Reading is believing
March 30, 2012 by Cynthia
“I’ll have the butter croissant,” the man in front of me decides, and the barrista pulls a flaky golden horn out of the bakery case.
“No, no,” he chides, jabbing a finger at a different row. “Not that one. A BUTTER CROISSANT.”
The barrista looks puzzled. “You want a different croissant?”
And the customer ahead intervenes. “Michelle, you’ve got your signs turned backwards. He wants a blueberry muffin.”
Sure enough, the croissant and muffin signs were switched. Michelle pulls out a blueberry muffin and the man sighs with relief.
Reading is believing.
I ponder that all the way through the line, past the two women discussing Republican chances in the presidential election. One has a Santorum sticker on her laptop, a fairly ballsy declaration in an Oregon Starbucks, although the nice thing about offended glassland liberals is that they’re more likely to give you a sternly disapproving look than punch your lights out.
“Jesus loves EVERYONE,” she says, “but not when they’re behaving like homo-secks-syew-uls and queers. It says it right there in the Bible.”
I ponder that one, too. The Sunday school I grew up in just referred to it as “the love of Jesus,” not “the CONDITIONAL love of Jesus.” But it says it right there in the Bible, apparently, so it must be true.
Reading is believing.
It doesn’t take much these days to acquire the authority of the printed word; sharing an online quip is apparently enough. I’ve lost count of the number of hysterical Facebook posts I’ve encountered, promising that Republicans will eat your children, Democrats were born on Mars, and genetically modified food will turn us all into green hamsters. I’ve seen quotes put into the mouths of Barry Goldwater, the Dalai Lama, Mark Twain, Mick Jagger. Graphs and charts and diagrams that absolutely, positively prove a point but unfortunately have little basis in fact.
Reading is believing, and the more people who pass it on, apparently, the more we believe it. That’s how lynch mobs, hysteria and really dumb decisions are born.
So please, do us all a favor: The next time someone asks you to share a Facebook post, or pass on a viral email, or retweet an outrageous proof?
Instead, try taking five or ten minutes to look it up and make sure of the facts. Check the numbers. Ensure that multiple sources didn’t all get their information from the same viral spew.