Here's the Scoop: September 14, 2011

Out of the loop
The passage of time has taken a tiny bit of the sting away following the August 28 flood that created unprecedented destruction in many local communities. With enough distance having passed since the flood, it’s even possible to recall a few lighthearted moments in the events that followed the flooding.

There’s certainly nothing funny about the tremendous losses that so many people suffered, but some of the wild rumors were pretty amusing — once they were discovered to be false. The amount of “Business XYZ is totally wiped out” reports were stunning. In some cases the businesses in questions suffered nothing more than a wet roof. But, the stories were impressive.

And, with the magic of blogging, a kernal (or less) of truth quickly turned some tales into stories of epic proportions. After all, if it’s on the Internet, it must be true.

About a week after the flood, I actually found myself in the eye of a mini-storm of controversy. It seems that someone was questioning my alleged involvement in a website established to provide “official” announcements of flood-related matters in the Town of Middletown.

This online forum had a long string of posts questioning the authenticity of this site. The real problem, it seems, is that questions were being raised about the links to flood relief donations. This site could be a scam, it was suggested by at least one blogger.

Impersonation?
I no longer have the online posts, but I recall that one of the participants billed himself as “Reasonable Citizen.” And there was a lengthy discourse whether RC (as I like to call him or her) was, in fact, me.

After reading a bunch of this fascinating back-and-forth, I excitedly told my wife, “Honey, someone thinks I’m reasonable!” She, of course, wasn’t buying that for a second.

I’m proud to say that I also had some friends who got involved in the online discussion. Several of them boldly stated to the doubting bloggers: “Brian is NOT Reasonable!” It made me feel warm and fuzzy.

Wait, maybe it was the fact that my friends also hotly disputed the idea that I would be involved in an alleged scam to steal money from flood victims that was so encouraging.

Entertaining stuff
Anyhow, the cyberspace banter went on and on. Just in case they had an inkling of doubt about my being Reasonable, I sent messages to my stalwart defenders emphasizing that, they were 100% correct in arguing that I am NOT Reasonable. I think this fact may have resulted in some online bonding between friends.

But, I still hadn’t shared this information with the general public. Following these absurd exchanges was my version of Reality TV. Without the TV. Or the Botox and implants.

Ultimately, I became bored with the whole episode. Or, maybe I simply felt really sorry for the folks who had nothing better to do than to post online comments about someone most of them had never met.

I guess it’s the blessing/curse part of the Internet Age – where folks repost news written by others and are “journalists.” And the general public adds commentary to news events — and these words are taken as facts.

Heck, I guess everyone with an Internet connection is a journalist these days. Let’s just hope their writing is Reasonable.
— Brian Sweeney