Professors caution against using the internet as a source for scholarly material. Rightly so. Neil once did a language/linguistics/grammar study of our site and found we’re talking like grad students here. Well, now that I’m a grad student again, I can tell you even I don’t always understand what is posted here. And I mean what comes from my own tip-tapping.
As I get back into the news, I notice that perhaps there’s a bit more and at the same time not so much to that story I saw before retreat about eight-hundred Irish babies dumped in a septic tank. Kevin Clarke at America eviscerates the media here.
In one of my readings last night of a feminist approach to the Spiritual Exercises, the author referred to a “hermeneutic of suspicion” when treating what men say about women. Made sense. Likewise what we’ve been warned about the internet. You’ve heard about “Trust, but verify” in the political sense? How about “Doubt, and if you don’t have time, move on”?
Now it seems the print media is imitating its younger, sexier, more electronic siblings. Our Facebook-inspired culture of voyeurism? Perhaps not as reliable as our friends’ snapshots and such.
The other night my mom was going on about something she saw on Fox News about the president. Did I hear? No I hadn’t, I said, I’ve been on a silent retreat. Did I hear about this same thing, she asked about a minute later. I changed the subject to her health. That was reliable reporting, I can be sure.
Truly, a lot of what the media feeds us today (and I most definitely include the pajama media) is about on the level of gossip. Sometimes somebody at church asks me, “Did you hear what they did?” Even when I’ve heard, I’m more inclined to be a skeptic, nod semi-sagely, and change the subject to something I know a little bit more about, like late-twentieth century feminist perspectives of the Spiritual Exercises. Or how ’bout USA’s chances in the World Cup?
Back to Ireland. Kevin Clarke sums it up:
As for the “Galway, gothic, Irish holocaust,”or however it may come to be officially known, it may prove to be a holocaust mostly of sloppy and indifferent reporting and twitter/Facebook frenzying, e-mail and fury signifying nothing more than how quickly misinformation can travel in our socially-mediated era.
Do we know that the Church mistreated and abused women and children long before the free-n-easy 60’s and Vatican II? Of course we do. Ireland is not unique. I’m sure there are skeletons in a few Tridentine septic tanks around the world. I’m less interested in people who are trying desperately to get my attention. My mother, well, I do care when she wants me to listen to her ills and worries. I do that gladly.
Otherwise, I suggest we all be a little more skeptical about people and things we don’t know trying to grab out attention.