With the rise of disinformation on social media, most of us have been caught by copying and pasting scams or falsehoods in the past. But the curse goes back much further than the existence of social media.
Some may remember the story of the apparent lack of support Kitty Genovese received from 38 residents of an apartment block in New York in 1963, when being attacked. The article became a poster board scandal for the indifference of humankind in the modern world.
But like everything in life, it takes someone brave enough to drill down into the details to find the truth. Not only was the number of people who apparently saw the incident debunked, but also the lie that she didn’t receive any support from those that did see it. Sadly, at the time for the press, that wouldn’t have made such a good story, so it was buried and become the dark urban legend on society that it has. I guess it’s the archetypal “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story”.
More and more these days it’s easy to just share a story without doing any research because the story fits our model of the world. But I can’t help feel we should be braver than that. Braver than Kitty’s reporters of the 60’s and seek out the truth before blindly sharing something that we believe proves a point, or would increase our interaction with others.
The web may not be policed as well as we’d like (or not like) but I feel everyone has a responsibility to ensure the stories and posts they decide to perpetuate are as sound as possible. With aids like BBC verify and Snopes, we have the tools, so there’s little excuse than indifference. With just a little effort on our part, it can make the difference of either becoming part of the problem, or being part of the solution.
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