Going 'viral' for ignorance


“Nobody told you where to hide
Nobody told you what to say
Everyone showed you where to turn
Showed you when to run away”
“Blurry” —Puddle of Mudd

Part of a wave of groups that hit the alt-rock scene in the late-1990s and early 2000s, Puddle of Mudd struggled to find a footing until its “Come Clean” album, which was recorded after the band broke up and was recreated by Fred Durst around original lead singer Wes Scantlin in Los Angeles.

“Blurry” became the group’s top-charting single, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and holding the top spot on the rock charts for multiple weeks.

The song explores the confusion that the writer feels about a situation with which he is unfamiliar, specifically the song writer’s move to a new part of the country, but it can translate to multiple situations.

However, rather than assisting him in the new surroundings, he’s taken advantage of, leading to pain and abandonment for the writer.

Over the last few weeks, there has been an issue in Huron that gained statewide notice due to a “viral” TikTok video made about it.

Fish have been perishing on the rock dam on the James River at 3rd Street in Huron. The video that drew more than 100,000 views had choice words for the city’s leaders in the design of the dam and blamed the death of the fish on the design of the dam.

To be clear, that is not the case at all.

As was explained on KELO-TV, a lack of oxygen due to a combination of low water levels, heavy snow and ice levels and extreme cold temperatures can produce what is known as “winter kill” in a body of water.

Typically, this winter kill is seen in the spring when everything thaws, however, due to water receiving oxygen as it moves over the rocks of the dam in the winter, the fish seek out the oxygen-rich open water and end up getting caught up in the rocks (though many caught in the rocks were dead before they got to the rocks). Many lakes in the area will see winter kill in the spring - the dam is simply seeing the effects right now.

As quoted in the KELO piece, James River Water Development District manager Dave Bartel denied that the dam was the cause of the death of the fish.

“I don’t believe the dam at 3rd Street had anything to do with (fish kill),” Bartel told KELO.

Bartel then explained that the lack of oxygen in the river forced fish to the open water that is near the dam.

In fact, talking with the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks (GFP), a winter kill can be very beneficial. Non-gamefish population are typically most affected by winter kill, and while no official numbers have been confirmed, a GFP representative confirmed that “the heavy majority” of fish that were in the rocks at 3rd Street were invasive carp.

What has been interesting in response to this issue in the community is the number of people that have taken to social media and reached out to media outlets regarding the issue, attempting to “expose” or “shame” the city or GFP regarding the dam construction or their “hands off” handling of the situation.

GFP confirmed that they have received calls, though the majority have come to “call in poachers,” not to inquire on the “why” about the dead fish in the rocks.

Similarly, city officials confirm that phone calls have been from media members, but few from citizens.

With an opportunity to voice concern Monday evening at the Huron City Commission meeting, no member of the public showed up nor contacted a commission member to have the issue addressed in the meeting.

Throughout all of this opportunity to get the facts behind what was happening, social media posts have been rampant on all matters of social platforms, from Facebook to Instagram to TikTok.

Contacts to media to complain have been made, many of them from brand new email addresses (yes, multiple media outlets that have been contacted checked on the email addresses that contacted us).

Many of the posts attempted to shame the city or GFP for the construction of the dam or the lack of attention paid to safety for those who are attempting to clean up the fish.

Virtually none of the emails were signed with a name, and certainly none had a name/email/phone for follow up, to utilize as a source in reporting a story.

The whole story is often much less scintillating and doesn’t draw the views on social platforms…and it requires the effort of research.

However, taking the time to find out the truth behind something before simply blasting someone on social media or attempting to utilize local and statewide media as a pawn to blame area groups should be the absolute bare minimum someone can do.

Heck, this is an opinion page and I write an opinion column each week, but I spend hours every week researching each topic that I put forth to ensure the accuracy of what is printed.

The Huron City Commission meets every week on Monday evening with a time of public forum as part of the meeting agenda.

If there is question or concern about an issue going on in the city, those meetings are the times to get the real, actual answers to what is going on - not posting to social media.

Similarly, the local school board, county commission, and other area boards are always the best source to seek out for factual information on questions rather than seeking the opinion of the huddled Facebook masses.

Take a look at the property tax report that you receive when you get your annual report, and note where those taxes go. A little more than 85% is split between the city and school district for Huron residents, yet, outside fervor over mask mandates, public attendance for city commission or school board meetings is consistently ... zero.

Heck, as the person who posts the reports done on those meetings, I have seen the “clicks” the reports from those meetings get on our website and on social media. They are some of our lowest-drawing stories online - yet that’s where the decisions about issues like the 3rd Street dam are made and where the actual opportunity to express an opinion truly is.

Elected leaders have the responsibility to respond to constituents who elected them, and can inform you much more thoroughly than 99% of the people attempting to make a wild guess on social media.

Attending those meetings, or at least reaching out to those who are making the decisions that affect the probem you are having - whether that be a city commissioner, a GFP employee, or whomever, is going to result in actually being informed on an issue.

And if you’re not happy with the way elected officials are handling an issue, you can run for an office and be part of the solution!

As it stands, ignorance may have gained clicks, but it certainly didn’t enhance any knowledge about what was truly going on in the community.

Taking the time to talk with the people who actually know the information is always best rather than offering uninformed opinions, because in the end, those uninformed opinions simply make one look lazy when the people willing to answer the questions are a phone call away.