The story this week is a child who was snatched by an alligator at a Walt Disney World Resort. I think I could update this article every week and repost it with a different “story of the week.”
On the surface Gorillas, Paintings and Bad Apples have nothing in common, but this week I have found some common ground between them. I have found “the rest of the story.”
Do you remember “The Rest of the Story” by Paul Harvey? Maybe you are too young to remember, but Mr. Harvey took a story or person and really dug down deep to find out the story behind the story. As a social media influencer, I feel an obligation to either dig down deep to find “the rest of the story” or resist the urge to comment.
This morning I came across this photo which had gone viral in 2014. It depicts schoolchildren on their mobile phones in front of Rembrandt’s Famous Painting “The Night Watch.” This photo has been distributed as a “metaphor for our age.” A commentary on social media. People distributing it and commenting on how “this is the problem with our youth.”
Here is the rest of the story: This photo was taken in 2014. The Photographer Gijsbert van der Wal said, “A small group of high school students were sitting on the benches in front of Rembrandt’s Nightwatch. Almost all of them were either looking at their own smartphones or their classmates. I thought it was a curious sight and took a photograph.” He posted the photo on Facebook and within days it was shared thousands of times.
According to the teacher what the children were doing was, in fact, part of the tour of the museum. They were using a special app to learn more about Nightwatch.
And so you see, things aren’t always what they seem!
I grew up with something called the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would want to be treated. And although I haven’t always been successful, I have tried most of my life to follow that. If I lost my child, how would I want people to respond – even if it was my fault. Would I want to be shown grace and mercy, or would I want to be crucified in the public’s eye? But not commenting is more than just the Golden Rule! I have come up with a list of valid reasons why we should not form opinions on every single issue.
In regards to the horrible incidents at Walt Disney World and The Cincinnati Zoo:
1) I tend not to comment if I wasn’t there. I did not witness the event first hand. I can say that I feel bad for all involved, but to automatically assume that they were bad parents or that the zoo or Disney was at fault is wrong on my part. Often even two eyewitness will have a different perspective on the same situation.
2) I don’t know the parents or children. I have never met them; I don’t know anyone who knows them. Once people begin commenting it becomes hard to separate fact from fiction. “A friend of a friend told me” gets intertwined with facts. Once you start reading different opinions on the internet, the real facts start to get muddled up with the falsehoods.
3) I have never worked with alligators, gorillas or in a zoo, or really with any wild animals. I am not an expert in any of these fields. What I do know is that things don’t always happen like you see on television. We have seen in movies and shows where an animal drops instantly from a tranquilizer gun. Or someone easily wrestles an alligator. But just because we “saw” it in a movie, does not mean it really happens like that.
4) I was not among the first responders or at the hospital when the little boy from the gorilla pit was brought in. I have no first hand knowledge of his physical and/or mental condition.
5) I am more interested in the truth than I am in blog clicks. Immediately you could find a myriad of opinions on social media which just served to fan the flames. You know you read them and so did I. These people are not interested in the truth. They are interested in numbers. How many people can they get to comment on a post? They will write things in such a way to get you fired up. If I write how horrible a mother is, and I think she should be arrested and made to pay for the gorilla, I will get more shares. If I lament about the alligators being euthanized, it will flame a fire. Especially if people don’t agree with me. It seems the more we don’t agree with a position, the more likely we are too share the piece (this is confusing to me, but I found it to be true with my own writings).
There is a reason jurors are asked specific questions before they are selected to sit on a trial. Questions about how much they have read or heard about the case. And once they are selected, they are asked not to listen to the news, read the paper, or comment to anyone about the trial. Once you hear public opinion and read journalists viewpoints, you are a tainted juror.
In the culture we live in, we become tainted very easily. And it is very easy to play “armchair quarterback” rushing to judgement before all the facts come in.
ON BAD APPLES:
Recently, a blogger (who I deem a bad apple) received a lot of press because she wrote a sensationalized piece about why she was giving up blogging. She has appeared on a major network show and her blog has circulated thousands of times. People read her story and get the impression that blogging and those who blog are all alike. They think that the story she portrays is the story of all bloggers. But like the Cincinnati Zoo and The Rembrandt Painting there is “the rest of the story.”
That blogger was a dishonest person. By her own admission she wrote untruths to make money. And yet, because she came out with a full confession of what a crummy person she really is, people have shared her story over and over. Most of the bloggers I know have a moral compass; they want to uncover the truth and are authentic, honest and ethical. But like everything in life, there are a few bad apples.
Paintings, Gorillas and Bad Apples really don’t have much in common besides being news stories that are repeated over and over again until you don’t know what the truth really is. But maybe if we quit responding to the bad apples, they would lay rotting under the tree and never be heard from again.