Don Quixote tilting at windmill. (Image: Flickr.com)

ZYTARUK: To discern is to learn

We tend to jump to conclusions as we click, click, click away on the Internet

So let it be written…

As George Harrison said, Beware of Darkness.

To say the Internet is a reliable source of darkness is so profoundly and self-evidently obvious a statement I’m half embarrassed to admit I just put it to ink.

But the web is also generous in the opportunities it affords us to hone certain important life skills, such as today’s word for the day, discernment.

Many years ago a philosophy professor of mine advised me to try to have one good idea each day. I’m not always successful but at least I try, and I encourage my sons to do the same.

I was told the other day about this story on the Internet concerning a young woman named Cassidy Boon who was rescued from drowning but returned the favour by suing the fellow who saved her life.

You see, as the story goes, this hero had the audacity to touch her dying body, without her consent, while she was unconscious and he was rescuing her, or, in her terms, exerting his patriarchal power over her.

What an ungrateful twit, I thought of this person who was saved from drowning. Another example of what’s wrong with this world, and, and, and and.

But after huffing and puffing about the idiocracy we are living in here in North America, I learned that this story about Ms. Boon was bogus, a fabrication, a total fiction that appeared on a website that specializes in satire.

No doubt many people took the hook, as did I, and still believe this story to be true. By now it is almost certainly in the realm of urban myth.

READ ALSO ZYTARUK: For those about to snore…

Satire is a great literary genre that holds the mirror to society to remind us how truly ridiculous we can be. It’s important. Don Quixote, Animal Farm, Candide, Gulliver’s Travels are classic examples, although they were published in times when people had, well, had time to mull over the underlying messages these books conveyed. Today, in our world of click-look-and-move-on, people tend to give a cursory, superficial glance, get enraged, rant and charge forward into the next banal story the Internet has to offer.

And repeat.

I like to think satire is not dead. Its utility cannot be denied. But today, more than ever, it has become a challenge to recognize satire because we tend to jump to conclusions as we click, click, click away on the Internet. We don’t seem to have time to think things through. Instead, we get angry, pontificate and move on to the next thing that raises our blood pressure. We foist our two cents on anyone whose eyes land on our comments. Some of us write terrible, hurtful, nasty things to and about strangers. We think we can climb into their heads, and set them straight. And if pain can be inflicted, great.

It’s all a shame, of course. But there is a silver lining in that the steady diet of banality we may encounter on the Internet affords us a bounty of opportunity to improve our abilities of discernment.

And that’s a good thing, of course.

So let it be done.

Tom Zytaruk is a staff reporter with the Now-Leader. Email him at tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Just Posted

Surrey-based group maps places to find affordable food

Surrey and White Rock Food Coalition targets food security

Youth and seniors learn from each other

Seniors Health Network launches intergenerational program in White Rock

Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society raises $8,000

Donations collected at Christmas event last week

Realtor blanket drive collects 360 bags of clothing

Annual event helps South Surrey and White Rock residents in need

VIDEO: Hundreds of volunteers collect, wrap toys in Surrey at Sikh elementary school

Guru Nanak Free Kitchen, Sikh Academy partner together on annual toy drive

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey, Langley and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Canucks score 3 power-play goals in 4-2 win over Oilers

Vancouver sniper Boeser has 6 goals in last 5 games

VIDEO: Giants head into holidays with a win at home

Vancouver G-Men don’t play next until Dec. 28, after 2-1 victory over Prince George Sunday.

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

VIDEO: Giants fall to Royals 4-2 in Victoria Saturday night

Second loss in as many days for G-Men, who are back home in Langley today to take on the Cougars.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

Most Read