Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Truth Is Out There

We've all gotten them and probably still get them; the dreaded email with a subject line that begins with “FWD.” We look to see who sent it, and sure enough, it's “that person”; the one who always sends forwards of LoLCats, promises of receiving $1 for everyone we forward it to ourselves, and various other supposed “I swear to God this is true” nonsense. The question is, why? Most of this crap is just that, crap! It has been floating around the Internet for as long as the Internet has existed. In fact, I've gotten emails from people as little as a few months ago that I had also previously gotten as much as five years ago! Are people really that stupid? I have to ask. It's not like there's no way to find definitive proof of whether or not the myriad of garbage that hits our in-boxes is true or not. By now I would hope that just about everyone has at least heard of Snopes. So my question would be, if you've heard of Snopes, and you get an email like that, why the hell wouldn't you go look it up on Snopes before forwarding it to the ten people in less than .5 seconds it asks you to? I mean really folks, the old saying “if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is” applies. What's more is, Snopes is not even the only source of finding out if that “FWD: DON'T DELETE THIS! I SWEAR IT'S TRUE” email really is true or not (and trust me, 99% plus of them are bogus). There is also Hoax Busters (which I had been using before discovering Snopes), and About.com's “Current Internet Hoaxes, Email Rumors & Urban Legends” page, to name only two.

My general rule of thumb is, if the email subject line starts with FWD and is from a particular person who's notorious for sending forwards of this type, I just delete it without reading it. I will, however, on occasion read it to see which bullshit legend the person is perpetrating this time, look it up on one (or more) of the afore mentioned debunking sites, then hit 'reply to all' and send everyone that received the forward the link (or links) to prove it's bullshit in the hopes that the spreading of the bullshit will cease. For the most part, it's worked. At least, the friends and family members who used to send that sort of thing have stopped sending it to me. I don't know if that means they finally wised up, or just got tired of me sending them links to Snopes articles, thereby making them feel stupid, but either way, I don't have to deal with the “FWD: OMG [fill in whatever varied hoax bullshit here]” emails very often anymore.

So, before you hit that forward button next time, or reply to that prince from some far off African nation, take a moment to look that subject line up on Snopes or a similar site. You just might be thankful you did. The truth is out there; you just have to take the time to search for it.

~JC

Internet Hoaxes, Email Rumors and Urban Legends Debunking Sites:

Snopes [http://www.snopes.com/]

Hoax Busters [http://www.hoaxbusters.org/]

About.com Current Internet Hoaxes, Email Rumors & Urban Legends [http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/internet/a/current_netlore.htm]

and don't forget to Google for other sites like these as well.

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