Friday, June 22, 2012

On The Subway Walls

TigerBlog's belief is that the two movies with the greatest opening credit scenes are "Saturday Night Fever" and "The Graduate."

In that order.

John Travolta as struts through Brooklyn while holding a paint can, stopping to decide whether or not to get two or three (he goes with two, slices of pizza that is), all while the Bee Gees sing "Stayin' Alive?" Untoppable.

The only movie that comes close is "The Graduate," as the brooding recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman in his debut) flies into Los Angeles, gets his bag and then ends up looking through a fish tank, all with a blank look on his face of "now what?" In this case, it's all done to the Simon and Garfunkel classic "The Sounds of Silence."

TB has always loved that song, going back as far as he can remember. In fact, it is the first song he can actually remember liking.

When TigerBlog Jr. took up playing the guitar, TB pointed him to the song "The Sounds of Silence."

The beauty of the song is its simplicity, with its almost-whispered vocals and basic melody, all tied into a message of warning about going along with the crowd and not being an independent thinker and the catastrophe that would lead to if the entire population followed suit.

The first line of "hello darkness my old friend" sets the tone for the song, all the way up to the end, with the penultimate line of "the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls.

It's a great, great, great song, even after all this time. TB goes out of his way to listen to it often.

These days, the words of the prophets, as it were, can also be found on internet message boards, and this raises all kinds of questions for college athletic departments and their communications offices.

The big issue is what to do when false information is out there.

Message boards are huge. TB's belief is that people read the comments under the stories with much greater interest than the stories themselves, and message boards are an even greater extension of that.

The people who post to the boards can be anyone, and they do not have to disclose their names, positions, how they know the information they're claiming to know. Most importantly, they don't have to be right in what they say.

As longtime TB readers know, another given for him is that people believe what they read.

TB has found himself many times in the situation where he knew what he was reading contradicted facts he knew to be true and yet it still took him awhile to remember that.

So what do you do if you're Princeton, say, and people are posting things on message boards that are incorrect?

TB isn't talking about attacks on coaches or administrators or the webpage or something. That's just part of the game. People are entitled to their opinions.

But what about facts?

TB isn't really sure.

As an athletic department, you can't spend your entire time monitoring everything that's said looking for inaccuracies. And you have to be super-sensitive to commenting publicly on internal issues and processes and all.

At the same time, public opinion is often shaped by what is read on the message boards, so correcting wrong information becomes hugely important.

But if you start reacting to everything that's written, then you'd never get anything done. And if you react selectively, then you're sort of giving tacit approval of the stuff that you're not correcting.

And there's also the issue of addressing information posted by people who aren't identifying themselves by their real names.

Maybe it's best to just leave it all alone and let people take all information from all sources and then have to figure out what's true and what isn't.

Or maybe there's a responsibility to the department to get the right information out there.

TB will continue to ponder this issue.

He has no idea what the correct answer is.

But he will leave you with this:

Don't believe everything you read. 

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