I was recently involved in an interesting discussion on Facebook. It was about a post requesting that a bald Barbie doll be created to raise money for children with cancer. You know the type of post, the ones that try to make you feel guilty by saying “Post this if you agree. I bet 99% of you won’t.” The truth is that most people will post this type of stuff even though it may be pointless or even false.
While creating a bald Barbie is a great idea, it was just a photo being shared, so my question was how would Mattel even here about it?
Are reps from Mattel on my page to see this if I share it? No, for this to work it has to be big enough to get Mattel’s attention. After I did a little research it seemed there was a Facebook page created to raise awareness for this bald Barbie cause and as it turns out, the page had over one hundred and fifty thousand likes.
Thankfully the website has made an impact and Mattel is creating a bald Barbie to give to children who are stricken with cancer, it will not be sold in stores as of this writing.
Okay so where am I going with this? My point is unless someone said “hey let me look into this further” then sharing the photo is pretty useless. In fact, the photo I saw was shared 1670 times. If each person has 232 Facebook friends* and we do the math on 1670 people sharing the picture, that’s potentially 387,440 people who could have “liked” the actual page to raise awareness from just this ONE PERSON.
But no, the page that started the bald Barbie campaign has only 158k likes as of this writing. Not nearly as many as it could have had if the “do you have the guts to repost this” Facebook photo had a link to their Beautiful and Bald Barbie page!
This got me thinking, why is it that people post so much stuff without ever actually verifying the information or it’s usefulness? What is it about us that we read it, accept it and react by sharing it without even questioning its validity? Over the last year or so I have seen people post and share messages warning that Facebook would start charging users a fee, another about dog abuse with a gruesome photo and several about missing children. After I did some research before sharing I found out that none of them were true. Yet they’ve been posted and reposted thousands of times. Why?
“He who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning.” ~Danish Proverb
▪ Do you want to be one of the many spreading false information?
▪ If you have a chance to influence people around you would you prefer it to be the wrong information or as accurate as possible?
▪ Are you taking everything at face value and just passing it on or are you checking its legitimacy?
Mr. Rogers, the Navy Seal
This reminds me of the email hoaxes everyone used to receive that predated Facebook. Most people just forwarded these hoaxes without even questioning them. If I recall correctly, some went like this: “Bill Gates is giving away his fortune to help the people who reached into the change slot of a pay phone and ended up pricking their finger on a needle infected with the aids virus all because they were calling the police about their automobile getting carjacked at the mall after getting out to remove a piece of paper that was blocking their view on the back windshield.
Okay, okay, so I had some fun weaving together the three that I specifically remember receiving, but you get the point. There were even emails that had many people believing that Mr Rogers, the soft spoken minster that many people loved as children, was a marine sniper. And then in a rewritten version after his death, it said he was a navy seal with 150 kills. “Won’t you be my . . . next victim?”
This is why there are hoax sites, so one can do the research before they promulgate this misinformation.
Let’s say you have a young relative (child, niece, or cousin) attending school and one day when they came home you asked what they learned that day. Then that child excitedly ran to a map of the USA and said “I learned that this is the largest state in the country” and they were pointing directly at Kentucky. Then they go on to say “Did you know that Henry Kissinger got his last name because he won a kissing contest when he was in high school?”
▪ Would you ask if they were sure this was what was taught to them?
▪ Would you try to teach them the correct information?
▪ Would you be a bit irritated if a schoolteacher was teaching them this nonsense?
Would you do something about it? Of course you would. You would not allow this child to look foolish in front of anyone for one second.
So why not do this with adults? Or with yourself? Where else might people be sharing the wrong information? At work? At dinner with friends? We are always exchanging information with others, the question is are we sharing correct information?
▪ Are you checking the information you share for accuracy?
▪ Do you stop to think if it even makes sense at all?
▪ Do you want to feel foolish if and when you find out it’s wrong?
I have often noticed that many adults get offended if you correct them. They might even dismiss you as a know it all. And I don’t mean if you’re saying things like “you idiot, that’s not true!” Even when it’s said tactfully. As in, “I think maybe you should check on that one, it may not be completely accurate.” This too can offend people.
What that tells us is that it has to start with you and I. We must go the extra mile to think, trust your instincts and verify whether it’s correct information or not. We must think where others do not and we must lead by example.
“An educated person is one who has learned that information almost always turns out to be at best incomplete and very often false, misleading, fictitious, mendacious – just dead wrong.” ~Russell Baker
PS: I’m running for President this year. : )=
Rock Star Success Coach & Sales Trainer
*statistics as of December 31st, 2011