I have a new piece of advice to live by, and to add to my list of sage advice, that I will dispense to my kids and (when drunk) to my friends:
Treat posts on social media the way you would treat messages scrawled on a bathroom stall.
This sums up the shithole of information that is the internet, and in particular the current manifestation of it we call “social media”. Maybe one of those “for a good time call <insert your best friend/enemy/ex’s number here>” messages in a truck-stop bathroom is actually from the person whole number is given and they actually are looking for a good time… but a large dose of skepticism will keep you free from venereal diseases, staring on a milk carton or at least the embarrassment of actually talking to someone on the other end of the line about where you got their number.
I’m paraphrasing this for Richard Geib’s post “The “Delta Variant” of COVID-19 in the United States and the Ghost of Charles Darwin” [rjgeib.com] where he is talking about people not choosing to get vaccinated due to reading things on Facebook:
You read it on social media and automatically believed it? Much of what one reads on social media is like the scrawls on bathroom stalls — caveat emptor. Do you live in a cave and not know this?Richard Geib
I’m sure a lot of people out there will object that they didn’t automatically believe it, that they did their research… but let me explain the issue with social media research… No, there is too much. Let me sum up:
We can add this to the list of sage advice:
- If your are going to break the law or betray someone, make sure it’s worth it [confusion.cc]. Canonical example; if you are going to commit fraud or embezzlement make sure you can retire (flee) to a tropical paradise with no extradition treaty. Though there is a caveat:
When you steal $600, you can just disappear. When you steal $600 million, they will find you unless they think you’re already dead.―Hans Gruber
- Never commit anything to writing that you would not want read back to you in court (in front of your mom) [confusion.cc]. this true for the physical notes and double true for the internet – social media, email, messaging apps. Because the Internet, almost, never forgets [confusion.cc].