Hearing, saying, and thinking about words may be bookish and cliche, but Jessica Barker has searched her soul and it is the truth.
Sometimes, however, Jessica Barker avoids words. Most notably, the use of words. She avoids using them well, and using them kindly – sometimes, she has avoided using them at all, to afraid or too exhausted to add to the conversation at hand.
Social media debates have been an Internet standard for several years, and have now seemed to culminate in the election of someone to the White House who leaves us in wakes of “Fake News,” “Alternative Facts” and “That’s just your opinion(s).” What used to be civil discourse has devolved into a public forum of shouting, rat-and-tomato-throwing inglorious bastards. If asked at any point what we are really fighting for, we would have a long and confused pause.
“I don’t think I should be Enlightened and Empowered and Rise Above everyone, never to participate in another Facebook or Youtube debate – that’s unrealistic.” Barker sits on the steps outside the library at Appalachian State, where she studies journalism. She sips a caramel latte and thinks about lunch. “I’d rather turn a more mindful eye to information I am exposed to and how I’m exposed to it. I want to take care how I process the information because that invariably dictates what information I dole back out to others, how I relay that information and what information I hold back.”
Barker notes, “I’m not happy Trump is president, not in any way.” But his election, she cautiously presses on, is pushing us all in a direction in the fact-checking world which she doesn’t think we would have gone so quickly, if at all, had we elected a regular politician who “lies the normal amount of times about the normal types of things.”
“As long as we stay alert and vigilant,” she concludes, swiftly packing up her worn book bag and jumping down from her perch, “our talents as human-bullshit-checkers will never be so challenged, stretched and satisfied.”