Dealing with Urban Legends and Internet Rumors
Today, I heard a scary story. A friend told me that he wouldn't let his daughter attend her school's closing ceremony. A child has just been abducted. His eyes were taken out surgically. His kidney was gone. The missing organs were meant to be sold in the blackmarket, and my friend's afraid for his own daughter. Another young victim was abducted again. His organs were taken out. And guess what? The pictures of this poor victim were circulating on Facebook. Well, I think I heard that story years before. But this time, the version was a little different. The places were it took place were different. And there were no pictures before. I've read that somewhere inside my Yahoo! inbox.
Another story: When I was young, my mother won't take me to Robinson's mall. Why? Because the child of the mall's owner was a half man and half snake. He lived underground. And whenever a beautiful lady customer inside a fitting room caught his eye (the rooms were equipped with spycams ), he would push a button, the floor would open and the girl would be eaten alive. I admit I find this story amusing, kind of a fantasy. And the same story has been told elsewhere , on another mall . Is that coincidence? Or is it just one story made up by a creative writer then each place adapted it into its own?
These are just a couple of examples of urban legends. Urban legends are easy to spread. Even by a mere word of mouth, a sentence could go as far as to another continent. And that single sentence could get distorted easily. But now, technology has made information, whether true or false, spread even faster. Several years before, these were passed through chain emails or text messages. Now, as if those media weren’t enough, there came Facebook, Youtube, Twitter – you name it, making these false information spread like wildfire. Technology has made life easier, and also easier for false information to circulate. It is up to us to be responsible for what we read.
It’s not easy to determine whether the information we receive is true. A video or picture might even make an entirely made-up story believable. It's not unfamiliar to hear something like a famous celebrity died , or that boiling instant noodles inside their Styrofoam containers will make us sick . All of us are prone to being misinformed. And it might even get embarrassing when we share something to find out later that it's untrue.
When a message reaches you, don't just stop there. Do your research. URLs ending with .edu and .org are highly reliable. Look for something that might prove or contradict the message. Snopes.com is a good start. It contains archives of famous urban legends; evidences were laid out to prove whether something's real or not. So the bottom line here is, let's not believe in everything we hear or read. Research first before reacting. And through this we gain more knowledge and insight. In the end, it will be up to us to make an informed judgment and do the necessary actions.
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