Wednesday, October 14, 2009

OMG! You MUST Read This!!!!!

Earlier today, a co-worker showed me an e-mail that his brother had forwarded on to him. The top of it shouted in large, bold capitals that the message contained political cartoons that you (as the reader) would otherwise never see, because they were from Australia.

Except for the fact that they weren't from Australia, unless The Times-Picayune has gone very, very, far offshore. It turned out to be simply a series of conservative (as in anti-Democrat) cartoons from the likes of Glen McCoy, Chuck Asay, and others. Far from having to subscribe to am Australian newspaper to read them, all you'd likely need to do is navigate over to Slate.

In a similar vein, I've gotten e-mails myself from family and friends that take something reasonable, and wrap it up in hysteria.

All of this makes me wonder what it is about people that they don't seem to regard certain information as worthwhile for it's own sake, but as something that needs to be tarted up to attract people's attention. While these sorts of things tend to take on a life of their own in the wilds of the Internet, someone made the decision to try to make these things more attractive to readers, by claiming American cartoons are actually Australian, or that the vague recollections of an attendee of a self-defense seminar are actually warnings from a police officer. I mean, if your family and friends are conservative Republicans, why wouldn't political cartoons critical of President Obama and Democrats in general from New Orleans or Denver be of interest? Why would you feel the need to attribute self-defense advice to a police officer? Is that really the only circumstance under which people would read it?

I suspect that part of it is simply the sheer volume of information that comes our way. But I think that part of it also lies with the fact that perhaps we aren't as selective as we should be with the information we share, and therefore, we have to do more work to convince people that THIS random e-mail that we forwarded without fact-checking is somehow more worthy than the other 20 that we sent over the past month. It seems to me that the best way to get information through to someone is to be understood as a credible source. Time consuming, yes, but it pays off in the long run.


twif said...

well, if professional journalists and pundits don't bother to fact-check and blithely (or insiduously, as the case may be) pass on half-truths, misinterpretations and outright lies...why should grandma or uncle joe?

Aaron said...

Good point, Twif.