He Said that She Said

I posted a review of the EW-36 mobility scooter on Amazon. The review has been there for almost a year and has generated some discussions from questions people asked me. I gave the scooter a positive review (4 stars) because it has been a good scooter for me. For my uses, it is a good fit to me. Then a question appeared asking what the length of the scooter was, and I took a tape measure and checked. I reported that it was 61 inches long. The man replied that he had asked a sales representative of one of the distributors the same question and got the reply that it was 54 inches long. That devolved into a rant about how he had been lied to by the manufacturer so they could make a sale. The more he wrote on, the worse it got. Along the way he mentioned that he’d purchased the scooter and was awaiting its delivery, but since the company had purposely defrauded him, he no longer wanted his scooter and offered it for sale for half of what he paid. I wish I had the money, I would take him up on his offer. But I was really surprised about how this guy had whipped himself into such a self-destructive frenzy that based itself on a misstatement. The wheelbase of the scooter was confused for the length.

But it surprised me as well that the dimensions of the scooter are clearly published on virtually every ad I’ve seen for it, and the length is reported as 61 inches. So the information the guy was looking for was available if he wished to look. But look what happened there. He got information that was incorrect from a telephone sales representative who answered for thousands of different products. He made a mistake, sure. But the error of a sales guy was then applied to the manufacturer, and atop that, made it into a purposeful negative act.

I couldn’t help but think about this guy who I had concluded was a complete idiot. He based his purchase initially on reading a couple of good reviews. Then he read a bad review and got the wrong length answer, so based on negatives of his one experience, but mostly because of the bad review he read, he now wanted out of his purchase so badly he was willing to throw $800 into the closest garbage can.

Watching Fox News about an hour later, I was feeling a sense of deja vu and I realized that my experience with Scooter Man was a metaphor for American politics these days. I find that the majority of the people I talk to about politics seem to be basing their opinions on the opinions of others, and that a information being distributed was, in many cases, incorrect. I have to think my fellow Republicans are perhaps more guilty of this than democrats, but not by much. I personally think that the coming presidential election will be determined more by the opinions of others than the ideas and determinations of individual voters. I hear a lot more people say “I heard from this guy at the office/club/golf course …” than I hear “Well, the public record show that …” I’m afraid my involvement in conversations like that tends to make me a bit unpopular because I end up chastising people for claiming they didn’t have enough time to actually research candidates. They had enough time to watch the streams at Facebook and Twitter, time to shoot the breeze at the water cooler or the cocktail party, but no ten minutes to look up the record of a candidate.

I was raised with a sense of national service instilled in me. That’s why I volunteered for the Army and then volunteered to go to Vietnam. As well though, I see the citizenship that I fought to defend entails certain duties, the foremost being an informed voter. We elect politicians to govern our nation and so our actions are critical to ensure that our nation sets and holds an admirable and just course. To base our choices on “what this guy heard from someone who read somewhere that …” is just plain asinine. Virtually everyone I meet has strong opinions about government and the way it has conducted itself over time, and it seems that a majority of them cannot defend their reasons for supporting a candidate anymore than Scooter Man can defend his distaste for a popular scooter.

I shouldn’t be surprised to learn this. Just look at the arguments people have for their television programming choices. Many people have a distaste for cable and others for Dish or DirecTV. Most of the people with negative opinions have them because of what others have related to them as bad experiences with their provider. About 8 years ago I had cable and I switched out to DirecTV because I was unhappy with customer service, programming choices and pricing. Three years ago I moved back to cable because I was unhappy with customer service, programming choices and pricing. I admit that part of what swayed me was that both times my belief was supported by others who shared my observations. This is a perfectly fine way to decide where you’re going to get your video from, but it’s a bad idea to employ in choosing government. Why? The television you personally watch doesn’t have an indelible effect on the course of life and country.

It will be interesting to see how the nation reacts to the campaigns as more and more money is thrown into the fray and more and more disinformation is treated as valid currency. The next three months will be something to see. The question in my mind isn’t really so much as who the next president will be, as how he will have amassed the winning vote count.