#730: The Metaphoric Parable of the Pies That Actually Represent Other Concepts Than Pies – An Allegory

December 26th, 2016

A pie showed up on my doorstep the other day.

It showed up on the doorstep I use every day, so it was quite convenient for me. I guess I could have gone out and purchased a pie, or at least asked for a free pie from any of the many bakeries I know and trust, but this pie showed up on the doorstep I use every day in a convenient and consumable format.

It even had a fork and a little sign that said “Eat me.”

So I did.

And I got violently ill.

The next day there were several pies waiting on my doorstep. Whoever had been leaving pie on my doorstep had been paying attention to the type of pie I like. Some pies looked like sweet potato pie, others like creamy French silk or rich mincemeat. They were crafted to look exactly like the pies I already find the most digestible.

I guess I could have gotten sweet potato and French silk pies from the bakery downstairs from my apartment. I mean, I know and trust them and I was already on my doorstep. All I needed to do was double-click their doorbell to get pie I could trust.

But the doorstep pies were, like, right there.

Man, I got sick.

The next day’s doorstop pies fit my preconceptions of what pie should be so closely, I even shared them with my friends and family. I left slices on the doorsteps of everyone I care about with little notes that said “See? This is what I’ve been saying!”

Oh we got so sick. Sick for days this time. So sick that I almost didn’t eat the next crop of pies that showed up on my doorstep the day after and the day after and the day after that.

Almost.

About this time, I noticed all the other houses on my street were also getting morning doorstep pies. No one knew where they were coming from — the bakery downstairs had since gone out of business, unable to compete in the new market due to its archaic paywall model. But still the pies came and we shared them all.

When something showed up that looked like a pie my dad would like, I would sent it by post to my dad. He’d pick it up at the mailbox hanging on his wall. My friend from work knows I have strong feelings on lemon merengue, so whenever something showed up on his doorstep that looked vaguely merengue-ish, he would post it to my wall. A guy I went to high school with believed very strongly that modern PC attitudes were keeping custard pies from expressing their true superiority over fruit, nut and ethnic pies, so he was posting to everybody’s walls. I had to block him.

That means hit him with a block.

With everyone sharing and posting to everyone’s walls without checking the source of what they were posting, we became really sick as a society. Some good pies from reputable bakeries were still making the rounds, but whoever kept sending the bad pies was getting better at passing them off as good pies. And the bakeries kept going out of business because by now everyone expected pie for free.

Still, these things crafted perfectly to our pre-existing preferences get posted to our walls. We consume and share them without questioning, even though they’re poisoning us a just little bit more each time.

You might have guessed by now that these pies are “analogies” and we’re in what’s known as a “fable.”

Subscribe to one or more newspapers. Subscribe to multiple magazines, both in print and online. Support (and that means with money, not with your best wishes and hopes) nonprofit or donor-funded investigative groups like ProPublica, the Center for Public Integrity, your local NPR or PBS affiliates or smaller local journalism startups in your community, like the Texas Tribune or, in Chicago, the Invisible Institute and City Bureau.

Pay money for information you can trust because your ability to make choices in life and in society depends entirely on an accurate understanding of the world around you.

And if something just shows up ready-made, free and tailored for your preferences, take a moment to wonder if that’s really French silk you’re about to shove in your mouth.

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Remember: You can’t trust something just because it’s printed, either

EDIT: A day after I posted this, I found out about the Knight Foundation matching donations for select nonprofit news orgs. Do this.

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You are currently reading #730: The Metaphoric Parable of the Pies That Actually Represent Other Concepts Than Pies – An Allegory by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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