It never fails to amaze me how easily people are fooled by propaganda. Especially if said propaganda aligns with the beliefs an individual already holds. I find case after case of this on Facebook. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t find Facebook terribly scientific nor do I care for it much; however, I do find it a useful tool to check the pulse of people’s thinking. Especially people whose views are being shaped by popular media sources.
A prime example was today when I logged in and found literally a dozen of my connections sharing an article supposedly written by Bill Cosby. (You can read the entire article here.) The article goes on to critisize social programs, “spread the wealth” ideaology, lazy people, and even Muslims. I immediately knew this couldn’t by something legitimately accredited to Bill Cosby – especially publicly.
I did a quick Google search and quickly found dozens of sites (including Bill Cosby’s personal website) saying the article was a fake. So why was everyone else so easily fooled, so apt to propagate the lie, and too lazy to fact check? Was it because it so easily confirmed their own beliefs?
This is a pattern. People immediately accept whatever falls in their lap as complete truth. People are no longer free thinkers – rather they are sheep-sponges who obediently fall in line, absorb, and spread any information provided to them in which they find convenient.
A respected pop-culture icon and black leader, like Bill Cosby, spouting popular conservative ideals was just too delicious to pass up – thus it spreads like wildfire on social networks. A few items of hate speech, sprinkled in with a few lines of truth, and suddenly the entire message is accepted at once. The lies and hate are absorbed in the blood stream as inconspicuously as they landed on everyone’s homepage.
My biggest fear is that my peers have forgotten how to think for themselves, how to distinguish a lie from the truth. They are now good slaves propagating whatever they hear or see on whatever screen is in front of them. That is dangerous.