Choose graphics wisely

 

A lot of people post and share memes and cartoons on Facebook and tumblr. They can be funny, and sometimes they can help us to get a point across by simplifying it. However, we conservatives and libertarians who are fond of graphics have to be careful. Some of the images we may be eager to repost as they help us promote our beliefs, but they contain blatant falsehoods.

For example, this is a cartoon I saw on tumblr recently:

This part of the law, if it exists at all, cannot be found in the section the picture claims it is in. Note that many pictures with claims about Obamacare direct us to the wrong pages. Some pictures cite page 113, line 22, and some cite page 114. If one checks the bill, though, it is not there.

We would do well not only to check the claims in pictures, no matter how much we want to believe them, but to also take a moment to think about them before we share. This cartoon comparing tattoos during the Holocaust to implanted chips doesn’t make sense. During the Holocaust, only prisoners of Auschwitz were tattooed, and it was not only the Jewish prisoners who were tattooed. It happened when they had already entered the camp. This was not a violation of civil liberties that happened before the Holocaust and made it easier for the government to carry out the atrocity. The Holocaust was under way already when this happened. But the point of the image seems to be that encroachments upon our liberties and privacy are putting us in danger of suffering horrors at the hands of the government. This is a terrible way to present that point of view. First of all, it lies, and second, it does not offer a valid comparison. There are plenty of reasons to criticize ObamaCare and the Obama administration; we do not need to make things up or share things that can’t be backed up in order to do so.

Many pictures contain statistics. Be sure of them before sharing. This is a picture I saw floating around over a year ago.

These numbers are obviously make-believe, because there are about half a million homicides in the world every year. This graphic is exceptionally bad, but as a general rule: before you share statistics, ask yourself if they make sense at all. Many pro-gun pictures also contain statistics about crime, but they do not all contain the same ones. Be consistent. Whenever you talk about crime statistics, share the same ones so you appear sure of your facts. Be careful also when talking about dates. While a point may still stand if you get the date wrong (as just one example, I have seen a graphic saying Mao seized guns in 1935, while he didn’t come to power until 1949), you could end up looking like you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Cartoons and other pictures we share can be funny. We can use them to share quotes in a way that’s more appealing than posting the text alone. They can also help us get a simple point across.

 

There’s nothing wrong with that! The problem is when we want to believe something, when it fits our views perfectly, that we repost it without questioning it. If we believe the president is a lying scumbag, than we want to post anything that lets people know he’s a lying scumbag, like the Obamacare exemption pictures. If we’re paranoid about the government tracking us and preparing to murder a large number of citizens, we want to post anything that conveys the message that the government is tracking us and/or preparing to murder us. Spreading something around that is an outright lie or contains misinformation is not going to help you get that point of view across. Your opponents will laugh at your gullibility (even though they themselves have probably fallen for something dumb before). The unconvinced will wonder what else you’re lying to them about, if you’ve already lied about one thing. Do not be so caught up in trying to promote your views that you carelessly post whatever falls in line with them.

Now, I’m sure somewhere along the lines we have all shared something dumb. Just delete it. If your error has been pointed out, apologize for it. Learn the correct information so you can share that instead. And in the future, remember to think twice about what you’re posting.

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