Everything is True.
Everything is False.

How many times have you seen an article’s headline and shared it without reading it? Or, have you ever reposted something that you agreed with at face value but didn't know whether it was true or not? I have.

When I first set out to write this post, I was going to talk about how I once shared a false story on Twitter about Spotify being sold for an absurd amount of money and how my friend Tim Lampe kindly let me know that I should read things thoroughly before sharing them. I was going to write about not believing what we see at first glance. That would have been a good enough example, but it would have only revealed the impact it had on my life.

On Friday as I was getting ready to leave the office to go search for last minute black Friday sales with my wife, I peered out of our office windows overlooking Regent Street and saw dozens of people running away from Oxford Station. Police officers swarmed upon the scene as if it was a movie set. There were maybe 50 or so of us left on our floor and were all told to stay in the building. We all pulled out our iPhones and frantically checked social media to find out what was happening.

Nobody knew what was going on.

There were half-a-dozen ideas of what could have caused such a mass panic, but none of them verified. Of course, that didn't stop social media from wildly speculating and making definitive statements about the situation. I was a half-block from the scene and didn't know, yet as I read online, people were saying it was a terrorist attack and that bombs went off along with mass casualties. Individuals looking to push political agendas were willingly spreading fake news with no regard to authenticity. Minutes later I was on the phone with my parents who were watching about the unfolding events from halfway around the world, even though I couldn't get a hold of my wife who was just blocks away.
It turned out that everything was a false alarm and there were no casualties, gunshots, or acts of terrorism. That would be unclear though from looking at things online. The perception would have been that there was a massive terrorist attack from the number of retweets and shares on speculative information.

I was so frustrated to see people willing to share definitive statements without any understanding of the truth, not because of the impact it had just to my situation, but because of the effects it had on a city and even the world. If there's any similarity between this incident and how Biblical 'truths' are shared, then it only urges me to pray more for wisdom and understanding.

In the era of fake news and misinformation, it's not always the Russians or 'terrorists,' who spread false information, it's us. We don't read things fully or take time to understand what we're even talking about. We care more about being first than we care about being correct, and the damage that can do often can't be undone. This isn't only true of news or current events, but of things like theology and scripture. Social media posts that get shared and reposted most often only contain nice sounding or agreeable ideas, but aren't always biblical. That frightens me more than terrorist attacks. In the same way we as a society can mistakenly (or intentionally) share false news, Christians need to take care to not do the same for the Bible.

It's in moments like this I'm thankful that Tim called me out for spreading false information that one time and I hope that this might help others as well consider their approach to spreading ideas as well.

November 2017

Writer, Photographer, Strategist

Portland, OR
By way of London, California, & Colorado