweet an article about a Republican senator Richard Head from Utah stating the first daughters looked like “pole dancers” because of the hem line of their skirts. The caption on the tweet read “I cannot stand Republicans”. There is no senator named Richard Head (or Dick Head, if you prefer), this was not a comment of contention, and it was debunked by several political watch websites as an internet rumor. But of course, they didn’t think to look into that before retweeting it — all in the name of radical feminism or radical liberalism, I suppose.

  22. Great post Kirsten, and I agree with most of what you have to say except this “In life, there are consequences for being a jerk. Same on social media.”

    Relative anonymity gives jerks the power to indulge their jerkiness with impunity because …on the internet you can be whoever you /say/ you are. If one persona becomes to hot for comfort, you can easily discard it and move on to another.

    I realise that most people on social media are not that false, but we all project /something/ simply because it is a public forum. Worse, the need to be ‘liked’ can subconsciously skew the behaviour of even nice, normal people.

    I suspect we are only just beginning to discover how social media is changing the world – both digital and real.

  23. Loved this! Being on FB or twitter, is sometimes like watching a train wreck. You know it’s horrible, but some how you just cannot look away! I agree we need to check the facts. I just took a research class, which spoke to the fact that not all research is good research, teaching us how to tell the difference. I really did not know this before, although I have always known not everything on the internet is true. We have a lot of power these days, but take very little responsibility for it or our actions.

  24. Hear hear! Now why isn’t this stuff taught in schools? Surely if there’s one thing young people these days need to learn in order to survive, it’s how to distinguish between a justifiable statement and a misleading one.

  25. Internet Rule #1: “It’s not lying if what you say would be true if the facts were different.”

  26. Amen

  27. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

  28. Btw, I sent your post out into cyberspace where it will end up on my Twitter and FB feeds!

  29. The “Unbelievable Facts Blog” and “Psychology Facts” memes that I see floating around on my feed make me want to throw my computer across the room. Especially since I have a degree in psych and the “psych facts” are almost always patently false, as stated anyway. I can see how someone could twist things to get to the conclusion they put on a meme but…arrrgh!

    Also thank you, thank you about freaking FOLLOWING THE RULES. Look you can argue that a dress code is wrong or unfair or sexist or blah blah but as long as it’s there, it’s the rule, and you follow it. Protesting the rule by breaking it is rarely the way to go. Sure, it sometimes can be, but…really rarely.

    I slightly disagree about no sacred cows in religion – slightly. For the most part, I don’t mind joking around about it, but there are lines I draw. Things that I hold as truly sacred deserve respect. I’ll respect your holy of holies if you keep your hands off my arc of the covenant – and even if you won’t, because some things are just sacred. For me, an indication that Christ was a fool or a fraud or something is…ehhh…how to express, it doesn’t make me angry, but it’s a unique kind of painful to me. I don’t want to string up blasphemers, but I quickly lose a lot of respect for them. Even if another didn’t believe in Him, I would hope that they had enough respect for other people to not throw stones and it’s a mark of character, to me, when they do anyway. Course, if an atheist or person of another religion where to just say, “Eh, don’t believe Christ was who he said he was,” that’s not a big deal to me. It’s just when mockery occurs that it pains me. But hey, if you want to make fun of the culture my religion breeds, or tease about my religious leaders, or some of the doctrine, okay. I’ll probably laugh with you. I’ve made my own Mormon jokes.

    1. I think that falls into a matter of having good taste. I won’t mock or go after another faith namely because I believe in the Golden Rule. Respect me, I respect you. BUT, we have a problem in this country. Christians are persecuted CONSTANTLY. Our kids are sent home for having a bible. They can’t pray at school or talk about faith. Jesus is made into a joke on any number of television shows. We can’t have Christmas, Christmas colors, Christmas songs, or a nativity scene and a cross can get junked in a jar of urine and then subsidized by the federal government for being “art.” Our holy icons are mocked in political cartoons. And we are told to “Suck it up, Buttercup” which is fine.

      I get that.

      But then Muslims we handle with kid gloves? If we don’t want our kid participating in “Wear a Burkha to School Day” we are jerks? No one dares draw a cartoon for fear of being beheaded. Muslims have been given permission to pray multiple times per day in school (per the Quran) at the same places who would send home a Christian kid for having a bible because there is a violation of Church and State. HUH? There is a gross double standard. Either it is ALL sacrosanct or it isn’t. We can’t pick and choose.

      1. I totally agree with you.

        • Bill H on May 6, 2015 at 9:40 am
        • Reply

        While I partly agree, I would point out that christians don’t threaten violence when they don’t get their way. The ultimate bully tactic I believe.

  30. Great post. It amazes me how common sense is so not common! And scares me at the same time…..correctly sourcing and referencing are key…as are knowing and trusting reliable sources….do we need a class or 2 on this?????? Hmmmmm…..let me take a poll . …..

  31. Wonderful post, Kristen! I make it a point to always post something encouraging, cute or informative – writer’s conferences, a sale on my books and art or a friend’s books. Long ago, I was told an editor or agent will check to see what kind of presence you have on social media. I’d like for them to see me as someone who is kind, professional and has a sense of humor. I also think there’s so much nastiness in the world why add to it? The kindness you show can mean more than you know.

  32. I retweeted this. Need to go to bed. It’s 4 am and anything other than a retweet is probably too dangerous. LOL

  33. Kristen, I enjoyed your post. It was pretty funny, which is always nice. I didn’t know how many words it was, but seemed to go on longer than necessary and probably twice I was feeling like the conclusion was near but it continued. Now, since your blog gets more comments than mine has subscribers, I’m hardly one to make suggestions, but I wondered if you have a desired length you go for in a post. Oh, and loved the images. It’s probably underscoring your theme to have so many, to prove the moronic masses would rather look at pictures than actually read, but that makes it all the better.

    Great job with this. I’m not sure somebody had to say it, but I’m glad you did. Plenty of people are thinking it.

  34. I have a business degree and statistics was a required course. The classes revealed the truth of what you started the article out with. Yes, statistics can lie, which is why you should fact check the credibility of all sources and bypass those that use a name obviously intended to gain credibility without having to prove their credibility. For me, anything with ‘family’ or ‘heritage’ in it is immediately suspicious.

    And yes, the onslaught of issues memes and disparaging articles about this bad behavior or that can be overwhelming, and misleading. Since Ferguson, FB has been inundated with bad cop stories which tends to paint all cops as immoral and twisted serpents of the devil. But that ignores the elephant in the room: that 95% of cops are conscientious protectors and do a pretty good job.

    Rule: If you are uncertain about the credibility of a source, google it. Sadly, most people won’t.

    Studies have shown that when people get entrenched in beliefs fostered by sources with a bias or agenda (hard not to point out Fox News and the cadre of neocon outrage carnies) they are far more willing to accept the lies that support their beliefs than to accept a mountain of evidence that says they are wrong. For example, millions still believe that Saddam Hussein was hiding nukes.

    Yes, we need to be vigilante, but vigilance costs time and most of us are far too busy and unwilling to make the time necessary to verify the accuracy of what we share. Relying on sources with a proven track record of accuracy, such as Pew Research, is a good start.

    Excellent commentary. Now if I could just get my family to quite tuning in to Rush Limbaugh for their daily outrage fix…

  35. Reblogged this on testinghurts.

  36. Love your blog. Thanks for the great insight. Now–may I correct some of your info? When I went to Baylor 59-63 girls didn’t wear pants on campus, but we could leave the dorm in them to go off-campus for picnics etc. No dancing on campus but clubs had dances. When my daughter was at Baylor 89-92, she lived off-campus & wore shorts to class. On-campus dancing started about 96, but guess what? Greeks still have their dances off-campus.

  37. You are so very, very right. All this has gone into overdrive here in the UK at the moment in the run up to this Thursday’s general election. A friend of mine has been posting a plethora of nonsense, some of it extremely racist, on Facebook. The only reason I haven’t unfriended him is because I know he has a good heart and is being manipulated. He’s a very emotional man so it’s not difficult to switch off his common sense and have him believing anything and everything. Where possible I’ve pointed out the hoaxes, the misinformation, the outright lies and have repeatedly told him to double check what he’s posting, but just when I think I’ve gotten through to him, he goes and posts something else. It’s a never ending task.

    The bias in the reporting of the mainstream media is shocking, headlining the crimes of one group of people but making very little of those same crimes when they’re committed by another group. But, as long as it sells newspapers and generates more website hits, the media really don’t care.

    I’d like to think that one day all this will die a death but alas I don’t think it will.

  38. I couldn’t agree with you more, and this is one of the things I struggle to get my students to understand. Unfortunately, by the time the students get to me they have not been taught to think for themselves. They have been taught how to pass a test by memorizing answers which doesn’t require either research or analytical thinking. But, I think that is another story even though it is part of the overall problem.

    I also think another part of the problem is that it is very easy to rant in social media and create a flame war because you do not have to face the person. You are reacting, not thinking, to an anonymous opinion and the only repercussions to your rant is another rant. You will not be sent to the principal’s office, get punched in the face, or get thrown in jail. So the social gloves of common courtesy and common sense come off and words are exchanged without much deep thought just opinions which soon become facts to the uniformed reader.

    Smiles to you, Nancy

  39. Reblogged this on Nancy Segovia and commented:
    Excellent insights on the use of, and the responsibilities for, free speech.

  40. Reblogged this on Blair My Blue Skies and commented:
    don’t be fooled social media is good but it can be your worst night mere use wit caution.

  41. quotes found on the internet are definitely not always accurate I do like that

  42. It’s definitely overwhelming to have so much access to so much information, and then not only try to share only the right stuff, but also decide which stuff is higher on the “care about” list than others. It makes me want to put it all away again…before I become overwhelmed by the need to be aware of it. Vicious cycle.

  43. Your thoughts on Social Media hit home for me, Kristen. As a somewhat new writier to social media four years ago; I was encouraged by my teacher and local authors to start a blog and get a twitter or fb page if I was serious about becoming an author myself one day; in fact, I was told it would be a necessity. So, I naivly skiipped down the yellow brick road of the Social Media of OZ world and was immediately bullied and lambasted for not having the same viewpoints (political, idealogical, etc.) as several of the huge bloggers and fb authors in my immediate area. I was shocked. There was absolutely no respect or general politeness to opposing views (my way or the highway attitude was in full effect). Had I known certain writing leaders in my area were using their social platforms to ridicule and destroy anyone who didn’t agree with them; I never would have taken the plunge. After reassessing the situation; I tepidly reentered the social media arena and blocked the toxic haters and bullies from my sites. I truly believe the negativity and bullying will bring a person down and their goal is achieved: all because I don’t believe the same. Its nasty. I offer inspirational and uplifing quotes and tips for writers and artists of all genres and stay away from the mean people who seem to want to seek out and destroy. If you are going to be on social media or become a writer, you are going to have to develop a tough second skin or you won’t survive. Thankfully, we can still hit the block or delete button.

  44. Twitter really irritates bores me for the reasons you’ve given, so I rarely visit it. I use Facebook to share with family and close friends, but not when they’re in the next room and I could have a real conversation with them instead.

  45. Regarding personal attacks, I like the late Margaret Thatcher’s attitude: It meant the person you’ve been debating with is out of intellectual ammunition. 🙂

    • SAO on May 6, 2015 at 12:43 am
    • Reply

    I remember reading an article perhaps in the NYT about polling during the 1992 election, when Bush 1, Clinton and Perot were running. The pollsters couldn’t figure out why the numbers jumped so wildly from week to week, until they noticed that if they asked, “If the election were held tomorrow, would you vote for Bush or Clinton” first, and “If the election were held tomorrow, would you vote for Bush, Clinton or Perot” people were far more comfortable saying “Perot” than if the questions were reversed. The wording of the questions didn’t change.

    All in all, it means pay attention to where data comes from.

  46. Good Post. It is important for people to think for themselves and to take the time to dig into the facts before simply accepting that something is true because it has flashy graphics or because it sounds legit. Critical thinking is a skill that first needs to be learned, then practiced and honed, much like any physical skill, and sifting through the muck that can be found online in order to find a nugget of gold, especially on social media, is a great way to do this. While it’s not practical for people to be able to verify every detail of every post they come across, if it is something important to them, people should try to find out if the source is credible – are they expressing an opinion, or presenting actual facts? Do those facts have creditable support such as data from legitimate peer-reviewed scientific journals rather than polls with shady findings? Can you go back and follow the line of evidence that supports their results? While there is nothing wrong with someone expressing an opinion, it is dishonest when they attempt to couch it behind misleading information that seems to lend credibility to their ideas.

    If more people were taught how to think while growing up, instead of being taught what to think, we might not have a need for this kind of conversation. They would be able to call BS when appropriate and move on to legitimate sources of information.

  47. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    “In life,” says Kristen Lamb, “there are consequences for being a jerk. Same on social media. Be passionate, care, change the world! I hope you do. But in the meantime? I hope to carry the torch of critical thinking, common sense and basic kindness. Someone has to set the example, might as well be the writers.” Read on…as for me, I am pretty new at social media and I can assure you I’ve made tons of mistakes…while I can believe there are groups intent on spreading disinformation et cetera, it’s hard for a sort-of recluse who does not keep up with the daily world news to easily sift fact from bs….

  48. Thank you Kristen – came to your post via Mira Prabhu. If anything is suspect on FB or wherever, scroll on by … and defriend (or whatever the right word is) anyone whose post has a smidgen of racism. And double check quotations – loved your one about Abraham Lincoln.

  49. In one of your comment responses you said, “BUT, we have a problem in this country. Christians are persecuted CONSTANTLY.” I see what you did there. Very clever! I don’t think any of the succeeding commenters realized you were using right there an example of the kind of the memes you had talked about in the post. Had one of them noticed, he or she might have asked how it is that the 76% majority in this country can actually be persecuted by the minority. Certainly there must be examples in history of a large majority being persecuted by a minority, but it’s pretty rare and difficult for the minority to pull off. Perhaps a more pertinent question might be, of the various minorities in the US, which is the one that is doing all this persecuting of the Christian majority?

    Is it the Jews, perhaps in retaliation for centuries of persecution by Christians and everyone else? Is it the Muslims, perhaps because it’s what they’ve been told to do? Is it the Wiccans, perhaps acting out of dark memories of witch burning and hanging? Is it the Taoists, who don’t believe in persecuting anybody? Or the Buddhists? Or the Hindus? Perhaps it’s the dirty-rotten-filthy-immoral atheists, all .7% of them, because, well, they are dirty, rotten, filthy, and immoral after all. Or maybe it’s a confederation of atheists and agnostics and all those other “Nones” that together make up nearly 15% of the country — are they the ones making life intolerable for the 76%?

    Maybe it’s not one of those religiously statistical minorities after all. Maybe it’s Hollywood. Maybe it’s the Union of Political Cartoonists. Maybe it’s those darned liberals on NPR. Perhaps it’s SAG or the Directors Guild of America or the NEA. Surely it’s not possible that Christians are being persecuted solely by art critics and the Cartoon Network. Surely there must be another group we can point the finger at. Which religious or non-religious minority has the will and power to persecute the Christian majority in this country?

    None of course. But the meme persists, propagated by talking heads whose bread and butter depends on creating a victim mentality in their listeners, and by those listeners who “feel” persecuted because they can’t always have their way like they are used to in the good old days. Most of the Christians I know realize that Christians are now, and have been for a long time, a vast majority in this country, and while they may occasionally feel the sting of having to relinquish tiny bits of their ascendancy to one minority or another, they do so willingly, after all, in the interests of creating a world free from oppression by any majority — even their own.

    So, nice job floating that meme out there. Too bad no one took the bait!

    Concerning the post itself, I agree wholeheartedly with your observations. It will be interesting to see how the Internet and social media continue to evolve.And on a more general note, I thank you for the work you are doing here and in your other writing about the writing life. You’ve been a great help and inspiration, and I appreciate it. Keep it up!

    1. Huh? I wasn’t baiting anyone. If we look at religions, Christianity is often a target. It is blasted in movies, Family Guy, Southpark, The Simpsons, political cartoons and on and on, and fine. I have no problem with that beyond it kind of stings sometimes. Like Christmas becomes SUPER complicated. But that we now have a faith that is completely off limits to any kind of satire? No, no, no. Not in a free country. NO ONE is above criticism.

    • artdogjan on May 7, 2015 at 10:25 am
    • Reply

    I shared a graphic from this post and gave a recommendation and link-back to this post on my blog Jan Gephardt’s Artdog Adventures. Thought you might like to know.

  50. Wonderful article. I’ve written on this topic myself. When it comes to assessing the truth of anything found online, I think of the words of the wise and far seeing Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody, “Constant vigilance!”

  51. This hit home for me. You’ve stated it very well, with humor, and I agree wholeheartedly with what you’ve said. The more time I spend on social media or any media for that matter, the more depressed I become over the human race. Idiocy is the key word, along with just plain mean-spiritedness. Bored people need to find ways to entertain themselves rather than working for the good of humanity. Reminds me of children who, if they can’t get positive attention from their elders, will do anything to get negative attention. Whether it’s hacking just to see if they can do it and stir up some trouble, or stretching the truth and spreading lies that get people riled up, to see how high they can get the volcanic eruption to spew while they sit back and laugh. I’m reposting, and thank you for putting it so well. I also agree with you about Christianity and wonder if the statistics about how many true adherents there are left is really true given the atmosphere in this country.

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