jack and hugo - truthHugo and Jack generally tell the truth . . . but being dogs they can't help themselves.
Our society has suffered from a truth deficit since roughly the time that man began to walk upright.
In times past – when the spread of fictional obfuscation traveled at a snail’s pace -- this was an inconsequential phenomenon. People might exaggerate their abilities, downplay their disabilities or elaborate on gossipy tales told over the party line or back fence. While not the nicest or most ethical of behaviors, the lifespan of such aggrandizement and scuttlebutt was of limited duration, meandering only a short distance. People, more or less, had something of an early-warning device when it came to ferreting out malarkey. The alarm bell jingled; something smelled rotten in Denmark. We chewed the wisdom of the dubious grapevine with numerous grains of salt.
If historical records are accurate we always expected politicians to lie. Further, we conveniently ignored the fact that stories involving the rich and famous were typically laced with heavy doses of fictional obfuscation. We were far enough removed from such folks that we really didn’t care. And, if we did care, we conveniently ignored all but the most outrageous and egregious of statements.
In the 21st century the rules have changed. We live in a time where grandiose claims and malignant slanders sweep ‘round the globe faster than a prairie fire on a meth binge. It’s difficult to determine if you are reading or hearing truths, partial truths or outright lies in both the old-school media outlets and on the internet. Gossip is no longer face-to-face; it’s perpetuated and dispersed in a multitude-to-multitude fashion.
I’ve come up with a straightforward methodology to combat this omnipresent avalanche of hyperbole, prevarication and inaccuracy. It’s not my first and best preference; that would consist of tossing the computer in the fire, disappearing into the deepest of the deep woods and communicating with only those people I respect and trust. Since the first option isn’t feasible (some days I almost eke out a semblance of a living scribbling words and selling guitars over the Internet) I’ve adopted a more realistic strategy.
In short, I take the approach than anything I see, hear or read in the news media (and I’m using the word “news” with great sarcasm) is a half-truth. The remainder, in my most humble of opinions, is a half-lie. If I don’t see at least a couple of verifiable, undeniable facts then I assume I’m being confronted with opinion, punditry, propaganda or perhaps all three. In lieu of facts I rely on gut instinct, form my own assessment and keep my mouth shut about it.
The list of “hot topics” about which I give not a whit is infinite. I don’t care about Obama’s Kenyan birth or lack thereof. I don’t care if Mitt was a bully when he was 15 years old. I am not at all interested in the personal lives of Brad, Angelina, Oprah, the Kardashian critters or the rest of the Hollywood Hee Haw gang. I don’t have the slightest interest in global warming, global cooling, genetically modified seeds or the details of heinous crimes occurring in parts unknown.
I do not give a cat’s whisker about what sort of lightbulbs might damage the planet or what types of food additives might kill me. What’s going to eventually kill me – and this is true for all of us – is the cessation of life. All the studies and reports that scream “danger” at every turn serve only to bore and depress me. I’m generally bored and depressed enough to not require assistance from a media establishment whose dictionary does not include the words “veracity” or “responsibility.”
My modus operandi is not perfect. It does not alleviate all signs of stress and worry. It does, however, mitigate a good deal of stress and worry emanating from people and organizations whose only goal is to curry favor with the powerful, reap higher search-engine rankings, accumulate more ad dollars and indoctrinate the general public into believing that a non-stop diet of addictive tripe is necessary to their very survival.
Such hogwash and triple-talk is in fact not necessary at all. That’s why, at this very second, I’m flipping off the computer, walking outside, listening to the corn grow and throwing some slobber-laden tennis balls for my hounds. That’s my life. That’s my truth. My bet is that virtually every person has comparable and symbolic bedrock foundations of comfort and gospel certainty. The rest is merely garish and tawdry window-dressing in a red-light district.
I was never a fan of the late LSD guru Timothy Leary, but one of his most famous quotations is worthy of paraphrase in our 21st century paradigm. Leary urged his followers to “tune in, turn on and drop out.”
For our time, in regard to the tsunami of disinformational whoppers fed to us 24/7 by the self-serving media and the online yentas, perhaps it would be better to “tune out, turn off, and drop in.”