declarations are dead
So, I'm going to put a lid on the politics for awhile. Obama is going to be President, and McCain/Palin will just fade into the night. Only part of that last statement is true, unfortunately, as demonstrated by every news show airing this morning. But, I'm not going there, people! At the risk of inciting controversy, I'm going to shift to a subject about which I feel fiery passion: Sharing Information Responsibly A story to illustrate my point, with certain details omitted for obvious reasons: Yesterday, a contact on a social networking website posted this bulletin:
I was watching on the news and they were saying how many votes from Hispanics, my question is how many of these hispanics are true to form US citizens? You are supposed to a US citizen by birth to vote.
I know there will be no one to check into it but I think we need to know just how many votes are legit!
As a person of Hispanic heritage, and someone who is so proud of the election turn-out, I was offended. First of all, being Hispanic does not automatically mean that a person entered this country illegally. Second of all, being born into citizenship is not the only way to become a bona fide American; an application process grants citizenship and along with it the right to vote. Third of all, the votes are authenticated through the voter registration process, for which each state is responsible. Finally (and most importantly), by asking this question of her entire social network, in a one-sided bulletin that does not allow for comments or any other forms of public feedback, she unintentionally (we hope) planted a seed of fear, doubt, and racism. There are appropriate forums for such questions. She chose the wrong one. Now, I'm not here to bash people or upset any of you kind readers. Just so you know, I have written to and informed her of my concerns. The reason why I told this story was to illustrate my point that conversation is the way of the future the now. Declarations are dead. If you say something, you better be prepared to back it up, because people are either going to call you out on it or stop listening to you/reading what you have to say if you don't welcome their participation. So many people are unwittingly committing the social crime of spreading misinformation, and it pains me to say that the person I quote in this entry is one of millions who do not understand the harm they are doing. So, how do you avoid alienating--even hurting--readers/listeners and make yourself heard? Well, here's my advice: #1 - Make sure it's the truth. If you can't authenticate, don't propagate! #2 - Think about the impact of your words. How will they make people feel? #3 - Don't read the headlines and assume you know the whole story. #4 - Embellishment makes for great storytelling. That's all it's good for. #5 - Count on others to keep you honest. Sharing is not a solitary activity. Did I miss something? Please comment and add to the discussion. I welcome all feedback! Updated November 6th, 2008 at 12:38pm PST: She removed the bulletin and responded to my direct message. Ideally she would have posted an updated version of her question with people's responses attached, but I guess this will have to do. Remember folks: Open, honest communication will always prevail!