Also known as prepackaged falsehood and non-wisdom that can often give you a false sense of intelligence and enlightenment. Whether it’s in Facebook, Twitter or any other social media you encounter, you will have a good lot of garbage in your feed passed off as truth. But, how many of us actually take the time to think through them before sharing? I do, and you may think you do, yet social media is still being flooded with drivel that’s mostly false. Those memes you see that quote famous people, are either tongue-in-cheek, grossly misstated, or outright lies… lies that can make you look stupid, ruin your car, or kill you.
So, why are these things so popular? We are products of the instant gratification age. We have been molded by the fast food, automatic seat adjustment, rear view cam, drive through banking, park in the spot absolutely closest to the door society. So, why would our social media be any different? We want our information just as fast, just as automatic, just as convenient and just as prepackaged as everything else in our lives. Just like fast food we don’t want to take the time to be sure we aren’t getting fed garbage. We get our news instantly and never look past the source we get it from, because we have so much else we would rather do, see, hear and play right now. We don’t want to mess with the details or turn our heads just a little further to get a better look at the subject.
We definitely do not want to go beyond the familiar and comfortable. We haunt the same places that appeal to our preconceived notions we were raised with. Our friends are our friends because they agree with everything we say, and vice verse. If they don’t, they were never our friend in the first place. At least that’s what we tell ourselves so we don’t feel like the closed off, narrow minded, sheep we’ve become. No place does this become so rudely apparent than the racial issues plaguing our world right now.
These issues are dividing us more and more, daily. We can thank the internet for that. Hey, at least you get the news on the race war, that many seem to really want, instantly. Don’t get me wrong, the internet is not in itself bad. It’s a great thing. However, not only do we have the sum total of human knowledge at our beck and call, we also have the sum total of idiocy at the speed of stupid. And because we refuse to take the time out of our over busy day to check the facts many of us get convinced of the craziest of ideas.
Too many believed it when Gliese 581g was reported to be an “earth-like” planet, and only because a single member leaked the news before anyone could stop him and tell him he’s too stupid to be a scientist let alone someone looking for exoplanets. Well, the report was found to be a false alarm, but that didn’t stop those who wanted to believe the idea so badly to become hostile to those who preached calm, collected reason before jumping to a conclusion before all the data was in.
The same thing happened in just the last twenty-four hours when Dr. Lawrence Krauss, of the LIGO team tweeted that gravitational waves were found. Well, LIGO itself refused to back up Dr. Krauss, who, it turns out, is more of a showboating egomaniac, like Richard Dawkins. And FYI, they often make appearances together, when tilting at religion. As a side note, I often wonder how it came to be that the job of science is not just the discovery of natural processes, but also to bait and troll religion.
When it comes to social memes, if you want to convince a lot of people of the factually incorrect, all you need to do is put it in a square picture, slap quotes around it, and drop some famous person’s name at the bottom and, bingo, many more will believe it than not. You would be absolutely amazed at the amount of false information that get’s passed around virally in this way. That is, if you took the time to look around and verify.
I know, memes take many forms and not all are bad. Some are funny, some may actually inform. I’m talking about those people that don’t give a first thought before sharing and flooding my feed with ten or twenty words combined to generate some kind of reaction instead of inform people of truth. It wasn’t that big of a deal before. I simply clicked on the down arrow and block the source, with the logic that if I cannot trust the source, I’m not interested in what it has to offer. However, recently I’ve been doing more source blocking than reading the stuff I really do want. You know, the not dumb things, the not mean things, just those things that enrich me.
Alas, getting what I want and need does not happen nearly enough anymore, but that’s life on the web. We do have to take the bad with the good. Yet, that doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to combat falsehood when we can, in hopes we can change a mind or two. If just one person out of a hundred stops and thinks, even for a second, then it is worth it. Even when ninety-nine people launch into such linguistic vitriol, that you wonder of they should be force-fed a box of soap by their mommies, it is worth combatting them. Obviously, we have the high ground of morality and truth on our side, so we shouldn’t get the feeling of being overwhelmed by these people. Calm reason will always win out over hostile attitude.
It is not just bad information that is at risk. Property can be damaged, in the case of the memes that promote putting sugar in your gas tank so the ethanol doesn’t freeze. Lives can be lost, as in the case where it is suggested, in a similar meme, to route a hose from your car’s exhaust pipe to inside the cab if your heater isn’t working. I admit… they are funny as hell, but when the wrong person gets that in their feed, they may actually try those things without checking. I know you may feel that if people are so dumb to try these things they deserve to have their car royally screwed and to lose their life. But… I mean, think about it, if you shared that last one, with the hose from your exhaust to your cab, and someone dies because of carbon monoxide poisoning… you are a party to murder, or at least manslaughter. You will have helped kill someone.
So, the Lemon appeals to it’s own audience, to take a moment to look into the validity of something before sharing it. I know, you may not be used to looking into these things, but you aren’t alone. I’m here to assist and give you a direction. I wrote a guide on detecting bullshit a while back, and it is a pretty easy thing to do. Click this link, even share it. Remember, it’s only funny until someone loses their car, or life.