Please. Before you pass along more conspiracy theories on Facebook, do some research.
Don’t just trust that the screen capture on the left came from CNN and the screen capture on the right came from FOX news. Don’t trust that quotes are accurate, or that the person who shared this with you cares any more than you do about who collected this information and why.
Or at least go to snopes.com, and let them do the due diligence for you.
We have had a terrible year. So much murder, so many survivors with so much stollen from them.
Passing along these half-baked ideas distracts from the real problems we have, be it gun violence, domestic terrorism, or the failings of mental healthcare.
Worse, it spits in the face of the victims, living and dead. It fosters cold analytics and removes compassion, sympathy, and love.
In This American Life’s episode, The Spokesman, Rachel North describes her experience at the heart of a terrorist attack in London. She goes on to describe the feelings she had later, when confronted by conspiracy theorists that believed that the train she had been ridding was not attacked by terrorists but the result of a government accident and coverup:
I was furious with [them]. I just thought, oh, they don’t realize. As soon as they actually talk to a real person, they’ll realize it’s a load of nonsense and they’ll give up. I had no idea, at all then, about what these people were like.
But what comes through again and again is this lack of empathy. Complete lack of empathy.
So they would, for example, cut and paste these most harrowing descriptions by emergency services officers of going into carriages and seeing buckled walls that were streaming with blood, and pieces of human flesh, and stepping over body parts. And stepping over the hole where the bomb had torn a crater in the floor.
They’d post this. And you couldn’t read it without actually wanting to weep. And then they would say, that you see. The hole there appears to be on the right-hand side. And that would be their comment.
You, the person that liked that photo, have no empathy. Or not nearly enough.
People died. Horribly. Others left with damage mental and physical that you could never imagine. And their families and friends will have to move on with their broken lives, comforting the living and remembering the dead.
What those people, and this country, needs right now is your compassion. And your anger. And your love.
They need you to think long and hard about how we can prevent the next shooting, the next bombing, the next needless loss.
They do not need you to perpetuate unsubstantiated fantasies, and lies, and reverse engineered narratives.
These posts, these ideas, are a virus, passed through thoughtless Facebook shares and gchats and conversation.
Yes. Question authority. Don’t trust the men and women in power who have let this happen. But do so with thought and with a respect for verifiable truth, not this chain letter trash.
Do it with empathy.
Care about the people first and the hegemony later.
Do not let all this pain and emotion be for nothing. Don’t lose yourself in the detective work and the sexy theories. Lose yourself in the tragedy that we’re living through.
Try to do good work around you. Try to change minds, and change laws.
Or, if you don’t have that in you, at least have the decency to stay the fuck out of the conversation.
Because everything you like and share and reblog and forward to the rest of us comes with a stamp of approval from you. And like you, there are so many people out there that don’t trust authorities, but trust every John Doe that can paste two blown up photos next to each other.
Be the chokepoint for thoughtless perpetuation. Take ownership of the ideas you endorse. And remember to care about the people, not just your politics and yourself.