Web of lies

Illustration by Kelly Gillit / THE FLARE

The World Wide Web is filled with facts and information we rely on to complete assignments, conduct research and stay informed with the world around us but it is also contaminated with opinion and false statements.

Social media are bombarded with lies and theories people concoct to gain attention or to confuse people into believing the unbelievable.

Take for instance the daily status updates that we may see as we scroll down our newsfeed from Facebook or Twitter that pertain to legendary creatures, fraudulent money schemes or weight-loss myths.

Do we really believe that there are real life big foots or that you will receive thousands of dollars just by participating in a company or even that a single pill can make you lose 30 pounds overnight?

Of course there are things out there that we may be unfamiliar with or that might seem foreign to us, but most have an explanation.

Don’t you think that if big foot were real, some crazed scientist or gun-carrying lunatic would have captured the creature by now or that if a 250-pound woman could take a single pill and awake the next morning with the figure of Beyonce more people would be doing it?

Dating sites also fit into this category.

We may all have heard or witnessed stories of couples meeting online and falling madly in love, but what we don’t realize is the risk that they take to share that special connection.

Dating sites are advertised as safe, effective ways to meet friendly people without experiencing the awkwardness of face-to-face greetings.

Online dating may be beneficial to some but how safe can it really be?  Who is to say that the person you are communicating with actually shares the same face as his/her profile picture?

In recent news, the media went into a frenzy over Notre Dame’s linebacker Manti Te’o’s three-year relationship with a nonexistent female.

Te’o admitted that he fell in love with this woman he had never met in person and shared an emotional connection over the phone and online with her.

The woman turned out to be a hoax, a plot to trick Te’o into false love.

According to the National Sex Offender Public Website, the majority of juvenile sex crime victims meet their predator willingly. The most common first-encounter of a predator with a victim take place in an online chat room.

This is not to frighten or stray people into deactivating their social accounts but to inform of what dangers could be lurking behind the mouse.

To stay better aware of actual facts there are Internet reference sites such as Snopes.com that provide a definitive source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors and misinformation.

Major newspapers and news networks such as USA Today, The Huffington Post, CNN, The New York Times or FOX News can also be useful for fact checking.

People use social sites to impress the likings of their peers when in actuality they could be pretending to be someone they’re not and of course we believe what we see, right?

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.”