Have you heard the latest?
It seems that vaccines are now causing celiac disease, President Obama is outlawing public breastfeeding, and McDonald's has contracted with the USDA to become the exclusive lunch provider for all public schools.
It's true. I saw it on Facebook.
I also learned that all non-GMO vegetables are being banned across North America, and corn syrup causes cancer in lab rats. My friend forwarded me an email that was written by a doctor from Johns Hopkins, so you know it's for real.
Sounds crazy, right? But why would I lie to you? What possible motive would I have (other the obvious, world domination)? None. And of course my friends wouldn't knowingly feed me false information, would they?
And therein lies the problem. When the average person sees an outrageous story come across their computer screen, their first impulse is to plaster it all over the Internet—not so much to fact-check first. They trust that their friends aren't posting bullshit. But what about their friends' friends?
Let's look at it this way. Perhaps you're a swinging single, or if not, perhaps you can recall a time back when you were. You met someone you thought was cute. You got along, and they didn't seem too skanky, so you took them home for a roll in the hay. Did you use a condom?
Yes, of course you did, because we had this lesson drilled into our heads: "When you sleep with someone, it's like sleeping with everyone they've ever slept with." Sure, Johnny Last Call isn't sporting any obvious sores, but who knows what he might have picked up from last week's hookup?
Listen, I get that you trust your friends, and you want to give them the benefit of the doubt. But believing everything that they post is like believing everything that all their friends post. And all their old school chums, their ex-coworkers, their slightly batty great-aunts . . . Think about it; some people's Facebook profiles are pretty promiscuous.
So the next time you hear a story that sounds too preposterous to be true, do the world a favor and take a moment to research it before clicking "Share." Think of Snopes.com as a digital condom. And please, stop spreading your hoax-herpes all over the web.
This post originally appeared on In the Powder Room.