Today I got a forward. It was an essay written by David Letterman. It showed a "rarely seen side of Letterman." He talked about how 69% of Americans report that they are unhappy about the state of our nation. And then he went on to show all the great things that America is. He cautioned that we should all be more grateful for what we have, stop bagging on the president, be grateful for our volunteer army, give thanks for modern medicine, clean drinking water, and free education. It was very inspiring. One problem though: The essay was not written by David Letterman. And it was not written by Jay Leno, who was quoted to have written it the last time I got this forward about a year ago. It was written by Craig R. Smith. (And it is quite inspiring. You can read the real article here.)
I know it's been said before on many a blog. And I know it's been screamed aloud at many a computer desk before too. But I'm going to say it again now, for myself, to anyone and everyone who has perpetrated this crime:
DON'T FORWARD THINGS CLAIMING TO BE FACT UNLESS YOU HAVE CHECKED TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE TRUE!
Don't assume that every forward you get is fact.
Most of the missing children forwards you get? Hoaxes.
Many of the "new" computer virus warnings people send you? Made up.
The vast majority of "actual" recipes from famous restaurants people excitedly forward you? Surprise. Not the actual recipes.
And you know the free giveaways and cash you can get from big name companies just for forwarding another email? Someone is sitting back laughing while you forward their made-up email.
Sadly, lots of the other amazing forwards people send you are misrepresented, outdated, changed, edited, or downright false. I know everyone wants to be helpful when they forward things like that. But it only makes things worse when people become scared about the world they live in for no good reason, or spend effort trying to follow the warnings in the email. So please, before you forward anything-- even something possibly inspiring--that proports to true...
CHECK THE FACTS AT WWW.SNOPES.COM.
It only takes a few seconds to check the facts on something, before you forward it, to make sure that it is true. And if it is true, more power to you! You can make REAL Nieman Marcus cookies, keep your computer safe from the greeting-card virus, ward off telemarking scams, find that missing little girl, prevent all new money being printed without the words "In God We Trust," and get $500 from Bill Gates.
In fact, when you finally get the evidence that proves that one true, please, send that forward to me!