The Internet keeps making me a liar!

Yesterday night within one hour, I publicly said two things (or rather endorsed them) which were incorrect (or at least I didn't believe to be true.) I lied.

  • The first was my re-share of this post on Google+ - it seemed to imply something that as soon as I examined the facts a little more closely I decided wasn't true.
  • The second was a re-tweet of this tweet - which got one fairly important fact completely wrong.

I regretted both really quickly (within minutes.)

In both cases, I attempted to backtrack. commenting on the Google+ post and editing my annotations on the re-share. I undid my re-tweet as well, but it felt too late.

I mean, imagine doing this in the real world! Going around a crowded repeating something that was wrong, and a few minutes later mumbling "never mind" in the corner. By then a bunch of other people are telling your friends what you just said; some even believing it and jumping to their own wrong conclusions. Imagine how pissed they'll be (or what they'll think of you) when they find out they were spreading falsehoods! OK, enough with the over-dramatizations. :-)

Now: there are a few things happening here:
  • Speed (or rather immediacy) has never been as important in communication: Being the first to say something has always had its benefits (real and perceived), but its never been more important or harder since everyone and anyone can post/tweet, and our set of technologies make apparent who really got there first. 
  • We're becoming an endorsement culture: +1ing, linking and favorite-ing (I think I got all the endorsement verbs :-)) are used by people not just to express their relationship with what's been shared, but with the person sharing as well.
  • Our attention spans are at an all-time low and our propensity to share is at an all time high: Name 5 things you +1ed/favorited last week. I rest my case - and if you actually do remember, you didn't do enough for the rest of the week. :-)
As a result, we've exacerbated exponentially what has always been a problem with communication, and communication on the Internet. While we're generating a lot more signal, there's a lot more noise to deal with as well. So...
  • Bad information spreads quickly and often unchecked.
  • Social proof makes us even more likely to believe bad information, and there's pressure to amplify these signals (e.g. I should "Like" this because this person I think is awesome did) - so we spread the bad info too.
So remember kids. Its not just "Don't believe what you read on the Internet"; its now "Don't even believe what you said on the Internet."


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