Music Monday – “I grew up like my daddy did/My grandpa cleared this land/When I was five I walked the fence/While grandpa held my hand”

I don’t think I’ve ever posted this song for Music Monday but it’s one of my favourites of all-time.

Rain on the Scarecrow” – John Mellencamp

Although I knew fairly early that I was never going to be a farmer (my standard line on the subject is that, growing up, I was more into books and computers then barley and combines), I really appreciate that I spent my formative years as part of a family farm that stretches back to 1883 when my great-great-great grandfather settled the land.

I’ve been thinking about those rural roots for a lot of reasons lately, not least because when I look at the content put out by the NDP Leadership candidates and the Sask Party Leadership candidates, it’s like there are two completely different races being run in two completely different places (and I guess, in many ways, there are. NDP’s base is urban and Sask Party’s base is rural and they only overlap in a few select areas – carbon pricing being one of the most notable.)

Another related thought is that RPL had its annual “Staff Development Day” today and I was asked to moderate a panel discussion on “Fake News” with a local education prof who specializes in social media/technology, a journalism prof and a journalist who was formerly with the Leader Post and currently with CBC.

(It’s probably too small to see but I put “Fred” on my name tag instead of my real name as a nod to the session I was hosting.  Probably should’ve put “Donald” though!) 😉 

The panel was very well-received from feedback I got afterwards but I also felt like an hour didn’t do it justice – we could’ve easily spent a whole day on “Fake News” and different aspects of it – its history, the current role of social media, the political aspect, fake identities, trolls, filter bubbles, where the line between skepticism and conspiracy theory is, whether the library is complicit in spreading “fake news” when we buy books that aren’t factual, etc. etc. etc. (all of which are things that got touched on during our panel but very briefly for the most part.)

In thinking about my rural roots and where they intersect with my current filter bubbles, I know that one way I’m trying in my own small way to “burst that bubble” is by making a conscious effort to reach out to and at least pay attention to (or even engage with) people on social media that I might not have previously including many of those rural people I grew up with. I’ve started following lots more conservatives on Twitter and friending people on Facebook who are as likely to expose me to pictures of a deer being field dressed as someone eating avocado toast.

It’s a small step but it’s a start and, to bring it back to my opening thought, I also appreciate that growing up in a rural area has given me both the connections and hopefully at least a basic level of comfort to do that in the first place.

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