Re-posting Things We Find on the Internet

People, please, please check out stuff before you re-post or forward. Most of the stuff that’s floating around is at best a mixture of truth and fiction, and in some cases are outright fabrications.

Please, don’t just see something, have an emotional reaction and then re-post. Do some investigating. Look it up. If you don’t like/trust, just do an internet search. Don’t just reject and post anyway. Try to determine the original source (not the person you got it from), and figure out if that source is trustworthy, and what, if any, bias they may have. And if you can’t verify that the details of what you’re about to re-post are true, don’t re-post it. This is especially important when posting stuff designed to elicit an emotional response, and especially if those emotions are fear or anger. Please, don’t waste your own emotional energy, and risk passing it along to others like an emotional virus, if it may not even be true, or only partly true.

In some cases you’re passing along instructions (like the Backwards ATM PIN and “call 112” urban myths) that will do someone no good if they try it during an emergency, and could actually make a bad situation worse.

This also applies to clever or touching anecdotes that are totally fake. Sure it’s a good story, and it may make you say, “Awwww” or cause you to shed a tear, but the problem is people are reacting as though these stories are true, when they’re not. It’s like getting emotionally upset or uplifted by something that happened on your favorite sitcom. Don’t allow yourself to be emotionally manipulated.

Sadly, even some of the viral prayer requests or requests for cards are not true, or half true. Prayer is a wonderful thing, but look it up and make sure you’re spending time praying for real people, and something that is really happening now (and not over 10 years ago). Before you send cards to someone you don’t know, look it up and make sure you are sending cards to a real person, or the right address before passing it on.

For Christians, it’s especially important we not pass along unverified information, especially if it’s about another person (including celebrities and politicians). At best, it’s gossip, much like saying, “Well, I don’t know if it’s true, but I heard…”, and in some cases it’s outright bearing false witness against our neighbor. Why in the world would we pass along anything attributed to another person (even something we think is good), if it might not have really been said/done by that person? If it’s even partially untrue, it’s a lie. Don’t pass it on.

And, please, please don’t allow yourself to feel hurt, defensive, angry, irritated, or otherwise put out when someone points out to you that something you posted as fact is partially or totally fabricated. Chances are the person correcting is you is not in any way trying to make you look foolish or shame you. They’re just trying to correct false or misleading information before it spreads further.

We should all, myself included, ask ourselves three questions before we re-post:
1) Is it true?
2) Is it edifying?
3) Is it necessary?

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