I think it’s time we use our head for more than just a hat rack.
I say this not to be rude, but to be REAL. I’ve seen article after article posted on social media lately which have either been misrepresented or purely satirical (definition below). In spite of the embellished, falsified or sarcastic nature of these articles, they are inciting anger and sadness (which can lead to depression) from people who are reacting before they research the source’s legitimacy.
In other words, some of you are gettin’ all riled up about fake news.
I’ll give you an example of one I saw a day or two ago. Here’s the article picture and heading:
If you’re familiar with Facebook, you know people can “react” to posts and comments with the following digital images, or “emojis”:
This particular post had several “angry” and “sad” emojis. People, whether Christian or not, were enraged and heartbroken that these cold-hearted politicians wanted to ban the Bible!
“Just try it!” some said. “Try and take my Bible, you old bitties!”
Another wrote, “Jesus said this would happen!”
Problem is, none of it was true. When you click the article, you’re taken to the “Bust A Troll” page (www. bustatroll.org), and the first thing you should notice is the banner at the top:
See the word on the top right? “Satire.” This article is satirical, pure and simple. Just so we’re clear, here’s Webster’s definition of “satire”:
“A literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn.”
From Bust-a-Troll, their own definition of “satire,” from the “About” page on their website:
“The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.”
The page goes on to say…
“Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site’s pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical.”
This is just ONE example.
Additional satirical websites which have written articles shared as “fact” include The Onion, Babylon Bee, Cracked, Sports Pickle and many others. Here’s one from The Onion, which I was surprised to see MANY people absolutely freaked right out about:
Is it tacky? YES. Is it in poor taste? ABSOLUTELY. But it’s satire. Seriously, if we would stop and think for just a minute, we’d realize how ridiculous it is for someone to be “brain-dead” and still be able to text. It’s a play on the fact that some joke about teens only caring about being on their phones and nothing else.
Yet the reactions were really unbelievable. “How horrible!” people said. “Oh that poor girl!” wrote someone, and still another asked, “How is this even legal?!”
Again, it’s SATIRE. It’s like if I joked, “Your mama’s a Russian spy!” and everyone took it as fact. It’s not real!
Please let me reiterate: I’m not trying to be rude or insulting. I’m REALLY not, I promise, I’m just asking you to follow Albert Einstein’s advice:
USE YOUR NOGGIN!
By the way, he never said that. Here’s the original photograph:
Ya see, we have these knee-jerk reactions to certain things, and we get mad or sad or both, immediately, without ever thinking it out or researching it. All I’m asking is this:
Before you react, THINK. Before you freak out, RESEARCH IT. Ask yourself the following two questions:
Is this real or satire?
Is this being misrepresented (examples to follow)?
Find an article which angers you? Ok, let’s take it one step at a time. Look at the website; is it real? If you’re not sure, do an Internet search for “Is (insert name of website) real?”
If it’s real, are you, perhaps, misunderstanding the meaning? Did someone watch “Black Sheep” and claim that Chris Farley wanted to “KILL WHITEY?” Well, that’s from a movie, so it wouldn’t be real. Again, not being hateful, I just want you to think about these things instead of passionately reacting first.
If it’s a legitimate attack, fine, we’ll deal with it.
On a slightly different note, here’s an example of an article which is TRUE, but was totally misunderstood and misrepresented by well-meaning people on social media:
So what were the reactions to this? Mad faces, sad faces, and comments like, “Is nothing sacred?” and “It’s the end times for sure, they’re coming after us now!” Thing is, this article is completely true, but it’s not because some anti-religious group demanded the stature of Evangelist Billy Graham be torn down, as many were led to believe. Editors realized people were misunderstanding this article, so they recently added the following:
This DID happen, but not last week, last month or even last year. It was four years ago, and the statue was moved to a new location by the ones who placed it there in the first place, since they were moving to a different location. THAT’S IT. There’s no hidden agenda here, but many people were losing their minds over it.
Here’s another, which incited many to anger:
So Black Lives Matter wants people of color to kill all white people on site, eh? THEY’RE COMING AFTER US! THE RACE WAR HAS STARTED!!!
Well, not exactly. This is an example of something that is PATENTLY UNTRUE. If you look a little further, you’ll see the following headline, right under the picture of the above sign:
And this wasn’t in New York, New Orleans or Los Angeles, it was in Baxter Park, Dundee, Scotland.
Think. That’s all I’m asking. Investigate before you instigate and share something out of anger or sadness.
Say, I like that:
INVESTIGATE before you INSTIGATE.
To say it another way:
Research FIRST, then react accordingly.
The best preachers will say, “Don’t take MY word for it, look it up in the Bible! Prove it for yourself.”
Finally, the ones which bother me the most are the isolated incidents the media portray as common-place. Some media outlets shared the following picture of graffiti, found in Hillsborough County, Florida:
The person who spray painted this may have believed they should kill White people, but do all Black people feel like that? OF COURSE NOT! The thought is completely ludicrous. The media will feature this sign instead of the hundreds, thousands of examples of love and compassion all around the globe every day.
The media would rather try and incite a race war than promote love, courage and healing.
Showing a young, Black man helping an elderly White man doesn’t incite people. It doesn’t entice us to visit the news media’s website, even though it’s a beautiful story. “Love” doesn’t sell newspapers. You know what does?
“Kill White People.”
We sit around and read these fake or falsified reports, and many are aroused to action. Revolt! Rebel! Riot! Meanwhile, it’s all distorted truths or outright lies.
I’m merely asking you to think before you make a stink. Research before you react. Investigate before you instigate.
There’s a lot of fake news going around; don’t fall for it.
Talk to you soon. Blessings.
4 comments on “Fury & Ferocity Over Fake News (or, “Think Before You React”)”
Rob, this is a very good article and much needed. I’m guilty of not researching and just reacting. I will be more vigilant in the future.
Thanks, Ma. We all are, for sure. I’ve just seen it happening more and more, with so many knee-jerk reactions.
EXCELLENT article! One of the best things I’ve read in a long time! I’ve been so upset to see how many people are just reacting to all the “clickbait” out there, and the world is heating up. Life is hard enough and hatred is rampant enough WITHOUT all the fake, cheap garbage out there that serves only to pull the truth out of context and divide the masses. Thank you for writing this!
No problem, I greatly appreciate the feedback. I normally write about the human struggle against chronic physical and emotional pain, but this has been bugging me for a while. People get so angry over something that’s not even true, which I think is sad.