Saturday, February 27, 2010

Information overload

In old days, like before the internet, information passed a lot slower from person to person.

If you had a joke or a story to tell, someone would have to "tell it" to you. You could decide right then and there if you liked it or didn't. You also could decide whether or not this bit of information was worthy to be passed on.

Consider a joke from the third grade. One child tells you, and then you tell someone else. Three weeks later, the joke has made full circle and is back at you. And that was in a small town with a small school.

For other types of information, you needed a book or a magazine. Of course, there was T.V.
The authoritative "written word" was something that only high brow people had access to, since they actually had to WANT to find it.

My point? The credibility of the information was close to the source. If it had an authoritative "feel" to it, it probably was written by an expert of some sort. My generation (40ish) and older is somehow brainwashed to trust authoritative sounding things.

The younger generations are instinctively rebellious towards this or cautiously suspicious. In a sense, they (the younger people) are smarter than us. They are trained skeptics, and we didn't train them to be that way. Why is that? Growing up on the internet and email forwards, scams, unstable government and shifting economy has trained them. They grew up in spite of our naivete-our diet of JFK speeches and hopeful America of progress and success. We trusted everything. They trust nothing.

Speaking of trusting everything, it brings me to the impetus for writing this high brow post: email forwards--again. (not again!) Yes, you need to hear it again. Well, not you, specifically. But someone out there needs this, so you can share it.

We need to be discerning. Anything that says, "forward this to your friends" is an email forward. Let's consider this logically.

1) If it has to tell you to forward this to your friends, do you think you can trust it? If it is really that good, wouldn't you just do this normally? Why then, do THEY want you to forward it?

2)Authoritative sounding forwards that start with "Dr. such and so says.." There are a million doctors out there, but unless it is a doctor I KNOW, like my favorite family physician, Dr. Woodman, I really don't care what Dr. such and so says. My favorite Dr. Woodman hides behind his desk when he sees me coming because I question everything he says and ask him to site sources, dates, etc. for anything he says. (Oh yeah, I do that) Even Dr. Woodman is put to the test and not trusted implicitly.

3) SNOPES.COM can verify anything for you. This week I just got on snopes and put it "drinking cold water after a meal causes cancer?" It said: FALSE. It was so easy peasy. Anyone can do it.

In Summary, let me reiterate:

1) Everything that comes in an authoritative written form is not authoritative or even true.

2) EMAIL forwards are not a good source of reliable information.

3) People who are older are more prone to believe these things because of the way we grew up. Your kids really are smarter than you if you are 40 or older.

4) I think I'll wait another 3 months before going on this rant again.


Mrs. Parunak said...

Amen! Another great high brow post. I always like your high brow posts. And you're so right about not believing everything in e-mail forwards. I once got a forward about how kids licking Purell off their hands could get such bad alcohol poisoning they could have convulsions. Well, wouldn't you know it, the very next day, my toddler got a hold of one of the little Purell bottles I keep in my purse and got the lid off and got some in her mouth. I called Poison Control in a panic. After the woman finished yawning, she assured me that it would be just fine. The worst that would happen was that my daughter might act drunk. As it turned out, she didn't even do that. End of scary story. And to think, if I had just been a little less gullible, I would have been a lot less scared.

Sarah said...

Hey..thank you for dropping by my blog, it's great getting new commentors!!!


Sarah xxx

kristilea said...

I love that site! A friend showed it to me when I forwarded her an e-mail and told her I was suspisiuos(or however you spell that) about it. There are so many false e-mails going around out there. I'm glad there are people hot on the trail to finding out the truth about them and letting us know!

Becky said...

Shhhh, don't tell anyone, but I'm 40. Maybe I'm right on the borderline between the time of abject belief in authority figures, and an equivilent amount of distrust in said figures (or maybe it was being raised by a former moonshine runner that caused my distrust-either way...), but I question everything. PERIOD. And I don't forward those e-mails, but I'd have to admit that my all-time favorites are the e-mails that come in with "...verified by Snoops...", or "...check it out on Snoops...", and the person that forwarded it didn't bother to check it out. Most of them are false, or have a true basis, but were added onto in such a way that they are now basically false. I've been tempted to reply back to people who do that, but I've decided it's probably best not to alienate everyone.

Kathryn said...

Some of these things irritate me so much! If, on the rare occasion, i choose to forward it & it says, "Send this to all your friends" (10 people in the next 10 minutes, etc.); i delete that before sending it on.

I HATE the guilting that some of these things use. "If you really love Jesus . . . " I pray (as i delete these) "Lord Jesus, you know i love & honor you & do try to tell people about you, but i am not going to send this on just 'cause it tells me it proves i love you.

Some issues Snopes reports on i take with a grain of salt. They always side with big pharma & conventional medicine. But most of the rest of their reports appear to be reliable.

sara said...

OK, here's how unsentimental I am - folks get a gently-worded warning about forwarding silly things to me and the second time they get blocked from my email. I have far too much blog surfing to do to waste time reading dumb emails. ;)

And this is why nobody emails me.

Sarah said...

Mails that ask you to send it on to 10 people etc.are often used to get addresses for advertisers. That's where a lot of our junk mail comes from!
Thank you for your good post.

Sarah J

Braley Mama said...

I just dump them I don't even open them. But people keep on sending them to me, even people I have told I do not read these things! Your post is super funny! I am sure you have more wisdom than your children though:O)

Marsha Egan said...

And, just think, if you DO forward to 10 of your contacts, good chance they'll question YOUR marbles.

Anonymous said...

Amen, sistah!

Organizing Mommy said...


They question my marbles already. I don't need to give them any fuel. LOL.