Seeing is believing, but do you believe what you see? This is a conundrum for many people. Why? Mostly because a high level of cynicism has crept into our daily lives. The way we see things and react to them.
It could be attributed to the political environmental, past or present. Or distrust of many of our most cherished institutions (CIA, FBI, banks, corporations and others). Or maybe because of the Internet.
Now I know what you're thinking. I couldn't care less about computers, websites or any iThing. That's my stone age rep. And that's why I included the Internet in things people often distrust. But you're wrong. That's not why I included the Internet. Let me explain, and when I do you'll believe what you're seeing. What I'm saying.
The blog is a major culprit in this. It's a blot on the way people often get information. Bloggers offer messages on all matter of things, not necessarily factual or truthful. And that's the rub. People read the blogs and believe what they see, because seeing is usually believing.
Does that sound too simplistic? Not really, because it's often affirmed when the story goes viral (there's no antibiotic for that), and when the mainstream media, YouTube and other websites pick up the story. Is it fact or fiction? Often, the lines are blurred, because the talking heads, the pundits, discuss the merits of the story, ad infinitum. That gives it an aura of legitimacy.
Then there's the rub. After 48 hours the truth be told that the story was either false or a pure hoax. A figment of a blogger's creative imagination. Being truthful was not his goal. Stirring the pot for ideological or political reasons, or just to get attention, was the goal. ut for your part, seeing was believing. And when the story was proved to be false, you couldn't believe what you believed. Here's a blog I created to make my point:
A man was discovered living on top of an 18,000-foot mountain in Nepal. He was 125 years old and lived solely on bread and Diet Pepsi. The bread (Arnold's Jewish rye) and the diet soda were delivered every two weeks by a novice monk riding a yak. Both items reaching the old man religiously. Even at 18,000 feet he was able to breathe normally without oxygen (a tube was inserted in his neck).
The story goes viral with a special segment on "60 Minutes" and a 2-page article in the New York Times Magazine. Now it had to be truthful, right? And you believed what you saw. It seemed incredulous, but think who's covering the story. You believe everything you see. That's only natural. And that's my point.
Then there's the illusionist, the magician that makes you believe what you see, but find it hard to believe what you're seeing. The elephant that disappears right before your eyes. The locomotive that appears out of nowhere. Are you really believing what you see, even though you can't believe what you're seeing? The real question is how does he do what you are seeing? How can you really believe it when deep down you know it's unbelievable? It's only an illusion, right? Are you disillusioned? Hardly. It's magic. Entertainment.
However, you can see it's not always the way things are. We all tend to believe what we see, but often don't always believe what we see. Don't despair, because my point in this column was to get you to believe that you've been reading about seeing is believing is often a puzzlement.
One more thing to ponder. Don't be trapped by the simple idea that seeing is believing. No need to check your eyes, but keep your mind open to check out anything that seems hard to believe, even though seeing it is perfectly clear.
See you around the water cooler. Believe it.
- - -L.C. Goldman is a Naples novelist who has published 4 books. His latest novel, "The Fighting Ethnics," is available at Barnes & Noble. His column will appear the third Friday of every month in the Citizen.