It’s only fear

I love the song “Fear” by the band Stop Making Friends, on the NCIS soundtrack. I love everything about that song, and it has been on my mind a lot lately. So, since we are having another insomniactric night o’ randoms, I thought now would be a good time to get some random fear-related insanity off my chest.

PSA #1. Just because you got an e-mail forward that has some official-sounding person’s name at the bottom, does not mean that it is the gospel truth. No, really. My boss, who is a very intelligent man, forwarded out something that he got from someone *very* high ranking at a *very* prominent HQ division of our local Marine base last week – and he sent it to all of the staff at my school. It was the one about how “gang members are using baby carriers on the side of the road to lure women into stopping so they can rape them beat them kill them etc.” With the bonus points message thrown in about how if someone throws eggs on your windshield, do not turn on your wipers, and do not stop, because… gangs, rape, beat, kill, et. al.

And to be fair, this forward got some credibility points for the signature line at the bottom, from someone who works at the attorney general’s office for the state of Mississipi.

Siggies are EASY to replicate. Spoofing some official person’s account is not much harder. What else is easy? www.snopes.com, for one thing. Doing independent research takes a little more time, but web search engines are so thorough nowadays that it actually only takes a few minutes to look at crimes in the news for the whole state of MS, or any other state for that matter, and scan through to see how many women have been lured/beaten/raped/killed lately after stopping by the side of the road to investigate an abandoned baby seat (zero). Or finding the website for the AG’s office of the state of Mississippi to see if they have any official position on this “crime spree,” or any warnings posted about the dangers of baby seats. Or eggs. They don’t.

Or, even, if you really want to hear from the mouth of the horse – shooting an email to the employee whose siggie is being used at the bottom of the endless chain o’forwards saying, “Hey, official person – is this for real?” I did that, too. She replied promptly, saying no – there is no such threat, but she was aware that her name and e-mail were being used to spread the rumor and she was working to squash it.

PSA #2 – just because you read it on Facebook, doesn’t mean it’s … oh, man, I feel dumber just for thinking about writing that. Seriously? This week the hot new meme was:

 “Change your default facebook pic to a cartoon character from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on facebook but an invasion of memories until Dec. 6th. Join the fight against child abuse and invite your friends to do the same :)”

Now I am happy to admit that I do not have a lick of evidence to show that me changing my FB profile pic to Mr. Peabody (who traveled in the Way-Back machine with his boy, Sherman, back in my Bullwinkle days) will do anything at all to raise awareness of child abuse. I have no evidence to show that when I made my profile pic pink for breast cancer awareness, that anything benefited the actual awareness of the actual disease at all – except that I know that my survivor friends saw it and may have had a moment of smilingness knowing that I am aware of the disease and proud of them for winning their fight. Does changing your profile pic to /whatever/ mean anything to anyone? Ever? In the grand scheme of do-goodingness, nah. Not a bit, as far as I know. But it is harmless and kind of fun to see what everyone picks. I laughed when my husband chose Tigger, and laughed again when another friend *very* appropriately picked Mighty Mouse.

And then, all of a sudden tonight there was a rash of this ridiculousness:

“ATTENTION: the group asking everyone to change their profile picture to their favorite cartoon character is actually a group of pedophiles. They’re doing it because kid’s will accept their friend request faster if they see a cartoon picture. It has nothing to do with supporting child ……violence, ITS ON TONIGHT’S NEWS copy and paste this to your status! Let every one know!!!‌”

IT’S ON TONIGHT’S NEWS!!!! What channel? What city? What time? What the heck? And “a group of pedophiles wants everyone to change their pic to a cartoon” is actually scary on what planet?

See, the “doing this will raise awareness of child abuse” thing was probably not true, but it is harmless and fun. At least in my opinion. “Pedophiles are insanely clever and perverting our childhood memories” is not harmless. It is not fun. It is fearmongering. Why would you spread an unsubstantiated rumor like that? I posted a long and tedious FB rant on the subject – if you have read this far into my long and tedious blog rant, an excerpt might not kill you –

“Somebody please explain to me how changing my facebook profile pic back from Mr. Peabody to a pic of me leaning out of a deuce and a half window would have an impact on what pedophiles do? It won’t make them change back, if their FB pic is, say, Underdog. So it won’t stop little Timmy Unsupervised from adding Underdog.

“I love the Pokemon thing, too, I think it is really cute. I can’t wait <sarcasm> until someone finds a way to make *that* gang related. Or started by Al Queda. <eyeroll> Or an evil plot by Pinky and the Brain to put a band of brainwashed chimpanzees in charge of the free world so they can… wait… oh, man, this isn’t good…”

We, as a society, are becoming scared of our own shadows. Frightened people are easy to manipulate (Patriot Act anyone?) 

If anyone catches me spreading fear without a verifiable reason – i.e. I can prove the threat is real and further prove that knowing about the threat will have an actual positive impact – slap me. No, really. I am begging you. I do not want to be a part of this insanity.

http://www.youtube.com/v/o4Gkxn7ts6U?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US

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2 Comments

  1. May 28, 2011 at 12:15 am

    […] all. So, now that we’ve established that Chan doesn’t like: misinformation campaigns, spreading of unsubstantiated fear rumors, or child labor slavery in the chocolate industry – well, maybe it would be nice if I took time to […]

  2. November 21, 2011 at 10:18 am

    […] A year ago, I was annoyed. […]


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