Thursday, May 9, 2013

Social Media Experiment

The Experiment

There have been a couple of articles and stories coming out lately of people blindly sharing things on the web without even reading the article or doing a quick fact search to see if it is true. This really angers me as we live in a world where the internet is readily available for fact checking purposes. So since I finished my final geodatabase project the other night, yesterday I decided to start on another mini project for myself. I'd been wanting to do it for a while and after my friend Renee posted a link and a status about the very thing I'm talking about, I just had to do it.

I posted a fake bible verse as if it were true and waited to see the response. This is the gem I found from a blog called "Fake Bible Verses":

"In the season of the Lord I shalt not fear the reaper, neither under the sun, nor the wind, nor the rain. I shalt live like He doth." - Adverbs 14:1

Of course this is not a bible verse, but in fact adapted lyrics from my favorite song: Don't Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. It was way too perfect not to post. Now this was in no way trying to mock the bible, it was simply to point out that anyone can blindly post something that is untrue and pass it off as true. So I put it up, sat back, and waited for the "likes" and "comments"

The Results

After I put up the fake bible verse I got quite a few messages from people saying how funny it was, how they liked the Blue Oyster Cult reference, and how they loved the Book of Adverbs (many Schoolhouse Rock jokes were made). No one though blindly "liked" it or commented on it. So I figured one of two thing happened: either BOC's song is so popular that most people got the joke or no one really cared enough about my status.

One would think then that was it, that the experiment turned more into a laugh with a bunch of friends. The sad thing was as I was proving my point, my newsfeed was FLOODED with more misinformation. People sharing quotes that were misquoted, proverbs that certain Native American tribes would never say, news stories that were never fact checked, and stupid "warnings" from the local police that never happened. The fact of the matter (ha!) is that this will never stop. We live in a society where sharing information is only a click of the mouse away; where everyone wants things instantly and doesn't bother to check things first. It's sad that if they had simply taken  a few minutes more to check or even simply googled the story they would've found it was false. Of course sometimes it is hard to tell what is true or not. The simple solution: don't share it.

The internet is our modern day campfire; instead of telling tall tales while surrounding the flames we spread them around the internet. Just like the myths and legends back in the day were twisted and changed by word of mouth, so are they today. We have created our own set of myths and legends by playing an insanely large game of "telephone" over the internet.


Not Hannah said...

Wow. That last paragraph is SPOT ON.

Sam Curtin said...

Thanks, love! I actually wrote a whole paper in college on modern day urban legends and how the internet has fueled them.

Alexis Kennedy said...

Well said, my love. It's one of the reasons I have been scarce on Facebook lately. I'm tired of the drama and the spreading of false information.

Alan S said...

I wonder... with the malleable nature of the universe being what it is, is it possible that all this misinformation is blurring the lines of reality itself? With all of the satirical news sites floating around, some disguised as real and some not, people are falling prey to the joke and posting fake news as real news because they think the source is trusted. Many trusting souls really think they're posting the truth and don't know that what they're spreading is a joke, not intended to be taken for truth. So then I think the nature of truth is not really the hard facts we've always believed it to be, but perhaps truth (like history) is just what the most people believe in, in certain situations.

Sam Curtin said...

Wow, Alan you really gave me something to think about! I remember the other day that you brought up the concepts of thought forms and what is true vs. untrue. The notion that the truth bends with what society BELIEVES to be true is a notion that very much intrigues me. It is also something that I explore in Summer's Hollow. It begs the question: "Can belief in something alone make it come true?"

Sam Curtin said...

I figured that was the reason you've been scarce. The stupid has been very strong lately, hence the reason for this experiment turned to rant.

Alan S said...

At some point, I think belief completely rewrites the truth of history. How many people do you know who think that Betsy Ross created the first American Flag? In spite of there being no historical evidence of it, so many people believe it's true that if you showed them a really old flag and told them Betsy Ross created it, they would imbue it with historical power akin to the Shroud of Turin. As fast as Internet history changes and rewrites itself, all some evil overlord type (if they existed) would have to do to manipulate people would be hide one fact and spread the myth they wanted believed through social media. Eventually, that myth would become truth.

People believe what makes the most sense to them, I think. Actual facts have less to do with it than most of us are comfortable with.

To answer your last question, Neil Gaiman (sp?) and his book "American Gods" touches on what lots of people believe - that worship makes the gods real.

Sam Curtin said...

I think you nailed it with this: "People believe what makes the most sense to them, I think. Actual facts have less to do with it than most of us are comfortable with." *applauds*

Magaly Guerrero said...

Alan luv, I think we've been blurring the lines of what we perceive as reality for a while now. Even before the internet. Maybe things are just more obvious now because more people see each other doing it (no, Sam, I was not being dirty!)

Sam Curtin said...

Dirty? Why would I think anything coming out of your mouth would be dirty? ;)

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