Cliff Notes may get you through high school, but not in the real world

So a friend of mine who’s very politically savvy and knowledgeable (if very partisan, but we all have our flaws 😉 ) posted a link to a recently-signed Executive Order on her Facebook page (the content of the doc is irrelevant to this post, but you can – and I encourage you – to read it here). The first two comments she received were “TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) – can you provide a precis?” and “could you provide us a summary?”

With all due respect to her friends, I see this more and more in various places on Facebook and across the ‘net – people (largely Americans, with our fast-food, “I want it my way and right now” philosophy) wanting a situation summed up in a sound bite. And then they use that one little summation as the basis for publicly promoting or condemning the entire thing. And it’s not only the general public – it’s our elected representatives as well. They open their big mouths without fully understanding a story, situation or issue and without checking the facts on it (my amusing example here). People scream about the media manipulating the populace, and it’s true, the media does – but with the populace’s full consent, because they’re doing just what the people want: “TL;DR, can you sum up the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in 10 seconds for me?”

Sorry folks, if you want to really understand something, whether it’s a gov’t document or War and Peace, you have to read it. Actually read the thing. Cliff notes or a 15-second blurb on the news isn’t going to do it. And no, I don’t expect everyone to have to read everything – you have to skim and prioritize what you want to know, and then focus on what really matters to you, but if the only information I have on an issue that’s important to me is a two-sentence summary or 10-second sound bite, I generally withhold judgement until I can find out more, if I care enough to.

I’m waiting for someone to ask for a “summary” of the Constitution…


About stoshk

Career military member, and for many years a registered Independent. I'm not a particularly type-A personality, and believe people can disagree on a topic while still being respectful of each other's opinion - everything doesn't have to be a "you're either with me or against me" philosophy. I DON'T believe everything is black or white, I DO believe most rules have exceptions, and most situations have to be judged on their own merit rather than following a blanket "party line." I DO believe that while elected officials do represent their districts and constituents, they also have an obligation to act for the greater good of the nation as a whole, and leadership should be by example, not a "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. I started this blog because I've reached a point where I feel many aspects of local, regional, national and global life are just plain disgusting me and I needed someplace to vent, and I've had enough positive feedback about the letters, notes and commentary on various subjects that I've posted to friends through email and/or social media that I thought this might be worth it - at least to me. Any and all comments, writings and postings in the blog are solely my opinion and absolutely do not represent the views of the U.S. Government and/or the Department of Defense.
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3 Responses to Cliff Notes may get you through high school, but not in the real world

  1. Erin says:

    I’d be happy if anyone even knew what the Constitution was!! 😉

    • stoshk says:

      I think it’s worse that people they know what the Constitution is – you hear people thinking they have a right to drive or right to fly, or while the Constitution absolutely guarantees free speech, they think they have a right to be listened to, and a right to not be offended.

  2. Erin says:

    Doh – didn’t subscribe to comments, I guess.

    Anyhow, I agree. We spent time this week discussing the Constitution and I made sure my kids were clear that the 1st amendment did NOT constitute a right to be heard. That made from some odd looks, but a good conversation. 🙂

    Also….people who think they have a right to anything they want because of the “general welfare” clause and the reps/sens who go along with it… Oy.

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