As I sat on my doorstep just now, with the early morning sun streaming down through the tree branches and the birds singing for all they’re worth, I felt a moment of revelation. I looked at my garden, and I realised I want to change it, from a tangled overgrown abundance to a thing of beauty.
Previously to this I had yet again been pondering the way information spreads, the memes we often rely on for our perceptions. The run up to Easter this year has seen many of my facebook friends posting this picture
which raised my eyebrows when I first read it, but with continued reposting started to really get to me.
Thankfully many other fb friends have been posting other pictures, like this;
One of the better, clear and full information pages they referenced can be found here;
At the same time, this week I have also been seeing many posts and pictures relating to the North American campaign for gay marriage equality, which were followed by many variations of pictures declaring that the ‘Monsanto Act’ had been passed while attention was diverted…
…which also seems to turn out to be not quite the whole picture when you read further into the background reality.
Another news story that has appeared in various media outlets this week has been the outrageous tale (originating in The Sun, a notoriously simple newspaper which has featured bare chested women on page 3 since time immemorial) of a woman who got fake breasts paid for by the NHS, while other patients cannot get funding for eg cancer. Terrible!!! But, find out more and you might think differently…
Taken as individual stories that confirm prejudices and add evidence to already held beliefs, these plausible at first glance examples are not uncommon occurrences. For the last few weeks, I have been writing a longer blogpost about the implications of the dichotomy of simple vs complex thinking (you lucky people!). But coming all at once, they distressed me.
I had to bring these stories up now, it is Easter, and I am not happy about goddesses being misassigned. Part of my motivation is, I heartily dislike the conflation of all goddesses into one goddess; while gods can merrily get away with a huge variety of specialist skill bases, goddesses tend to get sex, procreation, and maybe a bit of death if they are lucky. (I realise there are those who buck the trend, but be honest when was the last time you got awestruck about Athena, goddess of being-really-skilled-at-making-things-eg-cloth?).
More importantly Ishtar (who is mainly a goddess of desert warfare and unpleasant death) might not be the best icon for pouring forth worship towards right now. I pay due reverence to her when appropriate, but the celebration of the season when chickens starting to lay again after winter, the day growing in length, the green shoots appearing from beneath the ground, and animals getting frisky does not require admiration of an ancient Babylonian deity whose name slightly sounds like Eostre (herself of somewhat doubtful mythological origins tbh).
I repost memes I like the overall feel of, especially if they come to me from a source I like. I don’t always check them exhaustively first. However, those that seem to be new or startling in their content, I tend to pause and consider. An meme that makes me say ‘Really?!?!’ needs to be confirmed from another source before I am prepared to give it headroom.
I have also seen murmurings from the more conspiracy minded websites that these types of simplistic and plain incorrect sloganeering inciting of emotional anger infomemes are being created deliberately by right wing activists, who can then laugh at the way the duped liberals react without checking facts. How true this is I do not know, I would need to check the facts on it first, but in some ways that is irrelevant. Anyone passing on information that they are told in conjunction with a provocative picture, should perhaps do a quick search around, to reflect on whether those racehorses about to be sent to the knackers are real, and whether that lost dog is in fact still lost, several years after it went missing, or the Like n Share To Win an Ipad! link is actually what it says.
Snopes and Hoax-Slayer are only two of the sites that will do this work on your behalf. You have a duty of care to your many trusting friends to be the person who stops the spread of these scams (for they are, whatever the original motivation of the creators, nothing more than that).
Many of them cause emotional distress unnecessarily, often this is how they spread so fast and uncritically; or alter the reader’s world views inaccurately.
I’m all for choosing to believe what suits you at each moment in life, indeed Chaos Magick thrives on such behaviour. But, choosing from a position of ill-informed ignorance is not much of a choice.
And that is why I shall be making my garden look lovely this year. To show that I can create and change things, rather than simply passing on only what I received.
PS I would like to thank profusely all the people whose fb profiles contributed to all aspects of this blogpost, too many to mention by name.