Is everyone excited to hear that the Government’s Department of Homeland Security is creating a new Disinformation Governance Board? Lots of people have been weighing on the politics of this, but I have no interest in wading into those deep waters. I will only say “It’s About Darn Time!”
I am excited about this development because I am in possession of many little bits of disinformation that I have accrued over a lifetime and have not known what to do with them Until now! At long, long last there is a handy one-stop shop for such things.
For example, take gas prices (Please!) You have surely noticed how they add .9 cents to the price of every gallon (so that it is $4.19.9 cents per gallon). But they never show those .9s on the pump display! Shouldn’t I be able to buy, say, $13.19.4 of gas instead of having to buy enough to hit $13.20? And when everyone says how much they paid for gas, it is always “$4.19”. Nobody ever rounds up to $4.20, which $4.19.9 actually is. I say this is pure disinformation and I am telling the government, just as soon as they post an 800 number or a website.
Or how about instructions on shampoo bottles that instruct me to “lather, rinse and repeat.” Only rarely have I gotten to the “repeat” phase, and my hair comes out of the shower looking just fab. Instructing everyone to “repeat” when repeating is almost never necessary is a great example of disinformation. I’ll bet “Big Toiletries” will think twice about that sort of thing when the government comes knocking on the door after I turn them in.
And why do lumber yards call the boards 2 x 4s when they actually measure 1 1/2 x 3 1/2. And more importantly, who gets that 1/2 x 1/2 that we are paying for and not getting? Also – why do cell phone batteries and roofing shingles never last as long as they tell us they will? Or why does a “lucky” rabbit’s foot not come with a tag that says “You idiot, there is no such thing as a good luck charm. And what about the poor rabbit?” See? You are drowning in a the Disinformacic Ocean and didn’t even know it.
Or how about this one: A warning sticker that says “Death or serious injury could result from being crushed by moving machinery.” Could result? As in “Maybe something serious Might happen to you possibly?” Don’t they mean “Being crushed by moving machinery will absolutely mess you up BAD – But only if you are lucky and don’t die!” A warning that soft-pedals the truth just screams disinformation to me. “Hello, is this the Government? I have someone I want to report!”
I also think we really need someone to step up in other areas of daily life. For example, I think we really need a quick resource for when someone hands us a napkin with a bit of some exotic meat. Does it really taste like chicken? Or those marshmallow Peeps we all buy at Easter – are they really better when they are stale? This will be useful. But some areas will be a little trickier. I once had someone tell me that Andy Williams was a better singer than Frank Sinatra. Is something like that mere opinion? Or is it out-and-out disinformation? I would lean to the latter in this case. You may disagree, but then again, I may turn you into the Feds, so there!
There will be a few sensitive subjects where the Disinformation Ministry will have to tread lightly. Take Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Are they real or are they not? Or Fruit Loops – are they really part of a balanced breakfast? Or this – if a kid makes a face, will it freeze and stay that way? The Bureau may have some problems with testy mothers on some of these. And what about when a guy is asked by the woman in his life whether a particular outfit makes her look fat. I can’t wait to see how they handle that one.
I will admit to a couple of areas where I foresee some problems. Like when I tell people I am 6 feet tall. Or 185 pounds. Or that I was actually listening when I nodded my head and said “yes” to whatever Marianne was saying to me just a moment earlier. I suppose a Disinformation Board would be good for me in these areas, if only to serve as a check on the occasional exaggeration. So long as I don’t get thrown in a dungeon or something. Then it would be a horrible idea.
OK, you may say, but what can the Government do about any of these things? Personally, I am not worried about that. They can’t seem to answer the telephones at the IRS but that doesn’t stop them from not processing refunds on tax returns for deceased parents. Or . . . wait. Never mind. Anyway, we mustn’t get hung up on the Government’s inability to do the things it is already trying to do. After all, just because they are having challenges maintaining the value of our money or stamping out illegal drugs, why would you automatically jump to the conclusion that they can’t take care of something simple like policing the spread of disinformation?
I say we should listen to those nice people in charge who will earnestly tell us “Really, we are just looking out for your best interests.” Because we could all use a little help with the big companies whose phone recordings tell us that they appreciate our calls and they are recording them purely “for quality assurance purposes.”