Going off the mommy bit again (DON’T PANIC) for a much needed internet safety post, but not the kind you think. The internet is a vast, information rich place. This is glorious and terrifying at the same time. This means you can find anything you’re looking for. ANYTHING! Which is great if you’re seeking news headlines, directions, music or recipes. But not so great if you’re looking for support of an opinion, argument or belief and aren’t intenet saavy or perhaps choose not to be.
Because you will find what you’re looking for. Maybe it’s in the form of a quote from someone everyone respects, like George Washington. The only trouble is when the quote is twisted, misquoted or simply not true. Or perhaps you stumble upon an article, that passionately and perfectly aligns with your own sentiments and is chockfull of “facts” to boot. But, it’s really from a biased blog full of inaccuracies and blatant lies. Now, in your defense, the author is a fantastic writer and it all sounds so truthful and the website looks official and hey, you wanted it to be true, let’s face it. The REAL problem here is not so much that you fell for someone’s lies, it’s that you reposted, retweeted or rehashtagged the hell out of it and now your friends and family, who trust you, do the same and it spreads like wildfire among all those other people like you that wanted it to be true.
How can this vicious cycle be stopped in it’s tracks, you ask? Simple. Be skeptical. Research, research, research. Because the same thing that sucks about the internet also makes it wonderful. In an instant you can check if that quote from George Washington is true and that he was the one to say it. Or if the “facts” in that post are in other news stories too. Compare all the major news outlets. Use snopes.com to stop silly, panicky rumours or scams. You know the ones: the Amber Alert system is off because of the government shutdown or that the Obama impeachment hearings have started or even that the FCC has categorized Fox News as Satire and not a news source. Thought any of those were true? Well see for yourself: http://www.snopes.com/info/top25uls.asp. Factcheck.org is another valuable resource. If you find these sites are continually disproving what you want to share, take that to heart and consider your sources!
But really though, you don’t need the internet at all. Everyone knows the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42!