Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, the term “spread of information” has taken on a whole new definition. It does not take long for me to learn when a friend breaks up with her boyfriend, if it’s someone’s birthday, if an upcoming event has been cancelled, or even how someone is feeling at any given time. While this can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and stay informed about the occurrences of a friend’s life, it can also be extremely toxic. Many users of Facebook and Twitter take freedom of speech to another level.
Offensive jokes, news about politics and celebrities, and high school gossip can spread like wildfire. The way I have been raised, I have never seen literacy as an issue in my immediate surroundings. I believe the issue in the written word is that those who are literate abuse the privilege to write whatever they want, without regard to what is true. When one posts a Facebook status or Tweets, usually, he or she doesn’t stop to check his or her facts before posting.
For example, the other day, I logged onto my Facebook and Twitter accounts to find a chaotic jumble of statuses and tweets dedicated to Morgan Freeman. Apparently, Morgan Freeman had suffered a fatal artery rupture. Completely confused, I turned to Google for further investigation. Morgan Freeman is very much alive and well. But one post led to another led to another and worldwide confusion ensued. On a smaller scale, kids from my hometown were always hopeful for a snow day.
I can recall several mornings when I woke up, checked Facebook and Twitter, and saw some of my peers claiming classes were cancelled due to severe weather conditions. Nine times out of ten, these claims were false. These examples are just two instances is which rumors became much larger issues than necessary. Whoever starts rumors like these has no problems with literacy. It is simply an issue of misconstruing something one hears or completely fabricating a story for attention.
In Andrew Lam’s article, “I Tweet, Therefore I Am,” he states, “As humans, we are beginning to believe that we do not fully exist without some sort of electronic imprint in the virtual world, a digital projection of ourselves. ” I believe this is a large part of why statuses and tweets are posted without fact checking. We want to be the first to inform our friends and followers of the latest news; it gives us a sense of self-importance even if we don’t realize it. Tweeting and status posting helps us to feel we are making our mark on the Internet by informing others of the gossip of the day.