The topic of this post has been rolling around in my mind for at least the last six months. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a French lingerie model. I am 5 feet 11 inches tall, and I weigh 120 pounds. Because of my success as a model, I am independently wealthy, and I spend about six months of the year living on my Lürssen yacht. For those of you who know me and are wondering what the &$@# I’m talking about, everything I just said was all a lie. Of course, since it’s on the internet, it must be true. Actually, I need to make a correction. I should say that all of it was a lie except for the part about the topic of the post rolling around the back of my mind for the last six months.
It all started with the Daddy Long Legs who was hanging out on some equipment where I work. I was vanquishing him with my hands because I had been raised to believe that they were beneficial spiders that would kill poisonous spiders and eat them. In other words, Daddy Long Legs was a friend. A co-worker immediately began freaking out because she believed that these spiders were poisonous. I am by no means a spider expert, but I was certain that my mother would have mentioned to me the fact that they were poisonous if that were the case. She treated black widows and brown recluse spiders in a very different way than she treated the daddy long legs. I questioned my co-worker further and she stated that they were poisonous but that they couldn’t bite because of the position of their mouths. If that was the case, I wondered why she was so freaked out. Regardless, her opinion about the spider didn’t seem right to me.
When I got home, I did an internet search and discovered the following. There were a bunch of blogs that solemnly proclaimed her opinion as fact and to be true. Some even stated that the venom of the daddy long legs spider was more toxic than the black widow. When I went to University of California at Riverside’s website, though, I discovered the following.
- My mother was correct. Daddy long legs is not poisonous. He will eat other spiders and other bugs.
- My c0-worker was wrong. Daddy long legs can bite. His mouth is in the same position as the brown recluse and we have all heard that Mr. Brown Recluse is certainly capable of biting. In fact. the bite of the Brown Recluse has been shown to result in tissue death which can result in serious infection.
- Some bloggers post anything they want on their websites without regard to the accuracy of the information they present.
- There are people like that girl from the State Farm commercial who believe that if it’s on the internet it must be true.
If you don’t believe me or the university, try the MythBusters segment that you can view by clicking here. (If it’s on TV, it’s true, right?)
So, while I continued to ponder a post complaining about the lack of blog-tegrity (integrity among bloggers to ensure, at least, that their information is correct), life continued. It was something that my son showed me on his Facebook page that finally spurred me into action. What he presented to me was a link to the following headline:
HOBBY LOBBY STONES GAY EMPLOYEE TO DEATH. (Click here to follow the link to the original article.)
As I read this article two things occurred to me. There was no way this story was true, and it was going to go viral. It did. Within a day or two of publication, this article was spreading like wild fire. Suddenly, many bloggers were weighing in with their opinion. There were several blogs and internet sites that jumped onto the Hobby Lobby and Christian Bashing bandwagon. I would link to the specific posts on these sites, but after Snopes.com reported that it was a false claim, many of these posts disappeared. I was particulary horrified by the post that ranted about what people would say if it was a company owned by Muslims who started forcing their religious views on employees and executing women who didn’t wear hijabs or burqas. Alas, the post is no more, so I can’t link to it. All I get when I go there is a page not found message.
I am certain that there are many bloggers out there thanking God for the Move to Trash button on their blog sites. Unlike the “famously incorrect Dewey Defeats Truman banner headline” published by the Chicago Tribune back in the glory days of print newspapers, bloggers can just erase those embarrassing mistakes. Maybe that’s why no one bothers to ensure that their posts are accurate. As I write this, there are still a few comment boards on sites and some Facebook comments that you can find, but largely, the moral outrage over the stoning death of the fictitious Hobby Lobby employee has dwindled.
There is no specific code of ethics for bloggers. Journalistic integrity includes the expectation “that the journalist will be as accurate as possible given the time allotted to story preparation and the space available, and to seek reliable sources.” They also publish corrections when errors are made. They don’t just move the whole thing to the trash and pretend it didn’t happen. Perhaps, we, as bloggers, need to establish our own code of ethics and standards of conduct. Maybe someone already has, and no one bothers to adhere to it.
As bloggers, I believe that we have a certain amount of moral responsibility. The things that we report should be as accurate as possible. When I read that article with my outraged son, I did the following research before I allowed myself to become upset. I checked to see if Hobby Lobby had any stores in Arkansas. I discovered that there were at least 7. I checked to make sure that homicide was against the law in Arkansas, and I found out that it was. I checked to see which, if any, of the stores were located in Wilson county, and discovered that there was no Wilson county in Arkansas. Hmmm….I found two problems with the story–no one was arrested for homicide, and there was no Wilson county. I was convinced that the story was a lie, but my son required further proof. (He is young and not nearly as cynical as I am.)
I found the proof he needed on the same site as the original article. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, past all the comments, and whatever else there is, you will find a link that says ‘About”. If you click on that link, you will find the following.
The Daily Currant is an English language online satirical newspaper that covers global politics, business, technology, entertainment, science, health and media. It is accessible from over 190 countries worldwide – now including South Sudan.
Our mission is to ridicule the timid ignorance which obstructs our progress, and promote intelligence – which presses forward.
Q. Are your news stories real?
A. No. Our stories are purely fictional. However they are meant to address real-world issues through satire and often refer and link to real events happening in the world
Everyone, calm down. Put down the picket signs. Cancel the boycott. Hobby Lobby did NOT stone an employee to death. What is my point in this post? If you are a blogger, before you promote the spread of outrage based on fiction, check your facts. Know your sources, and please, have some integrity. Do your homework, and make sure you’re posting accurate information. Don’t spread baseless rumors. Granted, a controversial post can be good for boosting traffic and stimulating comments, but I believe that we should be providing information to help and enlighten people. I don’t believe that my job as a blogger is to enrage people. If you’re going to post satirical fiction, make sure it’s clear to your readers that’s what you do. When you get an idea from someone else, give them credit with a link back to their site. There’s enough web traffic to share.
**Patti can also be found at PattyCakesPantry.com where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes. She isn’t always successful.