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Double Faced Media

October 11, 2011

As blog readers, we all know that there is a difference between what we read online and what actually goes on.  I like to think that I mostly tell the truth, but I leave out parts that could be unsafe (like telling you our full names, where we live, and when we’ll be out of our apartment) or needlessly unkind.  Forgive me for those, but I don’t imagine that I will be giving those rules up any time soon. There are other blogs, though, that have kind of gotten to me with how much they spin facts back and forth, and while I won’t name names, I am sure you can think of some you have read that fall into this categories.

The internet has always been filled with skepticism.  First with random emails, then chat rooms, then Facebook, then blogs.  I’m sure people were a little shaky on whether or not the cavemen were telling the truth on their cave drawings too.  I mean, was the mammoth really that big?  Did the spear really fly that straight?  Come on.  We have a tendency to over-exaggerate.  Somewhere along the lines, we learn that it gets us more attention, and for all of you attention whores out there, you know it works.  I don’t blame people for wanting more attention; that’s pretty much what the internet was invented for, right?  A place where a bunch of people who couldn’t talk to the real people in their lives could go and talk to random strangers about who they are and what they think.  Hey strangers!  But how much truth are we actually telling on here?

The first commonly stretched topic is money, or lack there of.  As a teacher, a newlywed, and a student loan-slave (but not my own!), our household budget is super important.  Can we afford to go out to eat?  Do we have enough money in our checking account to pay the bills and get gas this week?  So many others feel the same way.  Many blogs I read are written by people who may be unemployed, in college, their spouses are unemployed, they have kids, etc.  In short, we all think about money being pretty short.  The internet is an incredible place to learn about how to cut costs in various ways, but it can get lost in the moaning and groaning.  How can we hear about how money is in short supply in one blog post and then read about the great clothes you bought and the restaurants you ate at three times last week in the next posts?  How does that make sense?  I consider eating out and buying name brand clothes from the mall activities that you do when you are very secure in how much money you have, not things you just do because “you have to.”  Tell you what, internet.  There is nothing you “have to do” for your readers besides live, breathe, and occasionally write.  Seriously.  Buying clothes should come wwwaaaayyyy after paying bills, applying for jobs, getting hired, and providing for your family.  If you don’t have to worry about those aspects of life, awesome!  Then you don’t need to pretend your blog is about money problems.

I feel like morning TV shows have the same personality problem.  They are always talking about how the economy sucks and no one has money.  Which is pretty much true.  But, within two minutes of covering that, they put on a piece about the latest fashion trends and how “affordable” they are.  Dear Ann Curry, an outfit that costs $120 is not “so affordable.”  Some people only make that in a week, and they sure as heck wouldn’t just spend it on the newest way to wear stripes when you are fifty or older.

This sounds like a rant, which was not my exact intention, but what I want is for people to open their eyes to the real messages they are sending.  Yes, we all at one point or another go a little overboard in how we spend and what we say.  Even with those times, though, what we say about them sends a message about what we think about the world.  Here in Maine, one city is considering an ordinance that would ban all plastic grocery bags.  Customers would either have to bring in their own canvas bags or pay a fee to use paper grocery bags every time.  Great for the environment, but hold on a second.  What about families who can barely afford food as it is?  It’s unfair to expect them to shell out $1 a bag for either canvas or paper.  That dollar could mean the difference between everyone getting to eat a meal that day or part of the family going without.  We aren’t thinking about those people.  We aren’t thinking when we describe ourselves as “starving.”  If you think I’m kidding, check out the facts on the graphic below.In short, for the love of the written word, think before you write.  Be honest, be yourself, and be a friend to your fellow person.  Be nice.  Be real.

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