Falsehood is easy, truth so difficult.

A few years ago, I was watching a particular event unfold real-time on TV. One of the biggest stories of that year.

I got an idea while watching.

I wrote a long conspiracy theory about the event and posted it on Reddit that same afternoon.

It was completely false. I made up details, and I pretended to be someone I’m not.

A few days later, I logged back in to see how the post performed. More than 20,000 viewers. 300+ comments. It became one of the most popular posts of that month on r/conspiracy.

In the following weeks, I saw my “conspiracy theory” referenced on major news outlets (even on CNN). People were debating its merit on various forums. Versions of it went viral on Facebook. Some well-known pundits claimed it as their own, using particular details that I literally came up with on-the-spot.

Today, that conspiracy theory is in the “mainstream” of alternative perspectives on this event. It’s been shared and referenced thousands of times. “Experts” have discussed it publicly, and (I truly believe) millions of people believe that my story is the actual truth of what happened on that day.

It was 100% made-up. I’m being 100% serious.

Remember this next time you see something online that you aren’t able to independently verify.

“Falsehood is easy, truth so difficult.”

Forget FAKE NEWS. Stop DUMB NEWS!

Forget about FAKE NEWS. Our bigger problem is DUMB NEWS.

What’s dumb news? Example headlines:

  • Man goes on racist tirade in NYC Starbucks.
  • Woman uses n-word after Panera order botched.
  • Trump supporter goes ballistic at liberal neighbors.

Sharing such stories only divides people. It’s just a play for more “likes.”
Identify dumb news with the following guide:

  1. Story’s bad guy is one person, likely with serious mental health issues.
  2. Story’s incident happened thousands of miles from you, and doesn’t reflect anything you’ve personally seen happen.
  3. Everyone who hears the story has the exact same reaction and opinion about the bad guy.
  4. The article was written by someone who wasn’t there, but who only saw a grainy video of the incident.
  5. Story gets 1M+ views, but sparks no real response (because, at bottom, it’s just mean people being mean).
  6. The story references everyone’s race and/or political views.
  7. The story’s headline is some variation of: “Can you believe how bigoted that man/woman is!?”

Don’t share stories like this! And don’t let grainy videos of people being dumb in some faraway city¬† affect how you think about society, your neighbors, or even the perpetrators themselves.

There’s no solving FAKE NEWS until we stop sharing DUMB NEWS.