What defines us? Is it our successes or our failures that define us? Or maybe a combination of both that determines how we feel about ourselves.
We’ve all seen the headlines “Red Wine Promotes a Longer Life”, espousing the virtues of having a glass of red wine every day. Then, next week we see the headline “Alcohol Shortens Life”, referring to the “study” that people who drank even small amounts of alcohol had a shorter life expectancy. The same crazy pontifications happen all the time with coffee, right? Good for us one day, gonna kill us the next.
Everyone is a journalist these days (even me, lol). It’s SO easy to get your opinion out there and get it published on the web. Websites look for content that will attract our attention (eyeballs) and get the most amount of “clicks” (click-bait). Why? Because our click equals money today. The more clicks, the higher the advertising fees.
So recently, this article appeared in my feed: “MAGA Mailbomber Had Home Foreclosed”. Turns out the man who sent the bombs to the Democratic leaders last year went through foreclosure and bankruptcy after the 2008 financial crisis, just like several million other Americans. But the inference of this click-bait title is that there was a connection between being a bomber and being foreclosed upon. Clearly, the editor saw the opportunity to get clicks and exploited it.
It reminds me of the 1980s, when a serial killer on Long Island was caught. The headline inferred a connection between his serial murdering ways and having been adopted, because years ago another serial killer had been adopted as well. So, let’s see…that’s two out of how many hundreds?
How about the “Divorcee Strangles Ex” headline in the NY Post or the National Enquirer (the ultimate click-baiter and grocery store eyeball catcher), which defines a divorced person as being broken and deranged, simply because they were divorced.
We must be mindful of what we ingest on a daily basis, because there’s always someone out there who has not walked a “mile in our moccasins” who might be espousing something definitive that they can’t possibly understand, but think they have the right to pass judgement on.
A good example is the white man writing about what Native Americans “need to do” to solve the challenges they face. How would he know? Maybe if they “acted more white” is what is being inferred. It seems that every school and fire department can have electronic billboards in front of their buildings, but the Shinnecocks aren’t supposed to put them on their land? Snap.
Just like millions of others, I am divorced. And just like millions of others, I filed for personal bankruptcy and my house went into the foreclosure process during the Great Recession. Just like millions of others, I was adopted and was blessed to come into a loving and supportive family.
I believe in the saying “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” I’ve marched through life’s setbacks just like millions of you have. We may be battle scarred, but we’re certainly not broken. We enjoy our lives and our work and have many great relationships. We are strong!
Let’s not allow anyone who makes their living through click-baiting to define us or our neighbors by our less-than-perfect life experiences, just because we haven’t played it safe or enjoyed the same degree of entitlement and good fortune that they may have thus far in their lives. Karma is powerful. Spread it good and spread it wide.
Be a YIMBY for housing and diversity!
Michael Daly is an East Ender and regular contributor to The Beacon on community issues he cares passionately about. He can be reached at 631.525.6000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org