If there’s one thing accepting my aunt’s friend request on Facebook has taught me, it’s that eating anything at all will give me cancer. Cucumbers, meat (of any sort), jellybeans – no food is safe from the (unknowing) aspiring conspiracy theorists.

“The Truth about Baby Carrots. They Can Kill!” came the headline in her most recent post. Stifling my laughter, I was amused to see that it garnered 10 Likes and practically an entire discussion via comments from like-minded 50-something stay-home housewives. When you’re procrastinating at work, there is no better entertainment.

One of her friends was incredulous. “What?! But they’re so tasty!” To which my aunt explained in her best attempt at sounding scientific that any vegetable that tastes good had probably been doused in chlorine. Some asked the important questions like, “How can the government allow this”, while others thanked my aunt for her uncanny ability to share articles that would save their children’s lives. And all the while, I sat there sniggering to myself.

You see, at no time did any of them decide to open a new tab and search for “baby carrot chlorine”. If they had, the literal first result would have explained that most pre-cut foods are bathed in a chlorine solution then rinsed off with potato water so as to minimise food-borne illnesses such as E. coli. The entire baby carrot rumour had undoubtedly started because someone immediately assumed chlorine = negative.

We’ve established that the Internet has transformed society into a fast-paced, instant-gratification loving generation. Facebook is perhaps the best proof that instant gratification probably results in instantaneous stupidity. You read something that you think is eye-opening and that nagging blue ‘F’ compels you to share without a thought.

During the first months of 2016 and amid the shocking number of celebrity passings (Lemmy, Bowie, Rickman), another Facebook friend of mine decided to add another to the list. His post – R.I.P Ravi Shankar – was met with several people commenting that 2016 is cursed. While baby carrots couldn’t ignite my passive-aggression, I couldn’t help it in this case.

I simply typed: “He passed in 2012.” Lo and behold, that post was deleted before I couldn’t even edit my comment to include “Haha”, which we all know is as passive-aggressive as it can get.

To combat the proliferation of ignorant posts, I propose a simple three-step solution that I will now trademark as the Mossadeg Approach (even though my own father is horribly guilty of ignorance-sharing).

The steps are simple. First, read article. Second, open a new tab to Google the keywords and read at least five articles that come up in the search. Third, share if you still think that it is relevant and useful.

Come on, we can do it people.

For the sake of this column Sean spent hours re-following people he had previously blocked on Facebook for ever sharing such stupid articles. Yes, other aunts. That includes you. 

Originally published in the March ’16 issue of August Man

written by.

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