Saturday, August 1, 2015

Dumb on the internet

A dear friend of mine is just about perfect except that she keeps sending me friendspam email -- you know, the gee-whiz articles, jokes, photo arrays and heartwarming stories that somebody sent her.

Usually I just delete such messages without reading, but for some reason I looked at this one.  Here's how it started:

Subject: Fw: How old is grandma?
Stay with this -- the answer is at the end... It will blow you away.
One evening a grandson was talking to his grandmother about current events.
The grandson asked his grandmother what she thought about the shootings at schools, the computer age, and Just things in general.
The Grandmother replied, "Well, let me think a minute
I was born before:
  polio shots
  frozen foods
  contact lenses
  instant coffee
  Frisbees and
  the pill

There were no: 
  credit cards 
  laser beams or
  ball-point pens

Man had not yet invented: 
  air conditioners
  clothes dryers
  and man hadn't yet walked on the moon

I'll spare you the very long middle part of the story, in which grandma smugly carries on about how life was so much better in the olden days and people were more patriotic, more moral, etc.  But the punchline is that grandma is only 72 years old, born in 1942.  We're supposed to feel all gee-whiz at how fast the world has changed, plus (if we're on the old side) pretty smug ourselves for having grown up without all those newfangled contraptions.

I'm still jet-lagged from my recent trip halfway around the world, so I was sleep-deprived and crabby enough to look at this list of allegedly post-1942 inventions with suspicion.  So I looked them up.  And discovered:

  television -- invented in 1925
  penicillin  -- discovered in 1928
  frozen foods -- commercially available in 1929
  Xerox -- invented in 1938
  contact lenses  -- invented in 1887
  instant coffee -- invented in 1890
  ball-point pens -- invented in 1938
  air conditioners -- invented in 1902
  dishwashers  -- invented in 1893
  clothes dryers -- hand-cranked, invented in 1800; electric, invented in 1938

In other words, the story ended before the grandson says in response:  Grandma, you're full of crap.  You're wrong about 10 of the 17 items on your list.

But what I find intriguing is how these founts of misinformation start their endless journeys through cyberspace. Who writes this stuff anyway?  Obviously somebody too old to understand about Wikipedia.


  1. I have very few people who send me that stuff now. Mostly because I "Reply All" with the snopes article that says its bogus. I find it annoying that people will believe anything, not check a single fact and pass it along. No one THINKS! I hate finding out my friends don't think. And then there's that additional little annoyance that that garbage email is the method of choice in reaching out. What happened to "Hi, how are you?"

    Hmm. Looks like I'm jet-lagged too. LOL Must be my hot button.

    Hope you had a fabulous trip. :) :) :) :)

    1. My hot button too - and I'm not even jet lagged! You've voiced thoughts I feel too about this in addition to what I've said below.

    2. I do exactly the same thing and finally stopped getting all that crap in my email box! No one is interested in any facts.

  2. Here's my thing. If there's anything in the teaser telling me that what follows will blow my mind or that I won't believe what comes next, I read no further. It's either a fact/fiction mash-up like this one or something that is not nearly as impressive as led to believe. And I suppose I'm getting pretty tired of strangers assuming they know my mind and how I will react to things - you know, all the suggestions from on-line stores and social media based on what they think they know about you. So even when it's not a stranger, I react poorly.

    I once tried to send my brother to the truth about one of these he forwarded to me, which was actually a better story than the made-up one, the kind that was so outrageous it begged to be checked up on. All it did was make him angry at me. Some people simply don't care about the truth. Glad you're not one of them!

  3. Ha ha. I have been sent that email. Now I can sent back a link to this post. Thanks for doing the research.