I’m thinking about wearing a combat helmet the next time I check my Facebook page.
A flak jacket and an athletic cup might also be a good idea — to guard against low blows.
Bickering, preaching and complaining on social media seems to be at an all-time high level of brutality. Meanwhile, all-time low levels in civility and respect for others are being spewed — and that’s just from your grandmother.
The same seems true for comments made online about controversial stories published by sources such as magazines and blogs.
With the election of Donald Trump as president came an unprecedented wave of protests and fretting about what might happen.
Liberal politicians are lining up to demand that Trump reach out across the aisle to compromise so that progress can be made in Washington. One well-known talking head stated that the only reason he would reach across the aisle would be to grab a political opponent by the throat.
That’s just not helpful, folks.
The loudest protesters seem unable to understand the meaning of compromise. They remind me of a funny line I first saw as a child that simply stated, “Be reasonable — see it my way.”
Then there’s the hot topic of “fake” news that everyone has been throwing hissy fits about.
In opinion columns like this one, readers usually will be able to easily tell that I’m a conservative thinker. That is why these are called opinion columns, and why they are on the Editorial Page and not in the news section.
The trend in recent years to have nightly news “analysts” on the major cable news channels may have served to confuse some folks who don’t understand that distinction. TV news analysts not only broadcast news stories, but also give their opinions on the topics. That is their job, their function in life.
That makes them quite similar in some ways to traditional opinion columnists in print media.
There is nothing wrong with either one of those types of analysis of the news and newsmakers.
But there has to be a line drawn between analysts giving opinions on news topics, and in regular news reporters who are supposed to deliver straight news. They are obligated to be fair to both sides of every story.
Somewhere in that big, murky puddle of water there are biased and slanted stories, stories with minor fibs, stories with key facts deliberately ignored — and even totally fake stories.
Even though I’m a mainstream conservative on many issues, I began to get upset during the presidential campaign because there was a growing number of fake news stories coming from right-wing sources that are really nothing but slanted, low-quality propaganda websites.
You can spot them from a mile away. For example, you might wee a photo of Hillary Clinton with a headline that says, “The FBI just uncovered a huge secret that will finally bring down Hillary Clinton.” If I saw one of those during the campaign, I must have seen 20 of them. Each and every one had a headline claiming that it was all over for Hillary and that some big revelation was about to make her presidential campaign implode. Meanwhile, none of the major news outlets were reporting this “major scandal” that is supposedly bringing down Hillary Clinton.
It’s as fake and trite as the “love” on the so-called “reality” TV show, “The Bachelor.”
During the campaign, one of my Facebook friends — an outspoken tea party supporter named Holly who lives in Colorado — was starting to notice the same thing. She started posting criticism of the obviously false right-wing links to stories that just had no credibility.
I sent Holly a message saying that I supported her in shaming the right-wingers who were cranking out fake news.
I told her more than once that all we need — as backers of conservative ideas — is the truth. Anything less than the truth destroys credibility of your future arguments. She agreed.
Another one of my Facebook friends is a liberal who constantly posts political comments, and loves to argue and agonize over every little point. Fortunately, we both have a sense of humor. Plus, we’ve known each other long enough that our friendship endures the blasts back and forth. Neither one of us uses personal insults in our comments to each other.
I remember a few years ago, he was trashing tea party people and their attitudes and convictions. I asked him if he realized that the people he was insulting were, in many cases, just like me.
His response was, “Well, you’re different. You’re OK.”
I believe there just aren’t enough people on either the left or the right who are willing to stand up and say that all we need is the truth.
I look forward to the day when the percentage of us who value and seek the truth far outweighs those who create and consume fake news. We have to start shaming — or just ignoring — fake news providers even if they claim to be on our side.
If we can’t be intellectually honest in our evaluation of questionable news sources even if they represent our views, maybe we should take a chill pill and just be quiet for a while.
Maybe then I’ll be able to go back on Facebook without a helmet.
Mark Wilson is a senior reporter for the Glen Rose Reporter and Empire-Tribune.