Ever been told, “Count to ten!” Normally you hear these words when someone says something that causes your blood pressure to go up, your eyes to bulge out and you are gasping for air. The idea is that in taking a moment to compose yourself, counting to ten, you will avoid making the situation worse or embarrassing yourself.
Sometimes it works, and sometimes it just gives you an opportunity to refine your response. Regardless, consider counting to ten, or more, before posting something online or forwarding an email.
There was a time when people lived by the adage, “They can’t print it if it isn’t true!” I am not certain that old saying was ever correct, but it certainly isn’t today. People can say the most outrageous things through email, YouTube, twitter and other sources, with little fear that anyone will cry bull hockey, much less “Foul!” Even if someone is caught with their credibility hanging out, they can simply say, “I was certain (insert name) checked it out before he forwarded it.”
Here are some examples of the recent misinformation being forwarded via email or social network posts.
The Iowa Floods v Hurricane Katrina email is making the rounds again. A variation of it, the North Dakota Blizzard v Hurricane Katrina email was going around last winter. Suffice it to say both of these emails, pictures and all, are nothing but (expletive deleted)!
Both of them started several years ago and are resurrected every time a new “disaster” hits. Both contain inaccuracies and outright lies. Both contain an acorn of truth that might justify one or two of the questions raised by one version or another. Still, both are not worth the time it takes to delete them, much less forward.
Another recent post on a large social media site had its roots in a chain email that claimed the President’s healthcare monstrosity (sorry, lost my objectivity on this one) favored a certain religious group. Allegedly the healthcare law exempts a certain religious group from some parts of the legislation.
The truth is the bill could exempt any legitimate religious group that met the criteria for exemption. This would include religious groups that have been part of this country since before it was a country, as well as some that were founded on the west coast during the sixties. What it did not do was give preference to any particular religious group.
One iteration of the post or email even dragged in the concept of one religious group subjugating another religious group. I am not certain how one religious group could subjugate another religious group through the healthcare bill, but that concept was worked into the email. To be generous, I think the person that came up with that idea was off his (or her) medication.
A third email/post making the rounds claims that the new health care legislation will add a sales tax to the sale of every home sold in the United States after the bill is completely implemented. The email and associated articles or posts, is an exaggeration of a section of the bill that will likely cause some property sellers to incur additional capital gains tax. Not every transaction and not every seller will see such an increase, but some may.
Emails and posts like these are designed to do one of two things. They seek to enrage a portion of the population that reads the email and to make the originator feel important. In the first case, it usually works. Both sides of the issue, supporters and opponents of the issue or person in question, pop a few blood vessels, say a few choice words and quickly spread the feelings to their circle of friends and acquaintances. As for the second goal, you have to feel sorry for someone who feels important because they sent out an anonymous, in most cases, message that causes others pain and anguish.
The point is this. Just because someone figured out how to rewrite someone else’s email or upload a file does not make them an expert, a sage or for that matter an adult. This is especially true of people who send out email in ALL CAPS with pictures that could have been taken anytime in the last ten years.
Everyone using email and social media needs to take some accountability for policing what they forward or share. They should take a few minutes and do a little research before blindly forwarding something, posting it or sharing it. Those who do not are simply repeating the internet equivalent of vicious gossip, and risk looking foolish. They also risk having their email address blocked and their social network posts hidden.