The first time I stepped into a classroom in California, it was late spring of 1969 when my parents left the vast beauty of New México for a new start.
Six years later, the family (mother, stepfather, two of three sisters, two brothers and Bobby, an Australian shepherd) packed up and moved to the heart of Texas.
What they left behind was not only me, but an upbringing heavily built in respect for teachers and others.
My frequent use of “Yes ma’am” and “No sir” elicited giggles from my fellow seventh-grade classmates at Earlimart Junior High School.
This is not a memory trip, nor is it an effort to elicit positive remarks for having good manners. Rather, I thought about those school days recently when viewing the “all hell breaks lose” all too common on social media.
And, I’m not just talking about the president.
Nor is this targeted at the crazies on the far right or the far left.
It appears that, as a nation, we have lost our sanity.
So, here are my questions for this week.
Q. Why do so many people use someone elses’ face for their profile photo?
You would think their own faces are too ugly, but it’s just another way to hide behind someone else’s face. What’s interesting is that if you know the person and he uses the face of the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World but you know that person is not that interesting! Bad choice bro!
Q. How about folks who use fake names?
That’s just another way for flamethrowers to do their work without worrying that they’ll be identified. It works much the same way bank robbers wear masks or disguises.
Q. Is there a solution to fixing the divisiveness in Twitter and other social media?
Other, than shutting the entire systems, not really. Free speech rights come into question, no matter how idiotic you sound or how dirty you get. Perhaps the conglomerates should force folks to use their real names and real faces when posting comments to at least make people think twice before posting.
Q. Is fake news real?
Not really. News organizations hire professionals whose job it is to provide valid reporting based on valid information, valid quotes and objective reporting. (Columnists and op-eds can hold a certain point of view, but they can’t make stuff up). Reporters and columnists have lost their jobs (and any future employment in the newspaper business) when they’ve been caught plagiarizing or making up contacts. Credibility is everything in this business.
Q. Can you provide an example of fake news?
Sure. Remember the Napa Valley wildfires that eventually killed at least 44 people and caused more than $1 billion in damage? Well, that was caused by an undocumented immigrant ... if you believe Breitbart, which erroneously tied the arrest of a Mexican national for arson to the wildfires. It didn’t take long for anti-immigrant comments to surface on social media. Fact: The man did set a fire to keep him warm in a Santa Rosa park, but he did have a fire extinguisher and lighter on him and the fire was never connected to the bigger wildfires.
At least one commenter struck back: “Yeah, right. He killed 40 people and his bail is a “steep” $110,000? I don’t think so. This is fake news and you should be ashamed for spreading it. If they had arrested anyone for these fires, his bail would be at least a million and it would be ALL OVER THE NEWS, not just on this site.”
Great for her!
Q. How about an example of a celebrity who puts out an inflammatory statement?
Easy. This is what actor James Wood tweeted on Jan. 1: “What could possibly go wrong in a state with millions of illegals driving on freeways without insurance, now legally high on weed?”
You’ll either believe him or you won’t. We’ll just ask folks to look at a 2016 study showing that hit-and-run accidents dropped by 7 percent the first year that undocumented residents were allowed to apply for driver’s licenses in California.
Juan Esparza Loera has been editor of Vida en el Valle since it first published in August 1990. Send questions, comments, suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org