MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Social media has completely changed the world we live in. Facts don't matter, the points are all made up, and we are all part of the problem.
Look no further than the viral story of the week: Katy Perry is really JonBenet Ramsey.
Yes. You read that correctly. A wild conspiracy is getting a ton of clicks and a ton of criticism.
Friday, Katy Perry was the top trending term on Facebook.
Why is this happening?
It's not because the story is new or because it has now been proven true. It's all because somebody with a large following saw the theory and shared it.
The stories are all linking back to a YouTube video posted December 2014--another phenomenon of social media: old stories resurfacing for no apparent reason.
In the video, a man named Dave Johnson calls the 1996 Ramsey murder a hoax. He said JonBenet never died and instead, she grew up to be world famous entertainer Katy Perry.
Nevermind that Katy Perry was born in 1984 (six years before JonBenet). Nevermind that Perry's childhood in Santa Barbara, California is well documented. Nevermind that JonBenet's body was found and autopsied.
Facts don't matter in a social media world. In fact, this article (the one you're reading right now) is part of the problem.
Social media is by definition social. When someone clicks on, shares, likes, or comments on a story it gives that story more social weight. So even by debunking an outrageous theory, you give the original story social power.
In politics, you cast your vote for the candidate you want. It's simple. Social media is more complicated. Your vote is whatever you interact with--it doesn't matter HOW you interact with it. A negative comment is still a comment, and it feeds the story's social power.
So if the story annoys you, if you don't want to see it at all, if you want to do your part to stop it, turn the other cheek.
Don't lash out at the post by telling the author they're dumb. Don't logically explain why the hypothesis makes no sense. When you do that, you're only helping further the problem.