I surrender–again

24 Apr

surrenderA while back, I took a great and momentous decision. I decided NOT to comment on anyone who reposts stupid or just plain wrong stuff on line without researching it first. When I was younger we used to have to spend hours in something called a ‘library’ to check whether something was true or not. Nowadays it’s simple enough to check on Google. But no-one does….

I said this a while back, and I have found myself sucked back into commenting in some vain last ditch heroic effort to get rid of some of the crap that circulates on Facebook. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Yet still I try, like King Canute trying to hold back the English Channel.

Because it annoys the hell out of me.

So please. Before you repost something… CHECK. It’s easy. Google it. Run it past Snopes or Hoax Slayer (see below). See if it’s still valid. See if it was ever valid.

I used to run big email and networking services, and it irks me to see so much crap filling up my newsfeed and going everywhere and back again when there’s so much really great stuff that I DO want to see. I want to hear people’s news. I want to be inspired. I want to laugh. There’s some amazing stuff out there. There are heartwarming stories. Amazing science. Crazy exploits. There are things that we really should be taking notice of. Big, planetary issues. Big social issues. Helping people who are hurting. Rejoicing with people who are rejoicing.

What I don’t want to be is to be buried under posts that have their origin in fear. ‘Your food isn’t what you think’. ‘There are scarier critters out there than science ever guessed’. ‘Facebook is trying to steal your data.’

But, honestly, I haven’t got time any more to comment on everyone that reposts silly things without checking. I want to spend more of my time creating great stuff, writing blog posts, recording programmes and sharing some of the awesome things that are going on in the world. And dancing. And keeping fit. And having fun. And spending time with my friends. And falling in love. And splashing in puddles. And creating wealth. And listening to my heart and its resonance with the Universe. And being happy.

So here’s some things you’re going to have to work out for yourselves….

1) Anything that asks you to do something complicated for someone else to protect their privacy. Just bonkers. Privacy is actually pretty simple. Contrary to popular opinion, Facebook are not stupid and they do have controls in place to protect your privacy. Set it to ‘Friends Only’. Simples.

2) Photographs of ridiculously sized animals are probably fake. This includes very big spiders/snakes/creepy crawlies. Just think whether these things would actually function under Earth gravity. The same goes for pictures of very small animals. If it looks like a normal sized cat made very small by Photoshop, it probably is.

3) Crazy offers for stuff from web pages that have only existed for two days yet promise to give away hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of kit are almost certainly false. (If you just tell them what colour you want. Oh, and fill in a ridiculous questionnaire to give away your personal data so they can spam you or steal your identity.)

4) Ridiculous claims about margarine/ onions/ chicken nuggets are actually patently untrue – if we just checked.

5) Denzel Washington/ Lady Gaga/ Jon Bon Jovi are not dead. Just check before writing that tearful obituary…

6) Posts claiming that Microsoft/IBM/Amazon/The Red Cross will donate money if you like a post are complete tosh. That heartwrenching photo of some poorly child got used without their permission… so don’t perpetuate the misery. (A more recent version of this one designed to pull on the heart strings of the spiritual asks you to respond with ‘amen’ to pray for the health of a poorly baby. It doesn’t work that way, people….and what right do we have to share some poorly child’s picture around the internet without the parent’s permission?)

7) ‘Did you see what she did in public?’ video clips really ARE there to steal your data.

8) Pictures that ask you to like them or comment to ‘see what happens’ will, in fact, shock and stun you by REMAINING EXACTLY THE SAME. You know this.

9) There are far more instances of three Fridays, three Saturdays and three Sundays in one month than are sometimes claimed. Like, it happens a couple of times a year.

10) If it seems totally implausible that the guy can fly a plane with a wing missing… it probably is.

11) There are no free Tesco/Asda cards waiting for you if you just click ‘like’ on that post. Neither is there a free Audi RX8 waiting to be won if you just tell them what colour you’d like.

So please. Before you just repost it, do some research. Check it out (and, yes, I have been fooled before, and probably will be again. But not often). I know you’re busy… but as soon as you post that junk on your newsfeed, all your friends suddenly have to deal with it too. And they are busy as well.

(While I’m here, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t loop off on a tangent, I’m also irritated by ‘share to win’ offers that clutter up my newsfeed. I want to see interesting stuff, not find out that someone wants to win an ipod/corset/holiday. Would you tell me this stuff in conversation? Do we really want to do people’s marketing for them? I don’t want to see these and I bet you don’t either. Give me some stuff that’s interesting.)

Heretical moment: I also get a bit frustrated with the constant petitions for Starbucks/Amazon/Tesco/ whoever to give some of their money back in taxes because they are paying it somewhere else. We should complain to a government who allows this sort of tax loophole, not try and shame companies who are trying to make a profit and keep people in jobs – and, believe it or not – actually trying to follow the rules and then wake up to find the world has turned against them because they (shock horror) tried to maximise their profit. Because – and be honest now – if you could save tax by doing it… you’d do it too. OK, rant off.

Oh. And posts that trade on other people’s misery. Just cause they are in a video doesn’t mean they’re not real people with real feelings… just cause they’re overweight or lack ‘normal’ dress sense doesn’t mean we can just photograph them in Walmart and laugh? Does it?

So here’s a couple of sites that you’ll need, in my absence.

a) FaceCrooks.com

b) snopes.com

c) hoax-slayer.com

d) thatsnonsense.com

Do what I do. Assume it’s crap first and then challenge the internet to prove me wrong. Especially if it sounds as if it’s based on fear. If you’re going to repost it, for heaven’s sake check it out first. Surely?

So what DO I want to see? Well, if we can get rid of all that junk then I have loads of time for you to tell me what you had for breakfast or the fact that you’ve just had coffee. Really. Make it funny and I actually AM interested.

But especially send me

1) Pictures of cats doing funny things. Big cats or small cats, I don’t really mind. Or dogs. Or monkeys. I’m not speciesist.

2) Heartwarming stuff. Photos that make my heart sing.

3) Inspirational stuff. Videos that make me think. Quotes that make me ponder a bit. Stuff that interrupts my thought patterns. Beautiful pictures of amazing places.

4) News. I like to know what you’re doing, if you think it’s important enough to want to share it with me.

5) Interesting ‘oh my god that’s amazing’ stuff. Clever ideas. Science that takes my breath away.

6) Things that make me laugh. Or cry. Or both at once.

7) Witty pictures involving coffee. Or cake. Or both.

I’ll look forward to seeing your good stuff. The rest.. well, just think before you post it. Check before you post it. Please!

And let’s use this amazing, incredible technology to spread a little love and happiness.

TimSignature

PS I know you’re going to ignore this and carry on anyway… but I feel better already!

PPS I’m also going to ignore grammatical disasters and misplaced apostrophes. While it will still make me twitch, you’re on your own, grammar wise.

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