Monday, April 22, 2013

Who Knows?

It has come to this Michigan Gypsy's attention that there is an epidemic running rampant through our society these days. This persistent unpleasantness of this infection is so wide-spread that is had become almost impossible to ignore:

No one really knows what the hell they are talking about.

Now I mean no offense, and acknowledge that I myself occasionally suffer the symptoms of this sad affliction. This state of affairs is so extensive that we can no longer afford to sit idly by (I believe there is a Facts R Your Friends Celebrity Concert in the works). When attempting to diagnose this disease, one must look to the main culprit of this contagion......laziness. 

I'm looking at you, Furious Facebook Sharer & Enthusiastic E-Mail Forwarder! In today's culture of over-sharing that allows us to seed ignorance as one would sow handfuls of wheat in a hungry field, we no longer take the time to think before we act. Being able to broadcast a scrap of information to hundreds of our nearest and dearest with a click of a finger has resulted in the formation of a toxic cloud of falsehood that can engulf even the levelest head.

Take for example, the case of the dreaded E-Mail Influenza

This illness starts off innocently enough, perhaps there is an email containing important information about a school or organization that you send on to those you know will need it. Next you forward a hilarious video of a cat playing the piano or a baby dancing (remember that one?). Then before you know it you are forwarding several emails every single day to your entire contact list. Forget that these emails almost always end up in the recipient's junk or trash file, but this condition is know to be very hard to self-diagnose ~ "MY emails are actually informative," "I'm sure that if people have this persuasive information they will agree with me,""I'm doing a good thing by supporting my cause."
Sound familiar?
The only cure for this affliction? The Hard Question
Just because you know someone enough to have their email address does not mean that you know them enough to predict their opinions and beliefs. Forwarding emails that contain polarizing views, un-verified propaganda, or possibly insulting images or statements can be perceived at the very least as annoying, and at the very worse as pompous, unpleasant and invasive. So ask yourself the following questions before you hit that Forward button: "Why am I forwarding this email? Is my motivation worth the risk of alienating my contacts, friends and family?" And if you choose to continue your forced influx of information, then please don't blame the rest of us for hitting "delete all."

Now we move on to the Manic Media Mumps:

This is perhaps the most shocking ignorance affliction since it strikes at the heart of our information steam, the news media. Since the invention of the idiot box, our entire nation has gathered around our beloved glowing screens to listen to the nightly news. The level of trust gifted to the media is staggering in it's ability to sway the way we see the world. Regardless of your opinions on which network provides the most accurate depiction of the facts, the reality of news is that if we see a story reported at 6 o'clock we accept it as fact. If your trusted anchor tells you that there is a fire in the next town over, you feel comfortable passing that information along to others. But what happens when the Media gets it wrong?
these mistakes run the gauntlet from a local Fox affiliate in Dallas, Texas misidentifying one of the Boston Marathon suspects as television star Zooey Deschanel, to CNN and Fox News wrongly interpreting the Supreme Court's decisions on the Affordable Care Act. More humorous mistakes include Vogue Magazine mis-identifying Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dan Baer as an interior designer and the Miami Herald claiming that the National Science Foundation "funded a study on Jell-P wrestling at the South Pole." The suggested treatment for the Manic Media Mumps is the tried and true Grain of Salt Treatment. Stay tuned to stay in the loop, but please remember, everyone makes mistakes, even Anderson Cooper. 

The last, and perhaps grimiest, of information germs is the Facebook Fuzzy Falsehood.

This icky little fellow likes to pop up on Facebook feeds on an almost daily basis. Warnings of an alarming disposition, cautions of a dubious nature, doctored and photo shopped images that "prove" something or another and "facts" that has no substantiation, are all early warning signs of this persnickety affliction. Once infected, sufferers re-post information without bothering to find out if it is actually factual. For example, there is not a set of coordinates on Google Earth that show the disposal of a murdered individual, Paul Ryan did not refuse to tip an elderly waiter, the vague warning about bad guys using small children to trick and assault women has been a circulating urban legend since 1985, writing "Frank" or "Frankie" in place of a stamp will not get your letter mailed for free, and posting a notice on your Facebook wall will not actually protect your copyright and privacy rights....sorry. Unfortunately, there seems to be no shortage of individuals that love to share and re-post these germs and others like it, setting off a chain reaction of falsehood.

Happily, there are ways to counteract this tidal wave of ignorance. In order to inoculate yourself, please fill the following prescription~

2 heaping tsp. of Common Sense
1 leveled cup of Healthy Skepticism
A dash of Actually Reading Something Once in a While
1 lb. of Do Your Own Damn Research

Mix thoroughly and administer with occasional doses of accompanied by long pauses of thinking before clicking. Reapply as necessary

p.s bonus Gypsy points will be awarded to those who checked my examples to make sure they were actually true :)

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