I had this idea for sort of the ultimate creative exercise, that would have proven the ultimate point I am trying to make about discourse in our world. With all the talk about “fake news” it would maybe not have been thought as original as I would like to be, but if could have done some real good.

What I was going to do was to make up a story—a totally plausible–something that could actually have happened and yet just preposterous enough that all but the most gullible among us should second guess it. I was going to write it and check it and then I was going to give it a tantalizing title and put it out on Social Media, acting outraged over what I had just heard and seeing how many people would distribute it. Then after about a week I was going to write a secondary article denouncing it and showing people how quickly fake news and false teaching are disseminated and how wrong it is to share things we don’t know to be true. I had all intentions of doing this, but I didn’t. Here’s why.

1. I live to honor God. He gave this law about not bearing false witness and I am pretty sure it still applies here. Even though I was trying to prove a point, I would have been guilty of false teaching, gossip and a whole bunch of other things.

2. I value my credibility. A big part of doing what I do hinges on people believing me. Also important is that people feel safe sharing what I post. What would happen if I started to put things out there that would make people constantly wonder, “Is he trying to trick us this time too?”

3. Rebottling Genies is hard. What if someone read the first story and not the second. What if my story was passed along and the people who saw it were unaware of the retraction or the point behind the exercise. Things on social media have the potential to spread and take on a life of their own. I can’t even begin to imagine that I would be able to reach everyone touched by something I’ve posted with a single retraction. I’d simply be guilty of misinformation. There are other reasons as well but these are the big three.

Why did I share this? Because there are people all over the “inter-webs” who do not have my scruples. They post things for the sole purpose of getting people to share them, spread lies and turn people against each other. It may be the ultimate misuse of creativity. So the next time you get outrages over something you read online, before you pass it, take a breath, calm down and maybe do a little research. People always joke, “I read it on the internet, it must be true.” You know why people laugh when they say that? Because it is so obviously untrue. Watch what you post and what you repost and share. The internet gives a platform to anyone and everyone who wants one, We’d be lying to ourselves if we thought all those people posting are honest and with our best interests at heart.

Use your platform for good and value the trust of the people who give you their time.

Speak the truth. Post the truth. People are watching.

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