My son, Paul will turn 40 this fall. Now, unless I can convince people that it is common for a child of 10 to give birth, this is as big a deal for me as it is for him. Part of me clings to the wonderful boy who presented me with a box full of snakes -"They’re so little mom, can’t I keep them in my bedroom?" – who told me it was okay if I stood up in front of church and talked "as long as you’re not going to be bad at it" and who never backed away when I asked for a kiss. But he is not a boy any more, he is a man. A tall, handsome, smart, compassionate, 40 year old man who presented me with my first grandchild, Quinn.
Quinn is now 7 and so much like his father it makes my heart ache in the most lovely way. Quinn adores and participates in sports – hockey, soccer, and flag football so far. He loves when we show up for games, asks me to tell one more story about his dad when he was little, and, like his father, never backs away when I ask for a kiss.
Today is Mother’s Day and Quinn walked into the restaurant carrying a card and, with a telling grin on his face, handed it to me back side up. The picture below graced the back of the envelope.
Now, just in case you can’t interpret 7 year old art, his story reads Quinn plus Josie (his sister – you can tell by the long hair) plus Elroy (his cousin, son of my daughter Miriam and son-in-law John) equals Ahma (more long hair) and love.
Okay, I’m will to give up the illusion of being a young mother with an adorable son for the reality of being an Ahma with 3 precious grandchildren. That’s love all right and a change I can live with!
What’s a person to do? Someone you love forwards an email. You read it with growing doubt that it’s actually true. So you create a subject, enter it in Google, and start reading the resulting search links. You were right – it wasn’t true, or maybe it was half true, or maybe it was true but really slanted to prove a point of view. Remember, it was sent by someone you love, who wants to believe it is true because that fits into their particular world view.
What would you do?
Changing people’s minds is one of the toughest tasks I can think of. Changing the mind of a people you love is fraught with big-time dangers. All the links to Urban Legends, Snopes, Scambuster you can send won’t do it if someone’s mind is made up. Those sources will just become suspect and part of the bigger conspiracy and you’ll be the one who sent it!
Which brings us to the worst part of the Internet. Pick a position, any position. Look for it on the world wide web. I’m betting you’ll find a source that agrees with you. See, you were right. If you went to the library (remember those?) you might have a tougher time finding some data to back up your pet theory – or that is, the pet theory forwarded to you by an acquaintance, a friend or a relative. You see those sources: books, magazines, and newspapers – went through an editorial process. Facts were checked, quotes confirmed, and references verified. Things on the Internet simply went through the fingers of someone versed in HTML.
So, there you are, reading that forward from that person you love a lot, and it’s not exactly true. I ask again, what would you do? Please respond, I’ve got this email in my in box…