Gullibility: Not-so-PC virus

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Warning: Many Internet users are becoming infected by a virus that causes them to believe without question every groundless urban legend and dire warning that shows up in their inbox.

The Gullibility Virus, as it is called, apparently makes people believe and forward copies of silly hoaxes relating to cookie recipes, health scares and get-rich-quick schemes.

Most are otherwise normal, highly intelligent people, who would laugh at the same stories if told to them by a stranger on a street corner.

However, once these sane people become infected with the Gullibility Virus, they believe anything they read on the Internet.

Great friends

We are great friends — the Internet and I.

I’ve been going steady with the Internet for years now. We met in college, early 90’s, and we’ve been together ever since.

Access to the Internet — the world wide computer web — is integral to just about every aspect of society today. I, myself, am hopelessly addicted.

I post family photos, attend to our finances, keep in touch with old friends and earn a living online.

I can find a movie, read a review to see if it’s even remotely stupid enough for me to like it, purchase tickets and get directions to the theater all from the comfort of my chair.

I can search library collections from across our fine state, request the tomes I want and have them delivered to my local library all with a few short clicks.

Forget to make dinner and need a quick recipe using chicken breasts, kumquats and canned beans? No problem. There are myriad recipe sites waiting to assist.

Need to diagnose the severity of your severe abdominal pains from eating that? WebMD, baby!

Can’t remember who sang American Band? (Capitol Records, 1973). Please. That’s too easy. The elusive answer that plagues you would be Grand Funk Railroad.

With Google, all searches are possible. Better yet, you can purchase that song and have it downloaded to your computer in minutes for less than a buck.

They are, after all, an American band, they’re comin’ to your town and they plan to party it down. You’ll want to be prepared for that. You might also be wise to look up the lyrics. Grand Funk tended to mumble.

Gullible

On the other hand, the Internet has made it possible for me to be aware that if I boycott the purchase of gasoline for just one day, I can really teach those oil companies a lesson!

I can also learn a particular brand of air freshener might kill my pets (we’ll be sad — but we’ll smell divine!), my lipstick causes cancer and that for every e-mail I forward on to friends, family and utter strangers, Bill Gates (or Starbucks, Applebees or the Gap) will donate something to someone for some reason none of us understand.

Taking me global, the Internet has provided numerous opportunities to correspond with the surviving relations of a Nigerian prince who is willing to share a cut of millions of dollars with me for only a small fee. Presuming, of course, that I can accept and return a wire transfer, posthaste!

Better yet, I might just want to give them my bank account infor mation to expedite matters.

Lie

We can all usually tap the precise moment a loved one discovers the Internet. There is usually a dramatic surge in e-mail forwards in our inboxes.

Suddenly you are getting the one with the shark “attacking” the Coast Guard helicopter multiple times per day (It’s fake, by the way. Sorry!).

There’s a pretty good one featuring a fish with a human face too. Turns out in this wacky modern age photos do, indeed, lie.

These little misinformation missives always close with a request to “forward this to everyone you know!”

Well, as someone you know I beg of you — please don’t.

If I am going to continue my love affair with the Internet, I’m going to have to go on record as saying I love real e-mails from real (non-royal) people.

I’m always thrilled with photos of cute babies, puppies, kittens we might actually know and will even make room for dolphins and (non-altered) sharks too.

I adore real contacts from real people. I’m a simple girl that way.

Approach the Internet with skepticism, my friends. It’s full of a lot wonderful information. It’s also full of quite a bit of bogus nonsense, hoaxes and scams, too.

You’ll find a lot of it in your e-mail inbox. But let’s hold out on those “forwards” please, because I’d rather not find it in mine.

STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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