If of course, you believe in that stuff.
I saw a post on Facebook fishing for followers. Can’t say I blame them, if you are in the blogging/media world you want followers. So you drop a snazzy headline, jazz up the article/video and wait for the fish to bite.
Of course, I bit. The headline was “How to spot Fake News”, with an emphasis on fake articles from the 2016 United States Presidential election. The Russian influence.
This article actually disappointed me. Not because it was about politics, and how the Russians used Facebook post to Fake News, but because that was all they talked about. As if the political aspects of Fake News are the most important aspects.
Yeah, well, of course it is important. You can argue the case that political Fake News is damning and hurts a nation. But what about all the other fake news? You know, the stuff people rarely even bat an eye at that it might be fake?
There is a name for that type of fake news, dozens of books, movies, t.v. shows, all that very popular stuff.
Or urban myths, tall tales, or jocular tales to entertain, and sometimes scare the bejesus out of you.
Some stories are meant to anger you, work on your emotions, and get you mad enough to do action.
Like this one below, meant to have you boycott Pizza Hut. A quick google search and you’ll find the story is a hoax meant to illicit anger and resentment. Nothing in the post is true, not even the owner of the post.
Years ago you would hear these stories by word of mouth, then came along email, and finally, social media.
The surprise of these stories is not their absurdity, nor how well they take a truth and twist it, but how eagerly people are ready to believe it. Many of us do, I have bought into some. It happens folks.
See this one below? Seems like a wonderful idea. And guess what? It actually works! But…yes, there is always a ‘but’ with these, this is not the 10-14 hour version. This is light it, and probably burn up really quick version. As the fire will go up the feeder logs before they can roll into the pit. In other words, you’re creating a bonfire in the form of a ‘V’.
Now a real version of a self feeding fire pit does exist, but it takes a lot of hard work and skill to build. Knowledge and a bit of elbow grease to get it to work.
This? Is not it.
It is however, a self feeding fire pit. So while the picture doesn’t lie, it neglects to tell you the outcome. You are supposed to be able to ‘set it, and forget it’. Instead you will probably need the garden hose to put it out before you ever get a chance to truly enjoy it.
If of course, you believe in that stuff…
Of course the worst Fake News out there are the medical claims. This fruit will cause (or cure!) cancer, diabetes, scurvy, kuru and possibly, if you are lucky, improve your sex life.
90% of us just make a sour face and scroll on. Then there are those posts, like the one above, that put you at risk if you follow their advice. Snazzy graphics and sketchy statistics lure you in.
Consider the current situation in the United States. There is a flu outbreak, it is all over the news. Two strains are being talked about, some 37 deaths reported so far. People are concerned and rightly so. The Flu is a dangerous thing.
Most of those who have not already gotten a shot, would be thinking, about now is a good time to get one. Then, while scrolling down on their Facebook feed, they run across something like the screen capture above.
That’s when it falls upon the individual to figure out what is what. Is this serious? Are those facts true? Wow, what in the heck have we been doing to ourselves all these years! Why would anyone EVER get a Flu shot?!
That is the number of people who died from the Spanish Flu. That happened a 100 years ago, the outbreak started in 1918.
Some 500 million people, or about a third of the world’s population at that time, became infected with the Spanish Flu. It was devastating.
Consider this. The CDC estimates some 291,000 to 646,000 die of seasonal Flu outbreaks world-wide in modern times, some 100 years after the Spanish Flu outbreak. Also consider that the vaccine for the flu is readily available in most developed nations.
Kind of shoots the hell out of the idea that vaccination is a bad thing doesn’t it? Yeah, sure, we’re talking a 100 years time, a particular nasty outbreak in 1918, no guarantee that another nasty outbreak will not occur in the future. Yet…
Do you really think not getting a vaccine is the best route? That vaccines do not matter? What about Polio? Small Pox? Measles?
This type of fake news preys upon those with a predisposed bias. Those who are wary of shots, doctors, medicines and well, the government.
Now, before you write off this Fake News, take a look at the bottom of the above photo. This is my screen capture. At the time I did this 1.1 million had viewed it. 32,000 had shared it. How many believed it?
Little Red Riding Hood was tricked by the Wolf, she was saved by the handy axe-wielding Woodsman. Snopes will help, but having a skeptical mind and good research skills will help you in this social media age.
Folklores of old usually had a ‘Moral of the Story’ part. As in, don’t walk in the woods alone. Never talk to strangers, be mindful of your surroundings. These were stories that taught children that the world is full of deceit. Best to be mindful.
I told my eldest two folktales throughout their childhood. I tell my youngest two these tales also. I feel these tales have lessons we have seemed to have forgotten in this day and age. As we plod along on social media, absorbing story after story, and our children are right behind us. Now is a good time to harken back to those old tales, to read them, and to listen to the moral of the story.
Good lessons in this day and age of Fake News.
Further reading and sources used in this blog.
[All opinions expressed in this blog are the authors alone. Unless the Reptilian Overlords have taken over my mind.]