October 2nd, 2015

The Truth Can Finally Catch Up with the Lies. And Some People Wish That Hadn't Happened.

I've been really annoyed by Sherry Turkle articles on people being nose down in digital convos, rather than participating in the world around them. Turkle has really escalated this time:

"They found a 40 percent decline in empathy among college students, with most of the decline taking place after 2000. Across generations, technology is implicated in this assault on empathy."

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/27/opinion/sunday/stop-googling-lets-talk.html?_r=0

Turkle is asking us to believe that Millenials, the generation of activists which finally tackled issues of consent, and which has pushed for real attention to be paid to disproportionate impact, is _less_ empathetic than previous generations?

Turkle must be some special brand of evil. She'd like to see us pull up out of our social media driven consumption of niche news media so we can pay _more_ attention to the people who are most like us, and _less_ attention to the wider world. That's bad, for sure, but it might actually be a lot worse than it seems.

This last week has included a couple of really juicy examples of the Catholic Church getting caught in the kinds of lies that it routinely got away with for centuries. First up: Kim Davis. A week to negotiate the meeting, including promises all round to not reveal deets until after the popular Pope has left the States. Then, a refusal to "confirm or deny" and a stated commitment to say no more. They caved on that in less than 24 hours, in favor of the even more craven, and even less credible assertion that the Vatican (remember: they negotiated secrecy, had prepped a damage control response, and took a week to set it up in the first place) had no idea who Kim Davis even was. In the world before FB and twitter on everyone's cell, it might have taken weeks for this to leak out and we'd all be well along onto some other thing by then. But in today's world, this has the potential to oust the latest mass shooting from the headlines in record time (<-- which is a problem. But if we're going to fix the mass shooting problem, we really do need to move from a headline orientation to a track-and-policy orientation).

Second, and close to my heart because it is from my home city, Lakeside has been vigorously holding its own in a dispute with Bishop Watterson and a diocese in Columbus, OH over a teacher who was fired from Watterson, hired by Lakeside, and then fired from Lakeside over [something complicated involving the Department of Homeland Security, which is apparently now taking point on a lot of sexual predator cases because they cross borders so often]. Watterson denied giving any references/asserted Lakeside didn't ask for them. Lakeside had emails. And a screenshot of a friendly farewell from Watterson to a list of teachers including the one in question, who was described as having a new job at another school. (Because when you fire someone for sexually interacting with a student, that's def what you want next, amirite?!? Sarcasm. Sarcasm, dammit!)

Turns out that while there _is_ a reporting requirement from the school to the state (in Ohio) for "conduct unbecoming an educator", the state won't relay (even if asked) until the matter has worked its way fully through the process. And the firing school does not have a reporting requirement to anyone else. I feel like there's a basis for a lawsuit because Watterson did more than confirm dates of employment and job title -- they said nice things about him. They should have said the legal minimum and not a jot more, and let the silence do all the talking for them.

More relevantly, even in this insane situation (Ohio? Ohio. You're gonna get a rep like Florida, for the sheer rate at which you generate insane sexual criminal behavior that is treated like No Big Thing), the Truth caught up with the Lies quite rapidly.

When Turkle -- and others -- attack us for keeping up with the news and gossip cycle throughout the day and week, they are trying their best to return us to the world of hierarchy and control, the world of power uninterrupted. Our eyes on the news -- like eyes on the street -- are how we enforce our shared values. I don't _wanna_ go back to the bad old days, when the truth could never catch up with the lies (or no one noticed or cared when it did -- and no, Mark Twain didn't say that, apparently: http://freakonomics.com/2011/04/07/quotes-uncovered-how-lies-travel/). I _love_ that the Vatican is squirming over this meeting, even tho I know that most people won't hear all the details, and even the ones who hear most of the details won't fully grasp how important it is that this Pope is working so closely still with people appointed by the previous Pope that this Pope's fans are desperate to say the new Pope is so much better than.

And if an in person convo suffers here and there? Seriously. A lot of our FB time is waiting in line, waiting in the car, chit-chatting while waiting for something else. I hesitate to sign on for the idea of quality time, but how about this. Just breathing the same air is about 80% of what face-to-face time is worth. And for the other 20%, only the obsessive checks FB when they are really into what's going on around them, and those people have so many problems that chastising them and accusing them of lacking empathy probably constitutes some special category of abusing the disabled.