Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Facebook, Bogus Timeline Posts, & Authentically Helping Others

If your Facebook timeline is like mine, rarely does a day go when you don’t see a post that asks you to share it because your act of sharing will somehow benefit the subject of the post. For example, today I found a post from a well-meaning friend asking me to repost a photo with a description that stated, “If this boy gets 100 shares he gets his heart transplant for free!” Most of us would immediately repost without question, after all, it’s the least we could do in situations like this.

If this boy gets 100 shares he gets his heart transplant for free!

But here’s the real problems with these posts: they are bogus just about every time. Or so it seems. Lately, when I’ve seen these posts, I’ve gotten into the habit of googling the bylines, and just about every single time an article from comes up telling me the post is bogus. Snopes usually provides a bit of additional background as well, such as who is really in the photos, when the post began circulating, and other variations of the post. Web sites like Snopes are excellent tools for helping sort out fact and fiction from the web.

Part of us wants to believe that we can help someone so easily with the click of a button. We may even justify our reposting of things like this because we say, “What can it possibly hurt.” But in some ways we are perpetuating a lie and just maybe giving people a false sense of having done something good for another human being when we’ve really done nothing.

But sometimes the real issue we have with the web is our own personal approach to it. We turn to the web sometimes to only verify the world as we wish it could be or want to it be. For example, we want to believe that there are people like this little child who need a heart transplant, and there are people like us who can help. Better yet, just maybe, these opportunities to repost these requests for help exist to give us an opportunity feel better about all the time we waste thumbing through these social media sites.

Perhaps the truth is simply this: you can’t really believe much of anything that comes through your social media feed, and if you want to really make a difference in someone else’s life, turn off Facebook and help someone face-to-face this holiday season. In the real world, need can be a bit more obvious and you don’t need Snopes to fact check. If you take a hard look at the real world around, I bet there’s someone whose needs are apparent, and we might have to do a bit more than simply repost.

1 comment:

  1. "We turn to the web sometimes to only verify the world as we wish it could be or want to it be." It is powerful and horrific all at once that we take the most powerful tool so widely available and bend it to only reinforce what-we-thought-all-along.