Saturday, December 12, 2015

Dear Internet: Stop killing already-dead actors

In the daily current of data that flows through our various social media spigots, this one was easy to miss. I tend to ignore celebrity culture for a whole lot of reasons - please don't make me go into it here, though, as it'll give me hives - so I didn't immediately pick on the fact that Harry Morgan was showing up far more often than would be considered normal for a no-longer-top-tier-actor.

On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a whole bunch of other platforms (I read 'em all), folks were reposting the sad news that Mr. Morgan, perhaps best known as Colonel Sherman Potter on the old M.A.S.H. television series - and if you really want to date yourself, Dragnet), had died. Each share seemed to generate its own little tsunami of social media-fed kinda-mourning:

  • "So sad."
  • "I didn't know he was sick."
  • "Loved him in M.A.S.H."
  • "I can't believe how many actors died this week!"
Lost in all of this is the fact that Mr. Morgan passed away in 2011. And every year around this time, the social media sphere erupts in yet another round of faux-and-misplaced grief. This week it was the M.A.S.H. guy. Next week it might be Dana Plato. Or Ernest Borgnine. Or Gopher.

I'm just kidding about Gopher. Fred Grandy, who played the purser on the ghastly Love Boat before becoming a congressman and radio show host, is still very much alive. But I wouldn't put it past the Internet to kill him, anyway. Because folks are too busy to actually read and learn, and can't be bothered to confirm anything with a quick Google search or Wikipedia read before hitting the Share or Retweet button.

So I posted this - to Twitter and Facebook, of course:
And it touched off quite the little beehive of activity and frank discussion. Which made me happy. At first. Until I thought about it and realized everyone who jumped into the conversation was already in the group that would take the time to double-check a fact before sending it to a broader audience.

In other words, I was preaching to the converted. Which means the vast majority of folks in Facebookistan, Twitterville and Instagramburg will continue to forget-and-forward. Le sigh.

We live in an era awash in information. Knowledge, insight and focus, unfortunately, remain in short supply.


MissMeliss said...

Irony: I did repost that piece after clicking through, despite the person who posted before me being someone I typically trust, and the site the article was posted on had that day's date. I'm usually the one who provides snopes links and debunks stuff. In my defense, I hadn't slept much the previous two days, AND I was hopped up on cold meds.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

As a society that consumes social media without a lot of thought, this isn't too surprising; however, it is annoying. We tend to scroll through news feeds (both real news and social media) with only "half a brain" -- perhaps while attending a child's soccer game or other event -- and by not paying attention to details, we are missing so much. I see it in the political arena as well, where so many jump to conclusions and vitriol.

Facebook has that feature where you can post a memory from that particular date in the past, and I occasionally use it... which is why I was congratulated for my new grandson AND the engagement of his parents in the same week. I thought it was too obvious to be mistaken, since I've been tagging them in my posts. I suppose the good news is, I now know that he was born four years after their engagement week.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

This is living proof that people have given up reading newspapers.. and the excuse for not reading the news can not be that 'we're too busy'... apparently people aren't too busy to keep up w/social media or whatever scrolls thru their phones. People do seem to pay attention to tragedy (death), destruction.

Lisa Shafer said...

I love the irony of the instant communication of social media being used to spread years' old news. :)