US 1 Radio personality Leigha Fox stirred up a veritable crap-storm this past weekend on her Facebook page. It was a simple two-sentence post, in all caps, that read: WHEN THE TIME COMES I 100% SUPPORT MANDATORY VACATIONS FOR EVERYONE. AND IF YOU DON’T TAKE IT WILLINGLY YOU SHOULD BE FORCED!!

Needless to say, this statement was greeted by polite civil discourse among respectful social media participants. Oh, who am I kidding? A post this incendiary rather expectedly provoked numerous responses, some less complimentary than others. For example:

“Nope that is unamerican.”

“Forced? Wow. That is an insult to every American who fought or died to give you the freedom to say such a stupid thing.”

“I served for freedom, but not the freedom to randomly expose my fellow Americans to a virus that may kill them. I’d rather face the guns than an unseen killer.”

“You’re a fool.”

“Forced?? How should I, who’s paralyzingly terrified of needles, be forced??? That’s a strong word. Choose it carefully. I don’t think you did in this public statement.”

“F*** that communist.” (Yep, someone really replied like that.)

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And my favorite: “Wow! I’ve edited books and it took me 3 times reading it before I caught it.”

The human mind really is an amazing thing. How we, in the midst of these pandemic times, see the word VACATIONS clearly in print, yet our minds create the word VACCINATIONS when accompanied by the words SUPPORT and MANDATORY. 

I’m not sure if Leigha realized this post was the social media equivalent of whacking a nest full of murder hornets … then again, she probably did. And she is to be commended for keeping a great sense of humor about this as the flame war heated up. 

Oftentimes, it’s the things we hear that our brains process differently. Examples of this include, “For all intensive purposes,” “Youth in Asia,” “Supersalad,” “Taking things for granite,” and, “Knowledge is power. France is bacon.”

Misheard song lyrics are a favorite pastime of mine, like Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Band-Aid” and “It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not.” Elton John’s “Hold me closer, Tony Danza.” Hall and Oates/Paul Young’s “Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you.” Jimi Hendrix’s “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.” ABBA’s “See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen.” And Starship’s “We built this city on sausage rolls.”

Let’s face it — our brains are capable of being treacherous tricksters, and we manage to trick ourselves all the time. One such area is confirmation bias, where we look for ways to justify the beliefs we hold by finding things that reinforce our ideals and rejecting anything that challenges them. And we all have a tendency to strongly defend our beliefs even when reputably challenged, because we see these beliefs as a major part of who we are. It really takes an open mind to be able to question ourselves and explore the possibility that another’s opposing point of view may be valid.

Then there’s the Dunning-Kruger effect — this is where knowledge and ability can be inversely proportional. Those who know more about something understand how much they still don’t know, and often underestimate their talents or skills. Conversely, those who possess a simple understanding of a given area often overestimate their knowledge or skills. And that’s why we have so many Facebook-certified epidemiologists and virologists out there. Why listen to actual experts when it’s so easy to find a social media post that reinforces our beliefs?

In summary, I’ll take both vacations and vaccinations when they’re available! Thank you, Leigha Fox, for some serious comic relief this past weekend!

On another note (pun intended), I’d also like to invite you to join me this Sunday,  March 28, at 10 a.m., at the Marathon Moose Lodge for its Moose Day Celebration! There will be lots of socially distant outdoor family fun, food and drink, and live music from yours truly.  Presents In Paradise will raffle off a cooler of cheer, and the day promises to be a good time for a great cause! See you at the Moose!

Catch John Wednesdays at Herbie’s, Thursdays at Sparky’s Landing, this Friday on Facebook Live for his Social Distancing Concert, Saturday night at the Key Colony Inn, and Sunday afternoon at Marathon Moose Day. Music available wherever you get your streaming.  www.facebook.com/john.bartus

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