My mother just sent me an email that made me cringe. Although I understand why she forwarded it to me (we had only just had a discussion about switching to butter from margarine within the last few days), I wish she had done some homework before she’d mass-mailed that nonsense out to others.
But here’s the thing: I know how my mother works, I know how she thinks, and I know what she’s thinking more than half the time. We have a bond that goes beyond your normal mother-daughter bond. We are synced in ways that scare me a lot of times. If I have a particularly bad headache for no good reason, chances are it’s because my mother is having some kind of headache as well. We’ve proven this on so many occasions that I don’t have to second-guess anymore. I take it for granted.
Emails that come from our friends and trusted acquaintances, and even from some respected officials are in “black and white”. They are comparable to the “written word”. If it came from my church pastor, it’s got to be legit – right? Especially since this person is normally a intelligent person. And for most people, that’s enough for them.
The problem is that my parents, whether deliberately or inadvertently, taught me to question everything. And I do mean everything. I take absolutely nothing at face value unless my husband, father, or mother is telling me about it in a situation where long deliberation and research is unattainable or ill-advised. (And even then, sometimes, I have to go looking for information after the fact, just to quell the noise in my head.)
When you’ve been playing around online as I have for as long as I have (I think I might be just past my second decade), some things become familiar. Anything sparkly and colourful online is likely to be an advertisement or rubbish designed to look like gold.
And by the way: another thing my parents taught me: all that glitters is not gold.
So when an email comes to me designed in bright colours, with multiple images, and emphasis in places (like red, bolded fonts to make a statement stick out) I am immediately suspicious. Solid verifiable information online is usually boring black and white sans-serif text on a white background; couple that fact with my instinctive desire to question everything, and what you get is a snotty bitch who thinks she knows everything.
My response to Mom’s email: a reply-to-all (I considered replying just to her, but the probative value outweighed my feel-good instinct) which said “Not all entirely true and some of it misleading and sensationalist in nature.” with a link to the explanation on snopes.com.
Yes; bitch I am indeed. Though no malice was intended, nor did I want to sound arrogant and egotistical. I simply wanted to say “Thanks; appreciate the thought. Here’s me thinking about you in return: get your facts straight before you spread ‘em.”
And all that to say this: just because it makes its way into your inbox/snail-mailbox/front stoop from some trusted friend, family member, or official does not make it gospel. Question everything. Let everyone know you aren’t easily fleeced. Say “I don’t believe it”; then go read up and say “I should have believed you; you were right” or be able to say “I was right; it isn’t to be believed.”
Know for sure; then make it known to others. Sounds like a good motto – no?