While I realize this is going to come as a shock to some folks, it’s about time we were told the truth: Not everything on the Internet is real. This is an offshoot of the “Imponderable” week, where we started wondering why people never check before they forward emails. Facebook, it turns out, is way more likely to be crammed with stuff that seems plausible but isn’t, and the Research Department took a whole evening off from sorting its spools of thread to comment on the most egregious of these.
Most of the junk floating around Facebook is harmless glurge – that’s the word for stories like the one where “Little Timmy is dying of liver failure and wants business cards.” Why Little Timmy would want those is beyond us. Perhaps he’s looking for a good hepatic surgeon. The point is, he’s a fiction, he’s always been a fiction, and he is not collecting birthday cards, Christmas cards, or playing cards, either.
Mike Hutchinson is not being hanged for accidentally running over somebody, Cindy Hogman is not dying of cervical cancer, and Amanda Bundy, who has made the rounds YET AGAIN, is alive, well, and cancer-free. Somebody named Dave in Thailand is not dying from some mysterious tropical illness; he had a parasite, and he’s all better now. By the way, nobody is going to donate three, or seven, or five cents per forwarded email to the medical care of Alicia, Bradley, Catie, or Steven.
No one has been kidnapped by some guy driving a gray car with Canadian license plates. This one made the rounds (again) just last week, and prompted the Research Department to yell a bad word, startling the dog and making its own ears ache. Let that be a lesson!
Abashed, the R.D. redoubled its efforts and discovered the following things: compact florescent light bulbs do not pose a fire hazard. Disposable chopsticks do not cause cancer. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers do not contain embalming fluid, nor do Proctor and Gamble sponges contain Agent Orange. Laptops will only make you sterile sometimes.
Once it started looking, the Research Department found rumor and glurge everywhere. Once again, it found the Starbucks rumor, and says, again, that Starbucks did not refuse to send free coffee to the troops. It did NOT charge $130 for three cases of water. Really. It didn’t. This one has been going around since 2004 and is completely baseless since the coffee emporium’s parent company, Kraft, has been supplying coffee and other products for soldiers for years, at low or no cost.
In further non-news, the Mormons don’t own Coca Cola, and the KKK does not own Marlboro. Bill Gates is not giving away free computers, and neither Gerber nor Enfamil are giving away money as part of a vague class action suit. You cannot get a free iPad by clicking on anything.
In related clicking, the Research Department has discovered that you cannot change the world by clicking on something with your mouse button. Despite the appeal of “slacktivism,” email and Internet petitions have about the same political effect as opening your back door and screaming, so it’s probably better to do that and not jam social media with appeals to stop warlords who have been stopped already.
We will all sleep better at night knowing that Facebook hackers are not posting inappropriate videos on our friends’ walls, with our names on them. We may sleep less well knowing that the “privacy notice” that made the rounds last week is totally useless. If we passed on the “Facebook is going to start charging” status, this is the time to repent in a sheepish manner.
Remember the Research Department motto: Eat Dessert First; You Might Get Hit By a Bus! No, wait, that’s the wrong motto. Hang on. Here you go: Little Amy Is Not Dying of Lung Cancer and a Brain Tumor, and She Has Not Been Kidnapped By a Canadian. Those sneaky Canadians probably just want to give her a free iPad.