Thursday, April 26, 2018

Believe Half of What You Hear and a Fourth of What You See

That was my mother’s advice five decades ago. The first part made perfect sense to me. Lies could gallop faster than horses, getting bigger with each telling. But not to believe what you see? My mother stood behind her words, though, and declared our eyes could play tricks on us. This was lightyears before the advent of Photoshop and I wonder if she had an inkling what the future would hold.

Recently I received an email with a slide show of Warsaw Ghetto pictures in honor of Holocaust Day. Interspersed with the sobering photos was a headline from the May 10th, 1943 New York Times proclaiming Warsaw Ghetto Uprising An Over-Reaction: European Leaders Blame Jews For Disproportionate Response. For a few minutes I fell for it and indignantly decided to write an article about the injustice of the world. Thankfully a quick search on the internet showed me that the headline was nothing more than a hoax. Had some Holocaust denier slipped it into the clip to discredit all the pictures? Or had a fool fallen for the lie?

Some eighteen years ago, when our communication systems were nowhere near as sophisticated as they are today, I read an email stating Fuji Film was boycotting Israel. My stomach clenched tight with resentment as I quickly cut, pasted and forwarded that email to almost everyone in my address book. The following day when I was in Jerusalem I didn’t see just one Fuji Film store, rather two. My first task upon returning home was to send out an embarrassed follow-up note to all the recipients from the previous day. Thankfully, emails were easy to follow up on. Today’s untruths on What’s Apps, twitters, and the like fly around the universe faster than the speed of light.

The Torah teaches us to distance ourselves from falsehood but how, in this complicated world, can we know what’s true? It’s too bad that the noses of the leaders and journalists don’t grow longer with each fib they tell but that only happened with Pinocchio.
courtesy of youtube
I wish I had a magic answer to my question but I don’t. 
All I can do is make several suggestions. Know that snap responses and simple solutions to long-term, complicated problems are not based in reality or the problem would have been solved eons ago. Beware of the always and never words. Few things are absolute. Trust your instincts and if something smells rotten it very likely is. Check and double check anything that comes to you over the net. Most important, remember the words of wisdom my mother told me fifty years ago.


Batya Medad said...

So true, and if an offer sounds "too good to be true," it's probably a lie or a scam.

The modern "chain letters" are so much more annoying than the old ones. When we were kids, you needed to rewrite and send actual letters with stamps, while today, a couple of clicks and you can annoy and stuff up people's inboxes.

Batya Medad said...

This blog post has been included in The Ladies Blog #1. There are some superb blogs written by women. What do you think?