Publisher’s column: #thankful for that ever-swinging pendulum

Ever long for the days before the Internet highway came ripping and tearing through our society and into our homes? I do.

I know I should be more thankful for the Internet and the convenience its brings to our work and personal lives. Instead, this time of year usually finds me missing simpler times, when I wasn’t tethered to my cell phone.

With everything, there is cost. In the case of the Internet, the price of convenience is a tremendous loss of privacy and in-person interactions, civility and, to a degree, reality.

I do love the convenience. Using my cell phone I can clear my personal and work emails any time of day or night so they don’t stack up on me — a personal pet peeve. I can approve employee time cards, time off requests, edit stories and pay all of my bills. I can buy and sell stuff. I can see my son’s face as we talk nearly every night.

I no longer balance a checkbook because I no longer use one. I write, perhaps, one or two checks a year now.

I can talk to loved ones when I’m on the road — hands-free, of course — and I can take vain selfies and show off my great dinner on my Facebook page. I can also share a pic of the stiff martini I’m enjoying in front of the fire after a particularly awful week.

Not coincidentally, those awful weeks always seem to stem from emails or text messages. In the old days, if someone wanted to berate you or call you profane names, they usually had to call you on a landline and scream profanities in your ear. If the postman brought you hate mail it was an event because that simply never happened. Nobody took the time to put hateful words on paper, lick a stamp and drop them in the mail.

In the old days, when you ran into haters in the supermarket, they typically bit their tongue, wore a tight smile as they walked past and talked about you behind your back.

Who doesn’t miss that?

The Internet is truly a modern Wild West. Instead of kerchiefs over their faces and guns, however, the modern-day gunslinger uses a fake name and shoots hateful diatribes they would never have the courage to say to your face.

This all happens at the highest levels of our society now. How many times did we hear “Twitter” mentioned on the evening news over the past year? We no longer cringe at the high-degree of incivility around us.

Have we all become numb?

Now there’s fake news, bogus articles disguised as legitimate articles and posted on websites and social media. They may or may not have influenced the presidential election. I figured out long ago that, when someone sends me a story that seems at all suspect, it’s wise to research the source and investigate credentials.

What’s crazy is that, instead of the manipulative fake news being raised as a major source of concern, it’s the legitimate news media that’s come under attack, mainly for reporting on actual words and Twitter comments launched into the Nethersphere by candidates.

But I am thankful. I am thankful that time marches on, and that the pendulum keeps swinging. I believe that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. I have faith that people will regain clarity over time and grow tired of seemingly endless barrage of Internet attacks and more discriminating about the news they follow and believe.

Yes, I’ll say it again — deep breath — I am #thankful.

n Keven Graves is executive editor and publisher for the Whidbey News-Times, South Whidbey Record and The Whidbey Examiner. He can be reached via email at