There’s not much that annoys me more than being told blatantly false information in an ignorant fashion. I understand the concerns, and the reasons people blindly believe what they hear or read, but it gets to the point where I want to scream.
An example of this is the forwarded emails that my family members receive. The forward that stands out the most in my mind is when my dad was convinced that Target was a French company and that they don’t support veterans. At that point was when I introduced him to snopes.com. Ever since, he sometimes says “Tar-jay” and says something about it to poke fun at me, but he now tells others to look at snopes.com to find out if things are actually true that he reads.
A lot of people subscribe to these kinds of messages that are out there to get their own agenda across, or to put fear into people for no reason. I read a blog recently by John Shanahan that went into detail about this with Facebook posts that ascribe to emotion knowing that people will not check into the facts. It makes it even harder now to find the truth with so much opinion and biased news reporting happening every day.
I like to pride myself on being able to think outside the box to just figure out if something is unknown rather than being simply untrue. For example, do I believe what either of the political candidates are now flinging at each other? There’s no way to tell which or whether either of them is telling the truth. However, I see reports of how these candidates are representing themselves simply by what they actually say and do under certain situations, and it gives me a better understanding of what type of person they are, and whether I’d like them to be president or not. Therefore, when I see Mitt Romney making a fool of himself in England and see Barack Obama’s levelheaded interactions and relation to the people of America, I know who I’m going to vote for.
It’s the same thing with conspiracy theories and internet memes going around that “the world is going to end” or “there’s this SUPER SECRET government coverup and we just need to uncover it” or “this person used this hand signal so he’s part of some secret society”, etc. Research needs to be done about these types of things. There are performance artists who are accused of being part of “The Illuminati” because they use certain hand signals in their music videos. Does anyone ever do any research into whether that symbol has had different meanings over the years? It’s the same as how the swastika used to be a symbol of peace in a different context and since the Nazis used it, it’s become something very different.
No one’s perfect. No one is able to discern the real from the false all the time, but please do a little research to find out if what you’re turning around and reposting to everyone is true or not. It really doesn’t take that much time or effort on your part.
In closing, I’m going to self-mock on this subject a bit. There was a post circulating Facebook after the Trayvon Martin tragedy that depicted a tweet from Will Smith saying that “the woman who threw flour on Kim Kardashian was arrested on the spot, but the man who killed Trayvon Martin is still free.” Although the sentiment was well-placed, it turned out that Will Smith does not even have a Twitter account, and it was taken from a parody account. It’s still a good statement, but it loses steam when it’s publicized as said by someone who didn’t say it.
What do you think about these kinds of falsehoods that turn up on the internet and in the media on a regular basis?
P.S. Thank you to John Shanahan for giving me the inspiration for this post.