Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Whole Truth

When a forward appears in an inbox, it rarely has an author. Some Joe Schmo is sitting at his computer, spouting off nonsense based on something he heard some dude saying at the other pump while he was at the 7-Eleven. He mixes that with something he heard from his crazy Uncle Bubba, and some news story he half-listened to while he had a conversation with his wife about the bills. He's not brave or stupid enough to sign it. And now half of the nation is devouring every word. Not only are they soaking up his half-baked ideas, they are clicking the forward button and sending these ideas off to everyone they've ever known.

Gossip sent by email or Facebook is just as evil as the gossip that comes right from your lips. But the fact is that most people hit the forward or post button and don't think twice about it. They don't care if it's accurate. It doesn't even cross their mind that they are creating an exponential increase in the spread of lies. They "don't have time" to research anything. Even if research just means going to Snopes and typing two words in the search box. Here's a quote from one of the researchers at Snopes:

"For a good many people, it's not important whether things are true or not. It reflects what people want to believe. It reflects a worldview. It's their way of passing along things that concern them. Things they're afraid of. Like it could be, 'I don't care if Richard Nixon really did this. It sounds like something he would have done.' A lot of people are unwilling to acknowledge anything that contradicts their worldview. So telling them it's false doesn't necessarily slow them down. That's how urban legends get started for the most case."

I've gotta get off my soapbox. I have dirty dishes to wash.