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September 5, 2009

The Shocking Truth About Snopes.com!

Listen up, everyone. Chiquita has something to get off her chest, and it's a situation I'm sure most of us have dealt with - the crazy email forward.

I like a good fight as much as anybody, but when the cons of starting a war begin to look a little obese, one has to find another way to deal with righteous anger. Guess what? Here’s where you come in to help me rant a little lot!

Who really enjoys those email forwards that everyone’s mom/grandma/Aunt Judith/second-cousin Flo sends—the ones predicting the death of America and our freedoms on the day of Obama’s induction as President, the doomsayers forewarning of the downfall of our health system, the religious forwards berating you for your lack of faith in not sending it on to ten more people who’ll inevitably send it right back—who really enjoys those? Well, sometimes, I do. That is, I usually roll my eyes and get a small chuckle out of them before I hit “Delete.”

I have a couple of those people, most of whom I love dearly enough that their emails elicit the eye-rolling and chuckling, but I have one or two relatives that tend to send the sort of forwards that the rest of my ignorant, redneck family tends to act upon. Being an elderly citizen some asshole entrusted with a computer, my grandmother frequently sends out forwards that run along the lines of the “I care about you so you should read this for your safety,” the sort that say if you’re a woman out alone, you should cut off all your hair so no strange man can grab it and throw you to the ground. Recently, I got one of those “safety” emails that explained how, if you’re ever being hailed by an unmarked police car with flashing red lights to pull over, you should call *77 to be linked directly to the police station to make sure you’re really being pulled over.

On one hand, how thoughtful! She really doesn’t want me to be raped! On the other hand, WTF. I’ve never heard of this *77 business. What do I do? What I always do when sent an email I actually read before deleting and find myself scratching my head: I went to snopes.com!

Here’s what it said about *77. They also included a link to a map of the US to find out if your state has the option of using *77 to connect to the police station.

Since most of my family lives in Washington, and, let’s face it, they’re gullible enough to try dialing *77 instead of dialing 911 like we’ve all been taught since the age of two, I sent a reply-to-all email to everyone on their list. I thought it was nice!
Grandma and Grandpa,

That's great information, but I wanted to add something else, because I don't want anyone in the family getting hurt if they try the *77 and find out it doesn't help, so
read this as well. There's a link there that says, rather than calling *77, you can just call 911, because not all states have that linked as the direct line to the police station. If you're in Washington, the *77 won't work; you'll need to call 911.

Pretty nice, huh? Apparently, my grandmother didn’t think so. In her response to me (directed solely to me, by the way), titled “About Snopes.com,” saying, “Good to know who’s giving out information,” she copy/pasted this entire article from Tony Passaro’s completely-true and totally-reliable blog. Here are a few highlights of his anti-Snopes argument:
I have been telling people this for months now. I knew I had caught them in 2 outright political lies. I'm glad others are smarter about their slanted point of view and pontifications. A newsman who allows his personal point of view to sway his news stories is no longer a newsman. He is then a gossip monger and this husband and wife team are just that "Gosip Mongers".!

...The reason for the questions - or skepticisms - is a result of snopes.com Claiming to have the bottom line facts to certain questions or issues, when in fact, they have been proven wrong. Also, there were criticisms the Mikkelsons were not really investigating and getting to the 'true' bottom of various issues. Also that they were slanting their reporting to support their Liberal Agendas.

When I saw that Snopes had falsely claimed that Obama's Birth Certificate had been properly validated, I realized something was wrong with either their research and/or their credibility. It seems something is seriously wrong with both.

...Then it has been learned the Mikkelson's are very Left Wing Radical IDEALOGS and extremely liberal.

As we all now know from this Presidential election, Liberals have a purpose agenda to discredit anything that appears to be conservative. There has been much criticism lately over the internet with people pointing out the Mikkelson's liberalism revealing itself in their website findings. Gee, what a shock!

...Another secret piece of OBAMA'S propganda system exposed to the light of day....

Tony Passaro
Bel Air Tea Party Coalition
Who wouldn't trust that guy, right?

Imagine how confused I felt when I read that, instead of responding to what I actually said, my grandmother was trying to tell me that I shouldn’t use Snopes.com as a reliable resource for research when, actually, I had just been letting my relatives know that *77 doesn’t work where they live…as evidenced by a source not endorsed by Snopes.com. Especially when her response was trying to tell me that I shouldn’t trust Snopes.com…because Wikipedia said so.

Unfortunately for my respect for my grandmother, her email to me this morning was already refuted by one of the resources used to create it: www.factcheck.org.

Talking about it with my dad proved to be fruitless. He feels I should refrain from responding. I’ve got this email ready to go. What do YOU think?

With all due respect,
http://www.factcheck.org/2009/04/snopescom/ states that most of the allegations in this email you sent are unfounded. Although I do use Snopes.com as a starting point to check common forwards, I was hoping everyone from the original email would see that my response wasn't attempting to refute the information about *77, only point out that in Washington, it doesn't work...it's always better to default to 911. The *77 feature only works in some states on the East Coast, and that information would probably be helpful to your friends out there, so I'm sure they'd be happy to know it. Most of our family is in Washington, though, and because my family's well-being is important to me, I don't want anyone stuck in that situation and trying something that doesn't work when they should be using that valuable time dialing 911.


Should I send that? And who wants to make me feel better by telling their own 'crazy relative/crazy emails' story? My family can't be the only one.


Allison said...

Honestly, I'm pretty far to the right on a lot of issues - and I find snopes.com to be neutral, well-researched, and well-written.

Pre-election, I got a ton of "Michelle Obama had lobster and caviar at the Waldorf" forwards and would simply respond with the relevant snopes.com article. Not because I was a big Obama but because I'm a big, well, truth fan. Never a response.

As for all the safety-related forwards, most are benign - it generally *is* prudent to check the rear of your car before entering, etc. But when the information is dangerously inaccurate - like the 911/77 concern - I'd say it is better to mildly offend someone than risk having them call the wrong number in an emergency.

Pickletoon said...

Why don't you pick up the phone and call your Grandma?
A real conversation is so much better than an email exchange.

Amy said...

I know approximately 2000 people IRL (if my Google Contact list is accurate, which it probably isn't, but let's go with it).

Not only have I never heard of anyone I know being hailed by an unmarked police car with flashing red lights, I've never heard of anyone that anyone I know knows being hailed by an unmarked car with flashing red lights.

The chances of this happening to anyone you, or your grandparents, know is vanishingly small, and not worth getting anyone's panties in a twist over. Really.

Just let it go.

I have relatives and friends who send all these forwards, too. Delete, delete, delete. The thing is that they don't remember sending them, or the advice they gave, five minutes after they hit "fwd" either.

The folks who run Snopes have been at it FOREVER, probably since before the web existed, at alt.folklore.urban, so if you really want to know how they feel about political stuff, I suppose you could go to Google Groups and search for them + Obama or them + communism or whatever, but what's the point? Their political leanings aren't going to change the fact that *77 doesn't work throughout most of the U.S.!

Lauren O said...

Oh man, I have a whole "FWD: bigotry" tag on my blog to document the things my grandpa sends me despite the fact that he knows I'm left of center (though has no idea HOW left of center, because then he'd disown me). Probably my favorite line so far was, "The Dims are all about deception." Nothing I love more than my grandfather calling me a stupid liar to my face.

As for your situation, I'd say just forget about it. Your email is perfectly reasonable and acceptable to send, but she's made it clear that she's not listening to reason. No matter how neutral and non-political your email is, she's going to take it as an admission of leftist propaganda. You're not going to be able to make her listen or re-evaluate or change her mind, so, in my opinion, the knowledge that you're definitely in the right here is going to have to be enough.

Nank said...

My aunt is constantly sending me (and everyone else on her email list) ALL of the Obama propaganda emails. I typically cite the link to Snopes or Urban Legends or FactCheck and send it back to her.

When I see her in person, we don't talk about it. I think it's best left to the email because she won't change my liberal mind and I'm not going to change her racist mind so I don't want to argue with her. It's just a little nudge to let her know I don't agree or approve.

Anya D. Night said...

Our grandmas would get along just fine! I love my grandparents, BUT I'd rather skip the books about how the supreme court is a liberal conspiracy and the fox news channel and the Limbaugh and OF COURSE the forwards.
I think it's probably best to just tell your grandma you've never heard anything about snopes.com supporting Obama, but you just wanted to make sure everyone was safe. I'm not sure arguing with grandparents or any family member who is so stuck in their beliefs they are pissed when you simply check the factuality of a FORWARD. (Seriously, are all grandparents unable to see how these things just might not be true?)

PS I like the idea of posting these forwards on my blog, some of them are pretty funny, "Hillary Clinton killed people using the secrete service OMG!! Conspiracy!!"