Today is April Fools Day. I have affectionately referred to this day as “Nerd Christmas” for years. People and corporations alike come together on this one day to make us smile in an extremely dorky wink-and-a-nod display.
It used to be a delightful day on the internet. But all of the cutesy fake products and pretend web services have faded away to people fibbing about pregnancy or getting married and passing around fake news and lies. And really, this is the kind of stuff people do online (mostly on Facebook) everyday. It’s just that on April Fools were a little more “on the swivel” than usual, ready with a critical eye.
So on this April Fools I want to make a plea to you.
Treat every day like it’s April Fools.
Use critical thinking skills anytime you see a story or post that just doesn’t smell right. Free iPad? Probably a scam. $50 free at Target? Likely not. Like a photo of someone’s lotto numbers and you’ll get a cut if they win? Can’t imagine a more unlikely scenario.
I will say, I am fully aware that makes me THAT GUY on Facebook. Often I’ve found myself busting into someone’s Facebook thread and saying, “Sorry to interrupt, I just wanted you to know this isn’t true.” And then generally I link to Snopes.
Snopes is hands down my favorite truth telling website. http://www.snopes.com/
It takes news, myths, and rumors and lets you know if it’s true, false, or mixture of the two. It is my go to for when I want to rain on someone’s parade. Which… I don’t want to be THAT GUY. But the amount of misinformation roaming around on the internet is staggering. And people just look at the title of a story and move on. No considering of the source, no checking up on the facts. And it isn’t just limited to clickbait-y websites with a ton of ads. People have a hard time because this is everywhere.
I know it’s work. No one wants to spend their time googling. But I would argue that it is now more important than ever to make an effort to verify information. Especially as we move deeper into this political season. Fake news looks like real news. Hell, sometimes it is reported by real news. How often have you seen stories from The Onion paraded around like they’re real?
(But seriously, congrats to my friend Stephanie who actually got married today. No kidding around!)