Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Sceptical or cynical?

By now, everyone online, and most people reading any old media outlet, would have come across the story of the gay teenager's dad writing him an understanding and supportive note about his plans to come out.

As far as I can see, this  first surfaced on FCKH8's Facebook last Friday and since then has been posted, reposted, shared and talked about absolutely every-fucking-where.

Heart-warming as it is, I have my doubts about the veracity of this story.  Lots of things don't really add up.

Primarily, if it were true, given that this picture has gone round the world several times and made it to every single old media outlet, the people involved would have been identified by now and put on a pedestal.  I really, truly, want to know how this got online, who posted it,and WHY?

Is it cynical of me to have that as a first thought? I love stories of human courage, compassion and love as much as the next person, and I REALLY TRULY wish this were true, but I prefer to focus on genuine ones, and this stinks of being manufactured to me so I refuse to share it any more than I do well constructed heart warming short stories or novels. 

After two days of intensive searching, I've still not discovered anything approaching an original source - all provenance claims are just going round in circles. And that is a truly bad sign of a manufactured meme designed to go viral rather than a genuine story. 

This story has sent FCKH8's profile stratospheric, and that is probably a good thing. However, the question I ask is, is fabrication of a morally "upright" parable that is being presented as a true story and plays on public gullibility, valid as a method of engendering public interest, attention and action?

There are enough truly great coming out stories with real identifiable people at their core, why is this one, that stinks of fakeness, the one that everyone has latched on to? 

Am I the only one who thinks this isn't real? And am I the only one who is concerned that every single professional media outlet is repeating it non-critically?  Why have the media, who are so good at dragging up every little tidbit of scandal and can identify people in the news on the flimsiest of basic information, not bothered to try to discover all the ins and outs of this story but just repeat it parrot-fashion?


  1. For me, there isn't any point in thinking it isn't real. For now, it gives me a warm feeling, and hope for the future. It has touched a lot of people and for some families, raised awareness and maybe made a few kids lives better. If it turns out fake later, then I will deal with that disappointment then. But even so, I believe it will have accomplished more good than harm. Btw, you ask why the media hasn't tried to ascertain the people involved, but from what I have read, there have been been attempts, and the family involved does not want any publicity. So no money is exchanging hands, no television shows, no interviews, etc. If the worst thing about this is that it raised the profile of a website, then I can live with that.

    1. We all have a tough time sometimes distinguishing between truth and fantasy so I believe it is incumbent on the media to be very careful about what they claim to be true. The "dodgy dossier" on the basis of which Tony Blair took the UK into a war is being questioned yet again about having been even more of a fabrication than was previously imagined.

      There is more than enough gullibility out there and so I wonder if perpetuating stories and urban legends which it is very easy to demonstrate are fake is a good thing for the media to be doing, whether or not they have an axe to grind.

      Maybe it's because of my personal skirmish (or should that be squirmish? TM Sarah Palin) with the press a few years ago (see blogs passim) when I was done an injustice because NONE of several professional journalists working independently of each other on a trivial story could get very simple facts right. All they had to do was look one tweet earlier in Stephen Fry's timeline before blowing up a trivial twitter spat into an international incident.

      if the press (who are trained to be analytical and spot flaws in stories and arguments) don't question the internet stories they perpetuate, what hope have the rest of us got?

      I have seen absolutely nothing about any attempts to trace the family in question, could you share anything you have read about them trying to remain anonymous, please? (frankly, I smell yet more press bullshit)