Winston Churchill is alleged to have said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” And in the case of Bill Clinton, the lie may get further.
Why do I bring this up other than to take yet another shot at the Commander in Briefs? Well, it’s because of an app that has become the bane of my existence, even though I don’t use it: Twitter. The reason I haven’t joined the Twitterverse is simple. I don’t have the time or energy to engage in trying to stop people from spreading misinformation, and I’m just not that into selfies or taking pictures of my meals.
Back in my day, it took a lot longer for a lie to be picked up and turned into fact. Remember the urban myth the ships on Snapple Tea labels were slave ships? Although it’s still believed in some pockets of society today, the fact it took so long for it to even take root was a testament to not only the simpler time of the early 90s, but the fact-checking people did back then. Thanks to Twitter, both of these fail safes are more obsolete than Compuserve.
Take the outrage over President Donald Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. If you read Twitter (and I wouldn’t recommend it without some adult beverages), you would think President Trump is sitting on his hands (which would make it really hard to Tweet) and not helping Puerto Rico for every reason from racism to not knowing Puerto Rico is one of our territories. In reality, though, federal assistance has been on site since before Maria hit. We can argue about whether it’s sufficient, but to say the Trump Administration and Trump specifically has done nothing is blatantly incorrect.
Yet, the Twitterverse will repeat the lie while the truth is putting on its pants.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve lost count of the number of media outlets who have tweeted juicy stories about President Trump, only to have to tweet a retraction within hours or days. While it’s nice to see these media outlets posting retractions, there are a few problems I have with it. First, rarely do these media outlets delete the initial erroneous Tweets. That in and of itself may seem like a minor quibble, but when you consider the number of people who will believe the original Tweet and won’t dig further into it, the fact the Tweet is allowed to exist after it’s been discredited gives it credibility. It’s like Bernie Sanders’ “democratic socialism” idea, but with 140 characters.
Second, rarely, if ever, are these corrections retweeted. The same people who are eager to pounce on any negative opinion of the Trump Administration (confirmation bias, anyone?) aren’t so quick to retweet a correction. Those who do are at least trying to be transparent with their rhetoric or are already quick to defend the Trump Administration. Those who don’t have more axes to grind than Paul Bunyon. They would prefer to believe the comfortable lie than the uncomfortable truth.
Third, and finally, Twitter isn’t known for its fairness. For those of you with lives, Twitter gives out blue checkmarks for people whose accounts can be verified as actually being owned by the people who claim they have them. What goes into this verification process is a mystery, but what is obvious is the blue checkmarks are handed out like drug samples at a dealer convention if the owner is a Leftist, but you’re out of luck if you’re a conservative. I’m beginning to think the Catholic Church’s qualifications for sainthood are easier to achieve than a conservative getting a verified Twitter account. With this checkmark comes credibility, earned or…well, let’s face it, it’s never earned. It’s an electronic Cracker Jack box where the right ideology gets you a free prize inside.
But we all know Leftists would never lie or distort the truth for political gain, right?
Put simply, Twitter is a quick way to widely push a narrative, spin a story, or blatantly lie without a way to be just as quick and widespread with the truth. But, it’s important we continue to tell the truth whenever we can. Facts matter.
Now, go put on some pants.