Not everything you read is true

Elijah Anderson

Last Tuesday, President Barack Obama finally admitted to the nation that he and his entire family were adherents to the Islamic faith. With First Lady Michelle Obama and his children standing by his side he declared, “I am tired of living a lie. To the American people, I am sorry for my dishonesty, but I can no longer forsake my God.”

I sincerely hope you are still reading so I can inform you that I fabricated all of that. President Obama said none of this. I made it all up. I had an outlet to do so, and I used this column to spread a lie that was damaging to a prominent American figure. Why? Maybe it’s simply because I could. Maybe it aligned with my political ideologies to defame President Obama or maybe I just like to troll people for the sport of it. Who knows?  What I do know is that I engaged in the same act that hundreds of agenda-driven individuals on the internet do on a daily basis.

In this day and age you cannot afford to be gullible, nor can you take anything at face value. Through the internet we are exposed to a vast array of advertisers, political activists and internet trolls who want to shape, define and sway our opinion on matters whether their assertions are based on fact or not. These individuals prey on ignorance.

Blind acceptance of information without proper verification is a drastic sickness that plagues social media today. We are all guilty of this phenomenon. We see a headline that reinforces our predisposed viewpoints, and we run with it, share it and spread the lies whether it is a reliable source or not.

For example, I was tickled pink by the “news” that iPhones equipped with the Flappy Birds game were selling for thousands of dollars. You should have seen the stupid grin on my stupid face. I was going around spreading the word with cheer until a classmate informed me it was all a hoax. I was a victim. A victim of internet trolls.

Thus, we must be vigilant and constantly aware of those who wish to misinform us. We must constantly strive to battle ignorance and refuse to accept information without digging in and researching whatever it is on our own. So, I beg of you, before you share that one article you read that’s just too good to be true, like Justin Bieber getting back-handed by Blake Griffin, do us all a favor and make sure it is. As consumers of the web it is our responsibility to spread truth, not ignorance. Such is life in the 21st century.