I had several ideas floating around in my head today regarding things I could write about tonight, but all of them were trumped when a story flashed across my Facebook news feed. It was yet another forwarded article from an obscure, political web site. The article (and I use the term loosely) was held together by opinions, shoddy grammar, and few facts. Yet, according to the Facebook widget on the article, it had been shared over 7,200 times. Good Lord help us.
I wonder sometimes if the average American has lost all mental capacity for differentiating between propaganda and reality. Random pieces of information fly around the Internet, and people take them to be gospel. I thought at first that this behavior was mainly conducted by naive youth who were copying reports verbatim from online sources and handing them in at school, unaware that plagiarism is a punishable offense. I later discovered that some older (and otherwise truly intelligent) adults believe in the Internet’s truthfulness. That debunked my youth theory.
Why does so little thought go into reading and critiquing these articles for fictional qualities before forwarding them on? I mean, how legitimate is an article from a “news” source that would also list this video on the same page as an article about the president: “Man Kills Younger Brother By Making Him Eat Ounce Of Cocaine From His Butt in Police Car”. Seriously? I can’t make this stuff up. Before you forward an email about the killer spiders lurking under toilet seats in public restrooms, please check your facts through Snopes. (The spiders don’t lurk, by the way.)
Come on, people. THINK. Before you forward something, think critically about the source and not just the opinion behind the article. Just because you want to believe something is true does not actually make it true. Ignorance spread via disinformation is worse than ignorance alone.
The Internet is the most fascinating place on earth. It’s kind of like Vegas. There’s a lot to see, but only part of what you see can be believed.