Fish: Think before you post

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For those of you who post on social media before checking the facts, please pay attention.

I've seen some really dumb stuff on social media, but I guess that's really what social media is for. But since I'd like to think everyone wants to be tethered in some fashion to the truth and inherently do what is right, let me offer this: If it's on the Internet in meme form, chances are it's not factual. What's a meme, you might ask? A meme as defined on the Internet is a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied, often with slight variations, and spread rapidly by Internet users. It's origin is Greek (mimema, or that which is imitated). So, as you can see, these thing are not meant to be taken seriously, but they are often posted and accepted as fact!

Honestly, it frustrates me to no end. I see them all the time and sometimes I would like to think they are true, but alas they are often not true. For instance (and coincidentally the easiest way to prove my point), the latest meme circulating around about the lottery: On Monday this hit the Internet big time and it was wrong on all levels. It stated as follows: Powerball, $1.3 billion divided by the U.S. population of 300 million people and everyone receives $4.3 million. Then it proclaims "Poverty solved." It was missing one key component — math! Also, for the record, a simple Google search will show that there are 322 million people in the United States and when you divide that by $1.3 billion you actually come up with $4.04, which, for the record, isn't even enough to take up smoking or get a large fancy coffee drink at one of those franchise coffee joints! Needless to say, I would have loved to believe that the math was correct but it wasn't. So if you were one of the 1.2 million people who posted it, unpost it.

That is a simple example of what happens and is also a good example of one of the easiest to dispel. But what about all of those political memes that rail against the other party? These are the biggest offenders with no apologies despite accuracy or lack thereof. In fact, they often spark huge Internet debates (or as I call them, the great time suckers of our generation). But what's really happening here is you want to believe that something is true so much that you're willing to stake your own reputation on it. So you share, retweet, repost in hopes that it will advance your agenda.

But here's what's really happening, you're actually hurting your cause. If you're a political figure you are primed for this type of attention. Such is the case for a meme featuring Bush and Cheney with the following statement attached: "Unable to visit Europe due to outstanding warrants." But again, a simple search shows that the claim is false and no warrants exist. You can argue the point that there should be warrants for their arrests, but the fact is, they don't exist. Another that made the rounds stated President Obama signed an executive order forgiving all student debt loans. While Obama took executive action and called for the passing of a student loan refinancing bill, he never uttered a word about forgiving any debt. So there are examples from both sides of the aisle, and if you are sitting left and looking right you probably really want to believe that Bush and Cheney have world-wide warrants for the their arrests. And if you are sitting right and looking left you truly want to believe that our current commander and chief is doing his level best to let freeloaders free load.

So my advice to you is this, do not blindly post things without doing a little fact checking first. If I can get even half of you to do that we will make the Internet an infinitely smarter place to hang out. We will cut the vitriol in half and maybe become a calmer nation. Now, if you want to post grumpy cat stuff ... have at it! What the hell is up with that?

Fish is the morning talent on Classic Hits 92.7 FM. He also offers up his opinion online at www.whatdahell.net. Email him at fish@wk-vt.com.


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