Over the last 10-12 years of seeing the invention and use of online message boards and social media, it has come basically into the same flow as the 24/7 news cycle. Let’s pump news out as fast as we can, then we can backtrack on the accuracy later on. Just like in racing, the key thing is to be the first to report and not be held accountable if correct or not because your identification on some is hidden.
Some would say that these message boards and social media have put more hurt on short track racing than has helped build it up. Some would also say that it has opened Pandora’s box as to what is really happening and by doing so, some things have improved. Some would also say it has been a positive way of promoting upcoming events at practically no cost.
This is now a regular form of communication.
When message boards were created, it opened an avenue where people could post whatever they felt and be anonymous, ultimately not being held responsible for something that they post. Sadly, this allowed some to go out there and post things to fuel a fire for self-amusement.
What is sadder, is that someone or something is hurt from a post that while they may have made up as a rumor, or heard from someone who heard it from someone else, is believed to be totally true and people react to it with their emotion as a fuel rather than their heads.
Recently, there was a post about a driver separating from their car owner. This is something that typically happens anywhere from short tracks to the top levels, especially this time of the year as teams want to start looking ahead to 2017.
Of course, people want to know why a driver and team parted ways. What was the real reason? Those who are looking for those answers do something silly. Instead of asking the parties involved directly, they go on a message board or social media and ask if anyone knows.
This opens up the door for speculation, false reasons, or totally made up reasons that in some legal areas could lead to libel or defamation of character lawsuits.
A recent situation of a driver/owner split discussion on one message board turned into a discussion that is totally not involved in racing, but of a personal matter. Almost to the point to where people were comparing laws in each State regarding the matter.
So a person (this writer) decided to contact the person who was in the message board as being directly involved to the separation.
It only took a few minutes and a couple of questions with the person directly involved to find out that the decision was totally based on performance and cohesion within the team. In fact, the personal matter that was discussed on the message board had no bearing whatsoever, and in fact, came as a surprise to this person who honestly didn’t know if that personal matter was happening or not, but clearly said it had absolutely no bearing on the end result.
What is sad is that the driver is being dragged around on this message board on what could be considered a defamation of character. But, the person who initially wrote it, gets to hide in anonymity, watching what they posted go in so many different directions.
We need to be careful with we post. We need to take a few moments and get the truth before we do post, especially if it’s involving someone’s overall character. Just think if a certain post can literally shut down someone’s career for false reasons.
We need to be stepping up when rumors are posted on message boards or social media. We need to start being pro-active and question that person on how they found out and start naming names.
If a post starts with, “I heard from”, “Someone said”, “I overheard”, etc. Question the validation before jumping on the bandwagon and making a bad rumor worse.
No, these are not supposed to be posted to get the truth, it is to post the truth. Reporters cannot report on hearsay on the evening news, they have their sources and can back it up.
Can you back up what you post? If you can’t do us all a favor and keep the fingers off of the keyboards or hitting the send button unless you know for sure what you are posting is the honest to God’s truth…and you are ready to back it up right away.