Here’s a thought – anybody with Whatsapp on their phone must surely also have Google search? So if you come across a piece of potentially important news and feel this consuming urge to share it with all your friends and relatives to possibly save lives and become a hero, would it take away from your potential heroism to first fact-check whatever you’re planning to share, and then if you find substantial proof, go ahead and share it?
Okay let me explain.
So I am, for no fault of mine, part of a Whatsapp group with all my cousins in it. This means for most days I wake up to hideous ‘Good Morning!’ messages on my phone. I’ve learnt to live with that. I’m also learning to cope with all the terrible jokes – the Santas and Bantas, the misogyny, the sheer tiredness and lack of funny in all of it. What gets my goat (am I using the phrase right?) is when I have to encounter, in 2015, those old, thoughtlessly forwarded messages, the urban legends, the outdated rumours et al. The kind that make you want to divorce your cousins, if such a thing was possible.
This morning, one of my dear cousins, out of the goodness of her heart, shared a very important message from some govt health officer – yay, it was the ancient Pin Prick HIV Attack story! If you were too young or afraid of technology in the late 90s, you can read all about it here: http://www.snopes.com/horrors/madmen/pinprick.asp
Those of us who had learnt to use email by the turn of the century will remember this story from the Hall of Fame of Terrible Internet Hoaxes. Even if you have never heard or read this story before, isn’t it the most logical step to first go online and read up a bit before spreading the joy? Aren’t we all long beyond that age of trigger-happy panic mongering? When communication has become so fast and easy, doesn’t it follow that by 2015, we should consider being just a little responsible about what we communicate?
And if not, can I at least have the luxury of a divorce attorney?