TL;DR

Where were you when you first time you heard the earth shattering news? You know, the thing that would change everything. Where were you when you first heard Patrick Sharp can't keep it in his pants? Patrick Sharp is horny?

Wait, what?

This text came from a buddy of mine who typically goes back and forth with me about the state of Chicago Blackhawks hockey. It was apparently referencing a random tweet from some sportwriter guy about Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp sleeping with teammates' wives or something.

That tweet was followed by an article on a site that has the word "Mockery" in the title that's 1,000 words which basically says "that sportwriter guy tweeted that thing and then some people said some stuff to us. We can't prove anything, but like, it's totally true guys, cause like, that sportswriter guy tweeted it and Jimmy and Sally said so. Also there was joke about a Blackhawks player sleeping with people on the television show Modern Family, so that pretty much makes this all fact."

That last part is seriously one of the arguments in the article for the rumors being true.

The article is terrible. Weak arguments, sketchy sources, non-existent facts. Whether or not the stuff might be true, this isn't investigative journalism at its finest.

Regardless, this spread like wildfire on my Facebook feed...

This is not journalism.

Because, well, that's what happens now. We read an article and our instinct is to click "share". Or, more likely, we read a headline and our instinct is to click share. NPR demonstrated that with a brilliant prank last year, but research backs that up too.

This all got me thinking about how we often craft our memories and experiences, and about the role of truth in what's said publicly these days. We're outraged when a journalist makes up details of a story, yet we have no issue adding to the spread of falsehoods or potential falsehoods.

Those things are related. We hear things. We believe them. We share them.

There are so many urban legends, and false statements over history. In fact, a bunch of what we learned growing up - even in school - is simply, well, wrong.

Look at this amazing infographic from Information is Beautiful. I guarantee you'll find something you previously thought was true on it:

Common MythConceptions

Some of this misinformation is non-vital. Am I worse off as a person that I thought mama birds abandoned their babies if they could smell humans? Probably not. But some misinformation can be quite destructive (SEE: JonBenet Ramsey's parents).

Sadly, in our currently impatient digital society, it's often what's read and shared first that holds the most weight.

I don't know if Patrick Sharp did the stuff that was being said about him. But I do know the statements he made to actually credible news outlets today, were not blowing up all over my Facebook feed. The other side of the story and perhaps the right side, even, isn't being widely told.

Even if this all blows over and it's actually proven that all the stuff written lately about him is false, there will still be people sharing what they first read or "heard".

What does this mean for us? When do we decide to slow down, and start "digging" again? Do we event care to?

I found a great about about it here. I think. Maybe. I dunno, I didn't read it.