Information not easy to swallow

Poor Kool-Aid; it’s reputation forever tarnished by the phrase, “drinking the Kool-Aid,” when it may possibly have been grape flavored Flavor-Aid laced with cyanide that Jim Jones used to poison over 900 of his followers back in 1978 in Jonestown, Guyana.

Drinking the Kool-Aid became synonymous with blind obedience or loyalty. Both major political parties in the United States use the phrase to denigrate or belittle the opinions of the opposition.

From what I’ve seen, posts on Facebook are often the culprit that inspire “drinking the Kool-Aid” comments. Memes are posted, reposted, shared and ultimately become part of the culture. In fact, the word “meme” was invented in 1976 by scientist Richard Dawkins, who defined his word as “a unit of cultural transmission.” In other words, a meme can influence, even change, a cultural belief. But I digress.

Memes seem to have become a major source of information. Whether you believe a particular meme doesn’t matter; it becomes a part of our psyche. For instance, how many of you heard or read about Hillary Clinton running a child pornography ring out of a pizza shop in Washington, D.C.? Totally fabricated, it had people in an uproar and one particular man traveled to the supposed center of the ring and shot up the place. He found nothing but children playing ping pong, and employees making pizza.

The point is, we can, and will, believe anything if it is repeated often enough. With or without proof, people will post the most outlandish things to convince others to follow them in their beliefs. Our president often touts the evils of “fake news,” and indeed there is a plethora of fake news out there; some of it even created by the very same leaders we look to for truth. The claims of Russian interference in our last national election seem to have credibility. It has certainly crossed my mind a time or two to question the validity of some of the memes I see online. Misspelled words, improper use of English, lack of punctuation always raise a red flag in my mind. Would a seemingly educated person who wants to make a point, be so careless in writing their message?

The next presidential election is coming up in 14 months and the back-stabbing, slandering, demeaning posts/memes have already started. Please, heed the words of Edgar Allan Poe — “believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.” In other words, don’t believe what someone says just because they say it, and it is possible that what you see is not always the truth. Since Poe wasn’t familiar with the Internet, I daresay he would advise caution when reading whatever you see there as well.

Research what you read. Think about the consequences of blind loyalty. Be more than a pawn in a power grab. And remember, in the words of Chicago organized crime syndicates, vote early, vote often.

Robyn Near is a Ripley resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com