I’m implementing a new internet rule for myself. I’m calling it The 24-72 Hour Sliding Scale and I think that it is going to save me a lot of grief. It is certainly going to save me from wishing that I had conferred with my friend, Susan, before I took that time to write a big post about an issue. Anyway, here is the rule in its entirety: If I am about to write about or respond to a post about an issue that comes to be via the internet or the mainstream media, I must decide how big of an issue that I think it really is; then wait between 24 and 72 hours to actually publish an article about it, with the scale being directly proportional. The bigger the issue, the longer that I have to wait to publish a post.
You may ask yourself why I might adopt such a policy, but I will give you a very complete, multi-part answer:
- I have a fairly significant attention problem and no real filter between what I’m thinking in my head and what comes out of my mouth. Often, that is quite entertaining to watch, but in reality, it is sometimes hard on my interpersonal relationships. I should rarely say what I’m thinking out loud, let alone post it on the internet. (In fact, the only times that I allow myself to “just roll with it” are when I see someone being victimized by a rude and/or hurtful person and I publicly step in to make comment. I got applause the last time I did that to a table full of people at a restaurant in Boone who were unthinkably rude to their server and I think that at least one of the people at the table may have wet their pants.)
- The larger and more complex an issue is; the more time it takes to gather facts and gain the proper perspective.
- We are being lied-to and manipulated by the media. All of it. All types. Both sides. All the time.
For me, the implementation of this rule is quite easy to illustrate with an issue from 2012, the Benghazi attack in Libya. At first, there was bad information in the media. Then, there was purposeful misdirection from the White House and the State Department that sought to put the blame for the attack on an anti-Muslim film. Finally, we learn that this was an orchestrated attack by al-Qaeda which had sent warnings to two other countries, whose missions in Libya were attacked before our embassy. Anyone commenting on the issue in the first two days had nothing but erroneous information and in that instance, it would take months for all the real facts to start coming out.
I just think that a wait-and-see policy regarding hot-button topics is probably the best for me. Perhaps we could all adopt this policy.