Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I Heard a Rumor

Got another one in the inbox the other day. This time, it was all about how Starbucks refused to give free coffee to some Marine who was about to go fight in the war. People pass these things around, and everyone gets all in a lather, and very few people take the time to go to and check out the story. I have got that story about five times in the last month. It's almost as popular as the one that shows that members of Congress have a collective arrest record that would put awe in the hearts of Ma Barker and her gang. Or the one that claims that within 4, or 31, depending, days, the giant megacorporations are going to be handed a giant list of everyone's cell numbers so you'll be getting sales calls on your Samsung while watching the late news. Or the one that says that Nancy Pelosi demands to be ferried home twice a week to San Francisco on a 200-seat Air Force jet, or the Wright Brothers' plane, depending. Or the free Applebee's gift certificate. Or the dumb legend about Oliver North and his prescient fears of Osama Bin Laden, so cruelly scorned by none other than...Al Gore!

Well, if you do check out the Starbucks/Marine tale, it turns out that the Marine heard this story from a friend, leading him to write the email before he checked anything for veracity. And he was wrong. But what's that old saying about lies speed around the world faster than the truth can walk, or something like that?

A common theme in these pass-arounds is how some giant corporation is just nailing us every which-a-way, and here's how we'll get 'em back! We won't buy their coffee! Or we'll xerox their chocolate chip cookie recipe and pass it around to everyone with an oven from here to Eternity, Kansas! Or we'll scan in one coupon and put it online, so everyone will get it and print it and go to the store and get all cheesed when they don't get a free large fries, coca-cola and Dub-L-Burger. Notice, they get mad at the 14-year old kid behind the counter, sparing the wrath that should be deployed toward the friend who passed them the bogus coupon in the first place.

We are a nation full of bright, well-educated people. We have cured polio, put men on the moon, righted many wrongs, invented the pot pie. But let's see if we can't stop jumping for every email, and start giving due consideration to the likelihood that most of these things are as reliable as a sundial in a snowstorm.

Speaking of which...

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