I was trying to be playful. An ironic blog post title took on a life of its own.
Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love seeing pictures of my grandkids. I have enjoyed connecting with high school friends more than fifty years post-graduation. I love the possibility of reaching new “friends” with my messages about end-of-life care and spiritual musings.
But my post two weeks ago, announcing my 100th blog entry, reminded me of some of what I hate about Facebook.
I maintain two Facebook pages. There is plain old “Hank Dunn” for more personal interactions, and then there is the more professional Hard Choices for Loving People (HCLP) page. Obviously, I want to sell more books and increase my reach digitally.
So, it should come as no surprise that, for a fee, Facebook will push my posts into people’s news feeds whether they want it or not. This “boost,” as they call it, works…until it doesn’t.
Happy birthday to me?
My playful title about my 100th blog post read: “My Life At 100.” Eleven words into my blog, I made it clear this was a post about my 100th blog entry, and not my 100th birthday.
My true friends on my personal page got the joke. One long-time friend wrote, “Hank, you don’t look a day over 85. Oh, wait…” Others also showed they had indeed read the blog.
Not so on the HCLP page, where we boosted the post to thousands of strangers. On this page, there were birthday wishes, fireworks, and birthday cakes. Hundreds “Liked” it; dozens even “Loved” it. I can imagine their thinking, “This guy turned 100; surely he deserves recognition.”
It is one of the things I HATE about Facebook: People commenting on a post they never read. Though I am sure these folks were well-meaning, it illustrated how fast misinformation can multiply. Fortunately, wishing me a “happy birthday” when there was no birthday does little harm.
Falsehoods are faster than truth
In my post, I mentioned our short attention spans. This fake birthday news only brings this home even more. It was clear people did not take the time to read the post, they just went with the title.
In 2018, a report in the journal, Science, put numbers to the spread of misinformation. “Falsehoods are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted on Twitter than the truth, researchers found. And false news reached 1,500 people about six times faster than the truth.” They found the phenomenon was even worse for political falsehoods.
I think regardless of what next week’s post is about, I will title it, “100-Year-Old Guy Goes Broke” so hundreds of well-meaning strangers might start a Go Fund Me — or, at least, buy my book.