Something in the Desert: Ramblings: Nov. 7, 2019

Doug McMurdo
Doug McMurdo

We won’t monitor or censor our social media.

The push to allow and then hit the brakes on OHVs into Utah’s national parks created a lot of angst for a lot of people and all of it was unnecessary. Making such a momentous decision without any meaningful input from the public didn’t do anyone any favors and actually did some harm.

Moabites attacked each other with wild abandon on The Times-Independent’s Facebook page. The level of anger expressed was surprising; even by the standards of the antisocial personality disorder that is social media.

A day or two later, intrepid T-I reporter Carter Pape asked U.S. Rep. John Curtis for his take on the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump and again there was metaphorical carnage on the newspaper’s Facebook page.

On one hand, this attention to The Times-Independent is desired. We’re trying to be heard above the rabble that is the internet in 2019. On the other hand, we had hoped – and we expected – more from commenters.

We expected more debate and less snide commentary. We expected plausible arguments and not the firing of personal insults as if they were Patriot missiles. We expected common courtesy instead of rude comebacks and downright mean-spirited insults.

In other words, we naively hoped virtual Moab would be as open and considerate and intelligent as actual Moab. The internet cesspool is too deep, even for Grand County. Still, we won’t censor comments made on our Facebook page no matter how badly some people believe we should.

It isn’t that we accept that Moab is as divided as the rest of the country or that we condone the global misstatement of facts, the tortured justifications, and the arrogant assumptions. It isn’t that we believe free speech means speech free of consequences. It simply means that the task is beyond our ability.

We would have to hire 10 full-time people just to monitor the comments, and then we would have to worry about their biases and prejudices and whether they are fairly applying the rules. Even if they were emotionless bots, we would never escape accusations of censoring opinions we find iffy while ignoring those that make sense to us.

I’d rather gargle with gasoline than crawl down that wormhole.

The office has been subdued since Adrien Taylor suffered a stroke. While the family struggles to process her new reality – and theirs – I miss having the matriarch of the Taylor family and the publisher emeritus of this publication in the office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which we call production days at the T-I.

She takes her time proofing pages and often makes suggestions that don’t merely correct a typo, but improve the construction of a sentence, bringing clarity to the writer’s point. That kind of insight is valuable in a newsroom and for that and other, more obvious reasons I hope to see her walk through the front door at 35 E. Center Street soon.

The tourist season is slowing down and Moab will enjoy a couple of months of relative ease in congestion, both on the streets and in the stores and restaurants and on the trails. I’m looking forward to hiking Grandstaff Canyon in near solitude. I plan to hike Fisher Towers at least once in the winter and I hope to get on the mountain before the heavy snow comes.

I’ve kept a journal of the hikes Annie and I have gone on and the mileage we’ve accumulated in 15 months – exactly 600 miles – and that is not bad for an old man and his puppy.

Daylight Savings Time: Do we still need it? I’m one of those people who get seasonal adjustment disorder. No doctor ever diagnosed me with SAD, but since I get sad every time we turn back the clocks, I’ll just go ahead and diagnose myself.

I bring this up for two reasons. One, it’s a legitimate question. Two, I’ve run out of things to write about.

Seriously, I lived in Arizona for a few years, which doesn’t mess with time, and discovered that while I loved not having to fall back, I equally missed not having to spring forward, but not so much that it made me sad. Or SAD.