If It Says So On The Internet…

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You know, everything on the Internet is true. And some of it can scare the bejeebers out of you if you believe what is staring at you from your screen beckoning you to read and accept it as truth. I have always been one to soak in anything and everything that comes my way in the way of information or mis-information, and I have not-so-fond childhood memories of seeing things on t.v., listening to hell fire and brimstone sermons, and hearing adults talking about scary stuff that would give me nightmares for weeks, and almost set me into a tailspin of panic.

Thankfully, as an adult, I am not so gullible, although headlines can still tempt me into childish fear until I investigate, do a little research, and cull the truth from the hysterics. This has happened to me twice in the past week, as I’ve read postings on Facebook which treat partial information as complete truth.

The first one was a story about how the planet earth is entering its third extinction period. To read this, one would think that it won’t be long before life on this planet will be wiped out, with mass extinction of millions of species, including homo sapiens, and it is happening every day right before our eyes.  The story made it sound like we need to get our affairs in order, stock up for years’ supply of food, prepare for endless winter, and say good-bye to all of our friends, both human and otherwise.  It wasn’t until the article almost convinced me that all of this was happening today, that in tiny, tiny print down near the bottom of the article, it revealed that when this transpires, it will be millions of years from now. Whew! I thought I needed to spend my retirement funds right away and get ready to become part of some archaeological dig in the next millennia.

The second one, which is much more disturbing, was an article about the super-volcano bubbling and boiling beneath Yellowstone Park.  While this story was bathed in half-truths- because it is a fact that a mega volcano lies beneath the park-  it warned the reader  that we will, if we survive the eruption, be struggling through a “volcanic winter” of epic proportions.  And it suggested that this could happen as early as this week, and probably within the next month or so. Again, I looked at my IRA, and wondered if I ought to go ahead and book a lavish vacation or trip around the world, since I certainly won’t be around to spend it in a retirement that won’t exist!

Of course, either of these events could, and probably will, happen, and the second one would certainly speed up the first one if the volcano should erupt someday soon.  What I don’t understand is why some people feel  the need to write stories filled with semi-truths, which really don’t do anybody any good to read them. To me, it is cruel and unusual punishment to tempt someone such as myself to read this stuff, become terrified at the imminent danger, revert to childhood fears with all of the monsters lurking underneath my bed, and then end up wondering why I believed it in the first place.

Life is precious, and is very fragile. Each day is a gift, with no guarantees that tomorrow will ever come.  I could scare myself silly thinking about these two “reports”, and a dozen other frightening stories, that have the potential of making me extinct on a very personal level.  I don’t want to sound morbid, but statistically speaking, I could step out into my street and get hit by a car, suffer a stroke or heart attack, or even get cancer again, causing me to say goodbye to my time on earth long before either of these other crises ever occur.  But I do care for my planet Earth and for the children who will grow up behind me, facing problems that I have only read about and imagined.

Just remember, if it says so on the Internet, then it must be true!

Or not.

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