Saturday, April 26, 2014


People have posted movies of Liberia as it was 50 years ago and as it is now, and I'm very grateful. I can learn of what relatives are doing and "see" people I haven't seen in ages. There's a lot of good here.

Rather disconcertingly, I have seen pictures from high school and barely recognized friends.

There's a lot to like.

But Facebook magnifies a weakness in us.

Everybody loves to be first. Reporters and scientists make careers of it in their very different ways, but everybody loves the attention and respect you get when you are the bearer of the hot news.

Your friends haven't yet seen the latest cute kitten video, or the oh-so-telling political poster, so you have the thrill of introducing them to these delights. And who can resist the temptation to overthrow conventional wisdom and pass along the news that Easter was named after Astarte, or that father Abraham was named after Abraham Lincoln, or other marvelous semi-factoids? The important thing is not that snopes agrees that it is true, or that the story accurately represents what the evil political party said--the important thing is that it is new and that you got to tell it first.

If you slow down to do fact checking, somebody else might post first, and maybe your conscience might keep you from posting it at all.

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