Forward to All
When it comes to history, I prefer cold, hard facts. I don’t want to hear what someone thinks other people thought. That’s not even hearsay! I receive emails all the time that are very badly researched pieces of collective rubbish. They’re probably added to over time through forward after forward to reflect some truth, but mostly to compound the fiction.
There is a disturbing, underlying theme these days, when it comes to just about everything; education, reporting, research, etc. It seems that people are using the short-attention-span and fast-food-delivery method of learning anything. If it’s not written in fun language, and under 2 paragraphs, people don’t bother. This is a major problem! Most people would say, “on quick glance … seems credible”. Hell, most people don’t even bother to read an entire news article; they think they’ve gotten the whole story from just the title.
Then — worse yet — people take something that is maybe 70 parts factual, with 20 parts conjecture and 10 parts outright stupidity, and forward it to everyone they know. 99% of the people that receive it, will take it all as fact, and pass it along. People don’t know, or don’t care, that they’re passing along lies and fiction.
Imagine, however, a teacher asks a student to do a paper about William Shakespeare. While reading, the teacher notices a small, seemingly insignificant reference to Shakespeare holding the remote control to his television, while on the phone with Albert Einstein. Just one sentence, no big deal – right? A little farther down the paper, another sentence talks about what Shakespeare was thinking while he wrote “Hamlet”, and how the whole story stems from his issues with his father. The entire paper is about 10 pages long, so these two small things aren’t a big deal. Other than those small problems, it’s a brilliant paper … the best the teacher has ever read. She passes it along to her peers. What kind of reaction do you suppose she’d receive from her peers? Now imagine she passes it along to a group of middle-school children, who have only heard of Shakespeare in passing; completely ignorant of the fact that he lived long before the time of televisions, telephones and Einstein.
That’s what I see happening all around me, and it’s infuriating! People who are ignorant of most history (because let’s face it, history is b-o-r-i-n-g when you’re in school, and even after graduation) will receive things — through email, news, and word-of-mouth — and not even realize they’re not learning the truth. Almost nobody bothers to fact-check things they see or hear, and they just keep passing it along. Then, when someone DOES tell them that there’s a problem with what was presented as fact, those people who have become so entrenched in the lies get defensive about it, usually belligerently defending the source of their information.
Again, this is a major problem! I deal with people like this on a daily basis. Passing along even a sliver of bad information (through apathy and negligence) is wrong. It’s irresponsible. And it’s contributing to the dumbing-down of America.