Viral e-mails make us less informed

Updated 10/26/2010 12:35 PM

As an older voter, it seems to me that each election gets more peculiar. This year's election is noted for the apparent admiration of candidates with absolutely no experience over more educated, experienced candidates. Somehow the word has gotten out that education is a bad thing, equated with corruption, even though that has not been demonstrated to be true.

I kept wondering why this idea was gaining so much momentum, when the answer appeared on the Internet. Over and over I receive e-mails about some person or issue that is presented as fact that turns out to be blatantly false. These e-mails are called "urban legends." In the past I would delete them. But now, much to the chagrin of the sender(s), I challenge them. One of the popular ones is that members of Congress don't pay into Social Security. They do.

These "urban legends" are from relatives, friends, co-workers, church members, etc., and they are like personal, "insider" messages. Example: We are told that taxes will go up if candidate X gets elected (always a persuasive issue), so forward this message to at least 25 people and urge them to vote for his/her opponent. And then it goes viral, as though the message were true, when in the majority of cases they aren't.

Some e-mails will state that the legend has been verified by but when checked out are shown to be false. However, whoever created these phony letters knows that most people won't check them out and will continue to spread the myths.

Between the urban legend e-mails and the strident political ads, voters don't get much concrete information. Hence, in this electronic age, we are less informed than ever.

Nancy von Helms

Arlington Heights