Misinformation has become so prevalent in today’s society that many well-established personal relationships get affected when someone can separate what is real from what is accurate, and others are easily persuaded.
Living in Orlando, FL, I am surrounded by theme parks, and I love them all for their unique features and offerings. I have also worked for two of them in the past, and so my friend circle is primarily comprised of past and current theme park employees.
The misinformation topic has become increasingly controversial on my social media, especially surrounding a particular theme park and its practices. This theme park is SeaWorld. Recently, a disagreement over misinformation caused a heated discussion between one of my friends and me. While working at Universal, you get free admission to SeaWorld, and I decided to take a day and visit the park with my husband. When I told my friend I was going to SeaWorld, she said she could not believe I would visit that park and how I should be aware of their animal abuse and not support them in any shape or form.
Here is the thing, she was quoting information from the “documentary” Blackfish.
The SeaWorld controversy is not news to me. I see it constantly all over social media. My stance in this situation is not entirely black and white. Whereas I disagree with animals performing, I also see the benefits of the rescue side of SeaWorld. My issue comes in when people blindly quote material from a film that should be taken with a grain of salt.
I gave myself the homework of watching Blackfish, cross-referencing their claims, and questioning everything they mention.
Blackfish focuses on the Killer Whale Tilikum, his story from the moment he was captured to the incidents that have occurred over approximately 30 years. For starters, SeaWorld did not capture Tilikum. This was initially shown in the film itself. SeaWorld purchased Tilikum after he was trained with negative punishment under another park. Because he was used to living in captivity, there was no other option but to go to a park like SeaWorld that could handle large animals. Being released to the wild would be a death sentence to Tilikum.
Throughout the film, they pose multiple claims, but I was able to find a website that debunked them using actual references from doctors and SeaWorld themselves. The website cites their sources at the end of the article, something this so-called “documentary” does not. The documentary attempts to establish credibility by interviewing former SeaWorld trainers. However, the same trainers interviewed mentioned that they know nothing about Killer Whales. They only know how to train them. Here is my issue, if you know nothing about the animal itself, why are you making claims about them? Why are you fighting for these animals to be released into the wild? Do you not know that after being raised in captivity, being released into the wild is a death sentence?
Again, the documentary should be taken with a grain of salt. They do have a point in some of their claims, but we can not believe everything mentioned because there are many plotholes in their claims.
However, it is so well-made that many people, like my friend, blindly believe the whole thing. They let themselves be persuaded by the sad music and the heartbreaking stories and continue to spread the wrong information.
I have a few examples of what blindly believing in such misinformation can do on a harmless social media post. I am a member of a few passholder groups on Facebook for the theme parks around Orlando. Someone posted some great photos captured during their visit to SeaWorld. This person got attacked by multiple comments from those who, like my friend, disagreed with SeaWorld. Once again, their “evidence” was Blackfish.
Blindly believing everything we see out there can be harmful to our relationships. It can ruin our friendships and make someone’s great day seem grim just because of a Facebook post gone wrong.
I hope we can learn to question everything we see and look for accurate references based on facts and those with real credentials. This is the only way we can stay afloat in this sea of misinformation.