Clarification: When I write, I don't prepare or organize my ideas, I just write what I would say if I was talking to you in person, so sometimes my blogs end up a little messy. I don't even proof-read what I write before posting it so you may find grammatical mistakes and poorly written sentences. Sometimes I'll read my blogs a day or two after publishing them and I may re-write things that weren't too clear and any embarrassing grammatical mistake. Also, English is not my first language, so I apologize if reading my blogs become a struggle. Of course, if this is the case, I would imagine you wouldn't continue reading.

Dec 15, 2015

The Positive Message Of Your Fake Quotes

I consider myself a lover of the truth, and when I say the truth, I don't mean my truth, but the raw unadulterated harsh truth. I'm aware that it could be very challenging to not have any kind of bias, in fact, it's probably impossible, but I do my best to be as neutral as possible. At the same time, I find it important to stop the dissemination of misinformation whenever I can, not only to stop incorrect data from spreading, but because sometimes the consequences that come with it can greatly affect our lives, and under certain circumstances, they could even be lethal. 

Take for instance, the anti-vaxxer movement, every now and then I see a post on Facebook claiming that vaccines are responsible for many health conditions in humans, like autism. One time it was the mother of a newborn the person posting about the alleged risks associated with vaccines, along with a link to a bogus blog where many other ridiculous claims were made and disseminated. Most people prefer to ignore these posts for many reasons. Some think it's silly to engage in any type of opinion based discussions on social media, others feel like it's not their problem, and there are some who may disagree but they consider themselves "respectful" of all opinions, no matter how crazy they are, they are all valid, in their eyes. Well, my opinion regarding this is that it's incredibly irresponsible, selfish and borderline idiotic to read an anti-vaxxer post from one of your Facebook friends and not say anything about it. Not only the original posters' kids are in danger, but anyone who's not very well informed about the topic and who may become influenced by this post, could end up making the wrong choice later on. Hell, we all could potentially be in danger when it comes to the resurfacing of diseases that humanity has not dealt with in half a century. We can say the same thing about many other topics, which I'm not going to mention here, but I'll say that every time I read an anti-vaccine or a climate change denialist post, I have to say something, and that something is not my opinion, it's what it's known.

But what about misinformation that can't affect us nearly as much, or at all, at least not on the surface? The idea to write this blog entree came from a newer kind of misinformation that's flooding the social networks. I'm talking about the great number of fake, mis-attributed and out-of-context quotes circulating on the internet. If you pay attention, you'll notice that the frequency fake quotes show up on your timeline is incredibly high, but at the same time, this has a very simple explanation.

I should point out that to me the truth always matters, whether it's harmless or harmful, we shouldn't encourage the spreading of incorrect information, it's just irresponsible, in my opinion. But from what I can tell, there are not very many people who think like me. Whenever I let people know that the picture-quote of Buddha (or any other historical figure that's supposed to be a source of knowledge and wisdom) is fake, I usually get the "it doesn't matter because it's a good message" response. Not only that, but it's not rare to see other people chime in and passively defend the original poster with comments like, "this is a beautiful message" or "so true" or "amen" or some other crap. In some instances, people become upset at me, and even start resenting me, and some have gone as far as deleting my comment, which tells me that maybe they are way too concerned about their social media reputation. I always end up with the same 3 letters in my head: W, T, and F. It does fucking matter.

The motivation behind my "truth crusade" is not to humiliate people publicly, or to show how smart I am, or to sabotage their good intentions of spreading positivism (through false information?). When I've been in their position in the past, I'm very grateful of the person who took the effort to research the information I posted or explain to me why the information I'm sharing is incorrect, I don't see it as a personal attack. I even encourage everyone to correct me if what I'm saying is wrong. Why? Because I want to know the truth and because I don't want to contribute to the spreading of misinformation. If I decide to not delete the post, then I take the effort to edit it and clarify that while I may agree with the message, something about it is inaccurate. I think I'm actually being nice by telling people that Picasso didn't talk like a hipster, or that Socrates in their quote was the character from a movie named Socrates and not the Ancient Greece thinker, because I'm doing something for them that I don't really have to do, but something that I expect my friends to do for me.

I can understand people becoming disappointed when knowing the wonderful positive and inspiring message from their fake Buddha quote was not something that Buddha said, of course. I understand that I just pooped on their party, but they shouldn't get upset at me, they should get upset with the people they are getting their fake quotes from. And that's one more thing that makes this fake-quote issue even more frustrating. These fake quotes don't happen accidentally, they are well thought out. Posting fake quotes is an effective way of promotion, they are designed to play with people's good intentions and feelings, and trick them into liking them and re-sharing them. Many of them become viral, in fact, if you're seeing them on your feed, it's very likely that's the case. This results in thousands of new subscribers to the original posting page, which translates into more traffic to their personal website, which results into $$$. Yes, it's all about the money. These pages don't give a shit about Buddha or Socrates or Picasso or you, all they care about is the money. The proof is that being the "collectors" (or rather,  the thieves) and re-posters of other people's content, they don't even bother to verify the accuracy of the content, they just post what seems to generate the most likes and re-shares elsewhere.

So, people are being conned and tricked into promoting the greedy bastards that run these pages, and they are getting upset with the person who's letting them know about this? I think it's time to stop giving a fuck and let people eat their bullshit, apparently they like it. And it's a positive message. 

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