Facebook, that shining beacon in the world of good friends and vague acquaintances, is one of the reasons that this blog is written. You see, we have emerged victorious from the Dark Ages of the dial up modem and the expensive mobile data package and come into the this – The Age of UnEnlightenment. The great lord of Broadband shines down on us, technology has become more portable and to complete the Trinity, the mobile data package has been unlocked from it’s prohibitive expense.
The problem with Facebook and other social networking and sharing sites is the fact that a bonanza of information is there for the taking, and of course sharing. This leads to the problem that information which is incorrect is proliferated through a vast amount of people in a very small amount of time. A recent example of this was the ‘Gang member initiation’ urban legend, that goes along the line that on the coming weekend that Gang members will be driving around without headlights and blah blah blah (I won’t further proliferate the rubbish). The ‘letter’ from a security firm said that they had been warned and to take to Facebook (rather than the more direct route of say the police, or hey even the mainstream media, they love that shit). A friend had recycled this ‘Just in case..’What is lacking here, besides common sense, is the timeliness and ability to filter information. In this instance, the person involved saw the information, pressed a single button to share it to their friends and BAM, there it is, sitting on the News Feeds of 200 more people (and the cycle continues).
We think that we are time poor, that single presses of buttons help us, that people really care about the posts that we make, that people need to have their information fed to them in tiny little bite sized chunks – but there is another word for time poor – intellectually lazy. We would rather have a ‘cool’ tidbit of information to share, rather than have to make the effort for a real piece of knowledge. We rather cram our heads with shit than we do with meaning (Don’t get on your high-horse here positive Psychology, I’m looking at you too). And who doesn’t love the ‘This common fruit cures cancer’ posts. Yep, because I expect that the next scientific breakthrough in terms of cancer will be by a naturopath who ran extensive randomised controlled trials with double blinding, and who’s research just didn’t make it into the Lancet. Not because of the fact that he has a negligible sample size for a benign cancer, but because of BIG PHARMA (they make me write it in all caps, sorry). Here’s the deal, if BIG PHARMA wanted to make money out of, let’s choose a fruit at random, soursop, then they would! Willow, yes the common tree, not the movie, is the main ingredient of Aspirin. Let’s face it, after starting production and sales of Aspirin, Bayer realised that the idea of pain relief just wouldn’t hold, they gave up on the concept and faded away to relative obscurity to the baying of local townsfolk yelling “How dare you use a common plant available to us all” Bayer never built their company from this discovery nor did they make a cent off that common tree (except for their 2.47 billion dollar profit in 2011)
Please, before you hit the ‘Share’ or ‘Like’ button, maybe do a Google search, check Wikipedia, or Snopes.com (for Urban Legends). Because, given a choice, would you rather impress your friends with a bit of trivia, or be informed?