Doing this job, you develop a nose for bullshit, and there are times when the whiff of it is so strong that it overpowers everything else.
As a blogger I am sent an enormous amount of information every single day, and asked for a view on a variety of different stories and there are some of them that smell so fishy that I won’t touch them with a 20-foot pole.
I’ve spent the last ten years of my working life in the blogosphere and dealing with social media every single day.
It has brought me immense satisfaction but also no end of grief, and whilst I’m entirely happy in my work I am always aware that social media is a wide open space where the lunatics and sickos camp out all day every day, 24 hours, they never close.
It is the easiest place to start a rumour, even to seed an outright lie, and the hardest place to un-ring that bell.
Not only is it full of goons who revel in seeing other people made to feel uncomfortable but it’s also full of folk who believe the worst, always, because their own mind-set is poisonous and they see in every other person a reflection of that.
I have learned to take most things I see there with not with a pinch of salt but an entire sack of it.
I’ve also learned one truth that cuts through all the crap; trust none of this until you read it in a mainstream title, and even then be careful what you say and do next.
At a time when I am giving the press a harder time than ever before – they deserve it and let’s not forget that in what I’m about to say – let me tell you what it is that the hacks do well, what they do better than the bloggers, what they are capable of that we’re not.
The mainstream media can get to the truth of any rumour better than we can.
They can do this because they have resources we do not.
They can assign a team to investigate any claim.
They can knock on a door, flash a press card and print any response they get after another team – of lawyers this time – has looked it over and okayed it for publication.
Our criticism of these people is based on the stories they do not run and will not touch.
It is based on anger at them not doing their jobs, because when they are motivated to they can do those jobs very well, which is why it is exceptionally difficult to wave away a major new story when they run one on us.
Yet, history has proved we need to be careful even with those.
If the mainstream media isn’t all over an anti-Celtic internet rumour then you can be sure that’s what it is.
A rumour. Perhaps even a lie. Something grown on the floor of some Sevco chat-room.
What I’m trying to say is that it is easy to spread disinformation – even lies – on social media.
It is easy to misconstrue things and have them misconstrued.
A national newspaper would never run some of this stuff unless they had it locked down, and after they’d ask all the principal parties for a comment, and in the case of a major scandal they would probably get them from at least some of those who were involved.
The amount of trash on social media can overwhelm you at times.
People simply need to exercise better judgment about this stuff than they do.
To believe every bit of nasty minded gossip, to accept as fact every depraved story you come across is to set yourself up to be made to look like a mug and worse … to do mischief on behalf of others who will laugh at you as you do it.
Evil people will believe whatever they want to … but when the story in question threatens us with a major scandal my instinct is not to believe a word of it until I read it somewhere with more … credibility.
Because yes, this is where the press has some.
A good rule of thumb is to dismiss all this stuff as fictitious, and with evil intent.
Until, or until, it’s on a mainstream outlet, treat it as nonsense.
Even then … be careful.
If you think that the hacks would ignore some of this stuff or that their editors wouldn’t want them all over it then you’re mad.
If they won’t touch it then it’s speculative at best and at worst absolutely fabricated.