Yesterday, in my excitement about a possible cage match between Justin Bieber and Harry Potter, I shared some wildly inaccurate information on Twitter.
Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter in the movies, said that he initially thought that Bryan Adams 2.0, Justin Bieber, was a woman. In the bottom of the article I saw he said, “I think she’s kind of amazing, she’s really got a voice. She can really sing.”
I thought that was a funny thing to say about Justin Bieber so I tweeted it. Only that quote wasn’t about Bieber, it was about Lady Gaga. Radcliffe thought Bieber was a girl, but he was actually talking about someone else when he made those other comments. (I would argue that Lady Gaga is a good performer/entertainer, but I don’t think she’s particularly known for the power or awe of her voice.)
It wasn’t a big deal, a few folks on Twitter corrected me, but in doing that stupid tweet I did what lots of Christian often do. I shared something online without checking it on snopes.com or google first.
Snopes is a site dedicated to dispelling rumors that float around the Internet. Like fake kidnappings or scams that involve someone giving you a free iPad for testing their product. If I had a dollar for every time a Christian friend sent me a faith-flavored Internet rumor without taking 3.2 seconds to google the accuracy of it first, I could claim like TI that “I’m recession proof, I don’t run to money, money run to me, in this economy I’m considered an anomaly.”
I thought about trying to convince us all to google and snopes stuff before we send crazy Christian internet rumors out via email, but I don’t think this blog is that powerful. I know my limits. But what we can do today is discuss the best ways to quickly identify a Christian urban legend email:
Although technically, those three letters mean the email has been “forwarded” to you from someone else, I want to redefine that. All too often if you see Fwd, what it really means is the email is going to be “Fake, Weird, Dumb.” Beware the arrival of an email that has “Fwd” in the subject line.
2. Crazy subject line.
If you see the word, “Horrible” or the phrases, “If you’re a Christian, you must read this,” or “Fourth horseman spotted outside Cleveland,” go ahead and delete that email immediately.
3. The phrase, “I never send these out.”
Yes you do. Stop saying that. This is the telltale sign of a serial urban legend fan. They always try to tell you that they never send these types of emails out but this one, this one is too serious to ignore. It’s the equivalent of the date you go on where a guy or girl says, “I’m not crazy, seriously, it’s not like I’m crazy.” Yes you are, that is what crazy people always say.
I think it’s awesome that we can use email to share prayer requests. I think it’s less awesome that we use it to spread urban legends about prayer. I got one recently about the National Day of Prayer being cancelled. It was so full of inaccuracies that it made my teeth hurt. The text was wrong, the photo in it was misleading, the information was shady. It was essentially the email equivalent of the officiating in the World Cup. Bottom line, if you get an exclamation laden !!!! prayer email be very careful.
5. Tricky words.
I once got an email that warned about an event that happened “beside the White House.” It was written that way to make you feel like the White House held an official event in the garden right outside the oval office. But the truth is, “beside the White House” actually just means “near the White House.” Do you know what is “beside the White House?” A public road. A public sidewalk where a whole host of people hold meetings and protests and events. Regardless of your politics, it’s deceptive and/or whack to trick people with language like this.
6. The claim is gigantic.
The bigger the claim, the greater the chance is that it’s fake. A few months ago someone sent me an email from “James Dobson” that said all Sunday worship services on the radio or television were about to be removed from the air unless we signed a petition. Chances are, if thousands of gospel programs are going to be instantly removed from both radio and television, the first time you hear of this won’t be in an email from your friend “BillKingBeliever777.” Also, there are scams aimed at Christians that ask for your email address in order to keep prayer in our country. They just want your email. Avoid these like one of the plagues. The frogs for instance.
7. They claim scientists in Siberia drilled a hole to hell.
You laugh, but this is a real urban legend featured on Snopes.com. Someone actually had to dispel this. So let me clear it up once and for all. That I am aware of, no holes to hell have in fact been drilled in Siberia.
I’m sorry that I misspoke about Justin Bieber and Harry Potter yesterday. That was not cool and I send my sincere apologies both to anyone who is currently experiencing “Bieber Fever” and to Potter fans like me who are desperate to go to the new Hogwarts theme park. Hopefully you were not too hurt. And hopefully, before we send out emails with crazy Christian urban legends we’ll check snopes.com or google.
Have you ever heard a Christian urban legend?
Has someone ever sent you one?