Calling Out BS in the Google Age
This past weekend, I had the entire family over, mostly to watch our beloved football team in the playoffs, but also to have one last meal before my youngest son returned to his Spring semester at college. Now whenever my children (all in their twenties) get together, it can be a rather loud, rough-and-tumble affair, filled with debates and spirited banter. Competitiveness runs high in this family, and with an added layer of our ethnicity’s tendency to “discuss loudly” and passionately, the result is not for the faint of heart.
The wide range of topics my kids argued passionately over discussed are of little relevance to this post. I was more intrigued by modern-day tactics available to them in being able to call out BS. It seems that in these modern times, whenever anyone makes a statement that another disagrees with, out comes the iPhone, and a quick Google search to find a citation or reference in order to prove or disprove a point. It was an epic battle of the iPhone and search engine apps. Each was fact-checking statements of the other in real time while the discussions were bubbling away. The thumbs were getting as much of a workout as the mouths.
It made me think about how very different things were regarding debates and discussions in our day and age. I made this observation to them, whereupon they asked me, how did we check our facts and figures back then? It made me think a bit. I managed to tell them that we relied a lot more on memory, drawing from things we may have read or perhaps heard from others, but the reality is, we oftentimes didn’t really take the time to fact-check, as precious few of us visited local libraries on a regular enough basis to consult the tomes of knowledge in painstaking detail. Their collective sentiment and comment was, “So, you basically were able to bullshit everyone a lot more than today.” Ouch!
All of this leads me to the following questions:
Did we really BS each other more in the past, when we were reasonably confident that most folks we discussed matters with were not inclined to check out the accuracy of our statements? Were we more cocksure in our statements? Did we exaggerate more?
Are we more careful in these modern times to make statements because of the ability for someone to immediately call BS?
Have at it folks – I’m interested in what you all think.