Warning! There's an extremely common, discouraging affliction affecting a large percentage of Facebook users: its symptoms include the blind acceptance of highly questionable information and the delusion that global problems can be solved and serious diseases, cured, with a few simple clicks.
The symptoms of this affliction result in re-posting riveting videos, powerful photos accompanied by heart-wrenching tails, and many other pieces of unverified (or debunked), yet emotionally compelling information that promise positive action upon sharing.
Fortunately, there is a cure!
If you find yourself compelled by the various chain letters and heartfelt causes on Facebook, so much so that you feel the desire to share that information with the rest of the world... look it up first! Visit Google and type in a line or two from the text accompanying the picture or video, hit enter, and search for reliable sources confirming the validity of the information you wish to share... if you can't find any, or you find that it is nothing more than a new-age chain-letter, don't re-post! You might also consider notifying the friend who shared the information about it's veracity (or rather, lack thereof).
If you have been affected by this affliction, I hope you are now cured. Want to help cure others? Re-post this announcement! ;-)
Joking aside, I really find it annoying when people blindly share posts that make great claims, while neglecting to verify the information before they post. You know the posts: little Susie has cancer and her parents cannot afford treatment, but if you "like" and share this picture, $1 will be donated to her healthcare fund. Or, Facebook is going to start charging for access. If you "like" and share this post before this date, however, you won't be charged! Well guess what? Facebook is not going to start charging for access, and if it was, it would be a site-wide notification, from Facebook administrators. Oh, and you're not donating any money by liking or sharing a picture, because it is just not a function Facebook offers... you're simply spreading sadness by exposing people to heartbreaking tales that are either not true, or years out of date.
"I shared this, so I made a DIFFERENCE!"
The caption in the picture above states that if this picture gets 10,000 shares, this 18 month-old girl will receive a heart transplant. Sadly, this little girl did receive a heart transplant, but died in 2008 - before this picture was circulated on Facebook, with the request to share with others. Think about that for a moment... people who are most certainly good-intentioned are posting a picture of a deceased baby girl and her mother that plays on people's emotions. They are sharing a picture and story that is virtually a slap in the face to the child's mother and family! Sure, they are well-meaning, but they are also being foolishly uncritical and inconsiderate of others in neglecting to take 2 minutes to research the story before they share with others.
My other complaint is concerning awareness campaigns ("It's Autism Awareness Day! Share this post if you know and love someone who has autism!" Is it? Really? Funny, I saw someone else post the exact same thing last week!). There's nothing wrong with raising awareness, but make sure you're actually aware of what you're posting... most of the time, a quick Google search shows the actual date of various awareness days.
It all boils down to one thing, folks, and if you didn't pick it up here, I'm not sure you're going to: research what you share! It doesn't take more than a moment and it cuts down on the amount spam flooding Facebook. So please, don't be lazy, and please, question what you read when you find it compelling... if you're passionate enough to want to share the information, you're passionate enough to verify it first.
I intend on making my next post less rant-y. ;-)