First, I am a lifelong, California-born, United States Navy raised, Ronald Reagan Conservative. Second, this is not my usual prosaic territory, which typically focuses on national security issues, but from time to time, I yearn for an escape from the drudgery of Islamic apocalyptic hegemony and Russian imperialism. The following suffices well as my own little “staycation” from all things nasty.
There is something (okay, something else) that I am just about so completely sick and tired of, that it’s got me threatening, for about the 5,698th time, to leave Facebook! Straight to a point, this has become a routine “empty” threat of mine. Truth be told, I LOVE FACEBOOK AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT! I have become quite a Social Media junkie over the past 3-4 years. These sites are great places to go for one-stop-shopping meet ups with old friends (kind of like hanging out at the mall again, and many of them are from high school!) And, new virtual “Friends” abound and are interesting, too (Warning: If you have never gone on vacation and returned Liking them and/or shared meals and “split” the check with these people and remained their friend afterwards, then they are not your real Friends). Social Media also provides some great common ideas-and-ideals neighborhoods in which to gather, as well as gathering spaces and discussion-facilitation for people who, over the time-distant appeals of Rodney King, cannot, “all just get along.” Often, just when the conversation starts to get interesting or challenging, a declaration of protest is posted, then one or the other party hits “Unfriend” and the modern day equivalent of slamming the door on the way out occurs; one of my least favorite aspects of my strange addiction to Facebook.
I’ve got another “least favorite” favorite aspect of new media in general and it has to do with my own peeps (Conservatives) and it is prevalent via “Shares” on Facebook and, at the risk of sounding like a snob, embarrassing and counter-productive to the cause of Conservatism and credibility. In the mad rush to “self-credential” as “news” outlets, there is a virtual cornucopia of “Conservative” “news” sites. I won’t name names (other than to direct attention to a representative “news” story (below)), but the outward signs of these new not-mainstream-media sites are usually easily identified by their headlines, which almost always begin with the words: SHOCKING; SHOCKER; URGENT; BREAKING; and, my favorite, THIS WILL END OBAMA PRESIDENCY; and on, to a point of complete dilution, because not every news story (even about the Obama Administration) can possibly be shocking, urgent, breaking, or of Presidency-ending gravity.
I reference this story on the peak web site of journalistic gravity and integrity, Anonymous Mags, the tagline of which implores readers to “Keep yourself informed!” Okay. This particular story, which was shared on Facebook no less than seven-thousand nine-hundred times (7,910, exactly, as of this writing) carries the headline, Documents Surface Proving (Emphasis mine) That Michelle Obama Never Gave Birth To Malia And Sasha. With that, I will take your, “Really?” and raise it one “What the hell?”
Friends (of both types, real and virtual, but mostly virtual), this is exactly the type of “Weekly World News”-type “reporting” that is so prevalent on “Conservative” web sites that just makes us look lame and kooky. Now, this particular site is one of the kookier ones out there, but its stories carry over to a number of less kooky, but equally, bad Conservative news sites. Again, the headline reads “Documents Surface that PROVE…” Well, that WOULD be news, except the article shows none of the surfaced documents, except to say that a search of ANCESTRY-dot-COM shows NO documents, which “proves” nothing. Lame. Anyone can pay a service like www.reputation.com, and have the internet scrubbed of ANYTHING that they do not want out there. Wait a minute… I nearly just duped myself into believing that the proof that Michelle Obama is a man was swept under the World Wide Rug. See what happens?
The rest consists of lines like, “rumors have surfaced…” and, “Many are suspicious…” Shocking proof, no doubt. Friends, Followers, Followed, and (now, I’m certain), Un-Friends, this kind of nonsense makes Brian Williams and Dan Rather sound like real journalists who are hard hitting, fair, and diligent. Not to mention, sane. Now, I would even proffer that even if it were revealed that any of this were true, it really is lame for a few real reasons, such as: it’s too late because Barack Obama is already President; it’s not illegal; hiding such a thing from the American public is not illegal, as it would (and I can’t believe I’m having this conversation) fall well into HIPPA protected private medical information of the NOT-President of the United States (she’s the First Lady). And, I could go on, but will not, because I feel my own credibility evaporating the longer I write about this.
But, let’s imagine, some more, that this story, anchored in the shocking truth of “many are suspicious,” were true. The mainstream media would embrace it as WONDERFUL! Every leading woman’s and lifestyle magazine would celebrate the moment with glowing articles about the pain of hiding such a thing and the bravery of confronting it publicly. Entertainment Tonight, Extra, and the ENTIRE Bravo Network would be in a state of near-coital nirvana with the wonder of Michelle. With all of the actual discrepancies of this Administration (Benghazi and Hillary’s emails, Fast and Furious, IRS Scandal, and the related cover-ups of all), this story, while (were it true) might be morally repugnant to many, that’s not the point. The point is, it makes Conservatives look stupid. It is horribly written, shows no journalistic integrity (something over which we Conservatives constantly harp on the mainstream media), and reports nothing. And these things are all over Facebook, posted by Obamaplectic patriots who still, deep down inside, really believe that the past six years (and the next two) can be undone by reporting such treason and treachery, as, “SHOCKING! DUDE LOOKS LIKE A LADY! MICHELLE IS A MICHAEL!“
I’m sorry, but these “news” sites are not credible… at all. And, any shreds of truth in their content is blown to dust by horrible writing, lack of research, and dozens of pop-up ads about miracle muscle growth steroid replacements (always with photos of the Spring Breaker dude with the silly straw hat whose chest muscles look like breast implants); “how to pick up women” programs; miracle fat burning and cancer eradicating supplements and plant sterols; and, “”secret” $5.00 pills burn fat better than liposuction” and will give you the “brain of a billionaire.” The sidebar on the right of the site noted in this article is, for an extra measure of credibility, plastered with “I had sex with an alien…” and “proof of alien life” photos that (with I, not being one to doubt the existence alien life forms out there, somewhere) just look stupid and do ANYTHING BUT prove the existence of alien life (I can’t even believe that I’m having THIS PART of this discussion, either… good God).
There are REAL problems out there, Friends (insert frowny-face emoticon here). And, if you want the Conservative, Tea Party and/or Libertarian movements to compel and convince fence-sitters that any, or combinations of all, of these movements will correct many of the ills facing our nation, then nonsense reporting like this will not show them that the grass is greener on our side. It will just chase them away. They may turn around, but only to occasionally point and laugh. We can do better than this. Elevate your conscience and your social appetites for information on the web. I recommend, of course, sites like Political Vanguard, where I look very forward to returning to my normally-assigned national security contributions, as great places to start.