REBLOGGED: Before You Share, Google It

Chuck Wendig of terribleminds explains why we should google things before sharing them, lest you look silly. It’s advice I need to follow more often to be honest. Warning for language, for those of you who get annoyed by that.

Before You Share It, Google It

by terribleminds

Imagine that Person A has a sandwich.

He says to me, “Damn, this sandwich is delicious. Best sandwich I have ever eaten.” He describes its ingredients in detail: a bounty of meats and cheese and rare mustards, mm-mm-mm.  Then he says, “We should all share this sandwich.” And you think, dang, that’s very nice of him.

So, you take a quarter of the sandwich for yourself and then you pass the rest along. Maybe you’re hungry, so you take a bite. Or maybe you decide to wait for later and let someone else eat it.

If only you have peeled back the bread and looked inside because it’s just — I mean, it’s just full of scat. Turtle turdlets and otter dung and the sloppy mess from an irritable gopher.

Don’t worry, nobody really fed you a shit-filled sammy.

But also, definitely worry, because the truth is much worse.

Truth is, the internet’s informational sharing mechanism is pretty much that. It’s a lot of people passing shit sandwiches around, ignorant of or pretending they’re not actually shit sandwiches.

Given the horror show present in places around the globe recently — Beirut, Paris, and so forth — the informational sharing mechanism has been like ordure fertilizing a garden of only ordure. During times of crisis and concern, the misinformation shared often seems to spike sharply for reasons both sinister and foolish. Some folks want to actively share propaganda, and other people who spread the propaganda around because it sounds awfully good and awfully true and so surely it’s not propaganda at all (spoiler warning: it is). The most sinister of propaganda is the stuff that doesn’t read like propaganda at all. It sounds sensible. It comes from smart-sounding folks. Maybe it even comes from a primary major media source. Or! Maybe it comes from a friend. And we trust friends. Above all others. The circle of trust amongst people can be tighter and stronger than any other bond, and we like to think it keeps out bad ideas but sometimes it does the opposite — it traps the bad stuff within where we all huff it like glue.

This is easily solved, at least on the Internet.

It’s called “just fucking Google it.”

You know the paranoid phrase IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING?

Add a new one to your panoply of phrases:

BEFORE YOU FUCKING SHARE IT, JUST FUCKING GOOGLE IT.

Because usually, the order of operations goes like this:

a) see a thing

b) maybe read it all the way through or maybe just enjoy the insightful headline

c) SHARE IT LIKE SYPHILIS

Here, I would add a mere extra step:

a) see a thing

b) maybe read it all the way through or maybe just enjoy the insightful headline

c) FUCKING GOOGLE IT

d) determine whether or not you should share this thing or not

The impetus behind me asking for a slight shift in your Internet information-sharing habits is this: on Facebook, that most fertile breeding ground of dum-dummery, someone I was “friends” (air quotes are key) with shared a post from some ministry that was also so “patriotic” I’m pretty sure the writer ejaculates every time he sees an American flag. This post was all about how HEY GUESS WHAT JAPAN NEVER HAD ANY MUSLIM TERROR ATTACKS BECAUSE JAPAN KEEPS THEM MUSLIMS OUT, and then it goes on — sounding very factual and intellectual and actually not at all like my frothy caps-lock tone suggests! — to lay out its case with facts and details. Japan doesn’t allow Muslims into the country, Japan doesn’t allow the study of Islam, and only a “few hundred” Muslims even live in the country. I mean wow. Who knew?

So very simple and straightforward, right? Japan is safe because Japan closed its doors to Islam.

Full stop. End of story. Huzzah and hooray.

Now, let’s for a moment try to see past the sheer irony of someone like this using Japan as an example — I say ironic because I’m guessing that this dipshit would normally froth at the mouth if he even heard the words “Pearl” and “Harbor” in the same sentence. Further, let’s also look past the fact that even if it were all true, that doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t make it simple…

It’s all bullshit.

Which is easily discovered through the strategy of —

Wait for it.

Waaaaaaait for it.

JUST FUCKING GOOGLE IT.

All you gotta do is take like, less than two minutes of your life and Google it. Hell, Google already had this one locked and loaded in the chamber, as it auto-filled the search term for me. It’s not only bullshit, it’s old bullshit — years-old from one of those chain letter e-mails you probably got from your racist grandpa. And it takes a shallow dive to see the author of the piece is a one of two authors who co-wrote this lunatic e-book about immigration (spoiler warning: its cover offers a big red clumsy font and an image of the burning World Trade towers) and whose entire presence on the Internet is a racist sham. (I’m not linking to any of this because, really, ugh.) And of course statistically, the 1.6 billion Muslims globally could not possibly be related to the fractional number of terrorists in the world, so tying one to the other is super-dubious and…

Point is, it took me no time at all in my day to suss this out. It took as much effort as it takes to clean a filthy window so that you can see through it more clearly.

It’s not your fault. Our brains are poorly wired. You know how like, Dell computers come pre-loaded with lots of junk-ware? Our brains come loaded with a lot of the same crummy software. Fallacies and fritzing logic centers and synaptic tangles that let us trust anecdotal information over statistical reality. Surely once upon a time this bloatware probably helped us defend ourselves from baboon attacks or something, but those days are gone, and now as we sit plump and happy anxious in our office chairs, we have to defeat our fucky reptilian brains and cleave to some kind of logic. Particularly when sharing information — because information creates for us a story, and story is important. Narrative matters. That’s why propaganda exists.

Here someone will probably say, WELL IT HAPPENS ON BOTH SIDES, and sure, yeah, yes, it does. And I’ve done the thing too where you share something and then learn fairly quickly that it’s old, outdated, or just plain wrong-o. Thing is, the power of JUST FUCKING GOOGLE IT is that it will limit the bullshit on all sides of a thing. It’s not perfect, no. It will not grant you 20/20 vision — certainly you have to possess reason and common sense, and further, Google is capable of floating bullshit to the top of the pond, too. And sometimes it’s not as easy as taking just a minute or two of your time. Sometimes it takes some actual reading! (gasp.) Just the same, in my experience it’s still a very good start. God knows, you might even learn something in the process.

So, repeat after me:

BEFORE YOU FUCKING SHARE IT, JUST FUCKING GOOGLE IT.

Truth will out. And, hopefully, Google will out, too.

(Small call to action, here: if you are capable of donating to charity, please consider doing so. Charity Navigator will rate charities for you and show you vital statistics of each charity, and so you might want to look at Doctors Without Borders, or the American Refugee Committee.)

terribleminds | November 16, 2015 at 12:56 pm | Categories: The Ramble | URL:

 

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