In his famous nonsense poem, Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll penned –
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
And while you’re at it, you probably should beware the political meme that Cousin Horace posted on Facebook. Those insidious images with their inflammatory rhetoric can wreak a thousand times more havoc than any imaginary monster conjured up by a poet. Memes multiply with every share, every send, and every tweet. Some, like the one about Ted Cruz and Josh Duggar, attach fake quotes to photos of public figures. Others employ flying leaps of logic like the oldie “goldie” about Obama’s Muslim Prayer Curtain. Unfortunately, the uninformed and gullible base their political opinions on these pithy little baloney nuggets, and then they go out and vote.
Memes aren’t the only problem. Satire sites abound, trapping the unsuspecting into thinking the stories are true. Newslo claims to be the first hybrid news/satire site on the Internet. They conveniently place “Hide the Facts” and “Show the Facts” buttons over each article containing satirical content. With a quick click you can see the truth highlighted. Apparently people haven’t been availing themselves of that feature, because this Chris Christie diatribe about female Viagra and this John Hagee screed about taking the Lord’s name in vain have recently been circulating widely.
Yes, these sorts of things can be funny and thought provoking, but they also can be like swilling down a few pints of whisky before storming out into the village with a torch and pitchfork. They bolster our point of view and menacingly provoke the other side. The problem is, we all live in the same village. Spewing garbage on the Internet is tearing us apart.
But there is hope. Upset by Caitlyn Jenner being hailed as a hero, Terry Coffey went in search of an image to prove his point. His meme showing one solider carrying another in battle quickly went viral. When Coffey researched the origin of the photo in order to give proper credit, he discovered an ironic twist. The image came from a film produced by a cross dresser who had once been nearly beaten to death. On his own Facebook page, Coffey says, “Hate helps nothing. Love wounds no one. And God heals all. (And irony makes us think.)
Like the hero in Jabberwocky we must take our “vorpal sword in hand,” and “snicker-snack” through the lies that grow up in snarls throughout the “tulgey wood” of social media. The health of our country depends on it.