Censoring what we Hear...and repeat.
Way back when I had my foster children I saw the phenomenon the most clearly. It is one of the reasons that I am so thrilled that my children are not in the “Lord of the Flies,” public school environment day in and day out. Children of a certain age, especially middle-schoolers, will regurgitate anything that they hear another child of the same age, and equal ignorance, say. I used to constantly catch myself saying: “Where on earth did you hear that, and why on earth did you believe it, no less repeat it?” Today, I am often reminding my kids to think about the things that they hear, consider the source that they are coming from, and check their facts before they choose to share the information. The ironic part of all of this is that most adults never even think about carefully considering what they repeat. As a nation we have a terrible case of verbal diarrhea.
Not only am I trying to teach my kids to work on this problem, but I am working on it myself as well. I catch myself doing it sometimes, and my husband catches me doing it more often than I do. It is irritating when he calls me out on it, but I am truly grateful that he does. I have a particular affinity for exaggerating percentages in conversation. I come from a place in the world where sharing incorrect information is at epidemic levels. Small towns on the Mason-Dixon line are not particularly well known for their global knowledge, but ask anyone in my hometown anything about anything, and they will have an answer for you. I don’t ever think that I have heard the words “I don’t know” when visiting home. Ninety percent of the time, the information that is given out in my hometown is incorrect, and no one seems to mind.
I suppose that I am fearful that I am genetically predisposed to passing along false information and that is why I am always double-checking myself. I know that some people wouldn’t care one way or the other whether they were spreading around ignorance through misinformation, but I think that it is horrible. It is always okay to admit when we don’t know the answer to a question or a problem. No one is supposed to know everything, after all. I like how we all have our smartphones now and when a discussion comes up over a fact in conversation, someone invariably googles it. Please google it. It is a brilliant advance in technology. Every one of us has the ability to check the information before it comes out of our mouths…and our friends appreciate us even more when they see that we are taking the time to look it up.