Empowerment, Life, Rambles

Camping Lessons: Just the Facts Please

Four days and three nights away. Bliss. While at Huntington Beach we were not completely disconnected if we didn’t want to be. When you are camping it is very easy to step away from social media. There are so many other things to hold your attention and focus your energy. Stepping away was exactly what we did and it was rejuvenating. I find the current news and social media exhausting. The comment sections, even worse. Lately, I have spent my spare time taking pictures and editing what I take. I’m learning to use a new camera and striving to do more than simply point and shoot. It has been a journey of learning and patience. As I edited the images from our beach camping adventure I played with several effects tools in one of the programs I use. My husband commented on how easy it was to manipulate the image into something it was not. It really is, and I wasn’t even using the more powerful Photoshop. With just a few clicks in GRFX Studio I had completely manipulated the image. I took elements of truth and enhanced them with complete fiction. That’s kind of the way social media has been working and people fall for it because they don’t bother to question and they don’t bother to fact-check. Manipulated images, fake memes, and fake anecdotes circulate all over the Internet. So many never bother to question it because many times, they trust the source.

It all starts with a story…

It seems like we’ve been in a weather pattern for the last few weeks- beautiful days and afternoon thunderstorms. Some have even been quite severe. One day we took some time to walk on the beach with Mozart. I have to say, it is now one of my favorite beaches! Huntington Beach has an amazingly wide beach. Shells were washed up at the shoreline, and tons of starfish. If we saw one alive, we tried to give it a fighting chance and threw it back in the water. Mozey thought it was great fun to run at the water’s edge. There must have been a school of fish because off in the distance we saw multiple groups of dolphins. They would surface and jump. I was able to catch them on camera just as the storm blew in. Amazing lightning shot!

I like to go camping. I like to walk on the beach. I enjoy photographing our experiences. The dolphins were abundant. Catching a lightning shot would be exciting. This wasn’t it. Here’s the original.

Everything in the story was true except for the storm and lightning. That part was poorly added in the post-edit. It was somewhat plausible and the photo would probably get a decent number of likes from people who didn’t look for the editing.

An announcement that I have seen circulating, and makes its social media rounds each year, is that on August (choose your date) there will appear to be two moons as Mars will be its closest! Don’t miss it! Well, I didn’t…

I’m happy to report that Tiki is still hanging in there. We are maintaining and her heart medications are keeping her relatively stable. I’m still up if she stirs at night but we have found a rhythm that works. If we stagger when her last water pill dosage is given and I stay up until just after midnight for her last potty break we can make it through the night without difficulty. It’s made for some good sky views and last night did not disappoint. Mars has been moving closer to the moon so for Tiki’s midnight potty run, I decided to set up the camera. It did not disappoint. Mars was shining bright!

That would be a no. Tiki is doing well. We thought we would lose her back in May, but she has reached her 17th birthday. We celebrate our bonus time with my stubborn old girl. I do wake up every time she stirs. I do take her out around midnight in hopes that I will get at least 5 or 6 straight hours of sleep. Mars and the Moon really did look cool last night and I wish I had taken my camera. However, not this cool. The original picture was the side view from our campsite at Huntington Beach. You can see it here.

I love a good sky and on my bucket list is seeing the Auroras. I won’t spin a tale for either of these, but it wouldn’t be difficult. If there is a solar outburst you can see the Northern Lights in the Deep South. It’s rare. In the event that it happens again, I assure you my camera will be on record.



Manipulating images and spinning a tale is super easy, even when you aren’t that great at it. Studies show that a large percentage of the population can’t tell the difference. Even more probably could, but they don’t bother to question it. They trust the source. Sometimes it’s like a bad game of rumor. The message has been passed from a trusted source to a trusted source so many times that it doesn’t even resemble the original story, or it may be as simple as the original storyteller was genuinely mistaken and not trying to create a good lie. What is the saying? Every good fairytale is rooted in some element of plausible truth?

Fact-Checking doesn’t take long. It’s OK to question information. A few things to start:

– Consider the source
– Is it satire?
– If it seems a little over the top, it probably is. Investigate.
– Read beyond the headline. The headline is the bait and sometimes the story isn’t nearly as sensational.
– Check the author. Are they even real? Have they won the awards their bio says? You can find out in just a few clicks of your keyboard.
– What’s the support? Does the documentation actually support the claim being made? Go to the source and find out!
– Check the date! Some false stories aren’t completely wrong, just not current news.
– What about bias? What’s the agenda?
– Check the fact-checkers: FactCheck.org, Snopes.com, the Washington Post Fact Checker and PolitiFact.com. F
– Do other sites report the same thing? Read various news sources and put the real story together.

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