Does being more vocal mean you are right?

31 March 2016

OK, so slightly off the genie track…. but this is a matter which has been bothering me for a while now. There are some people in life (I am sure you can name them), who are ‘vocal’. They take over conversations/meetings and rarely allow other people to get a word in edgeways and, if they do, these vociferous ones seem to have an innate ability to remember the topic they were discussing and pick up right where they left off…. like the other discussion never even happened. Remarkable!

Even in my younger years, I don’t think I would have fitted into this category. However, I would probably have been referred to as the ‘life and soul‘ of the party …. someone who could be relied upon to start conversations and make people feel welcome at events. There are large parts of that which are still true, though I have certainly calmed with age.

I have several colleagues in the genie-field who, if signed up for a ‘talk-athon’, would give each other a damned good run in the medal stakes. Indeed, certain characters appear to be that way on social media. Perhaps this ‘virtual’ persona is just an extension of their ‘real-life’ persona….? It’s a funny thing, social media. It’s odd for me (aged under 40) to think that I grew up (as in, was a teenager) when most young people didn’t own a mobile phone, Facebook was not even thought about (nor Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blah blah blah) and computer monitors were huge (no flat screens then!!). Now, people who are old enough to be my grandparents have computers, surf the net and have email addresses, Facebook, Skype and more.

The ability to ‘speak’ to a large audience is now much easier. Post on a blog, comment on someone’s Facebook page, Google+ etc., and you can get your point across to hundreds (nay thousands) of people. That is in many ways a good thing when used in the right/an appropriate way. However, it can also be very damaging. Recently, genealogists from across the globe have taken to social media to publicise the plagarism of an author, speaker, and website publisher, Barry Ewell. I have never met Mr Ewell, nor do I wish to. The evidence is clear (see The Ancestry Insider for an excellent account of the ‘lowlights’). I am not here to act as judge and jury – no need.

My concerns with the current situation though are two-fold:

(1) There have been several vocal individuals who have been standing up and educating the community about the wrongdoings. Several of these genealogists have unnecessarily come under attack themselves. This is just plain wrong.

(2) Other posters have made comments and pointed fingers at the wider community, including posts which name names of other individuals and accuse them of plagarism. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Accusation like this, without proof, is detrimental not just to the individual but to the whole genealogical community.

So folks…. let’s ask questions, seek evidence and publicise proven facts. That’s what we do in genealogical research…. cite sources, provide evidence and explain our findings. Same applies.

[And Mr Ewell, if you are reading this, stop writing if you can’t write your own original material.]

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