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"The sky is not falling, nor likely to."

I got punked this week. Well, I might have actually punked myself. I read this finely-written article which a trusted source had posted. I found the arguments provocative and convincing. The piece maintained that steady voice I've grown to trust. It turned out to be complete bullshit, especially engineered to punk people like me. You see, I'm at root a BigChicken. I am not generally confident or particularly assertive. I keep a low profile, over-thinking my way through issues. I'm more likely to check twice before believing any house is really on fire. I might be more concerned about over-reacting than I am about missing any BIG news. I'm no ChickenLittle. My sky has never fallen so far. I feel no compelling need to incite any passionate reaction. I'm more observer than activist.

Some people, though, have gone into the business of inciting passionate reactions.
This shit sells, though it's most certainly more shit than Shinola®. It compels people to share. It's shocking, surprising, and so quite obviously true that it might seem somehow unpatriotic—inhuman, even— not to pass it on and around. When even a Big Chicken like me can catch himself yelling that the sky is falling, you can be confident that the sky ain't going' nowhere. I've tried to rid myself of the more meddlesome sources. I twenty years ago stopped watching anything (but baseball) offered on any Fox-affiliated television channel because I didn't want to contribute any sort of support to that most reliably unreliable news source. I don't even stick the tip of any of my toes into Twitter territory, which seems little more that an unsubstantiatable rumor mill. I check my sources carefully, but, it seems, not nearly carefully enough.

You see, I got punked this week. I mention this in the interest of full disclosure. As much as I might think of myself as a reliable source, some shit still seems able to get in through my apparently meager best defenses. You might find me sometimes raising a fuss about some falling sky and I appreciate those who care enough about me to call me out on my misconception then. I will, of course, reward your concern by restating my misconception more insistently. Excuse me if it seems that I'm speaking down to you then or if I'm taking my own newly-acquired perspective a little too seriously. Chicken Little got me. I should properly be the last one to know.

Fact is that I probably punked myself. I might have really needed something to share in that inattentive moment so that I could convince myself that I was still there somewhere within the sometimes overwhelming social media anonymity. I'd "discovered" something and that discovery left me feeling suddenly uncharacteristically powerful. This Big Chicken turned in that moment into a genuine Chicken Little. And in one significant way, that Chicken Little was absolutely correct, my sky WAS falling. The ceiling shrank down to shoulder height and quite properly left me on my knees pleading for forgiveness. I'd mistaken a shrinking horizon for an expanding one. There, this Big Chicken's owned it.

I've reserved a few choice words, though, for those who create this stuff. These folks are clearly more clever than I, capable of tugging strings I'm not even aware I have. They hold a deeply cynical world view, getting their jollies playing genuinely impractical jokes for fun and profit. We have a President who constantly declares Fake News, providing an unwitting service to us Big Chickens who might just know better than any Chicken Little. When he says, "Fake News!", the rest of us can feel fairly confident that he's referring to some deep truth that somehow embarrasses him, presuming, of course, that the clown is even capable of conventional embarrassment. Likewise with the revelatory reportage, those finely-crafted essays disclosing some long-held misconception. What's the real likelihood that Newton's proclamations were wrong for so long, especially after we somehow managed to employ them to successfully land a man-made craft from our Earth on the freaking face of Mars? Yea, me and my innumerate kind remain vulnerable to anyone making any argument by slinging greek symbols in our faces.

The sky is not falling, nor likely to. Naivety might at any time be falling. Likewise, scales before any Big Chicken's eyes.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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