The internet today is filled with knowledge condensed into wonderfully convenient graphics with an embedded bit of inspirational text in the form of facts or a quotation. These wonderful little nuggets of wisdom are designed to quickly resonate with you in hopes that it will quickly garner support by achieving “likes”, but ultimately inspire somebody to “share” the meme with their friends.
When successful, the distribution can quickly become exponential and reach a majority of the online population very quickly earning the phrase “going viral”. The irony is in the fact that some messages are sometimes unknowingly infected with lies.
Some of these infographics are purposefully created out of hatred with hopes of discrediting their political opponents or mocking others’ religious beliefs. Some are carefully fabricated to help generate support for their own baseless cause. Some are created with satirical messages but the humor and irony is lost on the people reading it. Due to our own laziness, deceit, stupidity, and hatred, these cute unsuspecting little graphic monsters have become more dangerous than ever.
Before you choose to share something on Facebook, Twitter or other social media that makes any sort of claim, please take the following steps as to not contribute to the distribution of ignorance and general dumbing down of our society. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated so that we can save humanity from this wolf-in-digital-clothing threat.
1) Find Something to Share
This is the easiest step. You’ll know it when you see it, your immediate inner dialog sounds something like this:
“I knew it! See, this little graphic with its handy-dandy quote so simply sums up everything that I’ve always wanted to say but I was too lazy to create myself. I need to share this ASAP with everyone I know so they can understand the glory of my wisdom!”
Or when you are overcome with fight or flight, you might think of saying:
“This is the most terrifying thing I’ve read all hour, and my friends and loved ones are in immediate danger if they don’t know about it! I have to forward this along so I can prevent the needless pain and suffering of my loved friends and family!”
2) Do Your Homework
This is the hardest step. Open a new browser tab, and spend at least 3 minutes to complete at least 3 searches that aim to discredit the text or graphic. Yes, you read that right, dis-credit. It is painfully counterintuitive to take your precious time to find evidence that goes against the exact thing you are trying to share. It hurts. It burns.
You’ll know you are getting this step right if you hate doing it. This is the reason most people skip it altogether, so trust me when I say this is the most important step. You can trust me, because I’m on the Internet saying so.
3) Document Your Evidence
When you find evidence that disproves what you’d like to share, which is most likely the case, copy the URL and be ready for step 4.
If for some reason you’ve chosen to ignore step 2 and by some miracle you find evidence that unconditionally supports that the stated facts are true and verifiable, copy the URL.
Bad Sources: www.anyusanewswebsite.com www.libaralssuck.com www.conservativessuck.com www.religiouspeoplesuck.com www.athiestssuck.com www.insertmybiashere.com www.inserttheotherguysbiashere.com
4) Time to Share
You are now ready to share your compact digital wisdom with the world. Before submitting it, be sure to add the URL you found and your own flavorful comment that shows how your newly-found knowledge has affected you. See below for some examples.
4a) It is True
If, on that rare occasion, you have evidence from a credible source that validates your meme, you may now feel free to say something like this:
“You dumb (insert choice of derogatory swear) keep denying it, but here is my proof that you are all wrong and I am right! Those (insert opposing opinion group here) are just a bunch of idiots, I wish you all would see the truth that I have put before you and stop denying it!”
You are an arrogant asshole that nobody listens to, and you still feel the need to beat people over the head needlessly to make yourself feel better, so that might be the perfect comment to leave. Or, you can comment with something like:
“I’d like to share this cool graphic, but before I did, I checked around and found this interesting reference that shows that it is indeed true. I’m sorry if the truth hurts some of my friends who think differently than I do, but I thought it was important to share. If someone discovers something to the contrary, please share so we can discuss it.”
4b) It is False, Do Not Share
If you have discovered evidence that disproves the truth of your little nugget of wisdom, your first inclination may be to not share it all. Great. That is all, your work is done here, moving along, have a nice day. You have passively contributed to making our world a better place. But although you may feel defeat, you could still triumph if you proceed to 4c.
4c) It is False, Share Anyway
You have found evidence that your precious digital discovery contains false information, and you now wish to make the world a better place by revealing the ruse. You may choose to say something like:
“I am being oppressed with these (insert expletive here) lies! The (insert other side here) manufacture this propaganda, and you all eat it up like sheep! Open your eyes to my truth!”
You are offended and wanted to express yourself, but realize that most people will not care since overly-self-important viewpoints are easily dismissed on social media. Or, you can add a comment like:
“At first I was excited to see this but then I took 3 minutes to discover that I had fallen into a trap of my own confirmation bias, and would like to share a link that shows this is actually false. I almost didn’t share it, because I do not believe in spreading information that was designed to initiate hate and perpetuate lies. However I still want to share because I want other people to know that this is a lie so that they can stop the spread if they encounter it as well.”
When appropriate you can also add,
“Additionally, people need to lighten up and get a sense of humor.”
5) Follow Up
You think you are done, but this step is most often overlooked or ignored altogether. You must now watch comments to your post and respond thoughtfully. Here is a simple guide based on the veracity of the comment you receive.
5a) Your Supportive Friends
A majority of your friends and family share your bias, and will most likely chime in with support for your supported meme, or cheer your heroics of unveiling the lies. This will make you feel good about yourself and confirm the reason you posted it in the first place. Life is good. Be sure to like their comment to yet confirm the fact that they confirmed your confirmation bias, or confirm the fact that they confirmed your disconfirmation.
Many friends will not respond at all. You can un-friend them now if you wish, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
5c) Intellectually Capable Friends
Some of your friends will respond with respectful surprise. You have shown them evidence that contradicts their currently held beliefs. Spend time with these friends, they are willing to change their beliefs based on new evidence, and they may need your support in helping overcome their cognitive dissonance to do so. This is the main reason we completed step 2, so our family and friends won’t be bigoted assholes anymore. Take time to appreciate your accomplishment and treat yourself to a glass of wine or a new semi-automatic assault rifle.
5d) Angry Friends
Some of your friends will reply in a very loud and angry way. Please don’t blame this person, they do not know how to handle cognitive dissonance, and chances are they did not even read your supporting article before they got upset. Be sure to welcome them to provide their own unbiased evidence that supports their counter-views. When that happens, please take the time to return to step 2, research their claims, and respond to them accordingly always using a polite yet slightly disrespectful tone.
Please note, you will have little to no success in convincing this group of frustrated friends anything, this is normal. The only respectful thing you can do is be willing to be rational and accept new evidence when it is not completely bat-shit crazy.
Thank you for your cooperation in following this simple procedure to make our world a better place by helping to purge the digital lies from our social media.
Of course you know that you should never trust anything you read on the Internet, which admittedly includes this article. So, feel free to wholeheartedly ignore this simple 5-step procedure and continue living happily in your own ignorance. Your choice. Have a nice day.
DISCLAIMER OF SATIRE
This article is intended as satire, so please read it accordingly. To some extent I believe that all satire should be labeled as such as to prevent the weak-minded from getting unnecessarily upset. As with all satire, which is to be taken with a grain of salt, it also has it’s roots in truth. Some of this article stems from seeds of truth, and some of it is purposefully provocative bullshit. You just need to figure out which is which. Go back to step 2 and get started, good luck.
There is an uncomfortable laughter and mild anger that we get when we read articles like this, because we know at some level it is true. I hope this awkwardness awakens us to seek out the real truth, whatever that may turn out to be.