I am, by my own admission, a busy person and it surprises me that I have had the time to discover several ways to waste time.
Browsing Facebook is, at least for me, one of those ways.
But, not being one to give up such time wasting activities lightly, I decided to check out Facebook the other day.
I scrolled down the usual ‘friend’ list and noticed that lots of my friends are out of the country, fleeing to parts of the world that boast sun, sea, and more of the same.
Wearing a heavy turtleneck sweater and slacks that are discretely lined to keep the winter’s chill at bay even though I was sitting in my office, I paused momentarily, struggling between feeling extremely envious, only slightly envious and completely happy for them.
The battle didn’t seem to resolve itself so I scrolled on.
It’s when I come to a post literally slamming the media because of stories regarding the recent cases of measles that have been reported in Vancouver that I stop.
I read the post and I re-read it.
And as the words spill off the page and imprint themselves in my brain, that little voice in the back of my head reminds me that before I went on Facebook I was in a very good mood, and I was feeling quite productive and useful.
Now, I feel none of those things.
I feel angry.
Apparently the media had used the word ‘outbreak’ when there were few cases of measles reported.
Apparently the media sensationalizes and is guilty of fake news.
As I read the words thoughts tumble around in my head like yesterday’s laundry, but one thought stands out.
Loss of even one human life due to not being vaccinated is, in no way, shape or form, sensationalizing anything.
I think of my own children. It was long ago and I was young, immature and knew nothing about the great adventure I was about to embark on called motherhood. But, one thing I knew for sure.
My babies would acquire the best protection I could give them against common childhood diseases such as measles.
It was my responsibility as a mother, no different than getting up in the morning to care for them when I would much rather have stayed in bed, or giving them wings to fly away when every fibre of my being wanted to keep them safely in the nest.
For me, personally, the post not only slammed my beliefs as a mother, it mocked and ridiculed my profession, a profession that I truly love.
When I was a fledging reporter, I walked into an unknown mine field, but I walked in willingly. I was naive, but ready to learn. I was inexperienced, but ready to get experience.
Along the way I had some wonderful teachers.
They sometimes yelled. They had volatile personalities that got ridiculously out of control on deadline day.
They insisted on only a few things.
Check your facts. Check your sources. In a Troy Media column I read the other day, the columnist noted that there was a sign on the newsroom door that said, check your facts, check everything, if your mother says she loves you, check it out.
Humorous, but a point not to be made lightly.
I heard once how a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing and I think about how fake news, like a rumour started as a tiny bit of knowledge, can spread 10 times faster, indeed 100 times faster than legitimate news stories.
And I think of all my days in the newsroom when I was taught by people much wiser and more experienced than me to check my facts, not once, but twice and even one more time.
And I think about a profession that has been tainted by reports of fake news and sensationalism and I think about Facebook and suddenly that little voice in my head becomes even more loud and clear.
“Don’t waste your time!”