Thursday, 6 May 2021

A Work Question and an Answer

Two posts today, I think, as I have been asked a questioning the combox that looks more like a cri-de-coeur than random criticism, so I answered it to the best of my ability.  

Here are question and answer, with my answer made more readable and slightly corrected.  

Anonymous said: 

I agree we need to be careful with what the Internet is doing to our brains. How do you square that sentiment with LSN sensationalism? My mom spends a couple of hours reading it every night and we barely speak anymore because she is so caught up in what I see as conspiracy theories. My aunt, who used to hardly be online at all, is caught up in it too along with apocalyptic sites. The fear and outrage really hook people and are dividing faithful Catholic families.


  1. Normally I don't respond to anonymous comments, and I try to keep this blog totally* separate from my work. However, I think you deserve a response. 

    First, it's the medium we need to be very concerned about, more than the content. "The medium is the message," as my fellow Canadian McLuhan had to say. One of the problems with internet news is that is it VERY hard for people to read all the way to the end, and often all they remember is the headline, the first paragraph, and maybe the most electrifying sentence or idea they perceive in the article. (I noticed yesterday that a reader in the LSN combox totally misremembered an article I wrote.) 

    Second, there are many voices out there, and different publications are giving space to different voices, just as the Toronto Sun (for example) has a different editorial stance on things than the Toronto Star (or to use a British example, the Telegraph vs the Guardian, and in the USA, WaPo vs. the New York Post.

    LSN definitely marches to the beat of a different drummer, as it were. It is one of the few online news sources that will, for example, refuse to recognise same sex legal arrangements as marriage. It is probably also the most-read online journal that asks uncomfortable questions about governments' responses to COVID-19, including the emphasis on mass-vaccination instead of on treatment. A free press means journalists and editors asking questions other journalists and editors don't want to ask. 

    Third, we are going through a very, very bad time--as Catholics, as Westerners, and as human beings, frankly. We've been frightened to death by governments and mass media for over a year and yet even a liberal literary magazine like The Atlantic has published evidence that we are very unlikely to catch COVID outdoors or from surfaces. A lot of the MSM (and governments) have simply got [some] things wrong and violated our rights in many places without need--or even evidence. In Scotland we were illegally (a court finally decided) stopped from attending public worship---openly, that is, since in Scotland as in other places some people simply went underground. 

    So. It's a bad time, and therefore I highly recommend not being part of the division. Listen to what your mother and aunt have to say, say that you are sorry that they are so frightened/upset, and ask them to go for a walk or do some other activity that will take their minds off what you see as conspiracy theories. 

    Personally, I do not discuss the controversies of the day with my family--and if we do talk about the Covid-19 vaccination program, I judge which information or opinion is least likely to upset a loved one. This is not as hard as it sounds, for in fact my family is "mixed"--my mother's parents were Protestants, and my sister-in-law is from the Orthodox tradition. Therefore, I am used to certain subjects being off the dinner table, as it were.

    *Not always successfully.

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