“Writers are, in a way, very powerful indeed. They write the script for the reality film. Kerouac opened a million coffee bars and sold a million pairs of Levis to both sexes. Woodstock rises from his pages. Now if writers could get together into a real tight union, we’d have the world right by the words. We could write our own universes, and they would be as real as a coffee bar or a pair of Levis or a prom in the Jazz Age. Writers could take over the reality studio. So they must not be allowed to find out that they can make it happen. Kerouac understood long before I did. Life is a dream, he said.”
~William S. Burroughs in “Remembering Jack Kerouac” (1985), included in The Adding Machine : Selected Essays (1993), p. 180
You have the power. Now write it.
*Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com
I know this has been used so much it has become a cliche — “With great power comes great responsibility.” Spiderman’s Uncle Ben sure hit a nerve there, even though he wasn’t speaking of social media but more about his nephew’s atomic spidery- superpowers. (Oh, so ICK!!! I have a thing about spiders. But I’ma let it pass for the sake of this argument. The things I do for you people!!!!)
Case in point:
I saw a posting on Facebook about DirecTV telling their customers in Joplin, MO in the wake of the devastating tornado they would have to turn in a box or remote in order to cancel their service or be charged a $500 penalty fee.
I don’t reside in Joplin, nor am I a DirecTV subscriber. But this caught my attention because I don’t live all that far from Joplin, and am in fact living in what is known as “Tornado Alley”. There but for the grace of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and all that. I have spent many an anxious moment in my bathtub waiting for my roof to be blown off and to be transported on an unscheduled visit to Oz.
However, before I reposted such information, I needed to verify it. Because, what if it wasn’t true? Then DirecTV is painted with the Asshole brush, and if the rumor is false, that’s hardly fair.
So I employed my Mad Social Media Skillz.
I posted on Twitter and asked if anyone could verify the truth of this rumor. I posted on Facebook and asked the same thing. I visited the Joplin, MO Recovery page on Facebook, and asked. DirecTV started following me on Twitter and at first gave inconclusive answers, but I persisted. I wanted a “yes” or “no” answer. I finally got one this morning. Here is the recap:
There’s a rumor going around Facebook that residents of Joplin, MO with DirecTV services were being told unless they turned in a box/remote in the wake of the tornado, they would be assessed penalty fees of $500 for cancellation of services. I ran this down as far as I could — DirecTV followed me on Twitter and I received this response to my question about the situation:
“Absolutely not; we do not want to make things any more difficult for them than what they are already going through.”
I also posted the question and responses from DirecTV on the Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery page on FB. No one has confirmed the rumor, and this was posted:
“Camille Ramsey: If anyone who’s (sic) equipment was damaged by the tornado in Joplin has a CSR (Customer Service Rep) tell them that they will be billed for the equipment, they need to be asking for a supervisor, because that would be incorrect info. As per guidelines for natural disasters, once an area has been determined to be a natural disaster area, equipment lost/damaged during the natural disaster is to be at no cost to the customer for replacement. I am a Directv employee of over 5 years.”
So there you have it. Don’t mindlessly re-post stuff without first checking it out. Social media is a powerful weapon. Unfortunately, too many people will copy and paste the negative rumor, never checking it out for themselves. Like sheep.
Now, I just spent at least four hours chasing down this one rumor. Time I should have spent working, time I will never get back. And what do I get out of it? A free subscription to DirecTV for a year? I’m not even a customer. How about a t-shirt? Nope. Didn’t get anything, don’t want anything. What I did get is a feeling of satisfaction of keeping my integrity intact and not just copy and pasting information because it’s out there and it SOUNDS titillating.
If you’ve been involved with social media for any length of time whatsoever, you have to be more than aware of its astounding reach. A rumor like this could really destroy a company, or at least do some damage. You have to consider the source, take time to verify the info otherwise don’t friggen’ post, okay? Not all links take more than a minute to check out, but jeezum fecking cheeto, be responsible.
Otherwise, we’ll have to revoke your spidey-powers.
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