Both sides of a story

Best-selling author Tom Clancy once said, “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” I love that quote!

Unlike reality where many actions and reactions seem to defy reasonable logic, writers have the ability to construct characters to any likeness they desire – eliciting the emotions they need to help tie together their overall story.

But real life is far from fiction – regardless of the drama that often exists. In short it can be difficult for us to accurately conclude what is truly factual in our every day lives. It begs the question, what is fact and what is fiction?

When you sit and think about it, politicians would probably make great fiction writers. After all, they’ve been entertaining us for years with their cleverly manipulated stories which somehow manage to deviate everyone’s attention away from what is real.

But politicians aren’t the only ones who could probably achieve a lucrative career as fiction writers. Anyone who’s visited a supermarket or newsstand is aware of the numerous tabloids currently in circulation. Dozens of magazines filled with sensational headlines about our favorite celebrities – often telling stories we want to read rather than what is actually true.

While I understand that constant media attention is a prerequisite for stardom, the story telling is supposed to be on stage or screen not in the supermarket. And yet they wouldn’t continue producing these oftentimes fictitious magazines if there weren’t thousands of readers willing to buy them.

But fiction isn’t only left to the professionals. The advent of the internet has exploded over the last ten years and has given a voice to everyday citizens who otherwise might not have been heard. One problem is there currently exists no governing body overseeing the content posted on the World Wide Web. Anyone who possesses the ability to use a mouse and keyboard can easily create a new website or post inaccurate information on social networking forums with little regard for accurate information.

To help combat the situation, dozens of websites have starting sprouting up in an effort to try and dispel the rumors and myths that seem to spread like wild fire. But that does little to stop angry individuals who have personally attacked teachers, coworkers and friends online in an effort to boost their image while destroying others. This has resulted in employee termination, criminal charges, out casting and even suicide all because of stories that were later found out to be untrue.

Phil Collins’ popular song entitled, “Both Sides of the Story” contains the following lyrics:

And the lights are all on, the world is watching now.
People looking for truth, we must not fail them now.
Be sure, before we close our eyes,
Don’t walk away from here, till you hear both sides.

Today, more than ever, Americans are searching, longing for the truth. But in our quest for answers we often forget that every story, much like a coin, has two sides to it. Sadly, we’ll listen to whoever might be speaking the loudest at any given moment. Does that mean their story is factual and relevant? No, it simply means they realize that in order to deflect blame from themselves they have to publicly blame someone else. It’s a methodology which has been practiced time and time again and does little to solve the problems we face in our homes, our jobs or even in our government.

It’s never easy to know what is completely factual in life, especially when there always seems to be yet another expert contradicting our previous conceptions. What we must practice is how best to gather as much information as possible from both sides of the story before being able to accurately conclude what is fact and what is fiction. As the old saying goes “it takes two to Tango”.


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