Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Oh You Read It On Facebook? It Must Be True...

"This Muslim man did something horrible to this British man - Like and share to spread the word!"

"I found this horrible maggot in my food - like and share so people don't go there!"

"Like and share if you love your parents. Scroll past if you want them to die."

Sound familiar? If you've been on Facebook for any length of time at all then they sure will. Barely a day goes by that I scroll down my Facebook newsfeed without coming across some obnoxious status with "like and share" added on the end, written purely with the intention of spreading ignorance or getting "Facebook famous", that may or may not be based on truth and in my experience, it's more than likely a lie. I hate to break this to you, but liking and sharing a photo of a sick child with no link to click to donate to their cause does absolutely nothing and unless it's written by the child's parents, it's more than likely written by some seedy page trying to get likes.

It seems to be that adding "like and share if you think this is a disgrace!" validates a story, no matter how far fetched. I've seen stories about how Ebola isn't real (it is), about how children have been banned from wearing Help For Heroes bands  by the government (they haven't), about how the poppy has somehow become offensive (it hasn't) and I'd be here all day if I wrote all of the ridiculous things I'd seen shared and quite frankly, it's getting ridiculous. For example, I saw a post with a whole elaborate story about how a woman had been attacked by a group of Muslims because she tried to stop them destroying a poppy memorial and then when you looked at the photo attached it was.....Tina from Coronation Street when she was laid in a hospital bed. Oh how I wish I was joking. This is exactly why the "like and share" culture has become so dangerous because, believe it or not, people lie. 

It's actually extremely sad that this is what Facebook has become because this could be used for good and not all of the posts are BS. The police have used it to help locate criminals or witnesses, dog owners have used it to locate their lost or stolen pets and people have genuinely tried to raise awareness about certain dangerous products or reunite people with their lost phones. However, when people use the culture for the wrong reasons, it undermines the whole idea of using social media to help each other. A few months ago, someone took a photo of a note they'd written on napkin in a fast food restaurant where I work saying how dirty the restaurant was (not mentioning the fact that it was dirty because people leave their food all over the place without cleaning up after themselves but that's beside the point) and what followed can only be described as complete ignorance. A load of people "liked and shared" the post and this led to people from my area commenting on the post, saying basically how stupid people who work there are and how we all "need sacking" along with various other insults from people who had never met us, who were judging us from one person's thoughtless post on a social network. As someone who worked there and who was reading those comments, that was not nice and I'm at a loss as to why people would think it was okay. And that kind of post is tame compared to some of the other things you can see.

Facebook has become a breeding ground for ignorance, xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia and general hatred and it's getting worse. The stories are getting more ridiculous and it's getting more dangerous for groups or individuals who might be affected by these made up stories. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can make up these stories, about how a Muslim woman told them to stay away from the Metro Centre over Christmas after they handed her purse back to her, or about how they "know" there's a van going around stealing dogs. Sharing that pile of money will not bring you good luck and if you scroll past that post it does not mean you hate your parents and no, I'm sorry but those aren't the names of the people who are most likely to get pregnant in 2016. 

Just because you read it on Facebook, does not mean that it is true. In fact, it more than likely means that it's not true. Learn the difference between satire articles and genuine articles and take everything people say with a pinch of salt. 

Sorry for such a ranty post so close to Christmas but I'm blooming sick of Facebook.

Amy x
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