When the Internet is Wrong

“Don’t believe anything you read on the net. Except this. Well, including this, I suppose.”

Douglas Adams

A friend’s recommendation inspired me to read Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist. It’s available on Amazon, and worth it.

No spoilers, but it’s a short read with lots of practical statements that sort of make you say “why didn’t I think of that?”

But, I didn’t. So I bought the book.

After reading, I subscribed to Kleon’s weekly email.

The other day he wrote When a wrong answer brings out the right answer.

In the post he discussed Cunningham’s law.

“the best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question, it’s to post the wrong answer.”

However, Ward Cunningham, for whom the law is named, says he didn’t develop it.

Regardless, the it’s true.

How often have you popped onto Facebook, Twitter, or whatever dark well of despair…I mean social media app…you choose to use today and asked a simple question?


But post an outrageous statement. One that you know to be false.

People will come out of the woodwork to correct you.

It doesn’t matter if it’s politics or COVID treatment…sometimes they’re the same.

Available in The Write Side Shop (click the pic).

It doesn’t matter if it’s religion, or identity, or history.

Post something with an edge and you’ll be “corrected.”

Assuming of course that you’re not thrown in to Facebook jail.

I’ve been there twice. Don’t try it. The food sucks.

I’ve been on the internet for almost twenty-five years….dating back to when we had the squee of Compuserve and AOL. Back when we were all learning how to argue.

I don’t think we really learned.

I instead chose to stop arguing.

For all of its flaws, Facebook has one divine feature in the snooze button.

It’s how I count the days.

When I start seeing someone’s posts again, I know we’re in a new month.

I wish we could have rational discussions on Facebook. Sometimes I try.

I did it the other day.

Details don’t matter, but someone was accused of something. All I said was that they may have been wrong, but they did not do what the article said.

No one seemed willing to accept that point.

I’ve never won an internet argument.

I’m also fairly certain that I’ve never changed my mind either.

So, I gave up.

I’m much happier.

If you’re doing internet research, try posting something that’s obviously wrong. You’ll need a thick skin, but you’ll get explanations and links to provide what you need to know.

I will readily admit that I struggle to stay out of the arguments. Even while writing this a friend posted a semi-political statement and came to a conclusion that was just wrong.

I have legitimate links to prove my point. But I know they won’t convince her.

But…what if she was just looking for the right answer?

I’ll never know the answer to that. Because before I finished writing this, she posted again and I unfollowed (not unfriended) her.

That’s what Freedom is all about, Charlie Brown.

Photo by Long Ma on Unsplash


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