Friday, April 27, 2018

Seeing What You Are Instead of What Is

Reader note: this article discusses rape as a concept and political issue but no details of specific incidents. Reader discretion is advised.

In writing these articles, I have asked some of my friends who are not familiar with Jeff Mach Events to read things over before I post them to try to ensure that readers will pick up the concepts I'm trying to put down.

A very interesting thing happened the other day. A debate broke out between two of them on issues of police, evidence and burden of proof in cases of rape, especially at conventions. It was interesting because none of the issues we were talking about involved accusations of rape. At the time, I had published the 10 Days to Wicked Faire story, an article defining some terms, and an article about PR failures. None of which had anything to do with rape as there were not rape allegations against Jeff Mach.

The debate broke out because both people had strong feelings on the issue from outside of this context, and they brought those very engaged and educated opinions into the discussion. They came in so strongly that the original issue was lost entirely, and it was fascinating to see it in this context. These are two people who have full access to everything I know about the history of the situation. All they have to do is ask, and yet they had fallen into the assumption that we were dealing with rape allegations.

So, if people that close to the source of information can fall into that misconception, can we be surprised that the general public is so confused?

This happens all the time on the Internet, and has been great exacerbated by the use of mobile devices. People are quickly scrolling through, maybe don't want to click on an outside link to take the time to read an article, so they read the title and summary and fire away. Countless times, I have shared an article that raised an innovative point on an old topic, only to have people prattle on in the comments sharing their old ideas, clearly not having read the insightful article.

Senator Joe McCarthy holding a list which he claims contains
the names of Communists in the State Department. The list
was entirely fake.
Normally, this is just an annoying phenomenon as social discourse degrades into talking points. But it becomes quite serious when individuals of particular intent take advantage of this phenomenon. If you know that people don't have time or inclination to actually read, you can make a page with many links, tell them that each link contains an accusation against an individual and have a summary which implies that the individual is guilty of terrible crimes, even if none of the actual links support such a statement.

For example, a couple months ago, I wrote an article in which I discussed my path to awareness, 12 years ago. In the article I told how I learned of the need for me to be careful, as a man, not to inadvertently use my power in a way that would make women uncomfortable. This article was shared with the summary that it was evidence that I was guilty of previous "inappropriate behavior." Those who read the article clearly understood that it was a story of humbly acknowledging a hard lesson I had learned, but many simply accepted the false summary and proceeded to propagate the slanted perspective.

So, what can we do about this? The only thing we really can do is not to be part of the problem. Learn what you are speaking about before you speak on it. Don't spread information if you don't know where it is coming from. Look beyond the two line summary before you accept something as evidence.

The most important lesson, however, is that it's not the world's fault that they fail to take the time to understand what I am saying. It is my fault if I do not recognize that my message is not being received, and my job to communicate better if I desire to be understood.

Most importantly, remember something that I am reminded of every day:

Somewhere, among all the things that you believe today, at least one of them is wrong.

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