The email I just posted below had me thinking about viral email in general. Somebody makes some claim. In the case of the referenced email, it dates back more than ten years. It claims statistics about members of Congress. I am not sure how many members of Congress of ten years ago are still in office today, but I am sure there must be at least a 50% turnover.
But the person that sent it to me (and dozens of other people on his email list) doesn’t tell me that. He probably does not know, and he didn’t even attempt to check his facts. He simply signed his name to a bunch of nonsense, lies, exaggerations and and false claims. There is no author that claims responsibility for his statements. There are no sources to back them up. There is no date on the email other than when I received it.
My rule of thumb is that I don’t send an email with content that I would not want to see on the cover of the New York Times tomorrow. If it passes the New York Times test, it’s okay to send on. That rule has saved me many a times in business, it has kept me honest, and it has had me check veracity, integrity and accuracy. If I don’t know something, I should not write about it.
I have written 747 posts in this blog over almost four years. Every one of the posts has my name under it. I made the statement, you can read my statement, you can check the facts, if applicable, and you can challenge me. If I make a mistake, I correct it. If my post is inappropriate, I will pull it. If you simply disagree, I will post your comment.
In a free society, we must be able to speak, and others must be able to disagree. That’s the discourse we need to function. Viral emails without names of authors, dates and sources are pure trash, nothing else.