Posted by: Mark Nielsen | December 22, 2011

Bon Jovi: “Not Dead Yet!” (Anatomy of a hoax)

I dropped the ball this week, friends. But I’m not alone.

(Yes, Virginia, there IS a Monty Python video for every blogging occasion. This makes three I have used in the past two weeks.)

First, here’s the response I posted to a Commenter at my original (and erroneous, though not slanderous) MT post about Jon Bon Jovi‘s cardiac arrest/coma/death/hoax:

I did not write the original Bon Jovi story, I foolishly re-posted the headline & link (I think just by hitting a Facebook button), without verifying the truth. I barely skimmed the material. Didn’t find out it was an internet hoax (my first to be burned by, btw) till a day or two later. Should have known better. Sorry folks. And rock on, Jon!

JBJ proves he's got a sense of humor about it all.

Secondly, here is a link to that much more “trustworthy” site, E! Online News, explaining how the tempest in a teapot about Bon Jovi’s death got started, and then unfolded over the course of two days:

E! Online

I feel so used. So icky. So corrupted. So, so…

Aw, so what?!

Does one celebrity more or less on the planet really matter THAT much? My own prior post, seen here, was actually not so much about Jon, but about just such an imbalance in American popular culture and trends. It galls me that the Bon Jovi fake death got as much if not more press than those of Czech president Vaclav Havel, atheist blowhard Christopher Hitchens, and North Korean kindly old grandmother Kim Jong-Il.

I got caught in the crossfire, though. Tried to play both sides of the fence: hook you with the popular stuff, then hit you with the serious news and commentary. At least– unlike that ridiculous headline that also mentioned Bon Jovi– I’m not trying to hook you to sell you some stock tips.

All this business about what’s trending, and why, actually makes my head hurt. It’s one of the reasons I still don’t tweet. We already have such short attention spans as children of the Fruity Pebbles generation. (Is Fred Flintstone still on that box?) Why make it worse?

On this point, I have borrowed one of my life mottos from my hero, Henry David Thoreau, father of the civil disobedience movement and therefore a likely great-great-grandfather of the Occupy movement. In his best-known book, Walden, he said this:

“Read not the Times, but the eternities.”

In other words, pay LOTS of attention to that man behind the curtain. Don’t let them yank your chain, or pull your lever, or tell you that what’s important today will be important forever.

And when you make a mistake and get suckered into an internet hoax, forgive yourself, forgive each other, and move on.

What are you still doing here? Move along, people. Nothing to see here.


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