So how many of you thought the full moon was last Friday the 13th?
If you’re on Facebook, you might have – because, if you have more than three friends, you probably saw this:
It was on the walls of several of my friends’ pages, and was spreading like virtual mono at band camp. (If you’ve been, you know.)
But if you’re reading this any time near May 21, and it happens to be dark, go look outside.
Yep, the full moon wasn’t last week. It’s actually Saturday.
Now, I already knew this because I work in HR, and…well…people are nuts. And we know that the most disruptive, unpredictable, off-the-wall things happen right before and during the full moon. We track it within our department so we can ensure we’re well-stocked with survival tools (chocolate and wine, obvs) in advance.
But last week, pretty much everyone was thinking the full moon was Friday the 13th. If you’d looked outside to verify this, though, you’d have seen the First Quarter Moon instead. (Which looks like a half-moon. Because geometry* is stupid.)
However, nobody actually goes outside anymore, especially when what you need can be obtained on the interwebs quickly, easily, and without needing to wear pants. So if you hopped on Google, you’d quickly come up with a most excellent – and reliable – link like the Farmers’ Almanac. Or this handy site that has more information on the Moon’s phases than most of us will ever need. (Trust me. I’m over
40 35 and have never needed 98% of this, nor has it mattered whether Pluto was a planet, a dog, or…wait, what IS Pluto, anyway? A pet rock?)
Anyway, the point here is that the moon phases are EASILY verified. Yet it was super-simple for the social media Pied Piper to blow a tune and make us dance. Even one of my team members questioned me when I reminded her that the full moon was coming up. “Wasn’t it last week? Facebook said…”
Why were we so quick to believe a cartoon?
Because…it was there.
This face-value acceptance happens with email, too.
Back story: I actually have a very simple email address – my Gmail addy doesn’t have any funky letters after my name. This is because I got on the Gmail train when there were only a couple hundred people trying it out. See, years ago, I was networking with an HR professional at Google. She was hitting up her peers looking for some folks to try this new beta email program they were testing called “Gmail.” So I got on THAT plane early, before all the aisle seats were taken.
It’s kind of cool. I’m, like, an email hipster, yo. <dons dark glasses and on-point denim>
But now that there are over 900 million Gmail users, it’s become a lot harder to create a unique Gmail address. Consequently, a lot of folks accidentally “forget” those extra letters when signing up for online offers, applying for jobs, and emailing long-lost relatives. The result is that I get a lot of misdirected emails. Like this one:
Now, the only Jason I know is the first guy I held hands with back in 8th grade, while we were watching one of the Hellraiser movies.
I was pretty sure it wasn’t him…so I decided to play along.
Keeping it surreal, folks. Keeping. It. Surreal.
I don’t toy with all the misdirects – there are simply too many – so I usually just tell them they need to check their work. Like this one from earlier this week:
Do I LOOK like a Sr. Ortiz? (The answer is no. Smarta$$.)
So I wrote back – politely, this time, sans zoo animals, informing her that she had the wrong email.
She wrote back:
Okay. Word’s clearly out that I’ve been visiting psychics…but sadly, I couldn’t pick Sr. Ortiz out of a crowd of two unless one was my daddy.
I try again:
First day on the Internet, huh?
Time to shut this one down.
She seems to be gone now. But she was SO CERTAIN that this email address (which in zero way resembles anything that sounds like Ortiz whatsoever) belonged to Sr. Ortiz. Nothing I said, or wrote, was gonna convince her otherwise.
Her mind was made up.
Speaking of which….this actually happened just a couple of nights ago:
I was sitting on the sofa, attempting a conversation with the hubs, when suddenly he changed the subject entirely to share this riveting news story:
Him: So I hear there’s this sheriff in Tennessee who’s being sued – he was using his position as sheriff to push his religious beliefs on his department.
Him: He posted religious messages on social media, too…and actually SELECTIVELY DELETED messages from people who disagreed with him. You can’t do that!
Me: <furrows brow, waits for more>
Him: And now he’s actually COUNTER-SUING, claiming he’s being persecuted.
Me: <cocks head>
Him: That’s just ridiculous. You can’t use your job as sheriff to blast your religion!
Me: Um…<thinking I missed something> What…did he actually…do?
Him: <looks at me for clarification>
Me: What did he post? What did he delete? What actually…happened here?
Him: I…don’t actually know.
The hubs had received a notice of this lawsuit via email from American Atheists. The email, which he shared with me, listed the allegations, and was essentially asking for contributions to support the lawsuit. And yes, there were links connecting to more information. As one might expect, they weren’t exactly neutral.
The least slanted link is here, and it does provide examples of what the sheriff posted. There are some definitively Christian posts. Do I think these are appropriate for a public officer to make on what appears to be a public page? Not all of them, no. There’s a post about Easter that references Bible verses and the “He Is Risen”message – that does feel exclusionary to me. (I celebrate the Christian Easter, but certainly recognize that it’s mostly candy and bunnies for a lot of folks. And if candy didn’t make me fat, it would be SO about the candy up in my pie hole. Mmm….candy….)
Anyway. Some of the posts I’m cool with. There are references to more generic prayer, and the phrase “God bless you.” I generally don’t take offense to stuff like this. Even if you don’t believe in that particular entity, it’s a well-wish, like “Blessed Be” or “Shalom” – it’s not like he’s saying “God smite you.” (I am totally gonna start using that, though.) And if you tell a kid that you hope Santa is good to him this year, you’re not saying YOU believe in the fat man dropping down your chimney, right? (Which, when I put it that way, sounds like one of those horrible IBS commercials, and now I have ruined the image of “leaving presents under the tree” for everybody.) On that note – is wishing someone a Merry Christmas exclusionary? Not to a shopping mall. Sure, there CAN be a Christian component to it, but our credit card bills testify to the big sack o’secular in Christmas.
Note, though, that there’s a lot of information missing from these links. While I do think the sheriff crossed a line, I haven’t seen what he felt he needed to delete from the page. According to this link, the sheriff says he removed those posts that weren’t “family-friendly”. What does that mean, exactly? Were they posts simply pointing out the desire to see more diverse viewpoints represented? Or were they filled with F-bombs?
Unfortunately, we don’t know, because neither team is serving up those posts for us to swing at.
We don’t have the whole story.
Now, I don’t want to get into a big religious debate here. I’m all about Team Coexist, and I think that intelligent people can have VERY different beliefs and can make the best choices for THEM.
Then again, I have purple hair, a nose ring, and I drink wine and swear a lot.
So I might not be the example you wanna follow. Or maybe I am. I’m cool either way, bro.
I’m also cool if you disagree with some of my thoughts on the subject. I respect that you’ve had different life experiences and will offer a different perspective. I hope you share your thoughts with me so we can have some intelligent, respectful dialogue.
Bottom line: We can’t coexist if we can’t listen to each other. We can’t hear anything if our personal biases work like noise-cancelling headphones to filter out different opinions.
And, most importantly, we won’t learn anything if we don’t attempt to objectively approach information. Especially opinions that are presented to us as – or in the absence of – facts.
And this is where the hubs took his bias bus and drove it solidly into the curb.
He got the email, saw “Christianity”, and reacted.
The sheriff is Christian. Therefore, the sheriff is WRONG.
There were some links included in the email. He didn’t even read them.
As far as he was concerned, that sheriff was tried, judged, and convicted.
And this – this right here – is why he and I cannot have an honest, intellectual conversation about religion.
Because as soon as you insert religion into the playlist, all he can hear is the familiar tune of his mental Pied Piper, who played the song “Christianity” and watched him pirouette.
To be completely fair, he recognized pretty quickly what he’d done. He went back to his laptop, pulled up the email, and started to do some homework on the issue.
But once that conclusion cake’s in the oven, it’s really, really difficult to pull it back out and add more sugar or more chocolate. It only takes a few minutes for batter to chemically transform, and it’s unbelievably messy to convert it back into batter again.
And today, I don’t like the smell of what he’s baking.
Cake makes me fat, anyway.
So, today, as you’re scrolling through your many social media sites, chatting with family, or watching the news, remember your bias.
And if your personal Pied Piper is blatting too loudly, shove some cake up his flute and tell him to choke on it while you rework your playlist.
*P.S. I used the word “sheriff” TEN times in this post, and if it weren’t for spellcheck, it would’ve been wrong all ten times. English spelling is also dumb.