What’s a person to do? Someone you love forwards an email. You read it with growing doubt that it’s actually true. So you create a subject, enter it in Google, and start reading the resulting search links. You were right – it wasn’t true, or maybe it was half true, or maybe it was true but really slanted to prove a point of view. Remember, it was sent by someone you love, who wants to believe it is true because that fits into their particular world view.
What would you do?
Changing people’s minds is one of the toughest tasks I can think of. Changing the mind of a people you love is fraught with big-time dangers. All the links to Urban Legends, Snopes, Scambuster you can send won’t do it if someone’s mind is made up. Those sources will just become suspect and part of the bigger conspiracy and you’ll be the one who sent it!
Which brings us to the worst part of the Internet. Pick a position, any position. Look for it on the world wide web. I’m betting you’ll find a source that agrees with you. See, you were right. If you went to the library (remember those?) you might have a tougher time finding some data to back up your pet theory – or that is, the pet theory forwarded to you by an acquaintance, a friend or a relative. You see those sources: books, magazines, and newspapers – went through an editorial process. Facts were checked, quotes confirmed, and references verified. Things on the Internet simply went through the fingers of someone versed in HTML.
So, there you are, reading that forward from that person you love a lot, and it’s not exactly true. I ask again, what would you do? Please respond, I’ve got this email in my in box…